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Words of the Week, III

Again, current events compel me to share with you another batch of essential reading. (And if you’ve missed them, you might also wish to check the first two installments I shared this week.)

From Jeffrey Goldberg:
“Israel, then, is faced with three enormous and difficult tasks. It must do a much better job of minimizing Palestinian casualties as it fights Hamas, because this is a moral necessity and a strategic imperative. It must also do something it hasn’t done well at all, which is to create an alternate reality on the West Bank, one that shows Palestinians a different and brighter sort of future than the one promised by Hamas. And — and this is its main task at the moment — it must ensure that its citizens aren’t kidnapped and murdered by a group that seeks not an equitable two-state solution but the annihilation of their country.” Continue reading ›

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Words of the Week, II

There is so much important writing appearing this difficult week that I must provide a follow-up to Monday’s post.

From Liel Leibovitz:
“Anyone with a genuine commitment to human rights—not to mention sympathy for the Palestinian cause—should join Israel in its efforts to rid the world of such sheer evil and topple Hamas. To leave Hamas in power is not a moderate solution to anything. It is to become complicit in the agenda and the actions of a terrorist organization in inflicting terrible and continuing pain not only on its neighbors but also on its own people.” (“Some Concrete Facts About Hamas,” Tablet)

From Rabbi Daniel M. Cohen:
“At the same time, while there are indeed, ‘many strong opinions,’ not all opinions are equally valid. And while I know it is not politically correct to say so, some opinions are simply wrong.” (“Sorry, Jon Stewart, There Are Opinions, and There Are Facts,” New Jersey Jewish News) Continue reading ›

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Words of the Week: Jane Eisner

“But divestment is not only about wielding punishment; it’s about shaping a moral conversation. Some of us feel as good about withholding our dollars as we do about spending them. The Presbyterians stressed that the vote was a statement about the occupation, not about Israel’s right to exist or, heaven forfend, their love of their Jewish brothers and sisters.

Ah, but it is. Because when they singled out only Israel’s actions, troubling though they may be, at a time when the region is aflame with tribal violence, they did hold one nation to a standard that others are not obliged or expected to meet. How is that not unfair and hypocritical? How does that not undermine Israel’s legitimacy?

As for their love for me and my Jewish brethren, it may be sincere but it’s awfully misguided. You’ll not usually find me in the Netanyahu amen corner, nor am I prone to identify anti-Semitism at every turn. But when Jewish treatment of Palestinians is judged worse than the way any other dominant group treats a minority, when it is deemed worthy of unique sanction, when other horrors around the world are ignored — how can I believe that this isn’t about the Jews? And that, my Presbyterian friends, is anti-Semitism.”

Source, Jane Eisner, “Why Presbyterian Divestment Feels Like Anti-Semitism,” in The Forward.

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Words of the Week: Jonathan Marks

“The anti-Semitic tropes in these statements are not subtle. But even if they were, I wonder why the academic left, which is usually so attuned to the subtlety of racism and sexism, puts up such a high bar for anti-Semitism. Suddenly ‘But I said Zionist, not Jew’; or ‘I’m a Jew, so I can’t possibly be in league with haters of Jews’; or ‘Yes, I’m focusing on the Jewish state and no other state, but so what?’; or ‘Sure, I’m echoing standard anti-Semitic tropes, but they’re really applicable here’ are incontrovertible arguments, and it becomes bad form to suggest that anti-Semitism is at work unless someone is screaming anti-Semitic slogans.”

Source: Jonathan Marks, “‘Zionist Attack Dogs’? The MLA’s Debate on Israel Might Go Viral,” on The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s “The Conversation” blog. (Please do read the whole thing. Then, you’ll see why I’m not at all unhappy that I’m no longer an MLA member.)

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From My Bookshelf: “Helpful to Israel and the Jewish People”–An Interview with Nora Gold

FieldsofExileDr. Nora Gold’s Fields of Exile has been described as the first novel about anti-Israelism on campus, and it has received enthusiastic advance praise from Phyllis Chesler, Thane Rosenbaum, Steve Stern, and others. Gold is also the author of the acclaimed Marrow and Other Stories, which won a Canadian Jewish Book Award, as well as praise from Alice Munro, who – after reading the title story - wrote Gold: “Bravo!”

I’ve been a fan of the Toronto-based Gold and her work since reading that collection. And I’ve also had work published in Jewish Fiction.net, an online journal that Gold founded and edits. When I discovered that Fields of Exile was slated for a May 2014 release, I knew that I’d be eager to read it (and I said so in a piece for The Forward‘s Arty Semite blog at the beginning of the year). As I noted then, the new novel seems all-too-timely to anyone following news accounts about the vilification of Israel in academia. According to the novel’s publisher, Dundurn, this novel is “about love, betrayal, and the courage to stand up for what one believes as well as a searing indictment of the hypocrisy and intellectual sloth that threatens the integrity of our society.”

Gold is also a blogger for “The Jewish Thinker” at Haaretz, and the Writer-in-Residence and an Associate Scholar at the Centre for Women’s Studies in Education (CWSE) at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto. Gold holds both Canadian and Israeli citizenship.

Please welcome Nora Gold! Continue reading ›

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