Arthur Hertzberg (1921–2006) was a Conservative rabbi, scholar and activist. His books include The French Enlightenment and the Jews: The Origins of Modern Anti-Semitism and The Zionist Idea.

Is Anti-Semitism Dying Out?

Is anti-Semitism reviving? Could it become again a major threat to Jews? Some of the closest observers of contemporary anti-Semitism disagree about these questions; they interpret quite differently such incidents as the killing of Yankel Rosenbaum in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and the painting of swastikas on Jewish grave-stones in Germany.

A Lost Chance for Peace

Almost sixteen years ago, in the summer of 1977, I brought Menachem Begin, who had just been elected prime minister of Israel, an informal message from a friend in Jimmy Carter’s White House. The Americans, the message went, wanted Israel to feel secure from attack, but they could not possibly …

Showdown

For the first time, an administration in Washington has linked further American generosity toward Israel to Israel’s willingness to stop further settlements on the West Bank. The government in Israel and officials of American Jewish organizations have reacted by denouncing President Bush for using a humanitarian cause, the need to …

The Impasse Over Israel

Is the Zionist state legitimate? Is the “Palestinian state” legitimate? Most Arabs deny the legitimacy of Israel. The Arab argument grew more passionate earlier this year as it became clear that the PLO’s expressed willingness to negotiate with Israel was not leading to a Palestinian state, and many Palestinians concluded …

What Future for American Jews?

After the Six Day War in 1967, Jews in America were freer, and more powerful, than Jews had ever been before in the Diaspora. Yet, at the same time, the Jewish community was eroding. Those who had grown up in the 1930s remembered Hitler and Father Coughlin, but their children …

The Turning Point?

On Sunday night, July 31, Israelis throughout the country were watching Jordanian television. King Hussein’s speech was broadcast twice, once in Arabic and again with a voice-over in English. I watched and listened with special interest, for just a few hours before I had crossed the Allenby Bridge to Israel …

The Illusion of Jewish Unity

In the political drama playing on Israeli television, American Jews are shown as largely supporting Israel’s hard line. During Yitzhak Shamir’s visit to the United States in March, he addressed two national Jewish conferences, first, of the “young leaders” of the United Jewish Appeal in Washington, then of the leaders …

The Uprising

During the spring of 1948, as the war between Jews and Arabs in Palestine was becoming even bloodier, the American ambassador to the United Nations, Warren Austin, is reported to have asked: “Why can’t the Jews and the Moslems learn to practice Christian charity?” Like Warren Austin, the columnists and …

The Best Man

Brian Urquhart is a unique public servant, and in several ways. He is the only living person to have served in senior political positions in the Secretariat of the United Nations from its beginnings in 1946; he has, more than anyone else, been responsible for the success the UN can …

Glasnost and the Jews

The invitation I received to visit Moscow seemed itself an expression of glasnost. I first talked about visiting the USSR in Paris in December 1985 at a UNESCO conference on Maimonides.[^*] There I met Vitaly Naumkin, the director of the section on the Arab states at the Oriental Institute of …

Israel: The Tragedy of Victory

Less than a month after the Six Day War, at the beginning of July 1967, I heard David Ben-Gurion speak at Beit Berl, the “think tank” of the Israeli Labor party. Ben-Gurion was, by then, no longer a member of the party which he had founded and he had even …

The Return of Maimonides

The headquarters of UNESCO in Paris was an improbable place at which to celebrate, in mid-December of 1985, the eight-hundred-fiftieth anniversary of the birth of Maimonides. The United States had formally withdrawn from UNESCO the year before, after charging the organization with being a center of anti-Western propaganda, of support …

The Triumph of the Jews

For at least a century, Jews in America have worried about three main issues: their success in establishing themselves in American society; their continuity as a community; and their legitimacy, that is, their justification to themselves of the value of being Jews. Their concerns about worldly success were always connected …

Reagan and the Jews

During the national election of 1984, the Republican party spent at least two million dollars to directly influence the Jewish vote. This effort failed. Jews are the only white “have” group in America to withstand the Reagan landslide: they voted two to one for the Democrats and are, with blacks, …

The Tragedy and the Hope

In the confrontation between Reagan and Begin, Reagan is playing the part of the sheriff, and reading his lines with conviction. He was outraged by the bombing of Beirut, and especially by the massacre in the refugee camps, and now believes that a solution for the Palestinians is not to …

Begin and the Jews

Menachem Begin’s outburst denouncing the United States on December 20 is best understood as a scene from a bad marriage. “Are we a vassal state of yours? Are we a banana republic?” Begin asked when the US suspended the strategic cooperation agreement with Israel following Begin’s de facto annexation of …

The View from Cairo

After a visit of a few days in Cairo to talk with dozens of people about the possibilities of peace, I came away with answers that seemed, at least, to be surprisingly clear. Sadat wants peace; the intelligentsia does not want normal relations with Israel; and the ordinary people do …