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Monday, May 13th, 2024

John Bolton in The Telegraph:

Piling on publicly in the middle of a war is imprudent, even juvenile, damaging the respect and trust allies must sustain during times of crisis and tension. The propaganda opportunities handed to hostile powers are immeasurable. And if Biden is prepared to cut loose one of America’s most valued partners, what does that foretell for those more-distant, less-favoured than Israel? How does Ukraine feel? Or Taiwan?

A few days in to the announcement of withholding weapons and the Biden Administration is in contortions trying to walk it back a bit, at least rhetorically. Oh dear they are in a mess. And why? Venality. A belief in something, anything, could fortify them with the intestinal fortitude required to stay the course.

Monday, February 19th, 2024

Forget a 2-state solution: emulate the Emirates! In English, Mordechai Kedar explains a political horizon to Arutz Sheva. Update: In the wake of Bibi’s outline for post-war Gaza announced just a few days later, Kedar seems prescient, so much so that either he has the Cabinet’s ear or was tasked to float the notion.

As Rumsfeld say, if you can’t fix problem, make it bigger. So what we’re going for is not a 2-state nor even a 3-state but an 8+ statelets solution! I wonder if the Biden Administration will grudgingly go along with this. You know what, I’m guessing they will. Viva la chamulot!

Saturday, November 25th, 2023

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!

Thursday, November 2nd, 2023

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.

Thursday, October 5th, 2023

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!

Sunday, August 6th, 2023

At the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, Eran Lerman has written a number of times of Israel’s burgeoning relationships with Greece and Cyprus. Happy happy days!

Saturday, August 5th, 2023

Israel will sell missile defense to Finland. May ties between these two successful small countries (both have their own tags on my site) deepen no end.

Thursday, August 3rd, 2023

Thursday, June 22nd, 2023

Veteran Jerusalem Post strategic affairs analyist Herb Keinon reminds us of the meaning Germany’s $4b purchase of Israel’s Arrow-3 system:

These sales are important to Israel for two main reasons. First, they strengthen bilateral ties. If Israel is providing a country with weapons that keep it safe, that country – for instance, Azerbaijan or India, which have emerged as key markets for Israeli arms – will relate to Israel in a fundamentally different way than if there were no arms sales in the relationship.

The second reason these sales are so critical for Israel is that they make it possible for the country to conduct the research and development to produce the weapons it needs for its own survival.

Thursday, March 2nd, 2023

A State at Any Cost: The Life of David Ben-Gurion

Tom Segev

♦♦♦♦

Just as author Tom Segev relates that Ben-Gurion increasingly harked back to the episodes that shaped him in his earlier life, so too are these episodes more vivid to us than later ones. This would be fine and even impressive as a literary gambit, having the reader feel about Ben-Gurion’s life the way Ben-Gurion himself did, but at least for this reader it was somewhat disappointing in that it’s the later events — founding and leading the State of Israel — that we are reading for. But again, this too may be a literary achievement, suggesting that for the subject of this biography, it was the younger man’s experiences that were important — and that by extension this is the case for all lives. But I’m not sure that’s accurate; surely the ambitious younger Ben-Gurion would have been overjoyed at the eventual achievements of his later self.

It’s a strange complaint to make, but I feel this book wasn’t long enough; each of the many episodes, particularly the later more historic ones, I felt could have withstood more detail.

I was pleased to learn of Ben-Gurion’s erratic behavior and attitude towards his family, and of his penchant for travel and mild but somewhat constant womanizing, and his growing intellectualism alongside faddishness. Segev concludes that Ben-Gurion’s philosophical disposition is basically that of Anglo-American liberal; all to the good. Almost. The implication is that this temperate poise made him the wise indispensable man, but also open him to more exciting dead-end intellectual enthusiasms.

Friendships, sex, religious relations, despair — the richness of the subject matter’s life encourages in the reader a life in politics as it’s a life in full.

Monday, February 20th, 2023

Israel and the UAE have unveiled a jointly developed unmanned maritime vessel, Globes reports. Abraham of Ur would be pleased.

Thursday, January 19th, 2023

Tuesday, January 10th, 2023

Senior Saudis tell an American delegation they are ready for normalization with Israel, but first they want normalization with the United States, writes JINSA’s John Hannah in The Jerusalem Post after the visit.

Friday, October 14th, 2022

Tony Badran explicates the terrible maritime deal that Israel signed with the Lebanese. It seems to me they just locked in Bibi’s reelection.

Monday, October 10th, 2022

To form an opinion on the wedge of maritime territory wedged between Israeli and Lebanon, some googling revealed:

Friday, October 7th, 2022

Oh my, Walter Russell Mead joins Tyler Cowen for a rich brief hour, and they barely mention WRM’s new book Arc. While in print WRM can seem a bit mealy-mouthed, often it seems throat-clearing to not alienate those with whom he basically disagrees, here he comes out strong and hearty. And TC’s idiosyncratic method of firing off questions works with WRM because each one prompts such a rich answer that there’s little need for normal back and forth.

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.

Saturday, September 24th, 2022

Kudos to the Biden Administration: Musk’s Starlink is legally permitted by the US Government to supply internet to Iranians.

Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

Israel’s patience and humility is rewarded first by Trump and now by Truss: the UK may follow the US in relocating its embassy from Tel Aviv the seafront metropolis to Jerusalem the capital.

Tuesday, September 6th, 2022

The Mufti, Qadaffi, King Hussein — I’m vastly enjoying season 2 of the Israeli TV documentary series Enemies (streaming requires an Israeli IP). One thing I can’t help but notice is the impressive living rooms in which the interviewees — mostly military intelligence vets — sit. None of them are in apartments, all have leafy window views, there’s a lot of wood, and most of them aren’t furnished like typical Israeli dwellings. I guess these aren’t military men, they’re men and women of the world.

I can’t tell if I enjoy Israeli docs because they’re so good, or merely because I’m the target audience. If it’s the former, and I think it is, they really should be selling them subtitled to wider audiences, say to Netflix and Amazon Prime.

It’s great, this pounding away at Israeli history, each episode a different prism.

Thursday, July 21st, 2022

On Israeli Policy Pod, Ehud Yaari for the (more or less) hour. When asked who is the greatest of the many great men he met, he is unequivocal: Sadat.

Monday, March 28th, 2022

It’s time to catch up: the UAE’s foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed (a son of the UAE’s founder) speaks in his rather nice English accent at the close of the Negev Summit in Sde Boker.

Tuesday, March 8th, 2022

Full transcript of Mohammed bin Salman’s interview with Graeme Wood of The Atlantic — and JCPA’s take on it:

This is the first time the Saudi crown prince has publicly referred to Israel as a “potential ally.” He also spoke about Iran in a different tone. In an Atlantic interview four years ago, Bin Salman compared Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to “Hitler” and said Iran was leading the “axis of evil.” This time such talk was replaced by calling the Iranians “neighbors” of Saudi Arabia.

Wednesday, January 26th, 2022

JINSA pleads with Biden to accept the gift of much Middle East peace bequeathed him:

Now is the time for Biden to up his game and remove all doubt that widening the circle of Arab-Israeli peace is one of his highest priorities. How? Name a special presidential envoy for normalization. Next, convene a summit meeting at Camp David with the leaders of Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, Egypt, and Jordan to establish an ongoing forum for building a new regional security architecture with Israel as an integral member.

Militarily, take advantage of the almost limitless opportunities now available to slowly but surely build Arab-Israeli defense ties as the result of Trump’s decision a year ago to move Israel into U.S. Central Command’s area of operations, alongside the armed forces of almost all of the United States’ Arab partners. Make last November’s naval exercises in the Red Sea the first in a regular series that draws in more Arab states over time and involves air, sea, land, and cybersecurity domains. Integrate Israeli forces and capabilities as much as possible into the multinational task forces that the U.S. Navy already leads to uphold freedom of navigation in the region, defend its vital maritime chokepoints, and combat the malign activities at sea of Iran and its network of terrorist proxies.

Thursday, January 20th, 2022

The most important Abraham Accords peace dividend so far: the beautiful Dubai, Dubai, Dubai by Israeli comedienne Noam Shuster-Eliassi. Israel’s biting satire — mocking Arabs and Israelis alike, and in Arabic leavened with Hebrew (or is it vice versa) — has more of a chance of freeing the Middle Eastern masses than in retrospect the US Armed Forces and State Department ever had. As Frank Herbert kind of say: he who control the comedy control the universe.

Sunday, November 21st, 2021

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

In American Affairs, my man David P. Goldman argues once again that the United States must step up its basic technological research if it is to avoid losing preeminence to China — and we are all to avoid falling prey to a rather less liberal hegemon. Spengler’s point:

The definitive inventions of late twentieth century technology — laser-powered optical networks, fast and light integrated circuits, and the Internet — all came out of Defense Department projects whose originators could not have foreseen the impact of the new discoveries … All the elements of the modern digital economy — integrated circuits, laser-powered optical networks, sensors, and displays — were invented at the behest of NASA or the Defense Department.

I’m pleased to see this — Fathom, the organ of BICOM, the British-Israeli thinktank, has a series of articles under the rubric UK-Israel 2021. They are:

I want bilateral histories.

Tuesday, October 26th, 2021

Hijinks for the practicing intellectualoid: Mansfield on Machiavelli, acknowledging the Florentin’s modernity paternity.

Friday, August 13th, 2021

What’s with Bahrain’s DERASAT thinktank signing an agreement not just with an Israeli counterpart, Jerusalem’s JCPA, nor even with two, also Herzlia’s AEI Abba Eban Institute for International Diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Center, but now with three, adding Tel Aviv’s INSS. That doesn’t seem right to me; pick a counterpart.

On the INSS web site, the visit warrants not just the top story position but the heading “Special Announcement”. At JCPA it’s no longer the top story but the headline is prefixed “History:”. The Abba Eban Center doesn’t seem to have a news facility. Yet over at DERASAT, the post about the agreement with the JCPA (which a few days later is no longer even discoverable on their website) did not contain the word “Israel”. And there’s no mention at all of the two more recent agreements.

