Azure's debut, the End of Zionism, and more

Building Peace
Thank you very much for the Institute for Social Thought’s premiere issue of Azure: Ideas for the Jewish Nation. I expect this journal will be highly valued in the years ahead as Israel seeks to build peace both with its neighbors and among Israel’s own Jewish population. The new and fresh ideas your journal offers are a welcome addition to the discussions surrounding the future of Israel.
I look forward to reading more issues of this new journal.
Martin Indyk
U.S. Ambassador
Tel Aviv
Sufficient Grief
I would like to offer a number of comments regarding Yoram Hazony’s article, “The End of Zionism?” (Azure 1, Summer 1996) In 1948, the year of Israel’s War of Independence, Israel enjoyed a nearly wall-to-wall consensus, across all ideological camps in the country, in favor of establishment of the state. Everyone (each perhaps from his own vantage point) pushed for this eventuality and identified with the agonizing war that had to be fought. Those signing the declaration of independence were politicians from the left and from the right; secular, religious and centrist. There was not a single writer or intellectual, to the best of my knowledge, who did not identify with the war.
The phenomenon of a left wing dragging the country in the direction of anti-Zionism started only after the Six Day War. Even Uri Avneri in his Fields of Philistia describes the war and himself as a loyal fighter.
S. Yizhar, in his Days of Ziklag, The Ruins of Hiz’ah and The Prisoner of War, does not come out against the war or the occupation, but rather against displays of stupidity, immorality and depraved brutality during the war—but all the while identifying with its goal. This is exactly like Natan Alterman writing one of his rousing “columns” about the events at Kfar Kasem, while at the same time believing in the Greater Land of Israel to the end of his days.
Amos Oz is another story. His generation is fairly removed from the 1948 war. In My Michael, which was cited in the article, one may discern the seeds of identification with the Palestinians (in a nostalgic way), but in most of Oz’s writings and stories there is no mention of these issues. Even in the novel Black Box, which is among his later works, there is no identification with the Palestinians (though there is a grotesque portrayal of activists from the Greater Land of Israel movement). In any event, the trend towards identification with the Palestinians, which gathered momentum and culminated in the Oslo agreement, began fairly late—in my opinion not before the Yom Kippur War.
I merely wish to say that the grief we are now facing is sufficient in itself, and there is no need to hasten its arrival, as was done in the article. It should be emphasized that the phenomenon of anti-Zionism is much more of a “journalistic” phenomenon than a literary one. It appears in heavy doses in newspapers, articles, op-eds, poetry, syndicated columns and theater. Serious authors know how to distinguish between their literary creations and any political articles they write, or speeches they deliver in the public square. Even Meir Shalev’s articles in the press are totally different from his prose.
Hanan Sever
Kibbutz Yiftah
Already Out of Control
Thank you for sending me the first issue of Azure. My appreciation is exceeded by my recognition of the fine job you have done. I really was in for a pleasant surprise, quite satisfied over your courage to publish—in these dark days—a new intellectual journal. I was even more pleased to witness the high standard. Judging by your ability to sustain The Shalem Center and to continue distributing background materials that are critical for an understanding of current events, I believe that you will go a long way with Azure. Both the name and the content are deserving of heartfelt congratulations.
Our era is already out of control, due both to the mess we inherited from the Labor-Meretz government—stuck like a bone in the throat of the new administration, which is unable to either swallow it or spit it out—and to the diversity of political forces that Netanyahu has gathered into his government. Thus, Azure is especially important today.
I will not deny that you caused me great satisfaction by printing Ofir Haivry’s “Act and Comprehend” (Azure 1, Summer 1996), a paean to his scholarship and seriousness; the same goes for Yoram Hazony’s exposé on the gang of anti-Zionists who go by the name of “Post-Zionism.”
Tzvi Shiloah
Checking the Tzitzit
I was pleased to see Azure added to the tzitzit [fringed garment]; even if the talit [prayer shawl] is not all t’chelet [azure], the addition is still important and timely. I hope the project will continue on indefinitely and without interruption. Three cheers for the translation of the letter from Martin Luther King (Azure 1, Summer 1996). It contains several key insights that have a high degree of relevance to our own reality. Please allow me several short comments on the content of the articles:
1. In his preface, the editor emphasizes [in the Hebrew edition] that “Azure was born for lack of choice.” I am bewildered by this undervaluation. Azure’s importance and proper place are assured even without the existence of a fundamental and multi-sectoral crisis. A forum for clarification, and a focused one at that, is always beneficial.
2. In his preface, the editor mentions the “majority of Israel’s elite.” This is a concept that has not been adequately examined. Who exactly is this “elite”? Theater-goers? Yeshiva students? Academics? We are not automatically obligated to adopt the definitions that a certain cultural group in Israel is attempting to inculcate.
3. Similarly, Yoram Hazony writes in his article, “The End of Zionism?” that Post-Zionism has become the “dominant cultural force in the country.” Is this really so? Where on the spectrum do we locate the Torah-based research institutes, the hesder yeshivas, and the yeshiva army preparatory academies? What about the haredi and non-Jewish sectors, who do not see themselves at all as part of the Zionist camp—nor of its successor? It seems to me that we should seriously consider whether all of this is really true, or whether it emanates from biased parties that have succeeded in making it part and parcel of Israel’s public discourse.
4. Also in regard to the “cultural war” discussed by the editor, I am not convinced that the great divide is really between those who totally negate Judaism and those who champion it. It would appear that the noise of the detractors is much louder than their actual relative weight in Israeli culture and among its consumers.
Meir Gross
Beit El

From the

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The Magician of LjubljanaThe totalitarian dreams of Slavoj Žižek.

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