Independent Task Force for the Strengthening of Palestinian Public Institutions

The Task Force Report on “Strengthening of Palestinian Public Institutions,” a project of the U.S./Middle East Project that was funded by the European Commission and the Government of Norway, was the first comprehensive and systematic assessment of the institutions of the Palestinian Authority. Published in 1999, the study examined the Palestinian Authority’s structure and procedures, its ability to set priorities and allocate resources, and its transparency and accountability.

The goal of the study was a practical one – to determine what works, what does not work, why not, and how to fix it, providing practical and detailed guidelines for the development of sound institutions and good governance.

The Task Force’s report helped guide the efforts of the Palestinian Authority and international institutions – the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union, the United Nations and the international donor community – to improve the efficiency and credibility of the emerging Palestinian self-governing institutions.

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General Brent Scowcroft, Eric Melby and Henry Siegman

General Brent Scowcroft, Eric Melby and Henry Siegman

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Does America really ‘share values’ with today’s Israel?

In the late sixties or early seventies, when I served as the executive head of the Synagogue Council of America, the coordinating body for certain social action and interreligious activities of the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform national rabbinical and congregational organizations in the United States, I had a private conversation—one of many—with Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, who was considered the leader of modern Orthodoxy in the United States, if not the world.

Rabbi Soloveitchik had just completed a high-level seminar attended by a select group of rabbis and Christian ministers. I asked him if he would agree to lead another such a seminar on the Jewish attachment to the Land of Israel and the concept of “kedushat haaretz” (the holiness of the land), and how these are to be differentiated from concepts such as “blut und boden” (blood and land) at the heart of German fascism and other totalitarian regimes.

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