There is a well-known story about a rabbi who was called upon to settle a dispute between two of his followers.
Nearly two weeks ago, Ted Koppel contributed some desperately needed perspective to the irrational debate about Iran and its so-called nuclear threat. It was something we did not hear days before, listening to Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Olmert at the General Assembly (GA) of the United Jewish Communities in Los Angeles.
Who is the most distrusted and despised Israeli politician in the Arab world? The answer is not to be found among the usual suspects -- current and former Likud prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Binyamin Netanyahu. Rather, it is the dove incarnate: Shimon Peres.
The Israeli prime minister crams in meetings, a pressconference and a gala dinner before shuttling off to London.
Two decades ago, after hearing the then-Col. Ehud Barak deliver a eulogy for a fallen comrade, popular Israeli poet Haim Guri predicted: "One day, this man will be prime minister." On May 17, Israel's voters proved him right. Barak was elected by a landslide, his 56 percent to 44 percent for the right-wing incumbent, Binyamin Netanyahu -- the younger brother of the man Barak eulogized in 1976, Yonatan Netanyahu, who was killed rescuing a planeload of hijacked passengers at Entebbe airport.
There were decorous cheers and scattered thumbs-up signs as Ehud Barak's projected victory was announced at 12:30 p.m. Monday to some 20 people gathered in Sherman Oaks for an hour-long video conference with pundits in Israel, Washington and New York.
You've got to feel sorry for Arthur Finkelstein. The legendary Republican campaign consultant, slayer of liberals from North Carolina to New York, seems to have met his match this year, in Israel of all places. And all he wanted to do, he said in a recently published interview, was "be part of Jewish history."
A new coded message has entered the chilly lexicon of Israeli anxiety. "Heavy fighting is taking place in Lebanon," intones the news reader. Hundreds of mothers and fathers with soldier sons serving across the northern border know immediately what that means. There are casualties, but the families have not yet been notified.
It's remarkable: Palestinian terrorists set off three bomb attacks in as many weeks, yet Binyamin Netanyahu, of all people, goes ahead with his plans to relinquish 13 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians.
Binyamin Netanyahu's crises never come singly. One, of prime interest to American Jewry, was put on hold this week. Another, which hogged the headlines for Israelis, ended with blood on the saddle.
Just after dawn two years ago today, May 29, 1996, the all-night vote count finally tipped against Shimon Peres and for Binyamin Netanyahu, who would become the new prime minister. In the intervening two years, Peres was succeeded as head of the Labor Party by the slain Yitzhak Rabin's protegé, Ehud Barak. After a long stretch of running ahead of Netanyahu in the polls, Barak has now slipped behind.
Last Saturday morning, as the Middle East peaceprocess careened toward yet another crisis point, Ariel Sharon washolding court at a back table in the Peninsula Hotel in BeverlyHills.
Sharon's ample presence was further magnified by astony security detail and a handful of well-heeled local supporters."This is a real hero!" proclaimed Uri Harkham, the Israeli-immigrantowner of the Jonathan Martin clothing company.
Some of you may have caught last week's New Yorker (May 25) with journalist David Remnick's profile of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. If not, I urge you to call the magazine's offices in New York and order a back copy, or simply visit your local library.
Remnick offers us a portrait of Bibi as The Outsider.
Binyamin Netanyahu has made peace, for the time being, with his own disaffected coalition by offering the Palestinians a further West Bank withdrawal that is vague, qualified and conditional. But in the atmosphere of distrust generated by the Israeli prime minister, few are convinced that he has advanced the prospects of a wider peace.
A key element in Labor Party leader Ehud Barak's strategy tobecome prime minister is to win support from Orthodox andultra-Orthodox (haredi) voters, who backed Binyamin Netanyahuoverwhelmingly in the last election. Now Barak is faced with adilemma: The price of wooing Orthodox votes is apparently his supportfor the Conversion Law, which is fast approaching decision time inthe Knesset.
Yitzhak Mordechai, Israel's defense minister, delicately discusses peace, his boss and the conversion bill during a recent L.A. visit
The conversion bill compromise was based on a position paper presented to the prime minister and his colleagues by a Reform and Conservative delegation.
Binyamin Netanyahu this week put the Bar-On affair behind him. The Supreme Court endorsed as "not exceptionally unreasonable" the law officers' reluctance to indict the prime minister and Justice Minister Tzachi Hanegbi for the abortive appointment of an underqualified party hack as attorney-general.