Tag: Israel

Join Jim and Greg for three good martinis! First, they credit NBC for actually reporting that a big reason for huge forest fires is poor government management and a refusal to diligently thin out forests to contain future fires. They’re also thrilled to see polling showing 80 percent of Saudis expecting normalization of relations with Israel and 71 percent expecting it whether the Palestinians pursue a peace deal or not. And they’re glad to see a majority of Americans approving the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett and a huge majority opposing court packing.

Trump’s Disruptive Foreign Policy

 

The following began its brief life as a comment on another recent post, but after reflection I thought maybe it was cogent enough to stand on its own. On the foreign policy front, I suspect I may be the only one here who has served in Embassies, including during the Trump era. This is what I will say about that.

  1. I’m sure I won’t break any news when I say that most of the foreign policy establishment leans left and is distressed when any Republican is elected but was especially so in 2016. This is not only true of our dear State Department friends but across the entire transnational community of foreign policy elites.
  2. Continuing as Captain Obvious, DJT is a norm-breaker, and the foreign policy community seriously loves it some norms–and resents when they are broken.
  3. Of course, some norms badly needed to be broken. In particular, the national and international foreign policy consensus on China urgently needed to move, and this administration succeeded in catalyzing that movement. The 2017 National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy were masterfully done. They met a critical need to generate a global awakening about the failure of the previous consensus on Beijing, probably best summarized by Robert Zoellick’s 2005 “Responsible Stakeholder” speech. Someone had to end the charade, and it’s worth wondering whether a more conventional administration of either party could have overcome the entrenched consensus to have boldly introduced major-power competition as the new normal–so successfully that even the professionals now agree that we can’t go back to the status quo ante on China.
  4. Israel and the Middle East is the other major area where the foreign policy consensus simply had to be sidelined. I recently spoke to a State Department official who–in the context of a discussion about normalization with the UAE and Bahrain–seethed angrily about how this Administration had trashed 70 years of foreign policy consensus on Palestine. Without irony. Sometimes the conventional wisdom must be firmly rejected.
  5. Getting our allies to finally invest in their own defense is also a plus.
  6. Having said that, we are paying a price for appearing capricious and unnecessarily dismissive of our allies. Sure, they can be difficult, but they remain our allies and we do need to keep them on our side. Those same national security documents make it clear that major-power competition is a team sport, and we have to bring the team along if we’re going to win. And we must win.
  7. Also, the incessantly revolving door of senior officials (especially SecDefs and National Security Advisors) has been extremely disruptive to getting important work done in the international space.
  8. Finally, there’s been a dearth of consistently strong and vocal leadership on our American principles (democracy, rule of law, human rights, etc.), particularly since Nikki Haley stepped down as U.N. Ambassador. Foreign policy requires salesmanship, and ours would benefit from some strength, steadiness, and consistency on these themes.

Bottom line, this administration has served as a corrective to some badly flawed policy. Disruption was absolutely necessary, but at some point should start to give way to stability and focused team-building.

Donald Trump, whether people want to admit it or not, scored a pretty big foreign policy win as Israel normalized relations with UAE and Bahrain. Seth, Park, Jay, and Grant discuss the political implications for Trump and why people are so afraid (on either side) to credit anyone, not in their party for policy success.

Also, the guys discuss the coronavirus vaccine and the effects of both Trump over-promising and some Democrats flirting with anti-vax rhetoric because they don’t like Trump and argue the wrong point (that it won’t be ready by election day instead of assuming it will and saying they don’t trust the president).

Join Jim and Greg as they cheer the Abraham Accords and hope President Trump is right that several other Arab nations may soon normalize relations with Israel as well. They also discuss the claims of a possible Chinese whistleblower who claims she has evidence that COVID-19 came from a lab rather than a wet market and the Chinese Communist Party has been covering its tracks ever since. Jim explains why she ought to release whatever she has as soon as possible. And as the “experts” keep insisting states are totally prepared for massive mail-in voting, they groan as Michigan can’t even get the names in the presidential race right on the ballot.

Join Jim and Greg as they applaud the normalization of relations between Israel and Bahrain and indications that Saudi Arabia may soon follow suit. They also discuss the premeditated shootings of two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies on Saturday and why Joe Biden condemns the shooting but not the people blocking the ambulances from reaching the hospitals and chanting that they hoped the deputies died.  And Jim explains why the wildfires in the western U.S. are exposing the extreme policies of some Democrats and environmental activists.

Trump Negotiates Historic Israel-UAE Peace Deal

 

President Trump achieved a diplomatic milestone Thursday, leading the United Arab Emirates and Israel to establish a full normalization of relations. This is more bad news for the Iranian regime as well as the dead-end supporters of Obama’s nuclear deal.

“The historic diplomatic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East region,” according to a joint statement, “and is a testament to the bold diplomacy and vision of the three leaders and the courage of the United Arab Emirates and Israel to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential in the region.”

To achieve the deal, Israel will suspend annexing parts of the West Bank and will instead focus on improving ties throughout the Middle East.

Join Jim and Greg as they sip three good martinis today. First, they’re thrilled to hear that Israel and the United Arab Emirates are normalizing relations. They also shudder to learn the Maine Democratic Senate hopeful Sara Gideon repeatedly blocked legislation to ban female genital mutilation, but are thankful the story is coming to light for voters to consider. And they cheer weekly first-time jobless claims dropping below one million for the first time since the pandemic began.

Member Post

 

As Israel is at risk of entering a second wave, it is time to think about a sustainable long term plan that can protect the population at high risk, without destroying further our very fragile economy nor canceling our civil liberties. The government needs to clarify its tools, goals, and the sustainability of its policies […]

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Member Post

 

As a direct consequence of the lockdowns, more than a million Israelis have lost their jobs, and the country faces a 25% unemployment rate. Getting those individuals back at work is a national priority, failing to do so will not only destroy the lives of many families but also bring social unrest. Unfortunately, the government […]

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Member Post

 

This week, our politicians formed Israel 35th government after 508 days and three rounds of elections. Israelis watched sadly the swearing-in of 34 ministers with fake titles and unknown functions and another 12 deputy ministers scratching for meaningless jobs. This government is nothing short of a gargantuan monster, bathing in a life of affluence, and […]

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Health, Privacy, and Shin Bet Surveillance

 

Israel is re-opening the economy, and the world is watching our success story against COVID-19. Many parameters probably played a role in reducing the health impact of the virus. Still, it seems that closing the borders early and the outstanding behavior of the population are the main factors. The overwhelming majority of Israelis agreed to make drastic changes to save lives. This behavior isn’t unusual, Israelis live permanently in a state of emergency, almost instinctively, we come together in solidarity and unity at times of danger. But, the citizens also dictated the end of the strict lockdowns when the economic and emotional cost became unbearable. As days passed, and the virus felt less devastating than previously thought citizens demanded an end of the restrictions, leaving no choice to our government than to relax the most coercive legislation.

However, there is a tool that our government used during this crisis: military-grade surveillance on private citizens, and even as we return to our “normal” life, this monitoring persists. The use of such surveillance was defended as a tool for saving lives through contact tracing of the infection. It turns out that this system, operated by the Shin Bet, only helped reveal a minuscule number of cases. Despite those poor results, we are still under full surveillance even after the containment of the virus and return to “normal” activities. Detailed information about every single aspect of our life is being watched and stored by government agencies. They know who we meet, how long we spend with our friends, where we shop, where we walk. They trace every action we take during the day. It’s often described as one of the most intrusive surveillance systems in the world and with the exception of China, no other countries have deployed such monitoring in their fight against COVID-19.

In fact, until a few weeks ago, this type of surveillance had only been used against suspected terrorists. Have we all become suspected terrorists in the eyes of our government?

Bret Stephens, op-ed columnist for The New York Times, sits down with Bridget to discuss Trump’s effect on the Republican Party, feeling out of place in your own country, the dangers of a culture that’s so sure of its convictions, mob politics, and how Trump’s behavior is both a symptom and a cause of a form of cultural corrosion. Bret talks growing up in Mexico and the perspective it gave him on the US that most Americans don’t have, and why what we have in the US is relatively rare, difficult to achieve, and extraordinarily easy to lose. He and Bridget cover tolerating behavior you find morally offensive because you realize that the price of intolerance is worse than whatever offense is being perpetrated, the unforgiving nature of writing a weekly column, maintaining the understanding you don’t possess a lock on truth, how antisemitism is like a society’s immune system, the emerging attitude of a hatred of excellence, and his experience of being in Jerusalem on 9/11.

Full transcript available here: WiW59-BretStephens-Transcript

Israel, Gaza, and Presidential Politics

 

Here we go again: rockets fired into Israel from Gaza; Israel retaliates; and the story continues. But it is a different and more ominous story, and we should all be concerned.

At the moment, there is a ceasefire between Gaza and Israel, facilitated by Egypt. It is sure to be violated, and will probably collapse. In one sense, this story is an old one. But the aggressors have changed, and Israel will not sit back and be victimized by the new guns in town: Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

This is one description of the current violence:

Member Post

 

It’s election day in Israel, which matters quite a lot to us. So, Vrouwe and I spent about an hour looking for a good online source for live news from Israel in English and found nothing that was really live or available in Europe. We ended up listening to some chap live-blogging the elections on […]

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America have no good martinis today. They wince as the national deficit creeps closer to $1 trillion again and lament that neither party has any intention of seriously addressing the problem before disaster strikes next decade. They also cringe as President Trump rightly slams Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and other far left lawmakers for pushing the anti-Semitic BDS movement but then says says any Jews who vote for Democrats are being disloyal. And they get a kick out of Jill Biden telling Democrats that her husband might not be the best candidate but voters should get on board because he has the best chance to beat Trump.

Netanyahu Stands up to Omar and Tlaib

 

At least someone has decided to stand up to Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib’s anti-Semitic and anti-Israel agenda. It’s clear that our Congress will not.

Last month, a visit to Israel by these two lawmakers had been approved. Just two days before the trip, however, both women announced that they planned to use the trip to promote the Boycott-Divest-Sanction (BDS) movement, an international effort to cripple the Israeli economy and delegitimize the Jewish state. When their agenda became clear, Israel enforced a law passed in 2017 which prohibits entry to those who promote boycotting the country. Foreign Minister Israel Katz spoke out supporting the ban–referring to their support of BDS, terrorism and minimizing the Holocaust:

Rising from the Ashes in Israel

 

The following letter is from Alifa Sadiyah, one of our Rico friends from Israel. She lived on the moshav that was destroyed by the terrible fires this past spring. With her permission, I am posting her letter, and have encouraged her to visit Ricochet to know there is one fine group of people that supports her and wishes her well. Here’s her letter:

Dear Susan,