I find this heartening, I must admit: a survey in Israel by the Guttman-Avi Chai foundation says that a record number of Israeli Jews currently believe in God. That number is 80%, and by “record number,” reference is made to other surveys dating back to 1991. Continue reading Israeli Jews and Belief in God
After five years of being kept as a hostage by the Islamic terrorist group Hamas in Gaza, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit has returned to Israel today. In return, Israel is releasing over a thousand prisoners requested by Hamas (nearly five hundred released today) including many who committed murders and were involved in bombings.
It makes no sense, of-course. Aside from the absurd imbalance in swapping all of these convicted terrorists for one Israeli soldier who has not been accused of any crime, there is the obvious point that this only encourages Israel’s enemies to attempt to kidnap soldiers again in the future, knowing the enormous potential reward they can obtain through this tactic. Continue reading Gilad Shalit and the Incongruous Swap
Paul Simon talked to the press yesterday in Tel Aviv, Israel, in advance of a concert tonight in Ramat Gan stadium. There is what appears to be a gently-edited twenty-minute clip available on YouTube (and embedded below the text here). It’s a pretty low-key, friendly chat, but interesting enough if you—like me—admire Simon a lot as a songwriter and musician. Simon talks about himself as a secular Jew and refers to his puzzlement at being sometimes expected to opine on behalf of Jews in general, especially with regard to Israeli/Palestinian issues. (Simon deliberately avoids commenting specifically on any political issues; of-course as soon as his gig in Tel Aviv was announced he would have begun coming under pressure to cancel it from those who advocate “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” against Israel. Clearly he did not cancel it.) Simon talks about the music on his current album and about playing live, and about how he’s taken to preserving the quality of his singing voice through a somewhat ascetic regimen by avoiding smoking, alcohol, coffee and more. (You would have to say that it seems to be working: he turns 70 this year, and still sounds like he did when he was 22.) Continue reading Bob Dylan: the welder of gates – and more from Paul Simon press conference