Isaac Stern’s Judaism, His Genius, and Its Limitations

Writing of the master violinist Isaac Stern (1920-2001), Terry Teachout notes that he shared much in common with his frequent collaborator, the composer Leonard Bernstein:

They were, to begin with, the first world-class classical musicians to have been trained solely in the United States, a fact of which the American press took proud note. In addition, they were extroverted and outgoing—naturals for television, and their TV appearances brought them to the attention of ordinary Americans who knew little about classical music. Finally, they both devoted vast amounts of time and energy to a variety of public causes, most notably the state of Israel, which they supported fervently, speaking unapologetically of their shared Jewish heritage (unlike, say, Fritz Kreisler or Bruno Walter, who converted to Catholicism and thereafter steered clear of the subject of their Jewishness).

Throughout his long career, which included much travel abroad, Stern played not once in Germany. As Teachout writes, “he could not forgive the German people for having let the Holocaust happen.”

While believing Stern to be a “violinist of the first rank, no mere crowd-pleaser but a musician of incontestably high seriousness,” Teachout takes seriously the criticism that Stern lacked the level of genius displayed by the other great violinist of the 20th century—namely the aforementioned Kreisler and the archetypal Jewish musical prodigy, Jascha Heifetz.

Read more at Commentary

More about: American Jewish History, American Zionism, Classical music, Leonard Bernstein

Why Saturday Was a Resounding Defeat for Iran

Yaakov Lappin provides a concise and useful overview of what transpired on Saturday. For him, the bottom line is this:

Iran and its jihadist Middle Eastern axis sustained a resounding strategic defeat. . . . The fact that 99 percent of the threats were intercepted means that a central pillar of Iranian force projection—its missile and UAV arsenals—has been proven to be no match for Israel’s air force, for its multilayered air-defense system, or for regional cooperation with allies.

Iran must now await Israel’s retaliation, and unlike Israel, Iranian air defenses are by comparison limited in scope. After its own failure on Sunday, Iran now relies almost exclusively on Hizballah for an ability to threaten Israel.

And even as Iran continues to work on developing newer and deadlier missiles, the IDF is staying a few steps ahead:

Israel is expecting its Iron Beam laser-interception system, which can shoot down rockets, mortars, and UAVs, to become operational soon, and is developing an interceptor (Sky Sonic) for Iran’s future hypersonic missile (Fattah), which is in development.

The Iron Beam will change the situation in a crucial way. Israell’s defensive response on Saturday reportedly cost it around $1 billion. While Iron Beam may have to be used in concert with other systems, it is far cheaper and doesn’t run the risk of running out of ammunition.

Read more at JNS

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Iron Dome, Israeli Security, Israeli technology