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Attempting to explain itself in terms of Jewish history has become a costly, even catastrophic, failure for Israel. Nowadays not even American Jews have sufficient historical purchase to grasp that kind of argument. Israel today is far more readily explained in terms of the American precedent than of Jewish history.

Ultimately Israel’s mission can only center on Judaism itself, its struggle to exist in the modern world, and its political ramifications in modern times: its powerfully “centripetal” teachings in a centrifugal world-and perhaps also its ideas about Tory democracy and the tragedy of the intellectual.

David Gelernter is a professor of computer science at Yale University. He has researched information management, parallel programming, software ensembles, and artificial intelligence. He developed the coordination language “Linda,” which is used worldwide for parallel programming. He is the author of several books, including Mirror Worlds (1991), which predicted the rise of the World Wide Web as a business medium; Muse in the Machine (1994), a discussion of poetry and artificial intelligence; 1939: The Lost World of the Fair (1996); Drawing Life: Surviving the Unabomber (1997), about his experiences as a victim of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski; and Machine Beauty (1998), a book about aesthetics and technology. Mr. Gelernter serves as a contributing editor at the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal and at National Review, and he is an art critic for the Weekly Standard. He has written several articles regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Weekly Standard, New York Post, Commentary, National Review Online, Jewish Political Chronicle, and Jewish World Review.

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