Déjà Vu All Over Again?

That’s what Yogi Berra would probably ask about the recent words of Hamas’ leader.

We have been hearing for some months that there is a new “moderation” among such groups as Hamas, Hezbollah and even the Taliban, despite the fact that none of these jihadist groups have renounced terrorism or recognized Israel or its right to exist.

Khaled Meshal, the supreme leader of Hamas, was in a recent New York Times interview described as being open to a long-term truce with Israel — by Meshal’s account, 10 years — and a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders. Such a solution, Meshal indicated, would include “East Jerusalem, the dismantling of settlements and the right of return of the Palestinian refugees.” Meshal’s approach, according to the New York Times, is largely similar to the Arab League peace plan and the framework acceptable to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. One main difference, however, is Meshal’s and Hamas’ refusal to recognize Israel’s existence. That distinction is a caveat you could fly a jumbo jet through.

Moreover, Meshal refused to consider revoking or amending the hate-filled Hamas Charter which explicitly calls for Israel’s destruction, and quotes as fact the notorious anti-Semitic Tsarist forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.


So it remains to be seen: Is Meshal simply offering rhetorical niceties to garner support around the globe and with the Obama Administration? Or is he seeking a substantive change, a la Gerry Adams,whose Sinn Fein political party in Northern Ireland helped convert a perpetual bloodbath into a mostly peaceful political process?

On further examination, there is not much that could be called authentic “moderation” in the Meshal interview. While we always remain hopeful, Meshal’s “Hamas with a Human Face” seems more like “Hamas with a Haman Face.” Asking the Jewish State to make peace with a terrorist group still bent on its destruction would be like asking the Jews of ancient Persia to make peace with Haman, who had already built the gallows on which to kill them all.

If Hamas wants to enter the dialogue about a two-state solution, it must rescind its present venomous charter, renounce terrorism, recognize the State of Israel and agree to work under, or at least in close collaboration with, the Palestinian Authority.

As Yogi would say, it ain’t over til it’s over. But unless and until Meshal and his terrorist partners agree to these conditions, his interview gambit will appear less a sincere gesture than a clever ploy.



Doorway to a new generation

To paraphrase the inscription on the tomb of the great British architect Christopher Wren: “Reader, if you seek their monument, look around you.” So if you’re at the new and state-of-the-art Staenberg Family Complex of the Jewish Community Center, just look around you, and you will see an amazing accomplishment that will serve the Jewish and general community for decades to come.

Michael Staenberg, JCC Board President (and a Jewish Light Trustee and officer), provided major funding and was a driving force behind the $23 million facility, which was dedicated on Sunday, May 3. Last week’s Grand Opening marked the completion of the first phase of the new JCC complex. The uplifting opening could not have come at a better time, when the nation and our community are suffering the pain of the economic downturn.

The forward-looking optimism of the project has been a trademark of JCC leadership since the late 1950s, when Isadore E. Millstone had the vision and generosity to acquire and donate the 120-acre site of the Millstone Jewish Community Campus. Millstone attended the dedication ceremonies last week, as always impressing the audience with his inspirational speech, delivered unhaltingly and without notes.When Millstone first proposed moving the JCC from its location at Union and Enright avenues in the City of St. Louis to Lindbergh Boulevard and Schuetz Road in Creve Coeur, many skeptics questioned the move “that far West.” As it turned out, the campus, and its Carlyn H. Wohl Building dedicated in 1960, has provided a dynamic hub of athletic, cultural arts and celebratory activities since its inception. Thanks to the vision of Michael Staenberg, building upon the enduring legacy of I. E. Millstone, and with the exceptionally generous support of the community, the JCC will continue to serve us for decades to come.

We thank you all.