In the best of times, introducing a bill in the Knesset that would change the delicate balance of Israel’s character as both a Jewish and democratic state might be considered unnecessary and even unwise. And these are not the best of times.
Amidst the shock and repulsion over the attack on a Jerusalem synagogue this week, and the murder of at least four men at morning prayer by two young Arabs, is the sad realization that the tragedy does not resonate fully outside of Israel and the Jewish world.
For all the horrors of the Shoah, with its hundreds of tragic anniversaries and yahrtzeits, no single date in the Holocaust has seared itself into the Jewish consciousness more than the night of Nov. 9, 1938. The hundreds of synagogue fires, broken glass, murders, concentration camp imprisonments and suicides of Kristallnacht — spilling into the hours past midnight, the clock seeming to strike 13 — made it clear that the five previous years of Nazi persecutions were somehow morphing into something even worse, if impossible to foresee.
President Obama’s letter and personal appeal to Ayatollah Ali Khameni, Iran’ supreme leader, was a tactical mistake. In pushing for a resolution of the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program and suggesting a chance for the U.S. and Iran to cooperate in countering ISIS (the Islamic State), the president showed his desperation to achieve an agreement, weakening his position as the Nov. 24 deadline approaches.
The Jewish Week has long encouraged respectful debate and discussion in its pages on religious, political and social issues. And we look to our rabbis to serve as role models in expressing views that educate rather than marginalize.
As voters went to the polls for midterm elections on Tuesday, supporters of Israel already were speculating on if, and how, the results would impact the U.S.-Israel relationship. Conventional wisdom has it that a Republican Congress would be more supportive of the policies of the Netanyahu government in Israel, which is in an openly rocky relationship with the Obama White House. Democrats point out that the level of military and strategic cooperation between Washington and Jerusalem has never been higher than today, despite the dysfunctional status of the two top leaders.