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Grand Jerusalem Olympus C5050 Jerusalem, Israel Saturday, August 7th, 2004.

Funky Jerusalem
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Funky Jerusalem Olympus C5050 Jerusalem, Israel Friday, September 17th, 2004.

Grand Jerusalem
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Grand Jerusalem Olympus C5050 Jerusalem, Israel Saturday, August 7th, 2004.

I Am to Not to Covet
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I Am to Not to Covet Olympus C5050 Jerusalem, Israel Saturday, August 7th, 2004.

•••

About

Briefs

Saturday, September 16th, 2023

Tony Robbins hosts Jordan Peterson — it’s a bit of a humdinger.

Tuesday, July 25th, 2023

The increasingly invaluable Walter Russell Mead ventures beyond foreign policy:

As a grand hypothesis that claims to provide a single explanation for everything that happens in the heavens and on earth, the monotheistic idea is, for one thing, a daring leap that opens the door to a world of speculation and research—a path from tinkering to science. Postulating a single creator for the entire universe leads to the belief that the universe is predictable and rule driven. Events in the natural world are not just one darn thing after another; they do not reflect the caprices of minor deities. There are laws of nature, and because human beings are created by God—and in the Abrahamic religious accounts we were created in God’s image—most if not all of those rules should be discoverable by the human mind. The mathematical reasoning that we do in our heads corresponds with the mathematical structure that exists in the external world, and the experimental results we obtain in our labs here on earth can help us understand the nature of quasars at the far ends of the universe.

WRM says it so matter-of-factly, but it’s only conservatives who think this way; mainstream thought still adolescently pits religion in absolute tension with science.

Sunday, October 2nd, 2022

The Arc of a Covenant: The United States, Israel, and the Fate of the Jewish People

Walter Russell Mead

♦♦♦♦

Mearsheimer and Walt — three words that do not appear once in this 1045-page book but are clearly its raison d’etre. John Mearsheimer is Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago; Stephen Walt is Professor of International Relations at Harvard Kennedy School; together they are the respectable face of American anti-Semitism, sufficiently reputable that Walter Russell Mead seems unwilling to criticize them by name, sufficiently retrograde however that their book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy infuriated our southern-born dean of foreign relations to work on this book for a dozen years or so.

The Wikipedia article on the Lobby book illustrates Mead’s Southern Gentleman approach; whereas Israeli historian Benny Morris says “their work is riddled with shoddiness and defiled by mendacity,” Mead applauds the authors for “admirably and courageously” initiating a conversation on a difficult subject, but more in sorrow than in anger laments that while their intentions are surely strictly honorable, they commit “easily avoidable lapses in judgment and expression.”

Making multiple approaches from multiple angles, Mead demolishes their central notion, giving it the withering moniker of Vulcanist thinking. (Actually I take issue a little with this label, because since the book is so long I forgot the elegant historical anecdote that originates it — a theory of astronomy that attempted to explain celestial workings by means of an undetected planet that doesn’t actually exist. Instead I mentally defaulted to popular culture, where Star Trek’s Vulcan is a stand-in for excessive logic — a characterization quite antithetical to his notion of Vulcanist thinking. This is a shame because the term therefore probably won’t catch on, which it could have perhaps as a shorthand for tendentious yet respectable and therefore ultimately even more ridiculous thinking.)

Especially enriching are his fleshing out of the geopolitical maneouverings among the US, Britain and Russia at the time of Israel’s founding. Important here for Mead’s thesis is that the legend of Truman’s Jewish friend from back in Missouri inveighing on the flummoxed President to recognize Israel be relegated to Queen Esther-echoing myth. For it is WRM’s contention in his chapter “Cyrus Agonistes” that American support for Israel is endemic to the United States, rather than due to the influence of the American Jewish lobby qua Walt and Mearsheimer. Moreover this support comes despite American Jews, whose leaders have for most of Israel’s history been actively working against a Jewish state, their energies only turning once America as a whole pursued full-throated support for Israel after it became the Middle East’s unambiguous Six Day War strong horse.

It’s also a helpful historical insight that WRM groups 19th century American support for Jewish return to Israel with support for the birth of the Italian and Greek nationstates:

In the ancient world, as Americans saw it, the Greeks, Romans, and Hebrews had been much like Americans of the nineteenth century. They were mostly agrarian people, nations of family-owned farms. They had free institutions and their societies were grounded in virtue. But corruption, urbanization, and monarchy had wreaked their ugly work; in time, all three of the ancient peoples fell from their virtue and freedom into slavery, superstition, and oppression.

As the nineteenth century progressed, and the Greek and Italian independence movements advanced, the possibility of a restored Jewish commonwealth also began to gleam on the horizon.

In fact the discussion of nationalism’s birth pangs from the empires of eastern Europe, the chapter entitled “Maelstrom”, is perhaps the richest part of the book.

As a columnist I have been irritated by what I perceive as WRM’s intellectual mealy-mouthedness. But as a full-throated podcast guest I realize this is merely his print persona, a tic I suppose similar to what he probably views as his Straussian icy politeness regarding Mearsheimer and Walt. That said, I took umbrage when in the book he referred to the Second Intifada, a wave of despicable terror attacks against Israel in the wake of the Oslo Agreements, using the BBC-like passive even-handed term: “violence flared”. I instantly recalled eyewitnessing the shellshock in the hours after the Dolphinarium suicide bombing that killed and maimed dozens of partying teenagers. I was only somewhat mollified later in the book when he mentioned this particular bombing by name, without mentioning that the victims were teenagers.

This is a book about America not Israel, and as well as constituting a scathing retort to Mearsheimer and Walt, is a continuation by other means of his 2001 book Special Providence that classifies the various streams of America’s foreign policy; in portraying America’s relationship with Israel, Arc explicates the fullest expression of the Jacksonian stream, a Meadian classification that, unlike Vulcanism, does seem to be sticking.

Wednesday, September 7th, 2022

In Mosaic, Philologos discusses the Biblical use of “and”. The crux of the matter is this:

One reason that the prefixed vav is so ubiquitous in the Bible is that, as everyone familiar with biblical Hebrew knows, it can have a second function that is not a conjunction’s. This is the marking of tense—or more precisely, the reversing of tense, since it is a peculiarity of biblical Hebrew that a prefixed vav, when attached to a verb, can change its tense from past or perfect to future or imperfect, and vice versa.

And:

Biblical Hebrew has no punctuation (the cantillations it is chanted to in the synagogue are a later development) and is a language poor in conjunctions. Although it has its own ways of expressing logical and temporal relationships between parts of sentences, something that is largely done in English by means of commas and periods, dependent clauses, and conjunctions like “when,” “while,” “as,” “though,” “despite,” and so forth, biblical Hebrew rarely puts together sentences by such means. It prefers coordinate clauses joined by a vav—or, in more technical language, paratactic rather than hypotactic constructions in which the vav can do the work of various English conjunctions and mean other things beside “and.”

Saturday, July 30th, 2022

Nice on Nietzsche. And nice that reviewer John Gray mentions La Gaya Scienza as one of his best books. Time for a reread.

