Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Obstacles to a Republican Revival. By Matthew Continetti.

The Double Bind. By Matthew Continetti. The Weekly Standard, March 18, 2013. Also find it here.

What stands in the way of Republican revival? Republicans.

The Republican Path Ahead. By Peter Wehner. Commentary, March 1, 2013.

The Conclave’s Canny Choice. By Walter Russell Mead.

The Conclave’s Canny Choice. By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, March 14, 2013.

Childhood Under Fire in Syria.

A refugee camp on the Syrian border.

Two Million Syrian Children Caught in Crossfire of Conflict Entering its Third Year, Save the Children Warns. By Francine Uenuma. Save the Children, March 13, 2013.

Childhood Under Fire: The impact of two years of conflict in Syria. Save the Children, March 2013.

Two Years Later: What the Syrian War Looks Like. By Rania Abouzeid. The New Yorker, March 14, 2013.

Drive-Bys Shocked to Learn Pope Francis is Catholic. By Rush Limbaugh.

Drive-Bys Shocked to Learn Pope Francis is Catholic. By Rush Limbaugh., March 14, 2013.

Statists Must Wipe Out Religion and Instill Blind Faith in Government. By Rush Limbaugh., March 14, 2013.

The U.S. Media Just Can’t Understand the Vatican. By Jim Geraghty. National Review Online, March 14, 2013.

Limbaugh: “Pope Francis Is Bad News For The Drive-By Media.” Audio. Daily Rushbo, March 14, 2013. YouTube.

The Myth of the Jewish Exile from the Land of Israel. By Israel J. Yuval.

The Myth of the Jewish Exile from the Land of Israel: A Demonstration of Irenic Scholarship. By Israel J. Yuval. Common Knowledge, Vol. 12, No. 1 (Winter 2006).

No, Rivkele, The Jews Weren’t Driven into Exile by the Romans. By Jerry Haber. The Magnes Zionist, July 29, 2007.

Israel’s Shas Party’s Anti-Russian Election Ad: A True Jew Won’t Kiss a Russian Shikseh.

Shas Ad: A True Jew Won’t Kiss a Russian Shikseh. By Jerry Haber. The Magnes Zionist, January 9, 2013.

Shas election ads: Using Jewish conversion for incitement. By Yair Ettinger. Haaretz, January 9, 2013.

Shas to shelve controversial “conversion star” campaign ad. By Jonathan Lis. Haaretz, January 9, 2013.

Converting Israel’s conversion law. By Roni Abramson. Haaretz, January 13, 2013.

Hamas’s Disenchantment With Morsi. By Hussein Ibish.

Palestinian girls walk in front of a photograph of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi shaking hands with the Palestinian Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, in Gaza City on August 29, 2012. (Mohammed Abed / AFP / GettyImages).

Hamas’s DesengaƱo With Morsi. By Hussein Ibish. The Daily Beast, March 11, 2013.

More on Egypt and Morsi here.


English has by far the largest vocabulary of any language, but there are still times when we have to look beyond its confines to convey a particular meaning. There is a Spanish word, desengaƱo, which connotes a combination of disappointment, disenchantment, disillusionment and despair, for which we have no precise English equivalent. And this, surely, best sums up the current attitude of the Hamas rulers in Gaza towards Egypt’s new government.

Many Hamas leaders were apparently convinced that the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere would mean a radical transformation of its fortunes and hold the key to its eventual victory over secular nationalists for control of the Palestinian national movement. At a minimum, they expected the new government of President Mohammed Morsi would adopt a much friendlier foreign policy, ease the blockade, pressure Israel and provide Hamas with a steady stream of support.

As the months have dragged on, it's become clear that this not only isn’t the case, but that the Morsi government is at least as problematic from Hamas’s perspective as its much-hated Mubarak predecessor. The recent flooding of Gaza smuggling tunnels by the Egyptian military with raw sewage (in contrast to Mubarak’s occasional use of tear gas), pursuant to an Egyptian court order to close all such tunnels, is only the last straw.

