Words of the Week: President Barack Obama

In fact, I am proud to say that no U.S. administration has done more in support of Israel’s security than ours. None. Don’t let anybody else tell you otherwise. It is a fact.

Source: President Barack Obama’s keynote address before the Union for Reform Judaism’s Biennial.
Read the text online, or (even better), watch the President give one of his best speeches ever. (IMHO, as the kids say.)

It didn’t hurt that he wished the group a “Shabbat Shalom”; mentioned that “NFTY, I understand, is in the house”; shared his fatherly concerns over the skirts and curfews involved when his daughter Malia attends Bar and Bat Mitzvah events these days; credited the Reform movement for its essential, foundational work on civil rights; and gave a D’var Torah worthy of a pulpit rabbi.

But in the end, he needed to convince his readers that he supports Israel.

He convinced me.

Words of the Week: Mikhail Baryshnikov

I’ve always adored Mikhail Baryshnikov. But now I have an additional reason to appreciate him.

Meeting recently with the press in Israel, where he is starring in a play (Dmitry Krymov’s stage adaptation of Nobel Laureate Ivan Bunin’s [1870 – 1953] short story, “In Paris,” performed in Russian with Hebrew subtitles), Baryshnikov gave the following answer when pressed about politics:

“I’m not taking sides in any conflict. Art should heal and not divide. I would not give advice to any person; I don’t live in Israel and am not entitled. I deeply admire this country and love these people.”

Bravo–and thank you–Misha.

Words of the Week: Jeffrey Goldberg

Yes, I’m sending you to Jeffrey Goldberg once again. You could look up his initial response to the news about Gilad Shalit (my personal take: so happy for Shalit and his family; so worried for the reasons Goldberg articulates).

But what I’m going to quote here is from another recent post:

If the double-veto last week by Russia and China of a Security Council resolution condemning Syria isn’t enough to prove to you that the UN is a swamp of moral corruption and ostentatious hypocrisy, I’m not sure what will.

Read “Goldblog”‘s full Bloomberg View column here.

Words of the Week: Adam Kirsch

Thanks to Stephen Walt (of Harvard) and John J. Mearsheimer (of the University of Chicago), the phrase “Israel Lobby,” often enough translated into “Jewish Lobby,” has become almost as commonplace in American leftist discourse as the phrase “Jewish syndicate” was among the French right during the Dreyfus Affair.

Just one sentence from Adam Kirsch’s superb Tablet review-essay, the general subject of which is “the American Jewish response to Sept. 11” and “the anti-Semitism, trauma, and mourning that still linger after the attacks .”

Words of the Week: Howard Jacobson

‘If the Israeli military attacks us, it will be as if they attacked the mailman,’ [Alice Walker] says. Wrong on a thousand counts. As a writer, Alice Walker must understand the symbolic significance of words. The cargo is a cargo of intention. It is freighted with political sympathy and attitude. It means to blunder into where it isn’t safe, clothed in the make-believe garments of the unworldly, speaking of children and speaking like children, half inviting a violence which can then be presented as a slaughter of the innocents.

Even before the deed, Alice Walker has her language of outraged moral purity prepared — “but if they insist on attacking us, wounding us, even murdering us…” The Israeli response is thus already an act of unprovoked murder, no matter that the flotilla is by its very essence a provocation. Whatever its cargo, by luring the Israeli military into action which can be represented as brutal, the flotilla is engaged in an entirely political act. To call it by any other name is the grossest hypocrisy.

Thank you, Howard Jacobson.

Words of the Week: Jeffrey Goldberg

It always seemed to me that Israel and Egypt, two independent states, decided jointly to blockade Gaza. Does the Times believe the Mubarak regime decided to participate in the blockade of Gaza because Israel ordered it to participate? Does anyone actually believe that Egypt closed its border with Gaza only because it was in Israel’s interest? Or was Egypt’s government and military worried about the spread of Hamas ideology into Sinai and beyond?

Part of Goldblog’s response to a New York Times article lede that had disturbed me, too.