Ehud Olmert era comes to ignominious end

(JTA) – A day after Ehud Olmert formally submitted his resignation as prime minister, Israeli President Shimon Peres officially tapped his Kadima Party successor, Tzipi Livni, to form a new government.

Livni now has 42 days to put together a coalition government. Though Olmert still heads the interim government until Livni is sworn in, Sunday’s resignation effectively spelled the end of the Olmert era.

Before meeting with Peres on Sunday evening, Olmert informed his Cabinet of his intention to resign.

“I must say that this was not an easy or simple decision,” Olmert said. “I think that I have acted properly and responsibly, as I promised the Israeli public from the beginning.”

Olmert congratulated Livni and said he would help her form a coalition government, and the two shook hands.

It was an ignominious end to a premiership marked by multiple corruption scandals, a failed war in Lebanon and unfinished business on the Palestinian, Syrian and Iranian fronts.

At first an accidental prime minister following Ariel Sharon’s crippling stroke in early 2006, Olmert won his first election as Kadima leader a couple of months later under the banner of maintaining the path of unilateral disengagement Sharon had begun. Olmert would do in the West Bank what Sharon had done in Gaza: unilaterally extricate Israel from its adversaries, even if those adversaries were unready or unwilling to make peace.

But the shortcomings of Israel’s unilateral approach became evident early on in his premiership. The 2006 summer war with Hezbollah exposed the deficiencies of Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Southern Lebanon in 2000 under Ehud Barak, and the increasing rockets attacks from Gaza and Hamas’ takeover of the strip in June 2007 exposed the limitations of Sharon’s pullout.

The violence shattered Olmert’s plans for unilateral withdrawals in the West Bank.

Olmert adjusted his approach, but his responses to Israel’s challenges were seen as inadequate. The prime minister’s approval ratings plummeted as each crisis seemed to be shadowed by one corruption scandal or another.

After Hezbollah launched a cross-border raid in July 2006, the Olmert government launched a war to recover the two soldiers taken captive in the raid and neutralize the threat to Israel from Hezbollah. But the war failed to recover the soldiers or deliver a mortal blow to the Shi’ite terrorist group in Lebanon.

Rather, Hezbollah rallied as a political force in Lebanon after the war and became a veto-wielding presence in the Lebanon Cabinet. Hezbollah also rebuilt its forces and missile arsenal to three times its prewar size, according to Israeli estimates.

In Gaza, Olmert watched as Hamas routed the more moderate Fatah faction from power and took over the strip in June 2006. Hamas kept up daily barrages of Kassam rockets into southern Israel, and the Israeli army was unable to impose quiet.

Unwilling to risk the same approach in Gaza that had failed in 2006 in Lebanon, Olmert held off on ordering a major invasion of the strip.

The need to isolate Hezbollah, Hamas and especially their backer, Iran, drove Olmert to push harder for peace. It led to the re-launching last year of peace talks with the Palestinians at Annapolis, Md., and to this year’s renewed talks with Syria under Turkish auspices, but Olmert ended his abbreviated term with those major policy initiatives unfinished.

Now it will be up to Livni, who led the Olmert administration’s talks with the Palestinians, to see the process through—assuming she succeeds in assembling a governing coalition.

Israel’s next prime minister also will inherit an unsolved Iranian problem. Iran’s suspected march toward nuclear weapons has been Israel’s central foreign preoccupation during Olmert’s term, but Olmert did not manage to rally sufficient international pressure on the Islamic Republic to bring its uranium enrichment activities to a halt.

Throughout his 2 1/2-year term, Olmert was dogged by corruption allegations that cast a shadow over nearly everything he did.

Even his decision to re-launch the indirect peace talks with Syria and sign a cease-fire deal with Hamas in Gaza in June—finally bringing quiet to southern Israel, with the exception of the occasional violation—were viewed with suspicion by some who derided the moves as ploys to ensure his political survival.

The major corruption scandal that erupted in May, in which American Jewish businessman Morris Talansky said he gave Olmert $150,000 in cash over the course of the decade and a half before Olmert became prime minister, crippled Olmert’s ability to govern.

Calls for his resignation accelerated several weeks later with the revelation by police that Olmert was suspected of double-billing overseas trips to various Jewish charities.