Wednesday, June 29th, 2022

In The Atlantic, a beautifully—if overly politely—written piece on family estrangement, the sting is in the head; no doubt to get it past the young censors editors, the author has expunged all mention of religion and therefore duty from his discussion, save in this first line, which encompasses all that follows: “Sometimes my work feels more like ministry than therapy.” Author Joshua Coleman is a practicing therapist and prolific author. Looking around, his fee per webinar on the topic is $25. And he’s also a tv composer!

Anyhoo, the plot thickens, and my suspicions are correct: while he squeezed them out of the text body, he shoehorned in his convictions at the very edges as frames; look at this 1-star Amazon review of his book by one Acer Girl:

He fails to recognise how the nuclear family itself is being redefined and gay/lesbian parents are becoming more accepted, so it is rather inevitable that people will start to place less emphasis and importance on blood ties alone – so I really don’t understand the alarmism he tries to create around this. Above all, what I found really demoralising is his attack on one of the founding principles of western civilisation – autonomy and individual liberty. People’s right to live their lives in whatever way they wish and to associate and disassociate with whomever they wish. He claims this right should be policed.

And the final piece in the puzzle: he himself has been cut off by his own daughter! Estrangement is an underly-noted fault-line in the post-religious West; whether to honor or cast off the 5th commandment to honor one’s father and one’s mother — that has become a question.

Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

Zohar Atkins on Peter Thiel’s Zero to One:

Thiel says that monopolies pretend to be competitive while competitive companies pretend to be unique. The same is true of the book itself. It pretends to be another business book, but is actually a work of theology. Thiel is secularizing the Biblical insight that the human being is created in the divine image, that is, created to be a unique being. Cain fails to affirm his uniqueness and so looks to compare himself with Abel for validation. This basic sense of insecurity ensures a violent world. Many people and businesses can succeed in a narrow sense through imitation, but they fail to meet the human calling to be differentiated.

No wonder ZA gets the Tyler Cowen grant.

Friday, February 11th, 2022

Goldman is moved by Reacher:

Radical Protestantism leads the pilgrim from the “howling wilderness” and the “enchanted ground” of the Old World and leads him to the Canaan of the spirit. The question is addressed to, and answered by, the individual pilgrim. The Jew is born into the people of Israel; the Christian seeks adoption into the Israel of the Spirit. American Christianity retains the radical individualism of its Protestant forebears, who chose as individuals to become Americans. We have become Americans by adoption, and we have adopted the history of Israel as our national common memory. A profound parallelism is involved. The biblical Election of Israel was not a prize that God awarded to an unlikely nation of shepherds, but rather the outcome of Israel’s free choice to accept the Torah and the responsibility of election. It is our free choice to become Americans that is the cornerstone of our culture.

Friday, September 18th, 2020

“Recognizing that the Arab and Jewish peoples are descendant of a common ancestor…” — Let us savor the text of the Treaty of Peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Blessed are the peacemakers…

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019

“A proper understanding of biblical and rabbinic theology might identify a solution to Israel’s constitutional vacuum“. By Michael Wyschogrod in First Things [2010]

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

Monday, May 13th, 2019

We must be facing this: David Gelertner on giving up Darwin. Like Smith’s invisible hand and even Newton’s laws of physics, these glorious, newly-algorithmic cosmologies — the precursors to our wonder-world of bitty digitalism — aren’t the full explanation.

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

Sunday, August 19th, 2018

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

Michael Chabon on Finnegan’s Wake [2012].

As my year of diving languorously into the murky waters of the Wake wore on, I came to feel that it was this failure, this impossibility, this grand futility of the Wake, that constituted its secret theme, its true aboutness.

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

Two British Jewish boomers, Simon Schama and Martin Goodman, write new histories of Judaism, Schama focusing on individuals, Goodman on ideas and practices.

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

In Mosaic, Martin Kramer tells the tale, set over lunch in Ein Kerem, of the closest Jerusalem ever got to internationalization. (At one point I found the internationalization of Jerusalem a heady and exciting notion—providing of course that the UN move its HQ there.) A most vivid history op-ed piece.

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

I disagree with his conclusion as I love the new translation (and I disavow anything else on the same site, I disavow!), but here Dr. Joshua D. Wilson, a Baptist pastor, analyses the grammar behind the rather radical recent change in English translations of בְּרֵאשִׁית 1:1 from “In the beginning…” to “When God began…”

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

At the Borei Choshech blog about depression and Jewish prayer, a brief discussion on an important part of the Jewish morning prayer, Elohai Neshama.

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

The world’s most (only?) prescient columnist takes a step back to show us where Russia and China are similar and different to America. This article is one for these new times, to be sure.

Saturday, December 17th, 2016

The New York Times attempts to embarrass Trump’s new appointment by linking to eight of incoming American Ambassador to Israel David Friedman’s columns in Arutz Sheva as if his words alone are enough to horrify. I for one though agree with everything he writes in these, except perhaps in “Time to Regroup on Iran” where he suggests hitting Hamas harder — not sure about that. I’m with him on J Street, and there’s great stuff on what he dubs the two-state narrative.

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

Speed of Dark

Elizabeth Moon

♦♦♦

I was brought to this most non-sci-fi of sci-fi novels by the Brighton Science Fiction Discussion Group. Narrated in character by its autistic protagonist, Speed of Light initially reminded me of Mr Robot. Yes, I did like it, but wasn’t sure if the thinness of the other characters is due to our narrator’s limitations or those of the author; I don’t know her other work so can’t say. A mostly unsentimental decency permeates — actually it’s an exploration of decency — which gives it an appreciable pre-cyberpunk, almost square feel.

Friday, June 17th, 2016

As part of a series of articles on Israel in Foreign Affairs, Aluf Benn worries from the center-Left about crumbling social and political norms while Martin Kramer expresses satisfaction about ever-strengthening strategic might [requires registration, only 1 free article].

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

Monday, July 30th, 2012

“Israel is as American as apple pie”. Walter Russell Mead explains why Mitt Romney’s Israel visit is his most important as a US presidential candidate. It’s not the Jewish vote, which is tiny and pro-Democratic.

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

Exhaustive and wonderful list of what Alli Magidsohn expects to miss upon leaving Israel after 7 years, published by the impressive David Horowitz’s new The Times of Israel. (Not so sure about “the ferocity of celebration here” though, at least among the non-religious.)

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City

Guy Delisle

♦♦♦

I really enjoy this man’s depictions of foreign countries, even if it does chafe a bit that Israel is lumped together as a subject with his North Korea and Burma. He gets many things right, and for some reason I just love seeing comic book depictions of Israel. There’s a lot of emphasis on the Wall, which I suppose is no surprise for someone visually and graphically oriented, and not enough sympathy for the reality that caused it.

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Walter Russell Mead waxes deep on Netanyahu’s speech to Congress. “…The people and the story of Israel stir some of the deepest and most mysterious reaches of the American soul.”

