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January 21, 2017 / 23 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘author’

‘Women and Jihad’ in Israel

Monday, January 16th, 2017

How many people have wondered throughout the years why a teenage Arab girl – let alone a grown woman – would ever want to blow herself up for “jihad” ?

It’s a question that has been answered in countless news interviews by American, Israeli and Arab media, many with odd sympathy for the family of the terrorist rather than her victims.

Now, my colleague and anglo journalist Rachel Avraham delves into the subject in depth with a new book to analyze what actually drives the phenomena, plus how and why they are covered by media as they are.

Unsurprisingly, Avraham reports on the serious threats imposed on journalists who dare to expose the truth about the violence and cultivation of terrorism in Palestinian Authority society. (See Chapter Six, p. 160)

She also reveals far-left extremist intimidation at one Israeli university that forces students either to acquiesce and accept a pro-Palestinian Authority perspective in their work toward a degree, or to give up and leave.

Years of study went into this tome, some of which was carried out during Avraham’s own work towards her Masters Degree in Middle Eastern Studies at Ben Gurion University of the Negev.

The book ‘Women and Jihad’ is a ‘must-read’ for those who wish to understand the role of female Arab terrorists of any age, and what media coverage of female terrorism in Israel is really all about.

“Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media” is published by Gefen Publishing House, Jerusalem and New York.

Hana Levi Julian

Hollywood Actress Carrie Fisher, Dead at 60

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher has passed away at the age of 60 after suffering cardiac arrest. She is best known for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the Star Wars trilogy.

The daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Carrie Fisher grew up in Hollywood and grew up in the world of movies, song and theater from her earliest years. By age 15, she herself had become an actress as well.

Fisher was hospitalized earlier this week after suffering a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles, just 15 minutes from arrival at LAX airport.

Fisher was a strong advocate in the field of mental health, after having suffered in her own life with drug addiction and bipolar disorder.

She was an author as well as an actress and published several books.

Hana Levi Julian

When A Jerusalem Neighborhood Was A Transit Camp

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

There was a time, decades ago, when Jewish immigrants to Israel were housed in hastily built huts – somewhat similar to those in which Bedouin families begin their communities out in the desert and hilly areas of the Judean and Negev desert areas today.

That was true even in the holy city of Jerusalem, where Jews from Egypt found themselves living in a transit camp upon their immigration to Israel shortly after the birth of the state.

Author and Rabbi Haim Sabato tells the story of that time in a book he wrote – the fifth book he has authored, in fact – which talks about the difficulties he and his family experienced during their immigration to Israel from Egypt.

In the book Rabbi Sabato writes about life in the transit camp where he and his family was housed, which eventually became the picturesque Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat Yovel.

By 1950, nearly 40 percent of Egypt’s Jewish population of nearly 80,000 had headed north across the border to the new Jewish state, a prescient move that saved them from the experience of the friends and family they left behind. The Egyptian government expelled its Jewish population and seized their property in the late 1950s. Today the Jewish population in Egypt numbers fewer than a few dozen.

Hana Levi Julian

Jewish Woman Murdered in Turkey

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

A Turkish Jewish woman who was married to a non-Jewish Turkish man lost her life after she was run over by a man in Istanbul.

The woman was well known as a successful author, according to the Turkish-language edition of the Daily Hurriyet.

The circumstances of her death are not clear, according to the report, which said that local police have opened an investigation into the murder.

Hana Levi Julian

The History Of A Miraculous Country: An Interview with Author Daniel Gordis

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

“Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn” (Ecco Press) is the title of Daniel Gordis’s most recent book – his 11th. Gordis is senior vice president of Shalem College and a columnist for the Jerusalem Post and Bloomberg View. His writings have also appeared in The New York Times, The New Republic, Azure, Commentary, and Foreign Affairs. Gordis, who holds a Ph.D. degree from the University of Southern California, made aliyah in 1998.

The Jewish Press: You begin your book with a quote from David Ben-Gurion: “In Israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles.” What miracles do you see in Israel’s history?

Gordis: The fact that in 1897 Herzl organized the first Zionist Congress in Basel and 50 years later – to the day almost – the United Nations endorsed the partition plan [is a miracle]. If you think about it, only 20 years passed between the first Zionist Congress and the British passing the Balfour Declaration – that’s also an extraordinary accomplishment. Then you think about the fact that in 1948, about five percent of the world’s Jews lived in Israel and now Israel is the world’s largest Jewish community. I think that’s the kind of thing Ben-Gurion was talking about.

Israel was founded on May 14, 1948, yet roughly 40 percent of your book is devoted to the period preceding that date. Why?