Though he always denied any wrongdoing, Olmert acknowledged at the end of July that it had become impossible for him to continue as prime minister, and he announced that he would resign as soon as his party, Kadima, chose a new leader in September.

After Olmert handed his resignation letter to Peres on Sunday, the president offered a few solemn words.

“This is not an easy decision, and I am convinced that this is a difficult evening for him,” Peres said. “I wish to take this opportunity to thank the prime minister for his service to the people and the state over the course of many years of public activities—as the mayor of Jerusalem, as a minister in the government and as the prime minister of Israel.”

Ron Kampeas in Washington and Marcy Oster in Israel contributed to this report.

A doctor’s visit

A visit with Dr. Eugene Gettelman, who celebrates his 100th birthday on June 17, shows how much medicine has gained and lost in the last half century.

We talked recently in the sitting room of his apartment at Westwood Horizons, an upscale retirement home near UCLA. His friend, Dr. Herb Levin, had suggested I do a column on Gettelman’s reaching the century mark.

I had met them when I was invited to speak at a monthly luncheon of retired physicians at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Occasionally, Gettelman, Levin and their friend, Dr. Fred Kahn, take me to lunch at the UCLA Faculty Center. They like to talk about politics. I’m interested in the old days of medical practice — at least their old days.

That’s what I wanted to talk about when Gettelman and I settled down for a chat. As a pediatrician practicing in the San Fernando Valley, he treated generations of children, starting from when he completed Navy service in the South Pacific during World War II. He is a lively man with a friendly and calm manner, undoubtedly reassuring to parents and children as well.

I asked him to repeat a story he had told me before, which I thought illustrated the sharp instincts, intelligence and guts that were so necessary to doctors working without today’s sophisticated diagnostic tools and drugs.

Gettelman was senior resident at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago in the mid-1930s. In those days — hardly imaginable today — strep throat was a dread ailment that could affect the mastoid and turn into meningitis. For the children he was treating, “it was like a death certificate,” he said.

At the time, 100 Jewish physicians who had fled Hitler’s Germany were working at Reese, a Jewish hospital. One of them came to Gettelman with a German article telling how doctors there were using sulfa drugs to cure infections, a new treatment first tried in 1932.

Several children were dying in Reese Hospital from meningitis. “I had more guts than brains in those days,” Gettelman said. He called the manufacturer, Bayer, in Germany. The company air expressed a pound of a powdered version of the drug.

There were no directions with the package. The drug, Gettelman said, had never been used against meningitis. But he decided to try it.

He asked the parents. He told them their children were dying. The parents told him to go ahead. Gettelman mixed the powder with a solution in what he thought would be a safe proportion and injected it into the spine of one of the sick children.

“It worked,” Gettelman said. “With the first patient, the temperature came down.”

The story reminded me of House, television’s irascible high-risk doctor, who operates on instinct, experience and guts.

“Do you watch ‘House?'” I asked Gettelman.

“Sometimes,” he replied.

“House would have done what you did,” I said.

Gettelman smiled. “That’s exactly right,” he said.

In Gettelman’s younger days, doctors marched through the hospital in something called “grand rounds.” Held on Sunday mornings, when all the doctors were available, the rounds were led by the head of the department, dressed in morning coat and striped pants, followed by a procession of residents and interns from one hospital room to another.

They descended on patients, who must have been surprised, if not scared. The lowest-ranked intern would spell out the symptoms. The head doctor would question the usually nervous intern. Then the group would retreat to the hall, and the department chief would explain the lessons to be drawn from the case.

When he was practicing in the Valley, Gettelman visited patients at Encino Hospital in the morning, saw ill children in his office all afternoon and made house calls in the evening. Doctors knew their patients and watched for symptoms. They didn’t dismiss childhood headaches, Gettelman said. A headache could mean polio. “A belly ache could be appendicitis,” he said.

Those days are gone, he said, and with them the young doctors who opened solo offices and started treating patients one on one, becoming part of their lives. Today’s doctors’ offices are big. Some are well organized, others not.

“The personal relationship between the doctor and the patient has deteriorated,” he said.

But on the plus side, antibiotics have all but eliminated the crises Gettelman faced in his youth. These days, he wouldn’t have to play a hunch and order those sulfa drugs from Germany.

He noted approvingly that radiology has made possible huge advances in diagnosis. Gettelman keeps up on medical developments, and he attends frequent lectures and other sessions at Cedars and UCLA.

