web analytics
July 31, 2015 / 15 Av, 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
Graffiti found on a building in the village of Duma.
Arab Infant Killed in Arson ‘Price Tag’ Attack
Latest Indepth Stories
Silhouette of "hilltop settler."

“Yesha” and Binyamin Regional Council leaders said the attack “is not the path of Jews in Judea and Samaria.”

Schwartz-073115

The occasion? The rarely performed mitzvah of pidyon peter chamor: Redemption of a firstborn donkey.

Rabbi YY Rubinstein

American leftists have a pathological self-inflicted blindness to the dangers of political Islam

Tobin-073115

Hillary should THANK Trump; By dominating the news he’s overshadowed the implosion of her campaign

Hard to remember when Jewish youth were so hostile to their heritage as they are on campuses today.

Names of the enablers of Iran’s Nuclear weapons will be added next to Hitler’s on the list of infamy

By most accounts, the one person with the political muscle to swing enough Democratic votes to override a veto is Sen. Schumer.

The next day, in a speech in New York to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Kerry substantially upped the ante.

In Israel, the judiciary has established itself as superior to ALL other branches of the government.

The Fifteenth Day of the month of Av became a day of national rejoicing. The moment that had seemed hopeless became the moment of Redemption.

I think the melodies in our religious services have a haunting sound to them that just permeates your guts and gets into your soul. If you have any musical inclination, I think they inspire you to compose.

Cavalier analogies to the Holocaust are unacceptable, but Huckabee’s analogy was very appropriate.

Pollard was a Jewish-head-on-a-pike for all American Jews to see and to learn the explicit lesson.

If the Iran deal passes, Obama’s WH becomes world’s leading financier of terrorism against Americans

More Articles from Jason Maoz
Assemblymember Bichotte speaking in the New York State Assembly.

The bills I’m proud to have sponsored are less controversial, more responsive to yeshiva and parochial school parents, and were gaining traction in the Assembly until the negative campaign began…

Zechariah Schwarzberg, z”l

Though intimately acquainted with mankind’s darkest side, he never lost his faith&love in God or man

Some of the president’s defenders took to arguing that the overwhelming majority of German military personnel interred in Bitburg were regular Wehrmacht soldiers who died on the battlefield and likely were not involved in atrocities against civilians.

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.

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.”

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: