The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014
Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology
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
: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain
April 14, 2014
Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time
: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic
: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships
: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin
: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate
: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure
April 11, 2014
Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden
: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does
: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer
: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You
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
: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau
: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
April 8, 2014
Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease
Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear
April 4, 2014
A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children
Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet
Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds
Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves
April 2, 2014
Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?
Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities
It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene
Jewish World Review
Nov. 1, 2006
/ 10 Mar-Cheshvan, 5767
Losing old friends
Every friendship is an investment, and most of us are reticent about acknowledging an investment gone sour. But there is another price to be paid for jettisoning one's friends as one's politics change: The danger of becoming a narrow partisan
Joseph Epstein's ruminations on friendship, or more accurately the loss thereof, in the July-August Commentary ("Friendship among the Intellectuals") touched a subject close to my heart.
I am someone who feels a strong need to retain a connection to the past. On trips back to Chicago, I inevitably take my children to visit the house in which I grew up, as well as old campus haunts, only to be surprised by how little interest they exhibit in these places. As a little boy, I spent a lot of time wondering whether my future wife was yet born and what she was doing at that moment; half a century later, I often find myself wondering what old friends are doing now.
If asked, Epstein observes, most people would deny that one should give up friends because of differences over politics or ideas. And yet that happens all the time, particularly among those who take ideas seriously. Norman Podhoretz managed to get an entire book, Ex-Friends, out of the friendships broken as he moved from the Left to the Right of the political spectrum.
Every friendship is an investment, and most of us are reticent about acknowledging an investment gone sour. But there is another price to be paid for jettisoning one's friends as one's politics change: the danger of becoming a narrow partisan. Certainly one can never earn Conor Cruise O'Brien's description of an intellectual "as someone who is prepared to admit when another has made a point in a debate" if one never exposes oneself to opposing ideas. Those of us who care about ideas should prefer to see our own tested in the crucible of debate.
In modern society, few of us live out our lives in one place, and as a consequence of our peregrinations we must constantly make new friendships and note the withering of old ones. Most friendships turn out to be largely a matter of happenstance of being in the same place at the same time. Few are the lifetime friends, the soul mates described by Montaigne in his lament over his deceased friend Etienne La Boetie: "If you press me to say why I loved him, I can say no more than because he was he, and I was I." But even the less intense friendships are important markers of time past.
AS A consequence of becoming religiously observant midway down the pike, my wife and I had to make a whole set of new friends many of them those who went through the process of becoming religious together with us. But even so, we tried to maintain our former friendships, even when they could not be preserved at the same level of intensity. To the extent that one's life centers on a particular set of beliefs and around a particular community, it becomes less and less likely that one's best friends will be found outside that community or not share those beliefs.
Ironically, as our lives became more Jewishly-centered, it was easier to preserve friendships with Christian friends than with Jewish ones. The former did not feel threatened by the changes in our lives in the same way as the latter. Apart from expressing amazement at the number of our progeny, our Jewish friends (by far the majority) could find little to ask about in our lives once they had ascertained that my wife does not shave her hair. Christian friends, by contrast, were more eager to explore the core of our lives. An Irish law school friend pointed out that we have both embarked on a spiritual journey hers, unfortunately, via Alcoholics Anonymous.
ULTIMATELY, however, it turned out to be politics, not religion, that made the possibility of maintaining numerous old friendships, even in an attenuated state, impossible. I would gladly forgive my former friends many things. But wishing me and all those closest to me dead is not one of them.
And that would be the effect, if not intent, as Lawrence Summers might put it, of the positions adopted so casually by many old classmates. Among the chattering classes, with whom I once swum, references to Israel as a "mistake" (Richard Cohen) or an "anachronism" (Tony Judt) are increasingly common. (Interestingly Judt does not find all the Muslim states in which Sharia is the law of the land and non-Muslims barred from citizenship to be equally anachronistic in a post-nationalistic world.)
Worse, many intellectuals are prepared to assist, either passively or actively, in reversing the historical mistake of Israel's creation. Israel is routinely denied the right to defend herself, as the Lebanon war and the continuing missile attacks from Gaza demonstrate. The latter are invariably referred to as pinpricks, without any acknowledgment that no country in the world would tolerate missile attacks (occasionally lethal) from across its internationally recognized border.
Every Israeli attempt to respond to terror attacks on its citizens (75 percent of the children in Sderot suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome as a result of Palestinian "pinpricks"), the kidnapping of its soldiers and rocket attacks on its cities is labeled disproportionate or a war crime. Yet our critics never provide any guidance as to what Israel is permitted to do to protect its citizens other than return to negotiations with the Palestinians and offer further territorial concessions, despite the proven failure of that approach to secure peace.
Ruling out of court every possible Israeli response to attacks upon its citizenry effectively denies Israel the right to defend itself. In our rough neighborhood, nations that do not vigorously defend themselves will not long survive.
I can no longer be friends with those incapable of acknowledging that simple truth.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Comment by clicking here.
JWR contributor Jonathan Rosenblum is founder of Jewish Media Resources and a widely-read columnist for the Jerusalem Post's domestic and international editions and for the Hebrew daily Maariv. He is also a respected commentator on Israeli politics, society, culture and the Israeli legal system, who speaks frequently on these topics in the United States, Europe, and Israel. His articles appear regularly in numerous Jewish periodicals in the United States and Israel. Rosenblum is the author of seven biographies of major modern Jewish figures. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago and Yale Law School. Rosenblum lives in Jerusalem with his wife and eight children.
© 2006, Jonathan Rosenblum