History – the remembrance and recording of the past – in the Muslim Arab world differs from history in the Western world. The Western world records past events and calls them history. The Muslim Arab world recalls myths, hopes, conspiracies and events and calls that history. In the Arab world history and memory merge into a psycho-cultural universe that informs and motivates and plots the future.
Turning on the news Thursday night, I expected to hear the wretched daily tally of Kassam/Grad rockets shot from Gaza to into Sderot or Ashkelon; instead, breaking news streamed across the screen about a terror attack taking place that very moment at Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav.
Orthodox Jews are not a majority of the American Jewish population. It follows, therefore, that major communal institutions that claim to represent the views of American Jewry in the public square frequently do not voice the views and values of those committed to Torah-informed Judaism.
My readers in The Jewish Press are accustomed to reading my articles on timely strategic and jurisprudential issues. For the most part, these columns have explored various dangers of terrorism, war and genocide. But sometimes we are imperiled by a very different sort of terror. There is, of course, the "usual" threat of terror violence (the terror "outside"), but there is also a serious specter of interior terror that arises from our willful abandonment of individuality (the terror "within").
It was only last week that thousands of Chassidim went to Lejask (Lizhensk) in order to commemorate the 222nd yahrzeit of the tzaddik, Noam Elimelech of Lejask (1717-1786).
Recently, after a particularly harrowing weekend in Sderot, Rabbi Avi Berman, director of OU Israel, told me, “That’s it; enough! I know we have invested so much in Sderot, we have raised funds, sent teams, and currently work more in Sderot than we do any other city in Israel, but still I can’t have us sitting here in Jerusalem while they are in so much pain. So that’s it, we are all going down to Sderot, in two days.”
I was actually starting to believe I was the lucky charm of Sderot. Over the past eight months I had been to Sderot on business nearly every other week, and each time I traveled down from Jerusalem, things were quiet. No Kassam rockets, no “red color” warnings, no Israelis fleeing for their lives.
Most people probably agree, these days, that the military invasion of Iraq was a mistake. Whatever you thought at the time (and I was among those who believed it was worth the effort in light of Saddam’s actions and the realization of our vulnerability after 9/11), the evidence since has been pretty clear.
An event, thought to be impossible after the Shoah, took place in Lodz.
On July 9, 1755, Colonel George Washington was traveling with General Edward Braddock’s army toward Fort Duquesne when they were ambushed by Indians and French hiding in the woods. In the ensuing massacre, hundreds of British soldiers, including Braddock, were killed or seriously wounded. Perched on their horses, officers were perfect targets. One after another, they were hit. Bullets ripped through Washington’s coat, knocked his hat off, and killed two of the horses he rode.
If the baseball season doesn’t end with a ticker-tape parade for your team, you feel, for the first few days, as if you were driving a speeding car that has gone off the road and is now on its back, wheels spinning. It takes a while for the wheels to stop spinning, for the adrenaline in your system to get back to a normal level.
As a college student, I have become jaded to the endless cycle of unofficial “weeks.” We have Kick the Smoking Habit Week, Free Love Week, Save the Oceans Week – a week for every cause under the sun, with concerts, sit-ins, and creative protests for and against everything imaginable.
“We will work to promote equality and diversity.” Many a policy document in public and private sector organizations across the Western world contains similar phrases. The social changes over the last forty years that have placed equality and diversity at the heart of policy at both macro and micro levels have been driven by to a large extent by the influence of ideas emanating from the feminist and anti-racist movements, and from post-modernist thinkers such as Michel Foucault.