On Sunday, June 15, family and friends will gather at the UCLA Faculty Center to celebrate his birthday. Gettelman and his late wife, Rita, had two sons, Alan and Michael. There are five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

My interview was ending. We had talked for an hour, and it was lunch time. Gettelman walked to his closet and pondered which of his several sport coats to wear downstairs for lunch. He chose the camel hair.

A table had been reserved for him. He ordered the salad, and I had the turkey sandwich. We discussed politics, not agreeing all the time, but enjoying the conversation. After an hour, the dining room was emptying, and I stood up to leave.

As I drove home, I thought about all the changes Gettelman has seen and what a remarkable man he is. This was one visit to the doctor that actually made me feel good.

Until leaving the Los Angeles Times in 2001, Bill Boyarsky worked as a political correspondent, a Metro columnist for nine years and as city editor for three years. You can reach him at

Orthodox feminists make little progress on agunot

With strident calls for action and threats of “taking to the streets” if the issue is not soon resolved, participants in the 10th anniversary conference of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) ratcheted up the rhetoric around the plight of agunot, “chained women” whose husbands refuse to grant them a religious bill of divorce.

“Let this be the last JOFA conference where we need to ask if there’s a halachic heter [permissive legal ruling] for agunot,” Tova Hartman, founder of an Orthodox feminist synagogue in Jerusalem, told the approximately 1,000 people, mostly women, who attended a conference earlier this month in New York City. “The time has come to stop kvetching.”

The rhetoric on agunot contrasted sharply from that on other topics at the conference, where a sense of confidence bordering on the triumphant prevailed, owing to the substantial progress made in the decade since JOFA’s founding.

Women today serve as congregational heads, spiritual leaders and advisers on matters of religious law. They have greater access to rigorous textual study that once was the domain of men. And their participation in public prayer is on the rise with the growth of so-called “partnership minyanim,” in which women take on some leadership roles — including reading the Torah and leading certain prayers — in an otherwise typical Orthodox service.

Other issues, like marking a girl’s bat mitzvah, have fallen off the agenda entirely now that such celebrations are par for the course in Orthodox congregations.

“It is a slow and gradual progress,” JOFA Executive Director Robin Bodner said. “There is definitely progress. There is definitely change.”

Hartman electrified the conference with her talk of civil disobedience and the creation of alternative religious courts to address the plight of agunot, who under Jewish law are forbidden to remarry until their husbands have “released” them from marriage with a get, or religious bill of divorce.

In the worst cases, husbands have refused to grant religious divorces to their wives for years, sometimes issuing the documents only in exchange for sizable ransoms.

In the United States, various rabbinic courts and civil laws provide some recourse. In New York, state law requires spouses to remove all religious barriers to remarriage before a civil divorce is granted; a similar law is under consideration in Maryland.

In Israel, marriage remains under the purview of rabbinic courts that have the power to enforce their rulings. The problem, agunot advocates say, is that those powers are rarely used by judges, all of them male and drawn mostly from the ranks of the ultra-Orthodox.

An international rabbinic conference on the topic, the first of its kind, was scheduled for last November by Israel’s Sephardi chief rabbi, Shlomo Amar. It was canceled at the last minute, however, reportedly due to pressure from Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, an Ashkenazi rabbi widely considered the most authoritative figure in the fervently Orthodox world.

“It’s time that we in the Modern Orthodox world challenge the power of a handful of extremist Charedi rabbis,” Sharon Finkel Shenhav, the only woman serving on Israel’s commission to appoint religious judges, said at the conference.

Shenhav said the ultra-Orthodox, also known as haredim, control the courts only because “we let them.”

One possible halachic solution, the so-called “tripartite” solution, would have couples sign a prenuptial agreement stipulating that the marriage is dissolved if a husband and wife voluntarily live apart for a certain amount of time.

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the American-born chief rabbi of Efrat, Israel, argued for that option in an address to a standing-room only crowd at the convention.

While some accused the rabbinic courts of outright corruption, Riskin said the principal obstacle to resolving the issue is the courts’ preoccupation with “what they think is the purity of Israel as over and against the plight of the agunah.”

The tripartite solution is nearly airtight from a halachic standpoint, Riskin said, but it would only affect future marriages and would have little impact on existing agunot. Even so, he’s under no illusions that the idea will be enacted.

