Memorial ceremony in Israel, photo by Reuters
Headline: U.S. feeds Syrians, but secretly
To Read: Former secretary of Treasury Lawrence Summers writes about the positive elements of the congressional gridlock (which normally gives the American public the sense that ‘things aren’t being done in Washington’)-
In American history, division and slow change has been the norm rather than the exception. While often frustrating, this has not always been a bad thing.
There were probably too few checks and balances as the United States entered the Vietnam and Iraq wars. There should have been more checks and balances in place before the huge tax cuts of 1981, 2001 and 2003, or to avert the many unfunded entitlement expansions of the past few decades. Most experts would agree that it is a good thing that politics thwarted the effort to establish a guaranteed annual income in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as well as the effort to establish a “single-payer” health-care system during the 1970s.
Quote: "What happens with respect to North Korea can affect Iran, and what happens with Iran can affect North Korea", John Kerry tying the US’ two major threats.
Number: $214m, the amount of aid money the US has delivered to Syria thus far since the beginning of the crisis.
Headline: Jerusalem marks Memorial Day in national ceremony
To Read: Noted historian Anita Shapira examines the the role of silence and mourning throughout Israel’s history-
The ethos of biting one’s lip and restraining oneself in expressions of mourning shaped the behavioral culture of two generations, the generation of the Founding Fathers and the generation that fought in 1948. This was a decision of the Jews of the Land of Israel against the demonstration of emotions and in favor of internalizing them. Traditional Jewish culture assigns an honorable place to ceremonies of mourning. These ceremonies are generally supposed to offer a kind of consolation to the mourner through a justification of divine judgment: “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” The kaddish prayer speaks of the greatness of God, and only at the end does it refer to the deceased. But the actual patterns of mourning that took root in Jewish communities gave a great deal of space to expressions of private sorrow and grief that externalized the pain and grief due to loss. The Zionist ethos linked these expressions to “exilic” whininess and regarded them as unsuited to the builders of a state who bore the future of the Jewish people on their shoulders. This was the heritage of the members of the Second Aliyah, who sought to distance themselves from lofty phrases, to speak in modest terms, and to prefer the deed itself to the glorification of it…
Quote: Through wondering tears, the people stare.
“Who are you, the silent two?”
And they reply: “We are the silver platter
Upon which the Jewish State was served to you.”
Nathan Alterman’s immortal poem about the sacrifices that had to be made before Israel could be founded.
Number: 392, the number of Druze soldiers who have died in service of the Israeli army since Israel’s inception.
The Middle East
Headline: Judge rules Egypt's Hosni Mubarak not guilty of protestor killings
To Read: Jonathan Tobin thinks that the resignation of Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad is a grave blow to both Israel and Palestine:
The resignation of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is a pivotal moment in the history of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. His exit lays bare the collapse of what The New York Times called “Fayyadism” — the hope that Palestinian nationalism would be refocused on development and coexistence rather than violence. Without the fig leaf of responsibility that Fayyad provided, the idea that the PA is anything but a corrupt regime fatally compromised by connections with terror rings false.
Fayyad’s inability to either generate much public support among the people of the West Bank or to use his credentials as a respected international figure to outmaneuver PA President Mahmoud Abbas is a tragedy for the Palestinian people. His failure dooms them to a choice between the venal and incompetent cadres of Fatah or the bloody Islamist tyranny of Hamas.
Quote: "God willing, we will be in Gaza at the end of May. We will embrace one another there”, Turkish PM Erdogan on his intention to visit Gaza.
Number: 10, the number of months of suspended jail time world renowned Turkish pianist Fazil Say received for insulting Islam.
The Jewish World
Headline: Berlin probing circumcision over blood-sucking ritual
To Read: Elliana Fishman explains why she will not be saying hallel on Israel’s Independence Day-
The question of whether or not to say Hallel on Yom Ha’atzmaut has become a symbol of the division between religious Zionists and religious anti-Zionists. Religious Zionists, in particular followers of Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaCohen Kook, recite Hallel on Yom Ha’atzmaut with a blessing, while religious anti-Zionists do not say Hallel at all. On Yom Ha’atzmaut liturgical choice represents political orientation. This binary leaves American Jewish congregations in a bind. Is Yom Ha’atzmaut a day when American Jews can pray together? How can a community committed to a multitude of opinions around Zionism also share liturgy?
I don’t say Hallel on Yom Ha’atzmaut. Not because I am an anti-Zionist (I’m not), not because I have lefty politics (I do), and not because I’m not a daily davener (I am). I don’t say Hallel on Yom Ha’atzmaut because I am an American Jew. Hallel on Yom Ha’atzmaut is not about Zionism, and it’s not about joy over the establishment of a Jewish state. Hallel is about narrative.
Quote: "Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber", the world’s most successful pop star Justin Bieber’s entry in the Anne-Frank House guestbook, sparking quite a lot of internet controversy.
Number: 1,200, the number of people attending the Limmud FSU conference which celebrates Israel’s independence and Jewish pride in Russia.
* Tomorrow is Israeli Idependence Day and there will be no Headlines & Reads.