As some Jewish leaders noted in a Jewish Week story this week, it’s getting harder to keep our community focused on the crisis posed by Iran’s continuing nuclear arms quest.
Jewish organizations are remarkably unified in making Iran sanctions a top priority; polls show an undiminished understanding of the huge risks a nuclear Iran would pose to Israel, to other Middle Eastern states and to U.S. interests around the world.
Jonathan Pollard, in jail for 23 years, should be freed — not because he is a hero or a Jewish paragon but because his continued incarceration for spying for Israel makes no sense from a legal, national security or humanitarian perspective. That said, Pollard and his supporters continue to say and do things that can only prolong his torment.
This much is known about the situation in Pakistan: The country with the second-largest Muslim population in the world (after Indonesia) is in chaos and it has the nuclear bomb. That should galvanize the West in addressing a crisis that may well surpass the one posed by Iran, at least for now.
We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating as some 2008 presidential contenders take up the issue with reckless abandon: politicians who exploit public anger about illegal immigration are stoking long-simmering resentments that can ultimately threaten all minorities in this pluralistic land.
This isn’t to say our nation’s leaders should sit idly by while illegal immigrants pour across our borders. Far from it. In this age of terrorism, effective border control is more vital than ever.
Dovish groups repeat like a mantra the claim that a majority of Jews here, as well as in Israel, still support some kind of peace process and the “painful concessions” Israeli leaders say are necessary to make that happen.
But clearly, that patience is wearing thin as the bitter fruit of the Gaza pullout and last year’s wars continue to affect the citizens of Israel — and undermine hopes among Jews everywhere for a genuine and sustainable peace in the region.
Israel’s nationwide teachers’ strike is in its sixth week, and the situation is outrageous and embarrassing. It should be intolerable for a government to allow 400,000 students to still be home in December. But the walkout is indicative of the crisis in the country’s once proud education system, now given failing grades by experts.
Underpaid teachers are demanding smaller classes and a 20 percent increase in salary. At present, 40 students or more are often squeezed into classrooms with only one teacher.
The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which downplayed the immediacy of the Iranian nuclear threat and claimed that Tehran suspended its weapons program in 2003, exploded like a charge of TNT in Washington’s foreign policy establishment this week. On the left, there was a collective “I told you so” as analysts portrayed the report by 16 U.S. intelligence agencies as “proof” that the Iranian threat was little more than a neo-con hallucination.
Next Thursday will mark the 20th anniversary of the highlight of American Jewish activism, the massive rally in Washington, D.C. on behalf of Soviet Jewry. Looking back, there is a wistful quality to the event because the unity of cause reflected that day has not been equaled since by our community.
Another historical marker for the Middle East on the eve of Annapolis: Nov. 29 marks the 60th anniversary of the United Nations approval of a partition plan to divide the Jews and Arabs of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. How fitting, sadly enough, that this week also signals the umpteenth diplomatic attempt to resolve the same Arab-Israeli conflict.