Settlement Reality Check


Israel’s construction in smaller settlements has steadily decreased; not so, Washington’s obsessive and misplaced demands for a total freeze. 

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Settlements, West Bank


A Shamefully Weak Link in the Defense of Civilization

October 20

The British parliament’s vote last week to recognize a nonexistent Palestinian state will not have any real effect on foreign policy. But the fictional state endorsed by Parliament is one that supports terrorism, allows no religious tolerance, and is dedicated to Israel’s destruction—not to mention one that stands on the brink of a Hamas takeover. All in all, therefore, the vote reveals something deeply wrong with the UK, writes Melanie Phillips:

What is so dismaying, indeed sickening, is what this vote says about Britain. Parliament has endorsed an agenda which should be anathema to all decent people. MPs have endorsed a racist Palestine state ethnically cleansed of Jews, encouraged Palestinian rejectionism, and put rocket fuel behind the Israel-bashing and Jew-hatred provoked by the unprecedented demonization of Israel based on lies, distortion, and bigotry.

Blaming Israel for its own victimization—endorsed so shallowly and treacherously by the Israeli left—the MPs ignored the fact that the sole reason there is no Palestine state alongside Israel is that the Arabs won’t accept it.

There was no mention of Abbas’s rejectionism; instead, harsh words against the settlements policy which apparently “makes it hard for its friends to make the case that Israel is committed to peace.” Why? Surely only for those who believe a precondition of peace is the ethnic cleansing of Jews from a state of Palestine.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian statehood, United Kingdom

When Defamatory Politics Masquerade as Art

October 20

The Death of Klinghoffer, an opera that aims to create sympathy for the terrorist hijackers of the Achille Lauro, returns to the New York Metropolitan Opera tonight. Edward Rothstein, reviewing the piece when it first opened in 1991, had some nice words for the conductor and the singers. But he also found the music “either atmospheric or emotionally elementary” and the message, delivered through a contrastingly “empathetic evocation of the [Palestinian] intifada” and mockery of the terrorists’ Jewish victims, politically rigged and morally repugnant. In Rothstein’s summary:

The work itself turned out to be more about its intended reception than about its subject, more a matter of pitch than substance. Without historical insight, without profound revelation of character, without the advertised symmetry [between Jews and Palestinians], without even a coherent libretto and convincing score, The Death of Klinghoffer becomes simply another monument to an avant-garde that is repeating old political and aesthetic gestures while acting as if it is daringly breaking new ground.

Read more at New York Times

More about: Death of Klinghoffer, Music, Opera, Politics and the arts, Terrorism


Why Has the Vatican Gone out of Its Way to Condemn Samuel Huntington?

October 20

Much can be said about the “clash of civilizations” predicted by the late political scientist Samuel Huntington. But little of use was said by two Vatican officials in recent speeches attacking his arguments. George Weigel writes:

Huntington’s sensitivity to religion-and-world-politics ought to have commended his analysis to the Vatican for thoughtful consideration and serious discussion. Instead, Huntington-the-straw-man-who-prophesied-endless-civilizational-war is dragged out whenever it’s deemed necessary for officials of the Holy See to say that “a war between Islam and ‘the rest’ is not inevitable” (true, if the civil war within Islam is resolved in favor of those Muslims who support religious tolerance and pluralism); or that Christian persecution and dislocation in the Middle East must be handled through the United Nations (ridiculous); or that the path to peace lies through dialogue, not confrontation (true, if there is a dialogue partner who is not given to beheading “the other”).

Read more at First Things

More about: Muslim-Christian relations, Samuel Huntington, Vatican

A Western Education Does Not Mean a Pro-Western Outlook

October 20

The public commentator Reza Aslan recently announced on Twitter that “Iran currently has the highest number of US college alums serving in any foreign government cabinet in the world” and appended a sleek graphic illustration. In light of Aslan’s general position on U.S.-Iranian relations, his message is clear: the Iranian government is populated by congenial, well-educated “reonciliationists” who are eager to establish good relations with the U.S. However, writes Armin Rosen, given “the distressingly vast range of despotic and otherwise anti-Western figures [who] were educated in the United States or Europe,” Aslan has only succeeded in disproving his underlying assumption:

Exposure to the democratic world is no guarantee that an individual will develop any kind of sensitivity toward its values or outlook. It can have the exact opposite effect. . . . This is a troubling reality for believers in the idea that the arc of history bends inexorably toward a Western-democratic notion of justice and freedom. Some very smart people have been exposed to the realities of that system up close and have not only found it inadequate but violently rejected it, using their personal experience as the basis for a powerful and often highly resonant critique of Western and American values. They serve as evidence that backlash may be more probable than universal democratic triumph, and that that backlash can originate from the heart of democracy itself.

Read more at Business Insider

More about: Education, Iran, Islamism, Reza Aslan

Frankly, My Dear, It’s Lying in My Left Earlock

October 20

A Yiddish expression that translates literally as “I have it in my left earlock,” and figuratively as “I don’t give a damn,” is not one known to most American Jews. That may be because the custom of growing long sidecurls (pe’ot; singular pe’ah) has been relegated to Hasidim. The origins of the phrase, however, may lie not with hairstyles but with the misinterpretation of a kabbalistic phrase. Philologos explains:

The terms pe’ah smolit and pe’ah yemanit, “left side” and “right side” . . . designate in kabbalistic literature the two fundamental aspects of Creation, God’s rigor and God’s mercy. The “left side” represents the realm of law, justice, and retribution, the “right side” that of love, compassion, and forgiveness. God is equally composed of both, but human souls have their roots in one or the other. . . . Ultimately, the “left side” of Creation, while an intrinsic part of it, is less sublime, as far as the kabbalists were concerned, than the “right side.” Although both are needed to keep the cosmos in balance, love is a higher attribute than law.

Read more at Forward

More about: Kabbalah, Language, Pe'ot, Yiddish