That line from an old ballad, cited by U.S. military hero Gen. Douglas MacArthur in his farewell address to Congress in 1951, could well be applied to Ariel Sharon. The larger-than-life Israeli general, statesman and prime minister, who began his long, slow fade from the public conscience eight years ago, will be remembered as a man who made history, both in war and in politics. Praised or reviled, he was a commanding presence, a leader who usually got his way.
Another year’s end, another plea for the release of Jonathan Pollard, the civilian intelligence analyst for the Navy who pleaded guilty in 1987 to passing classified information to Israel. But this time it’s different.
The sad story of Rabbi Moti Elon took another troubling twist last week. The once highly popular rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat HaKotel in Jerusalem, whose Torah teachings on radio and television attracted wide audiences beyond the Orthodox community, was sentenced by a local district court on two counts of indecent assault by force against a minor.
British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis made history this week, at least in the world of Limmud, when he became the first person in his post to attend and address Limmud UK, the granddaddy event of the international enterprise that fosters cross-denominational study of Jewish texts and a celebration of Jewish life.
Born to a life of luxury, with admittedly little knowledge of Judaism growing up, Edgar Bronfman could have achieved success and adulation simply as the successor to his father, Samuel Bronfman, chairman of Seagram Ltd. The fact that in addition he became increasingly interested and involved in Jewish life as an adult — not only as president of the World Jewish Congress but as a student of Jewish text and issues — is a tribute to his capacity to both lead and learn.
The insidious BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement against Israel made new inroads this week, from an American organization of university professors and a campus Hillel group. Neither action, in and of itself, is more than a symbolic annoyance. But together they underscore the growing effort of those who seek to delegitimize the Jewish state, chipping away at its very right to exist.