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.
Reviews & Culture
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.’
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.
The media pitted one against the other. It was indeed a catchy story: two films from two sides of the border telling a rather similar tale. In the right-hand corner: Bethlehem, an Israeli film by first time director Yuval Adler. And in the left-hand corner: Omar, a Palestinian film by Hany Abu-Assad.