In an in-depth discussion with Eric Cohen, Ruth Wisse describes Yiddish literature’s most beloved and perhaps most brilliant character: Tevye the Milkman. Tevye, the narrator and protagonist of ten stories written by Sholem Aleichem between 1895 and 1915, was based on the real-life village Jew who delivered cheese and milk to the author’s summer home. Here Wisse focuses on the short story “Tevye Strikes It Rich.” (Audio, 44 minutes.)
Tevye the Dairyman, Before Broadway
If Handled Correctly, the Quarrel between Qatar and Its Neighbors Presents an Opportunity
Last week, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt sent Qatar a list of demands, some quite extravagant, as preconditions for the restoration of relations. The U.S., John Hannah argues, must get these countries to temper some of their demands, especially because America has a crucial airbase in Qatar, even while helping them to curb some of the Gulf emirate’s bad behavior:
The fact is that among the thirteen demands contained in the Saudi-led list are several items that, properly reformulated, Washington should absolutely be insisting on if it’s serious about winning the war against jihadism. That includes an end to Qatari support for the radical Islamist agenda across the region—politically, financially, militarily, and ideologically (read: a dramatic revamping of Al Jazeera’s systematic campaigns of Islamist incitement and regional subversion). No more safe haven for U.S.-designated terrorists or operatives from extremist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and the Taliban [and Hamas] that seek to undermine key U.S. partners and overturn the region’s American-led order.
[Other musts include a] curtailment in Qatar’s dalliance with the Iranians to the bare minimum necessary to safeguard Doha’s vital economic equities—[the two countries share the world’s largest natural-gas reserve]—while forgoing any significant military or intelligence ties; reversing the decision to let an Islamist-leaning, America-bashing Turkey deploy several thousand troops to the Arabian Peninsula for the first time since the Ottoman Empire’s demise; and a strict but fair-minded monitoring regime that ensures Qatar’s commitments are actually implemented and sustained.
All of these changes are self-evidently in U.S. interests. All of them can be culled from the Saudi-led list of demands and appropriately recast by a serious mediation effort. This crisis presents a unique opportunity to achieve many of them and score a seminal victory for the United States in its battle against radical Islamism. The Trump administration should not let it go to waste. . . .
The longer the crisis drags on, [however], the greater the risks that bad actors will be able to take advantage. An extended, all-consuming conflict that leaves critical U.S. partners preoccupied with battling each other rather than Iran and other common adversaries is not a scenario that’s likely to favor U.S. interests over time.