Muscular. Courageous. Bronzed. The stereotype of the sun-kissed sabra is Ari ben Canaan, as played by actor Paul Newman in the 1960 movie Exodus. The word sabra stems from the name of the prickly pear cactus—tzabar in Hebrew and sabr in Arabic—whose thick thorny skin covers a sweet and succulent soft flesh. An affectionate metaphor, it describes native-born Israelis whose rough and impertinent manners hide their good hearts and sensitive souls.
Similarities between Judaism and Islam are easy to see. Both are monotheistic religions for whom the Lord is One. Both are religions based on revelation. In both, law is central, and personal and social existence is governed by a divinely ordained legal system. There are also many obvious parallels between Judaism’s legal system, known as halacha, and the Islamic legal order of sharia law.
Elections are in the air—and not just in the United States. In December, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for early primaries in his Likud Party, a likely indicator that he may dissolve the Knesset sometime in 2012 and call a general election. The ball has begun to roll.