A bakers’ dozen top reads from Bev
It’s a round thirteen items from Bev for your Shabbos reading this week. Be sure to print the ones you want beforehand
OPINION AND ANALYSIS
Week Ending 18 March 2015
1. Israel, Europe and the converging terror threat
By the beginning of 2015, the security ecosystem affecting Israelis and Europeans had converged dramatically and negatively. In the coming years, possibly decades, making sure that Europeans can go about their normal business in safety will necessitate a concerted effort to understand the ideology and modus operandi of jihadist terrorism, to contain and ultimately reduce the capacity and motivation of terrorists to attack, and to strengthen resilience in European societies. Indeed, the counter-terrorism posture required to protect civilians, whether in European or Israeli cities, while not identical, will depend on the intelligent and determined application of common guiding tenets and so will greatly benefit from intimate European-Israeli dialogue, cooperation, and learning.
2. The resurgence of neo-traditionalism
If you want to talk about real political organisation, it is invariably of an Islamist character, these days. The rise of Hamas to power in Palestine was not an exceptional development – it was the rule. When you have free elections, the Islamists either do extremely well or they win. When Jordan had relatively free elections in 1989, the Islamists of various brands got around 40 per cent of the seats in Parliament. The Jordanians have since then cheated in the elections systematically to keep the Islamists out. They changed the election law, fraud, violence – whatever you like – anything but allowing the Islamists to cash in on a free election.
3. Israelis prepare to vote: Palestinians prepare to fight
For some Palestinians, the election is not about removing Netanyahu from power. Rather, it is about removing Israel from the face of the earth and replacing it with an Islamist empire. Kerry’s statement about the revival of the peace process shows that he remains oblivious to the reality in the Middle East, particularly with regards to the Palestinians. Kerry is ignoring the fact that the Palestinians are today divided into two camps; one that wants to destroy Israel through terrorism and jihad and another that is working hard to delegitimize and isolate Israel with the hope of forcing it to its knees.
4. The evolution of Israeli politics
Editorial, The Economist, 15 March 2015
The latest opinion polls suggest that a parliamentary election on March 17th may leave the Knesset as fractured as ever. Eleven parties are likely to gain seats. Even a grand coalition of the rivals Likud and Zionist Union, the two largest factions, would be unable to secure a majority. How did Israeli politics become so tangled? One obvious explanation is the ideological, religious and ethnic diversity of a country made up of Jews from many corners of the world.
5. Israel’s gilded age
While Israel’s economy has grown, this growth has been accompanied by a disturbing transformation in the country’s income distribution and society. Once upon a time, Israel was a country of egalitarian ideals — the kibbutz population was always a small minority, but it had a large impact on the nation’s self-perception. And it was a fairly equal society in reality, too, right up to the early 1990s. Since then, however, Israel has experienced a dramatic widening of income disparities. Key measures of inequality have soared; Israel is now right up there with America as one of the most unequal societies in the advanced world. And Israel’s experience shows that this matters, that extreme inequality has a corrosive effect on social and political life.
6. Russia flexes its muscle in the Middle East
With tension arising in the relationship between Mr. Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Russian presence in Syria represents an enhanced threat to Israel. The Shia axis of Syria, Iran and Hezbollah under the protection of Russia is a daunting prospect. Russian nuclear power plants in Syria could lead to enriched uranium and the possibility of nuclear weapons, even though Syria signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. Moreover, Iran could transfer fissile material to its neighbour and vassal state should an agreement emerge in June that gives Iran a green light on further uranium enrichment.
7. Can Benjamin Netanyahu win again?
In Israeli politics, left and right are not defined primarily by economic policy, nor religion, nor ethnicity, though these all matter. The central dispute is, as it has been since Zionism’s early days, over land. The leftists are the heirs of Ben-Gurion’s pragmatic Labour Zionists, who were willing to accept less than the whole British mandate of Palestine, in the hope of gaining international acceptance, if not Arab agreement. The rightists are descendants of territorial maximalists, the “revisionists” of Zeev Jabotinsky, who argued that no concession could appease the Arabs; only an unbreachable “iron wall” would persuade them to live with the Jewish state.
