Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Myth of the Inevitable Jewish Minority in Israel. By Jeff Jacoby.

The myth of the inevitable Jewish minority in Israel. By Jeff Jacoby. Boston Globe, June 26, 2013.

Israel’s Jewish Demography Defies Conventions. By Yoram Ettinger. The Ettinger Report, April 5, 2013. Also at Israel Hayom.

Israel’s Demographic Miracle. By David P. Goldman. inFocus Quarterly, Spring 2013.

The One-State Solution Would Be a Nightmare. By Carlo Strenger.

No, Moshe Arens, the one-state solution would be a nightmare. By Carlo Strenger. Haaretz, June 26, 2013.

Responding to Moshe Arens’ call for West Bank Palestinians to become citizens of Israel, Carlo Strenger says history shows such a state is a recipe for disaster.

There must be 50 ways to hate an Arab. By Moshe Arens. Haaretz, June 24, 2013.

Israel Faces a Culture of Hatred and Violence. By Mortimer B. Zuckerman. U.S. News and World Report, March 21, 2011.

Itamar massacre illustrates the existential threats facing Israel.

Israel: The Binational Alternative. By Tony Judt. The New York Review of Books, October 23, 2003.

Two Responses to Professor Tony Judt. By Daniel Gordis and R. Ben. Midstream, January 2004. Also here.

Tony Judt’s Final Word on Israel. Interview by Merav Michaeli. The Atlantic, September 14, 2011.

Tony Judt’s Specious Clichés About Israel. By Jonathan S. Tobin. Commentary, June 10, 2010.

Enter the Neo-Canaanites. By Bret Stephens. NJBR, June 20, 2013. With related articles.


Moshe Arens is a rare specimen in Israel’s political landscape, and in a remarkable recent op-ed in these pages he launched an unrelenting attack on all forms of hatred against Arabs. A consistent hawk in his assessment of the Middle East’s future, he is one of the staunchest defenders of the basic liberal order and the sanctity of human rights, and he has for many years decried the many forms of anti-Arab sentiment stoked primarily by Israel’s right wingers.
For years he has argued that Israel cannot afford the establishment of a Palestinian State west of the Jordan River for reasons of security. But as opposed to many of today’s right wingers, for him there cannot be first and second class citizens in the Greater Land of Israel: all Palestinians will be citizens of the greater land of Israel, with full civic and political rights. Nothing else is even conceivable for Arens.
Arens’ record shows that he puts his money where his mouth is: during his long, distinguished political career, he has done more to move towards equal rights for Israel’s Arab citizens than any other major politician in Israel’s history. He is appalled by the current attempt to cancel Arabic as one of Israel’s official language, because he respects the identity of Arabs who have lived here for generations.
And now he has once again not only decried “price tag” attacks, but made clear that he considers Lieberman’s anti-Arab statements to be unworthy, inhuman and destructive. He is profoundly opposed to Lieberman’s plan to add Israeli territories with exclusively Arab population to the future Palestinian state to diminish Israel’s Arab Constituency.
Arens ends his recent op-ed on an interesting note: he claims that the insistence of Israel’s left that only a two-state solution will bring peace is itself partially an expression of anti-Arab sentiment. Why else, he asks should the center-left be so opposed to the inclusion of the West Bank’s Palestinians in the State of Israel?
Arens’ argument requires a serious response, because I have nothing but the highest respect for his moral and political principles. He is a liberal democrat to the depth of his heart. My disagreement with Arens is therefore empirical and pragmatic rather than ideological.
I will argue that Arens is too optimistic about human nature. He believes that rational interests primarily guide human action, and disregards the profound human need to feel part of a culture they share with others, and the desire to be governed by people they identify with.
Let me start with Arens’ insistence that the Greater Land of Israel will continue to be the homeland of the Jewish people. Its dominant narrative and national cohesion will be based on a Jewish-Zionist perspective, to which Arens is profoundly attached, and which, for him, is Israel’s raison d’être.
How can two and a half million Palestinians who have suffered under Israeli occupation for more than 46 years and have been in bitter conflict with the Zionist movement for more than a century identify with such a predominantly Jewish state? To this day I cannot fathom how the first session of the parliament of the Greater Land of Israel would function: would you expect Palestinians from the West Bank to sing Hatikva and identify with the Star of David?
But there are more general reasons to be skeptical of the viability of states that try to unify two or more ethnic groups, even if there is no violent history between them. Not only leading European politicians like Angela Merkel and David Cameron have come to believe that the multicultural ideal does not work.
A growing number of researchers in political science have become very skeptical about the possibility for state to function without a dominant culture truly accepted by the majority of the population. Recent history shows that most binational states run into troubles even if there is no history of bloodshed and violence. Czechoslovakia fell apart soon after the dismantling of the Soviet bloc; Belgium is constantly under pressure of the Flemish population that wants to secede; Scotland reserves the right to secede from Britain, so do the Québécois, the Catalan and the Basques.
There seem to be two blatant exceptions to this rule: one is Switzerland, a country that has four official languages and has been running its affairs very calmly and efficiently for centuries. But Alexander Yakobson has argued that Switzerland is not really multicultural, but rather multilingual, and that it shares a very strong common national ethos. Born and raised in Switzerland until early adulthood, I can fully confirm Yakobson’s view.
The other exception seems to be the United States, often hailed as the one, great successful model of multiculturalism. But the late Samuel Huntington, one of the great political scientists of recent times, has made a strong argument that the U.S. has never been really multicultural, but basically a White Protestant Anglo-Saxon Country. Its success in integrating waves of immigration was based on a simple principle: immigrants were offered the option to accept the Protestant work ethos and the idea of self-reliance. Those who could function in this framework could become part of the American dream.
Israel’s dominant ethos, to this day, is to have revived Jewish sovereignty after 2000 years. How exactly can we expect Palestinians to live with this ethos? Theirs is the exact opposite: their story is that Zionism was their catastrophe, their Nakba. How can these two narratives coexist within the same state? And how can we avoid a protracted struggle for demographic and political dominance in the Greater Land of Israel and endless competition for land and other resources?
As opposed to many younger members of Israel’s political right, who seem to care for Jews only, Arens is a true humanist. But unfortunately I am afraid that his well-meaning blueprint for a single state west of the Jordan will not bring peace, but an unending continuation of ethnic struggle by other means.

