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

Hamas Wants a Renewed Ceasefire, but Doesn’t Understand Israel’s Changed Attitude

Yohanan Tzoreff, writing yesterday, believes that Hamas still wishes to return to the truce that it ended Friday morning with renewed rocket attacks on Israel, but hopes it can do so on better terms—raising the price, so to speak, of each hostage released. Examining recent statements from the terrorist group’s leaders, he tries to make sense of what it is thinking:

These [Hamas] senior officials do not reflect any awareness of the changed attitude in Israel toward Hamas following the October 7 massacre carried out by the organization in the western Negev communities. They continue to estimate that as before, Israel will be willing to pay high prices for its people and that time is working in their favor. In their opinion, Israel’s interest in the release of its people, the pressure of the hostages’ families, and the public’s broad support for these families will ultimately be decisive in favor of a deal that will meet the new conditions set by Hamas.

In other words, the culture of summud (steadfastness), still guides Hamas. Its [rhetoric] does not show at all that it has internalized or recognized the change in the attitude of the Israeli public toward it—which makes it clear that Israel still has a lot of work to do.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security