Understanding the Political, Historical, and Spiritual Roots of the U.S.-Israel Relationship

Aug. 16 2022

Traveling to various countries to speak about foreign policy during the George W. Bush administration, Walter Russell Mead encountered a single, widely held idea: that Jewish influence was the best way to explain U.S. conduct abroad. Yet both polling data and Mead’s own casual observations revealed that American Jews overwhelmingly disliked President Bush, making it highly unlikely he was doing their bidding. Then, when Barack Obama became president, Mead’s foreign interlocutors expressed their disappointment that Obama had not created more “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel—and concluded that “the Jews” must be holding him back. This assertion too failed to hold up to even mild scrutiny. Mead thus set out to discover the real reasons for the enduring American alliance with the Jewish state, resulting in his recent book The Arc of a Covenant, which he discusses with Michael Doran. (Audio, 66 minutes)

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Read more at Counterbalance

More about: Anti-Semitism, U.S history, U.S. Foreign policy, US-Israel relations

How the Death of Mahsa Amini Changed Iran—and Its Western Apologists

Sept. 28 2022

On September 16, a twenty-two-year-old named Mahsa Amini was arrested by the Iranian morality police for improperly wearing a hijab. Her death in custody three days later, evidently after being severely beaten, sparked waves of intense protests throughout the country. Since then, the Iranian authorities have killed dozens more in trying to quell the unrest. Nervana Mahmoud comments on how Amini’s death has been felt inside and outside of the Islamic Republic:

[I]n Western countries, the glamorizing of the hijab has been going on for decades. Even Playboy magazine published an article about the first “hijabi” news anchor in American TV history. Meanwhile, questioning the hijab’s authenticity and enforcement has been framed as “Islamophobia.” . . . But the death of Mahsa Amini has changed everything.

Commentators who downplayed the impact of enforced hijab have changed their tune. [Last week], CNN’s Christiane Amanpour declined an interview with the Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, and the Biden administration imposed sanctions on Iran’s notorious morality police and senior officials for the violence carried out against protesters and for the death of Mahsa Amini.

The visual impact of the scenes in Iran has extended to the Arab world too. Arabic media outlets have felt the winds of change. The death of Mahsa Amini and the resulting protests in Iran are now top headlines, with Arab audiences watching daily as Iranian women from all age groups remove their hijabs and challenge the regime policy.

Iranian women are making history. They are teaching the world—including the Muslim world—about the glaring difference between opting to wear the hijab and being forced to wear it, whether by law or due to social pressure and mental bullying. Finally, non-hijabi women are not afraid to defy, proudly, their Islamist oppressors.

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Read more at Nervana

More about: Arab World, Iran, Women in Islam