Our man in Washington, James D. Besser, is hanging up his spikes, so to speak, after nearly 20 years with The Jewish Week. Six years before he took up his post for this paper, he covered Washington for the Baltimore Jewish Times when Gary Rosenblatt, this paper’s editor and publisher, was editor of the Baltimore weekly. That makes about a quarter century that Jim has been working his sources on Capitol Hill, attending conferences and keeping a watchful eye on the workings of the Washington operations of the major American Jewish organizations.
It’s always unsettling to see a promising political career come crashing down because of a personal failing, a spectacle that has become all too familiar in recent years. We have covered Anthony Weiner’s public service from the time he rose from Chuck Schumer’s aide to city councilman to Congressional representative and strong defender of Israel, to his two surreal press conferences this month.
In a little more than three months the United Nations General Assembly may be asked to take up a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence, which Palestinian leaders hope will set the stage for a genuine state. That hope is dangerously misguided; the Palestinian effort to use the international body as an alternative to engaging in direct, bilateral negotiations can only make statehood harder to achieve and increase the likelihood of renewed violence.
Much of the world press has treated last weekend’s attempt by Palestinians living in Syria to force their way across the border into the Golan Heights as one more manifestation of the “Arab Spring,” the movement of mostly young people to bring a semblance of freedom and democracy to an Arab world that lacks both.
The truth is something less heroic; all evidence suggests the attempted incursion was one more attempt by Syrian strongman Bashar Assad to deflect attention from his brutal repression of protesters in his own country.
While the pro-Israel community continues to deconstruct President Obama’s statements about the Mideast in trying to determine whether he is a true friend or not, it is becoming increasingly clear that the Jewish state’s most outspoken defender among world leaders is someone who may not be a household name for many of us.
It’s a question we often ask ourselves, and hear from others, particularly at times like this of great anxiety about Israel’s future.
The answer is to get involved, and one tangible and immediate way to do that is to participate in Celebrate Israel, the annual Israel Day parade — the biggest of its kind anywhere — that takes place this Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., up Fifth Avenue from 57th Street to 74th Street, rain or shine.