New sanctions surge could lead to new dilemmas for groups that have banked on issue.
James D. Besser
Recent breakthroughs in the U.S.-led effort to squeeze Iran could change the political calculus for American Jewish groups that have benefited hugely from their decades-old focus on Iran — and which have largely succeeded in making Iran’s threat to both U.S. and Israeli interests a top policy for Congress and the White House.
People seem to love author and cultural critic Christopher Hitchens for precisely the reason other people seem to hate him: he has an opinion, and a strong one, about almost everything. His new memoir, “Hitch-22,” is chock full of them, too. And when he appeared at at the 92nd Street Y on Tuesday night, in a chat with his close friend Salman Rushdie, that fact was not glossed over.
First, Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz last fall called Richard Goldstone a “Jewish anti-Semite.”
Then last December, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the “Goldstone threat” was one of “three primary threats facing us today.” Just last month, the threat of demonstrations in his native South Africa caused him to momentarily cancel plans to attend his grandson’s bar mitzvah.
The world splits roughly between those who denounce Israel from a religious or ideological base, and those who denounce Israel because they are tired of defending Western civilization to which they are heir but aren’t sure why they should care (and those who bash Israel as a cover for their own anti-Semitism). The tired and the impatient might be slightly moved by better PR on Israel’s part, and OK, why not? But the others don’t care, and those are the ones Israel fights.
For all that we hear about the flotilla being a humanitarian mission, they refused the request of Gilad Shalit's father to even ask to see Gilad, who has not been visited by the Red Cross or any other humanitarian group in three years. Some people don't like it when the Palestinians are compared to the Nazis. In fact, in this respect they are worse than the Nazis.
For young American Jews, it’s a long way from ‘Exodus’ to the separation wall.
In 1960, the film “Exodus” was nominated for three Academy Awards. Based on Leon Uris’ novel about the founding of Israel, it seems hard to believe that such a film, drenched in Jewish military heroism and suffused with Holocaust imagery and Arab aggression, could have such broad and unambiguous appeal. But it did. It not only won an Oscar, it also starred a Hollywood icon, Paul Newman, as the heroic Jewish fighter, and even made a commendable showing at Cannes.
But almost a half-century later, a very different film about Israel won an Oscar nomination. “Waltz With Bashir,” (2008) directed by the Israeli Ari Folman, put a spotlight on the massacres at the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps during the first Lebanon War.
Peter Beinart warns that alienation from Israel now at a breaking point.
Once upon a time, assimilated Jews would, well, assimilate, leaving Judaism to the Jews. Similarly, Jewish liberals — prizing universalism over parochialism — pretty much left Zionism to the professional Zionists.