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.
In a surprising move, a leader of Brooklyn's large, generally hawkish Syrian Jewish community has lambasted Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for refusing to talk with Syria, as pressure built on multiple fronts on Washington and Jerusalem to dialogue with Damascus.
Jack Avital, a longtime confidante of Ariel Sharon and chairman of the Sephardic National Alliance, told The Jewish Week last week he planned to publish an open letter to Olmert laying out his case against Israel's rejection of such talks to the Syrian Jewish community.
Here’s a paradox for you: most leaders of major American Jewish groups believe there has to be a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but many are very nervous about the appointment of former Sen. George Mitchell as the Obama administration’s special envoy in the region (Read the Jewish Week story here). Why?