January 28, 2009

The New York Times discovers The New Jewish Times

The New York Times rediscovers Yossi Klein Halevi's youthful magazine, The New Jewish Times. Unfortunately, and typically, the Times overplays the Sex In The City angle and gives short shrift to the actual content. Some day I might just haul the six rare issues up from the basement and post them online...

Not such a long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away, specifically in the downtown Manhattan of 1980 with its punk clubs and squeegee men and loose-joint dealers and $150-a-month sublets, a moment of literary and journalistic kismet was occurring in a factory loft halfway between the East Village and Chelsea.

The loft held the mismatched desks, layout tables and glaring overhead lights that constituted the office of New Jewish Times, a new and precarious monthly magazine. As for the staff, it was a miscellany of gifted malcontents and sundry outsiders — Soviet émigrés, children of survivors, yeshiva rebels, CBGB regulars, “a bunch of slobs with overheated opinions,” in the recollection of one alumnus.

With their very first issue, those opinionated slobs declared their independence from the norms of Jewish journalism, whether sober journals like Commentary and Dissent or the boosterish newspapers sponsored by local Jewish federations. The entire cover consisted of an illustration of a mushroom cloud with the deadpan headline asking, “Next Year in Jerusalem?”

The Times might have noted, for instance, that fear of an Iranian-sponsored mushroom cloud looms large over most of Yossi's reporting these days--and in fact define's contemporary mainstream Jewish journalism. Read the article for yourself.

Posted by yudel at 2:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 16, 2006

The Ecstasy of Rage - Yossi Klein Halevi in Reform Judaism

Reform Judaism Magazine - The Ecstasy of Rage
As a boy growing up in a Holocaust survivor family, I raged at the whole world. The Holocaust was not just the responsibility of the murderers, but of the onlookers, too. And I saw my rage as being the most noble, the most spiritual part of me. I was soaring with righteousness when my anger was distilled to its purest form of rage. My spiritual struggle was to realize that sometimes the qualities that we think of as our best, our most spiritual, are actually our most self-destructive, the very qualities we need to overcome. We need to surrender these qualities in order to move on and become real servants of God. It took me years to learn this lesson.

After the bombing of the Shiite mosque in Samarra, I looked at the pictures--the faces of the Shiite demonstrators--and I saw an emotion that was very familiar to me: the ecstasy of rage.

This kind of rage is now directed against me and against my children. My first response is to do everything I can to push that rage as far away as possible. If it means building a wall, so be it. But at some point I'm going to have to engage that rage. And it's terrifying for me because I know that mentality from within. And I know that if someone had tried to reach me when I was a teenager caught up in my Holocaust rage, I don't think it would have been possible.

There's more....
Posted by yudel at 8:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 28, 2005

Lifestyles of the rich... and Yossi!

Yossi Klein Halevi profiled in LifeStyles Magazine:
Despite his being one of the preeminent journalists in Israel, there is something wonderfully unguarded and ingenuous about Yossi Klein Halevi. One is struck immediately by his warmth and openness. And he smiles a lot, at least for an Israeli. But together with the openness there is an edge, a cynicism, born partially on the streets of Borough Park, Brooklyn, partially inherited from his father, Zoltan, who survived the Holocaust in Hungary, and partially learned through his own experiences in Moscow with the KGB and in Gaza faced with hard-edged Palestinians.

In addition to his cynical naïveté, Halevi is in many other ways a walking contradiction. A hardliner ardently concerned with human rights, he is one of the few in the political center involved in Arab-Jewish dialogue and a deeply spiritual Jew who prides himself on his participation in Islamic chants, Sufi dances, and Armenian Christian mourning processions. Not only is Halevi unjaded by these seeming contradictions, he seems to take pride in them—an eternal iconoclast.

Posted by yudel at 1:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 11, 2005

Yossi Klein Halevi reflects on Rabin's 10th Yarzheit

In assessing the role of religious Zionism in creating this culture in which assassinations have become a permanent part of Israeli political thinking and planning, it seems to me that the religious Zionist community passed one test and failed another.

