In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Taliban peace talks hold glimmer of hope, but also unanswerable questions

By Howard LaFranchi

No one is predicting an easy road ahead for the peace talks. One key question: How united are the Taliban's political and military wings behind this latest reconciliation effort?

JewishWorldReview.com |

WASHINGTON — (TCSM) The announcement by US officials Tuesday of imminent peace talks between the Afghan government and representatives of the Taliban adds an additional hopeful note to a day when NATO formally announced the full turnover of security leadership to Afghan forces.

The announcement of talks reaches toward the US goal of advancing Afghan reconciliation before the departure of all US-led NATO troops from Afghanistan by December 2014. Still, no one is predicting an easy road ahead, let alone guaranteed success after years of sputtering peace initiatives.

Even US officials announcing the upcoming talks were cautious about prospects for a dialogue that is to start with US-Taliban discussions as early as Thursday. That dialogue would be quickly followed by direct negotiations between Afghan officials and Taliban representatives.

Tuesday's developments "represent an important first step towards reconciliation -- a process that, after 30 years of armed conflict in Afghanistan, will certainly promise to be complex, long, and messy," a senior Obama administration official said, adding, "Nonetheless, this is an important first step."

One reason for the US optimism — as tempered as it may be — is that the Taliban released a statement committing to two principles that the United States had been calling on the Taliban to publicly adopt: One is simply that the Taliban support an Afghan peace process, while the second is that they oppose the use of Afghan soil to threaten other countries.

In other words, Al Qaeda shouldn't expect to look to the Taliban for support to return to Afghanistan.

The Taliban released the statement in Doha, Qatar, where they will open an office and where the talks will start.

Yet the announcement of talks leaves unanswered a number of other key questions that are likely to determine prospects for a peace process. Among them:

  • How united are the Taliban's political and military wings behind this latest reconciliation effort?

  • Will Afghanistan's influential neighbors — first among them Pakistan, but also Iran and even India — see fit to support (or instead, sabotage) a promising peace process?

  • What becomes of the three preconditions for Afghan peace talks that the US long insisted the Taliban had to accept: renouncing violence, cutting all ties with Al Qaeda and its affiliates, and abiding by the Afghan Constitution and Afghan laws, including concerning the rights of women?

US officials now say that the "outcome" of any peace process must be full adherence by the Taliban and other insurgent groups to those three conditions — characterized by a senior administration official on Tuesday as "end conditions."

Although the US gave up on acceptance of the three points for the talks to start, some US officials note that the Taliban's agreement to oppose the use of Afghan territory for launching attacks on other countries is tantamount to acceptance of the no-Al Qaeda demand.

In his comments in Kabul Tuesday marking the full turnover of the lead in security operations from NATO to Afghan forces, Afghan President Hamid Karzai also played down the setting of any demands or preconditions for the upcoming peace talks.

"We don't have any immediate preconditions for talks between the Afghan peace council and the Taliban, but we have principles laid down," Mr. Karzai said. A renouncing of violence by all sides will be one immediate goal of any talks, he said, while he also underscored his desire to see talks move to Afghanistan as soon as possible after starting, to reduce the influence of other countries.

What role Afghanistan's neighbors will play in the nascent reconciliation process remains murky. But no one doubts that Pakistan, where the Taliban leadership resides and which tolerates Taliban fighter havens on its soil, will play a key role.

Secretary of State John Kerry delayed a trip that he had planned to make this month to Pakistan and India and that had Afghanistan atop the agenda. Pakistani officials, who say they were told the delay was due to the Syria crisis, now indicate the trip will take place in July.

Afghan officials, and indeed Afghans in general, tend to blame "our neighbors" and Pakistan in particular for their country's unending war. Pakistan is perceived as willingly sacrificing Afghanistan's stability to maintain an influential role there.


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But the leaders of Pakistan's newly elected civilian government insist that their country supports reaching a negotiated settlement in the Afghan conflict. Secretary Kerry will be able to test the sincerity of that claim when he visits.

But perhaps the most crucial issue facing the peace process is how united the Taliban will be behind the effort over the coming months.

Senior Afghan officials involved in reconciliation efforts said that signals from Taliban leaders continued to be mixed and "confused," with some factions suggesting an interest in pursuing a peace process while others demonstrated a prevailing interest in pursuing the summer fighting season and even planning ahead for efforts to disrupt next April's national elections.

Indeed, one of the biggest potential challenges to any peace process will be the same one that has long been present, some regional experts say: the divisions in the Taliban's vision for the way forward. What happens if the Taliban's political leadership based in Pakistan signs on to a peace accord, only to have military leaders in the field reject the peace and vow to keep fighting?

The Taliban said in their statement that their overriding goal is the end of what they consider to be the "occupation" of Afghanistan by foreign forces.

The Taliban have long refused to engage in talks with Afghan officials, since they consider the government to be the "puppet" of the US. But recently, some Taliban leaders have suggested that the Taliban is no longer set on returning to govern the country through military means.

The opening of talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, represented by the High Peace Council of Afghanistan, will be no guarantee of an end to Afghanistan's three decades-plus of war. But it will at least suggest an expanding interest in finding an alternative to more violence and fighting.

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© 2013, The Christian Science Monitor