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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 29, 2008 / 24 Iyar 5768

Rediscovering the Will to Win

By Jonathan Tobin



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Sharansky reminds us democracies can't defend themselves without 'identity'


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Some 3 1?2 years ago, former Prisoner of Zion and Israeli cabinet minister Natan Sharansky was George W. Bush's favorite author.

Sharansky earned an unexpected boost when the resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. invited him and co-author Ron Dermer to the White House and told the world that everyone should read their book, "The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny & Terror".

While this was not the equivalent of an invitation to Oprah Winfrey's guest couch, Sharansky's tome did make it onto The New York Times bestseller list. After the easy overthrow of Saddam Hussein by U.S. troops a year earlier and the post-Sept. 11 spirit of rolling back the tide of Islamist tyranny, optimism seemed on the upswing.

But that was a long time ago.

DISCREDITED CAUSE
The war in Iraq, now in its sixth year, is, whether fairly or not, now seen as a quagmire in which America is stuck because of the misguided beliefs of those who foolishly thought they could plant democratic values abroad.

The insurgency in Iraq, as well as the election victory of the Palestinian terrorist Hamas movement in 2006 (despite Bush's praise, Sharansky had criticized Bush's reliance on elections as an indicator of democracy), has thoroughly discredited the notion that we could spread democracy to the rest of the world in the minds of most Americans.

Undaunted by the drastic shift in the public mood, Sharansky, who has given up politics and now writes from a perch at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, is back with yet another book that aims to persuade the West to keep fighting for its ideals.

Having seen the progress democracy's enemies have made, Sharansky believes that one element has given strength to the Islamists, while at the same time undermining the West's determination: identity.



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In "Defending Identity", which was co-written by Shira Wolosky Weiss and edited by Dermer, Sharansky points out that while a universalist appeal to individualism rings true to us, Al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah have spent the last several years illustrating that a group identity that transcends economics or the value of life itself is a lethal foe of democracy.

At the same time as this rise of deadly Islamic extremism, Western intellectuals have increasingly come to see religion and nationalism as antithetical to freedom. The problem is that, if we make the mistake of seeing them as being a primitive poison that is itself the cause of violence, the West will be robbing itself of the tools with which we can defend our values.

Identity can be, Sharansky argues, a "force for good," not merely an ideology of evil. "Strong identities are as valuable to a well-functioning society as they are to well-functioning individuals."

More to the point, "without identity, a democracy becomes incapable of defending the values it holds most dear."

The current situation in Europe, where democracies seem at times to be unwilling or unable to stand up against Islamist cultural and political forces, illustrates this all too well.

The collapse of ideas like colonialism, that were once associated with European empires, has allowed "post-identity" thinking to trash national feelings, as well as faith. But rather than this rejection of Europe's cultural norms helping its democratic culture to prosper, it has rendered it defenseless in the face of aggressive and self-confident Muslim immigrants.

This trend has led to a virtual collapse of the cause of human rights around the world. Not only are many Western intellectuals and academics now largely uninterested in bringing the benefits of liberty to places where Islamo-fascists and local authoritarians rule, many have actively allied themselves with the cause of those who want to destroy existing democracies.

That is the only way to understand the willingness of so many in the West to support Palestinians, whose worldview is the complete opposite of what these liberal thinkers themselves supposedly espouse.

It is, after all, the State of Israel, where the right of Jews to their own "identity" is under siege both from those who oppose any non-Muslim sovereignty in the region and Western critics, including a growing cadre of leftist Jews, who see Zionism as regressive nationalism.

This is a body of thought that has gained ground in war-weary Israel, as the so-called "post-Zionists" have sought to wean the country away from its roots. Rather than seeing it as the place where one small group has found the freedom to let their ancient civilization blossom anew on their historic homeland, the post-Zionists urge Israelis to eschew such parochialism.

But it is here that Sharansky, an immigrant whose background made the idea of him ever becoming prime minister an impossibility, understands the threat better than any sabra.

As a dissident in the former Soviet Union, Sharansky himself bridged the gap between the movements to promote human rights for all Russians and the push for the right of Jews to emigrate. But his goals of promoting freedom for all Soviet citizens and the particular rights of Jews were not contradictory. To the Communists, the bid to extinguish individual freedom was indistinguishable from their attempt to eradicate Jewish identity. Sharansky's two causes complimented each other as the eventual victory of both proved.

Similarly, today Sharansky is derided by activists in groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch because while still backing human rights causes elsewhere, he actively supports Israel's right to defend itself against terrorists, whose goal is to deny Jews freedom.

Just as the West can't defend itself against Islamism by giving up a belief in the superiority of their own ideals of democracy, Israel won't survive by "giving up on Jewish identity."

"There is another way," argues Sharansky. "The path to peace lies in strengthening Israel's Jewish identity, maintaining a robust Israeli democracy and encouraging our non-democratic neighbors to build free societies."

THE BEST DEFENSE
Equally as important, "Defending Identity" cuts to the heart of the malaise that causes many in Europe and America to refuse to understand the threat to their freedoms that post-identity thinking represents.

"A world without differences is a world that denies people their deepest attachments to history and to the future, to memory and to inheritance," writes Sharansky.

Islamists claim they will win because Westerners and Jews "love life," while they "love death" because their belief in their cause is so great. The author's answer is to to assert that "the free world's shield against its enemies is its own identity, vigorously asserted Not all cultures are the same. Not all values are equivalent. The right to live a unique way of life is a right worth fighting for and if necessary worth dying for."

The altered political climate may mean that another trip to the bestseller list for Sharansky is highly unlikely. But this is a message that all those who espouse the values of the democratic West need to take to heart.

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JWR contributor Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. Let him know what you think by clicking here.

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