Recommending The Forward and Tablet

It’s become much easier to recommend articles via Facebook than this blog where we’ve generally been Theater J/self-referential when citing articles. But The Forward and the relatively still brand new Tablet have been all over so many issues that dovetail so neatly with our concerns and mission that I really do need to be making a habit of reading and reciting from them more regularly (or religiously — or both). Given the confluence of Israel angst, J Street, Neil Simon and Uncle Philip Roth, there’s no end to the vibrant dialogue, good reporting, and important opinions coming out of these two publications. So let me quickly point to the chain of articles that have come out via The Forward and its Polymath Opinion columnist Jay Michaelson who originally wrote “How I’m Losing My Love For Israel” which prompted a firestorm and a flood at the same time and then this week’s follow up of many new articles in The Forward, leading with this round-up:

In the September 25 issue of the Forward, we published an essay from columnist Jay Michaelson titled, “How I’m Losing My Love for Israel.” In it, he wrote that defending Israel’s actions in his liberal social circles had grown “exhausting.” Michaelson explained that he has begun to “second-guess” his love for Israel, a love that has made him feel “implicated” in Israel’s actions. All the while, he lamented, the liberal Israel he loves “is increasingly disappearing.”

“I still support the State of Israel, its right to exist and the rest. Most important, it is still, in part, my home,” he wrote. But, he added, “while my love endures, my unease grows, and with it, the gnawing sense that this relationship is in trouble.”

Michaelson’s article sparked a firestorm of debate and discussion, online and elsewhere. In addition to an outpouring of letters and comments — some angry, others appreciative — there were in-depth responses from some prominent thinkers.

The follow ups are here, with many links to others articles, including Michealson’s own important follow up, touching on a new “American Jewish McCarthyism” which we know of well. His essay begins…

Since the publication of “How I’m Losing My Love for Israel,” a personal essay describing my fatigue as a liberal Zionist, the most disturbing responses have not been the vitriolic e-mails or online comments, nor the thoughtful and well-reasoned replies from the likes of Daniel Gordis and Jonathan Sarna. Rather, I have been most troubled by the statements of many Jewish professionals — rabbis, federation leaders, nonprofit directors — who have told me, “Thank you for saying what I cannot.”

Why is it that they cannot say what I said? Because they fear for their jobs, or fear their organizations would be harmed if they expressed their opinion? And what opinion is that, which they and I share? Is it hatred of Israel? Support for the terrorists of Hamas? No. It is *ambivalence.

Remarkably, and disturbingly, this American Jewish McCarthyism has reached such a paranoid pitch that my colleagues in the Jewish world fear even to express ambivalence, uncertainty or reservation regarding the State of Israel. We fear that we might endanger relationships with members, donors, supporters and friends for expressing uncertainty. This is outrageous, and it has shocked me in the weeks since the column was published.

Read the rest here

Tablet” is also terrific on culture and Theater J’s good ole friend and past box office wizard Hadara Graubart is now a major editor there and writing constantly for them on their “scroll” or blog. Anyway, Jewish cultural press has gotten a whole lot more exciting and up to the minute since the advent of daily coverage–not just weekly–as a result of journalistic blogging on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. It’s exhausting to write at this clip and exhaustingly enriching to keep up with the reading as well. But it’s the new wave. It’s vital. It’s current.

And guess what else? It’s so frickin’ New York Centric when it comes to culture that it’s positively provincial! Note to Culture Editors: Get on the Boltbus a bit and see the Eastern Seaboard. There’s a ton of activity–much of it brand new and exciting–that you’re missing because you’re behind your computers, cranking out interesting copy. But guess what? Boltbus has wireless. You can travel to other cultural generators and still be cranking it out.