It passed the test in that their sons (in the army) went into the settlements in Gaza and pulled out friends, in many cases relatives, and participated in an act that most of them considered political madness. Nevertheless, they did so because of their profound commitment both to Jewish unity and to preserving the integrity of the Israeli army. And they revealed a level of maturity and of loyalty to democratic principles which needs to be emphasized.

The test that religious Zionism has so far failed, and it is a significant failure, is that the leadership of the community, as opposed as they are to political violence, did not make clear to their young people that however appalling it is to dismantle settlements and to destroy organic communities that were sent by successive Israeli governments to Gaza, there is one scenario that is far more devastating to Israel's ability to survive - and that is, God forbid, another political assassination. I don't know if Israeli society could survive another, similar trauma and still remain intact.

When I think about the future of democracy in Israel, my fear is the state of mind of a generation of religious Zionists who are among our best and most dedicated young people. They're the ones filling the commando units, the officers' corps. They're the ones who travelled the Diaspora looking for Jewish communities to reach out to. And yet, their commitment to democratic principles is, I would argue, thin.

The Globe and Mail

Posted by yudel at 8:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 24, 2005

Jolkovsky Liberates Klein Halevy! from DC Liberals!

By reprinting Yossi's article In withdrawal, which originally appeared in The New Republic's subscriber-only online edition:

If soldiers' refusals to participate in the Gaza withdrawal endanger the cohesiveness of the IDF, they also threaten to undo many of the gains made by Israel's religious Zionists in the past decade.

In recent years, the religious Zionist community has been split between cultural moderates, who participate in secular culture and have even produced a religious feminist movement, and conservatives, who mimic the stringent observance and separatism of the fervently-Orthodox.

Though the moderates are a majority, massive refusals would pull the community closer to self-ghettoization. Indeed, voices calling on religious Zionists to separate from a supposedly hedonistic Israel that is betraying its pioneering roots are growing.

And some are even invoking the rhetoric of the most extreme fervently-Orthodox anti-Zionists — challenging the basic premise of religious Zionism, which sanctifies the Jewish state as the harbinger of the messianic era. A recent op-ed by Professors Arieh Zaritsky and Nissim Amzallag in Hatzofeh, the religious Zionist daily, called for "unilateral withdrawal from the state of Israel, including surrender of our Israeli citizenship." One leaflet circulating among settlers adds, "Their flag isn't our flag.... [The Zionist state] is a rebellion against God, a war against the Torah, the land of Israel, and the people of Israel."

Posted by yudel at 5:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 6, 2005

Disengagement: Yossi likes it!

The Connecticut Post reports on a local mission to Israel, with this tidbit from YudelLine's favorite Israeli analyst and '80s indie movie star:
Yossi Klein Halevi, an Israeli author, told them he felt more optimistic about Israel's future than any time since the 1993 Oslo accords.

Halevi said the advantages of Israel's planned unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip outweigh the primary disadvantage: that Palestinians might see it as a weakness. It will be interesting to see, he added, if the sovereign Palestinian state left behind dismantles its refugee camps or not.

Posted by yudel at 3:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 8, 2005

Yossi KH on Sharon-Abbas

TheStar.com - Sharon, Abbas to declare truce, separately
"I've had a very unsettling experience these past few days," said Israeli analyst Yossi Klein Halevi. "I'm starting to feel strains of actual hope." Halevi, senior fellow at Jerusalem's Shalem Center, said that like most Israelis, he endured the past 4 1/2 years of intifada reminding himself that "we won't get fooled again" by the false promise of an Oslo-style peace process. "Now I'm wondering whether to let down my guard," he said. "There is a different dynamic now."
Posted by yudel at 7:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 15, 2004

Yossi Klein Halevy remembers Yasser

The National Catholic Reporter runs two obits on Yasser Arafat. One from the Lebanon Daily Star, and one from our man Yossi:

In practical terms, Arafat has insured that a comprehensive peace agreement will remain elusive even after his death. The abyss of mistrust he leaves behind insures that the Israeli public will insist on a prolonged testing period of Palestinian intentions before agreeing to share Jerusalem with an armed Palestinian authority.

