Author Archives: Mark Berch

About Mark Berch

Since 2002, Mark Berch has been providing Jewishly oriented web links to members of his shul (Tifereth Israel, a small Conservative synagogue in Washington DC where his family has been members for almost 40 years). In real life, he is a Patent Examiner.

The Peace Process

This entry was posted in Israel on by .

Shlomo Avineri argues that if the Palestinians were to unilaterally declare themselves a state, little would change on the ground, but it “would make the Israeli-Palestinian dispute more “normal”–that is to say, a dispute between states, [and]–would also advance the prospect for negotiations.” (Ha’aretz)

J Street head Jeremy Ben-Ami talks about why he is bringing a large delegation to Israel, relations with AIPAC, J Street’s alleged inconsistency, and Obama’s need to connect with Israelis. (Ha’aretz)

Netanyahu is reported to have told Mitchell that he is willing to discuss the core issues of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, (Jerusalem, borders and security arrangements) in the proximity talks. (Ha’aretz)

Ari Shavit cautions: “The essential task now in the Middle East is the prevention of war. That’s not the same as pursuing peace. Sometimes it’s precisely the attempt to achieve an unattainable peace that ignites a war.” (Ha’aretz)

Really, how central is resolving the Israel-Palestinian issue either to the politics of the Middle East or to the national-security interests of the United States? (Wall Street Journal)

Posted on April 28, 2010

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Teaching the Holocaust

This entry was posted in History on by .

A look at some disagreements in how the Holocaust should be taught, including the emphasis on victimhood, the importance of the “technical details” and whether there has been “too much emphasis on the Jewish aspects of the Holocaust.” (Ha’aretz)

The Holocaust was not just about the Jews, and Anshel Pfeffer decries the fact that this simple fact isn’t being taught in Israeli schools. (Ha’aretz)

In 1943, about 250 Jews escaped from a work camp in Poland through a 700-foot tunnel dug by hand. Here is the story of one: Sonya Oshman. (Tablet)

Israel has decided that high school students will learn for the first time about the Eichmann trial and its impact on the shaping of the collective memory of the Holocaust in Israel. (Ha’aretz)

A look at the use of motion comics (animatics), which may blend in archival footage, to tell Holocaust stories. (Jewish Week)

Posted on April 19, 2010

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

The Anat Kam Affair

This entry was posted in Israel on by .

The gag order barring the Israeli media from reporting on the Anat Kam case comes under increased criticism. (Ha’aretz)

Then, the order having been lifted, Anat Kam is formally accused of “Serious Espionage (divulging secret information with the intent to harm the security of the state)” for handing documents to Ha’aretz. (Ha’aretz)

Her lawyers stoutly defend her, even as the state says it’s “a very serious matter in terms of the potential security damages it could save caused.” (Ha’aretz)

Haaretz Editor-in-Chief Dov Alfon defends the paper’s “publication of a series of exposes regarding the Israel Defense Forces’ lax rules of engagement,” said they had permission for the IDF censor to publish, and that the Shin Bet reneged on its agreement with the paper. (Ha’aretz)

A sampling of response, mostly from the right. (Israel National News)

Posted on April 12, 2010

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Israel Advocacy Roundup

This entry was posted in Israel on by .

Michael Freund suggests a Birthright-type program to bring “clergymen and jurists, prominent doctors, lawyers and scientists, and even sports stars and athletes” to see what Israel is really like. (Israel Insider)

A look at Gesher Chai, a joint curriculum that links students in American classrooms to those in Israel. (Washington Jewish Week)

J Street, on the heels of a successful merger with Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, is setting up regional chapters in several dozen areas of the United States. (New Jersey Jewish News)

Are Israel’s diplomats even properly prepared to advocate for Israel’s interests? (Ha’aretz)

A report by Israel’s State Comptroller points to major failure of hasbara in terms of Arab-language outreach, e.g. during Second Lebanon War. (YNet News)

Reuven Pedatzur points to Israel’s greatest PR failure, that Mohammed al-Dura remains a symbol of Israel’s brutality despite proof that footage of his death was meddled with. (Ha’aretz)

Posted on February 2, 2010

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Israeli Business Roundup

This entry was posted in Israel on by .

A look at Israel’s successes in developing robotic fighting and unmanned vehicles for the battlefield, including drones and “the Guardium unmanned ground vehicle, which now drives itself along the Gaza and Lebanese borders.” (Wall Street Journal)

Israel is in the last stages of accession to the OECD, but there are serious obstacles to be overcome in the area of bribery, intellectual property rights, and “Israel’s definition of its territory in collating economic data.” (New York Times)

A look at the efforts of TAMID Israel Investment Group to connect Israel’s economy and American business-minded students at U. of Michigan. (Jewish Journal)

A major effort to simplifying business licensing in Israel has run into a dispute over whether Israel’s Shabbat-closing laws should actually be enforced. (YNet)

David Brooks argues that Israel’s remarkable economic and technological success brings with it certain risks. (New York Times)

Posted on January 27, 2010

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Israeli Politics Roundup

This entry was posted in Israel on by .

In an extensive interview, Shaul Mofaz attacks Tzipi Livni for lack of leadership in Kadima, and with her “inability to make decisions and…inability to communicate with people,” and talks how Kadima is undemocratic, about his own background, and what changes will occur once he is Prime Minister of Israel. (Ha’aretz)

Noam Sheizaf looks at the “political divide between Israel’s Arab public and the Jewish left” in Israel. (Forward)

Moshe Arens bemoans the “cannibalistic” nature of Israel’s political culture, starting with the formation of Kadima. (Ha’aretz)

Israel’s prospects for creating a constitution for itself are remote, so Shahar Ilan suggests the outline of a basic law to protect Democracy itself, since “In fact, democracy can be abolished by a majority vote. In the Israel Democracy Institute’s 2009 Democracy Index…42 percent are willing to turn Israel into a country with authoritarian foundations.” (Ha’aretz)

Liat Collins sees Kadima leader Tzipi Livni as having failed numerous political challenges so that her party is running out of options and “she has not only marginalized herself, she has further antagonized those who most threaten her leadership.” (Jerusalem Post)

And the Wall Street Journal runs an interview With Tzipi Livni. (Wall Street Journal)

Posted on January 7, 2010

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

The New Settlement Freeze

This entry was posted in Israel on by .

Amos Harel points out that “in practice … there will be nearly no change in settlement construction, at least not in the coming months”–because 2,500 housing units under construction can be completed, a further 490 units were recently approved, and settlers themselves have started many unauthorized units. In addition, 28 new public buildings in the settlements were just authorized. (Ha’aretz)

Substantial criticism of the settlement freeze is coming from members of Netanyahu’s government, including many from his own party. (Jerusalem Post)

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz told the security cabinet that there is no real way to enforce the freeze with just 14 building inspectors in the West Bank, so more will be added. (Ha’aretz)

But heads of West Bank local councils and heads of the Yesha Council have decided to ban the entrance of those Civil Administration inspectors enforcing the construction moratorium, and have agreed not to cooperate on any level with the Civil Administration. (YNet News)

And right-wing leaders denounce the plan, and set plans of resistance. (Ha’aretz)

Barry Rubin says the freeze will accomplish nothing because nothing Israel does will ever satisfy the Palestinians. (Jerusalem Post)

And Yoram Ettinger argues the freeze will actually make matters much worse. (YNet News)

Posted on November 30, 2009

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Recent Holocaust News

This entry was posted in History on by .

You’ll get a chance to see Anne Frank as a “feisty teenager” rather than a “tragic Jewish saint.” (New York Post)

Should Israel purchase the house where Hitler was born in Austria? (Jerusalem Post)

A new project translates the work of Holocaust writer Primo Levi, Anne Frank’s diary and two other Holocaust-themed works into Arabic and Farsi, for download and paperback. (Tablet)

A new British law will allow art looted by the Nazis and found in British museums to be returned to its original owners. (TheJC.com)

A recent book about Eliezer Greenboim illuminates “the fraught and complex phenomenon of kapos and other Jewish leaders during the Holocaust.” (Ha’aretz)

Posted on November 16, 2009

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Obama and Israel Roundup

This entry was posted in Israel on by .

Khaled Abu-Toameh, the most prominent Arab Israeli newspaper columnist, places the primary blame for the current stalemate in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on President Barack Obama and the Palestinian leadership, citing three key errors Obama made. (Tablet)

Glenn Kessler sets forth just how “analysts and diplomats say the administration’s efforts have faltered in part because of its own missteps.” (Washington Post)

Douglas Bloomfield sees the US as having launched its Middle East efforts without being fully prepared. (Jerusalem Post)

Aluf Benn sees relations between Israel and the United States “in crisis,” in part because those close to Netanyahu “ridicule Obama’s inexperience and political amateurism of the administration.” (Ha’aretz)

Henry Siegman argues that only a US President “with the political courage to risk Israeli displeasure” can be expected to press Israel to do what needs to be done for the peace process. (New York Times)

Posted on November 9, 2009

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Middle East Roundup

This entry was posted in Israel on by .

Has Yitzhak Rabin’s memorial day become the occasion for delegitimizing the national-religious community? (Jerusalem Post)

Rob Eshman explains why the “e-mails, letters and phone calls crying out that Israel faces dire threat, if not certain doom” are just plain wrong. (Jewish Journal)

Der Spiegel has published a new account of Israel’s (alleged) 2007 strike on Syria’s nuke facility. (YNet)

Yoram Ettinger argues “Anyone claiming that Jews are doomed to become a minority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean–and therefore the Jewish state must concede geography in order to secure demography–is either dramatically mistaken or outrageously misleading.” (Jewish Week)

Anger is rising in Fatah, primarily concerning Jerusalem, and this carries risks for Abbas. (Ha’aretz)

Is it really possible to have effective pro-Israel advocacy “without the presentation of the truth as others see it?” (Jewish Week)

Posted on November 2, 2009

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy