In the late 1970s, a time when Jews in the United States had arguably achieved more status and social acceptance than in any previous era of their long Diaspora, American Jewish groups began work on a project that culminated in 1993 with the dedication of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
I was drinking a martini on the terrace of the King David Hotel when I started counting sirens. An ultra-Orthodox social worker had told me earlier in the week that that is what people often do here, count sirens. One siren is probably a heart attack. Two might be a fire. If you hear three, you had best turn on the news.
While visiting Ellis Island at the turn of the 20th century, Henry James wondered how the sweeping tide of immigrants would ultimately affect "the idea of" America. Comparing the incorporation of foreigners to sword- and fire-swallowing feats at a circus, James reflected on what it meant for America to share its patrimony with those "inconceivable aliens."
Once you've leaned over the edge of the Golan Heights, peered into Syria and imagined Damascus lying less than an hour away, you easily understand why many Israelis have no desire to relinquish the disputed territory.