If Israel goes ahead and sends 1,000 southern Sudanese refugees back to live under the Pharaoh, after what they went through in Sudan, then once and for all we Jews ought to get off our high horse about how "the world stood silent" when we needed help.
Could it be that Israelis just need to kvetch about whoever's in the headlines?
Imagine if any non-Jewish government official in the world cited the lowering of the Jewish birthrate in his country as an accomplishment, then recommended that his country's founding institution raise money to help poor non-Jewish families but not poor Jewish families.
There is no military option in Iran. If we didn't learn this from the Americans' ongoing experience in Iraq, we should have learned it from Israel's recent experience in Lebanon.
The only school in Acre that serves both Jewish and Arab pupils -- the el-Mahaba, took a direct hit from a rocket during the war.
In the last two decades, most Israelis have arrived at two conclusions: 1) territory and security are separate issues, and 2) the Palestinians are politically dysfunctional; not only can't they be trusted to keep a peace agreement, they can't be coerced into keeping one, either.
Last November, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), while campaigning to ban the U.S. government from using torture, told the "Today" show: "The Israeli Supreme Court outlawed torture, outlawed cruel and inhumane treatment. And I have talked to Israeli officials, and they say they do very fine without it."
You have to judge politicians, especially those running for prime minister, without sentiment. And if they've changed direction, you have to give more weight to what they've done lately than what they did before. Unless the candidate is a truly malevolent character, you have to judge him or her on two things: leadership ability and political direction. And on that basis, I think Olmert is better suited to be prime minister than anybody else around.
When Israeli Arabs protest that talk of the "demographic threat" is racist, can Israeli Jews blame them? If non-Jewish professors and politicians anywhere on earth spoke of a Jewish demographic threat to their countries, what would Jews call it? What, for that matter, would decent non-Jews call it?
Raising the specter of the Arab demographic threat to Israel is, in fact, racist -- if you believe that Zionism is racism, that a Jewish state is a racist state.
I don't believe that (even while I know there is no shortage of Jews whose Zionism doesn't amount to anything more than racism). Although the Jewish state by definition "belongs" to the Jews more than it does to its non-Jewish citizens, I don't consider it a force for racism, but the opposite: Whatever racism exists in Israel, the Jewish state came into being as an answer to racism of a rather larger magnitude -- the habit of anti-Semitic oppression.
One of the notorious ways that overwrought Israeli parents get unruly kids into line is by threatening to send them to a pnimia -- a boarding school.
There's always been a strong Jewish angle to the story of the Armenian genocide, whose 90th anniversary is commemorated this weekend
I, along with what the polls say is 60 percent of Israelis -- and maybe even Ariel Sharon, too -- trust Mahmoud Abbas' good intentions. More than that, I'm impressed by what he's done on the ground -- by prevailing on Hamas and the other terrorist groups to "cool down" the violence a week after he took office, and reading them the riot act after their rockets started flying again a day after the hopeful Sharm el-Sheik summit.
Progressives of the world, including those in Israel, have a thing about Marwan Barghouti and with good reason: He's so cool. He's the coolest
Palestinian since Yasser Arafat first turned up in a keffiyeh and Ray Bans.
Journalist Patrick Bishop put it just right recently in England's Daily Telegraph, writing Barghouti up as a celebrity revolutionary:
Kibbutz Nir'am, which is slightly closer to the Gaza Strip than Sderot, seemed dead that morning. The air was hot, harsh and still. Hardly anybody was outdoors.
Like everyone else, I used to divide the prostitutes smuggled into Israel from the former Soviet republics into two categories -- the good ones who were tricked into it, and the bad ones who knew what they were getting into.
I think differently now. After meeting one of the "bad" ones for a story I'm doing, I see them all, both the knowing and unknowing, as victims, as innocents.
Leafing through travel books on Turkey at Tel Aviv's L'Metayel (For the Traveler), veteran sojourner Ronen Lazar suggests how to curb the phenomenon of the "ugly Israeli" -- the obnoxious Israeli tourist.
know there are many Palestinians out there who are sickened and ashamed by what happened in Gaza to the remains of the six dead Israeli soldiers.
