Last month the impotence of the world Jewish community was on display for all to see.
At first glance it looks like an ordinary brownstone.
The late liberal activist Allard Lowenstein was fond of recalling the time he bucked a boycott of French President Georges Pompidou's address to a joint session of Congress in March 1970.
Many pundits have been predicting that the House of Representatives will have a Democrat majority after the mid-term elections in November. This would hold perils that are unappreciated by many.
October 8, 1956. Fifty years ago. During a break from our studies at Detroit's Yeshiva Beth Yehudah, a couple of my ninth-grade classmates raced with me to a nearby gas station where we knew the radio would be on and the volume turned high.
What else could I do? This past summer, former Israeli chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu instructed Jews around the world to recite Psalm 102 for the release of captured Israeli soldiers Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. So every day, rain or shine, tired or not, with time to spare or in a big rush, I read Psalm 102 without fail.
The Jewish High Holy Days began last Friday evening with two days of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and will end next week with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Jewish wisdom teaches that what God thinks of us is far more important than what we think of God. Thus it follows that Rosh Hashanah, literally the head of the year, is the time when God judges all humans. Rosh Hashanah's solemn role of affirming that God does judge us makes one of its central themes - laughter - difficult to understand.
Not the least unfortunate aspect of the United Nations is its habit of providing Third World despots with a prominent pulpit to speechify against the agency's principal sponsor: the United States. Last week was no exception, as three worthy claimants to the title of most anti-American head of state - Iran's millenarian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Venezuela's Castro protégé President Hugo Chavez; and Bolivia's Bolshevist President Evo Morales - descended on Turtle Bay to diabolize President Bush, denounce American foreign policy, and revel in the adulation of the UN's correspondingly anti-American membership.
Each morning they line up, rain or shine, several rows deep, just before the start of class. After the principal says a few words and wishes them a good day, the hundreds of students at an elementary school in central Israel burst into "Hatikva," the national anthem, in a reaffirmation of their loyalty to the state.
Representatives of the religion of peace had their hands full earlier this month organizing demonstrations, burning the pontiff in effigy, promising to assassinate him, instigating church bombings, killing at least one nun, and generally threatening the annihilation of Christian civilization because of the pope's remarks about Islam nurturing "evil and inhuman" acts. A Turkish cleric declared that the pope's statement reflected a terrible ignorance of Islam.
There is some confusion these days over who is really in favor of peace, who is still clueless, who is a defeatist, and who has failed to learn anything at all about the Middle East conflict over the past 20 years.
Many in the chattering classes in the United States recently devoted their energy to the controversy about ABC's television film "The Path to 9/11." Partisanship seems to dominate virtually every discussion these days. So it was no surprise that, just as Republicans have sought to minimize the lack of attention paid to the terror threat by the Bush administration, so, too, have Democrats resisted the notion that the failures of the Clinton administration be highlighted, as the film did with some respects.
Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair is Israel's best friend in Europe. And he's not a very good friend. Immediately after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S., Blair was instrumental in convincing President Bush to view the Palestinian jihad against Israel as a conflict completely separate from the global jihad. His success in convincing Bush of this distinction turned the anti-Semitic - not to mention strategically disastrous - view that terrorists who kill Israelis should be treated differently from terrorists who kill anyone else into one of the cognitive foundations of the U.S. war on Islamic terror.
One of my readers recently asked me a probing and rather disturbing question: "Do you think we are still the people of the book?" Like a good Jew, I need to answer a question with a question - more than one, actually. First, what is meant by "we"? Readers of The Jewish Press? The young people I saw in Tel Aviv last week with tattoos - girls with bare midriffs and silver studs in navels, noses, tongues, even eyebrows?
Fifteen-year old Tirtza Sariel from the Jewish community of Elon Moreh has been held in the Russian Compound, a maximum security prison, for almost two months. The charge: throwing olives at Arabs. In order to protest her arrest and imprisonment she refused to sign court documents; Judge Uri Ben Dor held her in contempt and ruled to keep her in prison until the end of proceedings, which may take many months.
In an August 21 Jerusalem Post column, Elliot Jager, that paper's deputy editorial page editor, asked whether "maybe we Jews shouldn't put all our eggs in one basket. Maybe - for lots of reasons - Theodor Herzl was wrong in advocating the negation of the Diaspora."
For years I have been urging the greater Torah-observant community to discard the sort of questions that are typically asked of singles in the shidduch scene. (By now it is probably unnecessary to elaborate and provide copious examples of these questions; we all know what I'm talking about.) Indeed, it has been gratifying to see it become more mainstream for people to speak out about "crazy questions" and for popular opinion to begin to shift accordingly. But I made a mistake.
The singer and political activist Bono recently caused a stir when word got out that his California-based venture capital firm, Elevation Partners, invested around $300 million in Forbes magazine, and, more significantly, that his band's company, U2 Unlimited, which holds the rights to U2's master tapes, moved to the Netherlands to pay a lower corporate tax rate.
Israeli public opinion polls taken in the aftermath of the war in Lebanon reveal a dramatic erosion of popular support for the Olmert government and its policies.
A few weeks ago, Jimmy Carter gave an interview to the German newspaper Der Spiegel, mostly on the recent Lebanon conflict. It was classic Jimmy Carter - at once moralizing and morally confused, ill-informed and preachy - illustrating why the American people voted him out of office after just one term and the politically partisan Swedish Academy awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize.
A drama is slowly but steadily unfolding in Israel that is rare for that nation or any other civilized country. Fresh from the Lebanon battlefield, Israel's citizen-soldiers, joined by families of the fallen as well as ordinary citizens, are mobilizing again - this time for a campaign of marches, letters, petitions and other public activities in regard to the recent unpleasantness up yonder.
Why do so many Americans refuse to face the fact that our country is at war with international terrorism?
Many readers no doubt took issue with the relatively optimistic tone of my recent op-ed column ("Things Worth Remembering," Aug. 18) on the war between Israel and Hizbullah. Make no mistake: The outcome of the fighting upset me as it did all of us who love our State of Israel and our Jewish People.
Most Israelis feel the cease-fire was imposed on us before we finished the job. Hizbullah is not disarmed, our kidnapped soldiers have not been returned, and Iran and Syria seem to have been let off the hook.
For generations of Diaspora Jews raised on the idea of an invincible Israel, the last month has been something of a blow. While historians will probably have better luck sorting out the results of the recent weeks of fighting between Israel and its Hizbullah antagonists than journalists, there is little question that the result was a lot less than most of Israel's supporters in this country were expecting.