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Monday, September 13th, 2010

The Hebrew Republic

Eric Nelson

♦♦♦

Ah, this should have been more exciting. It’s not quite turgid, but it is academic. The central thrust is simple: the Enlightenment political philosophy grew out of looking not just to secularization as a model but also to the Hebrews. A synthesis of Athens and Jerusalem, but the book ignores the Athens to focus on the apparently hitherto unacknowledged Jerusalem.

Monday, April 19th, 2010

The Strong Horse: Power, Politics and the Clash of Arab Civilizations

Lee Smith

♦♦♦

A rich mixture of travelogue, history and policy pamphlet that is ultimately more of the former than the latter, it casts itself as a critique of Bush’s invasion of Iraq, but isn’t really. Rather, it’s a diving in. A lively and exciting diving in. I did want it to be longer than it is.

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

The Beginning of Wisdom

Leon R. Kass

♦♦♦♦

The book of the Book. I am biased but there is just so much here, and the good doctor is such graciously juicy writerly company. I especially like the Babel treatment.

Saturday, December 20th, 2008

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2002

Where God speaks, the Tao is sexy.

ASK

Monday, October 28th, 2002

The truest religion is a language.

ASK

index topics bible bible

Simchat Torah War, Day #17

The US sent an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, Israel postponed its ground incursion, and the Western media acknowledged its erroneous reporting.

Arab Insanity Eroding

What shame, to have tainted with one’s own madness such benevolent bodies as civil aviation, non-combatant status in war — even United Nations human rights bodies.

Denver Met

My intent here is not only to participate in a conference but to suck up myriad Americana as a thirsty exile catapulted back in for a primer.

Yes

It’s a Somewhat Rauschenberg World

I don’t like this use of animals, like Damien Hirst’s. The artist could not have asked the goat for permission so should not have assumed it was granted.

Black Tracks the Presidents

The great virtue of Conrad Black’s Flight of the Eagle is its steady track across the entirety of the nation’s history, treating each president equally under its own law and order.

Homepage Design 2016

Even if a web site appears differently at different screen sizes, it should still feel like itself. On a larger canvas more expression abounds; distill this into the smaller screen and get more personality; do “mobile first” second.

Yes

From iPhone 4S to 6S: An Appreciation

The increased size, something I was so hesitant about, feels fine to me now. And because it’s thinner it feels less obtrusive in my pocket.

Spectreview

With the villain’s quasi-sibling bond to the hero, 2015’s 007 movie deflates to an incestuous Möbius Strip.

In Gaza, Israel Should Own its Terrible Tactic

Although such excoriating labels as “collective punishment” and “state terrorism” aren’t entirely wrong regarding Israel’s application of the Dahieh Doctrine in Gaza, history does suggest that the method is effective in fighting a fundamentally defensive war.

Go Deny Yourself

This four-letter little word undermines our modern values of tolerance and presumption of innocence.

Some Consumer Affairs

I’ve tried to enjoy schlepping water, thinking that it serves to keep us to some human roots.

Yes

From Nokia N95 to iPhone 4S

Annoyances and upsets with the iPhone 4S have been more than offset by its screen, the silkiness of its surfaces, the camera, and the third-party market for both software and hardware.

2001: A Space Odyssey: Dry, Juicy, Linear, Luminous

The dancers in the ape-suits; how they move is an incredibly energetic output for us. Contrast their physical reaction when witnessing the monolith to that of the astronauts in the newly-minted 21st century.

The Mouse and the Cantilever

Steve Jobs we lost at the age of 56; when Frank Lloyd Wright reached that age it was 1923, the time of merely his second comeback with Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel.

Friendship is for Weenies

It’s amazing, given the adulation he enjoyed elsewhere, that the Israeli public knew from the start not to trust US President Obama.

Before the Setup

It’s 1983: Go for the Apple IIe with 64k that could be opened up as a hobbyist machine? Or the smaller, sleeker and newer IIc with double the memory but a closed case?

At Modi’in Mall

There’s nothing else around here except empty desolate pretty hills. The Israel Trail passes by a bit to the west. The shops are mostly franchises, almost all homegrown: Super-Pharm, Aroma, Tzomet Sfarim, Cup O’ Joe’s, LaMetayel, Mega, Fox, Castro, H&O.

Yes

The Israel I Love, the Bad So Far

If the signage were a bit more effective, the staff’s diction and demeanor more professional, then we might have avoided this testy altercation.

Shanghai Europe

So, finally, we stopped yesterday; the Israeli assault on Gaza of late 2008/early 2009 is over. With it, Israel lost moral purity and made vital strategic gains.

Yes

Panning for MacBook Pro

Even if it did nothing, was just a prop in a futuristic movie, the MacBook Pro would be impressive; it’s like a sculpture of my previous computer, the MacBook, except it’s actually an improved computer!

Stop Yesterday

Is the goal of Israel’s current assault on Gaza to discourage Hamas from firing rockets or to render them incapable of doing so? These are two quite different projects.

Short-circuiting Place-based Longing

If there’s one tangible benefit to having lived in a variety of places it’s that it furnishes evidence of the futility of longing to be elsewhere.

A Crawl Across Crawley, Part 1

Irit, the Jam and I walk from Brighton to Gatwick Airport.

Clash of the Midgets

I was annoyed to have my sauna moments despoiled and dominated, reverberating with this old geezer’s most naff yap.

Yes

Israel’s Greatest Victory Since Osirak?

If Ariel Sharon’s withdrawal from Gaza was part of a masterplan to staunch the damage done by the victory of the Six Day War in 1967, then today we see another step in its unfolding.

The Small Adventures, Part 2

There in the empty restaurant by the water at Dieppe I had toast with foie gras, a carafe of red wine, a huge plate of mussels and chips, and finally a crème brûlée. Somehow, though I’ve eaten in restaurants hundreds of times, I felt grown up.

Yes

The Small Adventures

Late for the 11pm train to Milan, we enquired frantically among the taxis for one who’d accept the two dogs and take us to Termini Station so I could begin our journey to Britain.

Tony Blair and the Four-State Solution

Ariel Sharon’s disengagement policy reflected an understanding that ownership of the Palestinian issue is shared with Egypt and Jordan. If Tony Blair were to acquire this view, perhaps he really could help facilitate an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A Restoration and Return

There she was, sitting outside the apartment block! How did she do it? Dogs—or at least Jam—must have some sort of navigational sense we don’t understand.

Curs to Fate

Yesterday I lost Jam in Villa Borghese, the central park here in Rome, some five miles from Talenti, the neighborhood where we’re staying. She has not turned up since.

Yes

Jam and Bread, Jam and Bread!

My dog Jam has spent over a third of her time here in Italy as her fixtures have fallen away—first Maddie, then me. But now I’m back!

Yes

This Trip’s Last Day

I went to Astor Place Haircutters. I crossed Manhattan Bridge on foot. I walked west along Canal St, seeking a bamboo steamer.

I, Thou and Pastor Bob

At the Calvary Church here in Fort Lauderdale the Biblical locations feel so far away that they can be abstracted and spiritualized. There is religious energy here.