Egypt has moved to stop the transfer of all goods, including huge shipments of fuel, through the tunnels and has again closed the Rafah border crossing. The Egyptian side of the blockade has never been so intense. These actions have had a devastating effect on the Gaza economy. They have brought reconstruction efforts almost to a halt, and sent the price of cement and building materials soaring. And they are costing both Hamas and Gaza businesses at least hundreds of millions of dollars, if not more, in lost revenues.

Moreover, Egypt reportedly recently refused to allow Hamas to establish a formal office in Cairo. Even more insultingly, Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood officials reportedly urged Hamas to abandon “armed struggle” against Israel and follow their example and “implement jihad in other ways.” Hamas, of course, denies these reports, but they scan perfectly with all other available information and political logic.

Several Hamas leaders in Gaza have erupted in anger in recent days, in spite of obvious efforts for many weeks to contain their rage and express “understanding” of Egypt’s predicament. Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar expressed the group’s growing infuriation by declaring, “The previous [Egyptian] regime was cruel, but it never allowed Gaza to starve.” Yet Hamas leaders, including Al-Zahar, continue to pin their hopes on an eventual transformation of the Egyptian policy and, in spite of everything, pledge undying support for Morsi.

After all, what other choice do they really have? From a practical point of view, the answer is to increase trade with Israel, and Israeli-permitted exports to Europe and elsewhere. And, to their considerable chagrin and embarrassment, this is exactly what Hamas leaders have been doing, insofar as the Israelis have allowed it. As The Economist noted, this “makes Hamas more dependent on—and subservient to—Israel, to ensure vital supplies continue,” as opposed to what they expected to be their new major partner and, indeed, salvation: the Muslim Brotherhood government in Cairo.

No doubt from a purely ideological and theoretical perspective, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is more sympathetic to Hamas at every level than the Mubarak regime had been. But there are ample reasons why a number of Israeli analysts recently argued, as I also have several times in the past, that Egypt's foreign policy hasn’t actually changed even if its official rhetoric has shifted somewhat.

First, while the ideology of Egypt’s presidency may have changed, its interests, challenges and options have not. Morsi may wish he lived in a different world, or inherited a different country from Mubarak, but he hasn’t. Egypt is still Egypt, Egyptians still Egyptians, and their interests will always come first for them. Among other things, Egypt has a vested interest in not being sucked back into control of, and responsibility for, Gaza. And it has a mutually advantageous peace treaty with Israel that no rational government is going to gamble with.

Second, Egypt’s national security policy remains both de facto and de jure in the hands of the military, which does not share the president’s ideology. So even if Morsi were inclined to intervene on behalf of Hamas at the expense of Egyptian interests, the military would almost certainly prevent this. As an Army spokesperson rather gently explained, “We realize how much our brothers in Palestine suffer, but that doesn’t mean that the Egyptian Armed Forces will allow anyone to harm national interests.”

Third, Egypt has a massive national security crisis in the Sinai Peninsula, particularly in the regions bordering Gaza. There, political extremists, terrorists, bandits and others run rampant, killing Egyptian soldiers, attacking the gas pipeline to Israel and disrupting almost all Egyptian government activities in the area. This is not only a national security issue for the military. It is a grave political challenge for Morsi, who cannot be seen as a president who is incapable of securing strategically vital areas of his own country.

It must be understood that smuggling tunnels from Egypt to Gaza run in both directions. There is a symbiotic and cooperative relationship between Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza and those in Sinai. Therefore there is no reason to suspect that Morsi is inclined to restrain the Egyptian military, despite any abstract ideological affinities towards Hamas.

