February 21, 2020

Becoming My Father on Israel

“His face turned beet red. In my 37-year relationship with my father, it was the only time I recall him getting very angry at me.

What had I done? Criticized Israel publicly.

My father, Victor, was a Holocaust survivor who lost his entire family to the Nazis, except his older brother. To him, Israel was perhaps the only silver lining in the deepest, darkest, most painful cloud imaginable.

And his beloved Israel could do no wrong. He would often tell me: “Israel is a very good country in a very bad neighborhood.” He rarely showed levity about the Holy Land, but occasionally he would jokingly wonder whether it wouldn’t have been better if Moses had “taken a left turn instead of a right turn” and claimed the land of Saudi Arabia or Iraq as the home of the Jewish people because of its vast oil reserves.

To my father, like so many Holocaust survivors, Israel represented a lifeboat in case things got bad again. Even as an American for over four decades, my father was always vigilant about any nascent anti-Semitism, any threat that might trigger another Kristalnacht. He listened to his trusty portable radio all the time. I particularly remember him being glued to it during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. When Israel looked like it was losing the first few days, my father’s demeanor was downcast and nervous. When the mighty Israeli army stormed back and eventually won that war, I could sense a huge burden lifted from his shoulders.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Picks

"U.S. President Donald Trump thinks he’s suffered more injustice than the alleged witches of Salem, but it could be worse. Pakistan’s former president Pervez Musharaff faced possible impeachment in 2008, leading to his resignation. In the end..."

"The 2000s felt like a decade of looking forward. Wi-Fi went mainstream, phones got smarter, social media connected us, digital tools let us rely less on physical ones. But the 2010s brought a shift. There was still tons of new technology, but..."

"While some women experience pregnancy and childbirth as joyful, natural and fulfilling, others find themselves recoiling in horror at the physical demands of carrying and sustaining a child in their womb, and even more so at the potential..."

"A few months ago, the New York Post’s Steve Cuozzo bemoaned the death of the Manhattan power lunch. Gone were the long, decadent afternoons filled with networking and Negronis: “Suit-and-tie-wearing machers in media and Wall Street gave way to..."

"Economic inequality has moved to the top of the political agenda in many countries, including free-market poster children like the US and the UK. The issue is mobilizing the left and causing headaches on the right, where wealth has long been..."

"If you’re not familiar with the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats — or even if you are — then you probably have many, many questions going into the film adaptation this weekend, especially if you’ve witnessed the widespread bafflement the trailer..."

"Despite his precisely targeted campaign and some unexpected support, the chances of Gideon Saar engineering a surprise defeat of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Dec. 26 primaries for the Likud party leadership are still considered modest.."

"Peter Thiel is Big Tech’s most prominent Trump supporter. He is an unabashed enemy of the free press, having covertly funded a lawsuit that bankrupted Gawker three years ago. He has become one of the most vocal pro-monopoly advocates, taking a..."