The Great Debate
“Jews have no problems with Arabs.”
Those were the words of Benjamin Hattab, the father of Yoav Hattab, one of the four killed last week in an attack on a Paris kosher grocery store, which followed the Charlie Hebdo shootings. Hattab is Tunisian and serves as the chief rabbi of the Muslim-majority North African nation — his comments, made in an interview after the attack, referred to his experience in Tunisia, not in France.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made an impassioned call for French Jews to immigrate to Israel, after a series of attacks that began on the day of the Charlie Hebdo massacre killed four in a kosher supermarket in Paris. To many, it seemed like the most natural response he could deliver. After all, this is Israel’s stated raison d’etre: to provide refuge to persecuted Jews, wherever they may be. Underlying this sentiment is a deeper one, shared by Israelis across the political spectrum. It is the idea that Jewish life is at its most meaningful, and relevant, if carried out in the Jewish state.
In early 2015, the civil war in Syria will turn four years old. If current trends hold, the terrible conflict — which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions — will almost certainly continue to rage through the end of the year. That’s my prediction.
The McDonnell Douglas’ F4 Phantom was a workhorse of the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War in the 1960s. It was retired from the USAF and the British Royal Air Force some 20 years ago. But the vintage fighter-bomber put in a surprise performance a few days ago over the skies of northern Iraq.
With the myriad challenges the Israeli government currently faces – regional turmoil, unrest in Jerusalem, and opposition to a highly contentious budget — this might seem like an interesting time for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to promulgate a new law defining Israel’s identity as “the nation state of the Jewish people.” The bill, which was supposed to have been voted on this Wednesday but has now been delayed, would recognize Jewish religious law as an inspiration for legislation, and affirm that, “The right to the fulfillment of national self-determination within the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.”
While you are reading about violent attacks in Jerusalem on the home page of your newspaper, Jerusalemites are living their lives, most of the time, as if they dwelled in a happy little European nation, say Luxembourg or the Netherlands… or suburban New Jersey. That’s how you can feel there a lot of the time, if you live on the Israeli side. That is assuming you’re not a crazed extremist of some kind.