Yes

The Big and Easy

The American stage is grand, as are the achievements and ambitions, but daily life seems lamed by a compulsive denaturing.

A Drop in Time

The camera hit the ground lens first, bashing it in so that it would no longer wind in and out, and couldn’t switch on. Without it, my perception of an important personal era was degraded.

A Ride to Gatwick Airport

Airports. They’re so charged, so symbolic, and so empty once you’re at one; I dream of them so often.

Only the Rustle in the Trees

Grief, loss — these are the great teachers surely. What one has will pass.

A Cabaret, Old Chum

It’s a last bastion of civility, being allowed to drink at Penn Station, Brian mused ruefully as we carried our beers to his train home to Great Neck.

Fatahland and Hamastan

Now Israel has a dog in a real Palestinian fight: the nationalists rather than the Islamists.

Yes

Stars, Stripes & Superlatives

Here in Los Angeles I am bombarded with superlatives. Daniel’s record collection. The Bikram Yoga College of India world headquarters. Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. All mixed in with the most ravaging mediocrity.

Shite on Brighton

“Like many provincial towns,” the Private Eye reviewer stabs, “Brighton, as depicted in this hacked-together tribute, defines itself more by what it isn’t than by what it is. It’s not London, for one thing.”

Daily Yin

For my first test of the day as day, I open the back door and step outside to the little patio to see the sky and feel the air. I realize not everybody does this, so if people tell me I’m a miserable bastard then perhaps this little habit will correct their impression.

Mind the Dream

Dreaming about our passed companions as if they are alive requires tricks to the dreaming mind to overcome what it believes and knows to be true.

The Dharma Tits

Buddhism is the philosophy and psychology closest to Cognitive Therapy and vice versa.

Yes

Still Got the Jam

Jam was one of Maddie’s nine puppies, the one who remained after the others were all taken. That was always my plan, to keep the runt.

Such a Tramp

Maddie, who died 18 months ago today, was a mangy mutt and stank, but she was also among the most beautiful dogs I’ve ever seen and for me the longest, richest, widest, deepest streak of feeling lucky.

So You Noticed

I have had something very flattering: a request. Juan Carlos has asked me for comments on Casino Royale.

Reminds Me of Tel Aviv

You get to a stage in life where you are already formed by the past. Thoughts and dilemmas about place are either central questions or a distraction from real issues.

Fly the Blag

Ryanair has brought wretchedness to the skies. Rather than existing on a privileged plane, you stew in a poisoned atmosphere.

Approaching Infinite Justice

Immediately after 9/11, the burgeoning war on terror was named “Operation Infinite Justice”. Within days it was renamed “Operation Enduring Freedom”, but is the new name a mere cloaking of the first?

On the Seventh Day

The Mrs is skeptical of David Allen’s Getting Things Done self-management system because it eschews the rigors of time management in lieu of what feels right. But GTD is about informed feeling.

Don’t Panic!

An academic romp through Jewish American comedy starts out as a veritable rollercoaster ride, but grinds to halt with its obsession with one Bob Dylan.

Photographing a Handsome Old Man

I want to get people in my pics, but it’s tougher when you’re no longer a wide-eyed teenager, because people generally don’t like to think they are a spectacle.

The Beauty of Rain

Rain makes the rocks shine. It puts in motion things that are otherwise static. It illustrates gravity most prettily.

Ode to Salame

It’s supposed to be the arsehole of Tel Aviv, Salame Street, running east-west at its southern tip, but it always does me darn good.

I Love Laundry

How pleasing it is to have my own washing machine. If all isn’t right with the world, not even in my world, at least the laundry cycle is functioning.

Lovely Scenery, But Walks Getting Boring

Unless I drive somewhere new, it’s not much fun to just step out the door and wander. But driving to go for a walk seems a tad ridiculous.

For Love of Economy

It disturbs me to be driving a car that gets fewer kilometers to the shekel than did my previous.

Shinui and the Seven-Year Itch

How refreshing to see Asian faces out shopping in Tel Aviv, or Africans riding the bus to Ra’anana. With them Israel is given fresh wellsprings of culture.

Allah Help the Jackals

While it’s obvious that overplaying your power can result in a downfall, it’s less obvious that underplaying it also leads to trouble. America did this in the 1970s under Carter. Israel seems to have done it almost perennially.

Yes

For Tel Aviv, Better a Skylift Than a Subway

Rather than copycatting a transportation system from the 19th century, Israel could inject into its civic planning the same audacity and resourcefulness that it has historically brought to agriculture and defence.

Yes

Canada Obscura

There’s not a patch of water to be seen—the most liquid thing is the word “Coffee” on one of the low-slung strip-mall buildings. It’s a scene more artful than art itself.

Tour of Kitchen Duty

There was yelling and spray and I raced to keep up. One can enjoy, briefly, the company of men.

Shiny Bright Toadstool

In Israel’s case, burgernomics don’t add up because significant factors contribute to the 30%-odd surcharge on a Big Mac.

The Fresh Jewels of Spring Mound

Quality of life in Tel Aviv is fundamentally enhanced by two simple factors: trees are everywhere, and so are apartments.

Independence Park Up for Grabs?

To this day men of many ages walk these bushes, they delicately lurk these bushes, and stand in places odd to choose.

We Tri Harder

A land could be governed not only by the three separate arms of government, but by three sovereign states.

Yes

Tira Saunters

The one-lane road is empty; down below is the Sharon Plain, looking vast. Israel may be a small country but we’re still speaking here of land.

A Call to Thumbs

When you hitchhike it’s out of your hands, and that’s therapeutic. Paradoxically, you also see how much control you do have.

 

Briefs (cont’d)

Saturday, December 2nd, 2023

Here is a fascinating thing: Salem AlKetbi, A UAE columnist in a right-of-center Israeli paper. Reading his “What’s next for Gaza?”, I like his tone, calling it the “Palestinian file” like something one pulls out a cabinet somewhere. I like how he immediately attests to the Iranian angle — clearly what Emiratis care about — specifically warning that if a vacuum opens up in Gaza (as others have recommended) then Iran will obviously work to fill it.

Iran may even start helping Hamas more directly as it approaches destruction, AlKetbi argues, if only because once Israel vanquishes it, she’s free to turn to Iran’s crown jewel Hizballah. That is: while Hamas is around, Hizballah is safe.

AlKetbi is also worried that Iran will start attacking Israel given the perception of tepid US support for Israel. Actually I’d just been musing on the very opposite: Israel is tied down with Hamas, and America wants it that way so as not to expand the war, but the necessities of events could mean that the USA could inadvertently end up fighting Iran where it otherwise could have had Israel do this had it not leaned on Israel to leave Hizballah alone.

Sunday, November 26th, 2023

There’s so much strong stuff being published in Tablet but I’ll just link to this long and searing piece by Andrew Fox entitled “A Dark Thanksgiving” about his teenage son’s experience at school in Durham in northern Virginia, where Muslims outnumber Jews by a ratio of at least 50 to 1.

