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Israel Can Flourish without Peace

Aug. 11 2017

In a recent conversation with a visiting American rabbi, Daniel Gordis—a longtime resident of Israel—explained, to his interlocutor’s shock, that a formal end to the Israel-Palestinian conflict is unlikely to happen in the coming decades. To his guest’s greater shock, Gordis described his own position as optimistic:

In ten years, . . . I wouldn’t be surprised if things look very much as they do now. Israelis can elect a government even further to the right, but the international commitment to Palestinian autonomy of some sort isn’t going to go away. Yet even a radically leftist government led by the Meretz party, with a solid coalition, would have no impact on the recalcitrant Palestinian street. Regardless of who is elected here, nothing is going to change the fact that, on the whole, Palestinians would rather wage conflict against Israel than lay the groundwork for the state they say they want. (Note the response to the metal detectors [installed on the Temple Mount].) . . .

Assuming that things stay more or less the same, what will we have? We will have a world in which the Jews do not live subject to the whims of their hosts. . . . Ten years from now, Jews will determine where Jews live; and for that alone, Israel will be a success. . . .

Some 150 years ago, everyone in the world who spoke fluent Hebrew could have fit comfortably into one of Jerusalem’s larger hotels. Some 150 years ago, virtually no one outside the Jewish world could name a single Jewish [novelist]. Today, though, Israeli writers—reflecting a renaissance of Jewish thought, creativity, and writing—win prizes like the Man Booker and the Nobel. . . . Jewish culture flourishes in Israel in a way that it cannot anywhere else. Even if the conflict persists, the Jewish state will still be the epicenter of a worldwide Jewish cultural revival. . . .

Would life here be better if the conflict could be resolved? Of course it would. But since that is not likely to happen in our lifetimes, it’s worth noting—particularly as now, after [the fast of] Tisha b’Av, [a day of collective mourning], we have entered the [period in the Jewish calendar know as] the “seven weeks of consolation”—that the Jewish state is a success far greater than anything its founders imagined.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli culture, Jewish Culture, Peace Process, Tisha b'Av

Getting It Right in Afghanistan

Aug. 23 2017

While praising the president’s announcement Monday night that the U.S. will be sending 4,000 more troops to Afghanistan, Thomas Joscelyn and Bill Roggio express their “doubt [that] this will be enough to win the war.” They also warn against the dangers of a complete or partial American withdrawal and offer some strategic recommendations:

Al-Qaeda is still a significant problem in South Asia—a potentially big one. President Obama frequently claimed that al-Qaeda was “decimated” and a “shadow of its former self” in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That wasn’t true. The Obama administration’s counterterrorism campaign dealt significant blows to al-Qaeda’s leadership, disrupting the organization’s chain of command and interrupting its communications. But al-Qaeda took measures to outlast America’s drones and other tactics. The group survived the death of Osama bin Laden and, in many ways, grew. . . .

Al-Qaeda continues to fight under the Taliban’s banner as well. Its newest branch, Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, is deeply embedded in the Taliban-led insurgency. . . . There’s no question that Islamic State remains a serious problem in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but it still doesn’t threaten the Afghan government to the same degree that the Taliban/al-Qaeda axis does. . . .

Iran remains a problem, too. The Iranian government has supported the Taliban’s insurgency since 2001. Although this assistance is not as pronounced as Pakistan’s, it is meaningful. The U.S. government has also repeatedly noted that Iran hosts al-Qaeda’s “core facilitation pipeline,” which moves fighters, funds, and communications to and from South Asia. Any successful strategy for turning the Afghan war around will have to deal with the Iranian government’s nefarious role. The Russians are [also] on the opposite side of the Afghan war.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Iran, Taliban, U.S. Foreign policy