Twilight of the Idols

Israel’s intellectual elite has been living off the same tired mantras for decades: the occupation is the source of all evil; religion is for retards; the advent of peace depends on Israel alone. At least some of them at last seem to be waking up to the dangers of idolizing false constructs.

June 19, 2011 18:26
Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Israel’s intellectuals are worried. The Israeli Holy Trinity (Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua, and David Grossman) is getting old. The Hebrew University’s Pantheon (Martin Buber, Yehuda Magnes, and Yeshayahu Leibowitz) belongs in the annals of history. Avraham Burg tries to mimic Leibowitz, but it is hard to inherit the Lithuanian brain box when you didn’t finish college. As for Shlomo Sand, Moshe Zuckermann and Ilan Pappé, only European neo-Marxists are willing to attend their lectures and to publish their books.

The world's most influential Jews: 31-40

Moshe Zuckermann recently lamented on the lack of interest in intellectuals from mainstream channels. “It used to be that … they would call me from Army Radio,” he said. So what happened? “The people have been silenced. They tried to strangle them – and they’ve succeeded.” Zuckermann doesn’t specify whom he means by “they” but Daniel Gutwein blames “market forces."

“You see,” explains Gutwein, “The market … ensures there is no intellectual discussion.”  As for Shlomo Sand, he blames the universities themselves: “To become a professor,” he warns, “you have to be cautious.”


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