I was particularly moved by his mention of his other two children:

My oldest son, who had started a chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America at the same high school, refused to hear a word I had to say about Israel, abruptly leaving the dinner table whenever the subject arose. My middle son was hardly any more receptive, pinging me with the moral equivalencies he’d picked up from Instagram posts and then ignoring the long responses I sent in return. Now my youngest son had accused me of betraying him and using him.

This is rough.

Saturday, November 25th, 2023

Watching “The Gaza War on US Campuses’, an episode of Glenn Loury and John McWhorter’s The Glenn Show, there are two guests today: Daniel Bessner and Tyler Austin Harper. And all I can say is: hoo boy that Daniel Bessner is a piece of work.

You have to be aware that one side is a nuclear-armed power with one of the most advanced militaries in the world, the other side is not. There’s not an excuse for any of the brutalities that Hamas committed and particularly all of us in this liberal bourgeoisie context within which we operate, you know, we’re anti-violence in every particular situation, this is why you have this “Do you condemn Hamas” argument.

It goes on. His poor mama; if this Jewish American is the future, God help us all. For a start, does he not see that his dismissiveness towards opposition to violence as being a merely liberal bourgeoisie fancy must, if he is being intellectually honest, apply at least as much to the violence visited by Israel upon Gaza, which he condemns, as it does to the violence visited by Hamas upon Israel, which he all but excuses?

I am disappointed in Gadi Taub and Michael Doran’s latest Israel Update conversation, “Understanding the Hostage Exchange Deal” on the video platform Rumble. Gadi comes to agree with Mike that the Kaplan compaigners are not actually going to affect the continued prosecution of the war despite the pause. This acknowledgement effectively nullifies his reason for not supporting the hostage deal. And yet instead of taking Mike’s point on board or making some other argument Gadi simply concludes the discussion by reiterating his opposition to the hostage deal.

The deal is too important an issue to treat so cavalierly; doing so at the very least affects Gadi’s intellectual credibility. At the risk of belaboring the point, he seems here to be suffering from a strong case of KDS — Kaplan Derangement Syndrome, wherein anything a Kaplanist wishes for must inherently be suspect. There are it seems to me vital reasons for supporting this hostage deal that are far from wanting to undermine Netanyahu, and unfortunately this episode touches on none of them.

For example, I believe Gadi’s position about setting a bad precedent for future conflicts is wrong; after all, it’s not as if the idea of taking hostages had never occurred to anyone before this. And if anything this deal has reduced rather than raised the price Israel pays for the return of hostages given the crazed lopsidedness of previous deals. As well as humanitarian there are military and societal morale reasons to support the deal, and long-term national mythic ones.

Mike shrinks from opposing Gadi’s poor position here by stating that being neither Israeli nor Jewish he lacks the bona fides to opine on such heavy issues. But I for one as an Israeli — and Gadi should have said this emphatically otherwise what’s the point of this show: Of course we want you to opine! Indeed if it were up to me I’d give the wonderful Mike Doran the keys to cities from Metulla to Eilat!

Monday, November 13th, 2023

Among other points, in his piece “Initial Lessons From the October 2023 War” at The Jerusalem Strategic Tribune, Yaacov Amridor admonishes:

It is wrong to argue – as some significant critics have done – that too much money has been spent on technology at the expense of training and high levels of combat readiness. As it turns out, ground operations are demonstrating that technology is vital for the IDF’s success in general and for the specific challenges of urban warfare in particular.

Saturday, November 11th, 2023

In a saner world, what Elie Kirshenbaum writes at Mida would be the mainstream viewpoint:

The Greek government had basic self-respect and understanding of where to draw the line with the international community and with its neighbors. Unfortunately, Israel did not wake up in time to the existential threat posed by the Palestinian national movement, but it is better that to wake up late than to continue to remain asleep on this issue.

Such a double-hitter in today’s Wall Street Journal editorial page, both pieces by Muslims. Kudos.

From “The Theology of Hamas” by Ed Husain:

Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar has said that Palestine is only a “toothbrush in our pocket.” Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood aspire to create a regionwide Shariah state, a more anti-Western confrontational caliphate in line with Iran’s political model than that of moderate Arab nations in the neighborhood. That intention has led several Arab nations—Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt—to ban both groups from organizing within their borders. In 1979 Egyptian President Anwar Sadat signed a peace agreement with Israel. Two years later Islamists assassinated him.

From “The Scenes of Genocide I Saw in Israeli Morgues” by Qanta A. Ahmed:

I’ve been to northwestern Pakistan and met child Taliban operatives groomed for suicide missions. I still attend to 9/11 first-responders in New York. I’ve been to post-ISIS Iraq to meet with Kurdish and Yazidi survivors of genocide. I’ve spoken with former ISIS child soldiers and the Peshmerga veterans of that brutal and bloody three-year war. The Oct. 7 genocide was different, more barbaric than anything before it.

Thursday, November 9th, 2023

I just finished watching Michael Doran’s 6-part lecture series on the Yom Kippur War at the Tikvah Fund (requires free registration). After Walter Russell Mead, Doran is doing so much to promote the American-Israeli relationship.

Monday, November 6th, 2023

What a masterful, lengthy piece by Shany Mor in Mosaic, “Ecstasy and Amnesia in the Gaza Strip”. His first theme is that Palestinians have demonstrated a clear pattern of murderous exultation leading up to a defeat in which they cast themselves as the terrible victims. His second theme is that these spasms of aggression have consistently been parts of larger global intellectual currents. And thirdly that the subsequent defeats have unnaturally been rewarded by outside larger powers, which eggs them on to the next catastrophe.

Again and again, the Palestinians have served as the tip of someone else’s spear. But the tips of spears tend to break when thrown, and when they do, it’s evidently easier to blame the wall they hit than the person who threw them.

Kobi Michael and Gabi Siboni write:

The Gaza war is also a historic opportunity to dismantle UNRWA, which is an active partner in perpetuating the conflict by fostering the ethos of armed resistance, the demand for the return of refugees, and incitement against Israel.

And the next step:

The sole course of action vis-à-vis Hezbollah must be its complete and utter destruction.

Sunday, November 5th, 2023

Democracy around the world is America’s spiritual grand strategy.

Robert D. Kaplan

Saturday, November 4th, 2023

Wow I find this moving: in the plaza outside the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, people paint portraits of the kidnapped.

Each artist in that Tel Aviv square was directing their talent toward a singular cause: the creation of a portrait of one of the hostages as part of a project called This Is Us, which seeks to call attention to the plight of the missing and help bring them home safely.

On Tel Aviv University’s YouTube Channel, host Ido Aharoni interviews former Director of TAU’s program in Ottoman and Turkish Studies at the Department of Middle East and African History Ehud Toledano on the current situation.

Toledano characterizes himself a believer in credible ultimatums. Rather than finishing off the Hamas leadership, Israel should surround them and offer them death or expulsion (perhaps to Turkey) akin to the PLO model from Beirut to Tunisia, with exile also contingent on hostage release.

He’s against Israel occupying Gaza in the aftermath, instead recommending a laissez faire approach of instant withdrawal resulting either in the West rushing in or else letting locals organize, with Israel conducting offshore balancing militarily (ie bombing) to suppress any jihadists emerging victorious.

