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The Fern Sidman Commentaries:
May 10th, 2007: "NEXT STOP: TEHERAN"

In a radical departure from US foreign policy, it has been reported that US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice held high-level meetings with Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid Muallem during a regional conference in Sharm e-Sheikh. According to a report in The Jerusalem Post, (05/03/07) these talks marked the first time in years that the US conducted any direct negotiations with Syria.

The report stated, "The Bush administration has shunned Syria, accusing it of fueling tensions in Iraq and Lebanon. It sharply criticized a visit to Damascus last month by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But the White House has been under pressure to open dialogue with Syria and Iran."

A chief demand of the US is that Syria takes action to stem the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq, which has been exacerbating the tensions and factional fighting there. An unnamed Israeli official admitted, “that the meeting did represent a change in US policy, which for the last few years had been to isolate Damascus. The official said Israel was "not taken by surprise" by the meeting. "They tried to ostracize Damascus, and that didn’t work," the official said.

The report also stated that, "the Iraqi government is pressing for Rice and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki to hold talks during the gathering, saying Washington’s conflict with Teheran is only fueling the instability in Iraq. Both the US and Iran had also spoken favorably of a possible meeting, but the chances for that remained unclear, and neither side had commented publicly on any immediate arrangements."

It is clear that the Bush administration is being pushed against the wall. So much for the bombastic rhetoric that once characterized President Bush’s stance on terrorism. So much for the promise to isolate those who harbor and feed terrorists and aid and abet them in any fashion. With President Bush’s popularity at an all time low and criticism steadily mounting on his handling of the war in Iraq, the administration in Washington is now chartering a course of inclusion of states that sponsor terror against both the United States and Israel. The movement in the United States calling for President Bush’s impeachment is growing by leaps and bounds. The failure of the Bush administration to create a plan of departure for US troops in Iraq is serving as fodder to the bevy of Democratic candidates in this high-pressure election year. President Bush is under pressure by his own party to ensure victory in Iraq, thereby giving a Republican candidate a possible chance of being elected.

If negotiations with Syria, a chief sponsor of Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists can be a viable US foreign policy option, it is clear that direct talks with Iran are sure to follow. Despite US condemnations of Iran’s uranium enrichment program and Iran's reluctance to cease the expansion of it's nuclear arsenal, the United States is now sending signals in Teheran's directions that negotiations can become a reality. Let us not forget the vow of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to wipe Israel off the map and his bellicose rhetoric towards the US. Let's not forget that Iran is the breeding ground for terrorists of all stripes and is the hotbed of Islamic extremism.

The Jewish people and the nation of Israel stand alone. Now that the US is shifting positions on the war on terror, we can no longer hold on to the illusion that the US will stand in solidarity with Israel in the next war against Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon. We can no longer delude ourselves in believing that the US will aggressively confront Iranian nuclear threats against Israel. Hatred of Jews and Israel is escalating dramatically and the world remains silent. Liberal and leftist Jews rail against the Christian Zionist movement in the United States and accuse them of a nefarious agenda, while these organizations have displayed unanimous support for Israel and for Torah institutions. There’s nothing like alienating allies at a juncture in history when authentic allies are truly scarce.

It is time to dispense with the belief that we can "raise our eyes unto Washington and from Congress shall come forth our salvation". Rather, it is time to hearken to the voice of the G-d of Israel, to return to His ways and walk in His commandments. We must recognize the "wake up calls" that we see and hear everyday. In these days before the holiday of Shavuos, we must storm the gates of Heaven with our heartfelt prayers and we must reconcile to cleave to our Holy Torah, to listen to its prophecies and to embrace its timeless teachings. We must remember that we are never alone. Hashem will be with us, if we only allow Him in our hearts and souls.

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