Thursday, August 5th, 2021

Is this a new method of diplomatic forum? Israel seems to have hosted its own mini-United Nations Security Council meeting by presenting to a gathering of ambassadors from the sitting UNSC countries; it’s bloody genius. Is that Lapid taking his current job seriously and imaginatively? Looks like it.

Sunday, June 13th, 2021

Good Risk advice dressed up as systems thinking [via Hacker News].

A few further points. First, the dynamic of the game becomes more stark once players are eliminated; in the 3-man game is it better to be strongest, weakest or in the middle? More tactically, in the 2-man game I think it’s decisively better to abandon Australia because your defensive army is likely to be blocked and at this point you need all your offense.

Patton neglects feints, such as pretending to leave the game and letting the rather dumb AI take over your turn; as a bot, players tend to consider you less a threat and leave you alone, often to the point of weakening each other tremendously, figuring they’ll deal with the dumb bot later. A more complex feint is mimic being a newbie who does not know the principles Patton describes, though honestly I’ve not tried this and it seems difficult to pull off, as you do lose real armies being stupid, and as soon as you start behaving sensibly you may appear even more formidable; the trick here then would be to play dumb until the very end.

Perhaps more importantly is to keep in mind the pathetic fallacy, to remember that when behaving judiciously and prudently in dealing with the strongest player, relying on the self-interest of others to do so as well, they may not get it, and behave stupidly and weaken themselves against someone else, enabling the strongest player to then sweep to victory.

Excelsior!

Friday, January 1st, 2021

Friday, December 25th, 2020

The potential for warm relations between Israel and Morocco may be more than with the Gulf nations, this piece argues, as relations have been significant for some time.

Thursday, December 10th, 2020

Sunday, November 1st, 2020

“Because the Republic is at stake”: David Goldman for Trump. Allow me to also attest: as president, Donald Trump has passed George Gilder’s Israel test with colors so stratospheric it almost makes one cynical about cynicism.

Wednesday, September 30th, 2020

Some nice detail here about the business players poised to first benefit from the Abraham Accords.

The first big winner is Israel’s foremost venture capitalist and investment banker, Edouard Cukierman. Cukierman, who has the largest portfolio of Israeli biotech and technology startups through his Tel Aviv-based Catalyst Investment Fund, is also Israel’s leading mid-market M&A banker through his family’s Cukierman & Co Investment House.

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…

Monday, August 31st, 2020

Dore Gold explains that Arab nations have long held common cause with Israel. This is part of Mosaic Magazine’s symposium on the Israel-UAE peace accords, and contains links to the other essays.

Sunday, August 16th, 2020

“A juggernaut of creativity, innovation and high-tech:” US national security advisor Robert O’Brien provides Hugh Hewitt with inside baseball on the American angle of the magnificent Israel-UAE Abraham Accords.

Saturday, August 15th, 2020

“From left field, a world-changing moment executed by the executive branch…” The Commentary Magazine podcasters speak to the historic Israel-UAE deal.

Friday, August 14th, 2020

Saturday, July 25th, 2020

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the Nixon Library to a new posture regarding China.

If we bend the knee now, our children’s children may be at the mercy of the Chinese Communist Party … securing our freedoms from [the CCP] is the mission of our time.

Monday, March 2nd, 2020

INSS responds to the Deal of the Century — they don’t like it, believing it to create more trouble than it solves. Instead they push for their own Strategic Framework for the Israeli-Palestinian Arena.

I think though they take this thing too seriously; surely it was only meant as a reframing, a shot across the bow to Palestinians that they better come to the table because the narrative they’ve constructed may not always be there.

Saturday, October 19th, 2019

A Beginner's Guide to Japan: Observations and Provocations

Pico Iyer

♦♦♦

Written aphoristically, long-time Kyoto resident travel writer Pico Iyer provided me with a new view of a major people: that the Japanese exemplify Oscar Wilde’s catechism that style is substance, surface depth. One telling anecdote from his pal the Dalai Lama: when speaking to Western audiences, they perk up at the philosophy and tune out for the rituals; with the Japanese it’s the opposite. There are many more such reflections. One reviewer says the book is profound, and I guess that is the case, yes.

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

Succession as comedy. Obvious, given its producers, but still, nicely written.

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

Meir Kraus, a fellow at the research center at the Shalom Hartman Institute, sets out challenges, lessons, options and insights for a balanced and feasible option on Jerusalem as part of a wider solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Monday, October 7th, 2019

Sunday, October 6th, 2019

Erdoğan’s Turkey, once again neither winning friends nor influencing people, this time trying it on around the Eastern Med gas fields.

Monday, September 16th, 2019

George Friedman is impressed by Iran’s recent attack on Saudi oil infrastructure, which “imposed a price on the Saudis for their alliance structure that, if it continues, they cannot pay. The attack also drove home to U.S. allies that their interest and the United States’ interest on oil diverge.” Yes but conversely while they lash out violently and the US responds only economically, they appear increasingly desperate, a not-good look with real-world consequences.

index topics diplomacy diplomacy

Israel–Iran Proxy War, Day #50

Midway through the hostage deal and ceasefire are two concerns: will the ceasefire become permanent, letting Hamas remain in place? And on what basis does US support for the war rest and will it continue?

