My dad used to sing this to us when we were little, and later to my nieces and nephews. He did it with similar verve and drama. So great!
Israelis went to the polls earlier this week – a propos, this wonderful commentary from David Hirsh (I stole it from his Facebook page).
Israelis are voting today and determining their own future. This fact makes the hearts of all democratic people soar. This signifies the defeat, so far anyway, of the antisemitisms, Nazism, Arab Nationalisms, Islamisms and the Communisms which tried to prevent the endurance and the self determination of Jews.
Some Israelis are people whose families never left Jerusalem, the Middle East or North Africa; people ethnically cleansed from the great cosmopolitan civilizations by Arab nationalism and Islamism, from Cairo, Alexandria, Beirut, Yemen, Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus, Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia…
Some were driven out of Europe at the time of the pogroms in Kishniev and elsewhere.
Some are descended from the undead of Europe, survivors of the largely successful campaign across Europe to define, seek out and kill them.
Some limped away from the ideological and physical attempt to wipe them out which was called Russian Communism.
Some trace their ancestry to the expulsions from England in 1290 or from Spain in 1492.
Some Israelis come from Africa, ancient communities of Jews, endangered by famine and by isolation.
The continued existence of Israel is a victory for democratic life, democratic thinking and democratic practice.
Young Israeli men and women fought and died to defend their freedom against annihilationist aggression, notably in 1948, 1967, 1973. Israel still has to fight for its right to exist and Israelis still have to fight for their right to be part of the global community of human kind.
If you cannot celebrate Israel’s existence, if you do not feel that its survival is also your survival, there is something wrong with the way you think and the way you feel.
True, Israel and its neighbours might have done better in getting on with each other. But that thought does not constitute a *but* to this post. It is another, separate, thought.
(Emphasis mine.) That second to last paragraph represents precisely my views on what Israel means – and it represents why I have distanced myself from certain relationships. I refer not just to my anti-Semitic relatives (of whom I have written from time to time on this site) but also to some old and new friendships of mine that have gone to the wayside. (I have had an experience similar, though not identical, to this.)
Charles van Doren died this week. For those of you to whom that name means nothing, he was at the centre of the quiz show scandals of the 1950s. Robert Redford directed this excellent film about it all. Because it has no car chases or shooting and the actual scandal didn’t involve anything sexy, I can’t see it attracting any Millennials, but I highly recommend it – a nostalgic portrait of a time when we expected honesty from people. It is also about the van Dorens. My family was never quite so glamorous, but my parents — like van Doren’s mother and father — were extremely competitive and had huge expectations for their kids. I always felt a lot of pressure.
The film’s trailer:
…at the Wall Street Journal – it’s about Italy, China and the Belt and Road Initiative.
There is so much bad press about the Catholic Church these days (much of it deserved), but I found this to be tremendously lovely and important.