A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:
Both sides have shown a "willingness" to work out their problems in the Middle East, Secretary of State John Kerry said. Some people, however, aren't impressed. "What exactly are John Kerry and Barack Obama trying to accomplish with the new round of “peace talks” between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs – an event that has been put together with chewing gum and baling wire, and that won’t produce squat in terms of agreements, because no one has any incentive to negotiate?" asked J. E. Dyer at The Jewish Press. "Skeptics (like me) have been wrong before," wrote Natan Sachs in Foreign Policy. "This round of peace talks may succeed, and we should wish wholeheartedly for their success. Netanyahu has the political backing — from opposition parties, if necessary — to make bold, historic decisions. Abbas may prove skeptics wrong and demonstrate courageous leadership in the face of difficult circumstances."
At what cost?
Just to get him to sit down with Israel to discuss peace, Mahmoud Abbas demanded the release of dozens of Palestinian prisoners. Israel has agreed to release 104 prisoners over a period of time. "The real tragedy here is that the prisoner release is unnecessary. The Palestinian side was looking for any number of concessions. The Israeli government wouldn't have been forced to release these murderers from prison had it agreed to a full freeze on the growth of Jewish settlements," wrote Bloomberg's Jeffrey Goldberg. Other worry about the costs attached to these talks.
A Wall Street Journal article this week highlights Newark Mayor Cory Booker's Jewish ties and Torah wisdom. Some Jews quoted in the story are impressed by how much Booker knows: "He could put many of us to shame," one local leader said. Booker "is leading the Democratic primary polls and if he wins, he is a shoo-in for a general election victory to replace Frank Lautenberg in the Senate," wrote Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu at The Jewish Press.
The National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia got the poster it wanted last week thanks to some social media assistance. The poster raeds "MAZEL TOV (to EVERYONE!)" and was featured earlier this summer as part of an iconic picture outside of the U.S. Supreme Court amid a protest opposing the Defense of Marriage Act. "We immediately knew it represented a wonderful Jewish response to the Court's decision and thought it would be a great way to tell the story of this historic moment," a musuem coordinator told The Atlantic. How the poster made its way to the museum is a great story about Jewish geography and the age of technology.
Israel’s first 24-hour network went live earlier this month in Arabic, French and English. It calls Luxembourg home, with studios in Jaffa. “The mission of i24news is to cover international news with a new perspective, as well as all facets of Israeli society. This new perspective is lacking in today’s fast-paced, channel-zapping culture," wrote CEO Frank Melloul on the i24 site. Hamas isn't taking the news well: "Hamas also shut down a local production company called Lens because it had provided broadcast services," reported The New York Times. The New Yorker's Ruth Margalit tuned into some of the programming recently and filed a report about what she found.