The “Palestine Papers,” leaked documents purportedly revealing the inner workings of the Palestinian delegation in negotiations with Israel during the government of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, have triggered an avalanche of spin by advocates on both sides of the Middle East conflict.
The revolution in Tunisia of recent days has sparked hope among some who believe that the era of the autocratic old guard among Arab rulers is coming to an end, to be replaced by a trend toward democracy.
It’s still far too early to tell how even the immediate chaotic situation in Tunis will be resolved, much less the region, after the fleeing of corrupt dictator Ben Ali. But it is far more likely that old regimes will fade than that human rights and freedoms soon await tens of millions of citizens of Arab states.
With the kind of surprise that was his military trademark, Defense Minister Ehud Barak shook up Israeli politics on Monday with his surprise announcement that he is abandoning the Labor Party he led and creating a new faction, Atzmaut (Independence), which will remain in the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A nation aghast at the horror of last week’s events in a Tucson parking lot understandably wants answers, and a nervous Jewish community has some special reasons for concern. Why did alleged shooter Jared Loughner target a Jewish congresswoman, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.)? What role did anti-government conspiracies play in his actions, and was anti-Semitism a motive? How was this young man, so obviously disturbed and deluded, able to buy the Glock semiautomatic handgun with high capacity magazine that was able to wreak such horrific violence in a matter of seconds?
One of Debbie Friedman’s most beautiful songs, “Lechi Lach,” reflects God’s telling Abraham and Sarah to go to “a place you do not know.” In her way, Ms. Friedman — Dina Leah bat Freydl v’Gavriel — did that for the rest of us, taking us to a spiritual place that few could have imagined, either as individuals or as a community.
She did it not only as a composer and singer but as a presence, a guide, a friend.
With Israeli-Palestinian negotiations back in the deep freeze, the past few days have seen a flurry of speculation about possible movement on the Israel-Syrian diplomatic front. Last month President Barack Obama appointed the first ambassador to Damascus since 2005. This week Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice president of the Presidents Conference, met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus, prompting speculation he was there at the behest of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.