A decade ago, the United States vetoed burgeoning ties between Israel and China. Now Sino-Israeli relations are flourishing again—this time, apparently, with Washington’s blessing.
Despite its many successes, Israel has been hindered by a deep-seated belief that the state is responsible for managing the economy. Among intellectuals, academics, and policymakers, the idea that a nation’s economic progress results from a culture imbued with the spirit of capitalism, and not from government intervention, is almost heretical. Amnon Lord writes:
[I]n a lecture in Jerusalem, [American] presidential candidate Mitt Romney said [in 2012] that he attributes Israeli economic success to a “strong culture.” “I come here to this city and I see the accomplishments of people of this nation,” he said. “I see the power of culture and other things.” Romney compared the Israeli economy to the Palestinian one in terms of GNP: “You see such dramatic and prominent differences in economic vitality.” Later he said in a more philosophical tone: “if you can learn something from the history of the economy in the world, this is the lesson: culture is what makes the difference.”
The pseudo-intellectual outrage that erupted in the wake of Romney’s statements is a test case in how a profound truth turns into a distortion at the hands of those who support leaving power in the hands of the state and fraudulent “social justice.” As if a statement on how culture can help the economy promotes the idea of “cultural superiority”—with racial superiority not far off, of course. This is one of the methods used by supporters of socialism nowadays to suppress any serious discussion of the profound questions of economic reform.
The recent decision by Iran and the U.S. to extend the deadline for an agreement on nuclear weapons is based on a fundamental fallacy that the current American government believes wholeheartedly: that this is a problem that can be solved through further negotiations. In truth, no agreement can be reached because Iran is unwilling to give up its nuclear-weapons program. The same fallacy lies behind the blundering attempts to force an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Elliott Abrams writes:
[T]he beginning of wisdom in both these cases, Iranian and Israeli-Palestinian, is the realization that the fundamental differences cannot be papered over. The Obama administration has tried and tried, and it has failed—not due to a failure of its diplomats to master their briefs, but because the administration did not understand the nature of the problem. Once you recognize that the Ayatollah Khamenei insists on a nuclear-weapons program, and that President Abbas will not and cannot agree to give up the “right of return” and make compromises on Jerusalem, you recognize that more sessions with more diplomats won’t reach a different result. It’s a category error, where a thing belonging to a particular category is presented as belonging to a different category. Here, disputes that are fundamental (because interests are adverse) are presented by the Obama administration as being mere misunderstandings—problems that American good faith and State Department elbow grease can resolve.
The Spanish and British parliaments have voted to recognize a fictive Palestinian state; the Swedish government has also recognized such a state; and France is poised to be next. In the short run, these declarations are meaningless and purely symbolic. But, argues Guy Millière, they may soon add up to something:
The next step in anti-Israeli offensives will take place very soon. Mahmoud Abbas and the “Palestinian” leaders will go to the United Nations, and seek recognition of a “Palestinian State” by the UN Security Council. If they succeed, “Palestine” could become a full member-state of the UN without having to make any concessions to anyone at all—and free to continue inciting terror, committing terror, and glorifying those who practice terror. Abbas and Palestinian leaders might then demand that the Security Council set a deadline for Israel’s withdrawal to the “pre-1967 lines.”
France and the United Kingdom and will abstain, which will mean that they agree. The only thing that can prevent all this is a U.S. veto. However, relations between the United States and Israel have so deeply deteriorated since the beginning of the Obama presidency that many Israeli diplomats think a U.S. veto uncertain.
Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi emeritus of the United Kingdom, argues that the biblical idea of marriage (and love) is a contribution as important as monotheism itself. Addressing an interfaith conference at the Vatican, Sacks narrates the evolution of the family as seen through biology, anthropology, and the Bible, and concludes with a surprising exegesis of the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. (Video, 31 minutes.)
In 1940, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in New York, like many synagogues, held a special service for Thanksgiving. It included traditional Hebrew prayers, the singing of the national anthem, and a speech by the lieutenant governor of the state. The congregation’s rabbi, Joseph Lookstein also composed a special prayer (in English) for the occasion:
We pray sincerely for America and the ideals of democracy and freedom that are here enshrined. May she be strong to withstand all the currents that assail her and all the forces of evil that would invade her sacred precincts. A tower of light to her own citizenry, may she cast a steady beam and light up all the dark areas of the world and show to a perplexed and straying humanity the path of freedom, of life, and of peace.