If you believe the conventional wisdom, nothing good is likely to come out of the Israeli-Palestinian “proximity talks” that will begin as soon as this week under the auspices of U.S. special negotiator George Mitchell.
There’s some solid logic behind that perception, but there is also a danger: in the Middle East, hopelessness is a contagion that can only result in more bloodshed and misery to populations that have known too much of both for generations.
The leadership of the Rabbinical Council of America expressed great pride in passing a resolution this week among hundreds of member rabbis, without opposition, on the delicate and contentious issue of women’s leadership roles in the Orthodox synagogue and community. One could attribute the achievement to the two months spent by the committee in laying the groundwork for consensus; a cynic might argue the resolution was approved overwhelmingly because it was so pareve. There’s truth in both points of view.
There’s been a lot of talk in the media about the Obama administration’s push for indirect “proximity” talks between Israel and the Palestinians, with special envoy George Mitchell serving as facilitator, referee and cheerleader, and about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reluctant agreement to participate.
You hear much less about how the Palestinians and the Arab states haven’t been much help to the administration’s faltering efforts.
American Jews, and Israel, have long taken pride in the fact that support for the Jewish state is a bipartisan issue among political leaders in this country. Whether a Democrat or Republican was in the White House for the last three decades, Israel was viewed as a strong ally in every sense of the word.
But there are cracks in the façade of late, perhaps inevitable in an age of increasing partisanship in Washington, yet troubling nonetheless and in need of attention.
Last weekend’s New York Times report on a secret memo by Defense Secretary Robert Gates warning that the Obama administration needs a better long-term strategy for dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat reflects some disturbing realities.
Once again, the American Jewish Committee’s Annual Survey of Jewish Public Opinion, released last week, reflects a mature, politically stable community that doesn’t flit from position to position based on the latest headlines — this time, trumpeting (exaggerating?) U.S.-Israel friction.
A powerful, and we think important, moment played out in Justice Patricia DiMango’s courtroom in Brooklyn Supreme Court this week. It happened at the sentencing Monday of convicted child molester Rabbi Baruch Mordechai Lebovits, who a jury found guilty of eight counts of sexual abuse. The well-known owner of a travel agency in Borough Park, over the course of nine months in 2004-2005, lured a 16-year-old boy into his car and performed sex acts on him. In an emotional statement read in court, the father of the victim spoke heartbreakingly about what his son, now 22, went through.
What is there to say about a Catholic Church that has been engaged in dialogue with American Jewish groups for decades yet, in recent months, seems shamefully unaware of Jewish sensitivities – or shamefully indifferent?
Talking about energy independence is easy on the campaign trail, but difficult for Washington policymakers, who must balance conflicting priorities in an environment in which there are no perfect solutions.
That’s the dilemma the Obama administration faces as it recalibrates the nation’s energy and environmental policies. Among the shifts announced this week are toughened fuel-efficiency standards and expanded offshore oil and gas exploration that may open up vast tracts to drilling.
As many of you know, The Jewish Week launched its all-new Web site (still found at www.thejewishweek.com) a few days ago. If you’re a print-only reader, we hope you try out the new site, and be sure to tell us what you think.
If you’ve been a regular visitor to our old site, you are well aware that speed and advanced features were not among its virtues. We hope and expect our new site will offer the performance you have a right to expect, although it will take a few weeks of tweaking to reach maximum speed.