The following three articles describe well the paralysis in Israel relative to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the meaning  of the inclusion of Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party in the ruling Israeli government coalition, and Netanyahu’s failure to act on an agreement forged between the Reform and Conservative movements, Women of the Wall, the North American Jewish Federations, and the ultra-Orthodox Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall.

  1. Forget Diplomacy. Both Netanyahu and Abbas Need Some Serious Therapy, Forward by Jane Eisner, June 14, 2016

Jane Eisner observes, “there is something deeply psychological happening here, a profound refusal to see the world as others see it, and to acknowledge the lasting harm that nearly a half-century of occupation is doing to both peoples. It’s painful to watch a nation I love rule a people who are suffering, and not to know how to persuade either of them to move beyond their state of entwined paralysis. The contours of a diplomatic solution have been known for years. What the United States, the Europeans and other advocates have not found is the effective psychological tool to ignite action. This is most true for the Israelis and especially Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has repeatedly found excuses to maintain and strengthen the occupation while denying the way it is diminishing Israel’s moral standing in the world and corroding the soul of its own people.”

  1. Bibi’s Gamble – Netanyahu’s double play in appointing an extremist defense minister may mobilize and unify the center, left, and soft-right against him – Jerusalem Report, by Leslie Suser, June 13, 2016

Leslie Suser, always a keen observer of Israeli politics, does not disappoint. This 2400 word analysis describes the ins and outs of the recent negotiations between the Prime Minister and Opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog resulting in a last minute Bibi switch from moderation to extremism in the appointment of Avigdor Leiberman as Defense Minister, a move which stunned Israel’s security and military establishment. Suser reviews not only the events leading up to the inclusion of Yisrael Beytenu in the government coalition thus making it even more right wing, but the political reaction by former members of the Likud who Bibi forced out of the government, and efforts to create a centrist block to bring down this government and run as a group against Netanyahu.

  1. On the Western Wall Deal, Will Netanyahu Be a Hero or the Great Betrayer? Haaretz, by Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie June 06, 2016 – Israel’s prime minister hopes to escape a major confrontation with Diaspora Jewry over the Western Wall deal by using the same tactics that he always uses: Delay and deceit.

In light of the encroachment this week of the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem in the new Southern Kotel Plaza meant as an egalitarian prayer space for Reform and Conservative Jews and Women of the Wall, the Prime Minister has a choice, and Rabbi Yoffie (the former President of the Union for Reform Judaism and now a columnist at Haaretz) lays out that choice in strong words that Netanyahu will certainly understand.

“Let’s imagine that Israel had a prime minister with some principles. I am talking about a prime minister who cared about keeping his word; who had genuine respect for all of Judaism’s religious streams; who knew that the only way to deal with Jewish religious bullies and blackmailers is to call their bluff; and who understood that Israel’s task is to strengthen all Jews, whatever their religious outlook, who are fighting to keep the idea of Torah alive. 

If Israel had such a prime minister, we might imagine him saying in a statement, following his meeting last week with leaders of the Reform and Conservative movements, that enough is enough: The compromise that his government had endorsed on prayer arrangements at the Western Wall would be implemented immediately and in its entirety.”