Monday, July 8, 2013

Anti-Semitic Hatred for Kids . . . and Adults. By Jonathan S. Tobin.

Anti-Semitic Hatred for Kids . . . and Adults. By Jonathan S. Tobin. Commentary, July 8, 2013.

Why is the peace settlement that’s so obvious, so elusive? By Richard Landes. The Augean Stables, July 11, 2013.

Palestinian Authority Uses Young Girls to Promote Hatred and Demonization of Jews. By Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik. NJBR, July 8, 2013.


Prior to his wife’s illness, the assumption was that Secretary of State John Kerry would be returning to the Middle East this week for another round of shuttle diplomacy aimed at reviving the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. But whenever Kerry does get back to wandering between Jerusalem and Ramallah, the same obstacles that have prevented peace will still be there. Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas knows that if he does as Kerry bids and negotiates with Israel and signs an agreement ending the conflict, he will be running up against the Palestinian reluctance to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders might be drawn. But while the media continues to focus on the deadlocked talks about talks, they rarely devote much energy to determining what exactly is driving the Palestinian culture of rejection.
Part of the answer to that puzzle is supplied from those who, unlike the mainstream media, do pay attention to what is written and broadcast in the official Palestinian media run by Abbas’s PA. Those wondering why anyone would think Palestinians would reject peace offers including an independent state (as they have three times since 2000), could do no better than to view this PA TV excerpt brought to our attention from Palestinian Media Watch in which two little Palestinian girls area asked to a hateful poem that refers to Jews in the following manner:
“Most evil among creations, barbaric monkeys, wretched pigs,” condemned to “humiliation and hardship.”
It also went on to say the following about the Jewish presence in Jerusalem:
Jerusalem vomits from within it your impurity
Because Jerusalem, you impure ones, is pious, immaculate
And Jerusalem, you who are filth, is clean and pure.
It is shocking that the official media of the group that Kerry considers a partner for peace would be broadcasting hate and using children to do it. But, of course, as anyone who follows the PMW Website regularly knows, there is actually nothing unusual about the PA acting in this manner.
The PA media has broadcast a steady diet of hatred against Israel and Jews since its inception after the Oslo Accords brought it into existence with numerous examples of them employing children and broadcasts specifically aimed at youngsters to do so. One of the great tragedies of the last 20 years has been the way Israel’s supposed peace partners have sowed the seeds of future conflict by inculcating their youth with doctrines that treat Jews as subhuman monsters with no rights or claims upon the land that both sides claim as their own.
There will be those who will argue that similar hatred exists among Israelis as occasional incidents inside the green line and so-called “price tag” attacks on Palestinians in the territories indicate. But the difference between the two sides is actually illustrative of the way Israel has embraced hope for peace while Palestinians have not.
The point is hatred of Jews by Palestinians is something that is officially endorsed by the Palestinian Authority while hatred of Arabs is incessantly condemned by the Israeli media and the government. Jewish prejudice against Arabs exists but only as the actions of a minority while mainstream Palestinian culture endorses hate. While Israeli schools adopted curricula seeking to promote “peace education,” the Palestinians schools still use textbooks that are filled with the same kind of vile delegitimization seen on PA TV.
But such hatred isn’t limited to just the Palestinians. As the Elder of Ziyyon blog reports today, the American website Mondoweiss seems to be competing with the PA in the effort to delegitimize Jewish rights.  In the course of a blog post alleging that Jewish settlers were infringing on the rights of Arab worshippers at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, Mondoweiss editor and contributor Annie Robbins made the following claim in response to a comment from a reader who pointed out that the Tomb is an ancient site of Jewish worship that even predates the Holy Temples in Jerusalem:
allegedly. there’s no proof that was the location of some grand temple. maybe lots of jewish stuff retroactively lands itself right underneath islamic structures. did you ever think of that? jealous much?
For anyone commenting on the Middle East to not know that the Muslim Conquests involved the planting of mosques on top of the holy sites of other faiths in places like Turkey, India as well as Israel is to demonstrate historical illiteracy on an Olympic scale. The line that separates stupidity from religious prejudice in such assertions is nonexistence since the only possible motivation for these statements is malice rooted in anti-Semtic hatred.
But while we know that Mondoweiss represents the views of denizens of the fever swamps of the left, it is important to remember that it is quite common for Abbas to make similar statements denying any Jewish connection to Jerusalem or the existence of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah or the temple. So long as hate speech is mainstream among the Palestinians, peace with Israel is not something that can be conjured up by a hard working secretary of state.

The Arab World Needs Capitalism More Than Democracy. By Fraser Nelson.

It is capitalism, not democracy, that the Arab world needs most. By Fraser Nelson. The Telegraph, July 4, 2013.

Property rights for aid: this could be the most effective anti-poverty strategy in history.

A Global Middle Class Strikes Back. By Nayan Chanda.

A global middle class strikes back. By Nayan Chanda. The Times of India, July 6, 2013.

Obama’s Middle East Policy Making Skeptics of Believers. By Walter Russell Mead.

Obama’s Middle East Policy Making Skeptics of Believers. By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, July 8, 2013.


