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Federalism Might Be What a Fractious Middle East Needs Most

Sept. 8 2017

In a recent conversation with Mordechai Kedar, an Iraqi Sunni activist living in Europe argued that the best way forward for his own country is what he terms “the emirate solution.” His proposal, modeled on American federalism and Switzerland’s division into cantons, would divide Iraq into small, relatively homogeneous emirates, each with some degree of internal autonomy. Kedar lays out the case for this plan, and suggest it could be applied successfully elsewhere in the Middle East:

Each emirate would lead its own life and refrain from interference in the policies of the other emirates. It would be ruled by a local sheikh who originally stood at the head of the families within the emirate’s borders, following the population’s social traditions. This . . . will create harmony, stability, and peaceful relations with neighboring emirates for the good of all the citizenry.

The “emirate solution” will also grant self-rule to the Kurds of northern Iraq, making the establishment of an independent Kurdish state unnecessary and preventing the certain violent antagonism of the Iranians, Turks, and Arabs to its existence and the ensuing hostilities.

For illustration’s sake, let us recall that the Kurdish region of northern Iraq is surrounded by countries that do not share the Kurdish dreams of independence, and has no corridor to the sea. If the neighboring countries allied against the Kurdish state, should one be established, preventing goods and people from reaching it, the Kurds would have no way of leading normal lives. How would they export oil and other products in that case? How would they manage to import necessities? . . .

Interestingly, that same emirate solution could most definitely be applied to the seven cities of Judea and Samaria in addition to the Gazan emirate established a decade ago. I am not a fan of Hamas, but Gaza is a state from every practical point of view, and Israel must find a way to deter effectively the jihadist gang that has taken it over. Establishing emirates in Judea and Samaria will grant the people there stability, prosperity, and quiet. It will give Israel peace.

That same solution could solve Jordan’s problem as well. It can be divided into a Palestinian emirate, perhaps more than one, and a Bedouin emirate. The king would be a symbolic figure as is the queen of England.

Read more at Israel National News

More about: Iraq, Kurds, Middle East, Palestinians, Politics & Current Affairs

The Movement to Return Jewish Worship to the Temple Mount Has Gone Mainstream

Sept. 25 2017

During the eruption of violence against Israelis in Jerusalem this summer, and the subsequent struggle over metal detectors, the Islamic authorities briefly boycotted the Temple Mount. As a result, Jewish visitors, normally prohibited from praying there, immediately began to do so. Meir Soloveichik puts the episode in context and describes its meaning:

The Temple Mount is fast becoming a pilgrimage site for religious Jews. In the past, most abstained from visiting out of concern that they might enter a sacred area in a state of ritual impurity, but many now believe that, with a knowledge of the layout, history, and religious laws pertaining to the location, it is permissible to visit certain parts of the Temple Mount plaza. They thus visit the site under religious guidance—immersing first in a ritual bath, or mikveh—and tread only in specific areas. What was once a trickle of pilgrims has become a stream, and this year they numbered in the many thousands. . . .

[Indeed, a] sea change has taken place in the past fifteen years: . . . the segment of Jews visiting the Temple Mount is becoming more and more mainstream, supported by rabbis noted for their liberalism in social or religious affairs. . . .

Visiting Jews were, for a brief and brilliant moment [this summer], able to utter several words of prayer without interference. The Israeli media published photos of a diverse group of Jews standing on the Temple Mount reciting the kaddish, so close to where their ancestors, on Yom Kippur, had once stood listening to the high priest pronounce the Name of God. Soon after this kaddish, the [status quo ante] returned; Jews again were no longer free to pray at the site toward which all Jewish prayer has been directed for thousands of years. But images of that one unimpeded kaddish remain; to study them is to look back on the miraculous and heartbreaking past half-century in Jerusalem, to celebrate what has been achieved, and to mourn what might have been.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Judaism, Palestinian terror, Religion & Holidays, Temple Mount