Sitting at the head of the table during the Seder is a mini-test of leadership. Not only do you have to silence the chattering and resist the impatient demands to skip portions of the Haggadah and get straight to the food, you also have to offer some words of wisdom about what happened to the Israelites when they came out of Egypt.
It’s not every day that a prime minister who squandered his first term gets a second chance. Between 1974 and 1977, the inexperienced and anxious Yitzhak Rabin stumbled and failed, bringing to an end 29 years of Labor rule in Israel. Fifteen years later, he returned to power, vowing not to repeat his past blunders. His second term, until it was aborted by his assassination, was remarkable: It brought a breakthrough with the Palestinians, a revolution in the treatment of Israel’s Arab citizens and improvements to the nation’s education system and infrastructure.
Anyone coming to Jerusalem these days cannot help but notice the mayoral election campaign going on in the city. The buses carry images of the candidates alongside promises ranging from affordable housing to religious freedom — and, of course, the vow never to divide Jerusalem.
By the time Barack Obama wraps up this week’s whirlwind tour of Israel, he will undoubtedly have heard all sorts of wise things from all sorts of wise men (and women). As is well known, we have no shortage of them here.
Jerusalem has seen plenty of terrorist attacks, this month’s massacre at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva being only the latest. Every attack has stirred the emotions of the city’s Jewish residents, and sometimes Arabs have been indiscriminately beaten.
For a couple days this past week, I sat at home — was confined to it, actually — waiting for Friday to arrive. Why? Because President Bush was visiting Jerusalem.
Since Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, Sderot has been a besieged city. Just one mile from the strip, its citizens have suffered an endless barrage of Qassam rockets, effectively becoming human shields for the rest of Israel.
It has become a tradition for me to celebrate Israeli Independence Day with my friends in Neve Monosson, not far from Ben-Gurion Airport. Neve Monosson was founded in 1953 by a group of airport employees supported by Efraim “Fred” Monosson, a wealthy raincoat manufacturer and a leading Zionist from Boston. It later became popular with the families of airline pilots and information-technology engineers and managers.
Last Saturday night, 40 years after we graduated the Israel Air Force Flight Academy, the class of 1966 gathered for a reunion. We met near Herzliya, on the lawn of the spacious house belonging to one of our number, Kobi Richter. After graduation, this former kibbutznik had gone on to become one of the air force’s outstanding fighter pilots.
Can Ehud Olmert fill the vacuum left by the mighty Ariel Sharon? This is the question that Israelis, and indeed, people all around the world, are currently asking. After all, Acting Prime Minister Olmert, likely winner of the upcoming March 28 elections, has no serious military background. And in a country besieged by terrorist, guerrilla,