A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:
A bus full of Israelis exploded on Wednesday in a Bulgarian resort, killing at least eight people and wounded dozens more, according to reports. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it “an Iranian terror attack” and said to expect a strong response. “It’s been a very hot summer, and absent some courageous and deliberate de-escalation, it may soon get much hotter,” said Trita Parsi at The Daily Beast. “The question is: Can the two sides continue to level charges of assassination plots against each other without this conflict morphing into an actual war?” asked John Hudson at The Atlantic Wire. Stay tuned for more developments as the intensity rises.
Coalition falls apart
The unity coalition in Israel’s government broke apart this week over “irreconcilable differences over how to integrate ultra-Orthodox men and Arab citizens into the military and civilian service, a fundamental question for the future of the Jewish democracy,” said The New York Times. Netanyahu will keep office for the immediate future in spite of centrist Kadima party’s decision to leave the government it joined this spring. “In the end, in the worst Israeli partisan political tradition, perceived self-interest prevailed over all the highfalutin rhetoric about the good of the state,” said David Horowitz at The Times of Israel. What’s next for Kadima? “It’s hard to see Kadima survive the next elections. But this latest twist in its fortunes may be part of a larger story, the stirring of a new civic spirit and maybe even civil society,” said Yehudah Mirsky at The Daily Beast. It’s bittersweet, said a Jewish Week editorial: “The pity is that Israel desperately needs a more equitable form of national service, whether military or social/educational, that would include haredim and Israeli Arabs. But compromise for the good of the society as a whole does not come easily to politicians in Jerusalem — or Washington, for that matter. And we all suffer for it.”
The National Jewish Democratic Council took down a petition calling on Republicans not to accept money from Sheldon Adelson, said the JTA. The petition stemmed from a claim by Sen. John McCain that Adelson was secretly sending Chinese money into the campaign. “This week Jewish Democrats took a clumsy swipe at Adelson’s credibility. Then Jewish Republicans responded with oblivious defenses that only make Adelson look more manipulative than before. And then the Democrats had to give the Republicans a win, not on the strength of their defense but on the total weakness of the Democratic offense. At this rate the Knesset will have to come and train our political spokespeople in effective PR,” said Amy Schiller at Heeb. Some are offering other ways to tackle Adelson…
After comparing the IRS to the Gestapo, Maine Gov. Paul LePage apologized after meeting with representatives of several Jewish groups. LePage said it was “never my intent to insult or to be hurtful to anyone, but rather express what can happen by overreaching government.” The response was split: Gordon L. Weil said in the Journal Tribune that there’s no room for these remarks. “Disagreement is essential to our system, but extreme and unwarranted vilification of one’s opponents makes it impossible for Americans to work together to deal with the challenges and opportunities we all share.” “LePage is a governor, so he gets more national scrutiny. But even the left within New Hampshire did not denounce the Hitler comparison. Some applauded it,” said a Union Leader editorial. “It ought to go without saying that unless someone is advocating genocide, Hitler comparisons are not just inappropriate, they are outrageous — no matter which side makes them. No one should get a pass.”
Condi for VP?
Late last weekend, rumors swirled that Condi Rice was being sought after for the VP nod. “Her nomination would also undercut the Republican Jewish establishment’s multi-million-dollar campaign to make Israel a wedge issue in this election by accusing Obama, who also pushed to revive the peace process, of being insufficiently supportive of the Netanyahu government,” said Douglas Bloomfield at The Jewish Week. Lee Smith at Tablet doesn’t think she’s the solution the GOP seeks. “The Obama Administration is rightly criticized for mishandling the U.S. relationship with Israel, but Rice’s management of that alliance was almost as awkward, especially after Israel’s 2006 war against Hezbollah,” he said.