Prime Minister Sharon is not without his thoughtful critics over his policy of restraint. Those of us who have regularly argued that it is folly to signal to Arafat & Co. that there will be anything but horrible consequences to terrorism, can certainly understand the clamor for massive retaliation and an uprooting of the terrorist infrastructure. And those of us who have relentlessly pointed to the cynicism of the international approach to the Mideast conflict ? which is concerned more about how events fit into the prism of national interest than about notions of justice and truth ? can certainly understand the cry that public opinion be damned. Yet we still strongly believe in the appropriateness of the Prime Minister's course to this point.
The international furor over Israel?s policy of what it calls ?interception of terrorists? sharply illustrates the dilemma in which Israel finds itself. Without doubt, Israel?s targeting of suspected terrorists has thwarted many terrorist acts. However, because they were not convicted in a court of law, and thus there is no legal certainty that they were connected to a crime, most of the world has called this a policy of assassination ? a form of punishment and deterrent without trial.
The outrageous refusal of the UN to turn over those videotapes that recorded the terrorist kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers last October puts into sharp focus the bankruptcy of the UN?s mission in the Middle East. The tapes are said to show the faces of the kidnappers and also to contain other important information on the kidnappings. Yet the international peace-keeping organization, after shamefully denying that the tapes existed, incredibly is now balking at turning over the tapes without blocking out the faces of the apparent kidnappers in the interests of neutrality.
The almost universal calls for ?solidarity? with Israel following in the wake of Reform leader Eric Yoffie?s announcement of the suspension of youth trips to Israel has underscored a curious dimension to the politics of the left. While the Sarid and Beilin crowd talk about American Jews demonstrating their support for the Jewish state, they continue to rail against Prime Minister Sharon for not agreeing to an immediate resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians despite the continuing violence, and for not ordering an immediate end to all construction on the so-called ?settlements.? Despite the lessons of the collapse of Oslo and the obvious and cynical refusal of Yassir Arafat to end the violence, the left persists in attacking Mr. Sharon for insisting that the violence must stop as a precondition to renewed talks. They would reward violence with political concessions while the prime minister would not.
Last week in this space we took the New York Jewish Week to task over its giving front page placement to a rehashing of a year-old story about a concededly serious abuse problem at the Orthodox Union?s NCSY, and to a hazy report about a religious discrimination lawsuit filed against Yeshiva University by a Conservative Jewish woman. We saw this as fresh evidence of an Orthodox-bashing bent at The Jewish Week manifested by that tabloid?s artificial pumping up of negative pieces about two crown jewels of Orthodox Judaism.
We note with sorrow the passing of Rabbi Schulem Rubin, an indefatigable champion of the Jewish community. As a prominent pulpit rabbi and trusted counsellor, Rabbi Rubin provided direction to generations. As a confidante of many in high office, he facilitated access to decision-makers at critical times for more than 40 years. And as the longtime Chief of Kosher Law Enforcement of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Rabbi Rubin worked ceaselessly to ensure that hundreds of thousands of Jews would not unwittingly run afoul of the Halacha in a fundamental and defining aspect of our faith.
In 1982, the late Rabbi Meir Kahane wrote in The New York Times, ?There is one sublime reason why we should not give up a centimeter of land: it belongs to us! ... the land belongs to us because the G-d of Israel, Creator and Titleholder of all lands, gave it to us.?
It was shaping up to be a rather uneventful day until the arrival of a press release from one of the Monitor's favorite Jewish organizations. Laughter may not the best medicine, but it certainly is the best palliative to boredom, and in that sense, at least, the Anti-Defamation League will never be accused of being boring.
Despite the terrible news late Monday of the driveby murders of Dan Yehudah of Chomesh and Doron Zisserman of Einav and other terrorist acts, there is the definite sense that there is an overall lessening of Palestinian violence. While we do not delude ourselves into thinking that the so-called cease fire is essentially anything other than Arafat?s latest ruse, one would have to be inhuman not to take some comfort in the fact that at least for the short run, less people will die or be maimed. And, because we think that a cease fire is in Arafat?s short term interest, we believe that one will take hold. Yet at the same time, while we savor the respite of sorts, we must also focus on the dangers that are already emerging.
We were intrigued to read on the front page of last week?s New York Jewish Week that New York?s Rabbi Haskel Lookstein has called for a boycott of The New York Times because of the anti-Israel animus that has driven its reporting and editorials on the Middle East. According to the story:
In response to a number of requests, the Monitor has put together the following directory of major media outlets for quick reference. Whether you communicate with their offices via telephone, fax or e-mail, it's never been easier to let editors and reporters know what's on your mind. There's no excuse for inaction.
Last week's listing of Israel's worst media enemies, as determined by readers of the Monitor, generated the kind of pro-and-con response such lists usually do. This week we're featuring some of the nominations that failed to garner enough mentions to make the list, but which are interesting (and in most cases valid) in their own right.
Carl Pearlston is a Californian who has been involved with the Anti-Defamation League for 25 years, has served on its Regional Board and Executive Committee and was particularly active in the organization's Speaker's Bureau. Now he's out, and he tells us why in a revealing piece carried exclusively by JewishWorldReview.com.
Two years ago the Monitor, inspired by the political humorist P.J. O'Rourke, published an "Enemies List" of anti-Israel journalists. The column struck such a responsive chord, with readers nominating dozens of their own media enemies, that a couple of follow-ups to the original list soon appeared.
As The Jewish Press is about to go to press Tuesday evening, Hamas spokesmen are still declaring that they have no intention of adhering to a cease-fire. Whether Arafat was serious or not when he declared a cease-fire the other day, the bottom line is that none is in the immediate offing. Yet one gets the sense that the Palestinians are indeed inching towards an interruption of hostilities.
Rabbi Daniel Lapin has this rather refreshing habit of going against the Jewish establishment's liberal grain. He's also quite obviously unafraid of taking on even the most cherished folkways of American Jewry, perhaps most notably its obsession with the Holocaust - an obsession he views as nothing less than detrimental to the spiritual health of the community.
There's a new book out that, due to its subject matter, is certain to attract the interest of many a Monitor reader. Be warned, however, that the book in question - "Irreconcilable Differences" The Waning of the American Jewish Love Affair with Israel? - is a truly awful piece of work, hardly worth the time and effort of anyone who doesn't get paid to review such a wretched endeavor.