Schocken is no longer shocking

8 b Adar

Two years ago the publisher of Haaretz, Amos Schocken, published an op ed in his own paper extoling the virtues of intermarriage, as a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian and Jewish-Muslim conflict. The Hebrew is still available on the Haaretz website May 8,2005 Ha-im Israel rotzei shalom? It has 400 talkbacks.
The English version of Schocken’s op ed is can be read on the “kibush” website (I couldn’t access it on the Haaretz website).
“Does Israel Want Peace?” dated May 6,2005.

What greater peace can there be between the peoples than thousands of Egyptian, Jordanian and Palestinian students at universities in Israel, and thousands of Israeli students at universities in the Arab states and in Palestine? And what greater peace can there be between the peoples than what is likely to ensue from this: marriages between young Israelis, both Jewish and Arab, and young people from the neighboring countries and from Palestine?

Embedded in the aspiration for peace is a real interest that the Israeli Arabs become an integral and involved part of Israeli society (and not a `sector`), and that Palestinians, Egyptians and Jordanians live in Israel. This can be within Arab families, but even mixed families (one partner Jewish and one partner Arab) should not be ruled out…

At the time many were shocked by the publisher’s suggestion. Not only Jonathan Rosenblum attacked Schocken, but people such as Maariv editor Amnon Danker roundly criticized him.

I recently asked the David Landau, the black-kippah-wearing, Talmud-studying editor of Haaretz what he thought about Schocken’s op ed. To his credit, Landau responded (not his exact words) that the editor does not have to agree with everything the publisher writes or thinks. The editor can write his own op ed.

Now along comes something more dangerous, because it is a popular treatment of the subject. A short movie called “West Bank Story” just won an Academy Award. You can hear some of the klezmer-sounding music on the movie’s website. Tom Tugend reviews it in the Jerusalem Post. His review is titled “I just met a girl named Fatima” . The story line is about two competing fellafel stands, Israeli Kosher King and the Palestinian Humous Hut..

Into this delectable mix stir David, a handsome Israeli soldier, and the beautiful Fatima, who works at the Hummus Hut, and you can probably figure out the basic plot line.

No word by Tugend about the problem of intermarriage, about the future of the Jewish state, the future of the Jewish people.
The producer is one Ari Sandel. Tugend writes about him:

By descent and inclination, Sandel is “obsessed” by the politics of the Middle East, visits Israel every year, and seems open to all views. He is active in both AIPAC and Peace Now, two groups usually on opposite sides of the fence.

I just read the review and “talkbacks” in Haaretz.Of the 22 talkbacks so far, no one seems to be bothered by making intermarriage an ideal. Is this just a movie with “catchy tunes [and] finger-snapping dancing” as Tugend writes?

Shira Schmidt

Shira Leibowitz Schmidt was raised in an assimilated Jewish home in New York, and became observant while studying at Stanford University in California. In June 1967 she told her engineering school professor she would miss the final exam because she was going to Israel to volunteer during the Six Day War. “That’s the most original excuse I have ever been offered,” he responded. She arrived during the war and stayed, receiving her BSc in absentia. She subsequently met and married the late Elhanan Leibowitz, and they raised their six children in Beersheba. Mrs. Leibowitz acquired a Masters in Urban & Regional Planning from the Technion, and an MSc in Civil Engineering from University of Waterloo. Today she lives with her husband, Dr. Baruch Schmidt, in Netanya. She co-authored, with Nobel prize-winning chemist Roald Hoffmann, Old Wine New Flasks. She has co-translated from Hebrew to English (with Jessica Setbon) From the Depths (the autobiography of Rabbi Israel Meir Lau); The Forgotten Memoirs (memoirs of Rabbis who survived the Shoah, edited by Esther Farbstein); and Rest of the Dove (Parashat Hashavua by Rabbi Haim Sabato). She and her husband appear in the documentary film about the Sanz-Klausenberger Rebbe, “Hidden Face.” She is available to lecture in Israel and in the US and can be contacted via

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4 Responses

  1. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Not going to happen on a large scale. Arabs have a very strong tendency to marry within the chamullah, the clan (

  2. Bob Miller says:

    This all is reminiscent of “Abie’s Irish Rose” and “Bridget Loves Bernie”, the sagas of assimilation in America.


    An old riff—but this new insanity isn’t assimilation into a host culture, it’s assimilation into the enemy’s culture. Another step down. Is it any wonder that we still see Hamans around?

  3. Eliezer says:

    I’m not about to defend something like intermarriage, and perhaps I am not sensitive enough, however if you look at the FAQ on the site, they state there:

    “I sometimes get remarks about the film being too simplistic and that it does not accurately show the suffering of any one side. I agree, it IS simplistic because it has to be in order to be a comedy. This film is not meant to be a learning tool for the situation in the Middle East.”

    Granted people who view the movie will not be reading their FAQ on their website, nevertheless, it’s intention seems more of a lighthearted escape than anything else.

  4. Steve Brizel says:

    Haaretz has been peddling intermarriage and the two-state solution since the 1930s. I never cease to be shocked when Haaretz actually publishes something that is favorable to Torah Jewry and/or Zionism.

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