“I Had the Good Fortune to Be a Jew Born and Raised in the USA”

Sept. 21 2020

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who served on the Supreme Court since 1993, died on Friday at the age of eighty-seven. Among much else, Ginsburg was one of the most prominent Jews in American public life. Herewith, her remarks at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in 2004 on the occasion of Yom Hashoah:

I had the good fortune to be a Jew born and raised in the USA. My father left Odessa bound for the New World in 1909, at age thirteen; my mother was first in her large family to be born here, in 1903, just a few months after her parents and older siblings landed in New York. What is the difference between a bookkeeper in New York’s garment district and a Supreme Court justice? Just one generation, my mother’s life and mine bear witness. Where else but America could that happen?

I am proud to live in a country where Jews are not afraid to say who we are, the second country after Israel to have set aside a day each year, this day, to remember the Holocaust, to learn of and from that era of inhumanity, to renew our efforts to repair the world’s tears. I feel the more secure because this capital city includes a museum dedicated to educating the world, so that all may know, through proof beyond doubt, that the unimaginable in fact happened.

It is fitting, I hope you agree, [to cite a] line from Deuteronomy: U-vaḥarta ba-ḥayyim. It means: Choose life. As did the survivors who somehow managed to stay alive, to carry on, and to tell their stories; as did Jews and Christians, in ghettos and in camps, who gave their lives endeavoring to save the lives of others; as did [the Jews of] Budapest, where Great Synagogue still opens its doors, the second largest synagogue in the world, the shul in which Theodor Herzl celebrated his bar mitzvah, a structure so impressive visitors from my home state might recognize it as the model for Central Synagogue in New York City.

Read more at Washington Post

More about: American Jewry, Holocaust, Hungarian Jewry, Yom Hashoah

When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount