This week Israel enters its third year of a war with no name, with nary an ally, and with no objective more glorious than a lull.
It’s been a war plagued by indecision and misdirection. The enemy’s leader is harassed and reviled but not erased. The country is said to be safe for tourism yet the danger is compared to the 1930s. Israel claims impending victory but has surrendered the messianic dreams and borders that thrilled us in 1967.
The government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon defended its siege of the Ramallah compound of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat from intense criticism at home and abroad, saying the goal of the operation was to arrest those involved in terrorist activities who had sought refuge there.
It was an advertising campaign that tugged at the heartstrings, complete with photos of adorable Israeli preschoolers.
The message: These vulnerable children need protection from terrorist attacks.
The campaign worked, attracting thousands of donors and raising nearly $320 million to date for the United Jewish Communities Emergency Israel Campaign. Of that, $20 million was allocated to provide security guards at kindergartens and other schools for which the Israeli budget could not pay.
Using as an excuse Israel’s aborted 10-day siege of his Ramallah compound, Yasir Arafat this week delayed reforms of the Palestinian Authority demanded by the United States. And bolstered by a rise in his popularity during the siege, the Palestinian leader scuttled plans to appoint a prime minister until after the creation of a Palestinian state.
The Jewish community, here and around the world, equates demographics with survival, so it’s only natural that we obsess over our numbers. But we may be willfully ignoring a plausible solution to our ever-worrisome dwindling Jewish population.
As President George W. Bush pressed for a bipartisan congressional resolution in support of military action against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, there was increasing speculation that Syria hopes to delay an attack by creating a confrontation between Lebanon and Israel.
The issue is over water and Lebanonís plans to cut back on the amount of water it will permit to flow south into Israel from the Hasbani River, the leading artery in the region.