Here Comes the Groom. By Andrew Sullivan.

Here Comes the Groom. By Andrew Sullivan. The New Republic, August 28, 1989. Also reprinted at Slate.

Andrew Sullivan’s article laid the intellectual foundation for same-sex marriage in 1989.

Gay Marriage Now Becomes a Fight Over Religious Liberty. By Tim Carney.

Gay marriage now becomes a religious liberty fight. By Timothy P. Carney. Washington Examiner, June 29, 2013.

The Middle-Class Revolution. By Francis Fukuyama.

The Middle-Class Revolution. By Francis Fukuyama. Wall Street Journal, June 28, 2013.

All over the world, argues Francis Fukuyama, today’s political turmoil has a common theme: the failure of governments to meet the rising expectations of the newly prosperous and educated.

General George Gordon Meade: The Hero of Gettysburg. By Ralph Peters.

Section of the Gettysburg Cyclorama by Paul Philippoteaux, depicting the final climactic day of the battle (July 3, 1863).

The hero of Gettysburg. By Ralph Peters. New York Post, June 30, 2013.

Twilight of the Confederacy: How Gettysburg Changed History. By Allen C. Guelzo. National Review, July 15, 2013. Also here.

Battle Cry of Freedom. By James M. McPherson. NJBR, March 30, 2013.

The Battle of Gettysburg: 150 Years Ago. By Alan Taylor. Photo Gallery. The Atlantic, July 3, 2013.

Confederate dead gathered for burial at the edge of the Rose woods, July 5, 1863. (Alexander Gardner/Library of Congress).

George G. Meade and His Role in the Gettysburg Campaign. By Warren W. Hassler, Jr. Pennsylvania History, Vol. 32, No. 4 (October 1965).

Gettysburg: The Meade-Sickles Controversy. By Richard A. Sauers. Civil War History, Vol. 26, No. 3 (Septmeber 1980).

“We Never Expected a Battle”: The Civilians at Gettysburg, 1863. By Robert L. Bloom. Pennsylvania History, Vol. 55, No. 4 (October 1988).

The Gettysburg Cyclorama. By Paul Phlippoteaux. Full rotating panorama graphic at the Washington Post.

Rare Motion Pictures Show Civil War Veterans at the 75th Gettysburg Battle Anniversary Reunion. By Bob Janiskee. National Parks Traveler, February 11, 2009.

Gettysburg 75th Anniversary. Video. soldiersmediacenter, July 2, 2007. YouTube. Also at Vimeo, Daily Motion.


One hundred and fifty years ago tomorrow morning, two great armies slammed into each other outside a crossroads town in Pennsylvania. Neither army’s commander intended to fight at Gettysburg, but the battle took on a life of its own as reinforcements rushed to the sound of the guns. Soldiers in blue and gray would fight for three days, leaving almost 7,000 Americans dead and 30,000 wounded.

At the close of the battle on July 3, 1863, the Army of the Potomac, led by Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade — the most underrated soldier in our history — had won the Union’s first indisputable victory in the east. With Gettysburg’s strategic effect compounded by news of Grant’s capture of Vicksburg, Miss., on July 4, the Confederacy was left with no realistic chance of winning the war militarily (although the South’s valiant, stubborn troops would fight on for two more years). The secessionist government in Richmond could only hope to conjure a political settlement.

Revisionist historians question Gettysburg’s decisiveness, given that the war continued. They fail to note the consequences, had General Robert E. Lee and his boys in gray won: In less than a week, Lee’s ferocious ragamuffins would have marched down Broad Street in Philadelphia; the North would have been pressured to sue for peace; and England and France would have found the excuse their social elites longed for to intervene on the South’s behalf.
Gen. Meade and his soldiers in blue saved our Union on those blood-soaked fields.

The North had the greater population, wealth and industrial might at the war’s beginning in 1861, yet poor generalship and poisonous politics led to one humbling Union defeat after another — especially in Virginia, where Lee took command in 1862 and scored astonishing victories.

Not two months before Gettysburg, at Chancellorsville, Lee had again humiliated a far-stronger Union force, driving it back toward Washington. The North’s premier army had become accustomed to losing. The situation had grown so bad that senior generals declined command of the Army of the Potomac to protect their reputations.

As Lee’s army’s rampaged through southern Pennsylvania and threatened Harrisburg, a frustrated President Lincoln sacked Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker (who had failed miserably at Chancellorsville). Lincoln ordered the relatively junior Meade to take command.
Awakened in the middle of the night three days before the first shots at Gettysburg, Meade initially thought he was being arrested because of a spat with Hooker. Instead, he learned that he was to take the reins of a dispersed, defeated army and stop Robert E. Lee.

It was one of those instances of the right man in the right place at the right time. A West Point-trained engineer and personally courageous, Meade promptly set about concentrating his forces, inspecting the terrain for the best fighting ground and pushing out his cavalry to find Lee. Thanks to his slovenly predecessor, he didn’t even have a map of southern Pennsylvania.

Called upon as the president’s last resort, George Gordon Meade would become the first Union general to defeat Lee in a fair fight on open fields. Southerners and jealous Northerners alike would never forgive him.


Robert E. Lee had begun his invasion of Pennsylvania by making one mistake after another. His string of resounding victories had led him to believe that his Army of Northern Virginia was invincible and, over-confident, he allowed his dashing cavalry commander, Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, to take most of his horsemen off on a useless raid, leaving Lee blind to his opponent’s whereabouts and actions. Lee also permitted the dispersal of his three mighty corps over hundreds of square miles, leaving his army divided by South Mountain and its narrow passes.
As a result, when one of his corps’ forward elements marched down a country road toward Gettysburg from the west on the morning of July 1 — under stern orders not to become “decisively engaged” — its officers thought they only faced ill-trained militia. Instead, they blundered into Brig. Gen. John Buford’s seasoned cavalrymen — who knew how to take advantage of the terrain when fighting dismounted. And Buford had reported diligently on the Confederates’ locations before the fighting commenced.

Meade force-marched his nearest corps to Buford’s support. Still unsure of whether Gettysburg was the right place to give battle, Meade further tightened his grip on his forces. At the same time, he resisted the temptation to hurry to the battlefield himself. He had the professionalism to grasp that, as an army-level commander, he had to maintain control of his entire force and not become enmeshed in actions best left to subordinates. Until he was sure that Gettysburg’s situation favored his army, he meant to remain flexible.

Lee did the opposite. Rushing to the sound of the guns, he found a failing chain of command launching piecemeal attacks. Throughout the battle, Lee would discover too late that subordinates had ignored or amended his orders — with fateful consequences. Much of the fault lay in Lee’s gentlemanly habit of couching orders almost as suggestions. At Gettysburg, Lee’s subordinates behaved like knights in the novels of Walter Scott, each with his personal retinue and vanity.

Meade, by contrast, insisted on disciplined staff work, prioritization and teamwork: By Gettysburg, the Army of the Potomac was on the verge of becoming the first truly modern military organization. In so many ways, this war was a struggle between a romanticized past and a modernizing world. In retrospect, the outcome seems inevitable.

Despite the death of one of the North’s most-admired officers, Maj. Gen. John Reynolds, the men in blue had badly stung the Confederate all morning, devastating proud regiments. The battle expanded from the west to the north of town, as the Union I Corps filled in on the left and the XI Corps curved over the fields on the Union right. The “meeting engagement” appeared headed toward a Union victory.

Then tragedy struck.

Brig. Gen. Francis Channing Barlow, Harvard valedictorian of the Class of 1855 and kin to New England’s “best” families, was a rising star who would go on to become the Union’s most-savage division commander of the war. But at Gettysburg, Frank Barlow would have his worst day of the conflict.

When Barlow, newly appointed to division command, arrived on the Union’s right flank, he didn’t like his assigned position. Without notifying his superiors, he moved his men forward a half-mile to what he believed was better terrain. Promoted too swiftly, he failed to grasp how his division’s mission supported the overall plan.

Barlow’s blunder opened two wide holes in the Union line — just as Confederate reinforcements poured in on that flank. The result was a collapse of the Northern defense. But the badly wounded — and well-connected — Barlow was never blamed. Instead, the scapegoats were the German immigrants in the XI Corps, even though Southern memoirs describe them as fighting harder than Yankees had ever done.

As the Union right disintegrated, Rebel blows directed by Lee against the Yankee left punched through that flank, too. Soon, Union troops were retreating madly through Gettysburg’s streets, with hundreds captured by advancing Confederates. It appeared that Gettysburg would be another one-day victory for Lee.
Beyond the town, the key position was a hilltop cemetery and the ridge running southward from it — the last, best defensible terrain. As the afternoon smoldered into evening, Lee directed his left-flank corps commander to seize Cemetery Hill and finish things.
Lt. Gen. Richard Ewell ignored the order. And Union reinforcements raced to the high ground. The battle would last two more days.


Arriving on the field after midnight to inspect the ground himself, Meade decided that Gettysburg was a promising place to fight. Now it was a race to see which army could concentrate first. Meade believed he could win it.

As for Lee, his pride was up, deepened by anger over missed opportunities. But his intelligence was poor; he never gathered all of his subordinates together to issue clear orders (Meade did); and his staff officers let him down repeatedly. On top of all that, he was ill and cranky, dismissing the concerns of his senior corps commander, Lt. Gen. James Longstreet. Lee believed valor could overcome any obstacle.

It almost did. Despite more blundering and a late start to Lee’s key attack, the Rebels came close to shattering Meade’s defense, fighting deep into the evening. The combat was close and vicious at such now-famed sites as Little Round Top, Devil’s Den, the Wheatfield and Culp’s Hill. As each side piled on more men, the day’s outcome veered back and forth.
In the dying light, Meade faced a crisis. After his plan had been all but wrecked by the incompetence of Maj. Gen. Dan Sickles — a Tammany Hall politician who’d wangled a corps command — Meade had shifted troops brilliantly, plugging one gap after another, parrying each Rebel thrust. Now he was out of men and anxiously awaiting the arrival of his last reinforcements. He found himself on horseback in mid-battlefield with just four aides and couriers beside him.

A full Rebel brigade emerged from the smoke, heading straight for Meade and the stripped-bare Union center. Instead of running, Meade drew his sword, ready to charge that entire brigade and die fighting. Just as he was about to give the order to gallop forward, Union banners crested the darkening ridge behind him. And the last Confederate hope for the day was crushed. 

Two exhausted armies slept amid the rising stench of the dead and the groans of the wounded. Everyone knew they would fight again the next day. 

July 2 should have taught Lee the limits of valor, but his pride swelled into arrogance: He was not going to be defeated by upstart George Meade. In one of his worst decisions of the war, he ordered over 12,000 of his soldiers to attack across a mile of open fields against the Union center. Accustomed to defeating the men in blue, he convinced himself that one more blow would bring him victory.

Meade sensed what was coming and reorganized his lines to face the blow. Then he waited. Shortly after noon on July 3, the Rebels began a deafening bombardment — answered in careful measure by the Yankees. When the guns fell silent and the smoke thinned, long lines of men in gray and brown emerged from the trees, flags flying.