I don't hold them responsible; I don't associate them with those acts just because they are Palestinians or Arabs, not in any way.
In fact, I think it's important now to remember Arabs like the Palestinian man who drowned in the Sea of Galilee a couple of years ago trying to save a drowning Israeli boy. I remember a Jaffa Arab who was killed in 1992, I think, trying to stop a wild man from Gaza who was slashing at Jewish children with a saber.
It would be hard to exaggerate how fateful, how historic is the drama about to begin at the settlement outposts. Here's where things stand:
Within a few months, we will pretty well know if Israel's 36-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza will be on its way out or here to stay.
Some thoughts, optimistic ones, on the effects already felt from the Geneva agreement:
1) The view from the Israeli street is that the agreement is another trick, another Palestinian trick to fool Israel into believing that they really want peace, and then, when our guard is down, they'll swallow us whole.
Yet if that's the case, why is the Palestinian street up in arms? Yasser Abed Rabbo and his Palestinian delegation to Geneva have been branded traitors and collaborators by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and thousands of furiously protesting Palestinians. This is as good as a death sentence.
The three young Fatah guerrillas in the West Bank city of Tulkarm, wearing masks and holding AK-47s, had just received advance payment to start a second career -- as Palestinian policemen fighting terror, according to an Arab journalist present.
Natan Koenig was blotting up blood from the floor of the cafeteria named for Frank Sinatra at Jerusalem's Hebrew University. Koenig worked for two hours on that 95-degree afternoon on July 31, arriving soon after a Hamas-made bomb exploded under a table, killing nine people, including two Americans, wounding some 90 others and shattering the lunchroom.
The consensus view of the intifada among Israelis, Diaspora Jews and American conservatives -- that it's caused by Arab hatred and rejection of Israel -- is nothing but a lousy excuse.
Talk about cognitive dissonance. The mood in Israel may never have been so hopeless, the indices of quality of life may never have pointed so sharply downward, and yet the calmest, most content person in the country appears to be Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Since Sept. 11, the administration has stood solidly behind Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's battle against the Palestinians, while ostracizing Yasser Arafat.
There is a new rhythm to the terror attacks against Israelis: They are coming in one-two punches, leaving the country staggering.
"We have no intention of reconquering the Palestinian areas," Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told a news conference this week, repeating a common refrain of the Sharon government.
The "officers' letter" came out on Jan. 25 in Yediot Aharonot, Israel's largest newspaper -- 52 reserve army officers declared that they would not serve in the West Bank or Gaza for moral and political reasons.
More than any other Israeli politician, Yossi Beilin has a knack for saying things that many other people are thinking but will not say, and he has just done it again.
Adi Eldar, mayor of Tiberias and head of the Union of Local Authorities in Israel, counts 140 acts of violence against Israeli mayors in the last five years.
On top of being in a military state of emergency for over a year, Israel is now in an "economic state of emergency" as well, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced last week. He was about the last person in the country to say the words out loud.
Israel's 1 million Arab citizens have been going through a process of radicalization for the last generation, but since the Al Aqsa Intifada broke out nearly 14 months ago, that process has taken a bitter leap forward. Days after the intifada began and rioting Palestinians were shot to death by Israeli troops, Arabs across the Galilee also rioted, and 13 were killed by police. In a few cases since then, Arab citizens of Israel -- nearly all Islamic fundamentalists -- have been involved in terror attacks.
Whenever there's a wave of terror in Israel, the nation's hotels come up against a wave of cancellations, and the country's entire tourist industry -- from five-star hotels to souvenir hawkers -- goes into a slump. But in a few months the terror and fear subside, and the tourists come back.
The crash of the Air Siberia jet over the Black Sea last week was an Israeli tragedy, but more specifically and acutely, it was a tragedy for Siberian Jewry.
