How is Israel's security served by the creation of a failed state on its northern border? This is the question that has fallen like a dark shadow across the landscape of stunningly unanimous Israeli, Jewish, and American support for Israel's ongoing attack on Lebanon. Has Israel truly attacked Lebanon, or has it merely attacked Hezbollah as a terrorist organization operating from within Lebanon? On July 23, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert seemed to answer that question for the benefit of his cabinet: "We have no war with the Lebanese people, and we have no intention to harm their quality of life."
Is religion more prominent or less today in American life? Is it fading away or roaring ahead? Articles about the conservative Christian influence in the Bush administration point -- often fearfully -- in one direction.
"Jesus in America: Personal Savior, Cultural Hero, National Obsession" by Richard Wightman Fox (HarperSanFrancisco, $27.95).
"American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon" by Stephen Prothero (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, $25)
One of the staples of American humor is the "three proofs that Jesus was..." joke, whose completion is always an ethnic identifier.
Thus, three proofs that Jesus was Jewish:
1. He went into his father's business.
2. He lived at home until the age of 33.
3. He was sure his mother was a virgin, and his mother was sure he was God.
Interestingly enough, this ongoing joke series includes no entry headed, "Three proofs that Jesus was American." Only in a country like Israel, where "American" names an ethnic group within the nation, could such a joke be told. If such has been told, I hope somebody will be kind enough to send me the three proofs.
Mel Gibson's Jesus movie, "The Passion of the Christ," became controversial long before its release when learned critics, Christians as well as Jews, who had been invited to read a draft of the script objected that the film was, if not actually anti-Semitic, then all too apt for anti-Semitic exploitation. The initial response of the Gibson camp to these charges included a lawsuit charging the critics with a malicious attempt to sabotage the film.