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 Pull-up

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

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)

Tuesday, July 9th, 2024

Thank you Rusto Reno, editor of Feisty Things, for this articulation towards the end of this podcast episode:

The liberation project is a utopian project that doesn’t have any limits. And moreover, if you can redefine husband and wife, why can’t you redefine men and women? I mean, if we can redefine marriage, the primordial institution of society that is more fundamental than any particular form of government, it’s universal across all cultures, then if you can redefine that, then I don’t see how you can object to people redefining what it means to be a man and a woman, or for that matter, to redefine anything.

Thursday, July 4th, 2024

There is not one UK political party that expresses the main stances I value:

  • Get back into Europe: Brexit is a silly nonsense; Britain’s historic role is offshore balancer to Europe, and how better than deep within its regulatory institutions.
  • Be economically sensible: Look back at and reapply what worked in the 20th century: top-notch educational opportunities for less privileged people paired with business-friendliness.
  • Support Israel properly: I mean not “staunchly” like the Conservatives say but barely do; I mean get ahead of the USA and Germany and be Israel’s most reliable ally as a fellow smaller world-historic democracy always working for true liberalism. And I also mean: find an independent way to be relevant and helpful in the Middle East. Both Jordan and the Gulf states look to Britain I believe as a senior partner; these are hugely important players who would do more if Britain had their backs; and France might see that and in turn play its part, maybe even in new Anglo-French joint initiatives with yes some boots on the ground.
  • Jettison the bollocks: Rigorously and vigorously dispatch with the medievalist self-mutilation that is political post-modernism, including both the extreme rights-based Orwellianism eroding actual liberalism, and the climate apoplexy eroding actual science (there are less oppressive and destructive ways to foster energy innovation).

Theoretically the party closest to all this are the Conservatives, but in practice not so much; moreover they are the cause of the top mess with their Brexit business — Britain is a European nation, not a semi-continent unto itself like a USA or an India, and now that the Britain-led industrial revolution and resulting empire is long gone, it’s folly to presume and proceed otherwise.

Saturday, June 29th, 2024

Archly-written summary of the Trump-Biden debate by Jenny Holland in Spiked:

Call me naïve, but I don’t think sister-on-sister rape – and the resulting offspring – is the national problem that Biden seems to think it is.

But she concludes more darkly:

The media’s complicity in the disaster that America now finds itself in must never be forgotten. Or forgiven.

Sunday, June 23rd, 2024

1948

Benny Morris

♦♦♦♦

First bought and read a dozen years ago, and mostly forgotten, I returned to Benny Morris’s 1948 now during the post-October 7th Israel-Gaza conflict, for which 1948’s War of Independence serves in a number of ways as a distant mirror. Although 1967’s Six Day War seems to loom larger in consciousness, 1948 was the big one, the epoch-definer.

Even back then, Israel labored under a diplomatic situation where it was held back from victory. This time around the Palestinians have different weapons: no Arab armies, but lopsided savagery, projectile warfare, a dedicated sponsor and participant in Tehran, Western cultural cognitive decline, and lawfare from a corrupted globalist establishment. The book, with its encyclopedic ambitions, suffers from one sin of history: it does not elicit mental images of many of the events it describes, such as the battles around Gaza between Israel and Egypt. That said, it’s a vital primer.

Saturday, June 22nd, 2024

I used to be an intellectual but now I’m a conservative.

Mike Doran

Tuesday, June 18th, 2024

Niall Ferguson’s inaugural Free Press column: Are We the Soviets?

Monday, June 17th, 2024

“I, for one, have had my fill of the old Bard of Stratford on Avon,” writes Joseph Epstein in Commentary. In the piece he relies on Tolstoy’s complaints of Shakespearean nullity — this as counterpoint to his quasi-review and ultimate dismissal as parlor game of a recent book comparing current political figures to Shakespearean monarchs.

I too have struggled to read such plays as The Tempest. But Shakespeare does two things: 1) what Tolstoy accuses him off, yet thereby solidifying the epoch-making shucking off of medieval piety and heralding modernity, taking his place among in the pantheon of modernity’s fathers along with Machiavelli and Hobbes and others; and 2) making us step back a little in admiration of and delight in the very method — language, our language — that we use in order to have all the ideas that Tolstoy accused him of lacking.

Sunday, June 16th, 2024

At a meeting between US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and a group of senior Arab officials about a month ago, a shouting match reportedly ensued between the UAE and Palestinian delegates. I find it so encouraging that there is a body in the Arab world that seems insistent on calling a spade a spade and treating people equally and with respect no matter who they are, and not instrumentalizing the Palestinians to some nonsensical end, nor fatally coddling them no matter their viciousness. The UAE’s path-beating instills me with hope.

Tuesday, June 11th, 2024

MacRumors summarizes Apple’s announcements at WWDC 2024 in 9 minutes. Onboard AI and ChatGPT integration. More configuration and multiple screens in Control Center. Sending even regular messages via satellite. And so much more, for real. A huge raft of announcements!

