Monthly Archives: September 2004

America the new Jew?

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has an interesting article over at Jewsweek basically arguing that America is the new Jew, hated for it’s moral stance and activist nature.
Well, I argued basically the same point in my post Red, White, Blue and Green Eyes back in July–sans a bit of the politics Rabbi Boteach proudly proclaims.
Interesting how a meme travels.

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The one article to read on the UN

If you could read only one article on the UN and its conduct in Darfur, you should read David Brooks’ from this Sat.
No one quote can capture the brilliant rhetoric, so please do read it.
And, once you do, you will readily recognize the irony that the Times reports this today:

If the Security Council ultimately decides on sanctions, its impact on the Sudanese government’s finances and the lives of ordinary people is impossible to measure.
The Council has also agreed to empanel an independent commission to investigate whether the violence in western Sudan constitutes genocide.

They will, surely, say “never again” once this is done.
And what can I do? What can you do? The only thing I’ve found to do so far–as a lay, unempowered member of society–is to support the iabolish movement. If you have any other ideas, please tell me.

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Morality of Geostrategic Policy

A Ha’aretz article brings up an issue that I’ve been meaning to tackle for a while, namely the question of how the State of Israel should normatively deal with non-Jewish minorities within the Jewish State.
Since my time is short, I will pose it as a question, and give a few points of view.
The question is, should Israel–now that it is formed–give up the original spirit of its forming, that being the reclaiming of the ancestral land of the Jewish people, by aiding the communal life of its non-Jewish citizens, or should it continually push for increased Jewish domination of the Land of Israel?
I think that Jewish tradition strikes an interesting medium between these two options, and I think it is best illustrated in the story of the People of Israel coming to the holy land as told in the Bible. On the one hand, before the People of Israel enter the land, they are instructed to destroy all that is therein, so that they may fully control the land promised to their forefathers. On the other hand, once they settle, they are repeatedly told to afford rights and privileges to their non-Jewish (or Israelite if you wish it that way) neighbors, since they “know how it was to be strangers in a strange land.”
Viewing this through the prism of contemporary psychology–specifically Maslow’s hierarchy of needs–we can see an Israel without house or home doing whatever it takes to get one (thereby justifying full-out warfare) at the beginning of the story, and later an Israel secure in its primary needs giving rights to its resident aliens, because it knows how it is to live without house and home.
This brings me to the answer to the question above, which is a question in-and-of itself: are Israel’s primary needs–its need for house and home, for food and security–threatened by those non-Jewish citizens of its State? If not, then no policy that would seek to disposes those aliens is justifiable, and they must receive the same rights as any Jewish citizen of the State. If they do threaten the primary needs of the State of Israel, the State is morally justified in taking whatever actions it must–within limits, of course–to secure its existence.
This question, I think, needs to be answered by the non-Jewish leadership in Israel. If they are to declare, unequivocally, that they are invested in the State of Israel and are willing to live and die for its existence, than they certainly pose no threat to its existence. If, on the other hand, they only see it as a temporary place they hope to eventually turn into the State of Palestine, then the State need take action to prevent the transformation.
So, to the article, do I think that the mitzpim project is justified? I don’t know. I haven’t heard much from the Israeli Arab population lately. Just for a little perspective, no other state would operate differently–but I hope the Jewish State will operate at a higher moral standard. And I hope the Israeli Arab population will step up to the test of citizenship.

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Hear it one last time

The first film from Jewish Impact Films, the fellowship I went on, is on the web.
Check it out. It’s a mitzva. Mine should be up soon.
More: Mobius from Jewschool, by coincidence “uses” the title. Guess he can get away with it–Yom Kippur is coming up.

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Slowdown in content

I do apologize for the slowdown in content. Between serving as president of my college’s student body, taking six classes–including three seminars and one class that might as well be a seminar, writing a senior thesis on identity politics in the Middle East and trying to pay my bills–well, as you can see, blogging isn’t my first priority.
Though it should. Wish people would pay me to do this.
So please be patient for the next few weeks as I get myself into gear.

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Happy New Year 5765

One funny thing that always struck me was how Rosh HaShana, what we call the Jewish New Year, is no more than one of the many times in the Jewish cycle of time during which time is renewed.
Which made me think–if there are so many opportunities to start a new year, what does that say about time itself?
I think–and correct me if I’m wrong–that what can be learned from the multiple celebrations of renewal in the Jewish calendar is that, well, every day can be a new year. Every instant is a new instant. Every breath is a new breath.
Rosh HaShana, then, is the a chance to celebrate all of these changes at once–to bless the Eternal, the singular plural of totality, for giving us the ability to witness each and every change, for giving us the ability to experience anything at all.

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Two Discrepancies in the News

Two things are bothering me lately:
1. Why isn’t the news asking who leaked the Larry Franklin investigation, just like they were all over the Plame investigation? No, they are not exactly the same, but one would think that, after the Plame scandal, the media would be more careful when dealing with an investigation into intelligence services, especially when, after a year of investigation, no charges have been made.
2. Why isn’t the news jumping all over the forged Bush documents just like they jumped all over the forged documents in the Niger case? Both are highly political forgeries supposedly made in conspiracy to affect American politics. Why is the press not offended it was duped this time around?

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