Is it inevitable and altogether obvious that a scholarly conference devoted to Israel studies should be laden with politics? Academia, in its most classical Platonic ideal, confines itself to description and analysis, not to the prescriptive and hypothetical. And yet here, in Toronto, where the annual gathering of the Association for Israel Studies is taking place, politics intrudes at every moment. The language might be more lofty — “empirical” or “normalized” — but the debates at their core are that same old slugfest of left versus right.
The small apartment building at 320 West End Avenue occupies a choice spot on Manhattan’s Upper West Side: a quiet, tree-lined avenue just around the corner from the popular Fairway Market and a block from Riverside Park. The lobby, sparse but elegant, is guarded by a uniformed doorman who welcomes residents as they return home on a spring evening.16
The cover of Foreign Policy magazine’s latest edition is bright pink and carries a single quote: “For 30 years Mideast peace was my religion. I’m not a believer now.” Below is a crumpled up photo of Bill Clinton, Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shaking hands on the White House lawn.
A little more than a year ago, the Israeli government announced that it would refuse to provide information to the United Nations for its Goldstone Report. Now, some Israeli politicians want to enact legislation that, were it in force then, would have made it illegal for civilian organizations to do so.
Rabbi David Forman, 65, founder of the Israeli group Rabbis for Human Rights, died on May 3 in Dallas while awaiting a liver transplant. Forman, an American-born Reform rabbi, founded Rabbis for Human Rights in 1988, after the outbreak of the first Palestinian intifada. The organization runs educational programs to highlight Judaism’s teachings on human rights, acts as a pressure group to push the Israeli government on such issues and engages in direct action on behalf of Palestinians.
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