Maybe the single killer feature of the Apple Vision Pro: entire home not desk as office:

Walking around my entire apartment with Vision Pro on my head, strolling between large windows that cover different walls in each space, with specific rooms dedicated to certain kinds of work activities, felt like a radical extension of the standing desk.

Especially useful for those who work at home and have it to themselves for the workday.

I’ve heard people such as Dan Senor not understand the electoral logic behind President Biden’s pandering to Hamas supporters in Michigan. Like others, Senor cannot even imagine the only logical conclusion: it comes not from cynicism and expedience but rather ideology and belief (as much as this ethics-challenged pol can muster at any rate). In a devastating list-like article akin to a mordant Victor Davis Hanson column, Morton Klein reminds that Biden is not an Israel-friendly president. If he is not the architect of our current woes he is at least the midwife.

Biden has been hostile to Israel since day one of his administration before Michigan was a twinkle in his eye. Moreover, Biden stands to lose more Jewish and pro-Israel votes than he gains from anti-Israel communities, as 80% of Americans support Israel over Hamas. I thus believe that the real reason for Biden’s anti-Israel policies is Biden’s longstanding and sinister hostility to Israel.

In the last few days John Podhoretz has been coming to this conclusion, but sees it as the ranting of a senile old man, rather than long-held tendencies.

Thursday, June 6th, 2024

Salem Alketbi in The Jerusalem Post on Arab do-nothing-ism vis-a-vis Gaza. It’s great to hear this pragmatic, humanist voice coming from the UAE.

What remains unspoken about the Arab role in Gaza is the lack of a collective political vision for a solution to the crisis, despite the fact that it has been ongoing for over seven months. Instead, they have settled for official face-saving statements, while refraining from calling a spade a spade and without playing any real role in saving the Palestinian people from the ruthlessness of the Iran-backed Hamas faction.

Gaymen and ladies in San Francisco, your true colors shining through…

Gadi Taub hosts Gabi Siboni [Hebrew]. Total common sense that seems in short supply. With the North empty and on fire, an invasion of South Lebanon is very overdue. I think the country understands that. I am long along the road of losing faith in Netanyahu, who pays way too much mind to the Biden Administration’s inanity.

Monday, June 3rd, 2024

Only now, after calling an election, do the Conservatives say a woman is a woman. And that is why they will lose: because they have not been governing as conservatives. The only caveat to this prediction is that they are the worst except for all the rest. Or, as Allistair Heath writes in “Nigel Farage has driven the Tories to a state of near-total psychological collapse”, also in The Telegraph:

Aending out strong Right-wing vibes at one minute to midnight in a desperate bid to deflect the oncoming Nigel Farage tsunami isn’t enough: after 14 years of talking as conservatives but governing as social-democrats, the Tories have run out of excuses. They broke their promises on migration, legal and illegal, and never had the guts to pull out of the ECHR. They increased taxes, and are planning to do so again as a share of GDP.

This is why I blame the Tory wets, in charge for almost all of the past 14 years, for the Starmer-ite calamity that is about to befall Britain.

It is the wets who jettisoned free-market economics, deregulation, tax cuts and supply-side reforms, who crippled the City, who increased immigration, who ignored the collapse of community and family and the baby-bust, who failed to fix the Civil Service, who refused to scrap the BBC licence fee, who had no interest in properly reforming the public sector, including the NHS (and who promoted even more cultish reverence for a failing system), who vetoed prison building and a real crackdown on crime, who embraced net zero and the neo-Blairite quangocracy, and who wanted to surrender to the woke stormtroopers.

Tuesday, May 28th, 2024

Anything with eggplant, you can’t lose, ok?

Mark Wolters, Tel Aviv: The Don’ts of Visiting Tel Aviv, Israel

Sunday, May 26th, 2024

Friday, May 24th, 2024

Yossi Klein-Halevi: We have to own the strangeness of our story. I’ve been having similar thoughts; there is no comparable nation to Israel. Right from the get go we endemically punch way above our weight — this small nation sandwiched between bigger empires declared its god to be the only one, negating everyone else’s! It’s a world religion that — unlike any other world religion — doesn’t proselytize because it’s the religion of a nation, so grows through the womb not the meme. Always being small in one’s arena means always being a target.

Thursday, May 23rd, 2024

The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board cuts through the miasma:

Though Israeli liberals won’t like to hear it, Israel probably will need to fill the vacuum in Gaza for a time. Though Israeli right-wingers won’t like to hear it, the purpose would be to make way for local governance. The politics, there and here, explain why it has been easier to pretend there’s no plan at all.

Monday, May 20th, 2024

“Helikopter, Helikopter”. As someone says in the comments, it’s the new Iranian anthem.

Saturday, May 18th, 2024

Sense from John Spencer as reported by CNN of all outlets.

By going slowly, I can argue through history and through metrics, it gives your enemy more time to defend, more time to prevent your plans, more time to prevent you from achieving surprise. We, as in the world, are also responsible for some of the destruction that’s happened in Gaza.

Friday, May 17th, 2024

We are at a moment where what’s morally indefensible is becoming socially acceptable.

