How a Visit to Israel Inspired a Young Woman to Organize a Trip to Ghana

The president of Ghana has proclaimed 2019—the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first black slaves in the British colonies of North American—the “year of return,” inviting people of West African descent to come to the country. For this occasion, Mercedes Bent organized a ten-day visit to Ghana and Nigeria for African-American friends and classmates—an idea she first got from a very different source:

[M]y idea for a heritage-focused trip had been in the making for over a decade. . . . [I]n college, a Jewish friend told me her experiences during an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel. I was impressed when I learned about Taglit-Birthright Israel and its mission to ensure that Jewish young adults have the opportunity to visit and learn about Israel. Last year, as a graduate student, I traveled there with several Jewish classmates. I was moved by—and somewhat envious of—their strong sense of shared identity and how the trip nurtured it. I couldn’t forget that feeling.

There are many ways to nurture a healthy cultural identity, but a journey “home”—to a place that makes you feel that you truly belong—is an especially effective one.

In 1956, Ghana became the first Sub-Saharan African nation to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. It broke off direct ties in 1973, but they resumed in 2011.

Read more at New York Times

More about: Africa, African Americans, Birthright

How America Sowed the Seeds of the Current Middle East Crisis in 2015

Analyzing the recent direct Iranian attack on Israel, and Israel’s security situation more generally, Michael Oren looks to the 2015 agreement to restrain Iran’s nuclear program. That, and President Biden’s efforts to resurrect the deal after Donald Trump left it, are in his view the source of the current crisis:

Of the original motivations for the deal—blocking Iran’s path to the bomb and transforming Iran into a peaceful nation—neither remained. All Biden was left with was the ability to kick the can down the road and to uphold Barack Obama’s singular foreign-policy achievement.

In order to achieve that result, the administration has repeatedly refused to punish Iran for its malign actions:

Historians will survey this inexplicable record and wonder how the United States not only allowed Iran repeatedly to assault its citizens, soldiers, and allies but consistently rewarded it for doing so. They may well conclude that in a desperate effort to avoid getting dragged into a regional Middle Eastern war, the U.S. might well have precipitated one.

While America’s friends in the Middle East, especially Israel, have every reason to feel grateful for the vital assistance they received in intercepting Iran’s missile and drone onslaught, they might also ask what the U.S. can now do differently to deter Iran from further aggression. . . . Tehran will see this weekend’s direct attack on Israel as a victory—their own—for their ability to continue threatening Israel and destabilizing the Middle East with impunity.

Israel, of course, must respond differently. Our target cannot simply be the Iranian proxies that surround our country and that have waged war on us since October 7, but, as the Saudis call it, “the head of the snake.”

Read more at Free Press

More about: Barack Obama, Gaza War 2023, Iran, Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy