Read on at Tablet
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
The object of the vandalism was Yaacov, the veteran campaigner for secular and humanistic Judaism, which (a moment's thought would tell you) was the very purpose of the Zionist revolution. We think of the building--where, post-divorce, we, Yaron and his wife Ruth HaCohen, and the Malkin clan, all live as friends--as a kind of tribute to peacemaking. The vandals, for their part, left Yaacov a veiled death threat: "Should you continue your actions following this warning, know that you are yourself choosing to forsake your fate and future." It was signed by "your brother who brings to you the word of God your creator and king, the father still waiting for your return to him."
Yaacov, who is 89, and has never lost his wry sense of humor, will be forgiven for being mildly amused by this warning. His fate is, already, sealed. (You can read about his remarkable career here.) And since Yaacov is also a film buff, and one of the founders of (among other institutions) the Jerusalem Cinematheque, it is hard to conjure our "brothers who bring the word of God," brush-in-hand, and not chuckle, if only for a second, about the benighted hero of the Monty Python film, "The Life of Brian," who can't quite get "Romans Go Home" quite right.
For the vandals hadn't got the verse about Amalek quite right. They had obviously meant to refer to Exodus 17:14, where the "blotting out" of the name of Amalek is promised. Instead, they wrote next to their warning Exodus 16:14, which, touchingly, has a very different implication: "And when the layer of dew was gone up, behold upon the face of the wilderness a fine, scale-like thing, fine as the hoar-frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another: 'What is it?' – For they knew not what it was. And Moses said unto them: 'It is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat."
We will reinforce our front door, yet I can't help imagining John Cleese in the garb of a stern Yeshiva rebbe, catching our young zealots in the act, twisting their ears, and correcting their grafitti. "So what is in the verse?! Not Amalek, but--wait for it!--God's bread! Now, write it 100 times." And the next morning we wake up, not to a single threat, but to neighborhood walls all testifying to God's grace.
Sunday, January 24, 2016
The E.U.’s action, and the Obama Administration’s concurrence, might seem unremarkable. Their opposition to settlements is long-standing. The E.U. labelling requirement, which would apply to little more than one percent of the fourteen billion dollars in goods and services Israel exports to the E.U., is a practical matter, since settlement products were never subject to a free-trade agreement between the two. E.U. ministers, too, were careful to insist that they don’t consider their action “a boycott of Israel, which the E.U. opposes”; there is an obvious difference between opposing the Israeli government’s policies and opposing the state’s existence.
Predictably, though, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the November resolution with indignation. “The E.U. decided to mark only [goods made by] Israel, and we are unwilling to accept the fact that E.U. labels the side being attacked by terror.” His justice minister, the Jewish Home Party member Ayelet Shaked, called Brussels “anti-Israel and anti-Jewish.” Most senior opposition leaders have toed the government line. The Labor Party leader, Isaac Herzog, conjured a parallel between the E.U.’s decision and the U.N.’s 1974 “Zionism is Racism” resolution, which his father, Chaim Herzog, Israel’s U.N. ambassador at the time, famously denounced. Yair Lapid, another opposition leader, accused the E.U. of “capitulating to the worst elements of jihad”; labelling “is a direct continuation of the boycott movement against Israel, which is anti-Semitic and misguided,” he said.
The near unison reflects growing dread of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (B.D.S.) movement targeting Israel, which is separate from any E.U. measures, but is often considered part of a mounting threat of isolation. Formally, the B.D.S. movement began with a 2005 Palestinian campaign—endorsed by more than a hundred and seventy Palestinian civil-society organizations—to encourage public condemnation in the West of the occupation, the settlements, and, arguably, their ideological roots. Leaders of the B.D.S. movement have also called for “full equality” for Palestinian citizens in Israel proper and endorsed the demand for a Palestinian right of return. Omar Barghouti, a founder of the movement, insists that B.D.S. does not threaten Israel’s survival but rather its “unjust order.” Given the ambiguity of the movement’s demands, this is a reassurance that few Israelis can take comfort in.
Read on at The New Yorker