Tal Becker, “Call Me Back”, May 16th

Classy Abe Greenwald’s “Woke Jihad” in Commentary makes no bones about the commonality of social justice and Islamist movements: they both want to tear it all down. There are many quotable bits, here’s one paragraph:

The love between the two camps, however, is not reciprocal. Leftists love the jihadists. They love them for their ferocity and exoticism as much as for their bottomless self-pity. Those are the constituent elements of social justice. It’s why we see protesters trying to shape-shift into war-ravaged Palestinians, asking for humanitarian aid, claiming chemical attacks on students, grasping to bask in the reflective glow of the nobly oppressed. But no properly chauvinistic jihadist could feel anything but disgust for the unchecked females, sexual libertines, heathens, and even Jews he’s been forced to instrumentalize in the cause of Islamist domination.

It also dives into the source of their money, which I’m less interested in though it’s very important. Does Bill Gates actually support any of this? Why is he helping fund it if not?

A revolutionary cannot live on microaggressions alone.

Abe Greenwald, “Woke Jihad” in Commentary Magazine

Tuesday, May 14th, 2024

David Wurmser at the Center for Security Policy, the first I’ve come across to synthesize Israel’s Eurovision popular vote win:

Israel seems to be casting some light that is shining onto populations and peoples far away, triggering in them a rediscovery of themselves and what made those distant lands and cultures great.

He notes the dichotomy between the popular vote and the judges:

Many of the nations in which Israel won the popular vote by wide margins had their judges award Israel zero points. Western European elites led the trend: the UK, Switzerland, Luxembourg, San Marino, Spain, Finland, Australia, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Andorra, Belgium, and Sweden all had been won by Israel with 12 points on the popular vote, but all had the judged award Israel zero points. Four of the five UK judges had ranked Israel as the worst song of the 35.

Eric Cohen’s Exodus project: American Jews need to contribute to renewal.

Monday, May 13th, 2024

Brendan O’Neill in The Telegraph:

[Green agitation and radical Islam], at root, represent a disgust with modernity. Both the privileged Western weepers over industrial society and the Islamist haters of Israel share an aversion to the modern world, to progress, to Enlightenment itself.

Climate Justice for Palestine! Mental. Though there’s precious little more in this piece linking the two deranged movements, both of which start from a place of ostensible decency yet veer almost immediately into the weeds of venality and beyond, I’ve been waiting for someone to at least touch on the shared ideational foundations. Here they fuse in one charismatic which might alone shed some light on their commonality. One thing they share is hate, demonstrating wilful disregard for actual causes and workable solutions in favor of vilification of the chosen villain and a desire to dismantle existing structures (modernity; Israel) which if ever actually successful would be imagined catastrophe.

John Bolton in The Telegraph:

Piling on publicly in the middle of a war is imprudent, even juvenile, damaging the respect and trust allies must sustain during times of crisis and tension. The propaganda opportunities handed to hostile powers are immeasurable. And if Biden is prepared to cut loose one of America’s most valued partners, what does that foretell for those more-distant, less-favoured than Israel? How does Ukraine feel? Or Taiwan?

A few days in to the announcement of withholding weapons and the Biden Administration is in contortions trying to walk it back a bit, at least rhetorically. Oh dear they are in a mess. And why? Venality. A belief in something, anything, could fortify them with the intestinal fortitude required to stay the course.

Sunday, May 12th, 2024

Just when you think Bidenite kindergarten diplomacy couldn’t get any worse, can it be true that they are withholding intelligence from Israel on Hamas leaders’ whereabouts? No, if I had to wager I’d say this Washington Post story is not true; it’s just too egregious.

The Daily Mail seems to cover all angles of Eurovision 2024 in this sprawling report. Politics aside, I thought the Irish entry was pretty amazingly performed. I missed the Swiss song as too many bland numbers had forced me away from the screen, and my faith in Eurovision songwriting is not up to searching for it to listen to it. But mainly: I was totally taken aback by the number of votes for Israel; I know there’d been a campaign to do so and supporters probably went out and bought extra SIMs — Jews vote — but surely not in enough numbers to achieve the level reached; the mostly-European public spoke and it was briefly intensely heartwarming. As was seeing Eden Golan’s return to Israel at Benny-G arrivals.

Tuesday, May 7th, 2024

Potholes are a great heuristic for evaluating national decline, and Britain’s here has been especially egregious. In this excellent bit of reporting in The Telegraph, the main culprit seems to be, like at least with one other major problem, legislation from the 90s:

Part of the issue is a little-known change in the law in 1991. Prior to this, companies had to pay highway authorities to repair roads after they’d been dug up. Westminster council charged £120 per square metre for this work. But under the New Roads and Street Work Act of 1991, utilities could reinstate their own openings. Costs dropped to an estimated £40 per square metre. In theory the savings should have resulted in lower bills (or fatter margins for the utility companies). But the change in the law clearly had a number of unintended consequences.

Hussein Aboubakr Mansour writes on Middle Eastern history, Arab intellectual life, philosophy, Jewish history, and Middle Eastern politics. He calls his Substack “The Abrahamic Critique”.

Monday, May 6th, 2024

The Wall Street Journal’s Letters Editor Elliot Kaufman lays out Biden’s series of errors regarding Gaza, in particular his lack of pressure on Egypt to step up.

