The world’s Jewish population, notes Josef Joffe, is about the same as that of Kazakhstan, yet while most people would be hard-pressed to name a single Kazakh, they could easily name a number of famous Jews. In his recent book Genius and Anxiety, the music critic and novelist Norman Lebrecht joins the long list of those who have written on this topic. To Joffe, Lebrecht is “a storyteller par excellence” and, when it comes to explaining “how Jews transformed Western ways of thinking and doing,” the book “is intellectual history at its best.” But when it comes to trying to answer the question at the book’s heart—why the Jews?—Joffe finds Lebrecht’s frequent invocations of the Talmud unsatisfying:
Does Talmud Study Really Explain Jews’ Remarkable Contributions to Modern Civilization?
Israel-Palestinian Peace Starts with Combating Anti-Semitism
If there is to be a resolution to the conflict between the Jewish state and a putative Palestinian one, writes Jonathan Michanie, it won’t start with drawing lines on maps or restrictions on where Jews can build houses, but with the Palestinian Authority (PA) abandoning its official anti-Semitism. The PA can, in this regard, learn much from those Arab nations that have recently made peace with Israel: