How Concrete Made the Zionist Dream a Reality

Reviewing two recent books on the history of Israeli architecture, Liam Hoare observes that if there is one common thread, stretching back to the days before statehood, in the way the Jewish state has been built, it is concrete:

It was the perfect building material for a state founded as a negation of history wishing to establish something new—cheaply, quickly, and efficiently. Early Israel not only needed new versions of everything—apartment buildings, courthouses, bus stations, concert halls, public squares—but it needed multiple versions of those things in order to establish the infrastructure of a functioning, modern state. Concrete was malleable—it could be poured to fill any mold, manufacture any shape. It could be domestically produced and prefabricated. Concrete could be used to create anything. Concrete would serve the plan.

Lest concrete seem too prosaic a material for the task of engineering the rebirth of the Jewish nation, or too urban for a movement so invested in agriculture, Hoare gives us the words of the great Hebrew poet Natan Alterman:

To Alterman, the transformation of the rural was not merely about planting trees and tilling fields. “From the slopes of Lebanon to the Dead Sea/ We shall crisscross you with ploughs/ We shall yet cultivate and build you/ We shall yet beautify you,” he wrote in his 1935 poem, “Shir Moledet.” “We shall dress you in a gown of concrete and cement/ And lay for you a carpet of gardens/ On the soils of your redeemed fields.”

Read more at Tel Aviv Review of Books

More about: Architecture, History of Zionism, Natan Alterman, Tel Aviv

Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University