Commentary on the Commentary: Ramadan and Tisha Be’av

JPost commentators struggle with the need to solemnify the important holidays amid a region with an overabundance of chaos.

newspaper laptop pencil 311 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
newspaper laptop pencil 311
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
The Muslim month of fasting Ramadan began last Friday, coinciding with an up-tick in violence in Syria and Iraq. As a result, this week Jerusalem Post contributors and columnists struggled with the need to solemnify the important holidays amid a region that has an overabundance of chaos and fear for the future. Two columns, one by Hayat Alvi and the other by Kenneth Bandler, examined issues relating to how this holy month is being spent in unholy conflict. Alvi noted that “we need more brave voices taking on militancy and extremism.”
Writers struggled with the decision by Israeli authorities to recognize a University in Ariel. Marc Zell wrote that the anointing of a university in the West Bank was similar to previous Zionist pioneering efforts. Tal Harris, a student leader of One Voice, claimed that “confidence building” in the peace process will be deeply harmed by letting the Council of Judea and Samaria “call the shots” in granting the University status. On Thursday, media analysts Yisrael Medad and Eli Pollak skewered coverage of the issue.
With the coalition falling apart, Jeff Barak and Ari Harow analyzed who was the winner and who the loser in the whole story of the short love affair between Kadima chair Shaul Mofaz and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. But this left many of us wondering when elections will be called. Elaine Levitt of CEPAC wrote a fascinating column wondering if Israel should embrace regional representatives, as in the US with districts, in electoral reform. At the same time Israel Beitenu’s Faina Kirschenbaum wrote an op-ed on the importance of supporting Israel’s middle class, concluding that, “we see that big government is ultimately unaffordable.”
With the week coming to a close, four articles were featured dealing with Tisha Be’av and the Nine Days of solemnity that come before the tragic date of the temples destruction. Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs of the World Union for Progressive Judaism called on readers to look a positive future and also embrace introspection. Miriam Kosman, a monthly columnist, noted that as Jews we must also notice that something is missing in the aftermath of the temple’s destruction.
On that note, Ehab Abou Housien’s beautiful photo essay reminded us that within Israel there is a shock of urban decay and blight, contrasted with the country’s striving to create a modern skyline. Too many of our neighborhoods, urban and suburban, lie neglected with poverty stricken immigrant communities packed into sad tenements. This is partly a legacy of the need to plan quickly, but it is also a throwback to socialist times. As the region struggles with the rise of new ideologies abroad, one hopes that Israel's architectural development will likewise abandon past paradigms.
The author is The Jerusalem Post's opinion editor