In Defense of Cory Booker


To Peter Beinart, it is inconceivable that a liberal Democrat could share the views of AIPAC. That says more about Beinart than about Newark’s mayor or many other liberal Democrats.

Read more at Huffington Post

More about: AIPAC, American Jewry, Cory Booker, Democrats, Peter Beinart, Republicans, Shmuley Boteach


Hamas Plans Its Next Attack on Israel

November 25

Having rejected the UN plan for reconstructing Gaza, Hamas is now looking for someone to punish for its own decision. Attacking the Palestinian Authority and the ruling Fatah party is tempting, but Israel’s military presence in the West Bank, and Palestinian opinion there, rule it out. That leaves one choice: starting another war with Israel. Khaled Abu Toameh writes:

Hamas is now talking about an imminent “explosion” against Israel if the promises to rebuild Gaza are not fulfilled. Some Hamas representatives even have the audacity to hold Israel fully responsible for hindering the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. Hamas’s threats against Israel should be taken seriously, especially in light of reports that the movement is continuing to prepare for another war. Hamas not only continues to dig tunnels under the border with Israel; it has also been test-firing rockets into the Mediterranean Sea.

Hamas does not have much left to lose in another military confrontation with Israel. The killing of a few hundred more Palestinians in Gaza will allow it to shift attention from its failure to rebuild to blaming Israel for “waging another war” on the Palestinians. Hamas is also hoping that another war will further increase anti-Israel sentiment around the world and earn the Palestinians even more sympathy.


Read more at Gatestone

More about: Gaza, Hamas, Israel, Palestinian Authority, West Bank


The “Jewish State” Proposal is Uncontroversial; Why the Fuss?

November 25

A bill currently before the Knesset declaring Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people is threatening to topple the ruling coalition. Although its critics have grandiosely attacked it as a chauvinistic attempt to undermine Israel’s democratic values, the bill was in fact the brainchild of a group of Israeli politicians and public figures from across the political spectrum. To understand the bill’s significance, according to Haviv Rettig Gur, one must first understand how it evolved:

In 2006 and early 2007, Israeli Arab civic groups produced three documents about the nature and identity of Israel. . . . The documents marked the first serious foray of Israeli Arab civil society into the question of Israel’s identity, and their shared conclusion was unequivocal: the Israeli state’s identification with Jewish nationhood must end. As the country’s “indigenous minority,” Israel’s Arabs deserved political autonomy, special protections, and a dismantling of the prevailing ethnic majority’s national self-determination. . . . The “Jewish nation-state” bill began squarely in the political center as a Zionist response to Arab civil society’s efforts to challenge the very principles the bill tries to cement in law.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Israel's Basic Law, Israeli Arabs, Israeli democracy

Matthew Arnold's Hebraism: An Antidote to Today's Anarchy

November 25

In Culture and Anarchy, the preeminent Victorian intellectual Matthew Arnold famously wrote of the contest between those human endeavors that are noble, ennobling, and beautiful and a liberal society where everyone is free to do or say whatever he wants. He also wrote of the contest between the Hebraist and Hellenist strains of Western culture—the former based on doing, the latter on thinking. According to Arnold, for culture to triumph it must strike the right balance between the two. Gertrude Himmelfarb writes:

“Hebraism and Hellenism” . . . are not so much opposed, Arnold points out, as “divergent,” animated by “different principles” but having the “same goal” and “aiming at a like final result.” Both are “contributions to human development—august contributions, invaluable contributions.” Both “arise out of the wants of human nature, and address themselves to satisfying those wants.” The aim of both is the same: “man’s perfection or salvation.” Moreover, it is by alternating the two, “a man’s intellectual and moral impulses,” that “the human spirit proceeds; and each of these two forces has its appointed hours of culmination and seasons of rule.”

The last proviso, about the “appointed hours” and “seasons,” is at the heart of the matter, for this is what made the issue urgent for Arnold. “Now, and for us,” his preface asserts, “it is a time to Hellenize, and to praise knowing; for we have Hebraized too much, and have over-valued doing.” Yet this was followed immediately by the cautionary note: “But the habits and discipline received from Hebraism remain for our race an eternal possession; and as humanity is constituted, one must never assign to them the second rank today, without being prepared to restore them to the first rank tomorrow.”

The final chapter [of Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy] even foresees a time when the two great principles would be in accord.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Gertrude Himmelfarb, Hellenism, Matthew Arnold, Western civilization

Netanyahu’s Reflections on War

November 25

A group of historians recently visited Israel’s current prime minister with a commemorative volume of documents about his predecessor Menachem Begin. A conversation about the late prime minister, known to have expressed great agony over the deaths of Israeli soldiers, led to Netanyahu’s sharing his own feelings about making life-and-death decisions of the kind that fall to heads of state. Yaacov Lozowick recounts:

There is a profound difference between hearing about bereaved families, and actually being in one: [Netanyahu] knows about that difference, and understands it from personal experience. But to his surprise—this was my impression—sending soldiers to their death turned out also to be hard to a degree that one cannot appreciate in advance. . . .

[Netanyahu said,] “And every night I’d get home in the wee hours, and my wife would be awake, waiting for me. She spent the days visiting the bereaved families. I only spoke to them on the phone, with each and every one of them, but she sat at their side, and at night she would tell me about them. We must send them, and we must bring them back, and I didn’t appreciate how hard it would be. A leader who loses the understanding of how difficult it is ought to lose his job.”

“I thought a lot about Begin this summer.”

Read more at Yaacov Lozowick’s Ruminations

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli military, Menachem Begin, War


Jonathan Pollard Is Denied Parole, but Why?

November 25

After decades of refusing to do so, Jonathan Pollard applied for parole after his lawyers were encouraged by broad hints dropped by President Obama. Details of the parole hearing, which took place several months ago, only recently became public. The proceedings, writes Gil Hoffman, give further credence to the claim that Pollard is being kept by the U.S. as a bargaining chip, to be used for obtaining concessions from Israel. Hoffman writes:

[A]ll hopes that the hearing would be fair were dashed immediately. The government’s representatives spoke menacingly, treated Pollard with contempt, prevented [his attorney] from making his case, and made it clear that the Israeli agent would not see the Jewish state any time soon, if ever. Those present described the hearing as a “kangaroo court” and even “a lynching.”

The rejection letter that the parole commission sent Pollard in August, which the Jerusalem Post exclusively obtained, was also harsh in tone. . . . The commission wrote that ahead of the 30th anniversary of Pollard’s incarceration, it would conduct another review of the case in February 2015 and another parole hearing five months later. But when asked whether the government would once again oppose Pollard’s parole next July, a commission official replied, “Absolutely, vigorously”—indicating that it would be no different from the hearing that had just concluded.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Barack Obama, Intelligence, Jonathan Pollard, US-Israel relations