Doomed from the beginning, what should rightly be called the Pickett-Pettigrew Charge became a much-romanticized disaster: A handful of brave Confederates survived the crossfire of massed Union guns and the rifle volleys to reach the Union lines. But they were too few.

Tears in his eyes, Lee rode out into the field to greet the retreating survivors. Along the Union line the troops began cheering: They had finally defeated Robert E. Lee.

After Meade failed to oblige him with an equally doomed counterattack, Lee retreated back toward Virginia. Terrified just days before, Washington responded to Meade’s stunning victory by criticizing him for not destroying Lee’s army — an army with plenty of fight left in it, as the next two years would show. The gratitude of politicians was as slight then as it is now.

Meade organized a pursuit of Lee as quickly as he could, slowed by his own severe losses, the tens of thousands of wounded left on the field, and troops who were out of food and ammunition. He had just done the impossible and was damned for not doing the impossible twice in a row.

Still, Meade would be the only commander of the Army of the Potomac never dismissed. He would serve until the last victory. Those who mattered knew his worth.

Perversely, after the war it was Lee who’d be lionized. Meade died only a half-dozen years after the peace, while his arch-detractors, North and South, lived into the 20 century — not least Dan Sickles, who had almost lost the battle for the North.
Sickles spent decades belittling Meade and claiming that he was Gettysburg’s real hero. Worst of all, Meade never pandered to the press — and suffered the consequences.

But the man ordered to take command of a defeated army three days before the war’s decisive battle had done his country an immeasurable service — outfighting the South’s greatest soldier when it counted most. As a soldier myself, I’m amazed at Meade’s performance. But the truly amazing thing is that, on this 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, this great American is slighted when not forgotten.

George Gordon Meade. By Matthew Brady.

Three “Johnnie Reb” Prisoners, captured at Gettysburg, in 1863. (Mathew Brady/Library of Congress).

The Anti-Amnesty Movement’s Underbelly. By Matt K. Lewis.

The anti-amnesty movement’s underbelly. By Matt K. Lewis. The Week, June 26, 2013.

Some anti-immigration activists are motivated by a simple, ugly thing: Racism.

Reports of America’s Decline Have Been Greatly Exaggerated. By Walter Russell Mead.

Reports of America’s Decline Have Been Greatly Exaggerated. By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, June 30, 2013.

While Britain stagnates, America is roaring back. By Daniel W. Drezner. The Spectator, June 29, 2013.

American power in the 21st century will be defined by the “rise of the rest.” By Joseph W. Nye. Washington Post, June 28, 2013.

How to Get More Women (and Men) to Call Themselves Feminists. By Christina Hoff Sommers.

How to Get More Women (and Men) to Call Themselves Feminists. By Christina Hoff Sommers. The Atlantic, June 25, 2013.

Focus on injustice, poverty, and women in parts of the world beyond the United States.

“The sword is drawn, the Navy upholds it!” Painted by Kenyon Cox, N.A. 1917. Library of Congress.
 An image of feminist empowerment from World War I.

A New Samson Mosaic Revealed at the 5th-Century AD Synagogue in Huqoq.

The Face of an Israelite Judge: Another Samson mosaic revealed at Huqoq. By Megan Sauter. Bible History Daily, June 27, 2013.

New mosaics discovered in synagogue excavations in Galilee. UNC News, June 24, 2013.

Strong as an ox, Samson effortlessly carries the gate of Gaza on his shoulders in this newly discovered mosaic decorating the floor of the fifth-century A.D. synagogue at Huqoq. Photo by Jim Haberman.

Greece Eats Austerity Lentils. By Joanna Kakissis.

Austerity Lentils. By Joanna Kakissis. Foreign Policy, July/August 2012.

Why Cold War Presidents Were Better. By Robert Kaplan.

Why Cold War Presidents Were Better. By Robert Kaplan. Real Clear World, June 27, 2013.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Eight Reasons Straight Men Don’t Want To Get Married. By Helen Smith.

8 Reasons Straight Men Don’t Want To Get Married. By Helen Smith. The Huffington Post, June 20, 2013.

America in 2013 AD is Rome in 200 AD. By Victor Davis Hanson.

The Glue Holding America Together. By Victor Davis Hanson. National Review Online, June 27, 2013.


As it fragments into various camps, the country is being held together by a common popular culture.
By A.D. 200, the Roman Republic was a distant memory. Few citizens of the global Roman Empire even knew of their illustrious ancestors like Scipio or Cicero. Millions no longer spoke Latin. Italian emperors were a rarity. There were no national elections.