Then with credibility at a high, he suggests Israel present Hizballah with an ultimatum: dismantle the missiles and retreat north of the Litani River or face war. Hizballah would not go for it, he points out, as Hizballah’s very existence is to provide a deterrent against an Israeli attack against Iran’s nuclear program. So Hizballah would not comply and Israel would face two devastating days of missile attacks and it would be over.

It’s all perhaps slightly fanciful — starting wars is not Bibi’s style — but worthy strategic thinking in the mix (plus he may not be in the saddle by then).

Friday, November 3rd, 2023

I hesitate to even bother linking to Matthew Continetti’s Washington Free Beacon column “Let Israel Win” because it’s such a statement of the bleedin’ obvious, as even Continetti himself writes:

Hamas could end all this tomorrow if it released the hostages, put down its arms, and surrendered. Hamas, not Israel, is the aggressor. Hamas, not Israel, is the “occupier” of the Gaza Strip. Hamas, not Israel, rejects international law. Hamas, not Israel, steals food, fuel, and water from civilians. And the fact that these words need to be written at all is evidence that the culture-producing institutions of the West—the media, the universities, cultural and political celebrities—are irreparably broken.

Thursday, November 2nd, 2023

Should Israel’s UN delegates be wearing those yellow Never Again stars? Along with Yad Vashem, The Jerusalem Post editorializes not to wear it though most of the comments disagree and ultimately so do I; subtlety is not a virtue in today’s overcrowded information landscape. One perspective on this: in David Goldman’s formulation of Christians abhorring power and Muslims humiliation, the yellow star might positively influence the former but be merely a counterproductive Kick Me sign to the latter.

Einat Wilf addresses Palestinian refugeeism. Finally taking UNRWA with the deadly seriousness it deserves should be the next top priority of a resourceful country that needs to stay mobilized for the foreseeable future.

One group only of refugees from that time and those wars [of the 20th century] were allowed to maintain themselves as endless refugees in anticipation of one day winning a war they had lost.

Wednesday, November 1st, 2023

Behold the Yiddeshe New York mama hugging the lamppost to protect the posters of kidnapped children from the sick young man.

Love it! Finally someone uses this rhetoric on someone else and it’s a doozy! As reported by The Times of Israel, this is Foreign Minister Eli Cohen to the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Mirjana Spoljaric:

The Red Cross has no right to exist if it does not succeed in visiting the hostages being held captive by the Hamas terror group.

Similarly, Israeli universities have written to universities in the USA and Europe to demand a “sea change in clarity and truth in academia on the matter of Israel’s war against Hamas”.

Hamas official Ghazi Hamad is pretty sober in his insanity, as translated and promoted by MEMRI:

The existence of Israel is illogical. The existence of Israel is what causes all that pain, blood, and tears. It is Israel, not us. We are the victims of the occupation. Period. Therefore, nobody should blame us for the things we do. On October 7, October 10, October 1,000,000 – everything we do is justified.

Frank Furedi and Brendan O’Neill discuss Gaza, anti-Semitism and the global culture war and it is a single topic. Ultimately, Furedi argues, Hamas is not even an entirely Middle Eastern phenomenon but at least partially a cultural creation of an influential strand of Western self-loathing that seems to be on track for a self-evisceration.

Do the woke not see that if they are successful in their takeover of the modern state they will immediately become actually oppressed, this time by their erstwhile favored activists who have already demonstrated their methods? All the glories and technologies that have come about as a result of the new liberties of modernity will fall into the hands of ruling barbarians. We need no longer fear the singularity; technology will have peaked and start regressing. I hope the American high school curriculum still assigns A Canticle for Liebowitz alongside Brave New World, Animal Farm?? and 1984.

Another tour de force interview with Walter Russell Mead, this time with Bari Weiss.

I look at the last 300 years of world history as this contest, a series of contests, between English-speaking commercial, reasonably liberal maritime powers and these big land powers… We’re back to the Cold War when Russia was a huge sponsor of Palestinian terrorism. And Russia has decided to go back to that today. See, we don’t want, the Biden Administration doesn’t want, Russia and Iran and China to cohere because that just makes all of our problems worse. But they also know that cohering makes all of our problems worse. And that’s what they want.

Wednesday, October 25th, 2023

It’s good to hear the sensible center-left voice of Times of Israel founder and editor David Horowitz getting exercised:

Hamas remains all too evidently functional as a military and terrorist army, is still waging practical and pyschological war, and its most senior figures are not known to have been neutralized. On Tuesday night, it sent terrorists by sea to try to attack two border towns. It maintains the capacity to launch barrages of rockets, including an ongoing effort to target the airport area. And its vast underground tunnel network is apparently still largely intact.

But we should have patience; as the new posture settles in, as the face of Israel becomes a military uniform in the guise of the excellent IDF Spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, it seems from afar at least not difficult to have faith in the seriousness of the upcoming response.

Aha, more spot-on clarity from Tablet magazine in “America Needs a Decisive Israeli Victory” by Raphael Benlevi.

America is being tested no less than Israel; the outcome will determine whether regional states will ally with America or with China and Russia. In other words, the Gaza war will determine whether the American-led order in the Middle East is still sustainable, or rather a relic of a historical period whose time has passed.

Take heed, o Wall Street Journal Editorial Page and Commentary Magazine: your might is being eclipsed!

Kudos to Tablet for publishing “Biden’s Three Nos” by Gadi Taub:

The closer you examine Biden’s hug, the more it appears like a full nelson. To be sure, there are positive aspects to the visit, but the cons decisively outweighed the pros. Biden came to Israel to preserve his—and President Barack Obama’s—disastrous policy of appeasing Iran.

Together with Caroline Glick, Taub is a useful right-wing voice in the mix that is my head, and I’m inclined to agree with much of this piece, except for one glaring and ultimately overriding omission: events, dear Gadi, events. The leopard will not change its spots; momentum has its own momentum; reality itself will pop — is already popping — the Democrat delusion of an appeasable Iran.

More in sorrow than in anger, Peter Hitchens admonishes Israel for aiming to uproot Hamas, the great man’s brother even kindly offering a speech for Israel’s Prime Minister to deliver:

We have seen enough blood. Nothing is to be gained by shedding more of it. In fact, we are sure that our enemies want us to do precisely that. We will cease to bombard Gaza, and will abandon attempts at a ground invasion which will, in truth, bring only grief, much of it to innocent people. Most will understand our national rage at what was done to us and our initial desire to hit back. But our considered response to the Hamas murders is to turn to the world – and remind everyone in it exactly what Israel’s enemies did on October 7.

Hitchens suggests that Israel “seek out and punish known individual culprits” as if this were a terrorist atrocity like that at the Munich Olympics. But Munich happened in, well, Munich, not within Israel. This isn’t about rage, it’s about deterrence, and before that even, self-defence, because if we leave them there they could find a way to do it again when we get sloppy again. I wonder: has Peter Hitchens had this thought and dismissed it, or not even had it?

