Editor: I’d like to think that the pen is mightier than the sword or at the least that it is a more effective instrument of communication — notwithstanding that words are sometimes used to incite incivility and even hatred.

This past week, which coincided with the Jewish New Year, there were words spoken for all the world to hear that came as a pleasant surprise. The importance of them — or lack thereof — will only be known in time; but the utterance of them, until proven otherwise, must be taken seriously.

The first, especially comforting  to the Jewish people but also significant to many others, was the blessing that Iran’s newly elected president, Hassan Rouhani, sent via Twitter to Iranian Jews and Jews everywhere on the occasion of the Jewish New Year. The pronouncement was startling, giving a clear signal that Rouhani’s regime would be distinctly different from that of the hate-spewing Ahmadinejad, who took every opportunity to damn Israel, deny the Holocaust, and discredit Jews.

Could it signal Iran’s more conciliatory attitude toward the West — possibly leading to constructive talks instead of the exchange of threats?  We’ll see.

Then there was the immeasurable significance of the Putin plan to intervene diplomatically rather than militarily in Syria — in collaboration with the U.S. and the U.N. Putin made the case for it in a compelling op-ed piece in The New York Times. Despite his gratuitous jabs at the U.S., which he might have considered necessary for his home audience, the proposal is an appealing alternative to killing for peace.

In spite of appropriate skepticism, it could be a game-changer. I’m glad that we are exploring it while still considering an attack. It’s worth doing, especially in light of the bipartisan resistance to a new intervention.


Publication Date: September 17, 2013 

Words count