With the deadline for the Mideast peace talks five weeks away and little visible progress between the Palestinians and Israelis, it looks like the U.S. is more interested in saving face at this point than actually brokering a deal. The short-term goal is to get an agreement on a U.S.-drafted framework paper to allow for further talks.
George Orwell said, “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” Israelis sleep well because other Israelis — barely older than boys and girls, actually — are willing to serve when called. Serving in the IDF is “a mitzvah,” said Naftali Bennett, Israel’s minister of religion.
Israel is under attack. Not across the ocean but right here in New York. The mayor of New York has been roundly criticized by some major figures in our community for his embrace of AIPAC, the Israel lobbying group whose politics have always been in sync with Israel’s democratically elected government, left or right. This was a challenge not to any Israeli policy but to AIPAC itself. As Reform leader Rabbi Eric Yoffie countered, “A Washington without AIPAC would not mean an Israel at peace; it would mean an Israel isolated and vulnerable”
It may turn out to be more flash than substance, but the World Jewry Joint Initiative, or what Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett describes as “a Jewish crowd-source brainstorming jam session,” taking place over three days this week, signals a major and much-needed shift in the Israel-diaspora relationship. Namely, the strategic initiative, sponsored by Bennett’s ministry, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Jewish Agency, reflects “a sea change” in the way that Israel views the diaspora, Bennett told us in a phone interview this week.