by Lawrence Cohler-Esses |
An initiative by Israel’s ruling One Israel party to rally American Jewish supporters of its peace policies blew up in acrimony last week over the issue of religious pluralism in the Jewish state.
Haim Ramon, a senior cabinet minister and key adviser to Prime Minister Ehud Barak, bluntly rejected concerns about religious and civil rights for non-Orthodox Jews raised at what was to be a private briefing on the peace process for centrist and dovish Jewish groups.
by Lawrence Cohler-Esses |
Iran’s supreme leader publicly labeled 13 Iranian Jews accused of espionage for Israel and the United States as “spies” this week — even as a senior judicial official stressed the jailed suspects were innocent until proven guilty.
The conflicting statements, both made during the visit of Austrian President Thomas Klestil to Iran this week, appeared to highlight the Jewish suspects’ role as pawns in an internal struggle between Islamic hard-liners and relative moderates in Iran.
Syria reportedly began shuffling its ambassadors and assembling a negotiating team for peace talks with Israel even as Israeli and Palestinian officials met for the first time Monday to develop a framework for a peace treaty a year from now.
“We have the impression … that Syria considers more than ever before that peace serves its strategic assets,” Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy told Israel army radio. “In the last month there have been more signs that Syria wants to return to the negotiating table.”
The announced boycott of Walt Disney Co. Tuesday by Arab-American and Muslim-American groups to protest the firm’s depiction of Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital is being seen as the latest in a series of efforts by anti-Israel groups to use economic leverage to muscle American companies into submission.
Jewish groups are so concerned by this emerging “blackmail” that three of them — the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and the American Jewish Congress — this week set up a task force to confront it.
James Besser |
The Other Wye Battle: Aid
Saturday’s Sharm el-Sheikh agreement will put new pressure on lawmakers to appropriate the $1.9 billion in extra aid promised to help implement last year’s Wye River accord.
But with Congress heading toward a bloody budget shootout with the administration, supporters of the package face an uphill battle for reasons having nothing to do with Mideast policy.
Even as Israeli lawmakers moved to soften this week’s landmark High Court of Justice ruling banning physical force in the interrogation of suspects, an attorney who brought the case vowed to return to court to challenge any modifications.
“What they are talking of is a law to bypass the ruling of the High Court,” said Allegra Pacheco, who represented the Public Committee Against Torture, one of three organizations and seven Palestinians that brought the case. “I don’t think that would work.