These Honored Dead

 

The battle at Gettysburg took place 150 years ago: a blink of an eye in the millennia since Sinai. Such uncanny intimacy with the far past is what Jewish culture brings to American history.

Read more at Forward

More about: American Civil War, American Jewish Heritage Month, American Jewish History, Gettysburg, July 4

 

Why Have Palestinian Leaders Rejected All Offers of Peace?

 
December 24

In taking his case to the UN, Mahmoud Abbas is hoping to force an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. But what could Abbas possibly expect to achieve that Israel had not already offered him (or Arafat) in 2000, 2001, and 2008? Jeff Robbins suggests an answer:

The answer . . . and the reasonable inference to be drawn from the history of Palestinian rejectionism is not a particularly happy one. It is that Israel’s proposals for an independent Palestinian state have come with a condition that the Palestinian leadership has regarded as a deal-breaker: a permanent end of the conflict, and a commitment to accept Israel’s existence. By contrast, the Security Council end-game sought by the Palestinians is an end-run around any such condition; it would impose on the Palestinians no obligation to end the dispute.

This is not by chance. As Abbas knows, the Palestinian street opposes any end of conflict with Israel that fails to bring about its disappearance. Even before the summer’s war between Israel and Hamas, a public-opinion poll showed that fewer than 30 percent of Palestinians supported a two-state solution—a West Bank/Gaza state living in lasting peace with Israel. Almost two-thirds told pollsters that “resistance should continue until all of historic Palestine is liberated.” And this past September, 80 percent of Palestinians polled said that Hamas should continue to fire rockets at Israel, with Hamas, recognized by the United States as a terrorist enterprise, receiving an 88-percent approval rating, compared with only 36 percent approving the considerably more moderate Palestinian Authority government led by Abbas.

Read more at Boston Globe

More about: Bill Clinton, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian statehood, Peace Process, United Nations, Yasir Arafat

Iran Is Stepping up Its Arming of Hamas and Hizballah, in Preparation for War with Israel

 
December 24

Iran’s relationship with Hamas broke down when the two backed opposite sides in the Syrian civil war. But now Iran is supporting Hamas’s aspiration to take over the West Bank, thus potentially enabling massive simultaneous missile attacks on Israel. To make matters worse, Russia is supporting this project with arms sales. Michael Segall explains:

Iran, as statements by its senior officials suggest, is working to encircle Israel from the north (Hizballah), the south (Gaza), and the east (the West Bank) and to turn the rocket threat into an unbroken ring around Israeli territory. This Iranian activity is incessant, and it includes persistent smuggling of weapons into Gaza as well as shipments and convoys to Hizballah via Syria. According to foreign reports, sometimes Israel thwarts these weapons shipments in Syrian territory. . . . These reports note that some of the weapons destroyed in an attack on December 7 included advanced Russian-made antiaircraft systems . . . Fateh-110 missiles . . . and Iranian [drones]. . . . .

A few hours before the most recent alleged Israeli attack, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy to the Middle East, Mikhail Bogdanov, met with Hizballah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah as part of the activities marking the 70th anniversary of Russian-Lebanese diplomatic relations. Iran, Russia, and Hizballah have a common interest—the survival of Bashar al-Assad.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Hamas, Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Vladimir Putin, West Bank

A 1,600-Year-Old Menorah Bracelet Discovered in Northern Israel

 
December 24

Archaeologists digging near Mount Carmel have discovered a fragment of a glass bracelet bearing an inscription of a seven-branched menorah. The artifact was found in what appears to been an industrial area within a town that existed in the 4th and 5th centuries B.C.E. Daniel Eisenbud writes:

The researchers . . . believe the bracelet was embossed with the decoration while the glass was still hot. “Stamped impressions of two menorahs survived on the small fragment that was found—one  a plain seven-branched menorah, of which only the surface of the menorah is visible, and the other one consisting of a seven-branched menorah with flames depicted above its branches,” they said.

According to Yael Gorin-Rosen, . . . “bracelets and pendants made of glass that are decorated with symbols of a menorah or lion or different images of gods and animals are known during these periods in Israel, Lebanon, and Syria. So far, three fragments of bracelets with menorah decorations have been discovered in archaeological excavations in the country: in an excavation at Bab el-Hawa in the northern Golan Heights, at Banias, and another bracelet that was discovered years ago in the excavations at Shiqmona, Haifa.”

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Menorah

The Nazi War on Western Civilization

 
December 24

Nazism, writes Daniel Johnson, is best understood as a movement to destroy Western civilization, a goal it shared with Soviet Communism. Too few Europeans understood this in the 1930s. One who did was Aurel Kolnai, a Hungarian Jew who moved to England, fleeing the rising tide of continental anti-Semitism:

Kolnai’s great achievement was to show that Nazi ideology was animated by a hatred of Western civilization. Nothing less than its total defeat would suffice. “The Western cause does not mean a nation set against another nation, not even a party fighting another party: it means the world of civilization organized in moral self-awareness versus the rebels to mankind.” He was clear that “the conflict between the West and Nazi Germany is inseparably connected with the inner problem of Western society.” Kolnai also saw that the enemies of Western civilization had already combined “in an embryonic form” during the Great War. We know that as a young man in Budapest, he ardently prayed for an Allied victory over the Central Powers, even though the defeat of his Hungarian countrymen led to the collapse of the Habsburg Empire, revolution, counterrevolution, and his own exile. He warned that “the Soul of the West is everything. There must be a spark to kindle the fire; there must be a living and active core around which to align mankind: the West aware of the menace of its Foe, and all that is Western and akin to Western essence, outside the West.”

Read more at Standpoint

More about: Austria-Hungary, Leo Strauss, Nazism, Political philosophy, Totalitarianism, Western civilization

A New Depth of Anti-Israel Hypocrisy at NYU

 
December 24

A group of NYU professors just signed a petition calling on the university to divest from companies that do business with Israel. Eight of the signatories are affiliated with NYU’s Abu Dhabi campus, located in a country whose policies apparently do not trouble their conscience. Jonathan Marks writes:

I wonder when these eight faculty members, who pompously stand on NYU’s “long and proud tradition of demanding that the university live up to its professed values,” will be renouncing their affiliation with the government of the United Arab Emirates. As Freedom House observes in its 2014 report, the UAE bans political parties, and “criticism of the government, allies [and] religion” is prohibited by law.

The UAE also has a labor problem. UAE’s mostly foreign workers do not have the right to organize, bargain collectively, or strike. Expatriate workers can be banned from working in the UAE if they try to leave their employer prior to at least two years of service. NYU responded to this difficulty by issuing a statement concerning labor values they expected to be adhered to in the building of the campus. Nonetheless, some of the workers who built the campus “lived in squalor, 15 men to a room.” . . . Workers with the temerity to strike were arrested, beaten, and deported. But it’s a lovely campus, and I am sure the faculty members who want NYU to live up to its values are enjoying it. Who can begrudge brave and hardworking anti-Israeli petition signers their day at the beach?

Read more at Commentary

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, BDS, Hypocrisy, Israel on campus, United Arab Emirates