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.