Because you can’t really understand Israel unless you understand the Zionist dream of creating a Jewish state. In other words, people who start the history in 1948 encounter a country that is fundamentally in conflict and are not exposed at all to the yearnings of the Jewish people to restore themselves to their ancestral homeland.

The other issue, of course – if you start in 1948 – is you don’t understand that Arab resistance to Israel predates the state by decades. You don’t know anything about 1929 when the Arabs wiped out the hundreds-year-old Hebron Jewish community in the course of a few days, and you don’t know anything about the fact that in 1936 the British suggested that the Jews and Arabs split the land and the Jews said yes and the Arabs said no. So you really can’t start in 1948. It’s like joining a movie in the middle.

One of the Zionists’ remarkable achievements was reviving Hebrew as a living language. Why was Hebrew so important to them? Certainly it would have been easier for them to continue speaking Yiddish, their mother tongue.

Fundamentally, the Zionists wanted to create a new kind of a Jew. David Gruen became David Ben-Gurion, Golda Myerson became Golda Meir, Simon Perski became Shimon Peres, and so on and so forth. Changing their names was not an accident. It was a way of saying, “We want to throw off the shackles of what we think Diaspora Judaism is” – and among those shackles was Yiddish.

In a way, going back to the language of the Bible was going back to the story of the Jewish people before they were exiled. Hebrew is the language of the Jewish people before exile, and Yiddish is the language of the Jews in the Diaspora. The Zionists saw Yiddish as the language of the world they were trying to leave.

In the book, you quote an Israeli historian who wrote, “Plainly it was an excruciating ordeal for Yiddish- and Russian-speaking Jews to employ Hebrew as their daily idiom at home and in the field, when every instinct cried out for relaxation. But they submitted to this discipline….”

Yes, it is remarkable. But it was a very gradual process. It took a generation of people born in Israel for it to really seep its way in. Even people like Ben-Gurion and Begin when they were in the prime minister’s office sometimes spoke Yiddish to their staff.

You write in the book that despite all the hardships Israel faced at its founding, it somehow managed to absorb an astounding number of immigrants. Can you elaborate?

Yes, it was the greatest number of immigrants absorbed per capita. In other words, there were about 800,000 people Israel in 1948, and within a few years it took in a million people. It would be like the United States today taking in 330 million people. It’s an unbelievable accomplishment. There’s apparently no country in the history of the world that has taken in as many immigrants percentage-wise of its population.

It was by no means easy. There was food rationing in the early 1950s and there was not enough shelter, so people were put in maabarot, especially Jews from North African countries. But it’s miraculous that the Jews were somehow able to pull it off.

Today many people discuss Israel’s demographic problem in the West Bank. You write, though, that had 700,000 Arabs not fled Israel in 1948-49, Israel would have suffered a tremendous demographic problem from its very inception. What, then, were the Zionists thinking?

It’s an excellent question. There were two states created by the United Nations on November 29, 1947 – a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Arab state was almost 100 percent Arab, and the Jewish state was 40 percent Arab. The truth of the matter is that if the Arabs had just bided their time and not started a conflict, they probably would have been able to overwhelm the Jewish community with immigration and become the majority.

But the Arabs made the ridiculous mistake of starting a war with Israel, and Ben-Gurion understood that having 40 percent Arabs in the country was not sustainable. So some of the Arabs fled because their leaders fled, but others fled because they were either pushed out or frightened out by Jewish forces. It’s very easy to criticize the steps taken during the War of Independence, but if you think about it, had that not happened, it probably would have been impossible for Israel to be both Jewish and democratic, and the likelihood that the Jewish state could survive as either not Jewish or democratic seems to me very small.

In fact, Benny Morris – who is a very secular kind of left-of-center Israeli historian at Ben Gurion University – said in a Haaretz interview about 10 years ago he thinks Ben-Gurion should have gone further [and forced out even more Arabs].

The subtitle of one of your chapters is “The Rise and Revenge of Israel’s Political Right.” What was this rise and revenge?

It’s the rise of Likud in 1977. By 1977, Menachem Begin had lost eight times. He was 63 years old. The expectation was that he was going to lose for a ninth time and be driven out of politics altogether. But he won a stunning victory, which happened in large measure because the Mizrachi Jews – Jews from North Africa, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, etc. – had come to Israel and basically been pretty badly treated by the European Ashkenazi elite. They were looked down upon because of their different culture, because they weren’t university-educated in many cases, and a little bit because of their darker skin.

Menachem Begin – even though he was a Polish Ashkenazi Jew in every single way – was known for really revering Jews no matter what their background. In the Betar anthem, it says “Ivri, gam b’oni, ben sar – Any Hebrew, no matter how poor, is still the son of a prince.” So Begin showed tremendous respect for these [Mizrachi] Jews, and in 1977 there was a kind of rebellion against the hyper secular elite and the Likud came into power – and has been in power for much of the time since.

Elliot Resnick

Letters, Postcards, Show a Jewish-Identified, Pro-Zionist Author Stefan Zweig Who Prophesied Rise of Nazism

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

In 1921, Austrian Jewish novelist, playwright, journalist and biographer Stefan Zweig received a letter from a 16-year-old fan named Hans Rosenkranz, who was seeking advice on becoming a writer. Zweig, who was 40 at the time, wrote back, beginning a long correspondence that turned into a mentoring relationship. From 1921 until Adolf Hitler seized power in 1933, Zweig offered Rosenkranz professional, moral, and even financial support.

The 26 letters and six postcards – all previously unknown, have recently been given to the National Library of Israel. They shed new light on Zweig’s personality, his attitudes toward Judaism and Zionism, and his political prophecy, as he alludes to the rise of Nazism 12 years before the harrowing event.

The letters have been donated to the National Library of Israel by Hannah Jacobcon, Rosenkranz’s step daughter, who lives in the coastal city of Bat Yam, Israel. At the time, Zweig gave Rosenkranz, who had become a publisher, the right to print and market the German version of Anatole France’s “Joan of Arc,” translated by Friderike Zweig, the author’s his first wife.

In their correspondence, Zweig discussed Jewish topics, such as his note in his first response letter: “There is nothing I hate more than the self-worship of nations and their refusal to recognize a variety of forms of peoples and the types of human beings and to experience them as the beauty of being. In terms of history, it is simply clear to me that certainly Judaism is now thriving culturally and flourishing as it has not flourished for hundreds of years. Perhaps this is the flare up before extinguishing. Perhaps this is nothing other than a brief burst in the eruption of the world’s hatred. […] The Jew must be proud of his Judaism and glorify in it – yet it is not appropriate to brag about accomplishments you have achieved with your own hands, not to mention the accomplishments of a mass and homogenous body to which you belong. […] Anti-Semitism, hatred, internal strife are all ancient elements of our historical destiny – always problematic. […] We must therefore look for a way out; we must be brave to remain within our destiny. If Judaism is a tragedy, let us live it.”

In response to Rosenkranz’s inquiry about Zweig’s opinion regarding immigrating to the Land of Israel, Zweig, who had never visited then Mandatory Palestine, was not in favor of the idea, telling the younger man about the death of the son of a friend who had immigrated there, which left his father “a broken vessel.”

On the other hand, Zweig admired Theodore Herzl, writing his protégé: “In recent days I have read Herzl’s diaries: so great was the idea, so pure, so long as it was just a dream, clean of politics and sociology. […] We, who were close to him, were hesitant to hand all of our lives over to him. […] I told him that I cannot do anything which is not complete. […] Art and the world as a whole were too important for me to devote myself to the nation and nothing else. […] Go there only if you believe, not out of disgust from this German world nor due to bitterness seeking an outlet through escape.”

However, according to Amos Elon, Zweig called Herzl’s book Der Judenstaat an “obtuse text, [a] piece of nonsense.”

Rosenkranz was unable to fulfill his literary ambitions. In the early 1930s, he married Lily Hyman, a divorcee and mother of a very young daughter. The family immigrated to Palestine in December 1933 and several years later Rosenkranz joined the Jewish Brigade of the British Army as an officer in a unit that fought in Italy during World War II. During the war, he contracted lung disease from which he never fully recovered.


Casa Stefan Zweig, the last residence of Stefan Zweig and his wife in Petrópolis (Brazil), where the couple committed suicide in 1942.

Casa Stefan Zweig, the last residence of Stefan Zweig and his second wife in Petrópolis (Brazil), where the couple committed suicide in 1942.

According to the National Library of Israel, which invites the public to come and view the new collection, Hans Rosenkranz committed suicide in 1956, after having immigrated to Israel. Fourteen years earlier, in 1942, Zweig, on the day after completing his memoir, The World of Yesterday, also committed suicide, together with his wife Lotte Altmann. Rosenkranz’s step daughter Hannah Jacobsohn, a retired police officer, told National Library archivists that her stepfather had a very broad education and vast knowledge of literature and art. In addition to his long correspondence with Zweig, she has learned that Rosenkranz also corresponded with writers Thomas Mann, Klaus Mann, and Franz Goldstein, to name a few.


The Rise And Fall Of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood: An Interview with Author Eric Trager

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

Five years ago, many in the West were hailing the “Arab Spring,” viewing the wave of uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, and elsewhere as the harbinger of a new liberal democratic era for the Middle East. No such era ensued. In Egypt, for example, the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak’s regime led not to a liberal government but to one run by the radical Muslim Brotherhood. And in 2013, Egypt’s military – headed by General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi – overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood and returned the country to autocratic rule.

