October 18, 2018

Sunday Reads: Trump & the Holy Land, Israeli innovation in Rwanda, The Jews of Europe’s far right


Chuck Freilich examines Trump’s attitude to the Holy Land and its possible effects on the conflict:

We have long been at a stage where the problem is not one of process—of some new and creative negotiating tactic—but that both sides face truly excruciating decisions. All of the supposedly simple issues have been explored fully and, in reality, even they have proven far from simple. The latest negotiating ploy, the “outside-in” approach, in which the Arab states press the Palestinians to go forward on negotiations, is no more than a rebranded tactic unlikely to achieve more today than it has in the past. In the end, if Trump decides to truly engage, it must be an all-out effort, or else its back to conflict management at the margins of a problem that can only get worse with time.

S.V Date writes about how Donald Trump’s ignorance about foreign policy has been worrying allies and FP experts:

Germany has no trade deal with the United States. Nor does it owe the U.S. “vast sums of money,” as Trump reportedly insisted during his March 17 meeting with Merkel and then claimed in a tweet the following day.

And while Trump’s apologists last year explained how Americans needed to take his words seriously but not literally, the rest of the world could be on the verge of taking him neither literally nor seriously ― alarming foreign policy experts on both sides of the Atlantic.


Alex Fishman believes that Israel must find a way to communicate with the people of Gaza:

Israel should talk to the residents over Hamas’ head by encouraging the construction of infrastructure and transferring energy and water. Not out of kindness, God forbid, but out of an egoistic national interest: To present an alternative to the military plan in order to try to get through the coming years peacefully.

Melanie Lidman reports about an exciting tandem of Israeli initiatives in Rwanda, both educating local youth and supplying Rwanda with energy:

Two years ago, Gigawatt Global, an American-Israeli company based in the Netherlands, led a conglomerate that built the field, the largest in East Africa. Today, the panels are quietly basking away, tilting four degrees every hour as they follow the path of the sun. The solar field powers 15,000 homes, saving an estimated 12 million labor hours each year that would otherwise have been spent fetching firewood.

But the solar field is not the only forward-thinking initiative in the area. The solar panels sprawl across 700 dunams (170 acres) of land leased from Agahozo Shalom Youth Village, a prestigious and innovative boarding school modeled on Israeli youth villages, especially Yemin Orde in Haifa.  

Middle East

Raymond Tanter and Edward Stafford try to examine the possible way forward for the Iran deal:

First, insist Iran create and implement a strategic trade control system that meets international standards and will be subject to review by the Joint Commission mentioned in the JCPOA; second, plug the loopholes in the JCPOA, including ambiguities that permit Iran to obtain heavy water that has not been approved by the “Procurement Working Group;” third, draw on the expertise of the U.S. Department of Justice to pursue extradition and prosecution of  those involved in outfitting Iran’s nuclear, missile, or conventional weapons programs in defiance of U.S. laws and sanctions.

In short, the way forward for the Iran nuclear deal under President Trump is to renegotiate the JCPOA, rather than dismantle it.

Eric Trager believes Trump should use Washington’s “best hand in years” and demand concessions from General Sisi when they meet tomorrow:

Mr. Trump’s best chance to cut a “good deal” with Mr. Sisi may be on Monday, when the Egyptian leader receives the Washington welcome he has long desired. But if Mr. Sisi pockets that victory without conceding anything on his country’s deepening relationship with Russia, prosecution of Americans, or aid priorities, Mr. Trump will have wasted Washington’s best hand in years.

Jewish World

JTA talks to Jewish members of the far-right in different European countries:

As diverse as the Jewish communities to which they belong, the Jews who promote Europe’s rising nationalistic parties are nonetheless united in their fear of radical Islam, support for Israel and willingness to endorse politicians who are reviled and considered racist by the mainstream.

Amid historical electoral gains for parties that wish to break up the European Union and ahead of a fateful presidential vote in France, JTA talked to four prominent Jews from parties that are widely considered to be far right in France, the United Kingdom, Austria and Sweden. A Dutch Jewish candidate declined an interview.

Rabbi David Wolpe discusses the importance of action in achieving Holiness according to Judaism:

In Judaism a solitary individual may prepare for holiness, but the ethical task he performs is not truly holy if performed in isolation. Ethics is enacted through interaction with others, in community: there is more holiness in a minyan than on a mountaintop. Once we shed our preconceptions of Leviticus as a boring, technical work, this is the fire we find at its core.