Fill the Void: A Haredi Film

From First Thoughts

The 2012 Israeli film “Fill the Void,” now being released in the U.S., is almost unique in being about haredi Jews and directed by a member of that sector. Haredi Jews are that sector of orthodox Jews who isolate themselves as much as possible from gentile, and indeed from all . . . . Continue Reading »

Why American Christians Embraced Israel

From First Thoughts

Israel, alas, is widely viewed with disdain, if not outright hostility, in the contemporary Western world.  The biggest exception to this sentiment is the United States and, arguably, the primary reason for this is the Christian Zionism of many American Christians, particularly Protestants. . . . . Continue Reading »

Against American Exceptionalism

From First Thoughts

In reading an essay by Peter Collier on the late Christopher Hitchens in the February 2012 issue of the New Criterion , I was brought up short when I came across this: “ . . . former New Leftists who, like us, had resigned from our radical generation and embraced America as the hope of the . . . . Continue Reading »

Judgment by Eric Ambler

From First Thoughts

Eric Ambler (1909-1998) is one of my favorite authors of light fiction and certainly one of the pre-eminent writers of spy fiction. I admire equally his plots and his prose. Recently I reread his Judgment on Deltchev (1951). This was the first novel he wrote after the Second World War and indicated . . . . Continue Reading »

A Figure of Biblical Proportions: A Review of Stern: The Man and His Gang

From Web Exclusives

During the First World War, the British, including two Jewish battalions of the Royal Fusiliers, conquered the Ottoman-ruled Land of Israel (then known as Palestine). After the war, the League of Nations granted Britain a mandate for the establishment of a Jewish national home there. While the Jewish community grew under British rule, Britain also became less than enthusiastic about a Jewish national home… . Continue Reading »

A Review of Seven Minutes in Heaven

From First Thoughts

I saw this fine Israeli 2008 film last week. So far as I am aware, it is the first film by writer-director Omri Givon. At first the main theme seems to be terrorism. Galia was on a bus that was blown up. She was terribly burned and her lover, Oren, killed. Galia was actually clinically dead for . . . . Continue Reading »

Liberty and Identity

From First Thoughts

Recently the World Jewish Congress held a conference in Jerusalem at which famous Soviet refusenik Natan Sharansky gave the keynote address. In it he maintained that people need both to be free and to belong. If people lack liberty it leads to tyranny. If people lack identity it leads to decadence, . . . . Continue Reading »

The New Film Version of Brighton Rock

From First Thoughts

While I have read (and enjoyed) a number of Graham Greene’s spy stories (what he called entertainments), I have never read any of his religious novels, including Brighton Rock. Therefore, I do not know how faithful the new adaptation of the film is to the novel. I also have not seen the 1947 . . . . Continue Reading »