Prague, Czech Republic — On a recent visit here, my wife and I toured several famous synagogues, remarkable for their long history, beautiful architecture and vast size, part of the reason why for tourists, the Jewish sites of this charming city — most notably the centuries-old cemetery in the center of town — are second only in popularity to the ancient royal castle that dominates the skyline.
That’s what the terror group Hamas, in its propaganda, derisively calls the U.S.-led multinational effort to train, finance and bolster the Palestinian Authority’s security forces in the West Bank, headed by Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, the 59-year-old, no-nonsense, highly respected officer overseeing the operation, working directly with both the Israelis and Palestinians on a daily basis.
Have we reached the point where we not only take anti-Semitism for granted but don’t even question the illogical attitudes of those who hate us?
I learned with shock, as we all did, of the attempt of four former convicts from New York, Muslim converts, who reportedly out of opposition to the U.S. war in Afghanistan, decided to blow up synagogues, and presumably Jews, in the Bronx. Does that make any sense?
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?