Thank you, Andrew Neil, for your impassioned piece; even in your underwear you are a national treasure.

Given what we now know, can anybody doubt that Hamas would rival the Nazis in scale and the industrialisation of genocide if they had the opportunity and the resources?

Brigadier General Pat Ryder speaks to and takes questions on the missiles that the USS Carney shot down:

There were no casualties to U.S. Forces and none that we know of to any civilians on the ground. Information about these engagements is still being processed and we cannot say for certain what these missiles and drones were targeting but they were launched from Yemen, heading north along the Red Sea, potentially towards targets in Israel.

The US has now had to defend Israel in this war. On Iran’s part, might firing from so far away have been a strategic mistake?

Monday, October 23rd, 2023

You gotta larf. On the same day that the BBC posts an article about marchers chanting “Jihad!” in London

“Jihad” literally means “effort” or “struggle” in Arabic. In Islam the main meaning is an internal struggle, such as a believer’s struggle to live in accordance with their faith. Jihad can also be an outward struggle or war, which in Islamic teaching must be in self defence and within prescribed limits.

National Review posts its lampoon of an academic’s apology “Sorry You Misinterpreted My Comments about Israel”, with notes such as:

It should be noted that, in Arabic, the word “massacre” has a different connotation than it does in English, denoting something akin to “an internal struggle to alter the religious composition of a geographical area.”

Tim Stanley at The Telegraph also has a go:

And what are we to make of those activists shouting for Jihad who[m] the Met declined to arrest because, according to its finest theologians, Jihad has “a number of meanings”? For me it suggests the name of a balmy port in Oman, of nights of perfume and satin, caressed by Arabian breezes. For others it means “kill all Jews” – and the inability to infer the bleeding obvious exposes a moral blindness in British society.

Great interview [Hebrew audio] with Prof. Danny Orbach on historical comparisons to Israel’s current war, including 1973, 1948, Vietnam, Lebanon, WWII, etc.

Israel shows 200 foreign journalists 43 minutes of footage of the Hamas invasion and mass murder — I think this could make a difference. I think at last Israelis understand that other people are not us and need to be told, need to be shown, otherwise falsehoods will rush in to fill the new empty space of attention that is demanding filling.

Sunday, October 22nd, 2023

A strong piece by Yinon Weiss in response to Thomas Friedman’s latest condescending piece to Israel:

It has not been since 1945 that an enemy was entirely and irrefutably defeated. It has been so long that many people, rank and file and leaders alike, forget that such a war is even a strategic option. I am not one to downplay risk or quickly advocate for any war, let alone total war. As a U.S. combat veteran, I have seen the horrors of war up close, and like many veterans, I have been against virtually all military interventions of the last 15 years. However, when your neighbor ceases being a manageable threat and instead enters your house and kills and rapes your family, you can no longer rely on bigger fences and brainstorming sessions to unwind the situation – the evil force must be removed.

Saturday, October 21st, 2023

Discomfiting and Olympian, this top story at UnHerd “Israel is no longer Britain’s war” by Aris Roussinos:

Discomfiting because he opens with:

…as the righteous bloodlust of the sensible centrists has been awoken once again…

Ouch. And Olympian because he steps way back to look at the issues, beginning with:

Though there is no obvious linkage between any of these matters, if I knew your opinions on wokeness or gender issues, or on Net Zero or Covid restrictions, then I could ascertain, with 99% accuracy, your opinions on a distant ethnic conflict in the Middle East.

I do disagree however with an important part of the initial premise, as I think there very much are linkages among these issues. To quote the rather indignant Likud MK Amir Weitmann:

If you hate Human beings, chances are you will hate the Jews.

Thursday, October 19th, 2023

Oh that’s a shame, I’ve always loved Steve Coogan. Goodbye, dear Saxondale. Oh fuck it, who am I kidding, I will be watching him as Stan Laurel until my end.

To paraphrase: “What do you all think sovereignty means? Vibes? Papers? Essays? Losers.”

With some distaste I link to the BBC Verify page on Gaza’s Al-Ahli Hospital explosion (whatever the heck BBC Verify is, at any rate you’d think it would not be a separate thing from BBC News). I would wager that the link, currently 3rd on the BBC News homepage, will soon quietly disappear and this story will not be heard from until weeks or months from now, when it is acknowledged that the preponderance of evidence indeed points to an Islamic Jihad misfire. There’s no mention that the US Department of Defense has determined the explosion was “very unlikely” to be the result of Israeli action — arguably fair enough, the US is not above the fray. Yet not in the lede, nor at the beginning nor end of the article, does the closest text to a conclusion appear:

Three experts we spoke to say it is not consistent with what you would expect from a typical Israeli air strike with a large munition.

Rather, it is buried in paragraph 14 of 22, caveated by: “So far, the findings are inconclusive.”

As I write this, I remember that in even as a high schooler at the American School in Israel I was examining British press reports for media bias. I think I will stop now. But this example is especially important because it should make Westerners pause and note their eagerness to believe a false version of events put out by organizations their own governments have classified as terrorists, should the historic horrors of October 7th be leaving them with any doubt. It can affect whether or how much the person in the European living room trusts and supports Israel to do what it must in response to Hamas’s surprise attack.

Another barnstormer interview with Haviv Rettig Gur on Israel on Dan Senor’s Call Me Back podcast, all the more powerful this time for the steely quiet tone.

Posted — amazingly enough — on AMAC, the right-leaning American senior citizens lobbying group, and linked to from the mainstream RealClearPolitics albeit authored anonymously, the taboo concept: transfer:

The reason the problem persists is that the entire world insists that Israel must keep 2.3 million Palestinians trapped in Gaza against their will, and then denounces the Jewish state for creating “an open-air prison.”

Tuesday, October 17th, 2023

Beejeezus, is Victor Davis Hanson telling it like it is or what.

Is the U.S., as professed, really able to fund a $120 billion—and counting—war in Ukraine, and to replenish Israeli stocks (300,000 artillery shells shipped from U.S. depots in Israel to Ukraine, a reportedly mere one-month supply for Kyiv), and to restore depleted existing U.S. munitions (note the billions of dollars of equipment abandoned in Kabul), and to ramp up our forces to deter China (while allowing 8 million illegal aliens to flow across an open border and $33 trillion in national debt) without going on a massive war footing?

Monday, October 16th, 2023

I’ve been saying it all week and here Michael Oren has posted it up nicely in Israel Hayom: “A golden opportunity to focus on Hezbollah”:

Hamas cannot escape anywhere; it is trapped within Gaza, which can be sealed off gradually, and the air force can strike it at any time without significant hindrance. Rooting out Hamas can be done at a later stage. On the other hand, Hezbollah has a vast geographic area and open supply lines.

In terms of military capabilities, the organization poses a much greater threat than Hamas, including hundreds of thousands of missiles (some with precision capabilities) and many experienced fighters with combat experience in Syria. As long as Hezbollah remains unchallenged, it will continue to pose an intolerable strategic threat to the State of Israel.