The Washington Post is following the lead of the NYT’s bleak new take on the White House’s Middle East policy. As Libya seethes, Egypt crashes, and Syria burns, fewer and fewer of the President’s erstwhile disciples in the media understand his administration’s continuing fixation on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The WaPo editorial board writes:
The intense focus of Secretary of State John F. Kerry on the long-moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process when neighboring Egypt is collapsing into chaos and Syria’s civil war rages unabated provokes more than a little head-scratching among diplomats from the Middle East. What, they ask us, could possibly possess Mr. Kerry to so intently pursue such an unpromising initiative, even as the United States refuses to exert leadership on crises of paramount importance to the region? […]
Like previous failed U.S. initiatives, Mr. Kerry’s diplomacy ignores the powerful Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip, opposes a peace deal and is capable of disrupting negotiations at any time by resuming missile attacks against Israel. Mr. Kerry banks on the support of Arab states, but two of Israel’s Arab neighbors have no functioning government, while the other two — Jordan and Lebanon — have been all but overwhelmed by the spillover of refugees and fighting from Syria.
The MSM’s newfound skeptics may have some more meat to chew on this week, as Secretary Kerry reportedly plans to return to Jerusalem and Ramallah for talks—his sixth visit to the region in three months. More interestingly, Haaretz reports on some details in the Secretary’s plan:
The London-based Arabic-language daily Al-Hayat reported on Saturday that Kerry has formulated a plan to renew talks whereby Israel would freeze construction outside the major settlement blocs, release 103 Palestinian prisoners within six months, advance Palestinian economic projects in Area C of the West Bank (the area under full Israeli civilian and security control), and that the talks would be based on the 1967 borders.
One Palestinian official gave an insight into how well this might play among the Palestinian brass:
A Palestinian official told Haaretz that, even if the plan has been correctly reported, this does not mean the Palestinians will accept it as is. The Palestinians particularly object to recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and to a construction freeze only outside the large settlement blocs, the official said.
There are some understandable and even commendable reasons for maintaining the peace process as a priority in US Middle East policy. And the Middle East is a place where surprises can happen. But we hope the White House is paying attention: Even some of its staunchest fans don’t see much logic in the current policy mix.

Palestinian Authority Uses Young Girls to Promote Hatred and Demonization of Jews. By Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik.

Little girls on PA TV: Jews are the “most evil among creations, barbaric monkeys, wretched pigs,” condemned to “humiliation and hardship.” By Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik. Palestinian Media Watch, July 7, 2013. Video at YouTube.

Anti-Semitic Hate for Kids . . . and Adults. By Jonathan S. Tobin. Commentary, July 8, 2013.

See also, The Blaze, The Times of Israel, The Commentator, Opposing Views.

Transcript, Palestinian Authority TV, July 3, 2013:

PA TV REPORTER: Let’s meet these girls who want to recite a short poem.

GIRL 1: I do not fear the rifle because your throngs are in delusion and ignorant herds.
Jerusalem is my land, Jerusalem is my honor
Jerusalem is my days and my wildest dreams.
Oh, you who murdered Allah’s pious prophets (i.e., Jews in Islamic tradition)
Oh, you who were brought up on spilling blood
You have been condemned to humiliation and hardship.
Oh Sons of Zion, oh most evil among creations
Oh barbaric monkeys, wretched pigs

GIRL 2: Jerusalem is not your den
Jerusalem opposes your throngs
Jerusalem vomits from within it your impurity
Because Jerusalem, you impure ones, is pious, immaculate
And Jerusalem, you who are filth, is clean and pure.
I do not fear barbarity.
As long as my heart is my Quran and my city
As long as I have my arm and my stones
As long as I am free and do not barter my cause
I will not fear your throngs
I will not fear the rifle.


Dismal Jobs Report as Obama Kills Full-Time Jobs and Hurts the Opportunity for Young People to Have Careers. By Rush Limbaugh.

Dismal Jobs Report as Obama Kills Full-Time Jobs and Hurts the Opportunity for Young People to Have Careers. By Rush Limbaugh., July 8, 2013.


