Two competing visions emerged from the polls on Tuesday in Israel’s national parliamentary elections. One was about Us vs. Them, with an emphasis on fear of Them — whether Them was Iran, the Palestinians, Israel Arabs or the Israeli Left. That was the increasingly strident narrative of Prime Minister Netanyahu and it seemed to be effective as his Likud Party came from behind in the last few days of the campaign to tie or perhaps exceed the Zionist Union’s Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni.
In 1997, in recognition of increasing radicalization of religious followers around the globe, and of the decreasing safety for followers of minority faiths in many countries, the Clinton administration created a new diplomatic position — ambassador-at-large for religion freedom.
The organized Jewish community’s ongoing debate over if, when and how to deal with J Street is in the news again. On the eve of the controversial left-wing lobby’s national convention, set for March 21-24 in Washington, D.C., Eric Fingerhut, the international president and CEO of Hillel International, has announced his withdrawal as a featured speaker. His statement said that “after reviewing the full list of speakers,” he concluded “any benefit that might have come from this opportunity would be overshadowed by concerns regarding my participation amongst other speakers who have made highly inflammatory statements against the Jewish state.”
Each year on Purim we celebrate the miraculous story of the Jews of Persia, saved from imminent destruction by a wicked anti-Semite long ago. This year on Purim we focus once again on Persia (now Iran) and wonder if another enemy will act against the Jewish people, as he has threatened.
The significance of the Federal District Court verdict here this week against the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization, awarding damages amounting to $655.5 million to victims of six terror attacks in Israel, is far more than financial. By determining, after a legal battle of more than a decade, that the Palestinian organizations were supportive of and responsible for the attacks, which killed 33 people and injured 450 others, the jury in effect was saying that the PA and PLO are involved in terrorism in Israel.