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.
Critics of Israel’s Gaza blockade are too quick to ignore the harsh realities leaders in Jerusalem face in dealing with a Hamas government that has turned Gaza into a launching pad for new terrorist attacks — and which continues to hold kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Firearms are not the inherent evil that some gun control advocates claim, but as New Yorkers we have a common-sense understanding that the easy availability of everything from pistols to assault rifles is part of the fear and insecurity that we live with on a daily basis.
If all goes according to plan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will call on President Barack Obama at the White House next week for a visit postponed after Israel’s interdiction of the Gaza flotilla in June. All signs point to a continuation of the kiss-and-make-up efforts by two leaders who understand that public friction between the close allies serves the interest of neither.
Recent events involving Israel have underlined a fault line running through the Jewish people.
On one side are those who say that the international critique of Israel is nothing more than pathological anti-Semitism, so there’s no point in Israel responding to a no-win situation with anything other than a militant defiance, including a harsh blockade.
Over the weekend Israel’s cabinet approved creation of a commission to investigate the controversial, ill-fated Israeli interdiction of a Gaza-bound humanitarian-cum-propaganda flotilla.
That’s a good first step, particularly because two of the five members are distinguished foreign observers. But it is naive to believe this will settle the matter for a world predisposed to see Israel as a kind of universal villain. And no finding by the commission will dampen international criticism of Israel’s (and Egypt’s) Gaza blockade.