Yet Rome endured as a global power for three more centuries. What held it together?
A stubborn common popular culture and the prosperity of Mediterranean-wide standardization kept things going. The Egyptian, the Numidian, the Iberian, and the Greek assumed that everything from Roman clay lamps and glass to good roads and plentiful grain was available to millions throughout the Mediterranean world.
As long as the sea was free of pirates, thieves were cleared from the roads, and merchants were allowed to profit, few cared whether the lawless Caracalla or the unhinged Elagabalus was emperor in distant Rome.
Something likewise both depressing and encouraging is happening to the United States. Few Americans seem to worry that our present leaders have lied to or misled Congress and the American people without consequences.
Most young people cannot distinguish the First Amendment from the Fourth Amendment — and do not worry about the fact that they cannot. Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln are mere names of grammar schools, otherwise unidentifiable to most.
Separatism is believed to bring dividends. Here in California, universities conduct separate graduation ceremonies predicated on race — sometimes difficult given the increasingly mixed ancestry of Americans.
As in Rome, there is a vast disconnect between the elites and the people. Almost half of Americans receive some sort of public assistance, and almost half pay no federal income tax. About one-seventh of Americans are on food stamps.
Yet housing prices in elite enclaves — Manhattan, Cambridge, Santa Monica, Palo Alto — are soaring. The wealthy like to cocoon themselves in Roman-like villas, safe from the real-life ramifications of their own utopian ideology.
The government and the media do their best to spread the ideals of radical egalitarianism while avoiding offense to anyone. There is no official War on Terror or against radical Islamism. Instead, in “overseas contingency operations,” we fight “man-caused disasters,” while at home, we deal with “workplace violence.”
In news stories that involve crimes with divisive racial themes, the media frequently paper over information about the perpetrators. But that noble restraint only seems to incite readers. In reckless fashion they often post the most inflammatory online comments about such liberal censorship. Officially, America celebrates diversity; privately, America is fragmenting into racial, political, and ideological camps.
So why is the United States not experiencing something like the rioting in Turkey or Brazil, or the murder of thousands in Mexico? How are we able to avoid the bloody chaos of Syria, the harsh dictatorships of Russia and China, the implosion of Egypt, or the economic hopelessness now endemic in southern Europe?
About half of America and many of its institutions operate as they always have. Caltech and MIT are still serious. Neither interjects race, class, and gender studies into its engineering or physics curricula. Most in the IRS, unlike some of their bosses, are not corrupt. For the well driller, the power-plant operator, and the wheat farmer, the lies in Washington are still mostly an abstraction.
Get up at 5:30 A.M. and you’ll see that your local freeways are jammed with hard-working commuters. They go to work every day, support their families, pay their taxes, and avoid arrest — so that millions of others do not have to do the same. The U.S. military still more closely resembles our heroes from World War II than it resembles the culture of the Kardashians.
Like diverse citizens of imperial Rome, we are united in some fashion by shared popular tastes and mass consumerism. The cell phones and cars of the poor offer more computing power and better transportation than the rich enjoyed just 20 years ago.
Youth of all races and backgrounds in lockstep fiddle with their cell phones as they walk about. Jeans are an unspoken American uniform — both for Wall Street grandees and for the homeless on the sidewalks. Left, right, liberal, conservative, professor, and ditch digger have similar-looking Facebook accounts.
If Rome quieted the people with public spectacles and cheap grain from the provinces, so too Americans of all classes keep glued to favorite video games and reality-TV shows. Fast food is both cheap and tasty. All that for now is preferable to rioting and revolt.
Like Rome, America apparently can coast for a long time on the fumes of its wonderful political heritage and economic dynamism — even if both are little understood or appreciated by most who still benefit from them.

The Next War the U.S. Must Wage in the Middle East. By Max Boot and Michael Doran.

Department of Dirty Tricks. By Max Boot and Michael Doran. Foreign Policy, June 28, 2013.

Why the United States needs to sabotage, undermine, and expose its enemies in the Middle East.

McDonald’s Strikes a Blow Against Israel. By Rami G. Khouri.

McDonald’s strikes a blow for legitimacy. By Rami G. Khouri. The Daily Star (Lebanon), June 29, 2013.


The news that the McDonald’s Israel franchise decided not to open a restaurant at a new mall in the Jewish settlement of Ariel, in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank, pales in comparison with the news out of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq these days. Yet the symbolic political significance of this act may impact the region in a substantial and positive manner in the years ahead.
My reasoning is based on the following points. First, any just and mutually agreed permanent peace accord between Israelis and Palestinians will have to return all the territories occupied in 1967 to the Palestinians (with mutually agreed land swaps in some cases).
Second, this can only be achieved when a majority of Israelis accepts a principle that the entire world has already accepted: that the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem are occupied lands that Israel must relinquish, in return for Arab recognition of Israel’s demand for an end of conflict, acceptance of Israel’s legitimacy, and normal relations as peaceful neighbors.
Third, Israelis will only arrive at this point when they grasp that their continued acts of colonization will generate new and more effective international responses in the form of boycotts and sanctions.
Fourth, this delegitimization of Israeli colonization policies may be critical to heightening global and Israeli appreciation that Israel in its pre-1967 lands has the right to live peacefully within secure and recognized borders if it also recognizes parallel Palestinian rights. However, Israeli colonization in occupied Palestinian and other Arab lands is illegal, will not be tolerated, and will increasingly be fought through all available legal means.
Fifth, international business firms that boycott Israeli colonies are an important part of the growing movement to politically pressure Israel to reverse its colonization and annexation measures, and to negotiate a permanent peace accord that includes a sovereign Palestinian state and an agreed resolution of the refugees issue.
The realtor who is marketing the retail spaces in the Ariel mall has said that other commercial firms also expressed concerns about operating in occupied lands, presumably because this could subject them to international consumer boycott campaigns that have caused some other international firms to lose business, including Adidas, Veolia and G4S. This slowly expanding international business sector campaign to highlight the illegality of Israel’s colonization endeavor is matched by continuing efforts by some leading churches in the West to divest from investments in companies that are based in or exploit the resources of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.
Some international artists or academics have also refused to engage with Israelis for the same reason. Such boycotts or divestments are relatively few today, but they are growing steadily, gaining more publicity, and hurting Israel and the Zionist enterprise where it hurts most – in the soft underbelly of their stained legitimacy.
This is one of the ways in which the apartheid system of South Africa eventually collapsed under the unbearable weight of its own self-inflicted international isolation. I am convinced that a similar process must unfold with Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories that are increasingly compared to apartheid practices.
Israelis and their zealot apologists in the West complain that boycotting Israel is a form of anti-Semitism and seeks to delegitimize the very existence of the state. Both of those are false accusations, and worn-out Zionist intimidation tactics that increasingly fall on deaf ears, because Israel’s blatant disregard for international law and its demeaning mistreatment of the Palestinians under its occupation for almost half a century have become so offensive to both human sensibilities and the rule of law.

