Monday, November 19, 2007
Von Berlin bis Annapolis
I am currently in Berlin at a conference commemorating the centenary of the death of the greatest Jewish scholar of the nineteenth century, Moritz Steinschneider. Steinschneider is known as the father of Jewish bibliography; a better appellation would be the father, with Leopold Zunz, of Jewish literary history, and of the history of cultural transmission from the Greeks to the Arabs to the Jews and the Christians. I will have occasion to speak about Steinschneider in a separate post; he was a Jewish liberal who detested nationalism, and certainly, Zionism, while possessing a deep love of Jewish history and the Jewish people. He was especially interested in the impact of secular philosophy, science, and medicine on Jewish savants in the middle ages. This was part of a broader interest in the transmission of culture from one group to another -- and that is what my conference here in Berlin is about. But Annapolis, which is around a half hour from where I work,may be hosting a peace conference. So here are my two cents about that, from Berlin. My hosts last shabbat asked me what I thought Israel needed from the US. My answer, which, I am embarrassed to say, I literally shouted several times, was, "Tough love." The next day the LA Times published an op-ed by Bernard Avishai and Sam Bahour, which said the same thing, only more reasonably and coherently. So please read the following article by these two very intelligent and decent human beings. I have not always been a fan of Avishai's work in the past; I felt that as a liberal Zionist he sometimes cuts the state too much slack (Who am I kidding? I do the same) But at times he is right on the money, and this is one of those times. The whole piece can be read at Sam's great blog, epalestine or at the LA Times here I like agreeing with people -- it's my nature -- and I especially like to agree with people with whom I usually don't agree. So, rightwing readers of this blog, rest assured that we agree on this one. Annapolis won't be good for Israel. OK, end of agreement. It won't be good for Israel because nothing will come out of Annapolis, certainly nothing that answers the minimium requirements for a just peace. If the Palestinian negotiators capitulate, that will be a disaster, because even moderate Palestinians will not accept anything less than a two-states. There will then be violence, and Israel will suffer. The Palestinians will suffer more. No way out.