I am a Nu? Jew.
Nu? as in “What Next?”
What next for Israel and its paralytically uncertain – or else frenetically all-too-certain – citizens.
What next for America, sad, obtuse America, and its vanishing, conflicted Jewry.
What next for Israel and Diaspora on this planet which, despite the passionate desire of some of us to scorn and curse and ignore humanity away, and the equally passionate desire of others to wish or BDS or murder us away . . . no, we won’t be disappearing any time soon. Neither will anyone else.
What next for Judaism in all its strange, chaotic, far-too-loose or else far-too-fettered permutations.
I suspect there are a lot of Nu? Jews out there. Millions, maybe. If you’re one, or if you’re not, welcome to this Times of Israel blog.
My name is Philip. Here begins a modest effort with a maybe not-so-modest agenda: to make some things a bit more comprehensible. No Thus saith prophecy thundering off the screen at you. That great American sage, Yogi Berra, once noted that it’s hard to predict, especially about the future. He had a point. But the reverse is also true. If you can’t predict right, predict often; you’ll still be known as a prophet.
After all, one hundred percent and zero are both forms of perfection.
We’ll leave such endeavors to others. Our concern here is creating, or at least adding to, the kind of comprehension that may perhaps, yield an informed sensibility about what’s coming straight for our heads, or going over them, and the possible consequences of the likely impacts and misses.
Before we get started, however, two necessary preliminaries. First, who is this guy? And second, does the world really need another blog, especially when so many of the current offerings are repetitive, redundant and repetitious, not to mention dreary, didactic, dyspeptic, deleterious, and despairingly, depressingly, dysfunctionally dismal.
Sure, there’s always room. The universe won’t soon run out of electrons. But more should be involved than self-satisfied bloviation and/or righteous ire, hyperlinked to far too many friends and acquaintances who really wish you’d give them a break.
What more should be involved? As a basic minimum, this:
The encounter of the minds of human beings, speaking to each other in words of reason and with mutual respect. No need to agree. Every need to understand. And every need for courtesy. No screaming. Truth is not measured in decibels. No thuggishness. No dominance posturing. Just the kind of courtesy and coherence we need to recover if we’re ever to be a Light unto the Nations or anyone else, including ourselves.
Maybe a bit of that could start here.
I’ve done this kind of work before, and sometimes succeeded. Before making Aliyah in 2010 with my wife (leaving behind My Son the Manhattan Lawyer Who Works for an Investment Bank Whose Name I Dare Not Utter) I spent several decades as, variously:
Think tank pogue – this last a venerable military phrase for anyone who’s farther from the fighting than you are.
Author of seven books, mostly recently, Yom Kippur Party Goods (John Hunt/O Books, 2010). First novel, about Israel and America, finished, looking for an agent. Next two non-fiction books in the works.
Commonality of endeavors: My academic and real-life specialties of defense/security affairs and cultural matters kept crossing paths. They always do. Somewhere. And working in both fields can give you a special perspective.
Still, my most important qualification came to me in a decidedly unexpected and unpleasant manner. A few months after arriving in Israel, I got sick. I got crippled. I was diagnosed with leukemia, disintegrating vertebrae and a couple other nuisances. There followed nearly three years as a semi-invalid. (Doing much better now, thanks.) Since I’ve got no television – the wife refuses to allow one – and my computer gaming enthusiasms and skills exhaust themselves with Solitaire, I had ample time to read, to reread, to think, and to rethink.
Those decades in America gave me plenty of material. Those days in chemo, those months spent waiting for the back to heal and the immune system to kick back on, that nasty hernia . . . they gave me a coherent sensibility about both my countries: two nations far too similar in their confusions and bad habits, and far too important to the world, to keep on indulging their excesses and deficiencies.
So that’s me. Now, does anybody really need a blog that offers to get beyond the screaming and the chaos, at least a little?
That’s for you to decide. I plan on posting twice a week, Mondays and Thursdays, and will have my Facebook page and Twitter information next time. Meanwhile, direct email’s firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next: This Is How We’re Gonna Do It