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Great and Less than Great Writers Make Themselves Dishonest Tools of Anti-Israel Propaganda

June 19 2017

The recently published Kingdom of Olive and Ash is a collection of essays written by high-profile literary types—including Mario Vargas Llosa—who report on their visits to Israel and the horrible misdeeds they saw being committed by “the occupation.” Organized by the husband-and-wife team of Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, the tours took place under the auspices of Breaking the Silence, an unscrupulous Israeli organization dedicated to defaming the IDF. In their introduction Chabon and Waldman describe themselves as belonging to “the ambivalent middle” with regard to the Israel-Palestinian conflict and disingenuously confess to having “averted [their] gaze from its details.” Daniella Greenbaum points to the dishonesty in these statements—a dishonesty that permeates the entire volume:

This claim [to ambivalence about Israel] is belied by the fact that Chabon wrote a novel ten years ago featuring an entire counter-history of the Jewish state, while Waldman, the daughter of a sabra émigré, has spent a decade fulminating about Israel’s misdeeds on social media.

No, Chabon and Waldman are neither ambivalent nor in the middle. Their insistence to the contrary is an attempt to gull the uninformed reader into believing they came into the project in innocence and came away sadder and wiser and ready to speak truth to power. . . .

[Glaring] omissions are peppered throughout the book. In her essay, “Mr. Nice Guy,” the novelist Rachel Kushner profiles Baha Nababta, whom she describes as a “twenty-nine-year-old Palestinian community organizer beloved by the kids of Shuafat.” . . . Less than a month after Kushner left Shuafat, Nababta was murdered in front of a crowd of people. She ends her essay with a heartbreaking account of the widow and newborn baby who will live the rest of their lives without their husband and father.

Kushner’s vague conclusion creates the impression that the Israelis were responsible for Nababta’s murder. Reporting has been scarce, but there seems to be a working theory that the murderer was Palestinian. Kushner’s omission of this theory, in a book determined to blame Israel for anything and everything, is morally unforgivable.

Needless to say, the book pays scant attention to the murderous violence of the second intifada, Palestinian terrorism, or Hamas’s rockets, not to mention the corruption and tyranny of Palestinian rulers.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Anti-Zionism, Breaking the Silence, Israel & Zionism, Literature

How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen