As European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana sought further clarification this week of a Saudi statement that promised true Middle East peace, the idea that Israel would no longer be virtually isolated amid hostile Arab neighbors brought a glimmer of hope to Israelis still reeling from a week that left some 70 Israelis and Palestinians dead.
In a week that saw the most violence in Israel since the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel’s intensified efforts to destroy the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure was met with a series of devastating suicide bombings and shootings that left more than 30 Israelis dead. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s response was to dig in his heels.
In a historic decision that will likely widen the secular-religious gulf in the Jewish state, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that people converted in Israel by non-Orthodox rabbis must be officially recognized as Jews by the Israeli government.
The court did not address the question of whether Reform or Conservative conversions were valid according to Jewish religious law. In practical terms the ruling leaves the Orthodox rabbinate in charge of lifecycle events such as weddings and funerals.
It took 500 days, but Palestinian terrorists have now graduated from rocks to rockets in a further escalation of violence that has claimed nearly 1,100 lives.
Ignoring weeks of pleas from Israeli leaders not to fire homemade Kassam-2 rockets, Palestinians fired two of them Sunday from the Gaza Strip into Israel, where they fell harmlessly in open fields near a kibbutz and a moshav. Three rocket launchers were found and demolished by Israeli tank fire that apparently destroyed the third rocket. They had all been on timers, allowing their owners time to flee.
As she plans to cap her first year in office with a trip to Israel, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton believes she’s vanquished a “stereotype” about her support for the Jewish state.
“People who stood with me are glad they did,” Clinton told The Jewish Week in a telephone interview Tuesday. “A lot of people have come to me in the last year and told me they support me. It’s part of the process of standing on my own and being judged in reality, as opposed to some stereotype.”
Israeli officials in the United States for talks with the Bush administration have stressed that they will continue to hold discussions with “realistic” Palestinian leaders even as they confine Palestinian President Yasir Arafat to his headquarters in Ramallah and counter Iranian, Iraqi and Syrian efforts to help the Palestinian terror campaign.
As Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon flew to Washington for talks Thursday with President George W. Bush at the White House, saber rattling picked up between Israel and Iran.