Boycotts, divestments and sanctions differentiate sharply between Israel’s right to exist within its pre-1967 borders and its unacceptable actions in the occupied territories. The campaign to boycott and sanction Israeli colonization does not primarily aim to delegitimize Israel, but rather to delegitimize and end the criminality that Israel and Zionism practice in the occupied territories. Other aspects of these campaigns also highlight Israel’s mistreatment and denial of rights of Palestinians who are Israeli citizens within the state’s 1948 borders, and the Palestinian refugees scattered around the world.
The courageous decision of the McDonald’s Israel franchise may generate a campaign against the fast food chain’s products around the world by Zionist and pro-Israel groups that have used such pressures in other cases (such as threats to withdraw advertising from National Public Radio stations in the United States for alleged pro-Palestinian broadcasts).
It is important in these cases to resist the intellectual terrorism and political intimidation that Zionist groups will use against those who dare to point out that Israeli colonization – like South African apartheid – is an act of international criminality that must cease. That is, if the legitimate state of Israel within its original 1948 borders is to have any chance of living peacefully, and legitimately, with its neighbors, who should enjoy the same rights to secure statehood as Israel demands.

For Israel, Jewish Identity Must Trump Democracy. By Hagai Segal.

Jewish before democratic. By Hagai Segal. Ynet News, June 26, 2013.


Our Declaration of Independence includes 650 words. The word “Jewish,” in its different forms, appears 20 times, while the word “democracy” doesn’t even appear once.
The people who drafted the declaration and signed it had the highest regard for democratic values, but first and foremost they wanted to stress its Jewish side. Perhaps they said to themselves that there are many democracies in the world, but only one Jewish country. It’s important to protect it.
These days it’s even more important. From the outside and from within attempts are being made to undermine the Jewish character of the Jewish state. The dark forces rely on the fatigue of the Zionist material in order to internationalize Israel and declare it a state of all its citizens. They are taking advantage of the fact that over the years the fashion here has changed, and democracy has been emphasized at the expense of Judaism.
The Knesset members of the new era have ignored the Declaration of Independence’s list of priorities, and the High Court of Justice has acted as if it were based in The Hague. Sacred Zionist terms like “the Judaization of the Galilee” have turned into bad words. An MK from the Labor Party has expressed her opinion that “Hatikva” is a racist anthem. A ministerial initiative to wave a flag at schools has been presented as a wretched nationalistic idea. For the first time in the history of Israel, a proposal has been submitted to the Knesset to declare the Nakba as a national commemorative date. It would not have been submitted had the “nation state bill” been approved by the previous Knesset.
When Netanyahu demands that Abbas recognize us as a Jewish state, the Left says this demand stems from an inferiority complex: Why should we care if Abbas recognizes us or not? After all, it is clear that Israel is a Jewish state.
Well, it’s not so clear anymore. It’s time for us to come to our senses and turn the good old list of priorities from 1948 into a law. Israel’s right to define itself as a Jewish state is as important as its right to defend itself militarily. Don’t worry, it will continue to serve as an exemplary democracy, but it will finally start restoring its Jewish interest.

Egypt in Crisis.

Opponents of Egypt’s Islamist President Mohammed Morsi gather for noon prayers in Tahrir Square, the focal point of Egyptian uprising, in Cairo Sunday, June 30, 2013. Organizers of a mass protest against Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi claimed Saturday that more than 22 million people have signed their petition demanding the Islamist leader step down, asserting that the tally was a reflection of how much the public has turned against his rule. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil).

A Light Fails in Egypt. By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, June 29, 2013.