Another way to look at a full-time job is a career. You know, there’s all kinds of work. There’s entry level work, which is minimum wage, where you enter the workforce and just learn what it's all about, getting a paycheck for showing up on time and all that. And then there are jobs you do to help supplant your existence, when you’re in school, if you do that. But then at some point in your life you figure out what you want to do. At some point in your life, if you’re lucky, you learn what you love. A lot of people never do, so their job never is any more than a job, something they have to do.
Some people actually find out what they love. And that takes on a whole different meaning to them than just the job. It’s a career, and it’s the definition of who they are. Other people find full-time work, and it is a career in the sense that there is advancement if you do well, but they may not be doing what they love. And that’s the group I’m talking about. The opportunity – you know, a job is one thing; a career is another. Because a career is where you devote yourself to improving and advancing, climbing the ladder, as it were. I’m sorry; with only 47% of working adults working full time, we’re not even developing careers for people to exploit and to experience and to conquer.
Now, this is massive change from what the American jobs universe used to be. The American jobs universe contained all the jobs and types of jobs that we have today, but there were certainly far more career opportunities than there are today. And the career opportunities are directly relatable to the number of jobs that no longer exist. Now with Obamacare and companies converting full time to part time, you can wave good-bye to a career as a part-timer.  You’re not gonna conquer anything part time.  You’re not gonna climb a ladder part time.  And you’re not gonna get health care part time. And that’s why you're being converted to part time.  Because Obamacare is so expensive that companies are weighing staying in business or going out of business, staying profitable or not. And contrary to low-information voter beliefs, a company is not there to provide you health care.  It’s there for a whole lot of other reasons.
. . . .
Plus, 101 million Americans are getting food aid, which is a number larger than the number of people who have jobs. This is why, folks, some people have said that I sound like I’m a little cold-hearted when I talk about this. I’m not. If you’re on unemployment in America, you’ve got your car . . . The way to put this is: The unemployed are still eating, and so what’s the problem? The unemployed have their cell phones, they have their cars, they’ve got their flat screens and food.
Being unemployed is not what it used to be.
When you were out of work, you were in dire circumstances, and your unemployment compensation didn’t come close to substituting what you had lost when you lost your job. I’m talking about incentives. What’s the incentive to work? It’s not nearly as big. There isn’t anywhere near the necessity. I’m telling you, I can’t emphasize enough: You take away the whole notion of careers from the American jobs experience, or universe, whatever you want to call it?

The Authoritarian Surge. By Lilia Shevtsova and David J. Kramer.

The Authoritarian Surge. By Lilia Shevtsova and David J. Kramer. The American Interest, July 3, 2013.

Shevtsova and Kramer:

The spreading contagion of protests and demonstrations across the globe demonstrates a new phenomenon: popular dissatisfaction not only with authoritarian regimes but also with democratic systems that are failing to guarantee the people their rights and dignity. We saw this with the European crisis in countries like Greece and Spain. How democratically elected leaders seek to address these challenges will be a key test. Will they resort to authoritarian means as Erdogan is trying to do and Rousseff tried at the beginning? Dissatisfaction can also manifest itself elsewhere, as with the “Occupy Wall Street” movement in the United States, or the protests in France.
All this leaves us with two interdependent questions: What can stem the new authoritarian tide? How should street rebellion in democratic societies be handled? This “dual” problem could become the big challenge of the 21st century, and responding to the first challenge will depend on how democracies handle the second. We tend to agree with James Traub, who wrote in Foreign Policy that “the era in which citizens will accept a return to autocracy, much less clamor for it, is drawing to a close.” For example, Russia’s system of personalized power is showing signs of decay.
To staunch the authoritarian surge, the West must find ways to end its crisis—the sooner, the better—so that it can be in a stronger position to push back against the authoritarian challenge. Some Western countries need to think about serious restructuring of their political systems to guarantee the rights and dignity for all of society, not just a ruling minority. In addition, the liberal opposition in authoritarian and semi-authoritarian societies should consolidate their efforts and offer a viable alternative to authoritarianism. Easier said than done, of course, but necessary nonetheless.
Presently, we appear to be stuck in the doldrums, with little reason to be optimistic about either the West’s capacity for reinvention or turning back the authoritarian tide. Leadership and a strengthening of the democratic model are crucial not only for fending off threats from protests but also for challenging the rise of the authoritarian alternative.

The West Must Help Build Mideast Democracy. By Tony Blair.

Democracy doesn’t on its own mean effective government. By Tony Blair. The Observer., July 6, 2013.


What is happening in Egypt is the latest example of the interplay, visible the world over, between democracy, protest and government efficacy. Democracy is a way of deciding the decision-makers, but it is not a substitute for making the decision. I remember an early conversation with some young Egyptians shortly after President Mubarak’s downfall. They believed that, with democracy, problems would be solved. When I probed on the right economic policy for Egypt, they simply said that it would all be fine because now they had democracy; and, in so far as they had an economic idea, it was well to the old left of anything that had a chance of working.
I am a strong supporter of democracy. But democratic government doesn’t on its own mean effective government. Today, efficacy is the challenge. When governments don’t deliver, people protest. They don’t want to wait for an election. In fact, as Turkey and Brazil show, they can protest even when, on any objective basis, countries have made huge progress. But as countries move from low to middle income status, the people’s expectations rise. They want quality services, better housing, good infrastructure, especially transport. And they will fight against any sense that a clique at the top is barring their way.
This is a sort of free democratic spirit that operates outside the convention of democracy that elections decide the government. It is enormously fuelled by social media, itself a revolutionary phenomenon. And it moves very fast in precipitating crisis. It is not always consistent or rational. A protest is not a policy, or a placard a programme for government. But if governments don’t have a clear argument with which to rebut the protest, they’re in trouble.
In Egypt, the government’s problems were compounded by resentment at the ideology and intolerance of the Muslim Brotherhood. People felt that the Brotherhood was steadily imposing its own doctrines on everyday life. Across the Middle East, for the first time, and this is a positive development, there is open debate about the role of religion in politics. Despite the Muslim Brotherhood’s superior organisation, there is probably a majority for an intrinsically secular approach to government in the region.
Society can be deeply imbued with religious observance, but people are starting to realise that democracy only works as a pluralistic concept where faiths are respected and where religion has a voice, not a veto. For Egypt, a nation with an immense and varied civilisation, around 8 million Christians and a young population who need to be connected to the world, there isn’t really a future as an Islamic state that aspires to be part of a regional caliphate.
So what should the west do? Egypt is the latest reminder that the region is in turmoil and won’t leave us alone, however we may wish it would. Disengagement is not an option, because the status quo is not an option. Any decision not to act is itself a decision of vast consequence. At its crudest, we can’t afford for Egypt to collapse. So we should engage with the new de facto power and help the new government make the changes necessary, especially on the economy, so they can deliver for the people. In that way, we can also help shape a path back to the ballot box that is designed by and for Egyptians.

