Of Swiss Handshakes, Restricted Swimming

We are so used to thinking that the world is growing steadily more homogenous, particularly in the West, that it’s a surprise to learn about local customs that continue to thrive. Last week, we learned that in Switzerland it is customary for students to shake their teacher’s hand before and after class. It is a… Read More

A ‘Rupture’ Over the Wall?

The stalled implementation of the plan to bring pluralistic Jewish prayer to the Kotel probably won’t cause a major rupture  between American Jews and Israel, but it is further proof of the complaint that  Israel guarantees religious freedom for all, except many Jews. Emerging from a meeting on June 1 with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, … Read More

When Not to Act against Anti-Semites

For a while last week, Jews were able to  indulge in a conspiracy theory of their own. “(((Echoes))), Exposed: The Secret Symbol Neo-Nazis Use to Target Jews Online,” read the headline on Mic.com, which brought to light a Google Chrome app that automatically placed a set of three parentheses around Jewish-sounding surnames to make them… Read More

Asleep at the Switch on BDS

In recent years, BDS has become the scourge of the organized Jewish community and the government of Israel. Everyone from B’nai B’rith International to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared that the movement to boycott, divest and sanction the Israeli economy is not only anti-Israel, but also anti-Semitic. This past Tuesday, Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Danny… Read More

Shaky Steps in Building the Party Platform

Humorist Will Rogers once famously remarked: “I’m a member of no organized political party. I’m a Democrat.” That decades-old quip appears to be today’s political reality on the left, as tensions continue to mount between the camp of presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton and the partisans supporting Bernie Sanders, raising questions about the achievability of Democratic… Read More

Pro-Peace, Not Anti-Israel

Over the last several years, mainline Protestant denominations have become increasingly active in their opposition to Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria, known to the rest of the world as the West Bank. The territory is where Palestinians hope one day to establish a state. In support of that effort, the churches have turned to… Read More

Netanyahu Leans Right

With his offer to bring the ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party into his governing coalition, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has probably formed the most right-wing ruling coalition in the country’s history. And with his offer to make party leader Avigdor Lieberman defense minister, Netanyahu is putting  Israel’s formidable armed forces into the hands of a… Read More

The White House’s New Jewish Liaison

In the Washington area, just about every politically active member of the Jewish community considers himself or herself a Jewish liaison to one or more politicians. In the case of the White House, however, it is the president who chooses the person who will convey the administration’s message to organized Jewry and who will respond… Read More

Getting Serious about Zika

In February, President Barack Obama asked Congress for $1.9 billion in emergency funding to fight the Zika virus and prevent a major outbreak in the United States. Last week, the Republican-controlled Congress finally responded, and it looks like the Senate and possibly the House of Representatives will soon vote on their own measures. Even though… Read More

A Call for Civility in the Public Sphere

Diversity of opinion has long been a feature of Jewish tradition as well as of American democracy. Argument “for the sake of heaven” — disagreement in search of a higher truth, as opposed to disagreement for the sake of obstinacy — is a core feature of Judaism. Similarly, a robust and vigorous debate about political… Read More