Gaza Again

“After a long night of air strikes that Israel says hit up to a hundred and fifty targets across the Palestinian territories, remarkably, there appear to have been few casualties.” A reporter in a flak jacked walked through the rubble of a large building. “This was a Hamas Interior Ministry building. Like a lot of the targets hit overnight, it was deserted. Nobody was hurt here. But what local people are saying is that these air raids were designed to spread fear and panic. There’s a lot of residential buildings in this neighborhood, and right next door, a United Nations school.” A Palestinian man shown with his family, who spent the night in a shelter, says, “My children are afraid and crying.”

“Israeli civilians have also been suffering,” the narrator says, over pictures of rocketed homes. “Hundreds of rockets have been fired from Gaza since Wednesday. People have been leaving their homes to seek refuge in shelters.

Even hospitals have been moving their patients.” This is the BBC this morning, being uncharacteristically balanced. But they don’t mention that continuously, for years, the people of southern Israel have been running to shelters to hide from the rockets that have never stopped. During those years, people in Gaza have rarely had to hide from Israeli attacks.

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Forgiveness?

I wrote last time that I had a song in my head—Ani Ma’amin—that I didn’t want to be cured of. But I was cured, after the Atlanta performance of Defiant Requiem conducted by Murry Sidlin, who with Verdi’s (and Rafael Schächter’s) help created ityet I was not cured by Verdi, much as I love him. I’ll explain, but first: Continue reading

Defiant Requiem

Late in Sukkot, I find myself still haunted by Yom Kippur melodies. It’s that “song-in-your-head” phenomenon that psychologists say can only be treated by replacing it with another song—the disease itself, they say, is the only cure. But I don’t want to be cured.

The song in my head is just a line: Ani ma’amin, ani ma’amin, ani ma’a-amin . . . b’viat . . . ha’Moshiach . . . b’viat ha’Moshiach ani ma’amin. Utterly simple: I believe, I believe, I believe . . . in the coming . . . of the Messiah . . . in the coming of the Messiah I believe. “Ani Ma’amin” as a whole is longer, based on Maimonides’ Thirteen Articles of the Faith. It is indeed a haunting melody and a pivotal prayer for Jews. Of all thirteen, this is the one I believe in least, yet this one plays in my head continually. Continue reading

Misogyny, Sexism, Chauvinism, or What?

When I wrote recently about a question that had been put to me—under the title “Is Misogyny Maladaptive?”—I was taken to task (at PsychologyToday.com, where it also appeared) for misusing the word misogyny. I was trying to use it to mean “anti-woman.” Strictly, it comes from Greek roots meaning “hate” and “woman,” and some dictionaries define it as simply hatred or dislike of women or girls, although occasionally the word contempt is included. This matters because you can easily have contempt for someone you also in some way like or love. Continue reading

Bibi, Obama, and the Incendiary Summer

This is a pivotal moment for Israel.

The cool breeze of the Arab Spring, about which many of us were hopeful but skeptical, is now an Incendiary Summer. This ominous anger over a trashy film has caused riots and replaced the Stars and Stripes with Islamist flags in many places. Our embassies are threatened in at least twelve Muslim capitals. In addition, a planned terrorist attack killed a U.S. ambassador and other Americans in Libya.

The eruption come against the background of Bibi Netanyahu turning up the rhetoric Continue reading

Is Misogyny Maladaptive?

Part of Prof. Blumenthal’s question that I didn’t answer last time was about misogyny, which he hopefully speculated is now maladaptive. I deferred this because from an evolutionary viewpoint it is in a different category from xenophobia, racism, and anti-Semitism. Let me state clearly at the outset, as I did about the other categories of prejudice: I think we are gradually creating conditions in which misogyny is maladaptive, and we must continue to do that.

However, it has to be recognized that for the long span of human evolution some aspects of misogyny were adaptive—not for women, but for men. As with xenophobia and racism, Continue reading

Is Genocide Now Maladaptive?

David Blumenthal, a good and wise friend who is a Jewish studies professor and a rabbi wrote me recently asking about the former adaptiveness and present maladaptiveness of xenophobia. The operative passage in his letter was, “In the global world, however, survival requires the cooperation of varying and different groups. Humanity, in its groups, cannot survive without the quintessential other. Xenophobia has ceased to be adaptive. So has antisemitism, racism, orientalism, and misogyny.”

I have little trouble agreeing that at some times in the past these behaviors were adaptive for the perpetrators. Continue reading

Tikkun Olam, Obama Style

Obama can’t win for losing, at least with right-leaning Americans and Israelis. He’d barely finished his speech to AIPAC this morning when the pundits were all over him—despite his being interrupted by applause many times by thousands of Israel supporters.

He defended his record of deeds, not just words, on behalf of Israel. My wife thought this was undignified, but he is running for re-election, Continue reading

Bris

Tensions are high, with Iran bombing Israeli diplomats and flaunting its nuclear progress, and Israeli experts split over what to do. Also, there is the threat from within—the ultra-Orthodox zealots who mirror both the fanatics of other religions and the Zealots of old who, by dividing Israel, helped its enemies destroy it.

But just now I’m occupied closer to home. My first grandchild was born in the small hours of January 27. So (by invitation) I attended my first daughter’s birth and decades later that of her first child.

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