Tag: Israel

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It’s official: the Reform and Conservative movements of Judaism have directly welcomed Jewish anti-Semites into the fold. At first glance, these self-destructive actions make no sense: why would Jews embrace other Jews who want to destroy the faith? Yet steps have been taken to threaten Judaism and I find it puzzling and frightening. In a […]

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Eurovision 2019: The Hip Hop Beat of the Mideast Conflict


Two weeks ago, the organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest, made a startling announcement: The contest rules which have been in place for six decades should apply … unless, of course, a singer from Israel wins the contest …. and then, well, we need to rethink the matter.

Because an Israeli singer, Netta Barzilai, did in fact win the contest in Lisbon in mid-May, the European broadcasters had a dilemma: Follow the contest’s long-standing rules, or develop and apply a new, special set of rules that only apply to Israel.

To understand the controversy, and how it provides a view into the wider public diplomacy challenges that Israel faces each day, some background is needed.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America toast better-than-expected unemployment numbers, the best in 18 years.  They also lambaste Virginia Republicans for rolling over and approving the Obamacare Medicaid expansion they claimed to oppose for years.  And they dig through more eye-opening posts from Joy Reid’s supposedly hacked blog, including her likening of John McCain to the Virginia Tech shooter, endorsing the removal of the Israeli government to Europe, and likening illegal immigration to slave labor for multinationals.

This week on Banter, Yossi Klein Halevi joined the show to discuss his new book, Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor, which explores the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through Israeli eyes. In a series of letters, he outlines the difficult choices that both Israelis and Palestinians must face if there is ever to be a chance of lasting peace in the region. Halevi is an American-born journalist and senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. His other books include At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew’s Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land and Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation.

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Richard Epstein examines the recent violence in Gaza and explains the hopelessness of current Middle East peace initiatives.

The Israel-Palestine Standoff


Few issues produce more political and emotional discord than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In principle, there is much to commend a two-state solution. If achieved, it could allow the two groups to live beside each other in peace. Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, the interminable peace process came to a screeching halt this past week as the American embassy opened in Jerusalem. An exultant Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proclaimed before Israeli and American dignitaries, “We are in Jerusalem and we are here to stay.” At the same moment , thousands of angry Palestinian demonstrators were rebuffed with deadly force as they sought to storm into Israel from Gaza. The confrontations took place on May 14 and 15—and the Palestinians consciously timed their protests to correspond with the seventieth anniversary of the Palestinian Exodus that resulted in the birth of the Israeli state. Some 62 Gazans died and thousands were wounded as the Israelis used live ammunition to keep protestors from storming over the barricades into Israel.

Now that the protests have subsided, Hamas seeks to capitalize on the deaths and injuries to isolate Israel diplomatically. The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva has harshly condemned the Israelis for a “wholly disproportionate response” to the provocations they faced. Any fair-minded assessment can only judge the Israeli response by first looking at Hamas’s provocation. But as with other UN tribunals, the evidence on the ground does not matter. In this instance, Hamas was fiendishly clever by mixing in children with violent protestors to bolster its common claim that the Israelis fired on “unarmed individuals” who posed little or no imminent threat to the Israelis, a claim that was quickly repeated by Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).

Hamas’ charge is bizarre for two reasons. The first is that a mob, even of “unarmed” individuals, is typically intent on committing acts of violence by its sheer force of numbers. Indeed, the fiery confrontation looked like a war zone, marked by the hurling of Molotov cocktails, rocks, grenades, and pipe bombs at IDF border guard forces, backed up by the use of incendiary kites flown over Israeli territory. At multiple points along the border, Hamas operatives used wire cutters to tear up fences in order to allow hordes of thuggish Palestinians to fan out into Israeli territory. As Israeli intelligence reports, Hamas paid women and children to go to the front in order to put them in the line of fire.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America take aim at three examples of egregious media bias.  They start with the heroism of Dixon High School (Ill.) school resource officer Mark Dallas, who saved countless lives in a would-be school shooting this week, yet the media glossed over the story since there was no body count and they have little interest in highlighting the effectiveness of a resource officer willing to engage the shooter.  They also slam the press for selectively quoting President Trump to make it seem he was referring to immigrants as “animals” when he was responding specifically to comment about the vicious Latin American gang MS-13.  And they throw up their hands as Hamas admits most of the people killed along the Israeli border were armed Hamas members and not random civilians and the media show no interest in reporting it.

We’re Winning in the Middle East


In Iran / Syria last week:

  • President Trump withdrew from the Iran deal.
  • Iran responded by firing missiles into Israel.
  • Israel responded by destroying much of Iran’s military assets in Syria.
  • Russia responded by announcing that on second thought they would not be sending arms to Iranian forces in Syria. That is, they were reducing their support for Iran in Syria.
  • Saudi Arabia’s proxy Bahrain explicitly affirmed the rights of all states, including Israel, to defend themselves. A remarkable comment from a country that doesn’t recognize the state of Israel.

A few days earlier Bahrain and UAE were Tweeting their happiness to be in Jerusalem to participate in an international bike race. This is new.

Welcome to the Harvard Lunch Club Political podcast number 175 (isn’t there like a name for that? like the sequeplus centennial or something?) it is the Dying Anyway Podcast with your handsome and charming hosts, radio guy Todd Feinburg and nanophysicist turned AI-guy Mike Stopa. We bring you the topics that you want to hear, analyzed the way that you want them to be analyzed.

