In medieval times in the Middle East, translators in synagogues would render the reading of the weekly Torah portion from Hebrew into the vernacular Arabic or Aramaic.
Something similar took place in Manhattan this week.
For Jewish comics, Dom Imus is no joke.
In the wake of the shock jock’s unflattering comments about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team and his shockingly swift departure from the national airwaves has come a national discussion about the propriety of character defamation in the guise of humor, and predictions that an era of increased civility will ensue.
Vice President Dick Cheney’s trip throughout the Middle East last week found him in Israel on Easter — he joined thousands of pilgrims at a service in Jerusalem — but his visit there was no holiday.
During his three days in Israel, Cheney met with Israeli and Palestinian officials, voiced the Bush administration’s continued support for the Jewish state, urged all sides in the Middle East peace process to make further concessions and criticized two belligerent governments in the region.
As European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana sought further clarification this week of a Saudi statement that promised true Middle East peace, the idea that Israel would no longer be virtually isolated amid hostile Arab neighbors brought a glimmer of hope to Israelis still reeling from a week that left some 70 Israelis and Palestinians dead.
Charges that members of the Likud Partyís Central Committee sold their votes for cash and other favors in this month's primary (and to a lesser extent allegations of voting irregularities in the Labor Party primary) have rocked the Israeli electorate, with one poll showing that one-fifth of Israelis plan to change their vote because of it.
I generally admire human rights watchdog groups, even if they sometimes show a little more enthusiasm in criticizing Israel than in criticizing its neighbors. Human Rights Watch has always struck me as a useful group in a world overflowing with human rights disasters – contrary to the views of some pro-Israel groups, which regard any criticism of Israel as blasphemy.
Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent for The Atlantic, has a provocative piece in the July/August issue of the magazine, entitled “How Iran Could Save The Middle East.”
His thesis, well worth considering, is that based on the Mideast cliché, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” key states in the region like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt could form an alliance with Israel based on their common opposition to and fear of Iran, especially a nuclear Iran.
As if it didn’t have enough on its plate, the Obama administration is now set to try to work some reform magic on the UN Human Rights Council, a group set up to monitor human rights conditions around the world but which is led by some of the worst abusers anywhere and which seems to have little interest in anything but Israel.
On Tuesday the General Assembly elected the United States to the council following a decision by the Obama administration to seek membership.