Eric Trager, a fellow at the Washington Institute, did research in Egypt during the Arab Spring, interviewing dozens of Muslim Brotherhood members, including the future Egyptian president, Muhammad Morsi. He analyzes the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise and fall in Egypt in his recently-published “Arab Fall: How the Muslim Brotherhood Won and Lost Egypt in 891 Days” (Georgetown University Press).

The Jewish Press: For those who know little about the Muslim Brotherhood, what can you say about it by way of introduction?

Trager: The Muslim Brotherhood is an Islamist organization founded in Egypt in 1928 at a time when Muslim thinkers were pondering why the Islamic world had fallen behind the West. One of the answers a certain group of thinkers gave was that reviving Islam required reviving the Sharia [Islamic law] and that reviving Islam and Islamic practice would ultimately enable the Muslim world to stand alongside and even challenge the West.

So the Muslim Brotherhood seeks to Islamize Egyptian society in order to establish an Islamic state in Egypt and then use that state as a foothold for establishing a global Islamic state.

How does it do that, practically speaking?

By recruiting very dedicated members. Every Muslim Brother goes through a 5-8 year indoctrination process, at the end of which he swears an oath to obey orders from the organization’s leaders. Those members are then distributed in a nationwide command chain in which cells of followers march to the orders of a central leadership known as the Guidance Office.

The important point here is that the Muslim Brotherhood is the only organization of this kind in Egypt. In other words, it is the only organization that up until recently had a nationwide command chain that directed very dedicated foot soldiers on the ground. And that’s why it rose to power so closely after the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

You argue that the Muslim Brotherhood is a radical group. Many in Washington, though, regarded it as a moderate group during the Arab Spring. In fact, the Obama administration welcomed the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power in Egypt. Why?

After 9/11, various analysts in Washington and academia argued that the way to fight jihad was to engage Islamist groups that spoke the same political dialect but renounced violence. So the Muslim Brotherhood was seen as one of these groups because it had renounced violence to some extent in the 1970s.

The problem with calling the Muslim Brotherhood moderate, though, is that in this context it really just means the Muslim Brotherhood is moderate relative to al Qaeda – which is not much of a standard of moderation. But rather than saying the Muslim Brotherhood is moderate compared to al Qaeda, many analysts simply declared it moderate – and that left Washington unprepared when the Muslim Brotherhood won power and governed in a very autocratic and ultimately radical fashion.

Many in the West regarded the Arab Spring as a liberal movement seeking democracy. What is your view?

There’s no question that during the early Arab spring protests there was a strong sentiment against autocracy and in favor of political reform. But the most important thing to remember about the Arab Spring is that masses of people came together against something – namely dictatorship – but once the dictator was gone, they were unable to coalesce around any other type of consensus. That’s why a very well organized group such as the Muslim Brotherhood was able to take advantage and win power very quickly.

What is the situation like now in Egypt?

It’s very difficult. The political situation is very autocratic and repressive and the economic situation is deteriorating. But the difficult experience of the Arab Spring has made many Egyptians wary of calling for another uprising. It’s difficult to say how long that will last, but I think the lesson of the Arab Spring is that uprisings don’t always make things better and can, in fact, make things much worse.

What’s the status of the Muslim Brotherhood today in Egypt and in the Middle East more broadly?

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was crushed since Mohamed Morsi was removed from power on July 3, 2013. Its hierarchy has been decapitated, tens of thousands of its members are in prison, and many thousands more are probably in exile. Perhaps over a thousand have been killed. So while you have many thousands of Muslim Brothers who are still living in Egypt, they are laying low politically.

In Istanbul, some Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood members have congregated and tried to resurrect he organization from abroad and have established four to five satellite media channels that broadcast their message.

Muslim Brotherhood groups are also active in Tunisia, Jordan, Gaza, the Syrian sphere, and beyond. So even though the Brotherhood has been crushed in Egypt, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the organization.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) presents itself as a moderate group, but some conservatives claim it is something of a Muslim Brotherhood front. What’s your opinion?

What defines the Muslim Brotherhood is a rigid command chain and a membership that has gone through a specific indoctrination process. I don’t believe those two features apply to CAIR. However, it may be the case that individuals affiliated with various Brotherhood organizations are within CAIR. It’s very difficult to say, though, because many Muslim Brothers – in the West as well as in some Middle Eastern countries – don’t identify themselves as such.

Elliot Resnick

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/the-rise-and-fall-of-egypts-muslim-brotherhood-an-interview-with-author-eric-trager/2016/11/16/

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