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One very small step for transparency

Such is the poor state of affairs with Israel’s Chief Rabbinate that its release last week of an index of approved Diaspora rabbis for performing divorces and conversions seems like a major step forward. It isn’t. The release of the list of some 70 “approved” Orthodox rabbinical courts came after a three-year battle by an Israeli advocacy organization. The list was grudgingly given and the rabbinate is clearly as entrenched and self-insulated as ever.
Wednesday 12/05/2018
George H.W. Bush, a mensch
Posted: December 05, 2018

Former President George H. W. Bush is being remembered this week as a mensch, as well as a model of duty and service. His family and friends are even referring to him as the best one-term president in the history of our country. And while it may be that Bush was all of the above, there is no question that our fondness for the man has something to do with the healing effect of the passage of time since his presidency in 1989-1993, let alone with the more balanced public persona he projected in contrast to our current experience.  

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Wednesday 11/28/2018
Congress needs to step in with the Saudis
Posted: November 28, 2018

In the wake of the Oct. 2 disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, there were weeks of conflicting accounts and mind-numbing allegations. President Donald Trump initially took a cautious, wait-and-see attitude. As the full contours of Khashoggi’s fate were increasingly revealed, however, Trump expressed frustration at the lack of transparency from the Saudi government: “I am not satisfied with what I heard,” he said on Oct. 22 after a conversation with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Sultan. “We’re going to get the bottom of it.”

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Don’t sweat Airbnb
Posted: November 28, 2018

Airbnb’s decision last week to delist some 200 properties in Israel’s West Bank communities was certainly unfair. It’s an economic boycott focused on what the company calls the “discrimination” of Israel’s civilian and military presence in Judea and Samaria — some, including Airbnb, call it an “occupation” — while it ignores the long list of occupations and discriminations that are taking place elsewhere around the world. 

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Tuesday 11/20/2018
Considering Pelosi’s future
Posted: November 20, 2018

When the Democrats take over the House of Representatives in January, the speaker’s gavel will probably be returned to Nancy Pelosi, the body’s top officer and the highest-ranking woman in American political history.

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With Israeli elections, more of the same
Posted: November 20, 2018

To stave off a war that no one really wanted, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week called it quits after responding to more than 400 Gaza-fired rockets with precision strikes on numerous Hamas installations, including a television station that Israel Defense Forces say had been used for pro-terror propaganda. But in accepting an Egyptian negotiated ceasefire with Hamas, Netanyahu probably set the Jewish state on the path to new elections.

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Wednesday 11/14/2018
A measured midterm shift
Posted: November 14, 2018

The results of last week’s midterms didn’t meet the “blue wave” projections of the Democrats, nor did it qualify as the total vindication sought by the Republicans. Nonetheless, the results were significant. Democrats handily captured control of the House of Representatives, wresting absolute control of government from the Republicans and opening the prospect of a return to sensible, bipartisan government — if both parties are willing. 

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The Knesset talks anti-Semitism
Posted: November 14, 2018

Last week, the Knesset’s Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee met to discuss anti-Semitism in America in the wake of the Oct. 27 shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Absent from the discussion were American Jews themselves, something that was noted — not uncritically — in news coverage of the meeting. A headline in JTA read, “Israeli lawmakers debate American anti-Semitism without American Jewish input.”

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Wednesday 11/07/2018
Beit Shemesh moves forward
Posted: November 07, 2018

In Israel’s municipal elections last week, the city of Beit Shemesh narrowly voted out its two-term mayor, Moshe Abutbul. In doing so, it ended eight years of confused and corrupt governance, and ushered in what we hope will be a new era that seeks to integrate the city’s insular haredi Orthodox community into the larger objectives of organized government rather that surrendering to its members’ outbursts and demands. 

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