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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Life Among the Chachamim

Theodore Bikel

An Occasional Series on Great Jewish Geniuses

So here is the actor Theodore Bikel, or Chaver Bikel as he is known to his comrades of Meretz.  Eighty-seven years old now, but brilliant, absolutely brilliant in his razor-sharp analysis of war and peace in the Middle East.  Here are his remarkable insights, as reported by the Forward:
Anyone who has strong feelings for Israel like I do, and that [sic] believes it is an absolute necessity to strive for peace, understands that the single most obvious obstacle are the [Jewish] settlements ...
Ten thousand Hamas missiles fired at Israeli civilians ?  That's nothing.  Holocaust denial by much of the Arab press ?  A trifle.  Hamas calling for an end to Israel ? Nada.  No, according to Chaver Bikel, it's the Jews who cause the trouble.  The Jews.  What a friend we have in Bikel !



1 comment:

Ralph Seliger said...

This fills in more context for what Bikel had to say in The Forward:

“There’s an umbilical cord that ties me to Israel,” Bikel said in an interview with the Forward, “but I have to act according to my conscience.”

At the age of 86, Bikel, who fled his native Vienna for Palestine as a teenager after the Nazis’ takeover of Austria, still defines himself as a Zionist. But he ... [argues:] “Anyone who has strong feelings for Israel like I do, and that believes it is an absolute necessity to strive for peace, understands that the single most obvious obstacle are the settlements,” Bikel said.

Obviously, Chaver Cohn disagrees. But this doesn't mean that Bikel finds Arab violence and anti-Semitism as other than problematic. Indeed, one can feel, as I do, that Israel's settlement policies reinforce the problem of Arab violence and anti-Semitism.

Am I right? Is Bikel right? Is Cohn right? Who knows? But I know that sarcasm doesn't decide the matter.

I know Theo Bikel personally and have attended at least one World Zionist Congress with him; I've also participated with him in other activities during his ongoing tenure of several years as Meretz USA's board chair. He supports Israel's legitimate rights and has long been a source of pride for the beauties of secular Jewish music. A modicum of respect for the man (even if you disagree with him) is in order.