The concretization of that mistrust is the security barrier Israel is currently completing along the length of the West Bank -- which should, in fact, be called the "Yasser Arafat Memorial Fence."

Arafat created the conditions that made the fence -- once inconceivable for Israelis -- a life and death necessity, embraced by almost all parts of the political spectrum.

Posted by yudel at 6:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 11, 2004

Yossi Klein Halevy in Manhattan tonight

Religious Zionists of America-Mizrachi Presents:

Israel, 2048

November 11,2004 - 8PM

Yossi Klein Halevi on
The Future of the Jewish State

At the Jewish Center, 131 W. 86th St. NY

$10 minimum at the entrance.

Posted by yudel at 12:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 5, 2004

Disengaging from illusions

Yossi Klein Halevy in the Jerusalem Post:
Astonishingly, Israeli society has yet to hold an intelligent debate over Ariel Sharon's Gaza plan. Instead, we have the cynical taunts of the settlers and their supporters, who assume that Sharon has become a defeatist, and the inarticulate responses of Sharon's supporters, who assume that the arguments in favor of withdrawal are so self-evident that they barely require defense.

In large measure, the poverty of our debate over withdrawal is the fault of Sharon himself. A disastrous communicator, Sharon hasn't offered a single compelling speech - or, for that matter, a single memorable argument - in defense of the trauma we are about to inflict on ourselves.

The arguments of opponents need to be treated seriously by those of us who support unilateral withdrawal. We need to admit that the opponents have a point: The projected scenes of Palestinian celebrations on the ruins of Gaza settlements could very well encourage terrorism, at least in the short term.

And what do we do when the missiles start falling on Ashkelon? What will we have gained by destroying thriving communities, dividing Israeli society, and embittering some of our most idealistic citizens? The most obvious answer as to what we will gain is what we will lose: We will be freeing ourselves from more than a million Palestinians.

For Sharon's opponents, though, the demographic gain of withdrawal isn't obvious at all. The demographic argument, they insist, is bogus: Israel has no intention of granting citizenship to Palestinians, so they pose no demographic threat.

But what opponents fail to understand is that in the 21st century, Israel doesn't have the luxury of indefinitely maintaining the status quo - or of granting "autonomy" to Palestinians, a position once vehemently opposed by settlers.

Instead, we have the following choice: continue to keep the Palestinians in limbo and turn Israel into an international pariah, the target of a campaign to become a bi-national state. However isolated we are today, we haven't yet become a pariah, and the still-intact Israeli economy is proof of that. For some settlers, the notion of Israel as pariah is hardly disconcerting but, instead, confirms Jewish chosenness. Yet the vision of the biblical Balaam of "a nation that shall dwell alone" is the antithesis of Zionism, which intended to restore us not only to the Land of Israel but to the community of nations. For Zionists, Balaam's vision isn't a blessing but the curse he intended it to be.

Posted by yudel at 10:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 9, 2004

YKH profiles Tzipi Livni

Just today, a friend was lamenting that Yossi wasn't writing profiles anymore. Well, it looks like we'll have to lament that they're hidden behind the New Republic registration system (or in your public library) because his latest piece, Hadrera Dispatch: Tough Love seems to be a profile. Read the opening paragraph and judge from yourself:
They have all come to hear Immigrant Absorption Minister Tzipi Livni, one of the Likud's rising stars, defend Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Gaza withdrawal plan. It's not an easy crowd to convince. A majority of Likud members in Hadera, one of the Israeli towns hardest hit by terrorism, voted against Sharon in the recent party referendum on withdrawal. Livni is here to tell them why Sharon is proceeding with his plan even though he lost the vote and why they, as loyal Likudniks, should support him. But, if anyone can convince Likudniks that uprooting settlements and withdrawing under terrorist fire isn't a self-betrayal, it's Livni. In a party increasingly dominated by opportunists rather than ideologues, Livni is one of the few Likud leaders who can still recite from memory passages from the writings of Revisionist Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the Likud's ideological mentor. Her family credentials define Likud aristocracy: Her father, Eitan, was operations chief for the underground Irgun; in the right-wing Betar youth movement, they still sing a hymn about an Irgun heroine named Little Sarah--Livni's mother. In fact, Livni possesses the Revisionist bona fides that Sharon, who grew up in the Labor movement, lacks.
Paid subscribers can read more at The New Republic online.
Posted by yudel at 8:34 PM | TrackBack

