Hurricane Katrina. Hostage crisis. Tet Offensive. Is Barack Obama's presidency at a similar tipping point? The relevance of the question exemplifies the gravity of Obama's crisis. Obama is learning the lesson of presidents before him.
It's remarkable that with all the strife and conflict emanating from every corner of the globe, Israel is the country that perpetually dominates the headlines. With Iran thumbing its nose at the international community with the threat of nuclear proliferation, North Korea launching a torpedo attack and sinking a ship from South Korea, and car bombs killing countless civilians in Baghdad on an ongoing basis, why is it that Israel is the hot topic of conversation - and condemnation - throughout the world?
We begin the Three Weeks. Is it an accident that the world seems to be engulfed by one crisis after another? The oil bubbling up from the ocean floor is a perfect symbol of the continuously unfolding tide of disasters. The world teeters, increasingly out of control. And Israel stands alone. As Balaam says in this week's parshah, "Behold! It is a nation that will dwell in solitude and not be reckoned among the nations" (Numbers 23:9).
The headlines in Israel are filled with the mass arrest and imprisonment of a group of haredi parents for disobeying a court order commanding them to send their children to one school and not to another. The world media have discovered the story of intra-Jewish "racism" inside Israel and by and large are repeating the twist to the story provided by Israel's largely leftist media. And, as usually happens, the Israeli media, by covering the story to suit their own biases and ideological agenda, are getting just about everything wrong.
Just like an office fire alarm, the Gaza flotilla affair sent thousands of Jews all over the word into a well-practiced drill.
The facts of the flotilla incident speak for themselves - but only to those who are willing to listen. Unfortunately, albeit predictably, the international community seems to care less about what actually happened and more about that fact that it now has an opportunity to engage in what appears to be a global pastime: kicking Israel.
The May 9-17 AFSI Chizuk mission was another remarkable exploration into the enigmatic world of Israel. In that beautiful country live remarkable Jews who put their lives on the line every day. As Hizbullah in the north, Hamas in the south and the PA's Fatah in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem threaten Israel, the Netanyahu government has the unenviable task of making life and death decisions while contending with pressure from the Obama administration, which seems unwilling or unable to comprehend the dangers.
What could I possibly write to justly summarize the magnitude of my/our dear rabbi, the Rishon LeTzion Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, zt"l? I can't believe I am actually sitting and writing about him in the past tense.
From the earliest moments of American history, before there was a state of Israel, Americans were dreaming dreams of a Jewish homeland. In every generation in each century of American history, the greatest of American patriots and leaders linked the heart of America to the cause of Israel. Why? What is it about America that so deeply connects us to Israel?
I wasn't the least bit surprised that Israel was vilified and condemned in the hours and days following the Israeli raid aboard the Mavi Marmara flotilla ship outside of Gaza.
A few months before my family emigrated in 1938 to the United States from Hamburg, Germany, I had the special privilege at the bris of my brother, Micha, to sit on the lap of Chief Rabbi Joseph Carlebach, zt"l, a revered rabbinical giant of his age.
During the 2006 war in Lebanon, I attended a rally in New York. We were standing in front of the embassy of a particular Middle Eastern nation, peacefully assembled, listening to speakers address the issue of the day. A few people had Israeli flags, maybe a homemade sign here or there. We were passionate about Israel, but we certainly did not constitute what one would call a rowdy crowd.
Almost a quarter of a century ago Raymond Donovan, secretary of labor in the Reagan administration, was acquitted by a jury of larceny and fraud charges. His reaction, as quoted in the next day's news stories, was, "Where do I go now to get my reputation back?"
When I was a kid, the prospect of catching polio was terrifying. We could not dive into a public swimming pool for fear we would spend the rest of our lives in an iron lung. Two Jewish doctors vanquished that disease and removed such fears forever.
The confrontation at sea this week between pro-Palestinian activists seeking to end the international blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza and Israeli forces seeking to enforce the closure has put Israel in a difficult position.
Recent polls show that Americans, American Jews and Israelis disapprove of President Obama's policies toward Israel. They oppose his administration's condemning Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem; his UN speech supporting linkage of U.S. support for Israel's security to Israeli concession to the Palestinians; his comparing Israel's treatment of Palestinians to the Nazi treatment of Jews in his June 2009 Cairo speech.
As an Englishman living in New York, I've become rather ambivalent toward the Royal Family over the years. The latest scandal rocking Buckingham Palace hasn't changed my attitude.
As millions of gallons of oil continue to leak into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the impatience and helplessness of Americans continue to grow. Never before has such a significant issue relating to our country's environmental health been at the mercy of a faulty valve. This unprecedented experience has humbled engineers, scientists and bureaucrats alike.
On the eve of the Six-Day War, Israel stood alone. The events of June 1967 came just a decade after the 1956 Sinai Campaign waged by Israel, France and Great Britain to protect international passage through the Suez Canal.
Not since the height of the Cold War has our nation been this wary of foreigners, or this uncertain as to how to best respond to external threats to our national security.
Moishe Rosen, the Jewish convert to Christianity who founded the evangelical missionary group Jews for Jesus, died on May 19 in San Francisco after a prolonged battle with cancer. He was 78. His passing presents an opportunity to reflect on the devastating effect he had on Jewish lives.
The 14th of Sivan (May 27) marks the tenth yahrzeit of my father, Zechariah Schwarzberg, z"l, a man who experienced the worst humanity had to offer and responded with the best the human spirit could muster.
It seems the only nation not allowed to ban people with belligerent, racist or hostile political views is Israel. Recently, MIT professor Noam Chomsky was prevented by Israel from entering the country via Jordan. Chomsky was on his way to give an anti-Israel speech at a university in Ramallah in the West Bank. (Instead he gave the speech by videoconferencing from Jordan.)
Fearing that the Jewish community now perceives him as hopelessly unsympathetic to Israel, President Obama has launched a Jewish charm offensive. Last week alone 15 rabbis and 37 Jewish members of Congress were invited to the White House.
As Jews in Israel and all over the world prepare to celebrate Shavuot, it is incumbent upon us to take the time to reflect on the meaning of our traditional values and history with regard to our current challenges and goals.