Former president Jimmy Carter told NBC News last week that his work at home and abroad has been "superior" to other presidents. "I feel that my role as a former president is probably superior to that of other presidents," Carter assessed. "Primarily because of [my] activism and the injection of working at the Carter Center and in international affairs, and, to some degree, domestic affairs."
Let's not be fooled. The opening weeks of the United Nations General Assembly feature numerous side meetings between Jewish organizations and dozens of visiting dignitaries. Many of the Europeans, and possibly some Arab delegates as well, will be expressing sympathy if not encouragement for Israel's potential need to attack Iran's nuclear facilities.
America is engaged in an intense debate regarding the plan to build a mosque and Muslim community center near Ground Zero, the site of the 9/11 attack on New York. A wave of criticism has been growing against establishing a mosque at this site, the very idea of which elicits overwhelming pain as the horrible crime was committed by followers of extremist Islam via the manipulation of its symbols and the belief that they were acting as messengers of God.
The latest headliner in the campaign to silence critics of Israel's radical Left is Prof. Zvi Hacohen, the new rector at Ben Gurion University. A professor in chemistry and "desert research," Hacohen was cited at length in Haaretz (Sept. 15) denouncing people, especially students of the Zionist Im Tirtzu movement, who dare criticize leftist sedition.
Supporters of the planned mosque and Islamic center near Manhattan's Ground Zero have focused on the issue of religious freedom. But as thousands of mosques have already been built throughout America, this is false - a straw man if ever there was one.
"You're going where?! That sounds interesting. What is it?" This response we received from friends when we mentioned our plan to attend the Orthodox Union's Marriage Enrichment Retreat this past July reflected the very same questions we were thinking. And it was with those thoughts that we went to the retreat - interested but unsure of what exactly we were getting into. A nice hotel, no kids, good food and maybe some interesting workshops.
One of the timeless truths and permanent principles of ancient Jewish wisdom is what I call the Severed Flower. This means that when I cut a beautiful fragrant flower off its plant in my garden and bring it indoors, I seem to have done a clever and good thing. No longer do I have to step outside and brave the weather in order to be able to enjoy the bright colors and intoxicating fragrance of my flower - it is right there in a vase on my desk.
The decision by President Obama to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia is wrong. It was leaked last week that the Obama administration was preparing to notify Congress of its intent to sell $60 billion in high tech arms, including F-15's and military helicopters, to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
I find quite puzzling the vehement opposition of the American Conservative and Reform movements and Jewish Federations of North America to the conversion bill proposed by Knesset member David Rotem.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's ill wishes toward Israel's Palestinian Arab enemies, including the Palestinian Authority and its Holocaust-denier president, elicited disdain and disavowals from much of the leadership of Israel and the Jewish world.
Small things make a difference. For example, as an old folk tale has it, a pebble in your shoe can cause more pain than a rock in your pocket.
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.