June 17, 2004

Yossi Klein still doesn't like Jerusalem Mayor Lupolianski

From The Jewish Week article about Jerusalem's first haredi mayor, a year after his election:
"He'll let the pubs be open. He'll let the gays march once a year. So what?" said Yossi Klein Halevi, an author and associate fellow at the Shalem Center. "Lupolianski is not going to restrict secular life in Jerusalem. The problem is augmenting Orthodox power in Jerusalem."

A haredi mayor faces built-in limits about granting money to secular causes or dealing with non-Orthodox representatives, Halevi said.

"Whenever it comes to [public] meetings with Reform or Conservative representatives, the mayor of Jerusalem is suddenly plagued by 'scheduling problems,' " he said.

"A haredi mayor who has to pay attention to haredi norms cannot by definition be the mayor of the capital of the Jewish people," said Halevi, who is part of a group of parents who last year sought city funding for an alternative school with a "combined secular-religious" curriculum. The city denied the money, he said.

Posted by yudel at 3:46 PM

June 2, 2004

Yossi Klein Halevy discovers America: Pt I

Rather belatedly, a link to Like a Prayer, Yossi Klein Halevy's New Republic cover story on the Kabbalah Center which proves, once again, that he can find new information even in a seemingly old story:
A group of children appears and begins singing Kabbalah songs. They are students at the Kabbalah Children's Academy--part of a nationwide network of Centre schools. "At first I was afraid/I was petrified," they sing, to the tune of "I Will Survive." "I was living life alone/with no Zohar in sight/Weren't we the ones who brought/all this chaos to our lives/come on, let's convert it/Let's knock this darkness to light." Men and women are requested to sit on opposite sides of the room, and then the Megillah--the Book of Esther--is recited. Typically, it is a traditional reading, but with a twist. Instead of responding to Haman's name with noisemakers and jeering, which Jews do symbolically to erase Haman's memory, the crowd meditates on a divine name, becoming silent when Haman's name is read and contemplating the "roots of chaos."

After the reading, hundreds of celebrants gather for a buffet. People hug and call out to friends across the room. There are advertising executives and hairdressers and filmmakers and realtors. How many Los Angeles synagogues could boast such successful outreach among young Jews?

Of course, the Centre has been helped by glamour: Britney Spears was recently photographed on the cover of Entertainment Weekly wearing a red Kabbalah thread and in Us Weekly reading a Kabbalah book while lounging near a pool in Florida. Barbra Streisand, Elizabeth Taylor, Courtney Love, and Roseanne have all been involved with the Centre; after Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall divorced, each reportedly sought the Centre's guidance.

Still, there's a mystery here. Why have so many apparently intelligent, successful people fallen for magical trinkets like blessed candles and red strings? Is there some promise of redemption that those of us who've tried to understand this phenomenon have missed, some distortion greater than simply turning Kabbalistic wisdom into grist for supermarket tabloids?

I get the beginning of an answer at an evening prayer service in the "war zone." The Rav leads his disciples in the Kaddish prayer, shouting its words as if in a rage. Then he interrupts the conventional service and begins chanting "Chernobyl" and other names I can't identify. A devotee explains, straight-faced, that these are all names of nuclear power plants: The Rav is trying to heal the problem of nuclear waste, which the Centre's devotees believe is spreading aids. "Whooo!" calls out Berg and his followers, waving their hands as if to send the healing vibrations onward. Pointing up toward heaven and then down to Earth, they shout the word "immortality" in several languages. Why immortality? I ask another devotee. "Because each person is potentially a messiah," he replies. "Immortality isn't just in heaven. It's possible right here on Earth."

Question: What is the Kabbalah Center actually selling? Can other Jewish groups sell it too?

And if people want immortality so much, why has noone in the Conservative movement noticed that leading rabbis in its Talmud and philosophy departments have written books about life after death?

Posted by yudel at 12:40 PM