Change may occur, but as mother used to say when I wanted something beyond the possible, "Don''t hold your breath."
Prominent in what does not appear to be changing are the gaps between Iran, Israel, and the more powerful of western countries.
On the eve of meetings in Geneva that were predicted to be the time for reaching agreement, the supreme religious/political leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, repeated the familiar rant that Israel is "a filthy rabid dog," whose "future is doomed." His audience of thousands did what Iranian crowds have been doing for more than 30 years. It chanted curses against Israel, and "Death to America."
Americans were initially loathe to notice Khamenei or his audience. Why tarnish hopes for an agreement? The Secretary of State sought to lower expectations while remaining optimistic. This meeting would not end Iranian enrichment of uranium. That would come only later, after mutual acceptance of principles and some relaxation of sanctions.
Israelis were quicker than anyone else to compare Khamenei''s "rabid dog" to the ugliest of Nazi slogans. Condemnations came almost as quickly from the French President, who said that such language would worsen the prospects of an agreement. The US Ambassador to Israel and Obama''s National Security Advisor condemned the speech only a day after Israel officials publicly criticized American silence.
This session in Geneva has gone on for several days, and seems likely to end with nothing more than diplomatic soothings of having been constructive. The Iranians kept to positions fundamentally different from those of the west, even while speaking with smiles about mutual good intentions. They demand a right to continue enriching uranium for peaceful purposes, despite having gone well beyond what that requires; and they demand changes in the weightiest sanctions that western governments have said must be kept in place for some time in order to test Iranian intentions.
It is not easy for American or European governments to hold on to the sanctions. And once relaxed, the same problems will stand in the way of reestablishing them if Iran fudges on its commitments. The prospects of buying Iranian oil, and selling industrial and consumer goods to a resource-rich country of 80 million people leads the giants of industry, energy, banking, and consumer goods to campaign for dealing generously.
Bibi has made another pledge--this time to the Jewish community of Moscow after meeting with Putin--that Iran will not be allowed to create nuclear weapons.
The latest revelations about less than honorable dealings at the pinnacle of Israeli society concern the jailing of the former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, and further details about the family and friends of our popular singer.
Rabbi Yona Metzger has long been on the edge of trouble. His selection as Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi came along with charges by colleagues that he had promised not to pursue any further career achievements as a price for hushing up earlier allegations of wrong doing. Then while serving as Chief Rabbi, he had to deal with claims of accepting improper gratuities. Now that his term is over, the police have questioned him on at least two occasions, with judges sending him first to house arrest and more recently to jail while inquires continue. Police searches found tens of thousands of dollars and euros tucked away at various places in his home, including within the pages of sacred books. We''ve also heard about a recording, apparently acquired via court-approved listening, of Metzger offering bribes of money and an apartment to an associate capable of testifying against him. Among the allegations are keeping up to 50 percent of the money that the rabbi collected for orphans and other needy causes, taking bribes, and illegal laundering those and other proceeds from nefarious activities.
Prison authorities may have to expand the VIP quarters to make room for the former Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi alongside the former President. No doubt we will learn if they pray separately, or join a common minyan of Sephardim and Ashkenazim.
The name of the famous singer at the heart of sex and other dirty stuff is now public. As we all knew, he is Eyal Golan.
The latest details have taken first place on prime time news, causing us to wait 10 minutes or more for the latest about Iran. The Friday edition of Yedioth Aharonoth fills pages 1-4 with Eyal Golan, and gets to Iran only on page 8.
Golan''s father and business associates are in custody while investigations continue about drugs and leading young girls to prostitution. The singer is in house arrest, so far accused of nothing more than having sex with minors. We''ve heard voice-masked interviews with one of the girls and her father. She showed little understanding of the commotion. Her father wondered how anyone can supervise a teenager.
The Labor Party primary produced another change in leadership, the ninth in 16 years. Now Yitzhak (Buji) Herzog is on top, and Shelli Yahemovich has thanked her supporters. Labor''s representation in the Knesset declined from 34 seats after the 1996 election to 13 after the election of 2009, with an increase this year to 15. Herzog speaks more gently than Yahemovich, most notably about socialism.. Expectations are that he will try to woe back to the party Israelis concerned with peace who went to Tsipi Livni, and those concerned about the middle class who went to Yair Lapid.
If negotiations with the Palestinians are going anywhere, the news is not in the headlines.
Those expecting a more perfect or peaceful Israel should not hold their breath.