Top 10 Takeaways from Daniel Gordis’s Latest Book
The noted thinker and commentator Dr. Daniel Gordis will deliver the “State of the Jewish World Address” at the AJC Global Forum’s Opening Plenary on June 7. What will he say?
Dr. Gordis’s recent book, Menachem Begin: The Battle for Israel’s Soul, may provide some clues. Begin, who served as Israel’s prime minister from 1977 till 1983, was widely stigmatized as an extremist for his role at the head of the militant Irgun paramilitary force in pre-state Palestine. Dr. Gordis, however, shows that Begin’s approach and insights have great relevance to Jewish life today, and may suggest ways to bring Jews of different backgrounds and viewpoints together.
1. Begin was “the most Jewish prime minister that Israel ever had,” viewing the establishment of a Jewish state not as a break with Jewish tradition, but as an expression of age-old Jewish values.
2. The object of intense political vituperation—being called a fascist, terrorist, and murderer, for example—he never responded in kind.
3. While not religiously observant, he was steeped in Jewish sources and respectful of Jewish practice. He “taught the Jews that love of their tradition was by no means exclusively the province of the ritually observant.”
4. Unlike the predominant current in Zionist thought, which predicted that creation of a Jewish state would eliminate anti-Semitism, Begin knew that...
How Iran Targets the Baha’i
Iranian systematic violations of human rights are well-known. It is increasingly difficult for individuals, whether human rights lawyers, public figures, journalists or religious leaders, to speak openly. At any moment, they may be whisked away to detention, subjected to unfair trials and torture, sentenced to lengthy terms in Iran’s notorious prisons, or worse—between July 2013 and June 2014, the regime executed 852 people.
More than any other religious and ethnic group, the 300,000-member Baha’i community has borne the brunt of government discrimination. Since Baha’is are not recognized as a religious minority and are instead considered members of a subversive political group, their blood can be spilled with impunity.
Seven years ago this week, the regime sent an intimidating message to the Baha’is of Iran when it...
Israel and Germany: A Most Unlikely Partnership
This week we are celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany. What sounds like an ordinary anniversary is in fact the culmination of a most extraordinary relationship. In Israel’s early years, its leaders had to battle deep public skepticism about Germany, while German leaders struggled with widespread anti-Semitism in the country. Let’s view some milestones of the unlikely partnership that developed between Israel and Germany.
1. In 1952, Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett and German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer signed the “Luxembourg Agreement,” which initiated a program of reparation payments from Germany to Israel, and to individual Holocaust survivors. AJC leaders played a key role in helping bring about this agreement. There were strong protests in Israel against accepting these funds, which some felt would be seen as “compensation” for...