Michael Walzer on Tisha B'Av - Mourning is not the only message

On Tisha B'Av, the "saddest day of the Jewish calendar," our tradition dictates that we mourn the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem and consider the cause of their destruction. Although we haven't known a Judaism that revolves around a Temple for centuries, we take this day every year to remember a time when the center of gravity of the Jewish people was brutally destroyed. This act of painful remembrance also serves as a difficult exercise in empathy: putting ourselves in the shoes of our ancestors to understand our lost past.

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Yedioth Ahronoth: "An Historic Evening" by Nahum Barnea

(from the translation provided by Israel News Today)

  Netanyahu is right. This truly was an historic evening. The plan bearing Trump’s name seals one chapter and opens a new chapter in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The two-state solution, which has dominated international discourse ever since 1993, has now lost the last vestiges of its relevance. One state will rule between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, under the grace of America. This isn’t a peace plan; it’s an annexation plan. Is that good for Israel or bad for it? It depends whom you ask.

   We’ve had lots of American plans and mediators in the time since President Reagan’s plan in 1982. Each one of those initiatives created a major stir in its day. Despite the excitement, they left in their wake expectations that made reaching an agreement difficult.

   The Trump plan has done more than that; it has given the Netanyahu government support to take a series of unilateral steps, starting this coming Sunday. In the initial stage, the settlement blocs and the Jordan Valley will be annexed. Israel will annex the isolated settlements and the access roads leading to them in the second stage.

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Ma'ariv: "The Dream Team" by Ben Caspit

This article is translated from the Israel Ma'ariv newspaper and appeared in the Israel News Today service on February 4, 2019. 

  The excitement surrounding the meeting between Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi that was supposed to have been held yesterday evening is superfluous. The two of them have met on several occasions beneath the radar, and have spoken with one another even more often. They don’t need to be introduced to one another. The 19th chief of staff and the 20th chief of staff don’t need mediators. Gantz wants Ashkenazi almost desperately. Ashkenazi, for the time being, isn’t willing to come on his own. Out of the entire group of generals and potential leaders in the center-left bloc, Ashkenazi is the only who isn’t motivated by his own ego or future status. He is willing to “come under the stretcher in the most difficult place,” in the best of the Golani Brigade’s tradition, but only if that is worth the effort. In other words: a large merger with Yair Lapid will be worth making that effort.

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Shaqued Morag in Netanyahu's Newspaper: Netanyahu Sustains Hamas to Avoid Peace with Abbas

Peace Now's director general Shaqued Morag today published an important article lambasting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his anti-peace policies. It should be noted that the article was published in the pro-Netanyahu daily Israel Hayom. 

To view the Hebrew article online click here

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Amid a barrage of anti-Palestinian actions, a tacit endorsement of Israel’s West Bank annexation, and an occupation-denying U.S. Ambassador, are the big guns of U.S. Jewry – AIPAC, ADL, AJC, JFNA – really too afraid to rock the boat with Trump?

While Donald Trump’s word salad du jour on Israeli-Palestinian peace vacillates between one state and two, it is by now clear that his administration has jettisoned the longtime bipartisan U.S. goal of a two-state solution. Nothing the administration has said indicates that it embraces this vision, and everything it does undermines it. 

Where does that leave American Jewish establishment organizations which have made the two-state solution a pillar of their policy on Israel? 

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There are no adults in the room, anonymous or not, diligently frustrating Trump's cruel, disastrous Mideast policy, only arsonists - Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman - dousing the house with kerosene

New revelations in recent days from inside the White House provide yet more evidence of the disaster unfolding at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

One of the most astonishing stories told in Bob Woodward’s new book, "Fear," is that of President Donald Trump’s senior economic adviser Gary Cohn, who reportedly swiped a letter from Trump’s desk which - had the president signed it - would have withdrawn the U.S. from a trade agreement with South Korea. (According to Cohn, Trump never realized it was missing.)

More amazing still is the complementary claim by an anonymous senior Trump administration official that s/he and many others are "working diligently from within to frustrate parts of [Trump’s] agenda and his worst inclinations."

Such subversion of presidential authority is certainly problematic. But given an amoral president with a fifth- or sixth-grader's understanding  of world affairs (as Defense Secretary James Mattis is said to have described Donald Trump), one can be forgiven for wishing for adults in the room.

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Elul, the Jewish month leading up to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, is a time of reflection, soul-searching, and repentance. Even before we reach the holy days designated for new beginnings and atonement, Jews prepare to undertake tshuva, asking forgiveness both from our peers and from God. Each day in Elul, except for shabbat, we blow the shofar to awaken our slumbering consciences and reach out to God, who is held to be remarkably close and receptive to prayers during these weeks of spiritual preparation.

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Analysis: Why Israel's Nation-State Law is Not Only Anti-Democratic But Also Anti-Peace

Israel’s new Nation-State Law is not only anti-democratic. It is also anti-peace. It hinders not only peace between Jews and non-Jews in Israel, but it also severely hampers prospects for future peace between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors.

Instead of echoing Israel’s Declaration of Independence by championing the pursuit of peace as a Jewish value of the Jewish state, the Nation-State Law asserts an aggressive, uncompromising, zero-sum attitude toward Israel’s relations with the Palestinians. The law’s exclusionary content and tone is directed at non-Jewish citizens of the state, but is understandably perceived by non-Israeli Palestinians as well as a law that as excludes them from a relationship based on equality with Israel.

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The 'Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People,' passed by 62-55, with two abstentions

Illustrative: The Knesset, Israel's parliament building in Jerusalem. (Orel Cohen/Flash90)

Knesset members approved overnight Wednesday-Thursday a controversial and long-debated law that officially defines Israel as the Jewish nation-state, voting the bill through in its second and third plenary readings by 62-55, with two abstentions.

The law for the first time enshrines Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people.” The law becomes one of the so-called Basic Laws, which, like a constitution, guide Israel’s legal system and are usually more difficult to repeal than regular laws.

What follows is a full translation of the final version of the bill approved by the Knesset plenary:

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Elana Kravitz is a student at Columbia University studying Political Science and Arabic, currently an Americans for Peace Now intern

Mohammed Bin Salman was elevated to the status of crown prince of Saudi Arabia just over a year ago, and what a year it’s been. He quickly became an international celebrity better known as MBS, the man of the hour in the Middle East, and even a welcome presence on the Rock’s Instagram. He captured the world’s attention with a prolonged charm offensive and “revolutionary” reforms in Saudi Arabia such as allowing women to drive and disempowering the infamous Saudi Arabian religious police.

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