Here is President George W. Bush on Islam: "Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah."
When President Bush talks of fighting a war against terror until victory, of stamping out terror, it's probably worth looking at Israel's decades-long attempt at doing the same.
The contrast between the Palestinian and Israeli reaction couldn't have been more stark -- while crowds of Palestinians were celebrating in the streets of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, Israel was observing an official national day of mourning, with flags flying at half-mast, and blood banks and solidarity Web sites opening up.
The settler movement is in serious denial over last week's killings of three Palestinians, including 3-month-old Dia Tmeizi. While all settlers publicly condemn the killings, even the most "mainstream" don't see any connection between the nighttime ambush near Hebron and the incessant cries for "revenge" by settlers at funerals, demonstrations and elsewhere.
Israel has arrested two more Palestinians it said were involved in the brutal lynching of two Israeli soldiers by a Palestinian mob in October, bringing the total arrests up to 15.
The front-page photos in the Hebrew dailies couldn't have told the story more graphically: There was Abed al-Aziz Tzalha, 20, grinning in triumph, raising his bloody hands to the lynch mob in Ramallah. and there he was again, raising his handcuffed hands on command for the camera, expressionless, now in the custody of the Shin Bet.
With a slight break in the action and a flurry of would-be peacemaking since the Tel Aviv discotheque bombing, a reality check on the Palestinians -- the regular people, not the politicians -- shows that a pall has come over them. They are deeply ensnared by a Catch-22.
After strenuous protests by Holocaust survivor groups, backed by virtually the entire Israeli political spectrum, the decision was taken last week to look for an alternative to the Wagner concert that had been scheduled for this summer's Israel Festival, the country's annual international cultural showcase.
The Atarot Industrial Park, located at the edge of a Jerusalem Arab village and right on the border of the Palestinian Authority, was meant as a forerunner of the "New Middle East": Arabs and Jews making money together, not war.
Standing with the crowd in Netanya where, hours before, a Palestinian suicide bomber had killed three Israelis and himself, local carpenter Ya'acov Ohayon was asked if he thought the public -- the home front -- was ready for more of the same, or worse.
After Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, ruler of the Shas (Sephardi ultra-Orthodox) party, caused an uproar this week by pronouncing a kind of Jewish fatwa on liberal Education Minister Yossi Sarid, one of Yosef's minions tried to jump into the fray.
At first blush it seemed like a done deal. If Syria and Israel were returning to the negotiating table, and President Bill Clinton was leading them, then it was surely just a matter of time until the two sides reached agreement and declared peace. American, Syrian and Israeli officials sounded confident to a fault, saying a deal might be just a short distance away.
For all the recent hubbub over the worsening lot of Israel's poor, and the growing criticism of Prime Minister Ehud Barak's born-again Reaganite economic policies, it should be understood that in many key misery indices, Israel isn't doing too badly.
The peace process isn't the news in Israel anymore; it's poverty, unemployment and hunger. The domestic agenda, the one that Prime Minister Ehud Barak focused his election campaign on, has jumped up and bitten him.
About 1,000 people crammed into Jerusalem's Kol Haneshama Reform synagogue for Yom Kippur services, while another 500 or so listened in the courtyard outside.
The New York Times dubbed it "a quiet revolution in the teaching of Israeli history."
Now that Yasser Arafat has called Ehud Barak his "friend and partner," and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has pronounced himself pleased and encouraged with the new Israeli prime minister, and President Clinton is just waiting to welcome him to Washington, the old euphoria seems to have arisen again.
There was a time when news of the high school massacre in Littleton, Colo., would have struck Israelis as incomprehensible, evidence of some strange, alien disease floating around America, to which Israel was certainly immune.
This week, when freshman Member of Knesset Dr. Ahmed Tibi declared his first preference for committee assignments -- Defense and Foreign Affairs, which is briefed regularly by the Shin Bet and Mossad -- right-wing MKs laughed it off. This would be like inviting Saddam Hussein into the Israeli Security Cabinet, they said. No Israeli Arab has ever sat on this Knesset committee -- certainly no Arab with a resume such as Tibi's.
