A Post-Modern Take on an Ancient Jewish Play

Centuries before Cecil B. DeMille, a Greek-speaking Jew named Ezekiel living in the Egyptian city of Alexandria adapted the story of Moses’ childhood, the Exodus from Egypt, and the Golden Calf into a contemporary medium. Now Ezekiel’s dramatic poem, known as The Exagoge, has itself been adapted in a 21st-century format by the playwright Aaron Henne, and debuted this past weekend in Los Angeles. John Rosove writes:

Henne’s script is multilayered and textured, and the action shifts back and forth from the biblical era to the contemporary world. Moses is played by all the actors using a mask that they pass between them, and we hear Moses’ inner thoughts, conflicts, challenges, fears, and prophetic visions as well as the feelings, thoughts, and perspectives of his Midianite wife Tzippora and father in-law Jethro, Pharaoh, and others from both the ancient and modern worlds including the struggles of Vietnamese, Mexican, Syrian, Holocaust-era, and Russian Jewish refugees who, though escaping the violence and oppression at home, encounter hardship, quotas, racism, and discrimination in the United States.

Read more at Jewish Journal

More about: Arts & Culture, Egypt, Exodus, Jewish history, Theater

Israel Can’t Stake Its Fate on “Ironclad” Promises from Allies

Israeli tanks reportedly reached the center of the Gazan city of Rafah yesterday, suggesting that the campaign there is progressing swiftly. And despite repeatedly warning Jerusalem not to undertake an operation in Rafah, Washington has not indicated any displeasure, nor is it following through on its threat to withhold arms. Even after an IDF airstrike led to the deaths of Gazan civilians on Sunday night, the White House refrained from outright condemnation.

What caused this apparent American change of heart is unclear. But the temporary suspension of arms shipments, the threat of a complete embargo if Israel continued the war, and comments like the president’s assertion in February that the Israeli military response has been “over the top” all call into question the reliability of Joe Biden’s earlier promises of an “ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security. Douglas Feith and Ze’ev Jabotinsky write:

There’s a lesson here: the promises of foreign officials are never entirely trustworthy. Moreover, those officials cannot always be counted on to protect even their own country’s interests, let alone those of others.

Israelis, like Americans, often have excessive faith in the trustworthiness of promises from abroad. This applies to arms-control and peacekeeping arrangements, diplomatic accords, mutual-defense agreements, and membership in multilateral organizations. There can be value in such things—and countries do have interests in their reputations for reliability—but one should be realistic. Commitments from foreign powers are never “ironclad.”

Israel should, of course, maintain and cultivate connections with the United States and other powers. But Zionism is, in essence, about the Jewish people taking responsibility for their own fate.

Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship