Category: Politics in America


In recent decades the left that whitewashed the crimes of the Third World rulers has ‘koshered’ any policy that presents as being anti-colonialist. It has turned against Israel and sought to define it as an apartheid regime. The hope was to label it, and then bring it down through boycotts, divestments and sanctions – all the while studiously concealing that such a ‘victory’ would enable mass destruction of the Israeli Jews. They ignore the critical differences: that Israel’s Jewish population represents the return of a people to its homeland; that its Jewish land was bought and reclaimed, not seized; that that Arabs were offered a nation of their own but chose to try to destroy the Jewish state; that much of the Palestinian Nakba was self-inflicted; and that Israel is a vital functioning democracy despite living under constant siege.

The key to the delegitimation strategy is to so exaggerate normal faults and inescapable errors in self-defense, and to invent evils and thus define Israel as an apartheid society. The bald-faced lie of this claim is blatant because in Israel itself, the opposite of apartheid is true. Despite the Arab states’ unrelenting assaults from without, the internal Arab minority was granted full voting rights and all civil rights. Starting as a disadvantaged community, Israeli Arabs have steadily improved their levels of public health, education, and economic well-being – beyond any of the Arabs in neighboring states. They are still behind the Jewish curve but – like blacks in America – they have the full range of democratic mechanisms available to improve their status. Their fate is significantly in their own hands.

The left that airbrushes the evils of ‘underdogs’ or ex-colonial peoples and demonizes the Jewish state, has seized upon the West Bank situation to give the color of validity to its apartheid caricature. In so doing they ignore the fact that overwhelmingly the restrictions on the Palestinians were instituted to protect against terrorism. They omit that successive governments of Israel have offered to give 90% plus of the West Bank to a Palestinian state in return for a credible secure peace agreement. They cover up the continuing Palestinian rhetoric of revenge and genocide. They falsely equate the systematic use of terror and hatred with highly marginalized violent actions or expressions of bigotry. They treat as equivalent official Arab glorification of genocide with a minority desire for conquest on the Israeli side. This ‘neutral’ mendacity encourages Palestinian revanchist policies.

Rabbi Irving “Yitz” Greenberg, “Mandela, Apartheid And The Jews”, The Jewish Week (13 December 2013), 28.

Fulfillment of this demand for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state — which is really about mutuality since Israel already recognized the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to self-determination — is a prerequisite for genuine reconciliation, and it should enjoy full support from peace supporters across the political spectrum.

I like to use the metaphor of two families living together in one house, representing the Jewish and Palestinian national movements occupying the small tract of land between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea. Yes, it is true that there will be no peace unless and until a permanent border can be drawn separating these two peoples. The border is necessary, but not sufficient. If, after a border is drawn, current and future generations are taught that members of the other family sharing the house are not there by right, have no legitimate claim, are essentially thieves, interlopers — simply there because eviction was impossible or impractical — the seeds of future conflict will continue to be sown.

Martin Raffel, “Why Recognition Of Jewish State Is Fundamental To Peace”, The Jewish Week (10 January 2014), 26.

Jewish students are largely disengaged from Israel. They are more likely to be able to distinguish between different fraternities and sororities than between the parties in the Knesset, or the panoply of Jewish communal organizations. When ideological groups take strident positions on campus, the majority of Jewish students respond with a deafening “Huh?” Campus professionals will confide that students consider extremism in pursuit of anything a vice; a turn-off, not a turn-on.

Jeff Rubin, “It’s Jewish Education, Stupid”, The Jewish Week (10 January 2014), 28.

The era of the religious Right is over. Its collapse is part of a larger decline of a style of ideological conservatism that reached high points in 1980 and 1994 but suffered a series of decisive – and I believe fatal – setbacks during George W. Bush’s second term. The end of the religious Right does not signal a decline in evangelical Christianity. On the contrary, it is a sign of a new reformation among Christians – Warren and Cizik are representative figures – who are disentangling their great movement from a political machine. This will require liberals and conservatives alike to abandon their sometimes narrow views of who evangelicals are and what they believe.

E.J. Dionne Jr., Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith & Politics After the Religious Right (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2008), 4-5.

When Obama addresses Jewish audiences, he comes across as a liberal rabbi. He presents Jewish values as synonymous with progressive politics and draws heavily upon American Jewish history, name-dropping noted civil rights rabbinic activists like Abraham Joshua Heschel and Joachim Prinz. The American story, he seems to say, is the Jewish story—an ever-advancing universalistic ethic.

Booker, on the other hand, though committed to similarly liberal ends, presents more like his Orthodox mentors. He leans on traditional texts, from the weekly Torah portion to the Pirkei Avot, and is more likely to reference Hillel than Heschel. He keeps a stack of religious books on his desk, including an Artscroll Tanakh—the imprint of Orthodoxy’s most prolific publisher. When speaking Hebrew, his pronunciation sometimes slips into Ashkenazic, rather than the Sephardic-inflected tones of Modern Hebrew favored by non-Orthodox Jewry. And like his Chabad companions, Booker does not conflate Judaism with one particular political platform but rather plays up its spiritual uniqueness.

It would be tempting to dismiss these affectations as accidents of proximity, the incidental result of Obama and Booker being introduced to Judaism by different teachers. But they are not. They reflect deep-rooted divergences in both men’s political outlooks. …

Barack Obama has built his political career on downplaying difference. …

But where Obama conflates, Booker differentiates. He celebrates the sharp edges of identity that Obama works to soften—even when they are in tension with his own ideals. … He respects the dignity of difference, and the integrity of identity, which endears him even to those—like many in the Orthodox community—who do not share his progressive political views.

Yair Rosenberg, “New Jersey Senate Candidate Cory Booker Knows His Torah. So What?”  Tablet (12 August 2013) {http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/140767/cory-bookers-jewish-story?all=1}

The war is now being waged by petty warlords and dangerous extremists of every sort: Taliban-style Salafist fanatics who beat and kill even devout Sunnis because they fail to ape their alien ways; Sunni extremists who have been murdering innocent Alawites and Christians merely because of their religion; and jihadis from Iraq and all over the world who have advertised their intention to turn Syria into a base for global jihad aimed at Europe and the United States.

Given this depressing state of affairs, a decisive outcome for either side would be unacceptable for the United States. An Iranian-backed restoration of the Assad regime would increase Iran’s power and status across the entire Middle East, while a victory by the extremist-dominated rebels would inaugurate another wave of Al Qaeda terrorism.

There is only one outcome that the United States can possibly favor: an indefinite draw.

By tying down Mr. Assad’s army and its Iranian and Hezbollah allies in a war against Al Qaeda-aligned extremist fighters, four of Washington’s enemies will be engaged in war among themselves and prevented from attacking Americans or America’s allies.

That this is now the best option is unfortunate, indeed tragic, but favoring it is not a cruel imposition on the people of Syria, because a great majority of them are facing exactly the same predicament.

Non-Sunni Syrians can expect only social exclusion or even outright massacre if the rebels win, while the nonfundamentalist Sunni majority would face renewed political oppression if Mr. Assad wins. And if the rebels win, moderate Sunnis would be politically marginalized under fundamentalist rulers, who would also impose draconian prohibitions.

Maintaining a stalemate should be America’s objective. And the only possible method for achieving this is to arm the rebels when it seems that Mr. Assad’s forces are ascendant and to stop supplying the rebels if they actually seem to be winning.

This strategy actually approximates the Obama administration’s policy so far. Those who condemn the president’s prudent restraint as cynical passivity must come clean with the only possible alternative: a full-scale American invasion to defeat both Mr. Assad and the extremists fighting against his regime.

That could lead to a Syria under American occupation. And very few Americans today are likely to support another costly military adventure in the Middle East.

A decisive move in any direction would endanger America; at this stage, stalemate is the only viable policy option left.

Edward N. Luttwak, “In Syria, America Loses if Either Side Wins”, The New York Times (25 August 2013), SR 4.

…too often we forget that the people in these countries are not just objects. They are subjects; they have agency. South Africa had a moderate post-apartheid experience because of Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk. Japan rebuilt itself as a modern nation in the late 19th century because its leaders recognized their country was lagging behind the West and asked themselves, “What’s wrong with us?” Outsiders can amplify such positive trends, but the local people have to want to own it.

As that reality has sunk in, so has another reality, which the American public intuits: Our rising energy efficiency, renewable energy, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling are making us much less dependent on the Middle East for oil and gas. The Middle East has gone from an addiction to a distraction.

Thomas L. Friedman, “Foreign Policy by Whisper and Nudge”, The New York Times (25 August 2013), SR 11.

…the real division in the nation: between those who want to have a culture war and those who don’t. At election time, political candidates need simultaneously to “rally the base”, which includes a heavy quotient of culture warriors, and to “appeal to the center”, meaning the majority (often left of center on economic issues), which sees health care, education, jobs, taxes, and national security as central concerns trumping gay marriage or abortion. The result is a strained, dysfunctional, and often dishonest political dialogue based on symbolic utterances. Hot-button questions that rally particular sectors of the electorate – and draw listeners and viewers to confrontational radio and television programs – preempt serious discussion of what ails American culture and society.

E.J. Dionne Jr., Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith & Politics After the Religious Right (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2008), 50.

There certainly remains a wellspring of strong diaspora Jewish support for Israel, and even for many of its right-wing policies. But that support increasingly is limited to American Orthodox Jews, who themselves are increasingly alienated from the rest of the American Jewish community. (Most Americans who support right-wing Israeli policies are religious Christians, who far outnumber American Jews.) While the high birthrates of the Orthodox point to their growing proportion within the American Jewish community, there could not be an Orthodox majority among American Jews for several more decades. What this means is fairly obvious: If the American political class judges that U.S. interests in the Middle East and in Israel no longer warrant the attention and expense characteristic of the past half century, the power of pro-Israel sentiment in American society is increasingly insufficient to thwart or reverse that judgment.

Dov S. Zakheim, “The Geopolitics of Scripture,” The American Interest (July/August 2012), 16.