Sunday, October 9, 2011


Greece is on the verge of economic collapse. The poor and middle class have taken to the streets. Thousands of young people, many with university degrees, have given up hope and are moving abroad. Some experts are predicting widespread violence and a breakdown of the social and political order. Is Greece Over?

Egypt's "spring" has not yet blossomed. The oppressive laws that were in effect prior to Mubarak's overthrow have been reimposed by the Army. Capital is leaving at an alarming rate. The poor are getting desperate. Unless a miracle occurs, Egypt will soon become a country with people facing starvation. Is Egypt Over?

Syria is murdering its own people at an alarming rate, up to almost 3,000 dead. Thousands are being tortured. Refugee camps are opening in Turkey. Faced with an unrepentant tyrant, many feel that the Syrian revolutionaries may soon turn to violence and that a bloodbath will follow. Is Syria Over?

Somalia--well, need I say more? Somalia is the poster child for cesspools that profess to be nations. Is Somalia Over?

Zimbabwe continues to spiral downward under the oppressive rule of Robert Mugabe, a person who gives despots a bad name.  Is Zimbabwe Over?

I ask this question because I wonder why no one questions whether these and other equally depressed and depressing counries should expire, while many question the continued existence, or the right to continue to exist, of Israel because it has problems and makes mistakes.  It seems that Israel's conduct or conditions somehow impact its right to exist, a phenomenon that exists for no other country.

The Israeli historian Benny Morris recently wrote a very pessimistic column in Newsweek that delineated the seemingly endless list of challenges, both internal and external, that Israel faces. It was a depressing read, no doubt about it. Its first sentence was "Israel is under assault." Newsweek chose to headline the article with "Is Israel Over?"

Has Newsweek headlined a piece asking whether any of the many basket-case nations of the world are "over?"  Not to my memory.

I just arrived back in Israel after a few months in the U.S. I arrived just after the 10th Israeli in the country's 63 year history won a Nobel Prize, this time in chemistry. I arrived just a few weeks after hundreds of thousands of Israelis spent part of their summer peacefully protesting economic and social justice issues. None feared their government would respond violently.  They had no reason to.

I arrived to a country that while not without economic problems, has experienced huge growth in the last two decades and has weathered the world's economic downturn much better than most of the Western world, particularly Europe and the U.S. I arrived just as the only majority-Jewish country in the world readied itself for the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, a beautiful, quiet, reflective time to be here.

I arrived just when the Prime Minister was vigorously condemning a despicable act of vandalism against a Muslim mosque, and just when the President of the Jewish nation was visiting the mosque to express the state's abhorrence at such an act.

I arrived to a country with unsurpassed science, with a lively and diverse arts and culture scene, with people of many colors and religions, with people who cherish tradition and with people who are on the cutting edge of lifestyles and trends, with a robust free press, with.. . well, one could go on and on.

Indeed, Israel has many, many problems. Many seem dire. But the seven million-plus people here are not going anywhere. The people here, and the country they constitute, are far from over. And, yet, when it comes to this country, Newsweek picks a headline it would not think to pick for any other country on earth. If it would, there are plenty of worthy candidates that are much, much closer to being "over" than Israel. And many deserve to be.

So, why did Newsweek pick this headline for a column about Israel? I cannot think of any reason other than it is part of this continuing, gnawing habit of many people in the world to think that the Jewish people are not entitled to their nation. Somehow, when Jews have problems or do not act perfectly, they do not have the same rights as every other nation. This is Jew-hatred at its most base, vial level. Congratulations, Newsweek.

As for Benny Morris, he never asked whether Israel was over. He did write a very depressing depiction of the country, its internal problems and its external threats. He did not paint a pretty picture. Of course, this is the same Benny Morris who spearheaded the post-Zionist, revisionist movement among a whole generation of Israeli historians, only to later back away from and revise much of his earlier revisionist history.


  1. Your last paragraph says it all. When Newsweek can do no better than Benny Morris, there is little credibility...even though I am glad Morris changed his tune, he has already done his damage.

  2. A friend shared the column with me on Facebook, and I replied as follows, and thought I would share. [I am editing for clarity.]

    Excellent column. I am saddened that the Mosque incident did not get more coverage, especially because it is in a Bedouin area of the Galilee region. I've learned by reading an amazing book by Israel's first Bedouin Diplomat, Ishmael Khaldi that the Bedouin are an amazing people, who show the world how moderate Islam is a beautiful tradition of loving, family-centered people, living in relationship with G-d as they understand Him. (Though overtly less religious in a Mosque-participatory sense, due to their nomadic lifestyle.) The mosque desecration was totally awful, and those who did it should be ashamed.

    I am often very angered by the headlines that are used, as in this case by Newsweek. Israel is not over. Before considering conversion to Judaism, I'd held a long-held view that the Bible is true. The Torah, in Deut. directly links the people Israel (the Jewish people) obeying commandments with the rain falling at the right time and the right place. I have long held this to be a worldwide miraculous phenomenon. By asking "Is Israel Over", the editors of Newsweek need to differentiate the Modern State from the ancient nation (the Jewish People). I am convinced that if the last Jew were to vanish, the fabric of the universe would be torn, and each atom would cease to exist. (After, G-d willing, I have converted to Judaism, I will no longer be able to say this out loud without looking like a "supremacist".)

    So no, Newsweek- Israel will never be over. Not especially when G-d fearing people lie Joshua C. and Ishmael Khaldi are on her side because it is the side of justice, and right.

    Mr. Khaldi's book may be purchased at

    His web site is at

  3. Sorry. Ishmael Khaldi's web site is at