Tackling Hizballah first seems to me the most rational order, so much so that the onus should be on why not to proceed so. Some questions:

Hostages: Does dealing with Hizballah first improve or degrade the hostages’ chances of safe return? It does buy some time to locate them and also provides a credible threat of destruction to Hamas while also providing its leaders with the option of at least personal survival, which is a reason to deal. But it also delays matters, which might be critical.

USA: Presumably the Biden Administration will oppose it — hence perhaps the aircraft carriers — because it brings things closer to a head with Iran, a confrontation the Democrats seem unwilling to have. Yet that is what proxies are for, and Iran seems to always climb down. And America has unfinished business with Hizballah. [Update 2023 Oct 17: Victor Davis Hanson has mused: “Why does the U.S. discount any possibility of a strategic response from Russia—which reportedly has some 6,000-7,000 nuclear weapons—to attacks on its homeland, but seems almost terrified about calling Iran to account for its central role in arming and funding terrorists to start a war with Israel by slaughtering 1,200 civilians?”]

1948: Oren’s analogy to 1948 may not be the best one; wasn’t Egypt on the southern front the more serious military threat? It is true though that Jerusalem, like the kidnapped Israelis, was being held hostage; moreover, the spiritual and moral imperative of relieving Jerusalem is analogous to that of saving hostages. In which case, perhaps the 1948 comparison resolves back into the issue of hostages.

Clearly Oren has thought about this a bit, if maybe not enough, and the op-ed is a whittled-down version. I’m sure decisionmakers are bandying about the notion, which might one of the reasons there’s been no ground invasion yet.

Ultimately I think the reason not to go this route, and it is an overwhelming one, is to not start a war that might be avoided. Perhaps here intelligence matters; if Israel can induce that this attack was truly a joint one in which Hizballah as well as Hamas has an active assigned role, that tilts things further towards starting first on the northern front. But if that role is as passive deterrent, like Biden’s aircraft carriers seem to be, then it seems prudent to not fan the flames further for now.

Update 2023 Oct 17, 12:11am GMT:

Some corroboration of my thinking:

In fact if it’s coming at all it could come at any moment.

Update 2023 Oct 21:

Do the warnings of Itzhak Brik regarding the IDF’s unreadiness [Hebrew video] have any bearing here? We are all assuming Israel has the capability, maybe it doesn’t. Well, maybe it didn’t three weeks ago, but — and I hope this too isn’t merely a misleading conceptzia — democracies once awakened are the most formidable war machines.

Aviv Rettig Gur has become one of the go-to writers on Israel, and his latest, “Hamas does not yet understand the depth of Israeli resolve” makes some pithy points:

If the response of Palestinian politics to the Oslo peace process was the mass murder of Israeli civilians, and the response of Palestinian politics to the stagnation of the peace process under Benjamin Netanyahu is the mass murder of Israeli civilians, then Israeli policy isn’t the cause of Palestinian mass murder of Israeli civilians.

But Israelis’ minds are already made up regarding the dissolution of Hamas, so this piece reads merely as a primer for foreigners to grasp that implacable determination. In fact, what strikes me most is the gaps in logic that seem almost deliberate given how well Gur reasons; Straussian even perhaps. He writes:

That enemy is not the Palestinian people, of course, even though support for terror attacks is widespread among Palestinians.

What is his explanation for teasing apart the enemy — some sort of historical meme — from the people who believe it?

When Hamas is destroyed, Israel will finally have liberated the Palestinian cause from the bottomless brutality of its most fervent practitioners, from the shattering albatross of a violent decolonization movement that refuses to grasp its enemy has no colonial motherland to which they can return, and so from an addiction to cruelty without purpose or function.

I see no reason why destroying Hamas will achieve this; as Gur points out in the same piece, this attitude predated Hamas.

In The Wall Street Journal, poetic justice from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who suggest “each of these countries should be called on to take ownership of their terrible decisions” by taking in Gazans:


  • Iran: Hamas’s chief financier and arms supplier
  • Turkey and Qatar: material and financial support [to Hamas]
  • Malaysia: a haven for Hamas in years past
  • Algeria and Kuwait: cheered on Hamas’s violent and brutal tactics

One wag (I’ve been reading so much I can’t remember who) deliciously suggested Ireland. [Update 2023 Oct 19: Scotland!

Now, forcible population transfer, or ethnic cleansing to use the pejorative language, is a terrible thing — it’s what Meir Kahane was banned from the Knesset for advocating — but Allah help the jackals we have entered war footing, wherein historic generational changes occur.

(That said, these proposals are historic and controversial enough to warrant nitpicking. The authors write:

Civilians are seeking to flee in advance of the fighting…

This is a bit disingenuous, as the IDF has been instructing the population in northern Gaza for days now to head south.

The Rafah crossing on the Egypt-Gaza border is open.

This seems false, it’s most definitely closed, though there is talk of it opening this afternoon for a few hours.)

For decades Palestinians have absurdly been calling themselves refugees even while sitting on territory they control and maintaining refugee camps with nary a tent on their own territory. Ditto the contradictory simultaneous accusation of both occupation and apartheid. So, as it goes for what you wish for, herein lies a lesson: be careful what you lie about.

In The Free Press, a round-up of what various pieces-of-shit have said and written in support of Hamas’s invasion, with Najma Sharif’s

“What did y’all think decolonization meant? vibes? papers? essays? losers.”

likely the most memorable.

Sunday, October 15th, 2023

So much, so much to say and catch up on. Here’s a start: Victor Davis Hanson’s “An Annotated Guide to American Middle East Madness”. Events have caught up with VDS’s dark predictions and he has dropped the dark sardonic tone for straightforward exposition.

Saturday, October 14th, 2023

On a call driving south, Jerusalem Post defence correspondent Yonah Jeremy Bob muses on Israel’s war in Gaza, echoing many thoughts I’ve had lately.

Israel could turn to a hybrid solution, with autonomy for the Palestinian Authority, helped by a multinational group, and the Israeli military in some way involved to prevent a Hamas comeback. “That is utter speculation on my part,” Mr. Bob says.

Tuesday, October 10th, 2023

Since the international community’s bludgeon against Israel taking wise action against Hamas and Gaza will now likely be claiming that conducting a siege is against international law, here is the UK’s Chatham House on siege law.

Thursday, October 5th, 2023

From the Center for Peace Communications, a thinktank led by Dennis Ross, this amazing litany of regional grassroots cooperation with Israel.

In both English and Arabic, Israel’s Minister of Communications Dr. Shlomo Karhi addressed ministers and heads of delegations at an international media conference in Saudi Arabia. Humdulilah!

Monday, September 25th, 2023

By the power of our example of the example of our power, either way… Walter Russell Mead towers over his lucky interlocutors on the Moment of Zen podcast.

Sunday, September 17th, 2023

British aviation legend Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown has died at 96.

When he went to receive an honor from King George VI, the reigning British monarch of the time reportedly said to Brown, “What, you again?”.

 
 

•••

Newsroll

A quarterly magazine of urban affairs, published by the Manhattan Institute, edited by Brian C. Anderson.

experiments in refactored perception

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