“If it does not work, then I believe we will have no choice but to establish alternative batei din,” or rabbinic courts, he said.

JOFA plans to take ads in Jewish media demanding action on agunot from the Orthodox rabbinate. The ads, which call the situation an “injustice” and a “disgrace,” would be timed to coincide with the Fast of Esther, which falls this year on March 1.

“If the community rose up, ultimately that’s how things are changed,” Bodner said. “We need to keep pushing for this change. We’re going to do it. Somehow, some way.”

‘State Department for Jews’ Hits 100

In a meeting room with gold silk curtains and tiled walls, a delegation from the American Jewish Committee (AJC) takes their seats at a long, glass-topped table facing Tunisia’s foreign minister and his aides.

Soon the questions begin: When will Tunisia resume official relations with Israel? What is the country’s stance on Iran?

These questions are de rigeur for the AJC, which is sometimes called “the State Department of the Jewish people,” because of its frequent meetings with leaders of foreign countries.

AJC board members and activists traveled to Tunisia last month as part of a multicountry tour marking its 100th anniversary. The diplomatic mission included stops in five European capitals, Morocco and Israel, meeting with presidents, government ministers, NATO officials and the pope.

The group is also planning a forum in Washington, D.C., beginning May 1, that will feature political and intellectual notables from around the world.

“It’s unbelievable access,” said Stephanie Pulver, an AJC member from New York, who was among those in Tunisia. “It allows us to try to bring up issues that are important to the community and learn about the country and the problems they are having.”

The AJC was founded in 1906 by American Jewish elites, mainly of German Jewish background, who were alarmed by the Kishinev pogroms in czarist Russia and wanted to protect and strengthen Jewish communities around the world by promoting democracy and pluralism. Today, it has 33 chapters in the United States and a presence in 20 countries, advocating for Israel and human rights and against anti-Semitism and terror.

The group faced a crisis during the 1940s, when its president, Joseph Proskauer, opposed Zionism. As a result, the AJC left the American Jewish Conference, an umbrella organization, in the 1940s because it opposed Zionism, according to Brandeis University historian Jonathan Sarna.

“Many people thought the organization would not survive,” Sarna said.

However, after World War II, the AJC began to recognize the importance of the State of Israel, and it soon rebounded in importance. In the postwar era, it worked successfully for the inclusion of a human rights provision in the U.N. Charter and was integral in convincing the Vatican to issue in 1965 the Nostra Aetate, which absolved Jews of the collective responsibility for Jesus’ death.

Among its recent achievements are helping to persuade the U.S. government to ban the Hezbollah television station, Al-Manar, and working with the Polish government to build a memorial at Belzec, the previously neglected site of the Nazi death camp where 500,000 Jews were killed.

The AJC is known for its “deep research” of issues, Sarna said, and for working behind the scenes in establishing contacts with high-level international leaders. It came as little surprise when in 2004, the AJC opened its Transatlantic Institute in Brussels, the home of the European Union.

“The ability of the committee to re-invent itself to change as American and world Jewish conditions change is quite extraordinary,” Sarna said. “Not all Jewish organizations can do that.”

Now, the AJC’s longtime executive director, David Harris, said the organization has its work cut out for itself in the future.

“The threat of nuclear weapons proliferation, radical Islam and the potential marriage of extremists and weapons of mass destruction” are among the main issues the organization will attempt to address at a time when the United States will no longer be the sole superpower, Harris said, speaking during the Tunisia trip.

In Israel, the entire delegation of approximately 200 people gathered for the centerpiece of the mission, meeting with senior government ministers, army officials and academics.

Harris said he envisions the AJC continuing two tracks of involvement, one involving Israel-Diaspora relations, the other promoting relations between Israel and other countries.

In Germany, the delegation heard Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier pledge not to back down on demands on Hamas; they heard Stephan Kramer, secretary-general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, proudly describe Germany’s growing Jewish population of 120,000 as the third-largest in Europe.

“This is a very hopeful place at a time when in the last five days we have not seen a lot of hope,” said Kara Newmark of St. Louis at a gala dinner at Berlin’s Adlon Hotel, referring to the previous visit to Israel.

Said Harris: “If you said to the AJC folks in 1946, ‘Folks, put on your calendar for 2006, a gala dinner in Germany,’ people would have declared me certifiably mad and retired me to the farm. But maybe the 160th anniversary of AJC will be celebrated at dinners in Tehran, Damascus.”

AJC is paying special attention to the Arab world, said Jason Isaacson, director of the group’s office of government and international affairs.

“Part of the issue is Jewish concerns and communities, but it is also about there being only a billion Muslims in the world,” he said. “We obviously need to be talking to them.”

In Tunisia, the visiting delegation heard from officials who touted the recent visit of Silvan Shalom, Israel’s foreign minister at the time of his visit. The Tunisian-born Shalom was given a festive homecoming by Tunisian government officials in a visit that some suggested indicated warming ties between the two countries.

Still, those same government officials were reticent about when Tunisia might reassess its relationship with Israel. Tunisia broke off formal diplomatic ties after the start of the second intifada in 2000.

“We have to see how things are resolved on the ground,” Tunisia Foreign Minister Abdelwahab Abdallah told the AJC delegation. “Our feeling is that the situation has stalled and even deteriorated. We have to be patient.”

These discussions are normal for the AJC, which often talks with foreign diplomats and officials — especially during the United Nations’ General Assembly every September. The nations that sit with them often are seeking Jewish clout in their dealings with the U.S. government.

For its part, the AJC wants to drum up global support for Israel and protect vulnerable Jewish communities throughout the Diaspora.

Connecting with the local Jewish community was an integral part of the AJC visit. In Tunis, the delegation also met with Mohamed Lejmi, the country’s solicitor-general and director of judicial services, who spoke of laws that protect minority rights in Tunisia, including those of the country’s small Jewish minority of approximately 1,800, including 200-300 in Tunis.

In April 2002, a suicide bomber detonated a truck filled with explosives outside of the Ghriba Synagogue in Djerba, an island off the coast of Tunisia that is home to a vibrant Jewish community of about 1,500. The blast killed 21 people, most of them German tourists. It is suspected that the perpetrators had links to Al Qaeda.

The AJC delegation traveled to Djerba as part of the visit, stopping at Ghriba Synagogue to take part in Shabbat services. The synagogue, built on the ruins of an earlier synagogue and believed to be among the oldest synagogues in Africa, has been guarded by Tunisian police since the attack.

JTA Foreign Editor Peter Ephross in New York and correspondent Toby Axlerod in Berlin contributed to this report.


Spectator – The Holy Land of Progress

The Israeli firm, M-Systems, developed flash technology that allows huge amounts of computer data to be stored on a key chain. Given Imaging Ltd. created a miniature, disposable video camera that can be fitted into a capsule and swallowed, giving doctors thousands of images of a person’s intestines. Nemesysco invented voice-sensitive technology that reveals, over the telephone, whether someone is telling the truth.

The achievements of these Israeli companies aren’t the kind that are likely to make headlines, especially coming from a region long dominated by violence and political turmoil. But for British philanthropist Trevor Pears — who conceived and funded the 2005 book, “Israel in the World: Changing Lives Through Innovation” (Orion Publishing Group, Limited) — they were just the kinds of stories he wanted to share.

“Other books tell you how to argue for Israel,” he said. “They don’t tell you why you should…. [So I] figured perhaps I might make that happen.”

Eventually journalists Helen and Douglas Davis signed on to write the book, and media mogul Rupert Murdoch wrote the forward.

“From media and telecommunications to … banking, Israeli technological advances are key contributors to the progress and strength of the global economy,” Murdoch wrote.

Pears’ favorite “Innovation” story is about Yoel Margalith, an Israeli scientist known worldwide as “Mr. Mosquito.” Margalith, a Holocaust survivor, is credited with saving millions of lives through his discovery of a naturally occurring bacteria that kills disease-carrying mosquitoes without harming the environment.

Researcher Yossi Leshem saves lives in a different way. His pioneering use of unmanned aerial vehicles has tracked the flight paths of hundreds of species of migratory birds so airplanes can keep away from them. Leshem provided the United States government with information on the birds’ migratory patterns during the 1991 Gulf War; he now works closely with other Western governments, as well as the Jordanian and Turkish air forces.

