Archive: Issue 5
Policy & Politics
The Polish historian and socialist Isaac Deutscher coined the term ‘the non-Jewish Jew’ to celebrate the tradition of Spinoza, Heine, Marx, and Trotsky. But he argued that internationalists must come to terms with the Holocaust and accept the ‘historic necessity’ of Israel.
When the Premier League footballer Nicolas Anelka celebrated a goal by performing a quenelle salute he touched off a storm of protest. Dave Rich examines the phenomenon of the quenelle and asks why it is now so easy for raw, old-fashioned antisemitism to be inserted into contemporary radical politics.
‘Israel Apartheid Week’ is looming on campuses worldwide. In fact, as this edited extract from a new ebook shows, Israel has done better in evening out the differences between its Jewish and Arab citizens than most countries encompassing sharply diverse nationalities. Liberal Oasis: The Truth About Israel is available online from Encounter Books. When the intifada erupted…
The newly elected Labour leader Isaac Herzog sat down with Fathom to discuss what the Britain-Israel relationship means to him, the golden opportunity he sees in the current peace process, and the challenge of building Israel as a multi-cultural society. He was interviewed in Jerusalem on 7 January by Toby Greene, the Fathom deputy editor and Richard Pater, Head of BICOM in Israel.
Amid the fanfare about the interim agreement reached in Geneva in November 2013 over Iran’s nuclear programme – the first time in 34 years that the Tehran regime and the United States reached a formal understanding – one critical aspect stood out: the true intentions of Iran’s leaders remain as disquietingly unclear now as they were when the existence of the nuclear programme was first revealed in 2002.
Few individuals have had more impact on the history of the state of Israel than its former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who died on 11 January 2014 after being in a coma since 2006. To assess his legacy, Fathom deputy editor Toby Greene interviewed David Landau, former editor of Haaretz and the author of a major new biography of Ariel Sharon entitled Arik, published this month by Knopf.
Reviews & Culture
In the first half of the 20th century, most Jews failed to find their way to a successful strategy for dealing with the threat of antisemitism. Some individuals emigrated, for example to Britain, the United States or Palestine. Some found their way into wider civil society, benefited from emancipation, and lived as citizens of European states. Some Jews found communal ways of continuing to live apart, in a changing world.
The eminent political scientist Seymour Martin Lipset described Daniel P. Moynihan as ‘the prescient politician’ for his suggestion, in 1979, that the Soviet system ‘could blow up in the 1980s’ as a result of economic crisis, ‘moral decay,’ ‘the rise in mortality rates [and] the nationality strains.’
Israel, as Amos Oz once observed, was born out of a spectrum of dreams and visions, blueprints and masterplans. Some complementary, some contradictory, these dreams represent the federation of ideas that compose Zionism. Where these dreams quarrel with one another, there is the basis of political debate in Israel today.
In his autobiography, Chaim Weizmann commented that Theodor Herzl was ‘not of the people’ despite being an inspiring leader and brilliant organiser. The author of this interesting book, the eminent Israeli academic and public intellectual, Shlomo Avineri, has not written a conventional biography of Herzl. Instead he has tried to capture the authentic and private man through his underutilised diary entries – a litany of frustrations, disappointments and silent fury at those who walked the corridors of power.
When I was writing my book about the Jewish origins of punk, The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGB’s, I referred to Lou Reed as both the Alter Kocker (old fart) Indie Rocker and the Zayde (grandfather) of the movement. I still believe these titles fit the man, but in the wake of his recent death, I have come to see that he is deserving of a third. Like the figure in the Passover Seder that he played annually in public, Reed was the Wise Child. Unlike his brothers, the Wicked Child, the Simple Child, and the One Unable to Ask, he saw both the tragedy and triumph of Jewish history.
Both directors got the idea for their film from the same newspaper headline about a Shin-Bet agent murdered by the informant he worked closely with. The directors were both motivated by their personal involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Adler was an intelligence officer in the occupied territories in his military service, while the Nazareth-born Abu…