In Cairo’s Cafés Egyptians Believe Morsi was in League with Israel. By Eldad Beck.

Egyptians believe Morsi in cahoots with US, Israel. By Eldad Beck. Ynet News, July 6, 2013.

Brotherhood website: Egypt’s interim president is Jewish. By Roi Kais. Ynet News, July 5, 2013.

Time to Break Out of a Rut in Egypt. By Robert Kagan.

Time to break out of a rut in Egypt. By Robert Kagan. Washington Post, July 5, 2013.


The United States has generally been a great force for the promotion of democracy around the world. But no one should be surprised that President Obama winked at last week’s military coup in Egypt. American support for democracy has never been consistent. The United States backed many “friendly” dictators throughout the 20th century and even toppled democratically elected governments or winked at coups against them — as Eisenhower did in the case of Mossadegh in Iran and Arbenz in Guatemala, and as Nixon did in the case of Allende in Chile.
Obama, however, probably did not see himself as an upholder of this particular tradition when he entered the White House (though his advisers like to compare him to Eisenhower). At the start of his presidency, Obama apologized to the Iranian people for the overthrow of Mossa­degh. In “The Audacity of Hope,” he criticized previous administrations for viewing “nationalist movements, ethnic struggles, reform efforts” as threatening and for letting such fears outweigh “our professed commitment to freedom and democracy.” He noted, too, how “the removal of democratically elected leaders in countries like Iran” had produced “seismic repercussions that haunt us to this day.”
American embarrassment about past acquiescence to dictatorships and military coups is widespread. It is a major theme of high school history textbooks and college courses on foreign policy. In recent decades, leaders of both parties have tried to push U.S. policy in a different direction. Under Ronald Reagan, the United States lent support to democratic movements that toppled “friendly” dictatorships in the Philippines, Korea, Haiti and elsewhere (though not in the Middle East). The Clinton administration worked to hold the new democracies in Eastern and Central Europe to high democratic standards. The George W. Bush administration tried, albeit unevenly, to reshape American relations with the dictatorships of the Arab world, particularly Egypt. Across the ideological spectrum, one of the big lessons of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks was that dictatorships helped breed terrorism and that the best cure would be an Arab political opening. Obama embraced that opening when it came and thus cautiously embraced the broad post-Cold War consensus.
Yet how quickly that consensus has crumbled in the face of its first difficult test — the election of the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Morsi in Egypt. And yes, that was a very difficult test. Morsi was not only an incompetent ruler but also in many ways an undemocratic one. He imposed restrictions on the media and excluded the opposition from important constitutional decisions. He ruled not so much as a dictator but as a majoritarian, which often amounted to the same thing. With a majority in parliament and a large national following, and with no experience whatsoever in the give-and-take of democratic governance, Morsi failed in the elementary task of creating a system of compromise, inclusiveness, and checks and balances. He was the opposite of a Mandela. He also failed as a manager of the national economy, unwilling to make an agreement with the International Monetary Fund and to carry out difficult but necessary economic reforms.
For his incompetence, he deserved to be voted out of office at the next election. For his majoritarian and undemocratic practices, he deserved to be placed under sustained domestic and international pressure, especially by the United States, the leading provider of aid to Egypt. He deserved to have the United States not only suspend its bilateral aid to Egypt but also block any IMF agreement until he entered into a meaningful, substantive dialogue with his political opponents, including on amending the flawed constitution he rammed through in December as well as electoral law. He ought to have been ostracized and isolated by the international democratic community. Morsi is certainly not the only democratically elected leader to have acted undemocratically in recent years, and these are the kinds of actions the United States and other democracies have generally taken in response. And all this would have been a great deal more pressure than Hosni Mubarak ever faced except in the final two weeks of his 30-year rule.

But was a military coup the best answer? The good news is that a bad leader is gone. Yet that is where the good news ends. People talk cheerfully about starting over in building an Egyptian democracy. But the slate is hardly clean, and the obstacles to Egyptian democracy are greater than they were before the coup.
The military, having effectively deposed two Egyptian leaders in 2½ years, has firmly established itself as the only real power in the country. Mohamed ElBaradei and other secular leaders are happy to have been vaulted into positions of apparent power, but one wonders how real or long-lasting their influence will be. Live by the sword, die by the sword: If the military can depose one democratically elected government, it can depose another. What happens when Egyptian “people power” returns to confront the next government, as it surely will? Once again the military will have the choice of intervening or not. Its decision is likely to have a lot to do with how the military feels about that government. So who will wield the real power when the next crisis comes?
And the next crises are entirely predictable. The economic problems that Morsi inherited and failed to solve require significant sacrifices by average Egyptians, who have already sacrificed much. Such reforms would be difficult to implement even in a calm political climate, and the post-coup climate will be anything but calm. At least some portion of the millions who voted for Morsi have probably come to two conclusions: first, that democracy is a sham; and, second, that what matters in Egypt is who has the guns. Some followers of the Muslim Brotherhood may well decide that violence is their best and only recourse. And the military will in turn impose more-severe limitations on civil liberties to combat the violence, employing — along with the police — their traditional brutal methods. They may even attempt to prevent the Brotherhood from fielding candidates in the next election. After all, having deposed one Muslim Brotherhood government, the military may not think it wise to let another, possibly angrier Brotherhood government get elected six months from now. What will the secular liberal civilians now allied with the military do as these threats to personal liberties and democratic processes metastasize? On Thursday, as the military was arresting dozens of Muslim Brotherhood leaders, ElBaradei said he would be the first “to shout loud and clearly if I see any sign of regression in terms of democracy.” One wonders when he will choose to see it, and what will happen to him if he ever does start shouting.
Egypt is not starting over. It has taken a large step backward. And the Obama administration bears much blame. It put little or no meaningful pressure on Mubarak to make even minor political reforms that might have been enough to prevent the anti-regime outburst that exploded at the end of 2010. Then it put little or no tangible pressure on Morsi to end his undemocratic practices, which might have forestalled the most recent crisis.
It has become fashionable in today’s “post-American world” milieu to argue that the United States had no ability to shape events in Egypt. This is absurd. The United States is far from being all-powerful, but neither is it powerless. Americans provide $1.5 billion a year in assistance to Egypt, $1.3 billion of which goes to the Egyptian military. It has leverage over the decisions of the IMF and influence with other international donors on whom Egypt’s economy depends. The U.S. ambassador to Egypt wields so much potential influence that Egyptians obsess daily over whom she is meeting, and they concoct wild conspiracies based on trivial events. The assumption in Egypt, as in much of the Arab world, is that nothing happens unless the United States wills it. The problem is not that the United States has no power but that the Obama administration has been either insufficiently interested or too cautious and afraid to use what power the United States has.
It has also become fashionable once again to argue that Muslim Arabs are incapable of democracy — this after so many millions of them came out to vote in Egypt, only to see Western democracies do little or nothing when the product of their votes was overthrown. Had the United States showed similar indifference in the Philippines and South Korea, I suppose wise heads would still be telling us that Asians, too, have no vocation for democracy.
So now that the military coup has occurred, how do we avoid the “seismic repercussions”? Any answer must begin with a complete suspension of all aid to Egypt, especially military aid, until there is a new democratic government, freely elected with the full participation of all parties and groups in Egypt, including the Muslim Brotherhood. The Obama administration then needs to work closely with other nations and the IMF to ensure that no loans or other forms of economic aid are provided to Egypt until democratic governance is restored. This approach runs contrary to the Obama administration’s instincts, which until now have been to work cooperatively with whoever holds power in Egypt and to avoid overt forms of pressure.

It is past time to get out of this rut of failure. Better to learn from our history than to repeat it. It will be sad if some future American president has to apologize to Egyptians for what Barack Obama did, and did not do, in 2013.

America – The Republic of Nothing? By Gil Troy.

America – The Republic of Nothing? By Gil Troy. History News Network, July 6, 2013. Also at the National Post.


As the United States celebrates its 237th anniversary this week, the country is undergoing dramatic changes demographically, structurally and ideologically. Last week, the Supreme Court made historic decisions about race relations and gay marriage, while the Senate advanced a major immigration reform, proposing a 13-year-process for transforming 11 million illegal aliens into citizens. America’s face is changing. But as the country becomes more diverse, dynamic, and broadminded, the challenges of retaining some ideological glue, some social stability, and some cultural thickness are growing exponentially. As America builds a Republic of Everything, it must not build a Republic of Nothing.
The U.S. is now the third largest country in the world by population, with 316 million residents. It is a less white America, with 72.4 percent deemed white, 12.6 percent black or African American, and 16.3 percent considered Hispanic or Latino (some of whom are also “white,” some of whom are also “black,” which shows how artificial these categories are). And it is a growing America, attracting immigrants, especially from Latin America, South America and Asia – with 13 percent of the population foreign born. Despite an ongoing recession, legislative paralysis, aging infrastructure, and foreign policy headaches, the U.S. remains the world’s beacon, luring millions from impoverished dictatorships with dreams of prosperity and liberty.
Last week’s big moves celebrated America as a land of redemptive change. Ultimately, the battle over the Voting Rights Act was a fight over just how much progress blacks have made since 1964, and just how anachronistic remedies from the time have become. Similarly, the gay marriage decision and the proposed immigration legislation – which still faces hurdles in the House – revealed an America that is more pluralistic, more sensitive, more welcoming of difference. I have never seen such a major attitudinal turnaround occur so rapidly. Four years ago, many Democrats supported legislation banning gay marriage to appear as safe, mainstream politicians. Today, even many Republicans understand that fighting gay marriage is the politically riskier step. Similarly, in 2012, many Republicans learned that fighting immigration reform is a losing issue. Most Americans want to integrate those currently designated illegal into the country, without being inundated by more illegals.
The most unfortunate aspect of Windsor v. United States, wherein the Supreme Court invalidated part of the Defense of Marriage Act, was that the change originated with the Court – and overran a democratically enacted law. The decades-long abortion stalemate has taught that social change progresses best when it comes from the state legislatures, the Congress, the governors and the president, not the Courts. Still, in this case, more so than the abortion case of Roe v. Wade, the Court followed public opinion rather than pioneering it. This is not a legal argument about the constitutional rights or wrongs, but a pragmatic argument about the politics of change in America.
Even Americans who are uncomfortable with these changes can take pride in this kinder, gentler America; this looser, less exclusive America, this forgiving, open America. The legal changes prove that, as the sociologist Alan Wolfe explains, “Thou Shalt Not Judge Thy Neighbor,” has become American’s eleventh commandment.
Today’s America also has 2 million people in prison, and 4 out of ten babies born to unmarried women (with 7 out of ten African American babies born to unmarried women).
In this age wherein everything is disposable including family, Americans need more grounding, more moral fiber. Elements of the old morality propped up prejudices we now reject. But a life just based on tolerating others lacks internal meaning – and the kind of social adhesive necessary to make a nation great.
Americans should worry about the thinness of their collective cultural identity, the transience of many of their concerns, their addiction to trendiness and technology. Building a great nation requires a commitment to big ideas, transcendent thoughts, and altruistic ideals. Some of America’s greatest ills today, including rising debt, a declining work ethic, a tidal wave of selfishness, an obsession with popular culture, a compulsion to consume, an inability to compromise or plan or save or sacrifice, stem from today’s cultural and ideological flimsiness. In identity terms, the thinness of things can be liberating and welcoming; the thickness of things can be grounding and ennobling. Both individual and national greatness require a balance. On both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border, we need a republic of something.

Egypt’s “Revocouption” and the Future of Democracy on the Nile. By Juan Cole.

Egypt’s “Revocouption” and the future of Democracy on the Nile. By Juan Cole. Informed Comment, July 4, 2013. Also at History News Network.

Hearing echoes of 1789 in Cairo. By Rami G. Khouri. The Daily Star (Lebanon), July 6, 2013.


Egypt’s future stability and prosperity now depends on whether the officer corps and youth are mature enough to return to pluralist principals and cease persecuting the Muslim Brotherhood just because Morsi was high-handed. Their media has to be free and the 300 officials have to be released unless charged with really-existing crimes on the statute books. And it depends on whether the Muslim Brotherhood is wise and mature enough to roll with this punch and to reform itself, giving up its cliquish and cult-like internal solidarity in favor of truly becoming a nation-wide, center-right, democratic opposition party. If they take this course, they have a chance of emulating Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and one day coming back to power (an observant Muslim prime minister was forced out in 1997, but members of his party just regrouped and ultimately came to rule the country). If the Muslim Brotherhood adherents instead turn to terrorism and guerrilla actions, they will tear the country apart and probably blacken the name of political Islam for decades.
At the moment, neither of those two groups is demonstrating the maturity and high-mindedness that would reassure me about the prospects for a genuinely democratic transition.

How Depression Went Mainstream. By Robin Lindley.

How Depression Went Mainstream: Interview with Dr. Edward Shorter. By Robin Lindley. History News Network, July 8, 2013.

Review of Allen C. Guelzo’s “Gettysburg: The Last Invasion.” By Jim Cullen.

Review of Allen C. Guelzo’s Gettysburg: The Last Invasion (Knopf, 2013). By Jim Cullen. History News Network, July 4, 2013.

Apocalypse Watch: Israeli Cabinet Minister Calls for Third Temple. By Walter Russell Mead.

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Wikipedia.

Apocalypse Watch: Israeli Cabinet Minister Calls For Third Temple. By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, July 6, 2013.


The MSM will miss the significance of this story as it misses a lot of stories having to do with religion, but tens of millions of American Christians were jolted this week by the news that a member of the Israeli cabinet has called for the construction of the Third Temple in Jerusalem on Temple Mount.
Political junkies saw this as a disturbing but not hugely significant development. Uri Ariel, the Israeli minister of Housing and Construction, is widely seen as an effective and charismatic figure on the fringe of Israeli politics. His inclusion in the Cabinet was a sign of just how far the balance has tilted in the current Knesset in favor of the settler movement. He’s a political provocateur who enjoys saying controversial things; he objected, for example, to having Chancellor Angela Merkel address the Knesset in German.
For people who follow Israeli politics, Ariel’s call to rebuild the ancient Jewish Temple on a site sacred to Muslims was a troubling indication that some taboos are crumbling as the settler movement moves into the political mainstream. It’s also a marker for any discussions on the future of Jerusalem should US Secretary of State John Kerry actually restart peace negotiations.
From a purely political point of view, then, this was a bad news story but not a big news story.
To the hundreds of millions of people around the world for whom Israel news is religious news as well as political news, it was something else. The Jewish Temple is not just another historical building, and any discussion about rebuilding it isn’t just another political story.
The Jewish Temple is unique in world religious history. It was a very different thing than the synagogues in which Jews pray today. In the Torah, God commanded the Hebrews to build a temple in the land he would give them; this command was carried out, the Bible tells us, by David’s son Solomon (who is revered as a prophet by Muslims). When built, the Temple was the only place where Jews could carry out the sacrifices required by Jewish law; it was the spiritual heart of Judaism in the way no church has ever been the central focus of Christianity, and its role can only be compared to that of Mecca in Islam.
The First Temple was destroyed when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem 587 years before the birth of Christ. The Second Temple was rebuilt on that site by Jews returning from exile and magnificently restored and embellished right around the time of Christ by Herod the Great. Under Greek and Roman rule, the Temple was the scene of great confrontations between the monotheistic Jews and their pagan overlords. The Second Temple was destroyed when the Romans crushed a Jewish revolt, and the site has since been occupied by a pagan temple, a Christian church and is now under the control of an Islamic religious foundation.  Muslims revere the site as the place where Abraham offered to sacrifice his son to God, as well as the place from which the Prophet Mohammed left the earth on the Night Journey.
Many Islamists will see Uri Ariel’s announcement as confirming a vision that links the behavior of the Jewish state with a religious and political crisis that will overcome humanity in the years leading up to the last battle between good and evil and the Last Judgement. Many Christians will agree, though of course the details of the two apocalyptic visions are not the same.
Since the 19th century, long before there was a Zionist movement among Jews, evangelical Protestants have been working out interpretations of the Biblical prophecies of the “End Times” based largely on the Book of Revelations at the end of the Christian Bible, and prophecies found in the Jewish scriptures in the books of Ezekiel, Daniel and some others. Roughly speaking, they concluded on the basis of their study of these books that the Jews would return to the Holy Land and establish a new Jewish state there. In time, though surrounded by hostile neighbors and threatened by powers like Russia, this state would rebuild the Temple. Once that was rebuilt, the real apocalyptic countdown would begin and a series of wars and tribulations would sweep the earth before Jesus triumphantly returns for the Last Judgement.
The degree to which the history has conformed to the early stages of these predictions was a powerful factor in the rise of evangelical religion in the United States during the twentieth century, and the impact grew after 1967 when the Israelis stunned the world by capturing the ancient city and Temple Mount from Jordanian forces.
Any sign that the Temple issue is moving to the fore in Israeli politics today will engage the attention of evangelical and Pentecostal Protestants around the world. In Africa, Brazil, the United States and many other places, this news, combined with the stories about unrest in the Arab world, will be read as a sign that the End Times are approaching and that God is at work.
A great many Muslims are also reading this week’s news and seeing signs that the End Times are coming. In Islam as in Christianity, many strains of apocalyptic thinking see the End Times as an era of apostasy and rebellion against God, of the forces of evil assembling themselves for one last battle against God and true religion. The fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the bitter war between Sunnis and Shiites that now embraces the entire Fertile Crescent, and what will be seen by many as evidence that Israel is preparing to restore the Temple on a site holy to Islam: these developments will further strengthen apocalyptic, End Times thinking in the Muslim world.
This news will reverberate around the world. In places like Nigeria, where relations between Christians and Muslims (often exacerbated by tribal and economic competition) are poor, news like this helps drive the sense of conflict and nourishes the hotheads on both sides of the conflict.
As a piece of political news in Israel, Uri Ariel’s statement may not have been a big deal. But all over the world, people are pricking up their ears as word spreads. Like it or not, we in the 21st century live in an Age of Apocalypse, when hopes and fears connected to the end of the world play a growing role in world politics. Whether we are looking at greens who think that global warming will kill us off, others who fear nuclear apocalypse, Silicon Valley tech prophets predicting the Singularity, or old fashioned religious teachers predicting the Last Judgement and the End Times, we live in an era in which the end of human history as we know it is on the table.
For hundreds of millions of people all over the world, the end came a little closer this week. In our view, that’s news.

Why Israel Has No Newtowns. By Liel Liebovitz.

Why Israel Has No Newtowns. By Liel Liebovitz. Tablet, December 17, 2012. Also at Real Clear World.

The Palestinian Problem. By Mike Konrad.

The Palestinian Problem. By Mike Konrad. American Thinker, July 7, 2013.


