Jewish Journal


March 24, 2011

This Week in power: Terror, Libya, Palin, Katzav


A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:

Terror returns to Jerusalem
A bomb exploded at a bus stop in Jerusalem on Wednesday, killing a woman and wounding dozens of others, according to reports. Prime Minister Netanuahu vowed to react “aggressively, responsibly and wisely” to the recent wave of Palestinian violence. These types of attacks are less common than they were a couple years ago, says a Jewish Daily Forward editorial, and the “Middle East has changed dramatically during those three years.” Nonviolent uprisings can succeed; violence still “does not work.” But the terrorists’ goal isn’t to get its own recognized, free nation, argues Jonathan S. Tobin at Commentary. “It is merely the latest installment in a decades-long war whose goal is not the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel but the destruction of the Jewish state.”

How’s the war in Libya affect Israel?
Obama has been attacked from all sides this week after deciding to sign off on a short mission to invade Libya. With the region already on shaky ground, this latest escalation has many wondering about Israel’s ability to stand its ground. “Israel, wisely, has largely kept quiet about the international military intervention in Libya,” says Herb Keinon in the Jerusalem Post. But that doesn’t mean Israel’s in the clear just yet. There’s a growing concern that America could decide to deal Israel a similar blow. “I’m a connoisseur of conspiracy theories, but this one has left me speechless, and strikes me as dangerous hyperbole,” says James Besser in The Jewish Week. “It’s amazing” that anyone outside the “fringe” would believe this to be true.

Palin visits Israel
The former Alaska governor visited holy sites and met with Israeli leaders this week, what some are calling a sign she’s contemplating a presidential run in 2012. During her trip, Palin said that Israel should stop apologizing for itself, a statement that “seems to have implicitly criticized the Obama posture on Israel,” says Chris Good at The Atlantic. Palin stirred controversy not only for her words, but also for what she chose to wear during her stay. “Why the hell is she wearing a Star of David necklace? asks Ilana Angel in the Jewish Journal. “The necklace is a weak and pathetic attempt at being one of the tribe.”

Moshe Katzav sentenced
Former president Moshe Katzav was sentenced to seven years in prison for rape, what he called “a mistake” of the courts, according to reports. Katzav has his defenders: “We are certain that Moshe Katsav was convicted by the media. It is a disgrace that the state of Israel is sending its president to jail,” said one Israeli resident. These claims stem from the belief that Katzav engaged only in consensual sex, and the plaintiff was heavily influenced by outside organizations to go after the ex-president. The dissenting judge in the decision called it a “kangaroo court” and Katzav’s “verdict was handed down long before the court did so.”

Reform movement’s new leader
Looking to revive itself and boosts its numbers, the Reform movement announced this week that Rabbi Richard Jacobs, who has been senior rabbi at the Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, N.Y., will become the president in 2012 of the Union for Reform Judaism, reports The New York Times. Jacobs will succeed Rabbi Eric Yoffie as president, pending board approval at a meeting this June. The Conservative movement got a new leader just two years ago, and with some many Jews “alienated by the cost or by the very idea of belonging somewhere,” says a Jewish Daily Forward editorial, “it is important for these two movements” to restore their “function and purpose.” It seems the Reform chose the right man for the job. “The most telling sign that Rabbi Jacobs was an excellent choice,” says The Jewish Week in an editorial, “is the fact that so many of his colleagues are describing him as having the vision, energy, passion and commitment to take on the challenges he surely will face.”

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