How did the president get here? Mr. Biden isn’t “Genocide Joe” any more than he is “pro-Hamas.” He has been boxed in and brought low by his own mistakes.

To my mind it all stems from cowardice; leaning on reasonable friends is less scary than on iffy partners, let alone adversaries.

Sunday, May 5th, 2024

I cannot (yet) follow Lee Smith to his conclusion that the Biden Administrations’ goal is American decline and defeat (though there was a strong strain of this in its precursor Obama Administration); rather than conspiratorial and malevolent, it seems more likely due to the more common weaknesses of delusion and cowardice.

Moreover Israel shares some blame for being weak-willed enough in recent months to go along with the Administration’s tacit protection of Hamas.

Benny Morris, prescient in 2008:

Many Israelis feel that the walls — and history — are closing in on their 60-year-old state, much as they felt in early June 1967, just before Israel launched the Six-Day War.

Saturday, May 4th, 2024

Friday, May 3rd, 2024

In The Telegraph, Allister Heath spells it out:

West-hating pro-Palestinian protests are a harbinger of much worse to come.

Israel must stop faffing.

Wednesday, May 1st, 2024

How heartwarming is this exchange between Hugh Hewitt and Yossi Klein-Halevi. Who better to thank HH for his steadfastness and engagement since Oct 7.

[Update 2024 May 7]: Hewitt is even reading out the names of the young Israeli fallen after the rocket attack on Keren Shalom. I hope when Hewitt gets over to Israel he is appropriately feted; how many people his erudite common sense must be reaching as they commute to and from mid-sized cities throughout the American heartland.

Tuesday, April 30th, 2024

This is how the Associated Press presents the US intifada encampments:

The outcry is forcing colleges to reckon with their financial ties to Israel, as well as their support for free speech. Some Jewish students say the protests have veered into antisemitism and made them afraid to set foot on campus.

What a topsy-turvy whitewash.

There is also:

The protests have even spread to Europe…

What’s interesting is why they haven’t mainly been in Europe.

Thursday, April 25th, 2024

In contrast with the Jonathan Freedland piece I linked to earlier, Armin Rosen’s survey “The Israel-Gaza war has changed everything: The norms of war are being rewritten in real-time” in Unherd is simultaneously more detailed yet more humble.

Much of what’s happened since October 7 is without any real precedent … we are deep into the unknown, and were there long before this past week. The sides have notched accomplishments that are both novel and gruesome enough to demand real analytic humility…

I just used the term “midwit” in a post, I’m pretty sure for the first time, but some tendril of editorial integrity made me look it up and it is discomfiting. One nice definition:

An internet term that ironically, is something only an actual midwit would try to use on in the internet to look vErY sMaRt.

Yes — there should be a term for a derogatory term the very use of which classifies you as an instance of it. At any rate, since I had to hold back from using it myself, I am inclined to think I am indeed a midwit, or if not one, only slightly not one.

Someone who is around average intelligence but is so opinionated and full of themselves that they think they’re some kind of genius.

And:

Generally found in the 105-120 IQ range. These are the people who are considered “gifted” in primary school and perhaps “honors” in high school.

I notice myself trying to think but cannot; I can merely react.

Jonathan Freedman, a Jewish columnist for The Guardian, which in itself tells a tale, pens a column “In this shadow war between Iran and Israel, the outline of a different future is visible”. I can understand Palestinians’ disgusting murderous thuggery better than I can understand such sickly magpies within the nest. And he may not even be wrong in his conclusions! It’s the myriad of little things that bug me, the Olympian chin-rubbing despite being Jewish himself. First, the subtitle, which perhaps he didn’t write, but nonetheless reflects his conclusion:

Both seem keen to limit hostilities, and key Arab states are ready to resist Tehran. But real change will require new Israeli leadership

Israel is required to change its government! (No need for any change in Iran.)

It doesn’t help that the leaderships in both Iran and Israel are under constant pressure from elements that are even more bellicose.

Some insane and insulting parallels are being drawn here.

The hitherto crypto-alliance of Israel and those Sunni states that fear Tehran more than they fear Tel Aviv has stepped into the light.

Fear Tel Aviv? Firstly, that’s Jerusalem to you bub, though given that The Guardian is a British publication, which still shamefully does not recognize Israel as Jerusalem’s capital — I mean Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — no doubt “Tel Aviv” is editorial policy, but you are complicit in this policy, your name is in the byline. Secondly: fear? Hate I would say is more accurate; the Arabs never feared that Israel was going to invade or overthrow them.

Israel would have to do what the US and others are asking: offer the Palestinians a political horizon, one that holds out the prospect of an eventual Palestinian state.

Which others are these? Westerners project their desire for a Palestinian state onto Middle Easterners, who only pay lip service to this notion, because they are close enough to know that Palestinians are part of the problem not the solution. Resolving to being just like the Ayatollahs where it matters, Palestinians’ modus operandi is mass murder and the destabilization and overthrow of any polity they can, so that responsible Middle Easterners prefer to see them contained not empowered.

