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How well are Jews - and non-Jews - doing with regard to the Jewish state? If the question focuses on the highbrow world, and particularly its predominant persuasion of liberalism (or what is still called by that name), the answer that emerges from Edward Alexander's new book is: not very well.
It's been a bumpy road for the Palestinians lately. Recent staged spectacles that were supposed to whip up sympathy for them and put Israel in a bad light again - the Nakba Day (May 15) and Naksa Day (June 4) marches on Israel's borders, the flotilla, the flytilla - have been disappointments at best, if not outright flops. And the Palestinians' long-hyped independent-statehood bid at the UN in September is meeting growing opposition from the West.
When Glenn Beck's upcoming Jerusalem rally was first announced, he saidit would be called "Restore Courage" - modeled on his "Restoring Honor" rally last year in Washington that drew half a million. Or as Beck put it: "Last summer, we set out to restore honor in Washington, DC. This summer, it's time to restore courage. It is time for us to courageously stand with Israel."
The day after last week's announcement of a Fatah-Hamas rapprochement in Cairo, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas said he would keep pursuing peace talks with Israel. Almost concurrently, top Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said Hamas would stick to its stance of neither recognizing nor negotiating with Israel, but "if Fatah wants to negotiate with Israel over trivialities, they can."
"With the winds of change blowing through the Arab world, it's more urgent than ever that we try to seize the opportunity to create a peaceful solution between the Palestinians and the Israelis," President Obama saidlast week after meeting with Israeli president Shimon Peres.
Even without the anticipated passage of two Iranian warships through the Suez Canal, it was a week that rattled Israelis' nerves. It began on with a stern lecture by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman that got considerable play in the Israeli media.
Even a one- or two-month extension of Israel's ten-month settlement moratorium, senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has announced, won't suffice. Nothing less than a total freeze throughout the duration of Israeli-Palestinian talks would be acceptable.