What the Skeptics Can Learn from the Wedding Canopy in Abu Dhabi

Oct. 21 2022

In many ways, the wedding of Levi Duchman and Lea Hadad in September was a typical Orthodox Jewish wedding with a ḥuppah, traditional blessings, and much dancing. In other ways, writes Meir Soloveichik, it was an epochal event:

It was held in Abu Dhabi, the 1,500-person guest list made up of both Jews and Arabs, including Emirati royalty, with rabbis arriving from Israel, America, and Morocco. It was the largest Jewish event ever held in the Gulf region. One video captures a moment after the ḥuppah ceremony: the dancing with the groom in which all engage. As Jewish music is played and sung, we see Rabbi Duchman, a Ḥasid clad in kapote [caftan] and black hat, dancing in the center of the circle with an Emirati Arab guest, wrapped in his own traditional white thobe and headdress, with similarly clad Ḥasidim and Arabs surrounding them, holding hands and revolving to the rhythm.

It is striking therefore that as the wedding marked the anniversary of the historic agreement, the astounding success of the Abraham Accords still continues to be denied in publications whose own “expertise” was so challenged by the Accords themselves. We are told that the failure of the compact to address the Israel-Palestinian conflict is a fatal flaw. “Why the Abraham Accords Fall Short,” one headline in Foreign Policy declared several months ago, with the subhead: “Sidelining the Palestinians Is a Recipe for Violence, Not Peace.”

All this, of course, gets it exactly wrong. The further warming of the Emirati-Israeli relationship in the face of tensions with Palestinians—however regrettable those tensions might be—reflects the strength of the Accords, and their central insight: the fact that one localized conflict over the future of Judea and Samaria need not be “solved” in order to build bridges to the rest of the Arab world and to the Muslim world beyond.

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Read more at Commentary

More about: Abraham Accords, Jewish-Muslim Relations, United Arab Emirates

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy