Two new major actors are on the scene in Middle Eastern negotiations, dormant since the Sinai II troop disengagement agreement of September 1975. Jimmy Carter, a political newcomer inexperienced in international politics, is President of the United States, and the ancient militant, Menachem Begin, who never expected to become Israel's Prime Minister, is exactly that. While the President's mind is not set as yet on an American strategy for the Middle East, the Prime Minister's preconceptions were formed four decades ago. For nearly 40 years, Menachem Begin has not changed his essential position, modified his beliefs, or wavered in his commitment and dedication to the cause of Eretz Yisrael (land of Israel). The two leaders could not be more different in personality and style nor come from more widely differing political orientations. They do have in common a moral, principled, even puritanical stance and commitment, but there the similarity ends.
Peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have failed miserably. The reason, write two senior Israeli government officials, is not disagreement over specific issues, such as settlements or Jerusalem, but something much more fundamental: the Palestinians' refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
There is a dark side of freedom in the USSR, and 'glasnost' has released the expression of sentiments, notably anti-Semitism, that communism claimed to have eradicated. Emigration to Israel is a safety-valve, but perhaps intensifies the risk to Jews who remain.