When incoming Prime Minister Ehud Barak needs to talk things over with Gen. Shaul Mofaz, the military chief of staff, he won't have to go far: Mofaz lives 12 houses away from him in the town of Kochav Yair.
During the wild victory party in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Election Night, a chant went up in the crowd: "Just not Shas!" Ehud Barak heard the same chant when he spoke early this week to a gathering of campaign activists. A booth with a fax machine in Kikar Rabin has already sent more than 20,000 faxes to Barak from his supporters, who urge him not to invite the meteoric Sephardic fervently Orthodox party into his governing coalition. Thousands of e-mails have been sent to Barak with the same message.
The tens of thousands of happy secularists who danced Election Night away in Rabin Square may have thought they'd "taken back the country" from the right-wing and religious, but according to all the signs, incoming Prime Minister Ehud Barak has a surprise in store for them.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry has recalled Uri Oren, its ambassador to South Africa, for questioning regarding his much-publicized alleged liaison with a member of the South African military.
Knesset Member Arye Deri's appeal to the Supreme Court is expected to take about a year, maybe more.
For the first time ever, an Arab citizen of Israel is running for prime minister. He is first-term Knesset member Azmi Bishara, one of the leading intellectuals in the Arab world, and one of the most provocative politicians of any ethnicity in Israel.
Until the last couple of weeks, the best thing one could say about Ehud Barak's campaign for prime minister was that it couldn't get any worse.
Thirty-three Reform rabbis, men and women from the United States and Canada, held their mixed-gender minyan at the Western Wall on Monday, protected by police barricades and dozens of cops, as a mob of more than 100 haredi yeshiva students hollered abuse at them.
Now that the race for prime minister is on, the main challenger, Labor Party leader Ehud Barak, has suddenly become dynamic.
At the beginning of this week, dozens of Israeli university students entered the third week of their hunger strike. The country's 175,000 university students entered the second month of their strike from classes. Along the way students have been clubbed and even horsewhipped by police. They've blocked major intersections in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa. At times some have even demonstrated in the nude.
It's remarkable: Palestinian terrorists set off three bomb attacks in as many weeks, yet Binyamin Netanyahu, of all people, goes ahead with his plans to relinquish 13 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians.
Charges that Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority are running a corrupt, brutal police state are no longer being voiced only by the Israeli right wing; they are now coming from Palestinian nationalists who, before the Oslo Accord, fought the Israeli occupation.<
On Aug. 9, the "Tel Aviv Serial Rapist," who has the city's women looking over their shoulders in fear, evidently tried to commit his 10th rape in the last six months, but police say he let his pleading victim go, and ran off. On the same day, Police Minister Avigdor Kahalani advised Israelis to do two patrol shifts a month with the volunteer Civil Guard in their towns and cities.
When Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that not only he, but all of Israel, was praying for Jordanian King Hussein's recovery from lymph cancer, Netanyahu might have been exaggerating for effect -- but not by much.
The government is now trying to pass an updated version of the conversion law, which, it claims, gives consideration to Conservative and Reform Jewry
Just after dawn two years ago today, May 29, 1996, the all-night vote count finally tipped against Shimon Peres and for Binyamin Netanyahu, who would become the new prime minister. In the intervening two years, Peres was succeeded as head of the Labor Party by the slain Yitzhak Rabin's protegé, Ehud Barak. After a long stretch of running ahead of Netanyahu in the polls, Barak has now slipped behind.
Regarding the domestic political pressures thatBinyamin Netanyahu faces in his decision-making on the peace process,the prime minister himself probably summed it up best in the "Israelat 50" interview he gave to Newsweek: "I am a coalition ofone."
Early Sunday morning, just before 1 a.m. Israelitime, a roar was heard coming out of living rooms across the country.Israel had just won the annual Eurovision Song Contest, held thisyear in Birmingham, England, and watched by as many as 100 million TVviewers in Europe and Asia. Wildest of all, Israel's representativeat the contest was singer Dana International, a tall, dark,thirtysomething transsexual who had grown up as a boy named YaronCohen.
