It’s been a relatively quiet week for news from Israel– almost as if everything was put on pause in honor of the birthday celebration for President Peres (as well as, for the meaning of the Iranian elections to become clear. Despite the “seeming pause” some events continue to unfold.
A major item in this week’s news was the arrest of the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Metzger on a series of charges– ranging from accepting bribes to money laundering. The arrest comes in the shadow of the continuing trial of Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron, the former Sephardic Chief Rabbi. While it has been clear for a long time that Chief Rabbinate was a troubled institution, the idea that two chief Rabbis could be charged in criminal cases is more than a little unsettling. All of this takes place in the backdrop of the vicious attack on Rabbi Stav by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef two weeks ago. Many in the religious establishment have been afraid to confront the attacker, (after all, how could such a leading religious leader be fallible in such a way.) Of course, that has long been a problem. Judaism does not believe its religious leaders are infallible. However, the Ultra-Orthodox community has never come to grips with the largest failing of their communal leaders– their attempts in the years leading up to World War II to stop any of their followers from immigrating to either Israel or to the United States.
There has been additional reporting on the contradictory statements made by the leader of HaBayit HaYehudi and Prime Minster Netanyahu on the future of a two state solution. Naftali Bennett was speaking at a meeting of the Yesha Council. There, on his home court, he spoke about the need to end “all this talk of a two-state solution”. Of course, Bennett, who comes from the hi-tech world must have known in this hyper-connected media environment it does not matter where you speak your words will be quoted throughout the world. Well, his words certainly had an effect. I am not sure whether or not the Israeli leader that Bennett was counting on (Prime Minister Netanyahu) was quick to restate his support for the two state solution. Finance Minister Lapid, commented shortly after that the two-state solution was “the only game in town” and even Bennet was forced to tell the Washington Post that he would not stand in the way of peace talks.
In the rest of the Middle East it seems to have been a week of waiting. In Syria, the killing continued. Though there seemed to be a pause in any major action, as everyone was waiting to see what the practical effect of the U.S. decision to arm the rebels would be. Speaking of that decision, it has been interesting and a bit disturbing to see the visceral opposition to the action– especially by liberals in the U.S. It is almost as if we have returned to the post Vietnam era. We seem to be in the post Iraq era, where every military action– even if it is for the best of reasons) is seen as being illegitimate. That is a dangerous approach, especially in a world where there are many things that only the United States can do.
Finally this weeks Economist has a number of frightening articles on the Iranian nuclear program, the Iranian elections as well as an editorial calling on strong intervention in Syria in order to weaken Iran. Here is one Breakout Beckons