web analytics
February 28, 2015 / 9 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Monitor »

The View From 1999


Media-Monitor-logo

A reader responding to last week’s column concerning Commentary magazine’s symposium on President Obama, Israel, and American Jews, cautioned that such endeavors be taken with more than the proverbial grain of salt, since even the brightest of minds can fail to see what lies ahead, particularly when the subject is as volatile and unpredictable as U.S. Mideast policy or the Arab-Israeli conflict in general.

He cited as evidence the Winter 5759/1999 issue of Azure, the quarterly journal published by the Jerusalem-based Shalem Center, a non-partisan (leaning right) think tank,which featured a much-remarked-on symposium titled “The Jewish State: The Next Fifty Years.”

The questions posed by the editors concerned such basic issues as the moral and philosophical legitimacy of Israel; the nature of the state in terms of its institutions and its mission; and the contributions a Jewish state can make to the Jewish people as a whole and the world in general.

Conspicuously missing from the dozens of responses, he said, is even an inkling that Yasir Arafat would launch a second intifada in the fall of 2000, or that Israelis, completely disillusioned with the Oslo peace process, would elect Ariel Sharon prime minister, or that Israel would become a virtual pariah state in the eyes of a good part of the world.

Point well taken, but hindsight is always easy. And while the thoughts and observations expressed by the respondents reflect the world as it was more than a decade ago, many of them hold up quite well eleven years later.

In addition to those quoted below, the symposium’s roster of 56 intellectuals and public figures from Israel and around the world included such notables, some of them since deceased, as Jack Kemp, Malcolm Hoenlein, Natan Sharansky, Yosef Mendelevich, Martin Peretz, Charles Krauthammer, Emil Fackenheim, Zerah Warhaftig and Rabbi Noah Weinberg.

Tom Bethell, a (non-Jewish) Washington-based writer for conservative publications, asserted that “It is impossible to believe that the rebirth of Israel after so long a hiatus, and the revival of Hebrew when it was on the verge of extinction, were not miraculous events, showing the hand of God in history more plainly than perhaps any other historical event.”

Equally eloquent was Bethell’s description of the conundrum of Israeli democracy: “Without a majoritarian check on their power, the nation’s secular elites would have given most of the country to the Arabs by now . At the same time, democracy has also taken its toll. Arab Knesset members supported the Oslo ‘peace’ agreement; without their support, Rabin and Peres would have lacked their majority. If the question ‘Who is a Jew?’ is ever put in the lap of the Knesset, it is possible that it will be decided by Arabs – another absurdity.”

Author and translator Hillel Halkin, who can sound like the epitome of hard-headed pragmatism when writing for publications like Commentary,comes off here as a self-loather extraordinaire, bemoaning “the shameful way in which Israel has discriminated de facto against its Arab citizens since 1948″ and voicing his conviction “that practical solutions could be found for most aspects of [Jewish-Arab tensions] if Jewish prejudice and indifference did not stand in their way.”

Prompted by a statement from the editors in the symposium’s introduction, Halkin pointed to “Hatikvah” as a particularly egregious example of Israeli insensitivity, characterizing as “absurd” the fact that a country could “have a national anthem that a fifth of its citizens cannot sing” and suggesting that “the whole problem be easily solved by changing a single word … and singing nefesh yisra’eli (‘the Israeli soul’) instead of nefesh yehudi (‘the Jewish soul’)….”

To which the novelist Cynthia Ozick gave a stinging rejoinder, writing that to cast aspersions on the anthem “because it speaks of the ‘Jewish soul’ is to mock and betray those dozens of generations who survived the savagery of massacres or resisted the easy escapes of conversion or self-propelled vanishing. It is, besides, a suppression of history; and, when all is said and done, a kind of auto-lobotomy.”

Unfortunately for what it said about the state of elite opinion in Israel, the symposium’s most telling entry came from the late former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick, who related this glimpse into the mindset of a large and influential segment of the Israeli intelligentsia, a segment that yearns for a country stripped of its ethno-religious roots:

“On one of my more recent trips to Israel, I dined with a group of individuals primarily on the political Left, including some members of the Israeli foreign policy establishment … these people spoke of the end of Israel as an explicitly Jewish state.”

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at jmaoz@jewishpress.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The View From 1999”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
18,000 Iranian Centrifuges
Reducing Iran’s Number of Centrifuges Makes a Bomb More Likely
Latest Indepth Stories
Netanyahu in a previous address to Congress-

Bibi’s speech to Congress will bring respect and honor to the Jewish Nation from the US & the world

Korenblit-022715

Obama & Putin have handwriting/signature clues indicating differences between public & private life

Councilman David Greenfield

It’s time for a new Jewish policy regarding Ramallah, NOT just because of the yarmulke incident

Levmore-022715

“GETT’s” being screened for Israeli Rabbinical Court judges at their annual convention.

If Jackson were alive he’d denounce Democratic party’s silence towards virulent anti-Semitism

Victim of Palestinian Arab terrorism, a victor in NY federal court, after years of being ignored by Justice Dept.

March 2013: Arabs hurled stones hitting the Biton’s car; Adele’s mother swerved the car-into a truck

The real issue is that in many respects the president has sought to recalibrate American values and our system of government.

Former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman, writing in the Washington Post on Sunday, provided one of the clearest and most compelling analyses we’ve seen of the importance of the prime minister’s speech.

A central concept in any discussion about happiness is achieving clarity. “Ain simcha ela k’hataras hasefeikos” – there is no joy as that experienced with the removal of doubt.

“Je Suis..,” like its famous origin 400 years ago, implies the ability & freedom to think & question

Many anti-Israel demonstrations at universities have a not-so-latent anti-Semitic agenda as well

Believing a few “extremists” hijacked Islam is myopic in history and geography, numbers and scope

More Articles from Jason Maoz
Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, both outspokenly critical of Netanyahu’s upcoming visit to Congress, were wowed by him in 2011.

Note also the response to the speech by the top Democrats in the House and Senate, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, both of whom have been outspoken in their criticism of Netanyahu’s upcoming visit.

Comptroller DiNapoli celebrates Sukkot with Crown Heights Jewish community leaders at the sukkah of Rabbi Chanina Sperlin of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council.

The New York State comptroller manages the state’s $180.7 billion pension fund, audits the spending practices of all state agencies and local governments, oversees the New York State and Local Retirement System, reviews the New York State and City budgets, and approves billions in State contracts and spending.

While not all criticism of Israel stemmed from anti-Semitism, Podhoretz contends the level of animosity towards Israel rises exponentially the farther left one moved along the spectrum.

When you grow up in a home where your parents went through what my parents went through, you realize that life has to be meaningful. You have to be there for other people.

“It’s a lousy column and a dishonest one,” Halberstam wrote. “So close it. Or you will end up just as shabby as Safire.”

Wye would be seen to have set the groundwork for the creation of a Palestinian state

These are not necessarily the best all-around biographies or studies of the individual presidents listed (though some rank right up there), but the strongest in terms of exploring presidential attitudes and policies toward Israel.

The Clintonan “engagement” liberals remember with such fondness did nothing but embolden Arafat and Hamas and Hizbullah as they witnessed Israel’s only real ally elevate process ahead of policy.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/the-view-from-1999/2010/07/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: