“Fiddler on the Roof,” a Conservative Classic?

March 18 2019

Reviewing the National Yiddish Theater’s Yiddish-language production of the 1964 musical Fiddler on the Roof—itself based on Yiddish stories of Sholem Aleichem—Madeleine Kearns discerns a story with a deeply conservative message:

Conservatism necessarily involves compromise. That’s why it is such a precarious endeavor. You could say—as the dairyman Tevye does in Fiddler on the Roof—that it’s like a “fiddler on the roof trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck.” . . .

Joel Grey’s lively revival of this classic is a delight. Fortunately, non-Yiddish-speaking audience members (like me) can follow along with English and Russian surtitles projected on the side of the stage. Grey’s is a modest production. But it brims with character and humor while remaining faithful to the story’s message. . . .

Tevye’s compromise with his daughters [in Fiddler does] not change his view of marriage, but rather it has strengthened his views where they needed strengthening and refined them where they needed refining. Tevye and [his wife] Golde must also learn by their daughters’ example. Namely, that love benefits from affection, not just duty. From youthful spontaneity, not just reliability. Of course, the same is true for his daughters. They, too, must learn from the example set by their parents: love involves sacrifice, it isn’t always sentimental; it’s mostly about doing what’s right by the other person. . . .

[B]y the end of the show, an edict from the tsar will force the Jewish population into exile. As the Jews of Anatevka leave behind the home of their forefathers, they must seek out new places to plant roots. In doing so, both “tradition” and compromise will be essential. . . . The National Yiddish Theatre is doing justice to this timeless conservative show.

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Read more at National Review

More about: Arts & Culture, Conservatism, Fiddler on the Roof, Yiddish theater

 

The End of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and the Rise of the Arab-Israeli Coalition

Nov. 30 2022

After analyzing the struggle between the Jewish state and its Arab neighbors since 1949, Dan Schueftan explains the current geopolitical alignment and what it means for Jerusalem:

Using an outdated vocabulary of Middle Eastern affairs, recent relations between Israel and most Arab states are often discussed in terms of peace and normalization. What is happening recently is far more significant than the willingness to live together and overshadow old grievances and animosities. It is about strategic interdependence with a senior Israeli partner. The historic all-Arab coalition against Israel has been replaced by a de-facto Arab-Israeli coalition against the radical forces that threaten them both. Iran is the immediate and outstanding among those radicals, but Erdogan’s Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean, Syria—and, in a different way, its allies in the Muslim Brotherhood—are not very far behind.

For Israel, the result of these new alignments is a transformational change in its regional standing, as well as a major upgrade of its position on the global stage. In the Middle East, Israel can, for the first time, act as a full-fledged regional power. . . . On the international scene, global powers and other states no longer have to weigh the advantages of cooperation with Israel against its prohibitive costs in “the Arab World. . . . By far the most significant effect of this transformation is on the American strategic calculus of its relations with Israel.

In some important ways, then, the “New Middle East” has arrived. Not, of course, in the surreal Shimon Peres vision of regional democracy, peace, and prosperity, but in terms of a balance of power and hard strategic realities that can guardrail a somewhat less unstable and dangerous region, where the radicals are isolated and the others cooperate to keep them at bay.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Abraham Accords, Israel-Arab relations, Middle East, Shimon Peres, U.S.-Israel relationship