For these reasons, and more, there’s no reason to expect that Egypt’s basic stance towards Hamas, Gaza, Israel or the rest of the region is likely to undergo any major transformation in the foreseeable future. Rhetoric on both sides notwithstanding, relations between Egypt and Gaza have become in every meaningful sense worse under Morsi than they were under Mubarak. As an Islamist, Morsi can more easily claim to his public that he’s acting in the essential national interest, perhaps even contrary to his own inclinations, and imply that it’s really the military that’s to blame.

As for Hamas, all they are left with is collapsing popularity, a retreat into increased reactionary social repression and misogyny to play to their core base and bolster their Islamist credentials, and the increasingly threadbare fantasy that Islamist rule in Cairo and elsewhere will save Gaza and deliver control of the broader Palestinian national movement to its de facto rulers.

Toxic Masculinity. By Jaclyn Friedman.

Toxic Masculinity. By Jaclyn Friedman. The American Prospect, March 13, 2013.

Steubenville and Challenging Rape Culture in Sports. By Dave Zirin. The Nation, March 13, 2013.

Limbaugh: Catholic Church “On Its Way To Irrelevancy If It Doesn’t Start Distancing” From Democratic Party.

Limbaugh: Catholic Church “On Its Way To Irrelevancy If It Doesn’t Start Distancing” From Democratic Party. By Meenal Vamburkar. Mediaite, March 12, 2013.

Even Bob Schieffer Has Limits. By Rush Limbaugh., March 12, 2013.


I would say the Catholic Church is on its way to irrelevancy if it doesn’t start distancing itself from the Democrat Party and the idea that liberalism equals charity.  Because liberalism does not equal charity, and that’s how the church got sucked into supporting Democrats.  Not just the Catholic Church, but all religions got sucked in to supporting the Democrat Party and all these movements, all these social causes, because they began to equate government largesse with charity.  And it isn’t.

The government is not a charitable organization.  Charity exists because people willingly donate their own money to the cause.  That’s not what happens with government social programs.  That money is extracted from people, and it’s spent on things that many people would never spend that money on if they had any control over it.  But the church got roped in, and they weren’t the only ones that got roped in.

The Coming Collapse of the Middle East? By Fred Kaplan.

The Coming Collapse of the Middle East? By Fred Kaplan. Slate, March 11, 2013.


On Feb. 26, 2003, President George W. Bush gave a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, spelling out what he saw as the link between freedom and security in the Middle East. “A liberated Iraq,” he said, “can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region” by serving “as a dramatic and inspiring example … for other nations in the region.”

He invaded Iraq three weeks later. The spread of freedom wasn’t the war’s driving motive, but it was considered an enticing side effect, and not just by Bush. His deputy secretary of defense, Paul Wolfowitz, had mused the previous fall that the spark ignited by regime-change “would be something quite significant for Iraq . . . It’s going to cast a very large shadow, starting with Syria and Iran, but across the whole Arab world.”

Ten years later, it’s clear that the Iraq war cast “a very large shadow” indeed, but it was a much darker shadow than the fantasists who ran American foreign policy back then foresaw. Bush believed that freedom was humanity’s natural state: Blow away the manhole-cover that a tyrant pressed down on his people, and freedom would gush forth like a geyser. Yet when Saddam Hussein was toppled, the main thing liberated was the blood hatred that decades of dictatorship had suppressed beneath the surface.

Bush had been warned. Two months before the invasion, during Super Bowl weekend, three prominent Iraqi exiles paid a visit to the Oval Office. They were grateful and excited about the coming military campaign, but at one point in the meeting they stressed that U.S. forces would have to tamp down the sectarian tensions that would certainly reignite between Sunnis and Shiites in the wake of Saddam’s toppling. Bush looked at the exiles as if they were speaking Martian. They spent much of their remaining time, explaining to him that Iraq had two kinds of Arabs, whose quarrels dated back centuries. Clearly, he’d never heard about this before.

Many of Bush’s advisers did know something about this, but not as much as anyone launching a war in Iraq, and thus overhauling the country’s entire political order, should have known.