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Words of the Week

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“When Jews murder in the name of Judaism we all bow our heads in shame and in mourning, for this is a loss both for Jews and for Judaism.”

Source: Rabbi Josh Weinberg, ARZA President

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Words of the Week

“Information changes when it moves from one context to another. To cite a recurring example in the kibbutzniks’ conversations at the time: it is one thing to remark that seeing displaced Palestinians in wartime reminds you of the situation of Jews in the Holocaust—meaning that you remind yourself of the Nazis—if you are speaking in Hebrew to other shaken Jewish veterans in a bomb shelter a week or two after returning from the battlefield. Saying the same thing, as this movie does, to a sated film-festival audience at Sundance or Cannes is something else. It is one thing to say this at a time when many Israelis were gripped by elation at their victory and when the plight of the Palestinians was largely ignored both in Israel and abroad; it is quite another to do so in 2015, when Israel has become singled out as the world’s most egregious violator of human rights, if not the new incarnation of Nazism. And it is one thing to draw a comparison with the Holocaust in a booklet intended for other kibbutzniks, which is what the soldiers believed they were doing in 1967—and quite another to say this in a movie co-produced by Germans.”

Source: Matti Friedman, “Israel and the Moral Striptease,” Mosaic magazine.

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Words of the Week

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Just go read Richard Kemp’s New York Times op-ed, “The U.N.’s Flawed Gaza Verdict,” in its entirety. (NB: I used the title I found in the print version; online, the title is “The U.N.’s Gaza Report is Flawed and Dangerous.”)

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From My Screen: ABOVE AND BEYOND

Over the Shavuot/Memorial Day weekend, I watched an extraordinary film. In its simplest terms, the film might be described (as a New York Times reviewer has written) as follows: “Produced by Nancy Spielberg (sister of Steven Spielberg), the documentary ‘Above and Beyond’ recounts the story of Jewish American pilots who, beginning in 1948, secretly fought for Israel in its war of independence, when the Israeli military was nascent.”

It’s an amazing story. To be sure, it’s not without its discomforts. For starters, the American Jews who participated in this effort were risking their U.S. citizenship. But by the end of the film, one can’t help thinking of the devastating consequences had they not made the choices that they did.

The same NYT reviewer mentioned above also notes that “the movie’s one-sided view of history is bound to start arguments.” Maybe. But if this is a “one-sided view of history,” it’s also an accurate view of history. For instance, the Arab countries’ 1947 rejection of the U.N. Partition Plan that would have created the first-ever Palestinian state is included as part of the prelude to Israel’s War of Independence. Not everyone is cognizant of this pre-history to Israel’s declaration of statehood. Is its inclusion what the reviewer means by “one-sided”?

Regardless, I strongly recommend this film, especially for anyone who wants to learn more about the establishment of the State of Israel and the contributions of American Jews to that achievement. Above and Beyond can be viewed via (some) on-demand cable companies, iTunes, and at screenings. You’ll find more information on the film’s website.

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Words of the Week

“’Divided by politics, Israelis and Palestinians are united by a love for the same land with its rich indivisible history, and now even shared saints,’ the Pope could have declared, addressing Abbas and Rivlin in Rome, in a speech broadest simultaneously on Israeli and Palestinian television. He could have gone on to challenge members of both nations to consider what else unites them, and to suggest that shared saints is just one manifestation of how the Church could be a constructive bridge to peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

The Pope could have deployed his moral authority in recent days to bring Palestinians and Israelis together, and send out a very real call for conciliation between them. Instead, he lent out this moral authority, and even the solemn rite of canonization, for diplomatic point-scoring.”

Source: Nathan Jeffay, “Pope No Saint On Palestinian Saints? Missed opportunity to stress unity on both sides of the Green Line.” (The Jewish Week)

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A Poem On Yom Yerushalayim

jerusalem_israel1As Yom Yerushalayim is observed today, I am reminded of a poem I wrote a few years ago. Titled “Jerusalem Dream,” the poem was a response to a challenge issued via The Missouri Review. You can read all about that poem–and the original challenge that inspired it–over here.

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