8. Southern Syria: A New Front for Israel?
In early February, an alliance of Iran, the Syrian regime, and Hezbollah launched a major military offensive against rebel groups in Syria’s south, close to the borders of Israel and Jordan. This campaign bears potential strategic consequences for Israel and the Syrian theatre, and calls for close U.S. and international attention.
9. Obama, Netanyahu’s speech and American leadership
The controversy isn’t just about Iran. It’s also about America’s role in the world. The White House, quite obviously, did not stand with Netanyahu’s Israel. And it is the reality of this divide, not merely the substantive disagreements that fill it, that ultimately lies at the heart of this controversy.
10. Netanyahu comments cause doubt on stance toward Palestinians
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party released a statement on Sunday saying that a 2009 speech the premier had delivered, which expressed support for a Palestinian state, was “simply not relevant” any longer. Netanyahu’s office issued another statement late Sunday night denying that the prime minister had renounced his previous tentative support for a two-state solution.
11. The Danger of a Failed Iran Deal
If you want a nuclear Middle East, there’s no better way than to let Tehran walk away.
12. Iran’s nuclear sunset: a strategically fatal deal
The marathon nuclear negotiations are approaching a “historic” stage of potentially entering into a strategically-catastrophic agreement, as the six world powers (known as the P5+1; the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China) and Iran are shaping the final nuclear deal with reports of adding a “sunset” clause.
13. Israel is a colonial power that commits crimes daily
COSATU General Secretary says Palestinians have the right to resist when provoked and subjected to the most cruel and barbaric forms of occupation
OPINION & ANALYSIS, February 2015
Latest Zionist reads from around the world
OPINION AND ANALYSIS
1. How UN mixes, anti-Semitism, Holocaust & Israeli war crimes
While focusing on anti-Semitism has been studiously avoided by the United Nations, the subject of the Holocaust has served as the consolation prize. The UN does not want to deal with anti-Semitism because the organization would be exposed as the global platform for anti-Semitism. The foreign policy of the majority of nations today condones and even promotes anti-Semitism. Five of all the ten emergency sessions of the General Assembly in its history attacked Israel. The Assembly did not hold one emergency session about genocide in Rwanda or Sudan. The most insidious argument is the ignorant and twisted claim that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict exacerbates anti-Semitism. At the root of this assertion is the idea that the victims of anti-Semitism have a responsibility to ameliorate the pathology of their enemies. How is it possible that in a matter of days the UN apparatus went from discussing anti-Semitism, to the Holocaust, to Israeli war crimes?
2. Islam and appeasement
Europe and America are impaled on the horns of a strategic dilemma. On the one hand, the world is besieged by jihadi religious terror, barbarity, and serial wars with jihadists. Concurrently, most of the civilized world defends the very religious cultures, Sunni and Shia Islam especially, where the problems originate. To be clear at the outset; with Islam today, there seems to be less and less daylight between secular and religious imperatives.
3. Defeating Islamic State requires comprehensive strategy
Speaking before the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last month, Secretary of State John Kerry described global terrorism as “nothing more than criminal anarchy, a nihilism which illegitimately claims an ideological and religious foundation.” Is he serious? A de facto Islamic caliphate has now been established in the heart of the Middle East and Kerry sees it as nothing more than a criminal conspiracy. Quick, call the cops.
4. Egypt’s war in Sinai: a struggle that goes beyond Egypt
Egypt is in the midst of a war that can be categorized as a low-intensity conflict. This category represents a common pattern of military campaigns in the early twenty-first century: sub-conventional wars fought by armies and security services belonging to states against armies of terrorilla- fully armed and hierarchical organizations that operate among civilian populations, combining guerilla and terror warfare tactics with the logic of terrorism. Egypt’s campaign in Sinai has tremendous significance for Israel.
