Billboard written in Hebrew and English sponsored by the American Atheists in the Brooklyn borough, NY, Mar. 7. Photo by REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:
The two world leaders sat down on Monday amid much anticipation. To no one’s surprise, the topic of Iran dominated headlines. “Mr. Obama is right that military action should only be the last resort, but Israel should not doubt this president’s mettle. Neither should Iran,” said a New York Times editorial. “Understandably, Netanyahu is jittery over the prospect of Iran getting a nuclear bomb. After all, he bears a great responsibility for safeguarding his country,” said DeWayne Wickham in USA Today. “But Netanyahu should neither doubt the public assurances Obama has given Israel, nor try to use the president’s political adversaries to pressure him into letting Israel dictate when the U.S. sends its servicemembers to war.”
Obama’s AIPAC speech
“Barack Obama’s speech before AIPAC was an important political speech for him, both in terms of defending his record before a Jewish audience as well as an attempt to clarify the administration’s position on Iran after weeks of confusion,” said Israel National News. So what good did it serve? “His speech today was aimed at giving Israelis good reason to trust him based on past supportive deeds - while promising very little,” said Shmuel Rosner in the Jewish Journal. “If Mr. Obama wants a pat on the back, he should make it clear that he will do everything in his power to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability, and that he will stand by Israel if it must act. He came one step closer to that stance on Sunday,” said Dan Senor in The Wall Street Journal. “Let’s hope this is the beginning of a policy change and not just election year rhetoric.”
New York Times ad
A combative ad in the New York Times ahead of the AIPAC conference had many people crying foul. “Because they did not call me, I have now become associated, in the public mind, with positions I do not believe in. That is neither effective advocacy, nor fair use of my name and words. The Emergency Committee for Israel may have had the right to use my name and words that I have spoken in the past, but it was not right for them to do so without my approval,” said Alan Dershowitz. Others called it was just an intimidation tactic to go after people who don’t support Netanyahu.
A billboard bought by an atheist group won’t get to go up in Brooklyn, New York, after all after the owner of the building inside of a Jewish neighborhood refused to put it up. “You know it’s a myth … and you have a choice,” it said in Arabic and Hebrew. “The in-your-face billboard seems a strange — and highly ineffective — way to make a point. Atheists esteem the idea of rational man. Using a billboard — like any other huckster selling a product — undermines their core argument,” said a Star-Ledger editorial. It’s time to change the way we treat each other, said Andrew Silow-Carroll in the New Jersey Jewish Times. “it’s always easy to find instances of religiously inspired malfeasance. What’s harder is creating the ideas, institutions, and communities that offer the ends and means of being fully human.”
What should we be focused on this holiday? “The primary lesson of Purim for today’s Jewish leaders is that just as in the original Purim story the Jews had to ultimately defend themselves so too today the Jews cannot pin their national survival on vague promises of support as the Iranian nuclear clock continues to tick,” said Yedidya Atlas at the Algemeiner. “This Purim, as we learn about the dangers of tyranny, may we learn to convert our gratitude for living in modern democracy into action that helps to make others free,” said Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz in The Jewish Week. Forget your worries: Kick back and have some fun.