This week, John McCain is in a bad way. Everyone knows that. But he still wants to express his opinion while he is on this side of the grass. But is there any reason we need to listen to him? He’s going to die anyway,  right?

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America enjoy watching Democrats publicly feud over how prominent the impeachment issue should be in 2018.  They also shake their heads as the Seattle City Council tries to fight homelessness by taxing companies $275 for every employee if the business makes more than $20 million per year.  They fire back as Never Trump “Republican” Steve Schmidt says Trump’s decision to embassy is only a calculation for the midterm elections and that the president has blood on his hands from the violence along the Israel-Gaza border.  And Jim offers a champagne toast to mark the passing of prolific author and National Review friend Tom Wolfe.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America welcome the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem after three previous administrations acknowledged Jerusalem as the Israeli capital but refused to move the embassy.  They also wince as Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin vetoes legislation that would allow residents to carry guns without a permit, leading Jim to wonder whether the anti-gun backlash after Parkland is making GOP officials more timid.  And they roll their eyes as the media condemn Israel for defending its borders against thousands of Palestinians specifically sent to the border to instigate a response from Israel.

Haters of Israel Will be Happy Now


From Fox News:

At least 37 Palestinians were killed Monday and more than 900 wounded as protests at the Gaza border with Israel turned deadly ahead of the U.S. Embassy opening in Jerusalem, Palestinian health officials said.

The bloodiest day in weeks of demonstrations could become even more chaotic as Israel vows to hold back thousands of protesters and prevent the possibility they could breach the border at any cost. Over 35,000 protesters at 12 locations have amassed along the Gaza security fence.

Tightening the Screws on Israel


Let me be blunt. The Iranian deal always was a disaster and, after President Netanyahu’s presentation, we’re relearning what we already knew. Mama Toad’s post did a great job of soliciting input from Ricochetti about Netanyahu’s statement. And if you want an outsider’s view, take a look at David Harsanyi’s article in The Federalist. I encourage you to offer your opinion on this dangerous and ridiculous agreement, but this OP will take two different directions, particularly regarding Israel. One question is: what do we do next on the Iran agreement? The second addresses a different topic: what do you think are the dangers of the protests in Gaza at the border with Israel?

So let’s look at Iran first. They’ve lied from the start, in spite of “guarantees” for transparency and investigations by the IAEA. In its February 22, 2018 report, the IAEA summary reads as follows:

The Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material at the nuclear facilities and locations outside facilities where nuclear material is customarily used (LOFs) declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. Evaluations regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities for Iran remained ongoing. Since Implementation Day, the Agency has been verifying and monitoring the implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA. The Director General will continue to report as appropriate.

Saudis Recognize Israel’s Right to Exist


I couldn’t believe my ears — yes, my ears. I learned about this by phone from my Torah study partner in Israel. I had to search to find out more. Thanks to Ben Shapiro, I finally believe it. He quotes an article in the Atlantic where Prince Mohammed bin Salman says:

I believe that each people, anywhere, has a right to live in their peaceful nation. I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land…. we have religious concerns about the fate of the holy mosque in Jerusalem and about the rights of the Palestinian people. This is what we have. We don’t have any objection against any other people.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are pleasantly stunned to hear Saudi Arabia’s crown prince publicly state that Israel has a right to live in peace on its own land and wonder if things are truly changing in the Middle East or whether this is a temporary thaw in order to confront Iran.  In the wake of the very public feud between Fox News host Laura Ingraham and gun control activist David Hogg, they also discuss how the rise of populism leads to political debates becoming a referendum on the people in the debate rather than the ideas involved in the debate.  And they wonder why President Trump is spending so much time blasting Amazon and the rate it pays to mail packages, suspecting it might have something to do with another business venture headed by Jeff Bezos.

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According to Anatoly Karlin: Islamic State might have been beaten, but there is a difference between Toyota-riding bearded yahoos and serious military Powers like the US, Turkey, and Israel. The latter cannot be dislodged, and they have now effectively partitioned Syria. Preview Open

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What do three Israeli Palestinian women – a chic lawyer, a grungy lesbian disk jockey and a religious computer science student who are sharing an apartment in Tel Aviv – have in common?  Maysaloun Hamoud’s film “Bar Behar” (which is “In Between” in English) is an exposition of precisely what that commonality comprises. I saw […]

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Israel vs. Hezbollah/Syria/Iran–Just how bad are things getting in the Middle East? Lindsey Graham’s terrifying report.

Reason Magazine’s Jacob Sullum on whether we should give cops the power to detain without a warrant to stop gun crimes

Time to Break from the Palestinians and the Peace Process


Did you know that members of Fatah attacked a US delegation from the Jerusalem consulate last week? This is Caroline Glick’s description of the attack:

On Tuesday a delegation of diplomats from the US Consulate in Jerusalem came to Bethlehem to participate in a meeting of the local chamber of commerce. When they arrived in the city, Fatah members attacked them. Their vehicles with diplomatic license plates were pelted with tomatoes and eggs by a mob of protesters calling out anti-American slogans.

After the Americans entered the hall where the meeting was scheduled to take place, some of the rioters barged in. They held placards condemning America and they shouted, “Americans Out!”