An absolute precondition for class warfare is class consciousness. And one of the great mysteries of American history is that with just a few transient exceptions, there has been near zero class consciousness here.
These days, the word “fascism” is used here in Israel – as also abroad – almost casually. It is sometimes spoken with glee, often spoken in sorrow. Yet while it is fair (and painful) to say that a crop of laws, recent and prospective, are anti-democratic, the word “fascism” simply does not fit the Israeli reality. Bibi Netanyahu makes a preposterous Mussolini. (Of course, so did Mussolini.) The Israeli people, setting aside the most extreme of the settlers, are grotesquely miscast as Fascisti.
It will not come as a surprise if I suggest that we Jews are a peculiar people. For all the talk of escalating assimilation, we remain, in important respects, quite different from most other Americans.
The funeral took place in Vienna on July 7, 1904. The stunning announcement had come on the 4th: Theodore Herzl, dead at age 44.
Here is Stefan Zweig's description of the day:
We have long since learned to swallow hard as the Israelis persist in policies that are ill-conceived and ill-executed, policies that threaten the entire Zionist enterprise.
There is a gathering hysteria in the American Jewish community that is dangerously self-destructive. Life as a Jew these days may not be -- is not -- a bed of roses, but neither is it a bed of thorns. Yet to hear some in our community tell it, thorns are all there are.
Consider: George Soros, the multibillionaire and philanthropist, spoke on Nov. 5 to a meeting of the Jewish Funders Network. In response to a question about the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, he responded that "the policies of the Bush administration and the Sharon administration contribute to that."
Can there be any doubt that he is right?
Against the Dying of the Light: A Father's Journey through Loss" by Leonard Fein (Jewish Lights Publishing, $19.95)
Scholars will doubtless continue to debate Franklin Roosevelt's actions -- and inaction -- regarding the Holocaust. What did he know? When did he know it? Didn't he care, or did he really believe that the best and quickest way to help the Jews was, as he repeatedly argued, to win the war?
Rose Freedman has died.
Her death at 107 years of age has been widely noted, for Freedman was the last living survivor of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Co. fire, a calamity that claimed 146 lives. Just months ago, she was featured in a PBS documentary, "The Living Century," which told not only of her experience 90 years ago, but also of the remarkable life she led thereafter. That life -- as The New York Times put it -- was both "colorful and courageous," right up until her last days in her home in Beverly Hills.