Normally I would just skip over such pap as this, especially if in The Guardian, which I only look at occasionally for movie reviews and design inspiration. But Israel’s Channel 12 hosts the Unholy podcast with Freedland to which people I know listen to devotedly, and who know him personally slightly as he sends his kids to the same Jewish school in northwest London. Why oh why does he not know better.

Wednesday, April 24th, 2024

Every paragraph with its little bombshell: Edward Luttwak is in full elegant force in “Iran is weaker than we think” in Unherd. The opening paragraph:

It is only now, almost 16 years since Obama first entered the White House with the private determination to end Iran’s “death to America” hostility at all costs, that his Iran policy has achieved the exact opposite of what he had wanted: direct warfare, with US fighters intercepting Iran’s bombardment drones. All along, it was a policy that had two different faces: one perfectly reasonable, and the other perfectly delusional.

Such casual rhythm before the zing at paragraph’s end! Later we get a Luttwakian paradox of strategy:

The [Iranian] Revolutionary Guards finally failed strategically because their Arab recruitment policy was so successful that it overshot the culminating point of success: seeing the historic Sunni capital of Damascus under Shia domination, and Baghdad the very seat of the Sunni Arab Caliphate ruled by Iran’s agents, Sunni Arab states from Morocco to Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which had repeatedly fought Israel from 1948, moved to abandon their hostility, openly or discreetly.

And we end with striking, real-world evidence that demonstrates the strategic theories posited within. I won’t quote this evidence so as not to spoil the end of this masterful op-ed.

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2024

Monday, April 22nd, 2024

In The Wall Street Journal, this geopolitical news article on Finland is the first one I can recall reading anywhere. Swimming into focus are renewed tensions with the new Russia. Th

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, Finland has ramped up its military spending, boosting its defense budget to above 2% and snapping up U.S. rocket systems, as well as Israeli antitank and air-defense systems. The country is preparing to base F-35 jet fighters it will receive from the U.S. just over 100 miles from its border with Russia.

I wish for Finland and Israel to explore each other much more.

Sunday, April 21st, 2024

War and warming. What are the chances this bonkers piece is a hoax designed to embarrass its publisher The Nation. People took time and effort to ensure it is written in full sentences and well copy-edited.

Friday, April 19th, 2024

Great lengthy interview with Giora Eiland, always with cogent orthogonal ideas on important Israeli geopolitical realities.

The Israeli story was, Hamas is like ISIS, and ISIS is like Hamas. No! That’s not the case. ISIS was a bunch of crazies from Baghdad who, unopposed, gained control of western Iraq and those who lived there. But it didn’t represent the people, not in Mosul or elsewhere. Gaza more resembles 1930s Germany, where an extremist party won elections, with the support of most of the people, and quickly unified the military and civil government into one entity. What happened on October 7 is that the State of Gaza went to war against the State of Israel. State against state. Now, the state of Gaza does have vulnerabilities. It doesn’t have sufficient fuel, food and water of its own. You can impose a legitimate boycott on that state until the state returns all of your hostages. Humanitarian for humanitarian.

I’m not sure whether to be disappointed or relieved that Eiland is granted the levers of power.

Wednesday, April 17th, 2024

Cool, calm, collected, and with casually brilliant staging. IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi provides the official Israeli miltary speech in response to the massive Iranian missile attack.

Amidst all this it’s a happy thought that Germany sold Israel a doomsday device (Dolphin subs) and a couple of decades later Israel is selling Germany an anti-doomsday device. Ben-Gurion and Adenhauer.

 
 

•••

Newsroll

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

  • A Golden State Realignment?

    As Governor Gavin Newsom’s signing of a bill barring parental notification of children’s gender transitions makes clear, progressives still dominate California—but signs point to a potential shakeup.
  • Biden’s Rent Control Gambit

    The president’s proposal for a nationwide rent cap is unlikely to pass Congress, but its radicalism is noteworthy.
  • Protecting Presidents

    10 Blocks podcast
  • “I Represent Science”

    Anthony Fauci’s autobiography unwittingly reveals his transformation from an open-minded scientist to an imperious, unaccountable public-health bureaucrat.
  • A Bet Against the “Energy Transition”

    Modern civilization depends on abundant, affordable, and reliable energy. Policies that ignore this won’t turn out well.

Where the design community meets.

experiments in refactored perception

  • Imagination vs. Creativity

    I like to make a distinction between imagination and creativity that you may or may not agree with. Imagination is the ability to see known possibilities as being reachable from a situation. Creativity is the ability to manufacture new possibilities out of a situation. The two form a continuous spectrum of regimes in simple cases, […]
  • Covid and Noun-Memory Effects

    Ever since I got a bout of Covid a couple of years ago (late 2022), I’ve noticed memory problems of a very specific sort: Difficulty remembering names. Especially people names, but also other sorts of proper nouns. This is especially marked when it comes to remembering names of actors or authors, or not-too-close friends and […]
  • Bangalore Meetup Report

    Did a ribbonfarm meetup in Bangalore last night, the first ever in India. Thanks to Abhishek Agarwal for organizing. I think this is the first meetup I’ve done since the last Refactor Camp in 2019. It was kinda last minute, which is why I only posted on Substack rather than here (some sort of signal […]