Israel Looks East


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.

Read more at Tablet

More about: China, Diplomacy, Israel, United States


American Jews Should Stand Firm against the Iran Deal as They Did 40 Years Ago against a Deal with the USSR


In 1974, as the Nixon administration was about to grant generous trade benefits to the USSR, American Jewish organizations—and Soviet Jewish activists—criticized the move and urged the U.S. government not to turn a blind eye to the fate of Soviet Jewry. Thanks in part to their intervention, Congress passed the Jackson-Vanik amendment linking economic concessions to changes in Soviet behavior, crucially including the free emigration of Soviet citizens. Natan Sharansky reflects on the implications for today:

American Jewish organizations . . . faced a difficult choice. They were reluctant to speak out against the U.S. government and appear to put the “narrow” Jewish interest above the cause of peace. Yet they also realized that the freedom of all Soviet Jews was at stake, and they actively supported the policy of linkage. . . .

The decaying Soviet economy could not support an arms race or maintain tolerable conditions without credit and support from the United States. By conditioning this assistance on the opening of the USSR’s gates, the United States would not only help free millions of Soviet Jews as well as hundreds of millions of others, but also pave the way for the regime’s eventual collapse.

Today, an American president has once again sought to achieve stability by removing sanctions against a brutal dictatorship without demanding that the latter change its behavior. And once again, a group of outspoken Jews—no longer a small group of dissidents in Moscow but leaders of the state of Israel, from the governing coalition and the opposition alike—are sounding an alarm. Of course, we [in Israel] are reluctant to criticize our ally and to oppose so vigorously an agreement that purports to promote peace. But we know that we are again at a historic crossroads, and that the United States can either appease a criminal regime—one that supports global terror, relentlessly threatens to eliminate Israel, and executes more political prisoners than any other per capita—or stand firm in demanding change in its behavior.

Read more at Washington Post

More about: Barack Obama, Iran nuclear program, Natan Sharansky, Politics & Current Affairs, Refuseniks, Richard Nixon, Scoop Jackson, U.S. Foreign policy

Is Egypt’s Regime Here to Stay? Yes


Notwithstanding the recent wave of violence, argues Eric Trager, Egypt is not in danger of collapse (free registration required):

Egypt is more politically stable than it’s been in years. Unlike the divided regimes that collapsed in the face of mass protests in January 2011 and June 2013, [President Sisi’s] regime is internally unified. And the various state institutions and civil groups that constitute the regime will likely remain tightly aligned for one basic reason: they view the Muslim Brotherhood as a significant threat to their respective interests and thus see the regime’s crackdown on the organization as essential to their own survival.

Moreover, as many and perhaps most Egyptians see it, the Sisi regime’s internal unity is the one thing preventing the country from descending into the chaotic statelessness that has overtaken other countries [in the wake of the Arab Spring], and they strongly prefer even a repressive and somewhat inept regime to what they see as a far worse alternative. So even as Egypt’s domestic security becomes more tenuous, the status quo is sustainable, because regime change appears highly unlikely in the near term.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Arab Spring, Egypt, Middle East, Politics & Foreign Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy


Is Egypt’s Regime Here to Stay? No


Military might alone can’t hold Egypt together indefinitely, writes Elliott Abrams:

In the past, American policy often elevated “stability” in Egypt above all other goals there. When [Hosni] Mubarak fell, it should have been apparent that the place was far less stable than we had thought. Today again, we hear a lot about the need for stability there—usually leading to the argument that we should just keep quiet and back [President] Sisi. But . . . the military has taken over the state entirely and is responsible for everything. As [one expert] wrote, the [Egyptian] army is “simultaneously trying to manage the economy, reconstruct the political system, conduct a counterinsurgency campaign, modernize its own forces, and devise a consistent foreign policy, all without substantial civilian input. . . . Visibly in charge of the state, the economy, public security, and indeed, everything, the military will be held to account for the ever more evident shortcomings.” That’s no formula for stability.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Arab Spring, Egypt, Middle East, Mubara, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

Zosa Szajkowski: Great Jewish Historian . . . and Kleptomaniac?


Zosa Szajkowski (1911-1978), a Polish-born Jew who spent most of his life in France and the U.S., was an accomplished Jewish historian and archivist. During and after World War II, he worked tirelessly to get materials relevant to Jewish history out of Europe. But as Lisa Leff shows in a recent book, he also stole materials from archives, sometimes selling them to other institutions. In an interview, Leff discusses his bizarre career. (Interview by Sara Ivry; audio, about 30 minutes.)

Read more at Tablet

More about: French Jewry, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Jewish archives, Jewish history

Of Genomes and Jews


A recent collection of essays, Jews and Genes, addresses the implications for Jewish identity and Jewish peoplehood of recent discoveries in the field of genetics. Jonathan Kirsch writes in his review:

Significantly, some of the richest and most provocative essays in the collection have nothing to do with science. For example, Yosef Leibowitz . . . deconstructs the text of Genesis to extract the distinction between “the nature of the human soul and the image of God within it.” Leibowitz argues that the power bestowed upon humankind by the Creator is always checked by moral boundaries, and the constant tension that exists between power and morality “lie[s] at the core of our humanity.” Contrary to many of his fellow contributors, Leibowitz concludes with an unsettling question: “If God’s ‘image’ is within us so long as our physical bodies are here to embrace it, are we to nurture and protect it from the moment of the first living cell until the last?”

Read more at Jewish Journal

More about: Abortion, Genesis, Genetics, History & Ideas, Judaism