Few can watch the footage of Palestinian suffering in Gaza these days without feeling great sadness and empathy. But while some of us blame the cynicism and brutality of Hamas for purposely putting civilians in harm’s way as part of its strategy, appealing to the world to stop Israel in its tracks, others blame Israel without considering the context – or worse yet, are convinced that Israel is the aggressor here, not an independent state fighting terrorist thugs whose sole purpose is to destroy it, and Jews everywhere.
This is a really delicate question, so don’t get me wrong. But I can’t help thinking American Jewish groups are taking a certain satisfaction that the Gaza offensive and the predictable shift of world opinion against Israel are presenting them a problem they know how to deal with – unlike the financial carnage that is upending the Jewish world and threatening the survival of some venerable institutions.
It’s hard to find anything positive to say about a record-shattering scammer who may have bilked Jewish charities out of hundreds of millions of dollars and shattered Jewish philanthropy by decimating the bank accounts of countless big givers, but there could be one salutary impact of Bernard Madoff’s mother of all Ponzi schemes: it may force the Jewish world to confront a radically changed economic climate.
This week’s bizarre presidential pardon story probably didn’t do Jonathan Pollard any good – although there weren’t any hints that President Bush was ever seriously considering commuting the sentence of the Israeli spy, now in his 23rd year in federal prison.
As of Friday afternoon, nearly 4,000 people had called a toll-free number set up by TEACH-NYS, a coalition of independent and religious schools, that was routed to the state budget office to protest some $55 million in funds for reimbursement of costs incurred by non-public schools. The calls came within about 24 hours since the group sent out an e-mail blast to dozens of schools, who then sent out the word to their communities.