Vigorous debate about the many challenges that face America is welcome. But there is something disturbing about the extremes to which so many of today’s radio and television talk show hosts go in tapping deep wellsprings of rage as part of the all-important quest for top ratings.
The ongoing conflict between Fox News host Glenn Beck and the Jewish Funds for Justice offers a window into this dynamic.
U.S. military aid serves a variety of purposes. Sometimes – as in the case of Israel – it is intended to help a close ally defend itself; other times, it is meant mostly to keep a bad situation from getting worse.
This long hot summer is a lot more than just sweltering temperatures on America’s East Coast. New rocket attacks against Israeli targets and Tuesday’s big flare-up along the Israel-Lebanon border point to a region precariously close to yet another deadly war.
It’s an old joke with a not-so-funny punch line: the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Sadly, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is giving new credence to the cliché as he is pressed from all sides to begin direct peace talks with Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he wants them, and he has convinced President Barack Obama that face-to-face negotiations are preferable to the unproductive, indirect “proximity talks” now underway under the auspices of U.S. envoy George Mitchell.
The increasingly heated debate over the propriety of permitting an Islamic center to be built a few blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks in Lower Manhattan, ostensibly not a Jewish issue, should sound familiar to the Jewish community. It seems to parallel the debate about a Catholic convent that was opened near Auschwitz nearly three decades ago.
News this week that the American Jewish Congress has suspended activities due to financial problems is depressing, though not unexpected. The once-proud organization, founded in 1918, and long the voice of liberal Jewish activism, lost much of its distinctiveness in recent years. As its membership declined and staff was reduced, it played a diminished role in domestic affairs, though remained known for its expertise on church-state issues.
We’ve had harsh words on these pages for the Presbyterian Church (USA) and its incessant criticism of Israel, and there are many elements of the Middle East resolution that delegates to the Church’s General Assembly in Minneapolis passed last Friday that we find objectionable.
That said, church leaders listened to the reasoned objections of a number of Jewish groups and, ultimately, approved a far less counterproductive resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than the one drafted by a biased, angry Middle East study committee.
The leadership of organized Jewry, from the Jewish Federations of North America to the Jewish Agency for Israel, is expressing frustration, anger and a sense of betrayal — understandably — with the Netanyahu government for allowing a controversial conversion bill to go forward in the Knesset, even though it would alienate the vast majority of diaspora Jewry.
Summer is fully here, with the heat settling into the city’s concrete, not planning to leave until Labor Day. But just two hours away, children have started sleep-away camp, catching salamanders after the rain. The first visiting day is already this coming Sunday, the bungalow colonies have returned to their languid timelessness, and Jewish shops have reopened in Woodbourne and Woodbridge, Monticello and Loch Sheldrake, villages whose very names resonate like shtetls with private memories and public history.