By Larry Gordon
It is clear that every reasonable person involved in the deteriorating conditions in the Middle East prefers that peace prevail over the current situation. But by now, astute observers must have become aware that this idea hatched by Arab leaders of a peace that is an instrument of eventual war is not the way to go.
Still, some usually competent leaders in Israel are of the opinion that the 50-day assault from Gaza on Israel’s heartland is, more than anything else, a new opportunity to reach a negotiated settlement between the parties. We have been studying these Israel events for a long time, through wars and peace processes, but somehow are just unable to connect these dots.
The war that raged out of control in Gaza this summer was a demonstration that the land-for-peace formula belongs to yesterday, with no place in the present or the future. And we need to come to grips with the reality that anyone still subscribing to the formula is probably more concerned about diminishing Israel in size than building up peace or anything else.
As Caroline Glick pointed out in the Jerusalem Post last week, if Hamas genuinely forgoes war with Israel and signs on to an agreement that formally acknowledges Israel’s existence, then they cease being Hamas. Perhaps if they are actually interested in doing that, they will need a name change or a new charter, but they will not be the Hamas that was pulverized this summer by the Israeli Air Force.
To illustrate the point further, take a look at Egyptian President El-Sisi’s proposal to build a Palestinian state three times the size of Gaza, in the Sinai Desert. That offer reportedly was rejected flat out by Mahmoud Abbas because the contention for a state for Palestinian “refugees” is nothing but a ruse for haters of Jews and Israel to somehow dismantle the Jewish state.
In the aftermath of this summer’s events, a series of odd alliances have evolved. They may not like it or admit it, but now the leaders of Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and Jordan have interests aligned with Israel. They and others are interested in fighting and defeating the ISIS terror group that would like nothing more than to topple those moderate Arab dictatorships.
And now that Barack Obama is about to be pulled kicking and screaming back to the battlefield, even he insists that dismantling terror effectively on this international scope can take time, perhaps even years.
So if the approach to handling terror has to be and should be deliberate and methodical, why, when it involves Israel, is there such a rush back to the negotiating table with an immediate outcome sought?
Short of Israel declaring the so-called two-state scenario dead, it should announce that the focus going forward will be on living in peace and restoring the dignity to life for all. Not only is Fatah questionably dependable, their relationship with Hamas and how it changes from one day to the next has to be considered as well.
With just two years left in the Obama term, there seems to be a sense of urgency for the president to get this, if nothing else, right. That’s no reason to rush.
Money On The Line
I had a meeting this week here in New York with former Member of Knesset Yigal Bibi. The former MK of the now reconstituted National Religious Party has almost singlehandedly undertaken to organize the Diaspora Jewish communities voting in the upcoming WZO (World Zionist Organization) elections.
“There are hundreds of millions of dollars on the line here that can be used for Jewish education in our yeshivas and schools, but we are neglecting it,” he says. He explains simply that unlike in times gone by, today the Israeli government has an interest in educating Jews outside Israel about Israel’s history and supporting the Jewish state. According to Mr. Bibi, it is a rather simple process. The more Orthodox Jewish delegates voted onto the WZO board, the more money that can be directed to all levels of Jewish education here.
“There is, however, a reluctance for the Orthodox—both Sephardi and Ashkenazi—to get involved, primarily because of ignorance about the subject,” Bibi says. He is here in New York with his assistant, Meyer Coren, with the sole purpose of educating leaders about the importance of voting. The elections take place from January through April 2015, and one can vote online.
Because the majority of the current WZO delegates are aligned with the Conservative and Reform Jewish movements, most of the money is earmarked for their causes and institutions. Over the last several years since the last election, $350 million has gone to the Jewish National Fund and $300 million to the Jewish Agency for Israel.
With support for yeshivas in such peril and the tuition crisis spiraling out of control, one cannot help but wonder where the leadership is to organize communities in directing and channeling the allocation of this money. MK Bibi says he understands the reluctance of chareidi yeshivas to line up with the WZO, but now a number of Sephardic yeshivas here in the U.S. are doing exactly that. “For the first time, the Shas Party in Israel has signed on and is urging those who look to them to get involved in the process,” he said. Getting involved can mean millions of dollars being directed to Jewish education programs here in New York and elsewhere. For more information, call Mr. Coren at 845-274-6831.
You Booze, You Lose
Here come the holidays, and on the heels of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we will celebrate Sukkos and Simchas Torah, which is customarily marked by many with imbibing alcoholic beverages—some by young people in an irresponsible fashion.
The legal drinking age in New York is 21, and men and women that age and older have an obligation to use their best judgment and act responsibly when it comes to drinking alcohol. It is when Simchas Torah collides with underage drinking that things begin to come apart at the seams here in the Five Towns as well as in other communities around the country and the world.
And that has Dr. Marc Sicklick very concerned. “It’s a problem every year,” the doctor said on Tuesday. “Every year, kids are getting drunk on our streets and in our shuls, and our rabbis and leaders always say that we will do something about it next year, and now next year is here and nothing has changed.”
Dr. Sicklick, a local allergist, is also the Nassau County liaison to the Office of Emergency Management from the Village of Lawrence. “It’s a real danger,” he said, “and it’s a pity that someone may have to overdose and possibly die in order for this already out-of-control matter to be taken seriously.”
What Dr. Sicklick is referring to is the assemblage of hundreds of high-school students—many from out of the Five Towns—over Simchas Torah in Lawrence. The informal gathering has snowballed over the years and has become increasingly popular in communities adjacent to Lawrence, where the young people stay out all night over the holiday.
He adds that a holiday that has been traditionally known to include drinking so as to enhance the joy associated with the celebration of concluding the weekly Torah reading as well as its immediate re-commencement has been corrupted and gotten out of hand.
Dr. Sicklick is working along with 4th Precinct Auxiliary Police Commander Danny Gluck and village officials to formulate a way to stem this tide and regain control of the situation. “I believe that a curfew needs to be instituted for a specific age so as to protect these young people from harm,” Dr. Sicklick said. The idea of a curfew, which the doctor says can be instituted by village officials, has been discussed for several years but has not been adequately supported by village government. We will continue to observe and report on this situation as the holiday nears. v
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By Larry Gordon