A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:
With Gilad Shalit going home on Tuesday in exchange for 1,000-plus prisoners, debate was fierce about whether Israel should have made the deal. “The Jewish state’s repeated willingness to pay an exorbitant price for its citizens is a testament to its national and religious values, which stress the obligation to redeem captives,” said a Wall Street Journal editorial. But it could grow to regret the decision. “Sooner or later, Israel will learn the name of its next Gilad Shalit. Sooner or later, too, it will learn that the better course is to give its enemies reasons to think twice before taking hostages in the first place.” But it wasn’t without its defenders: “Bravo, as well, for Benjamin Netanyahu. He did what the people of Israel wanted. That is his job. He did not do the bidding of a raucous, vicious minority,” said Bradley Burston at Haaretz. “He took courage in a courageous people. That is why he is there. He did the right thing.”
Impact on Egypt
Israel’s relationship with Egypt remains uncertain and complicated in these post-Mubarak days. But with Egypt at the center of the Shalit deal, some wonder what has changed and what that could mean for the future. “Some people, in Egypt and in Israel, have made much of Cairo’s role, pointing to the post-revolution era in where the government overseen by a military council now has more trusted relations with Hamas,” reported the Financial Times. “As much as Egypt would like to take the credit for the prisoner exchange, however, officials in Cairo tell me the breakthrough came after Mahmoud Abbas.” But Shai Baitel at The Huffington Post sees benefits for Egypt. “While politically risky, considering Egypt’s continued desire to maintain good relations with the West, in particular with the United States, its longtime supporter, nothing seems impossibly anymore in a where Egypt is redefining itself and the Muslim Brotherhood is stronger than ever.” This deal could be a good sign of what’s to come.
More Jews could be headed to east Jerusalem, “threatening to cut a link between Jerusalem and the West Bank and endanger already slim peace prospects,” after the plan cleared a definitive hurdle according to reports. The proposed Givat Hamatos development has not been met well by opponents. “Palestinian suffering continues without end. Palestinians suffer grievously under occupation, including in East Jerusalem. Israel wants it entirely Judaized as its capital even though legally it’s an international city under UN trusteeship,” said Stephen Lendman at OpEdNews. Ramzy Baroud at OnIslam agreed: “It is the height of injustice, not only from a Palestinian point of view, but also from standards set by international law.” And a Haaretz editorial asked Prime Minister Netanyahu to stop it. “Halt the Givat Hamatos plan and avoid taking steps that undermine the status of our Palestinian partner and Israel’s international status.”
Is #OWS good for the Jews?
While American protests that began in downtown New York are spreading to other cities, the spread of Judaism is happening simultaneously. The question then becomes whether this is a solution that we should get behind. “The Jewish solution is certainly not government imposed. It calls for activists to encourage “genuine willingness on the part of those who gain to ensure that the losers also benefit,” and to appeal to and inspire the spirit of charity as a personal obligation through effective and creative private sector programs,” said Dovid Efune at The Agemeiner. But Jane Eisner in The Jewish Daily Forward disagreed: “The still-inchoate pleas by protesters for a new kind of American economy are a direct affront not only to Republican policies, but to Democratic ones, too. Mix that with the audacious display of empowered Judaism, conducted without the authorization of Jewish officialdom, and you’ve just undermined the credibility of two powerful institutions with the speed of a Facebook post.”
Sarandon’s controversial comments
Susan Sarandon called the current Pope a Nazi over the weekend, raising the ire of both Jewish and Catholic groups. But Linda Shaw at Gather pointed out that “It’s a known fact that Pope Benedict XVI was a member of Hitler’s Youth when Nazi’s ruled Germany, so she was probably just referring to that and not to him being as bad as Hitler.” Jessica Wakeman at The Frisky said: “I’m a huuuge Susan Sarandon fan, but calling someone a “Nazi” is balls-out rude. It’ll be a fun week to be Susan Sarandon’s publicist, huh?” She could have been smarter about it, said Mark Rawden at Cinema Blend. “Even if the actress was trying to make a statement about her thoughts on the current Pope, there are definitely better words she could have chosen.”