President George W. Bush may get a boost in the polls after a U.S. air strike killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the top al Qaeda leader in Iraq, but a growing number of Jewish voices are speaking out against the war. This week the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism issued an action alert urging its network of activists to support a bill in the House that would require President Bush to “develop and implement a plan for the withdrawal of the United States armed forces from Iraq.”
Israelis conducted the country’s largest emergency exercise ever Tuesday, apparently not only for internal readiness but to send a signal to its enemies Hezbollah and Iran, both of whom are facing elections in the coming days.
“The exercise told Israelis that this is something we have to face and to deal with — a missile attack or one from chemical or biological weapons,” explained Gerald Steinberg, a political science professor at Bar-Ilan University.
The Israeli government launched a political offensive Monday to convince the Obama administration to allow settlement expansion in return for dismantling illegal outposts, a position supported by the influential chairman of a House subcommittee.
“Internal growth is not an obstacle — it is life,” said the congressman, Gary Ackerman (D-L.I.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.
Despite tepid support for the Bush administration’s upcoming Annapolis summit, many Jewish leaders and some politicians are warning that insufficient groundwork by the Bush administration could turn the meeting into a meaningless photo-op — or the trigger for a new intifada.
In the face of administration pleas for public support, Anti-Defamation League leader Abraham Foxman this week would speak only about his fears that the upcoming Middle East peace summit in Annapolis, Md., would fail — and possibly lead to violence.
That stance, almost universal among mainstream pro-Israel groups, comes as peace process opponents mount a well-financed campaign to undermine public support for the conference, both here and in Israel.
Gershom Gorenberg, an Israeli journalist, is author of "The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements 1967-1977" (2006, Times Books). Forty years after the war that ignited it, Gorenberg talked to The Jewish Week about the rise of the settlers’ movement and what it has meant for the Jewish state.
The Jewish Week: You write that the extensive network of settlements represents an "Accidental Empire." What do you mean by that?
Washington – The specter of the 1930s overshadowed the Convention Center here as the pro-Israel lobby this week decried Iran as an existential threat to Israel and the West unseen since World War II.
In comparison, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s three-day annual policy conference largely played down the Jewish state’s longstanding conflict with the Palestinians.
Six months after the shooting stopped, Israel’s less than fully successful war in Lebanon continues to have diplomatic repercussions.
This week the State Department sent Congress a report saying that Israel “may have” violated restrictions placed on the use of cluster bombs during the war.
In Israel, a teetering government elected on the promise of unilaterally leaving much of the West Bank has been rescued by a politician opposed to any new pullouts. But the Bush administration, which recently renewed its call for creation of a Palestinian state, has reacted with barely a murmur.
That could change next month, when Prime Minister Ehud Olmert comes to town and when former Secretary of State James Baker releases his U.S. Iraq strategy, which is expected to include recommendations for a new Israeli-Palestinian peace push.