It looked like a sight certain to delight every Religious Zionist. Just after midday April 29, Israel Independence Day, 3,000 flag-waving Jewish youngsters, many of the boys wearing yarmulkes, marched to the Western Wall from central Jerusalem.
Arlen Specter — once a Republican, now a Democrat — has long been one of Israel’s stalwarts in the Senate, serving on the critical operations committee, which writes the foreign aid spending bills. The “Jewish kid from Kansas,” as he called himself while standing next to President Obama on April 29, has taken his role as the senior Republican Jew in the U.S. Senate very seriously.
With President Obama’s recent release of four classified Bush Justice Department memos sanctioning what most observers call torture, it was almost inevitable that Israel’s experience would soon become part of the debate.
This year, on Armenian Remembrance Day — when the mass killing of more than 1 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire is commemorated — Armenian-American activists had high hopes that a president who ran on a message of change would indeed change the pattern of previous administrations. That is, they hoped President Obama would use the term “genocide” to describe the human tragedy that occurred nearly a century ago.
In the past, when Israel blocked United Nations inquiries into its actions, it could sometimes point to the pro-Palestinian sympathies of those doing the probing.