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.
As Washington labors to make something of its upcoming Annapolis peace conference, it is worth noting one historical marker that sheds light on what it takes to break through the barriers making the Mideast conflict so intractable.
Thirty years ago this month, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat stunned the world and upended the dangerous Mideast status quo with a trip to Jerusalem and speech to the Knesset, starting the process that resulted in the 1978 Camp David accords.
Can Jews talk to Muslims who reject the very existence of a Jewish state?
Rabbi Marc Schneier, founder and president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, hopes they can. Last week Schneier convened the first National Summit of Imams and Rabbis, a risky venture that he hopes will plant the seeds of future cooperation and communication.
The Union for Reform Judaism is also working with the Islamic Society of North America to promote joint education and dialogue projects.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is right to support the confirmation of Judge Michael Mukasey as attorney general. And he’s right that the nomination presents lawmakers with an “extremely difficult” decision because of Mukasey’s refusal to take positions on the critical issue of coercive interrogation techniques used in the war on terrorism.
Awareness of the very real danger posed by a nuclear Iran has become a given in Washington. But that may prove a mixed blessing as the issue gets sucked into the maws of partisan politics. In reality, the Iran threat is too important and too complex for the chest thumping, sloganeering and jockeying for partisan gain that define the Iran debate on the 2008 presidential campaign trail.
Politicians in both parties are vying to establish their hawkish bona fides. Tehran will “never” get the bomb under their watch, contenders promise; some
Too often we take our Jewish communal successes for granted and focus on our problems. One of the ongoing success stories is the work and reach of UJA-Federation of New York, the world’s largest local philanthropy, with its more than 100 constituent agencies providing social services for Jews and others in need here in New York as well as in Israel, the Former Soviet Union and communities around the world.