Can Liberal Judaism Survive?

If the decline of non-Orthodox Judaism is to be reversed, knowledge, ritual, and observance must become as central as social justice to Conservative and Reform Jews.

Read more at Washington Post

More about: Conservative Judaism, Jewish ritual, Reform Judaism, Tikkun Olam

Donald Trump Hasn’t Abandoned the Two-State Solution, But Can His Plan Succeed?

Feb. 20 2017

At the press conference that followed his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Wednesday, the American president made clear that he shares his predecessors’ commitment to solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict but that, unlike the past four presidents, he is willing to consider possibilities other than the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. He also seems to favor a major shift in the way the goal is to be reached. Elliott Abrams writes:

Trump has a theory of how to [bring peace]—the “outside in” approach that starts with the Arab states. The old two-state approach was to achieve an Israel-Palestinian deal first, believing it would clear the way for the Arab states to improve their relations with Israel. Trump favors a regional approach: leverage Israel’s improving relations with Arab states to help win an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. . . .

But optimism should be restrained. Cooperating with Israel is always risky for the Arab states, which is why they do it in secret. It is a potential domestic political problem of great magnitude for them, so why should they risk it? The answer is that it would improve the lot of the Palestinians—but that has never been and is not now a compelling objective for most Arab leaders. It’s “nice to have” but not worth any real danger. They are most likely to try it if a strong and reliable American president presses them to do so, over and over again.

And that’s the rub here. Arab leaders do not yet know if they have a strong and reliable president with whom to work, or whether he is going to make this regional peace deal a major goal that he will pursue over time. . . . And for the Arabs, [there is a] far more critical question: what will be the new administration’s real policy toward Iran? One can envision a tough policy on Iran that defends and gratifies the Sunni Gulf states and leads them to cooperate fully on Israel-Palestinian matters. One can also imagine a policy that they find wanting and that provides little incentive for them to court additional risks. Until they have made a judgment about President Trump and his administration, they will carefully hedge their bets.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Donald Trump, Israel & Zionism, Israel-Arab relations, Two-State Solution, US-Israel relations