The conventional wisdom was that if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu allowed the 10-month moratorium on Jewish construction in the West Bank to expire, he would be blamed widely for causing the newly restarted Mideast peace talks to collapse.
Few Jewish organizations have generated feelings — pro or con — as intense as those ignited by J Street, the pro-peace process lobby and political action committee created two years ago to provide a left-of-center address for politicians and activists who support more aggressive U.S. peace process diplomacy.
That intensity took another quantum jump with last week’s Washington Times disclosure that the group has been getting substantial donations from financier George Soros despite repeated denials from its leaders.
For a major holiday, Sukkot sneaks up on us. Less than a week after the grandeur and majestic pomp of the Days of Awe, we find ourselves doing construction work and pretty much living under branches and within the fluttering sukkah walls in our backyards and porches. From our Rosh HaShanah-Yom Kippur finery, we’re now dressed, as often as not, in coats and sweaters, swatting bees and sensing the change of seasons.
There was no community-wide Jewish protest rally near the United Nations this year on the day Iranian President Ahmadinejad addressed the General Assembly. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
In part, there was no public demonstration Sept. 23, when Ahmadinejad was scheduled to deliver his annual diatribe against Israel, because it was the first day of Sukkot. And in part, it may well be because the organizers of the rally for the past three years recognize that it was becoming a bit of an embarrassment.
After a tumultuous year in which nothing defined the news so much as its ability to divide us, in which our personal lives surely contained more than a few episodes of miscommunication and misunderstood words, we come to Yom Kippur, when it is possible for all our sins to be forgiven. But that takes an effort on our part to not only pray to the Almighty, but to approach, talk with, listen to and attempt to reconcile with those we have wronged during the past year. So we are not cleansed by God without a coming to terms among ourselves in this, the most broken of worlds, below.
In the minefields of Middle East peace diplomacy, what you see is often not what you get. Over the years both Israeli and Palestinian leaders have become adept at maneuvers that conceal their real goals. The fact is that distinguishing reality from diplomatic and political posturing is difficult in the best of times.