If the supporters of the Likud Party have their way, the Golan Heights will be on the lips of every Jewish New Yorker next month.
"Have the Golan on your table for Rosh HaShanah," is the theme of a new campaign the American Friends of Likud is launching to encourage New Yorkers to drink wine from the vineyards of the Golan Heights on the Jewish New Year. It is to remind New Yorkers of Likud's position against Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights in any peace treaty with Syria.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s future could lie in the hands of a millionaire Long Island rabbi and businessman who is reportedly set to testify as early as this week that he gave bribes to Olmert while Olmert served as Jerusalem’s mayor from 1999 to 2002.
Israelís peace movement, largely dormant since Ariel Sharon was first elected prime minister three years ago, resurfaced last weekend amid calls for a political framework for peace and withdrawal from a contentious settlement in Gaza.
An estimated 4,000 Israelis took to the street Saturday night to protest Sharon's policies in a demonstration outside his Jerusalem residence.
Naomi Chazan, a former Knesset member from the left-wing Meretz Party and one of the participants, said this was the first major demonstration against Sharon.
The government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon came under fire at home this week for allegedly disregarding Palestinian civilians in its zeal to combat terrorists, and from the United Nations, which called upon Israel to remove its security barrier that Arabs call a land grab.
The controversy within Israel arose after the Israeli military launched one of the largest series of air strikes against terrorists in the Gaza Strip on Monday. Five air strikes were conducted against suspected Palestinian terrorists and a weapons factory in Gaza City.
The Israeli government struggled this week to find a way to end the barrage of Palestinian Kassam rocket attacks on the western Negev city of Sderot as beleaguered residents there staged a series of protests to compel the government to act.
Although there were reports that Defense Minister Amir Peretz intended to permit a massive Air Force operation against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in an effort to end the rocket fire, observers said at midweek that no final decision had been made.
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.
Back in the Middle Ages, cartographers would draw maps of the world with the Holy Land in dead center, and if you never saw those maps you could pick up the Week in Review section of The New York Times and get the idea.
On one page of the section, Thomas Friedman’s column, “Obama and the Jews” was really about Israel and Friedman’s realization that those who care about Israel will be wiser to vote for the candidate “who will make America strongest ... Nothing would imperil Israel more than an enfeebled, isolated America.”
Earlier today the Political Insider cited the Orthodox Union’s anger at Ehud Olmert for suggesting Jerusalem must be divided as part of any peace agreement with the Palestinians, and about the silence of pro-peace process groups in response to the outgoing Prime Minister’s words.
With Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations in limbo because of the political division between Gaza and the West Bank, many analysts are touting the potential for breakthroughs on the Syria-Israel track.
A senior member of the Jewish delegation in Congress, fresh from a trip to the region that included a meeting with Syrian president Bashar Assad, says maybe – but don’t count on it.
Being in Israel in the days just after the national elections didn’t leave me any clearer on what the next government will look like. It could be a narrow right-tilted coalition led by Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, or a broader coalition anchored by Likud and Kadima, the party with the most votes.
Netanyahu most probably would be prime minister in that case, too.