Throughout Jewish history, it has been necessary, time and again, to fight prejudice and false accusations. To mention just one notorious example, there is the blood libel of Pesach, which accuses the Jews of using the blood of Christian children for the baking of matzot -- a blood libel that is again being disseminated, in our days, in Arab countries and even in Russia.
What exactly is the state of the pro-Israel peace movement in America? Does the Jewish institutional establishment represent the position of the American Jewish community? And if not, why are alternate voices not being heard?
President Bush's historic visit to Israel and the Middle East can only delay the inevitable disappointment.
Why? It follows the enormous anticipation of the Annapolis conference in late 2007 -- a conference the overwhelming majority of Israelis believe failed. Since then, the expectations of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, as expressed in Annapolis, that an agreement can be ready in 2008, have proven to be naive and utterly unrealistic.
That is why both Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni spoke as forcefully on behalf of a two-state solution as they did in Annapolis -- as, not incidentally, did Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, as well. Now comes the hard part, the part so filled with trip wires. Already in Israel, the naysayers are shouting from the rooftops, and the admirable resolve that was on such vivid display in Annapolis seems to be receding. The stakes, this time around, are enormous: Failure to move responsibly toward a two-state agreement would likely consign the idea to the ash heap of history and ensure a future not less bloody than the past. That is a haunting specter; its implications should weigh heavily on the attitude of all those who hold Israel dear.
If Annapolis does what President Bush said on Monday it was designed to do -- lead the parties in the Middle East conflict toward final status talks on these issues -- and if the Palestinians and Arab states can deliver on their promises -- two huge ifs -- then once again Jews will be faced with the hard task of letting go of the actual and focusing on the spiritual.
Cartoon about the Annapolis Conference.
Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas may have bridged the necessary gaps to issue a joint commitment to pursue peace, but their words in Annapolis revealed the substantial distance they have yet to travel.
Before year's end, a U.S.-sponsored conference involving Israel and the Palestinian Authority will convene in Annapolis, Md., to frame yet another plan to end the Arab-Israeli war and create a Palestinian state. Sadly, this conference has as much chance of succeeding as did Oslo, because the same mistakes that ensured failure then are being made now.
The call for American Jewish organizations to support the current peace efforts came from an unexpected direction: Israel's Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger.
Days away from the Annapolis peace parley, the glaring weaknesses of both the Israeli and Palestinian leaders are raising significant questions about the long-term viability of the renewed peace process and the consequences of failure.
It's not that I would want to see Jerusalem divided. It's rather that the time has come for honesty. Their call to handcuff the government of Israel in this way, their call to deprive it of this negotiating option, reveals that these organizations are not being honest about the situation that we are in, and how it came about. And I cannot support them in this.
As the Annapolis peace parley rapidly approaches, some of the Arab and Muslim players expected to play a key role in creating conditions for a favorable outcome are proving to be more of an obstacle than an asset.
With just more than a month to go before the Israeli-Palestinian peace conference is scheduled to take place, Jerusalem is shaping up to become the key issue.
In the run-up to the regional peace parley in November, Israeli decision makers are facing an increasingly acute dilemma: How to deal with the Hamas terrorists who control Gaza.