A new survey of American Jewry finds that young adults are substantially less religious than their grandparents, the rate of intermarriage is climbing—and Orthodoxy is growing.
The Iranian supreme leader (or whoever runs his Twitter account) has responded to the riots in Baltimore by condemning the U.S. for its racism and police brutality. Michael Totten comments:
Iran’s ruler is doing what the Soviet Union used to do and what Hugo Chavez did more recently. Both used the West’s language of human rights as weapons against the West while resisting everything Western human-rights activists stand for. Partly they were just being cynical, and partly they were pointing out the West’s supposed hypocrisy. . . .
The most foolish among us might be convinced that tyrannical dictators on the other side of the planet care more about [human rights] than we do. That’s the theory, anyway. Hey, maybe the Iranian leader is one of us! Maybe everything our own government says is a lie! . . .
The Communist bloc was an unspeakable prison house spanning more than one continent, but its utopian ideals appeared lofty to a small percentage of Westerners who couldn’t be bothered to look at the details. The utopian ideals of Iran’s revolutionary regime, though, will never gain traction among those of us who aren’t Shiite Muslims. Iran’s tyrant will not pull this off, but it’s fun watching him try.
At a German soccer match last week, a presumably enthusiastic spectator waved an Israeli flag. Security guards responded by removing it. Such incidents, writes Benjamin Weinthal, have been going on in Germany for years:
The pattern typically unfolds in three acts. Act 1 involves German Muslims and leftists protesting against Israel for defending its territory against Hamas rocket attacks or [for employing] other self-defense measures to blunt Islamic terrorism. Act 2 unfolds with the police seizing Israeli flags at solidarity protests to placate anti-Israeli activists. Act 3 results in the authorities issuing an apology for outlawing Israel’s flag from demonstrations. . . .
Gerald Steinberg, the head of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, told the Jerusalem Post, “The campaign to make the Israeli flag disappear from public events in Germany is another stage in the demonization of the Jewish state.”
In response to the memory of the Holocaust and pathological feelings of guilt accompanying the crimes of the Shoah, German leftists turned Israel’s flag into a punching bag. Israeli and American flags were burned in 1978 on the 40th anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogroms. The elimination of Israel’s flag became a way to attack Jews via a non-bodily form of violence.
Albert Einstein spent much of the latter part of his career as a self-proclaimed public intellectual, advocating pacifism and (a qualified) Zionism and denouncing nuclear weapons and the cold war. Gertrude Himmelfarb, reviewing a new biography, examines his political evolution:
What [Einstein] discovered in Germany [in the 1930s] was a denigration of Jews, even among scientists and intellectuals, that gave him a heightened appreciation of his Jewishness—not as a religion, to be sure, but as a culture; even, he ventured to say, a nation: “Not until we dare to see ourselves as a nation, not until we respect ourselves, can we gain the respect of others.” But it was a special kind of nation he had in mind, defined by morality rather than polity. . . .
This was not quite the nationhood most Zionists had in mind. Einstein shared their idea of Palestine as a refuge for persecuted Jews—not, however, as a homeland reserved for them but as a safe area where they could live in peace with their neighbors. He also valued it as a center of Jewish learning and culture, to exemplify the “intellectual striving” that he saw as the essence of Judaism. . . .
[By the 1930s,] Einstein had come a long way from the physicist to the social activist. It is as if, displaced by quantum mechanics from the center of physics, he found a new calling in politics. But perhaps not entirely a new calling, for he was now seeking a rationality in society akin to the reason he had so passionately sought in physics. . . .
In retrospect, Himmelfarb concludes, “some of Einstein’s views, on war and peace, capitalism and socialism, Judaism and Zionism, may appear as almost a parody of the right-minded (which is to say, left-thinking) progressive of his time.”
That’s what prime-ministerial candidate Edward Miliband is advocating, free speech and English legal traditions be damned. Soeren Kern explains:
Miliband’s renewed promise to make “Islamophobia” (a term he has not defined) an “aggravated crime” may signal an attempt to turn the 2006 act [prohibiting incitement to violence against particular racial or religious groups] . . . into a full-blown Muslim blasphemy law. . . .
Miliband is currying favor with Britain’s three million-strong Muslim community to “prop up Labor’s urban vote.” Muslims are emerging as a key voting bloc in British politics and are already poised to determine the outcome of local elections in many parts of the country.
The city of Chania, in northwestern Crete, was home to a small but venerable Jewish community prior to World War II. In 1944, its Jews were put on a boat with their ultimate destination being Auschwitz. A British submarine torpedoed the boat, killing them all. In 1999, Chania’s Etz Hayyim synagogue was rededicated under the auspices of Nicholas Stavroulakis, who has dedicated much of his life to preserving the remnants of Greek Jewry. As Liam Hoare writes, however, the synagogue still lacks a congregation:
Jewish life in Crete . . . predated the destruction of the Second Temple, the creation of the European Diaspora, and the birth of rabbinic and talmudic Judaism. Cretan Judaism and Greek Judaism more broadly developed its own Hellenistic character not only separate from the land of Israel but also from what would become Ashkenaz and Sepharad. . . . In Chania, for example, on Yom Kippur the book of Job was read in the synagogue not in Hebrew but in Greek—a tradition that Stavroulakis has resurrected. . . .
[S]ome of the people who use Etz Hayyim are not Jewish. For example, there are Christian residents of Chania who come from time to time on Shabbat or the high holidays. . . . Of those who use Etz Hayyim that are Jewish, [says Stavroulakis,] “Some of them are Jews who are of ambiguous backgrounds. They’re not Cretan Jews—they are from Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, [or are] of mixed North African background; they come to synagogue and are firm supporters. There are [also] Ashkenazim who don’t admit their Judaism anywhere and are able to come to terms with it through the synagogue.”