What Was Gained from Joe Biden’s Visit to Israel

At a three-week remove from the president’s trip to the Middle East, Yossi Kuperwasser observes what he sees as evidence of a change in direction for the better in Washington’s approach to the region:

[T]he visit reflected the complex process of American recognition of the new reality created by the war in Ukraine and the failure to return to the agreement with Iran. This reality is forcing the Biden administration to come to terms, slowly and reluctantly, with the fact that the same forces that threaten the world order and the rules on which it is based—that is Russia, China, and Iran—are also the ones that threaten the regional order in the Middle East and threaten vital American interests there. Therefore, the situation requires cooperation with the parties that oppose these destabilizing forces.

During the visit, President Biden repeatedly pointed out that the return of the United States to the region is necessary to prevent the creation of a vacuum that Russia and China will fill, implicitly through their cooperation with Iran.

For its part, Israel tried to garner the Biden administration’s good will with benevolent gestures toward the Palestinians ahead of his arrival. Kuperwasser believes that in doing so, Jerusalem played its hand poorly:

Israel is taking security risks by allowing Palestinian construction in sensitive areas and making 4G technology available to Palestinian cellular communications to please the U.S. administration. In turn, these steps may give the Palestinian side the feeling that their continued resistance and intransigence are paying off. Their evidence: the Israelis and the Americans tolerate the heinous Palestinian practice of paying salaries to terrorists and perpetuate the refugee problem through continued aid to UNRWA, even though the organization continues to incite Palestinian youth against Israel through its school curricula.

Once again, the Palestinians’ role in perpetuating the conflict and the struggle against Zionism are being ignored. [The Israeli prime minister] Yair Lapid missed an opportunity to stress Palestinian responsibility for the impasse when he was asked at the joint press conference about his position on the two-state solution. Instead of . . . emphasizing the security needs of the state of Israel, Lapid satisfied himself with a short answer in which he expressed support in principle for the two-state solution.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Joseph Biden, Middle East, Palestinian Authority, US-Israel relations

 

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter