U.S. military aid serves a variety of purposes. Sometimes – as in the case of Israel – it is intended to help a close ally defend itself; other times, it is meant mostly to keep a bad situation from getting worse.
This long hot summer is a lot more than just sweltering temperatures on America’s East Coast. New rocket attacks against Israeli targets and Tuesday’s big flare-up along the Israel-Lebanon border point to a region precariously close to yet another deadly war.
It’s an old joke with a not-so-funny punch line: the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Sadly, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is giving new credence to the cliché as he is pressed from all sides to begin direct peace talks with Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he wants them, and he has convinced President Barack Obama that face-to-face negotiations are preferable to the unproductive, indirect “proximity talks” now underway under the auspices of U.S. envoy George Mitchell.
The increasingly heated debate over the propriety of permitting an Islamic center to be built a few blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks in Lower Manhattan, ostensibly not a Jewish issue, should sound familiar to the Jewish community. It seems to parallel the debate about a Catholic convent that was opened near Auschwitz nearly three decades ago.
News this week that the American Jewish Congress has suspended activities due to financial problems is depressing, though not unexpected. The once-proud organization, founded in 1918, and long the voice of liberal Jewish activism, lost much of its distinctiveness in recent years. As its membership declined and staff was reduced, it played a diminished role in domestic affairs, though remained known for its expertise on church-state issues.