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?
When Confronting Terrorists, Lethal Force Is Often Necessary
On Saturday, a Palestinian terrorist stabbed a passerby in Jerusalem, and was then shot dead by two border guards. As the second bullet hit him when he was already on the ground, some Israelis have accused the guards of wrongdoing; a misleadingly edited viral video has also brought more attention to the incident. The editors of the Jerusalem Post comment: