Israeli soldier Elor Azaria is embraced by his mother at the start of is sentencing hearing at a military court in Tel Aviv, Israel February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Hollander/Pool

Sunday Reads: The Azaria verdict, Trump & the Madman theory, Dershowitz on Israel & anti-Semitism


US

Charles Krauthammer sees the dynamics of America’s new foreign policy team as reminiscent of the old Nixonian “madman theory”:

This suggests that the peculiar and discordant makeup of the U.S. national security team — traditionalist lieutenants, disruptive boss — might reproduce the old Nixonian “madman theory.” That’s when adversaries tread carefully because they suspect the U.S. president of being unpredictable, occasionally reckless and potentially crazy dangerous. Henry Kissinger, with Nixon’s collaboration, tried more than once to exploit this perception to pressure adversaries.  

Evan Osnos, David Remnick, and Joshua Yaffa write a long, curious narrative about Trump, Putin, and “the new cold war”:

Alexey Venediktov, the editor-in-chief of Echo of Moscow, and a figure with deep contacts inside the Russian political élite, said, “Trump was attractive to people in Russia’s political establishment as a disturber of the peace for their counterparts in the American political establishment.” Venediktov suggested that, for Putin and those closest to him, any support that the Russian state provided to Trump’s candidacy was a move in a long-standing rivalry with the West; in Putin’s eyes, it is Russia’s most pressing strategic concern, one that predates Trump and will outlast him.

Israel

Amnon Abramovich believes that it is the leaders of the Hebron Settlers, not Elor Azaria, that should have been on Trial:

It’s not Elor Azaria who should have been put on trial, it’s all the leaders of the Jewish settlement in Hebron throughout the years. The trial should not have focused on morality in battle, but on the morality of their presence there. Some 900 settlers and yeshiva students have placed themselves among 250,000 Palestinians. Most of them are not preaching good neighborly relations and peace, they are agitators calling for a transfer.  

Maajid Nawaz believes that the road to peace for Israel and Palestine runs through Mecca:

Ever since the failed Camp David accords under Bill Clinton, conventional wisdom has been that peace must be sought and secured between Israelis and Palestinians first, before other Arab and Muslim-majority states recognise Israel. New regional priorities and a lingering Israeli-Palestinian deadlock necessitate creative thinking to break the stalemate. For Israel, the new road to peace could run through Mecca. This is known as the “outside-in” approach.

Middle East

James Stavridis believes that Egypt’s General Sisi needs, and deserves, more US assistance:

Overall, Egypt’s interests intertwine with America’s in powerful ways, most notably (though not solely) as a crucial partner for Israel. Americans should do all they can to help their Egyptian partners. Their stability and success will be essential for the eventual progress of the entire region.

Clifford D. May takes a look at a report saying that Saudi Arabia is becoming less repressive:

The royals also are taking pains to encourage the powerful Wahhabi establishment to moderate and adopt a more liberal interpretation of Shariah, Islamic law. These efforts have not been entirely successful. Jews and Christians continue to be denounced from some Saudi pulpits. Atheists are viewed as terrorists. And the textbooks used in schools here and abroad have not been completely purged of passages intended to inspire animosity toward non-believers. The best one can say is that there has been some improvement.

Jewish World

Alan Dershowitz argues against the notion that Israel’s policies promote ant-Semitism:

Modern-day antisemites, unlike their forbearers, need to find excuses for their hatred, and anti-Zionism has become the excuse du jour.

To prove the point, let us consider other countries: Has there been growing anti-Chinese feelings around the world as the result of China’s occupation of Tibet? Is there growing hatred of Americans of Turkish background because of Turkey’s unwillingness to end the conflict in Cypress? Do Europeans of Russian background suffer bigotry because of Russia’s invasion of Crimea? The answer to all these questions is a resounding no.

Nathan Guttman writes about how VP Mike Pence has been successfully courting Jewish Republicans:

The annual RJC leadership meeting took place at Sheldon Adelson’s Venetian hotel and casino, where top Jewish Republican donors and activists can add a traditional poker game to their schedule of meetings and speeches, and where Elvis impersonators cross path with former administration officials and aspiring politicians. Organizers estimated the participants at 500-600, slightly more than in previous years, and several members noted the younger profile of the crowd and the abundance of Orthodox participants, distinguished by their kippahs. More than 100 of them took part in Shabbat services before the dinner.