5. Anti-Semitism is once more on the march in Europe
Anti-Semitism is the most durable and pliable of all conspiracy theories. It supposedly accounts for the death of Christ and the Jewish dominance of the liberal media. It carefully noted the disproportionate number of Jews in the communist movement and in the capitalist movement. Anti-Semitism can account for the wealth of the Jews and their scientific and artistic achievements. They are – we are – a most nimble people. We’ve had to be.
6. Obama’s secret Iran strategy
The president has long been criticized for his lack of strategic vision. But what if a strategy, centred on Iran, has been in place from the start and consistently followed to this day? And how eager is the president to see Iran break through its isolation and become a very successful regional power? Very eager.
11 Reads for week of 28 January 2015
OPINION AND ANALYSIS
Week Ending 28 January 2015
1. Christians in the Holy Land: don’t call us Arabs
Long identified as part of the country’s minority Arab population, Israel’s Christian community has recently begun asserting its own unique identity—one that is deeply tied to the Jewish State of Israel. Meet the Arameans.
2. The delirium of anti-Zionism
Last week many were quick to hail the United Nations conference on anti-Semitism as a hopeful step forward. The fact that just 37 of the 193 UN member states even bothered to send delegates should be demonstration enough of just how little many countries care about the modern-day revival of global Jew hatred.
3. Obama’s slap of Israel is shameful and dangerous
Mr. Obama’s leadership in the Middle East has been abysmal. Maybe he’s not openly hostile to Israel. Yet he’s not doing that nation — or, his own — any favours by snubbing Mr. Netanyahu or going soft on nukes. The only beneficiary is the country that’s gaining strength — Iran.
4. Iran doesn’t need nuclear weapons
In his State of the Union address, President Obama forcefully announced he would not accept “a nuclear-armed Iran.” This reflects his view that the only objectionable element of Iran’s behaviour would be acquisition and possible use of such weapons. This is conveniently narrow.
5. Time to take it to Iran
It is time to acknowledge that we need a revamped coercive strategy, one that threatens what the Islamic Republic values the most – its influence in the Middle East and its standing at home. And the pattern of concessions at the negotiating table must stop if there is to be an acceptable agreement. Iranian officials must come to understand that there will be no further concessions to reach an accord and that time is running out for negotiations.
6. Islamic State deepens its grip in a future Palestine
Hamas cannot afford a situation where another Islamist terror group poses a challenge to its exclusive control over the Gaza Strip. Since seizing control over the Gaza Strip in 2007, Hamas has successfully suppressed the emergence of rival forces, first and foremost the secular Fatah faction headed by Mahmoud Abbas. But if until recently it was Fatah that posed a challenge and threat to Hamas’s rule, now it is the Islamic State and its supporters in the Gaza Strip are openly defying the Islamist movement’s regime.
7. Iran’s new terror base against Israel
The new base in Syria gives Hezbollah the option of attacking Israel and drawing Israel’s return fire away from Lebanon, where its most precious assets are hidden: well over 100,000 rockets and missiles that might be saved for a future battle over Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
8. Response to UN’s Ban Ki-moon from Amb. Alan Baker
The ICC is rapidly and unjustifiably, – and doubtless against its own better interests – being manipulated to become a politicized “Israel-bashing” body, at the initiative of the Palestinian leadership which wrongfully perceives, and widely represents the Court as being their own private judicial tribunal, in order to conduct their political campaign against Israel.
9. The media take us for a walk
The duty of the Israeli government is to safeguard Jews wherever they are. Netanyahu feels that the most effective way to implement this basic tenet of Zionism is by advocating aliya to Israel. It is easier to safeguard people here than in the Diaspora. France’s political leadership did not like this call, but the Jews of France showered Netanyahu with praise and appreciation. The Israeli media, however, preferred to be negative.
