It’s OK to be Depressed (Jerusalem Post)

Depressed3A few weeks ago, Jeremy Ben- Ami of J Street and I debated each other in Atlanta. It was labeled a “conversation,” but it was really a debate. Very civil, more than a bit of humor, rather conversational and all that, but still a debate.

Ben-Ami made his points, I made mine. Mine were very simple: He and I both want the same thing. He wants (I was willing to assume for the sake of the argument) a secure and Jewish State of Israel. So do I. He wants (no question about this one) a Palestinian state as a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and I would be happy to see such

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Give Peace a Chance?

Peace1In his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Humboldt’s Gift, Saul Bellow’s main character Von Humboldt Fleisher is the consummate American. He cares about America more than anything else. He also reads voraciously, but the more he reads, the more despondent he becomes – because he’s not seeking that sort of complexity. He wants a simpler universe. “History,” Bellow says of Humboldt the American, “was a nightmare during which he was trying to get a good night’s sleep.”   Fifty years before Bellow’s novel, in 1907, Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote his third and final play, A Strange Land. In it, he

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A Tale of Too Many Certainties

certain1Two opposing truths characterize this increasingly dangerous world we inhabit. First, many of us are certain that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no closer to being resolved than it ever has been. And second, much of the world is certain that it is. The test of the Jewish people’s leadership – a test that it seems poised to fail – will hinge on whether it is sufficiently deft and nimble to navigate these competing certainties.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is unlikely be resolved, now or at any time in the foreseeable future, because there is no solution possible if the Palestinians do not both recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, and give up

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Zionism, Between the Real and the Ideal

shavit3It’s in that painful gap between the real and the ideal that life is truly lived. In our marriages, in our relationships with our children and our parents, the chasm between being the people we are and the people we would like to be plays host to life’s most painful – but also most productive – moments. It is when great expectation confronts disappointment, when love is hamstrung by betrayal and yearning, that we learn that real commitment is tested in the crucible of heartache, in the desperate wish that things had been different, or still could be.
Zionism is actually no different. For those of us raised on stories of

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What Obama Said, What the Mideast Heard

nytlogo153x23While President Obama’s speech was addressed to the Arab world, it had been nervously anticipated in Israel, as well. In its aftermath, some Israelis are quibbling with word choices or wondering whether he is naïve in believing that Hamas might renounce terror or that Iranians can be entrusted with civilian nuclear capacity. Others are assailing his comments about settlements.

obamacairoBut the real news is that contrary to what many expected, or feared, President Obama assumed positions virtually identical to those of Israel’s political center — namely, that the Palestinians must renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist, while Israel must cease settlement building and

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Loyalty Cuts Both Ways

In Perspective: Loyalty cuts both ways

Mar. 26, 2009
Daniel Gordis , THE JERUSALEM POST

It’s not every day that your 15-year-old son decides that he wants to hang out with you, so when he makes the offer, you grab it. Amazingly, he suggested that we go to the Biblical Zoo. Not having been there since he was very young, I was happy to oblige.
Toward the end of our few hours there, we happened upon a relatively new exhibit, the collared peccary. With no offense intended, it’s neither especially attractive nor, to my untrained eye, a particularly interesting animal.

But this is Israel, and even the collared peccary was cause for pause. For on this sign, unlike any of the others in

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A Modest Proposal

When we lived in the States, periods like this were agonizing for me, providing, as they did, massive overdoses of cognitive dissonance. I was thinking about only one place, but I’d chosen to live in another. I was concerned about one group of people more than anyone else, but I’d elected not to live with them. The gap between what I felt and where I made my home felt unbearable.

Yes, we sought to compensate. In those pre-Internet days, we read the paper voraciously. We listened to the radio incessantly, and when things were truly tense, we found ways of rigging up televisions in our offices. But still, it was vicarious participation, and at times, the pain of that dissonance

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Yes We Could, Yes We Did

This is a country prone to America-envy. If you’re not careful, you can find yourself romanticizing life in the States, constantly seeing reminders of the myriad ways in which this country doesn’t quite measure up to the standard set by its massive ally to the West. Whether it’s bank tellers who really do want to help you, or the ability to walk into restaurants in New York or Los Angeles without getting wanded, or even more substantial matters like America’s impressive democracy, the danger of jealousy lurks virtually everywhere.

Usually, I think I’m reasonably successful at avoiding that trap. (I’ll confess to taking some comfort from people like Governor Rod Blagojevich, who reminds me that we’re not the only country with

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Why Not Uganda?

For many of us, the image of Rose Pizem’s fragile smile refuses to fade. Her tragedy, like the case of the Bat Yam mother who drowned her son, have aroused painful conversations as to whether we’re doing enough to give our children the lives they deserve. We suspect we’re not.

We’re right that we’re not, but for the wrong reasons. Even the most decent societies occasionally produce pathologically sick parents. Sadly, horrific stories like these, no matter how vigilant we may become, are to an extent inevitable and unpreventable.

Not so, however, with a much more basic injustice that we’re doing to the young people of this country. That injustice has nothing to do with child abuse or worse, murder. It

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