The chief problem in the Mideast, as far as the world is concerned, is that Israel refuses to disappear. The chief problem in the Mideast, as far as Israel and the United States is concerned, is that the Palestinians refuse to disappear. Since they both demand the very same piece of land – motivated by history, and fueled by uncompromising religion claims – the futility of sending American diplomats to the Mideast to negotiate a peace should be obvious to everyone, except the news media and the State Department.
Washington dreads the appearance of doing nothing. The consequences of a failed peace process are so enormous that dishonest pretense is preferred to honest failure. However, pretense is far worse.
Let’s give the Arabs their due. They have parlayed a weak hand masterfully. Crippling defeats in 1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973 would have dissuaded a lesser opponent.
The Arab focus has been singular. To that end, the 1965 Casablanca Protocols forbade any Arab nation from awarding nationality to any Palestinian refugee, thus keeping them in a permanent condition of statelessness. Palestinian rights were trampled on. The purpose was to let the Palestinian situation fester.
Ever determined, the Arab's new slogan is: “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free,” which is a thinly veiled catchy jingle for genocide of the Jews.
The Israelis for their part are just as stubborn – or tenacious, if you prefer to avoid vicious fights over adjectives. They also kept the Palestinians in a position of statelessness, because while they wanted to annex Judea and Samaria, they did not want to enfranchise the Palestinians on it. Instead, the Israelis kept the area and the Palestinians under a twilight zone of military (martial) law, with a myriad of discriminatory regulations that even a calmer, more rational, people would never have tolerated without rebellion.
Israeli pioneers (settlers) have made it clear that they do not want to surrender one single inch of Judea and Samaria. Many of them have the aim of destroying the peace process. Some have talked about ethnically cleansing the whole land of Arabs, including pre-1967 Israel.
Now, when Israel has finally started to talk about annexation – only because no one will accept the status quo anymore, and many Israelis want to prevent a two-state solution – Israeli politicians are inventing schemes to deny enfranchisement to the Arabs on the land, by creating Bantustans which are independent in name only. Maybe this is wise; but is it honest? They seem to think this will fool people.
Both sides pretty it up with floral descriptions, and hopeful desires for peace; but never explain that their vision of peace leaves little or no room for the other’s existence as a free and independent people.
Not merely geography is fought over, but battles are now waged over descriptive adjectives in news reports. People are charged with anti-Semitism, or Islamophobia for not hewing to politically correct nouns. I myself have been recently reduced to avoiding the objectively neutral term “settler,” in favor of “pioneer,” for fear of being labeled a sellout to Arab propaganda. This is total war.
Israel and the West have avoided the real issue.
What is to be done with the Palestinians, particularly in Judea and Samaria?
Until this issue is settled, nothing else matters.
The Arabs have shown no intention of helping the Palestinians, except to kill Israeli Jews, through terrorism. Arab Muslim states will try to sabotage any solution which does not involve the destruction of Israel.
Sadly, Israel can be cruel in its application of laws against Palestinians Arabs; using every trick to make their lives miserable; and to persuade them to leave. Israel wants the land but not the Arabs on it.
Israel stripped more than 100,000 residents of Gaza and some 140,000 residents of the West Bank of their residency rights – Ha’aretz
Did the Israelis think they could keep the Arabs under military (martial) law forever with no blowback?! Were they expecting the Arabs to evaporate if they waited long enough?
One could say, let the foes duke it out; but frankly, it would get very bad, very fast. A swift Israeli victory on the field would be met with large-scale attacks on Jews throughout the planet. The Arabs have gas and chemical weapons, and would use them. A sympathetic Pakistan might provide nukes. Unlike Israel, the Muslim states could absorb large-scale losses, and are crazy enough to consider such losses acceptable. Israeli Jews have no such options.
The West will have to decide if it wants to offer citizenship and passports to those Palestinians willing to leave and assimilate into the West. They could be pre-screened to keep out radicals, with an eye to preferring those willing to Christianize. I still recommend South America – which has a history of assimilating Arabs well – but that option may be passing by, if it is not taken up soon, as the Latins are being propagandized against Israel with Iranian and Saudi money.
Instead of paying $4 billion dollars for the Palestinians to negotiate, Kerry could have offered 40,000 young Palestinians $100,000 each to move to the West. The loss of 3% of its young population would have scared the PA out of its obstinacy. We could have brought home the point by publically withdrawing immigration approval for an equal number of Arabs, as punishment for abandoning their brothers.
That would have been a sane offer that would have produced some real results.
44% of young Palestinians are willing to [e]migrate if given the opportunity. – Jpost
“Are you mad to let the Palestinians into the West?”
I know the Palestinians are troublemakers; but weren’t Jews in the early 20th century considered trouble making revolutionaries? Although it’s politically incorrect to mention it now, Jews had a high rate of participation in radical causes. A few decades of equality, and now they are conservatives. Are we making a mistake in labeling all Palestinians as innate Radical Islamists, when, historically, Palestinians have a high rate of secularism for Arabs?
Since governments will refuse to do anything, individuals and organizations should act. I had hoped that many Jews would have shown a willingness to contribute, since Israel would benefit by it; but from the responses I have gotten to my suggestions, it is clear that many Jews do not want to pay a cent.
Sadly, the World Jewish Community will pay – either in money or blood.
Though the Arabs are much more guilty than Israel, no one is innocent. If this problem is not solved, tens of millions of people will die. Count on it.
The 20th century gave us the Jewish problem. The West could easily have absorbed the Jews of Europe in the 1930s, and prevented the Holocaust. A million Jews would have been less than 1% of the U.S. population. Australia needed white immigrants. So did New Zealand. South America was an open field. Canada was famous for seeking immigrants; but rejected Jews. No one wanted them. Likewise, helping Palestinians is not popular in the West, except by those methods which would hurt Israel, rather than by allowing immigration of reasonable Palestinians into the West, which would help everyone.
The 21st century has started with the Palestinian problem. Failure to solve it will result in another World War.