Joseph Lieberman on American Jews and the Zionist Dream (Rebroadcast)

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Nearly twenty-five years ago, at the turn of the new millennium, America came very close to selecting not only a Jewish vice president, but a proudly religious, Shabbat observing, kosher eating Jewish vice president: Joe Lieberman, senator from Connecticut.

Lieberman, who died this week, epitomized a certain spirit in American public life, when the great debates over the conduct of American foreign policy and the management of domestic affairs still admitted heterodox disagreement. He was also a key figure in the U.S.-Israel relationship, articulating as well as anyone in public life why the widespread support that Americans feel toward the Jewish state also had a strategic value in serving American interests.

In October 2019, Lieberman, by then retired from the Senate, was in Jerusalem, where he addressed the Herzl Conference on Contemporary Zionism. In that speech—later published in a suitably edited form in Mosaic—he took a retrospective tone, looking back at the initial impulses that led Herzl’s ideas to take concrete form in modern Israel. He looked at the effect that Israel has had on American Jewry. And he honestly examined growing political trends that troubled him.

Today, we rebroadcast a 2019 conversation that Jonathan Silver had with Lieberman in which they discuss that speech and his career.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.

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