Is Egypt’s revolution falling apart? Clashes between anti-government protestors and Muslim Brotherhood supporters turned deadly yesterday, leaving at least three—including an American college student—dead. These clashes come ahead of massive country-wide demonstrations against President Morsi scheduled for Sunday. The NYT reports that on-the-ground forces are even speaking of a civil war:
The use of firearms is becoming more common on all sides. Secular activists who once chanted, “peaceful, peaceful,” now joke darkly about the inevitability of violence: “Peaceful is dead.”
…Egypt’s most respected Muslim cleric warned in a statement this weekend of potential “civil war.”
It’s hard for the American press to wrap its head around what’s happening in Egypt. The Western media instinctively wants to view the conflict as Islamists vs. secularists or liberals, with the future of democracy at stake. The reality is both darker and more complicated, but at best only a handful journalists have the intellectual chops to make sense of this picture, or the writing ability to help American readers understand a reality so different from our own experience here at home.
Leslie Chang gets closer than most in this piece in the New Yorker, but the problems are even deeper than the ones she puts her finger on. Based on interviews with leaders in the anti-Morsi movement, Chang correctly points out that Egypt’s opposition is neither particularly coherent nor interested in governing. The looming protests were organized by a movement known as Tamarod, or “rebellion” in Arabic—a movement founded mostly by young Egyptians whose sole goal is to drive Morsi from power.” I have yet to meet a politician with a substantive plan to overhaul a system of food and fuel subsidies that eats up almost one third of the budget, or to reform the education sector, or to stimulate foreign investment.”
She continues:
After two years of watching politicians on both sides of the fence squabble and prevaricate and fail to improve their lives, Egyptians appear to be rejecting representative democracy, without having had much of a chance to participate in it. In a country with an increasingly repressive regime and no democratic culture to draw on, protest has become an end in itself—more satisfying than the hard work of governance, organizing, and negotiation. This is politics as emotional catharsis, a way to register rage and frustration without getting involved in the system.
It would be a mistake to attribute the ineffectiveness of Egypt’s opposition to the purely personal failings and intellectual blind spots of the people currently prominent in its ranks. We are looking at something more deeply rooted and harder to fix. An intense rage and dissatisfaction with the status quo without any idea in the world how to make anything better: this is the typical condition of revolutionary movements in countries without a history of effective governance or successful development. It is also often typical of political movements in countries dominated by a youth bulge. The unhappiest countries are the places where this large youth bulge comes up against failed governance and curdled hope. Think Pakistan, where a comprehensive failure of civil and military leadership is turning one of the world’s most beautiful countries into one of its most miserable ones.
Inexperienced 18 years olds who have grown up in corrupt, poorly governed societies, and been educated in trashy schools by incompetent hacks know very well that the status quo is unacceptable. Young people who know they are being ripped off and abused are typically not very patient. Throw in healthy doses of sexual frustration and contempt for an establishment that has lost confidence in its own capacity to lead, and you have a cocktail much more explosive than anything Molotov knew.
Egypt’s university system is particularly destructive. Year after year it turns out people with paper credentials, high expectations, and no real skills or understanding of how the world works. Those who manage to acquire real skills often go work in the Gulf, where Egyptian expats are able to have something approaching an effective professional career. But many Egyptian secondary school and university graduates end up in the worst of all possible worlds: too well-educated to accept the grinding poverty, soul-crushing drudgery and lack of status that so many jobs there entail, but not well-educated enough to build a better future for themselves or to organize effectively to remedy the ills of a society that creates such a dismal trap for youth.
Countries like Egypt a critical mass of people with a vision of how to build a modern society and an ideology through which they can effectively mobilize the majority to support a project which the masses of the people may not fully understand. In much of the developing world in the twentieth century, the critical mass was made up of a small number of people with advanced western education and the ideology was one or another of the varieties of social nationalism that dominated that century in much of the world. Whether communist and totalitarian as in Russia, China or Vietnam, democratic socialist as in India, nationalist and quasi-capitalist as in Ataturk’s Turkish Republic and Peron’s Argentina, or any of the other varieties of twentieth century developmentalist ideology, these big ideas and grand visions mobilized populations for the difficult work of transformation and uplift.
A significant source of Egypt’s trouble today is that it has already had one ideological transformation and convulsive moderation under the charismatic leadership of President Nasser. Nasser captured the hearts and minds of the Egyptians as no one else has done, mobilized the entire energy and enthusiasm of the nation for a great project of renewal and development, and failed horribly, utterly and humiliatingly. The shocking 1967 defeat by Israel was the most dramatic sign of the failure to make Egypt a modern and effective country, but signs of Nasserite economic, social and technological failure litter Egypt even today. Egyptians grow up in the rubble of shattered dreams, in a society corrupted and degraded by the long aftermath of disillusion and despair.

Islamism in its various forms is the sole candidate in Egypt for an ideological alternative to the corpse of Nasserist nationalism; it has sold itself to the masses as the once-rejected rival to nationalism whose time has finally come. For decades, often under conditions of persecution and repression, the Muslim Brotherhood and similar movements demonstrated an idealism and a public spirit that the corrupt heirs of Nasser could not match. They operated soup kitchens for the poor; they offered young people patronage and improved educational access. Building on centuries of national tradition and religious aspiration, they developed a comprehensive, all-embracing world view that offered, or appeared to offer, answers to the three great problems of Egypt’s youthful population.
First, Islamist economic policy administered by an honest and competent government would address the poverty and lack of opportunity afflicting so many Egyptians. Second, Islamist ideas would help the youth make sense of a chaotic and confusing world filled with disturbing ideas and values. And last but not least, Islamist success would restore dignity to Egyptians as human beings, as Egyptian citizens, as Arabs and as Muslims by overcoming backwardness and making Egypt self-sufficient and free-standing, respected in the world.
That was the dream. Morsi’s biggest problem never was, and still is not today, the twittering liberals of early Tahrir; western oriented secular liberalism has a long way to go before it can become a significant ideological force among the masses in Egypt. His greatest ideological opponents are cynicism and despair and he is in such deep trouble today because the collapsing economy and the general paralysis make him look like another snake oil salesmen selling a fake route to progress. What if Islamism like Nasser’s nationalism is a failure in Egypt? What then? What next?
Salafis, the ultra-Islamists who think Morsi’s problems stem from his failure to roll out the full glory of Islamist governance, hope that as the Muslim Brotherhood loses its appeal, their harder and purer faith will carry the day. It’s not impossible; the situation in Egypt is fluid and Islam is a powerful force in what remains a pious and serious society. But sooner or later the Salafis will come to the place in the road where Morsi stands; there is little reason to believe that more radical Islamist ideas and practices can heal what’s wrong with Egypt’s economy.
So though the Morsi government is losing its ability to govern by hope and by faith, that doesn’t mean it will fall; from an ideological and political standpoint, it has no serious opposition. A lot of people hate the government and blame it for making everything worse, but they cannot agree among themselves on an alternative course.
Whatever happens in the demonstrations scheduled for an increasingly tense country, it seems that as ideology and hope weaken, the role of force in Egypt’s government must rise. That means first and foremost the Army; flawed as this institution is, it has no rivals in Egypt. If (when) Islamism fades, force remains.
The Army, which loyally served Mubarak until, under the influence of his wife and son, the aging president sought to turn the Egyptian state into the private property of his family, knows that Egypt must have order even if it doesn’t have hope. At the height of his popularity, Morsi hoped to subordinate the Army to the Islamists; it seems clear now that the Army holds the higher cards. The Army is not necessarily opposed to having an Islamist president. It gives people something to talk about, and someone to blame other than the military.  A weak elected president with a dented mandate suits the military pretty well— and in any case many Egyptian officers are quite pious and don’t mind having a civilian government that imposes religious norms.
The really scary question in Egypt is whether things have decayed so far that the Army, either directly or indirectly, can no longer maintain order. Are so many Egyptians so angry, so disillusioned and so desperate that they will simply refuse to accept another stitched-up military backed state? If so, Egypt is less likely to explode than to implode: the economy would collapse further, food riots and other forms of violence would break out, minorities would face persecution and pogroms, criminal gangs would emerge. There could well be mass killings and civil chaos— though, despite the cleric’s words, we don’t see Egypt descending into a Syrian style civil war. Egypt lacks Syria’s ethnic and religious diversity; the largest minority group, the Copts, are too interspersed with the rest of the population to fight a civil war and are neither well-armed nor well-organized.
This would likely end in the emergence of a strong man who crushed dissent and imposed a new government, however harsh. Egypt has more than 5,000 years of continuous civilization and governance, and as a people, Egyptians have repeatedly chosen the dangers of strong government over the dangers of weakness and division. Tyranny relies on despair; combine fear of anarchy with a lack of faith in a truly bright future, and dictatorship is on its way.
Most revolutions fail and leave people worse off than before. The true believers of the Muslim Brotherhood want to keep their dream alive, and we can expect them to fight hard for that. Many ordinary Egyptians may have decided that Islamism is a flop, but the hard core true believers will argue that they haven’t had a chance to put in into practice yet. They will want to crush their opponents, tighten their grip on the state, and follow the Islamist path for many more miles before the true believers are ready to give up. They may well prevail in this next round of demonstrations and confrontations, but time is not on the Islamists’ side. Yet again, cynicism is winning its war against hope in Egypt, and yet again the Army is standing in the wings.
Nobody knows what will happen in Egypt this week, and the Muslim Brotherhood could lose the battle for public opinion but gain the power for control of the state. Sometimes revolutionary movements prevail even though they fail to satisfy the hopes that brought them to power. Revolutionaries often turn out to be failures at utopia-building, but very good at building police states.
That could be happening in Egypt this summer; we shall see. But the hopeful phase of the Egyptian Revolution has come to a close. It looks more and more as if the Muslim Brotherhood must either become a much harsher movement in a much bleaker world, or it must learn to watch power slip from its hands.

