It’s a given that television networks put profits above pride, but ABC has reached a new low in its sponsorship of Rosie O’Donnell. The daytime talk show host recently joined the world of “truthers” – people who believe that 9/11 was an attack staged by this country’s own government.
According to a growing number of academics and political extremists, Jews have too much power in America. This backlash against the so-called Israel Lobby has predictably caused many to wonder whether the assertive voice of contemporary Jewish political activism is too loud, too brash and, most of all, too pushy in making its case.
On Oct. 21, 2003, in a corridor on the campus of UCLA, Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, the director of UCLA’s Hillel chapter, suddenly assaulted me when I merely asked him a reasonable question. He kicked and scratched me while trying to throw me down a flight of nearby stairs.
While there’s no inherent relationship between “progressive” thought and Israel-bashing, one-sided attacks on Israel and its legitimacy are a staple of some self-styled progressive publications. The New York Review of Books, for example, was cited in Alvin Rosenfeld’s essay implicating “segments of the intellectual left,” including some Jews who call themselves “progressive,” as sharing with the far right and radical Islam an “emphatic dislike” of Israel. Rosenfeld, a professor of English and Jewish studies at Indiana University, was referring specifically to an article by Tony Judt, whose “emphatic dislike” drove him to call for the end to the Jewish state.
When the history of the whole Don Imus affair is written, we’ll see that the biggest mistake the radio talk-show host made, other than uttering his ridiculous comment about the Rutgers women’s basketball team in the first place, was to add to Al Sharpton’s aura of legitimacy by groveling before him on his radio show.
For all of the difficulties Israelis encounter these days, the greatest sometimes appears to be the implacable nature of this conflict in which they find themselves still embroiled. Despite the best intentions of a generation of would-be peacemakers and a host of concessions on the part of Israel, Arab opinion seems even more set in its determination to depict Israel as an evil oppressor. Indeed, the long record of Israeli peace offers and concessions since the signing of the Oslo peace accords in 1993 has, if anything, seemed to encourage the demonization of both the Jews and their state.
Commentary on Israel never ceases, and yet most of it seems to miss the point entirely. To gain an accurate understanding of any culture, one must begin with a point of reference, a so-called cultural perch, enabling the spectator a broader picture.
Day 1 The New York Times reports that President Bush regularly holds clandestine gatherings among his hand-selected cronies, who devise federal policy in secret, as a sort of “shadow government.” The White House issues a press release explaining that those gatherings are merely cabinet meetings, that every administration has them, and that the cabinet secretaries have all had their nominations confirmed by the Senate.
One of the many crises facing the Jewish people today is the phenomenon of “at-risk” youth. A child who is “at-risk” is generally defined as one who rebels against authority figures, demonstrates antipathy toward Jewish rituals, performs poorly in yeshiva, and is experimenting with delinquent or self-destructive behavior.
Mark Twain once said there are three sorts of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.
The ancient Prophets foresaw that as we approached the Messianic era mankind would begin to reject falsehood and turn to the Jewish people for leadership and teaching. Both Isaiah and Zechariah describe many peoples (amim rabbim) turning to the God of Israel in Jerusalem.
Pesach is here, and we Jews seem no further removed today from the slave mentality we suffered from thousands of years ago.
When you’re the rabbi of Pratt Institute, America’s most prestigious art school, and you want to gain some street-credibility with your students (and faculty!) it helps to have a secret identity as a comic book aficionado.
President Bush has played an unsung role in combating worldwide anti-Semitism and in seeking to stem the surge of anger that has swept the world in the last decade.
Repeat anything often enough, regardless of accuracy, and eventually it becomes engraved in people’s minds as the truth: “Lizzie Borden took an ax” and butchered her parents; Mama Cass choked to death on a ham sandwich; Israel launched a war on Lebanon in 2006.
Once again we find ourselves celebrating the yom tov of Pesach – the same holiday we celebrated last year at this time, and next year we’ll be doing the same. Traditionally, Pesach commemorates the exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt – a pivotal point in our becoming a people: we gained our freedom – physically, and very soon after, spiritually. We refer to the holiday as the time of our freedom – z’man chairusenu – and the Pesach seder, with all its obligations and practices, thoroughly stresses the message of freedom and God’s redemption of the Jewish people throughout the ages.
Group solidarity is one trait that has earned Jews both plaudits and criticism. But according to a spokesman for a national Jewish organization, it’s long past time to stop the group-think. M.J. Rosenberg, the director of the Israel Policy Forum’s Washington Policy Center wrote on the eve of the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington to register his disgust at the rituals of pandering politicians who seek to win Jewish votes. While he affirms that we should care deeply about Israel, he is down on those who seek Jewish votes by carrying on about their views on the issue.
The story of the Roosevelt administration’s response to the Holocaust has been chronicled in books and on film. Now, for the first time, it is coming to the stage. “The Accomplices,” an off-Broadway play written by former New York Times correspondent Bernard Weinraub and directed by Ian Morgan, will be performed by The New Group with preview performances starting March 20. After meeting earlier this month with the author and cast for more than two hours, I have no doubt this is one play that will not be soon forgotten.
We often hear about moderate Arab leaders. Do they exist? Let’s examine the record. PA president and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas is one of those touted as a moderate. Yet Abbas co-founded the terrorist Fatah with Yasir Arafat, served as Arafat’s deputy for 40 years and wrote a Ph.D. thesis and book denying the Holocaust. He has refused to implement Palestinian commitments under signed agreements with Israel and also the 2003 road-map peace plan to fight and arrest terrorists, confiscate their weaponry and end the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps that feeds it.
I recently read a truly fascinating study. It wasn’t a new study, but nonetheless it affected me. A team from England’s Newcastle University monitored how much money people would put in a canteen “honesty box” when buying a drink. Over the course of 10 weeks, a poster listing hot drink prices was placed at eye-level above the honesty box. Each week, the poster featured an image of either flowers or a pair of eyes looking directly at the person taking the items.