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  • The face of violence: between racism and banal evil

    In 1998, an Israeli film appeared called "Buzz." It was based on a true story that had rocked the country four years earlier: two teenagers murdered a taxi driver, shooting him six times in the back. In the style of some great literature, there was no motive at all, just sheer thrill for boys who had already developed a pastime of petty crime. Nobody is making films these days about stunningly random, lethal violence. We've grown ritually used to it. We have a few days to nurse our horror, then we return to the struggle to close out the month…

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  • Letter from Cairo: City's Jewish history presents political problems

    Surprising the locals When I walked into Cairo’s Ben Ezra Synagogue last Saturday afternoon, the groundskeeper, Hassan, was both surprised and excited. Now a museum, I was not the only person there. But it turns out I was the only one to kiss the mezuzah on the way inside. Hassan smiled and asked me, “Anta yehudi?” I smiled back and nodded. With his broken English and my shattered Arabic, Hassan apologized that he could not sell to me any souvenirs because “it is Shabbat,” but he then took it upon himself to briefly explain the city’s Jewish history. “There are…

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  • When a conference on Jew-Hatred turns into Jew-Bashing – and one-sided scholarship (Jerry Haber)

    The following was originally posted on The Magnes Zionist. Organize a conference that invites virtually only hard-line Zionists (ranging in ideology from New Republic liberal hawks toCommentary neocons, with the occasional rightwinger settler) and you get the conference that Yale's Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism and the International Associations for the Study of Anti-Semitism sponsored last week. Take a look at some of the plenary and keynote speakers: Irwin Cotler, Jeffrey Herf, Richard Landes, Deborah Lipstadt, Meir Litvak, Menahem Milson, Dina Porat, Milton Shain, Bassam Tibi (the token "good Muslim") and Ruth Wisse. Looks more like a conference sponsored…

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