“It’s breathtaking how broad Israel’s innovative genius has become in the 21st century,” said Larry Weinberg of Israel21c, which works to give a fuller picture of Israel beyond the Palestinian conflict. A number of the stories in the book are from his organization’s archives, Weinberg said: “People look at this book and go, ‘Wow! Even Jews don’t know what Israel has become in the 21st century.”


Presbyterians Won’t Budge on Divesting


You have to hand it to those Presbyterians. Their leaders know what they want, and they won’t be deflected by things like logic, fairness or the well-being of people in the Middle East.

Church leaders in Louisville, Ky., appear determined to single out Israel for corporate “divestment,” and apparently no amount of internal revolt or outside input will dissuade them.

That’s a big problem for mainstream Jewish groups that have always operated on the principle that dialogue is the first step in dealing with intergroup conflict. The plain fact is that the Presbyterian leaders just aren’t listening.

Groups like the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, while reporting useful discussions with local Presbyterian groups, are fed up with the national church leadership. For months after the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to begin a process of “selective divestment” against companies that do business in Israel, the Jewish groups continued to believe that a policy of hard-headed dialogue would help church leaders understand the glaring imbalance of their efforts.

Eventually, they believed, logic would prevail, and the Presbyterians would realize that at the very least, the timing of their action — at the precise moment when the region seemed to be moving toward a new peace process — was perverse.

They didn’t expect a sudden burst of love for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, but they thought that the Presbyterians would eventually accept what even ardent Jewish peace groups accept — that Sharon’s Gaza disengagement plan represents the best current hope for renewal of a genuine peace process, and that anything that might get in the way should be avoided.

Jewish leaders set up meetings, wrote papers, visited local churches and planned a joint trip to the Middle East with Protestant leaders. Despite those efforts — and despite a strong internal revolt by Presbyterians who were embarrassed by their church’s unhelpful actions — church leaders just didn’t get the message.

Instead of listening, Presbyterian leaders arranged rigged “dialogue” sessions featuring only Jews representing the miniscule minority that doesn’t think the divestment policy is one-sided and destructive to the peace process. When mainstream Jewish leaders complained, the Presbyterian leaders responded petulantly: How dare the Jews meddle.

The Louisville leadership held a training session on divestment and rejected a position paper expressing the mainstream Jewish view, a paper other churches willingly distributed.

Most Jewish leaders involved in the divestment fight now believe the Presbyterian effort at dialogue was just for show, and that church leaders were unalterably committed to the controversial policy.

The Presbyterian position is particularly glaring, because dialogue has shown at least the potential for progress with groups such as the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ. These churches didn’t abandon their criticism of Israel, but they listened to Jewish concerns and made an effort to find a balance between their support for the Palestinians and the call to be fair to the Jewish state.

Jewish leaders are loathe to assess the Presbyterians’ motives, but it’s getting harder to argue that they don’t include outright hostility to Israel and maybe even anti-Semitism.

How else to explain actions that imply that Israel is alone to blame for the conflict, that it is among the worst human rights abusers in the world and that its current peace efforts count for nothing? What other nations are being targeted for sanctions? How else to explain actions that give legitimacy to groups that blame Israel for everything from its separation fence to tsunamis, and drive pro-Israel forces more into the willing embrace of Christian right extremists?

Too often, Jewish groups have conveyed the impression that criticism of Israel is tantamount to anti-Semitism. It isn’t; it’s perfectly possible to detest the occupation and condemn the policies of Sharon without being anti-Semitic or anti-Israel. Israelis and American Jews do it all the time.

But to be as one-sided and as oblivious to both Israeli suffering and the progress that is taking place as the Presbyterian leaders are today suggests motives that have nothing to do with a genuine desire for peace.

Jewish groups are beginning to accept the obvious conclusion: The time for dialogue with the hostile, irrational Presbyterian leadership has passed and a more confrontational approach is in order, including publicly challenging their motives and their commitment to a fair peace in the region. At the same time, dialogue with other groups that have proven more sensitive and with local Presbyterian groups needs to be increased.

The point should be emphasized over and over again: It’s not just the knee-jerk defenders of Israel and Likudniks who think divestment is a terrible idea, but Jewish groups from across the ideological spectrum.

Jewish leaders worked hard to get through to the Presbyterians, but church leaders weren’t listening; they have demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that dialogue is not their goal, a fair peace not their real interest, and they should be dealt with accordingly.