The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which downplayed the immediacy of the Iranian nuclear threat and claimed that Tehran suspended its weapons program in 2003, exploded like a charge of TNT in Washington’s foreign policy establishment this week. On the left, there was a collective “I told you so” as analysts portrayed the report by 16 U.S. intelligence agencies as “proof” that the Iranian threat was little more than a neo-con hallucination.
Next Thursday will mark the 20th anniversary of the highlight of American Jewish activism, the massive rally in Washington, D.C. on behalf of Soviet Jewry. Looking back, there is a wistful quality to the event because the unity of cause reflected that day has not been equaled since by our community.
Another historical marker for the Middle East on the eve of Annapolis: Nov. 29 marks the 60th anniversary of the United Nations approval of a partition plan to divide the Jews and Arabs of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. How fitting, sadly enough, that this week also signals the umpteenth diplomatic attempt to resolve the same Arab-Israeli conflict.
As Washington labors to make something of its upcoming Annapolis peace conference, it is worth noting one historical marker that sheds light on what it takes to break through the barriers making the Mideast conflict so intractable.
Thirty years ago this month, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat stunned the world and upended the dangerous Mideast status quo with a trip to Jerusalem and speech to the Knesset, starting the process that resulted in the 1978 Camp David accords.
Can Jews talk to Muslims who reject the very existence of a Jewish state?
Rabbi Marc Schneier, founder and president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, hopes they can. Last week Schneier convened the first National Summit of Imams and Rabbis, a risky venture that he hopes will plant the seeds of future cooperation and communication.
The Union for Reform Judaism is also working with the Islamic Society of North America to promote joint education and dialogue projects.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is right to support the confirmation of Judge Michael Mukasey as attorney general. And he’s right that the nomination presents lawmakers with an “extremely difficult” decision because of Mukasey’s refusal to take positions on the critical issue of coercive interrogation techniques used in the war on terrorism.