Earlier this month in Washington, Prime Minister Netanyahu bent over backward to placate President Obama and Palestinian Authority President Abbas. Urging everyone to "think outside the box," he called for a "historic compromise" between Israelis and Palestinians. Even before negotiations began, Netanyahu reassured Abbas: "You are my partner in peace."
Have you ever wondered why Avraham was the first patriarch of the Jewish people? Probably not; the reason is so obvious. We have grown up hearing the stories of the young boy Avram, who questioned the irrational idolatry of his time. We have followed him on his journey of discovery; how he investigated nature, science, each mode of worship - and logically arrived at the conclusion that there has to be One Omnipotent Creator responsible for our existence.
Last week I felt the whisper of a "close call" on my skin. Four Jews - two men and two women, one of whom was nine months pregnant - were shot to death in a terrorist attack on Highway 60, just as darkness fell upon the junction near the village of Bani Nayim.
Israel, the Palestinians, the United States. Each party is banking on the other. The Palestinians and the Israelis are banking on the failure of the resumption of direct talks. The United States is banking on the talks to succeed.
The announcement of a new round of U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, set to begin Sept. 2, has been accompanied by an intense debate on whether these direct talks will achieve serious and meaningful results. While optimists hope for success, there are many complexities: borders, settlements, recognition and "identity issues" such as Jerusalem, historical narratives and refugee claims.
Throughout its 62 years of independent existence, Israel has had to defend itself from attacks by Arab states and in more recent decades from Palestinian terrorism and the Lebanese Shi'ite Hizbullah. Despite its existential struggle against the genocidal intentions of the Arab world and the Palestinians, Israel failed to establish an Information Ministry that would contextually present a Middle East reality: A Jewish democratic state struggling against dictatorial regimes that deny democratic rights to their people and religious freedom to minorities, and who choose to impede the progress of their people while using Israel as the scapegoat.
Kesher Israel Congregation's daily minyan in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is often enhanced by travelers passing through who are happy to join us. These visitors cover the spectrum of Jewish practice, yet somehow joining in prayer lets us unite our all-too-often fractured people.
Summer's warmth gives way to autumn's chill. A new year beckons, not just for Klal Yisrael but also for the game that has become our country's favorite sport - no, our national obsession: football.
The one hundred and thirty children and young adults share two things. They are all Jewish, and they all contend daily with serious and debilitating illness. Many of them have done so all of their lives. You would think spending time with them would provide the ultimate mussar ride for Elul, an in-your-face confrontation with your own mortality, and the need to be grateful to God for life itself and the parts of it we take for granted.
Speaking in the basement of Westminster Presbyterian Church (WPC) in Minneapolis on July 3, 2010, Jeff Halper, founder of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions, offered a relentless denunciation of Israel to a group of Presbyterians.
I am an equal opportunity critic. Critique is one of the tools I use to ferret out the truth. I monitor the actions and pay close attention to the words, the deeds and the decrees of world leaders and when I find fault with them, I point it out to the public.
There are those who view an authentic Jewish life as confining and repressive - pessimistic even. So many restrictions. Countless obligations. So much "observance" rather than "celebration." Yom Kippur fasts. Tzom Gedaliah. Tisha B'Av. The Seventeenth of Tammuz. So much sadness. So much pain. And then there is the emphasis on the in-depth study of mussar - ethics - emblematic of the Jewish need to continually rise to higher moral and spiritual levels.
How embarrassing.Last Sunday the Los Angeles Times ran an article about extravagant Jewish Iranian weddings in California that portrayed our community as a bunch of shallow, boastful materialists who think the purpose of a marriage ceremony is to tell our friends how much money we have.
A great human tragedy is taking place before our eyes, yet few can see it. A singles event in Jerusalem, co-sponsored by no fewer than five groups or organizations, advertised the following: "Ask yourself this question: Do you really want to get married? If the answer is NO, then carry on having a good time going to all those parties, Shabbat meals, lectures, supermarket aisles . If the answer is YES, then we'll see you at the MEGA EVENT."
Opponents of President Obama do not lack for reasons to criticize him or his administration. Not justifiably among them, however, would be the contention that Obama the candidate had misled the country regarding his intentions.
This month Social Security, the most successful domestic program in our nation's history, celebrates its 75th anniversary. On August 14, 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. With one pen stroke he laid the foundation of modern American social policy. Today, millions of retirees live in dignity thanks to their monthly Social Security benefit payment.
Our beloved, miraculous Jewish state is under siege. It was assumed that the ceaseless persecution of the Jews in exile would cease once we again had our own sovereign homeland, our own army, navy, and air force.
A recent news item shed piercing light on the reason for the intractability of the Arab war on Israel. The well-known 1970s disco group Boney M, invited by the Palestine International Festival to give a concert in Palestinian Authority-controlled Ramallah, was pressured to drop performing one of its signature hit songs, "Rivers of Babylon."
With so much recent debate in Israel about academic freedom, I thought it would be constructive to describe the current politically correct ideas about academic freedom held and proliferated by the academic left:
"Officer, what's your badge number?" I've been asked that question countless times over the last 26 years. Almost always, it followed an unpopular decision. Always, it was accompanied by an unspoken message: "I'm letting you know I will hold you accountable for this decision." And always, I answer that question in a direct, simple way: I give my badge number.