Those who read my Friday blog post about the Israel-Diaspora deliberations going on in Jerusalem this week might have noticed that I mentioned a paradox in the way the discussions are going, but I never detailed the substance of the paradox. The sun was setting over the Mediterranean before I had a chance to finish my thought. So let’s try it again.
There are two main topics on minds of delegates attending the governing council meetings of the Jewish Agency, the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Federations of North America. One is Jewish religious pluralism in Israel—the monopoly of the Orthodox rabbinate over Jewish religious life and the limits and hurdles placed before non-Orthodox denominations. The other is the Pew survey of Jewish Americans released October 1, with its stark intimations of a steady dilution in the strength of non-Orthodox Judaism. News summary], full survey report.
The first, religious pluralism, tops the agenda of Reform, Conservative and other liberal delegates to the various meetings. They make up a majority of the American delegations at all the major gatherings. True, Americans aren’t a majority at these events; Americans make up about 40% of world Jewry, Israelis another 40% and the rest of the world about 20%, and the non-Orthodox denominations are weak outside America. But the liberal denominations have formed an alliance with the left-wing Zionist delegations from Labor and Meretz, partly to counter the longstanding alliance between Likud and Orthodox. The result is that the liberals dominate wherever you look.
Ynet, the Yediot website, reports that the Libyan blockade-buster ship headed for Gaza this week agreed to divert to El-Arish in Egypt following a secret Israeli-Libyan deal. Under the deal, mediated by Egypt, Israel agreed to let Libya send $50 million worth of construction material into Gaza, via the U.N., for post-Cast Lead rehabilitation.
The report says the deal was sealed in a phone call from Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to Egypt’s intelligence minister, Omar Suleiman.
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, chairman of the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation which tried to send an aid vessel to Gaza, says he reached an Egyptian-mediated agreement with Israel on Wednesday, allowing him to infuse $50 million for the restoration of the Strip and transfer construction materials to Gaza.
“We got the grapes, so why kill the vineyard guard?” the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi told the London-based Arabic-language al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper.
“We will soon start funneling $50 million in coordination with UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) to begin rebuilding Gaza and transfer humanitarian aid and construction materials, without any objection on the part of the Israeli government.”
Would the deal have been reached if the Labor Party were in the opposition and Moshe (Boogie) Yaalon or Avigdor (Yvet) Lieberman were defense minister? Hardly likely. Do such small mercies justify Labor remaining in the Bibi-Yvet coalition and keeping Barak at the helm? Hmmm. You decide.