For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
There was a minor hoopla in recent days over reports of possible stirrings between Israel and Syria, leading to speculation of a US-sponsored secret back channel to renew peace talks on the Syria track. In all likelihood, however, the leaks and the spin that emerged in the Israeli media reflect more a series of domestic battles, especially within the Israeli Left, than any actual movement on the Syria track.
The whole kerfuffle started with an unconfirmed report in World Net Daily on December 26, which claimed that the White House sent National Security Council official Dennis Ross on a secret visit to Israel and Syria the week before to discuss “specifics of a deal.” The report was followed by a similar story in the Kuwaiti Al-Rai newspaper, which repeated the claim of a secret Ross visit.
Al-Rai’s version was picked up and recycled in the Israeli press. However, days later it emerged on Israel’s Channel 10 that while a secret visit to Syria did indeed take place, it wasn’t Ross who made the trip. Rather, it was Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which suggested that the initial leak superimposed Ross on the Hoenlein trip, conflating it with the former’s upcoming visit to Israel.
The Hoenlein story was packed with speculation of a “secret mission” on behalf of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – à la Ron Lauder in 1998 – to relay messages to Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad. This was assumed to be proof of a supposed old pattern of floating the Syrian option when talks with the Palestinians become stalled. Implicit in this narrative is the suspicion that Netanyahu’s people were behind the story.
However, another way to look at this mini storm in a teacup is to place it in the context of the Israeli Left.
The news in Israel is that the Labor Party is threatening to leave the coalition government. Moreover, there’s pressure within the party on Defense Minister Ehud Barak, challenging his leadership as well as pushing him to quit the coalition. Barak was also getting heat from leftist media, especially when the Haaretz daily ran a story about the Obama administration’s supposed disappointment with his inability to “deliver” Netanyahu in the talks with the Palestinians.
This allegation likely came from the Labor Party, as soon thereafter a public row erupted between Barak and a fellow Labor Party minister over the issue. Similarly, the excitement over a so-called Syrian back channel also originated with the Left. Indeed, the most enthusiastic speculation and spin about the purpose of Hoenlein’s visit ran especially in Haaretz.
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"