Analysis News
  • A land without a people?: A visit to Russia's Jewish autonomous region

    A visit to Birobidzhan, where Jewish autonomy hasn't exactly worked out — and yet, the sign for Lenin Street is still written in Yiddish and public monuments commemorate Sholem Aleichem. By Yakov Rabkin Last summer, after three months of teaching in Japan, I decided to return home to Montreal via Birobidzhan, in Russia’s Far East. The Jewish Autonomous Region was getting ready to celebrate its 80th anniversary, and I easily found people to host me. Built by Jewish enthusiasts from a dozen countries including Argentina, Canada, France, the United States and British Palestine, Birobidzhan is conceptually akin to Israel, which also considers Jews as…

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  • Does Israel have a place in Jewish identity?

    The proposed 'Nation-State Law' and a wave of violence point to the urgency of questioning Israel's place in Jewish identity. Shlomo Sand's latest book, 'How I Stopped Being a Jew,' offers a starting point for such a discussion. When I left Palestine this summer, I was relieved to leave the Israeli flag behind. No more blue and white snapping at everyone who passes military checkpoints. No more Star of David standing high over the army bases. Saying goodbye to the Israeli flag, or so I thought, would also mean an end to my ambivalence about it. Upon seeing the flag,…

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  • The Beaten Path: Framing the story at Yad Vashem (part 8)

    Exploring Jerusalem's Holocaust museum allows us to understand the way in which the Zionist narrative deals with the destruction of European Jewry. But is it the whole story? Part eight of Yuval Ben-Ami’s journey through the Holy Land's most popular tourist sites. In the early years of the 11th Century, the Holy Land was taken over by ISIS. The religious militants came from the north, their faces covered. They pillaged every town through which they passed, beheading "heathens" and abducting women. Their sense of self-righteousness and the blessings of fundamentalist clergymen made them entirely blind to their atrocities. They did not…

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  • LISTEN: The rarest records, from India to Palestine

    The members of Tel Aviv's Fortuna Records have spent the last several years collecting some of the rarest records from the Middle East. The music runs the gamut from classical Egyptian to Palestinian folk to Greek-Israeli music. Check out a mixtape of their favorite rarities, accompanied by their stunning (and often strange) album covers. By Fortuna Records 1. Koko - Koko The debut album by Koko, an unknown singer on the Tel Aviv "Kol Dorit" label, and who sings in Greek, is without a doubt one of the best albums recorded in Israel during the 1970s. If you ask us,…

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  • Jerusalem: Against the dying of the light

    The streets are seething, a tautness hangs in the air, clinging to one as if walking through cobwebs. Yet in the middle of it all, I find a most profound reparation by the simplest means. A crack of light, and my heart hurts less. By Natasha Roth “Do not go gentle into that good night.” I am sitting in an archway in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, taking a break from guiding a friend who is visiting from the UK. He is smoking a cigarette, and I am photographing the street sign across from us. We are on…

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  • The Beaten Path: Fixing a hole in Safed (part 6)

    The deconstructed tourist trail reaches the mystical Galillean town and its many ghosts. Safed is the incredible shrinking city, forever threatened by its own capacity to be more than one thing. Part six of Yuval Ben-Ami's journey. Safed makes me sick. Literally. As soon as I hop off the bus, take in the obligatory breath of fresh mountain air and settle at the "Baghdad Café" for an Americano, my stomach begins to torment me. I know this isn't only the snack I had in Geinosar. This place makes my spirit sad, and my body sympathizes. Safed is one of many cities…

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  • WATCH: Listening to the 'Sound of Torture'

    A new Israeli film takes a disturbing look at the torture camps for Eritrean refugees in Sinai, and the Swedish-Eritrean journalist who has devoted herself to exposing the torture victims’ stories and ending their suffering. Related: A life of forced labor: Why Israel's Eritrean refugees fled home Testimony: Sudanese refugee details torture by Sinai smugglers What the bones remember: Israeli doctors talk torture

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  • The Beaten Path: Fishing for the real at the Sea of Galilee (part 5)

    In an over-mythologized, pre-imagined land of promise, the Sea of Galilee is a dream waiting to be shattered. Here it is, deconstructed. Part five of Yuval Ben-Ami’s journey.  Ruthie, My girlfriend, hates movie spoilers. Tell her so much as one detail of the plot, any detail, and she'll pass on the entire film. I joke that even knowing the genre would kill her fun. Actually, it's worse. We once decided to watch "The Long Goodbye." While waiting for it to download, I hummed the theme song, and she yelled: "don't ruin it for me!" Oddly, the very same Ruthie isn't bothered…

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  • After ‘chickenshit’ remark, FBI finds traces of ‘truth serum’ in West Wing [satire]

    The FBI has found traces of sodium thiopental in several areas in the White House, causing staff to stop holding back their true feelings on Israel.  Just 24 hours after a senior administration official called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “chickenshit,” FBI agents found traces of sodium thiopental, also known as the "truth serum," in several areas of the White House. The findings could explain the remarks given to Jeffrey Goldberg in his Atlantic interview. According to FBI agent Dana Mulder, traces of the liquid were found “in the Oval Office as well. We’re still conducting some tests, but it…

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  • Small gods with big sticks at the unemployment office

    How is it that a civil servant's whim, impression or impulse can shatter an entire family's lives? Some people, pushed and pushed into the corner, can't take it anymore. By Yudit Ilany When the Israeli Employment Service (the unemployment office) registers somebody as "uncooperative," all social security payments are automatically suspended for two months. This procedure is commonly known as “refusal.” Refusal snowballs single-parent families straight into an avalanche of poverty and distress, from which there is no salvation but death. September the 22nd was a tough day, during which many women from Jaffa encountered refusals. The 28th of each…

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