Palestinians have an official term for whathappened to them when Israel gained its independence 50 years ago:"Nakba," or, in English, "Calamity." In the failed Arab attack on theJews in 1948, some 600,000 Arabs fled the land or, in tens ofthousands of cases, were expelled.
There's nothing more peculiarly, confoundinglyIsraeli than soccer on Shabbat.
After being caught up in a wave of initial panic,the Israeli public seems to be calming down a bit over the possibility of an Iraqi missile attack.
There was such a crush of people at the gas-mask distribution center in Tel Aviv's Central Bus Station this week that a portable fence had to be set up at the doorway -- just to keep people from pushing their way in.
For the record, the Netanyahu administration is expecting business as usual from President Clinton, despite his troubles with the likes of Monica Lewinsky.
Today it is rapidlybecoming clear that Israel has atomized into a number of "tribes" --Sephardim, Russians, Ethiopians, ultra-Orthodox, national Orthodoxand secular Ashkenazim.
The list of potential insurgents includes every senior figurein the Likud: Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, Infrastructure MinisterAriel Sharon and every other Cabinet minister and Knesset member inthe party.
On Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 4, about 100 people stood around the black stone sculpture. Some knelt and lit candles. The memorial was covered with flowers and wreaths. One was inscribed, "Remember, and sound a warning."
De'or and Bar offer more than just technical mastery of their musical genres. Their performances evoke a sense of prayer, soul and expression that stir the heart.
A key element in Labor Party leader Ehud Barak's strategy tobecome prime minister is to win support from Orthodox andultra-Orthodox (haredi) voters, who backed Binyamin Netanyahuoverwhelmingly in the last election. Now Barak is faced with adilemma: The price of wooing Orthodox votes is apparently his supportfor the Conversion Law, which is fast approaching decision time inthe Knesset.
Over the High Holidays, somebody scrawled Nazi swastikas and the epithets "Cursed evildoers" and "Evildoers, you will die" on the front door of the Reform movement's Har-El Congregation synagogue in midtown Jerusalem.This was only the latest act of vandalism against Har-El, Israel's oldest Reform synagogue, in recent months. Over the summer, someone smeared human excrement on the synagogue door. On two other occasions, somebody poured acid on the synagogue garden, turning the grass yellow. All these incidents took place when the building was closed.
On Sept. 10, the day Secretary of State Madeleine Albright arrived in Israel, the country became preoccupied with another event: the disappearance of Ya'acov Schwartz.
A spokesman for the Jerusalem police confirmed that the fire was caused by arson, and that the connection Sorek spoke of was one of the possibilities being investigated. The spokesman said that he did not want to elaborate, "because this is a very sensitive matter." He added that no suspects had yet been arrested.
Labor Party leader Ehud Barak said that unless the opposition waited a decent interval before attacking Netanyahu politically, "it could be interpreted as if we were defending Arafat, even though this is not true -- we are defending the State of Israel."
On Salah a-Din Street, the main street on the Arab side of the capital, the spirit was very different. People kept their heads down,aware that they were being watched, aware that the Jews weren't too fond of them these days. But if they were expected to feel remorseful about Mahane Yehuda, some did, while others felt roughly the opposite.
To the general Israeli public, the "Lerner Affair" reveals the frightening tentacles of the Russian mafia in Israel, and the danger it poses to this country's economic and political system. To many in the Russian immigrant community, however, the Lerner Affair is a case of harassment -- a high-profile attempt by the established Israeli "elite" to cast all Russian immigrants as criminals.
During the yearlong tenure of the Netanyahu government, Syria has become the forgotten front in the Israeli-Arab peace process. The two sides aren't negotiating, and Warren Christopher's frequent-flier shuttles between Jerusalem and Damascus are already a relic of Middle East diplomacy.