WASHINGTON (JTA) -- When Elie Wiesel says it's all kosher, it's good.
For now, anyway.
President Obama capped an intensive two weeks of administration make-nice with Israeli officials and the American Jewish community by hosting Wiesel, the Nobel peace laureate and Holocaust memoirist, for lunch at the White House.
"It was a good kosher lunch," was the first thing Wiesel pronounced, emerging from the White House to a gaggle of reporters.
One side effect of the current showdown between Washington and Jerusalem is that it has provided an opportunity for American diplomats and Mideast experts to step back and reassess the situation, and the results have been fascinating. Several key figures long involved in pushing the Oslo/land-for-peace equation are now saying quite bluntly that it doesn’t make sense, at least for now, and that the Obama administration should back off.
There’s been a lot of talk in the media about the Obama administration’s push for indirect “proximity” talks between Israel and the Palestinians, with special envoy George Mitchell serving as facilitator, referee and cheerleader, and about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reluctant agreement to participate.
You hear much less about how the Palestinians and the Arab states haven’t been much help to the administration’s faltering efforts.
Three mysteries underlie the current crisis between America and Israel. The first one is biographical: How can President Barack Obama call himself Israel’s friend, yet display such animus toward the Jewish state, exemplified most recently by refusing even to be photographed with Israel’s Prime Minister when hosting Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House?
N.Y. area rabbis, some feeling ‘forced,’ wading into rocky political waters; anxiety seen in pews.
As the strain in U.S.-Israel relations continues, some area rabbis who generally don’t mix religion and politics on the pulpit are setting aside those constraints.
“People were asking me and my hand was sort of forced,” said Rabbi Perry Rank, spiritual leader of the Midway Jewish Center, a Conservative synagogue in Syosset, L.I. “My sense is that Mr. [Barack] Obama has unnerved the American Jewish community and people are looking for a perspective on the issue.
Bribe allegations in Holyland development may be hard to overcome.
Jerusalem — Whether or not he is found guilty of taking bribes in the Jerusalem Holyland corruption scandal, Ehud Olmert’s political career is almost certainly over.
At best, the former prime minister and ex-mayor of Jerusalem can expect many months, if not years, of litigation that will further tarnish his already tainted reputation and leave him unelectable. At worst, he faces a long prison term.