Egypt’s Petition Rebellion. By Leslie T. Chang. The New Yorker, June 28, 2013.

Egypt: Protesters Gather Nationwide To Demand Morsi’s Ouster. By Hamza Hendawi. AP. The Huffington Post, June 30, 2013.

Andrew Pochter, RIP. By Walter Russell Mead, Bryn Stole, and Jeremy Stern. Via Meadia, June 30, 2013.

American killed in Egypt, US warns against travel there., June 29, 2013.

U.S. Student Killed in Egypt Protest Was Drawn to a Region in Upheaval. By Ravi Somaiya and Erin Banco. New York Times, June 29, 2013.

For Egypt’s Liberals, Noise Doesn’t Equal Power. By Fouad Ajami. Real Clear Politics, June 28, 2013.


The Brotherhood’s stock in trade was conspiracy and a willingness to dodge mighty storms. It had waited out the protests of Tahrir Square. Those 18 magical days in 2011 that captivated outsiders and gave back Egyptians a measure of political efficacy and dignity were the work of secular liberals, Christian Copts, young men and those daring women who defied custom and tradition to come out in the public square.
Yet the Brotherhood had more than eight decades of political experience behind it. The military dictatorship had atomized the feeble liberals, leaving them unprepared for the contest over the new order. Like liberals elsewhere in hard, illiberal places, they were sure they embodied their country’s spirit.
They were trounced by the Brotherhood and the hardline Salafis in the first parliamentary elections; the judiciary, a bastion of the old order, stepped in and dissolved the parliament. The democrats didn’t own up to the truth: While Egypt has a sophisticated intellectual elite, a modernist camp, and Europe isn’t too far away, it is a poor country with a high illiteracy rate and a population that the Mubarak dictatorship had been content to leave to darkness and the rule of superstition.
In the best of worlds, the Brotherhood would have been willing to tread carefully and to acknowledge the narrow mandate it had secured with Mursi’s election. But a paranoid movement that ached for power wouldn’t show restraint. The Brotherhood lived by a majoritarian logic. Mursi was its frontman. It had a political bureau and a supreme guide.

Egypt Braces For a Fight. By Mike Giglio. The Daily Beast, June 28, 2013.

Be inclusive, Morsi, or you may face a second Egyptian revolution. By David A. Super. The Christian Science Monitor, June 28, 2013.

Will it take a second revolution to complete Egypt’s democratic transition? Anti-government protesters plan to turn out in massive numbers Sunday. President Mohamed Morsi should heed cries for more inclusiveness. Otherwise, he may find himself toppled like Mubarak.

The Egyptian State Unravels. By Mara Revkin. Foreign Affairs, June 27, 2013.

Gangs and vigilantes thrive under Morsi.

Mohamed Morsi has turned his back on Egypt’s revolution. By Sara Khorshid. The Guardian, June 27, 2013.

The president is failing to deliver on his promises, and Egyptians are growing angry with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Is a Second Revolution Really What Egypt Needs? By Shadi Hamid. The Atlantic, June 27, 2013.

President Morsi suffers from a “legitimacy deficit,” but will opposition groups gain anything from trying to oust him on Sunday?

In Egypt, Skepticism Over Religion in Politics. By Maggie Michael. Associated Press, June 27, 2013.

Egyptian Politics: Beyond the Brotherhood. By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, June 26, 2013.

“You Can’t Eat Sharia.” By Mohammed ElBaradei. Foreign Policy, July/August 2013.

Egypt is on the brink – not of something better than the old Mubarak dictatorship, but of something even worse.

Egyptians must not let their country descend into chaos. By Wadah Khanfar. The Guardian, June 25, 2013.

President Morsi has made mistakes – but Egypt’s opposition, by aligning with former regime members, is sidelining democracy.

Egypt Will Erupt Again on June 30. By Eric Trager. The New Republic, June 24, 2013.

Egypt’s youth are still clinging to the 2011 revolution. By Andrew Doran. Jerusalem Post, June 22, 2013.