Saul Singer at PostGlobal

Saul Singer

Jerusalem, Israel

Saul Singer, a columnist and former editorial page editor at the Jerusalem Post, is co-author of the forthcoming book, Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle. He has also written for the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, Middle East Quarterly, Moment, the New Leader, and bitterlemons.org (an Israeli/Palestinian e-zine). Before moving to Israel in 1994, he served as an adviser in the United States Congress to the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Banking Committees. He is also on Twitter. Close.

Saul Singer

Jerusalem, Israel

Saul Singer is a columnist and former editorial page editor at the Jerusalem Post. more »

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The "Jewish Tribe," Reconciling With Modernity

Jerusalem, Israel - I believe that tribal and modern values can be reconciled, though probably not without compromising both to some degree. Though I have lived only in modern societies, as a Jew I feel that when we refer to each other as "members of the tribe" we are not completely joking.

I agree with many of the panelists comments, particular Bashir Goth's useful contrast between rulers who attempt to break down tribal bonds and those who work with them. These bonds can be likened to a swift ocean current which can be useful or deadly, but cannot be ignored or destroyed.

The sinews that hold a tribe together are in many ways tremendous assets that should be treasured, especially in our sometimes hyper-individualistic modern world. But just as freedom can degenerate into anarchy on one end, tribal structures can be stifling and dictatorial on the other. It is a great challenge of the modern age to somehow preserve the communal bonds and values that a tribe can represent, without sacrificing too much freedom, equality of opportunity, and human rights.

Judaism is perhaps the only religion in which identity with co-religionists is essentially tribal - what we call "peoplehood" - with the untribal twist that one can join by conversion and not just by birth.

To this day, Jews think of themselves as direct descendants of the Bible's twelve tribes. Perhaps, as both a quintessentially tribal and modern people, Jews represent one form of reconciliation of these two forces clashing in today's world. As a tiny people prone to intoxication with modernity, sustaining both forces - the modern and the traditional way -- is a central challenge for our future as a people.

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