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The Knesset members who “take care of things” for us deserve to be praised, not insulted: people like Uri Ariel and Zevulun Orlev, whose offices are filled day and night with the representatives of organizations and institutions, religious and secular. And they “take care” of these people. It’s true that Ariel and Orlev received popularity ratings of only three percent in a recent poll of the national-religious community, but this isn’t their problem—it’s the respondents’ problem. Orlev and Ariel are too busy for self-promotion.
I vote Republican because I support the party's core message of individualism, patriotism, and respect for tradition, in contrast to the core Democratic message of dependence, self-criticism, and "progress." I am inspired by the original reading of the U.S. Constitution, by ideals of personal freedom and American exceptionalism. I vote for small government, for a return of power to the states, for a strong military, and an assertive pursuit of national interests.
It happens every four years, as U.S. presidential elections roll around: I feel like a stranger. That's because news reports blare out what's not of interest: trivial statistics (171,000 jobs added in October; jobless rate up 0.1 percent to 7.9 percent), biographical irrelevancies (claims that Romney outsourced jobs to other countries when at Bain Capital), and forgettable gaffes (Obama saying that "Voting is the best revenge"). This limited discussion misses the main points.
The Nation of Islam's historic role as a bridge between American blacks and Islam ended in 1975 when W. Deen Mohammed followed his father, Elijah Muhammad, as leader of the Nation and immediately disavowed his father's folk religion, bringing his followers to normative Islam, the Islam of the Middle East. From then on, despite the theatrics of Louis Farrakhan, the Nation has been in a long downward trajectory. Now comes evidence, thanks to Tony Ortega in the Village Voice and Eliza Gray in The New Republic, of a jaw-dropping turn by Farrakhan, 79, to Scientology; as Gray's subtitle puts it, "America's two weirdest sects join forces."
Chagall’s reputation needs no burnishing and yet refinements are always welcome. Indeed the Nassau County Museum of Art has mounted a wonderfully extensive survey of Chagall’s works with a unique emphasis on his 1957 Bible series of hand-colored etchings that significantly casts many aspects of his work as uniquely Jewish. Amid the complexity of Chagall’s entire oeuvre, this is deeply significant in the exhibition history of non-Jewish institutions.
Passion of belief can certainly lead to passion of expression, especially for an artist. Rosa Katzenelson’s paintings and digital artwork, currently at the Hadas Gallery in Brooklyn, could easily define the very essence of religious expressionism. As a Chabad devotee, every aspect of her work exudes a passion for both the chassidic subjects she depicts and the visceral act of making a painting. Nonetheless, upon closer inspection her work yields considerably more complexity.
Barack Obama has a weak record in the Middle East, but one would not learn this from the debate, where Mitt Romney praised Obama's achievements ("It's wonderful that Libya seems to be making some progress"), agreed with Obama more than he disagreed, and rarely pointed out his failings. Presumably, Romney took this mild approach to establish his likability, competence, and suitability to serve as commander-in-chief.
The issue of what happened in Benghazi, Libya in September 11, 2012 is likely to come up in at least one if not several of the different topic areas. President Obama will seek to put a definitive end to the questioning about how his administration handled the crisis, and presidential-hopeful Mitt Romney will seek to lay out the inconsistencies in the narratives presented by this administration over the course of the six weeks since the tragedy.
Why does the Turkish government act so aggressively against the Assad regime of Syria? Perhaps Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hopes that lobbing artillery shells into Syria will help bring a satellite government to power in Damascus. Maybe he expects that sending a Turkish war plane into Syrian air space or forcing down a Syrian civilian plane en route from Russia will win him favor in the West and bring in NATO. Conceivably, it's all a grand diversion from imminent economic crisis due to borrowing too much.
The unwillingness of the Obama administration to label the September occupation of American diplomatic facilities in Cairo and Benghazi, and the murder of an American diplomat "acts of war" make this an opportune moment to consider two lessons emanating from more than a decade of warfare in the Arab and Moslem world.
Shimon Shiffer reports in Yedioth Ahronoth that in secret talks in 2010 via U.S. government mediator Frederic C. Hof, Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu agreed in principle to a full withdrawal from the Golan Heights to the June 4, 1967, lines in return for the "expectation" of Bashar al-Assad cutting ties with Iran, and that the nearly-completed negotiations ended because of the anti-Assad uprising that began in January 2011.
Over the Sukkot holiday, 12 Jews were arrested and many more were harassed and denied religious rights on the Temple Mount over the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. Eight of the arrests were for prayer crimes and three were for peacefully protesting the policies of discrimination and denigration. Here's a day by day report.
Several attacks on Jews over the Sukkot holiday across France have exemplified a whopping 45 percent reported increase in anti-Semitic attacks in the country in the first eight months of 2012.
Mitt Romney gave a generally fine speech today on the Middle East. Sensibly, he criticized the Obama administration for its Benghazi shenanigans, for the "daylight" with Israel, fecklessness vis-à-vis Tehran, and the cuts in military spending. Very justifiably, he called it "time to change course in the Middle East." But I worry about three specifics.