“Fiddler on the Roof,” a Conservative Classic?

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.

Read more at National Review

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

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict