Washington’s views on Jewish settlements have always been a telling barometer of a given administration’s attitudes toward Israel in terms of resolving the conflict with the Palestinians.
When settlements have been a major issue, like during the Carter administration, there was a sense that the onus was on Israel; when the topic is not front and center, like under Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, Jerusalem felt it was being treated with more empathy and understanding.
Roger Cohen, a columnist for the New York Times (twice-a-week online) and the International Herald Tribune, has become in recent months Media Enemy No. 1 for many pro-Israel readers. His steady stream of columns strongly criticizing Israel’s incursion into Gaza last winter, calling for dialogue with Hamas, largely dismissing as bluster Iran’s threats to destroy Israel, and reporting from Iran about how relatively well Jews there are treated (as he was during his visit), has driven many Jewish readers to journalistic apoplexy.
How should Orthodox Jews relate to other Jews in modern society? Should they emulate Noah, who obeyed God’s command to build an ark and separate himself and his family from the rest of the world that was literally drowning? Or should they follow the example of Abraham, who argued with God in order to try to save the lives of the sinful inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah?
A few months ago, Rabbi Avi Weiss was in a moral, political and ideological bind.A champion of women’s religious rights within Orthodoxy, he had overseen the rabbinic training of Sara Hurwitz, a six-year staff member of his congregation, the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, and taken pride in her completing the same course of Talmudic study as the male students of his Manhattan rabbinical school, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. He felt she was deserving of the title “rabbi” and would have been honored to ordain her as such.
Accustomed as he is to public speaking here and around the country, David Harris, the executive director of the American Jewish Committee, can read an audience as well as anyone. Lately, he says, he is "hearing a growing number of questions and concerns about the U.S.-Israel relationship, and a sense that the Obama administration’s response to the Iran crisis was slower than it should have been."
The contrast between the American spectacle of celebrity death worship and the Jewish tradition of mourning has rarely been as sharply defined as it is this week.
I write these words 12 days after Michael Jackson died, his funeral arrangements and burial site still undecided. The star’s death has become as big a phenomenon as his troubled life. His family members hold press conferences, appear at music awards ceremonies and allow tickets to be distributed through a lottery for a huge, public memorial ceremony.