Forty-five minutes at the White House was all it took to crystallize the new paradigm defining the relations among the Obama administration, the Jewish community and Israel.
They are the inhabitants of Israel who live in limbo. Since 2005, an estimated 12,500 people have arrived in Israel, seeking asylum from Sudan and Eritrea. One group, the Sudanese, are suffering because their native country is Israel’s enemy; the Eritreans, because their country is Israel’s friend. Israel refuses to give residency to people from enemy states, and therefore will not consider Sudanese for refugee status. The only exception was in 2008 when Israel gave temporary residency to 450 arrivals from the war-torn Sudanese region of Darfur as a one-time humanitarian gesture, though without granting them official refugee status.
“What’s a nice professor of Jewish studies doing teaching in a place like this?” For those unfamiliar with contemporary Egyptian intellectual life, this might be the first question that comes to mind upon meeting Mohamed Hawary, a professor of Hebrew studies and Jewish thought at Ain Shams University in Cairo, a teeming school of some 180,000 students.
Efforts to bring together Jewish and Muslim communities hit another snag when an imam at a major Muslim conference gave an incendiary speech in which he said Jews were to blame for the Holocaust.
Crowds at the Royal Ontario Museum’s heavily hyped Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition — Dead Sea Scrolls: Words That Changed the World, which runs until January 3, 2010 — have far exceeded the museum’s own expectations. In the show’s first nine days, more than 18,000 people flocked to the museum’s spectacular new Daniel Libeskind-designed Michael Lee-Chin Crystal pavilion — about 52% above the exhibitors’ own projections.