10. Netanyahu can win re-election by fighting corruption
Coming on the heels of a spate of revelations regarding corruption in the Israeli government – as well as worrisome signs of dysfunction in Israeli governance, exposed during last summer’s unresolved campaign against Hamas – the Israeli public was shocked again recently by yet more revelations of pervasive corruption in high places. Now a dark cloud on the political horizon, corruption (as well as its neglect by the authorities) shows signs of developing into a major political storm. It could deeply affect the upcoming March elections, in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will have to defend his seat against a still fragmented – but very determined – opposition that will run on the slogan “anyone but Bibi.”
11. Hypocrisy after the Paris terror attacks
World leaders, including our own, have been decidedly reluctant to identify this problem. What needs to be said is that there is a problem in a segment of the Muslim world. It is extremism that justifies and celebrates killing individuals for angering them and Jews just for being Jews. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, however, insisted that the attacks had nothing to do with religion, characterizing them as “criminality.” If it was just criminality, then what happened at the Hyper Cacher supermarket was a hold-up, and not anti-Semitism.
Opinion & Analysis – 21 January
Nine great Zionism reads from around the world
OPINION AND ANALYSIS
Week Ending 21 January 2015
- Chomsky: Paris attacks show hypocrisy of West’s outrage
The more we can blame some crimes on enemies, the greater the outrage; the greater our responsibility for crimes — and hence the more we can do to end them — the less the concern, tending to oblivion or even denial. Contrary to the eloquent pronouncements, it is not the case that “Terrorism is terrorism. There’s no two ways about it.” There definitely are two ways about it: theirs versus ours. And not just terrorism.
2. The ICC decision to open a preliminary examination: Cause for concern, not panic
Once the position was adopted that “Palestine” is a state that can join the Rome Statute, it was clear that a Palestinian request to carry out an investigation of the events would be met. Israel should respond calmly and determine the correct course of action in order to minimize the damages of such an examination and increase the chances of preventing an actual investigation. Harsh responses, even if they are related to the election campaign in Israel, are not the correct path.
3. Je suis Charlie? Maybe. Je suis Juif? Not really.
Comparing Israel, the sole democracy in the Middle East and a country regularly subjected to terrorist attacks, to the Islamic State would be surreal under any circumstances; but even more so when four European Jews have just been killed by Muslims, and when IS has not only applauded their murders but called on Muslims everywhere to commit more. But it is not, it turns out, inexplicable.
4. Charlie Hebdo and the murders in France: Islam is not the problem
The horrific murders carried out this week against the staff of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, and at a Kosher supermarket in Paris, follow a number of attacks carried out in the name of Islam. These include attacks by individuals, such as the attack on a cafe in Sydney Australia, and the Canadian parliament in Ottawa. Is this violence rooted in Islam, or do we need recourse to a larger narrative to understand what is taking place?
5. Open letter to the French President
Undoubtedly, you are unaware of the fact that President Abbas is personally responsible for punishing Palestinian journalists who dare to criticize him or express their views in public. Every day we see that the Western media, including French newspapers and magazines, does not care about such violations unless they are committed by Israel. President Abbas’s participation in the rally is an insult to the victims of the terror attacks. It is also an insult to Western values, including freedom of expression and democracy.
6. Paris marches against hatred and intolerance
They came in their millions to march in Paris and beyond to prove that they had not been cowed by the acts of a small band of murderous thugs acting in the name of religion.
7. Winning the battle, losing the war
Recall that “winning” doesn’t mean a continuous stream of air strikes, but building outposts of stability across the tortured landscapes of North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.
8. A Million Muslim March
The amount of violence in the name of Islam has hit staggering proportions. It’s overwhelming. It’s so intolerable. And yet it’s so commonplace that we are slowly becoming inured to it. We think nothing of reading that 145 innocent Islamic children are murdered by Islamic terrorists in Pakistan. We turn the next page when we read that 50 people in Baghdad were blown to smithereens. But the atrocities in Paris wake us up because it reminds us that Islamic terrorism is a threat to Western civilization itself.
9. Why Political Islam is winning
The most dramatic question of all: Political Islam may well be incompatible with modernity, but what if it is modernity that is failing in the world today, while political Islam is succeeding?
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