That was the week that was

For those who say the wheels of change grind slowly, one need only point to last week to prove how fast the wheels can turn.

In the past week, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, the party of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf suffered a humiliating election defeat, Cuban President Fidel Castro relinquished power after a half century and Hezbollah threatened war against Israel. Add the quickening pace of the U.S. election, and we have a world in flux.

But is it good for the Jews?

Let’s start with the obvious: Hezbollah, the Lebanese terrorist gang, has used the assassination of its thug-in-chief, Amad Mugniyah, as a pretext to declare a new war on Israel. This after Israel denied any involvement, and despite mounting evidence pointing to intra-terrorist conflict as the source of the hit.

Hezbollah boasts a dangerous, well-armed terrorist army, and when it makes threats, Israel must pay attention. But the country is ready, having learned from mistakes made in the 2006 war with Lebanon. If Hezbollah renews its war with Israel, it had better brace for a devastating counterattack.

As for other recent geopolitical developments, the analyses are less clear.

Kosovo’s independence has been embraced by the United States and Europe, and condemned by Russia. Israel has yet to take a side. Unwilling to anger either the West or Russia, Israel also worries that Palestinians might mimic their Muslim brethren in Kosovo by declaring their own independent state.

In Pakistan, the stakes are high, but the future cloudy. If Musharraf departs, he could be replaced by parties far less friendly to America and our fight against al Qaida. On the other hand, Musharraf has been a clumsy dictator with plummeting popular support. If Americans claim to value democracy, then we must accede to the will of the Pakistani voters.

Regarding Pakistan’s relationship with Israel, despite some tentative meetings between the two countries, Pakistan continues to pose dangers.

Continuity is our ally in Pakistan, whatever party holds power. The world — and the Jewish people — must support stabilizing forces there and urge more contacts.

As for Fidel Castro, we say good riddance. He has been a thorn in the side of America and the cause of democracy from day one. Fortunately Cuba’s tiny Jewish community has made a comeback in recent years, and with any thaw in U.S.-Cuban relations, a real renaissance in Jewish life could take place there.

Change is the only constant. Leaders come and go, movements come and go. We Jews — the stubborn stiff-necked people — remain, building our communal life and defending ourselves as best we can.

What will happen next week?