Middle East

Reaction Mixed to Israeli Announcement on Easing of Gaza Blockade

06/22/2010
JTA

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Israel's decision to loosen its blockade on Gaza is drawing both praise and criticism.

Israel's security Cabinet on Sunday voted to ease land-based civilian imports to the Gaza Strip; the naval blockade will remain in place.

The move garnered praise from the White House, which released a statement Sunday saying it welcomed the new policy toward Gaza.

In Congress, J Street, AIPAC fight over Gaza flotilla letters

Update: I had a call this afternoon from an AIPACer who took me to task for writing that the 79 Senators who signed the AIPAC-endorsed letter - now over 80 - was "not a slam dunk."

Point taken; getting 4/5 of the Senate to sign anything is no mean achievement.

Poll: Arab States Back Tougher Iran Sanctions

06/20/2010

BERLIN (JTA) -- Several Arab countries strongly favor tougher sanctions on Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions, a new poll shows.

Respondents in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon were among the most supportive of such sanctions, according to the ninth annual Pew Global Attitudes Project released Thursday in Berlin and Washington. Most countries favored a tough stance on Iran, with only Pakistan and India disagreeing.

The survey of 25,000 individuals in 22 countries was completed in May, and was co-sponsored by the German-based Bertelsmann Foundation.

B'nai B'rith poll: the latest in the 'who can slam J Street the most' sweepstakes?

Update: the folks at Americans for Peace Now point out that I missed a key finding of the B'nai B'rith survey. APN spokesman Ori Nir, in a press release, points out that "a full 55 percent agreed" with the statement "A two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict is essential to Israel's survival as a national home of the Jewish people as a vibrant democracy."  

NYPD Cops Working The Interfaith Beat

Shomrim, Muslim Society officers in emerging relationship, despite obstacles.

06/16/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

When it comes to “Kumbaya” moments, as some critics have dubbed Jewish-Muslim dialogue, “Police officers are pretty much a harder sell [than other people],” says Det. Lawrence Wein, president of the New York Police Department’s Shomrim Society. “They are a bit more cynical than peace activists.”

Det. Ahmed Nasser, left, was detained in Israel for over two hours when he arrived with fellow NYPD members.Doug Chandler

Support For Gaza Blockade Seen Sinking in Israel

International pressure causing some Israelis to question sanctions.

06/15/2010
Israel Correspondent

Tel Aviv—Amid heavy international pressure on the issue, domestic political support for Israel’s economic blockade of the Gaza Strip border passages has badly frayed.

Once confined largely to the Israeli left, criticism of a policy that banned basic goods such as fresh meat, margarine and plaster has spread to security hawks who acknowledge the closure is not serving its original policy goal of weakening Hamas. That may make it easier politically for the government to make concessions on a blockade that, until now, has enjoyed widespread popular support.

Like It Or Not, We Jews Can’t Separate From Israel

06/15/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

I generally feel guilty about stuff. Sometimes I blame that on my being Jewish — other times I accept that it’s just me. Maybe that’s why the latest round of somewhat justified Israel bashing, as well as the utterly unjustified Jew-bashing that’s going along with it, has been keeping me up at night. Try as I might, I don’t seem able to extricate myself from Israel anymore.

Defending Israel, but maybe not its policies

 In recent days I've read a few eloquent pleas for American Jews to stand up and support Israel in the face of worldwide condemnation; now, the writers argue, is not the time to quibble about policy.

Some of these are written by people I really respect – and I'd respectfully like to take issue with them.

Helen Thomas: Should We Forgive an Anti-Semite Who Apologizes?

06/10/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Q: The Helen Thomas case prompts a question: What she said on that video was horrible, but given the fact that she apologized and is so old, isn’t it in the spirit of Judaism to forgive her?

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

Connect-the-Dots:The Flotilla Fiasco and Current Events

06/09/2010
JInsider

The Baal Shem Tov explained: “Every event that occurs is controlled by Hashgachah Protis (Divine Intervention). ...Everything a Jew sees or hears contains a lesson useful in the service of God.” With this perspective, the unfolding of everyday current events takes on a whole different meaning. What happens every week, every day, every moment — there is a hidden subtext. It’s just a matter of interpreting events on a deeper level. Last week the unfortunate flotilla incident occurred.

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