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Sunday Reads: Obama’s long-game strategy, What can the Saudis offer Israel?, On Halakha and chaos

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July 31, 2016

US

Derek Chollet, former Assistant Secretary of Defence, discusses President Obama’s “long-game strategy” for managing America’s foreign affairs:

Obama’s skepticism is more than a philosophical disposition; it also shapes his view of Washington foreign policy expertise. He believes that on the issue that mattered most since the end of the Cold War—whether to invade Iraq in 2003—most experts were wrong. At a more personal level, Obama and his core team always felt apart from—and never felt much respected by– the Washington crowd, many of whom popped off in the press and griped about not being consulted enough.

David Ignatius examines what could be behind Russia’s hacking of the DNC:

But Moscow may have had a special animus toward Clinton. When she was secretary of state, she endorsed Russian dissenters in the 2011 and 2012 elections. A furious Putin charged back then that she “gave them a signal” and that the dissidents, “with the support of the U.S. State Department, began active work.” In other words, Putin thinks Clinton shot first…

 Israel

Aviad Kleinberg argues that the soldier who shot an unarmed man in Hebron is not simply “a product of the system”:

A model soldier such as Elor Azaria can hardly be described as unfit to function in combat. He’s fit. What he did is his responsibility, as an adult man. The leftist claim that the guard at the gate is never to blame is ridiculous. Soldiers who committed crimes in other countries and at other times were not absolved simply because “the system” was racist or murderous.

Soldiers are not children, they are adults. And adults are responsible for their own actions.

Akiva Eldar examines what the Saudis have to offer Israel at the moment:

The Arab willingness to give Israel an advance payment in the form of normalizing ties with the Arab world without receiving anything in return on the Palestinian front signals a change in the Arab League’s strategy. The normalization card was offered as collateral, to be redeemed the day Israel announces its adoption of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

Middle East

Katrin Kuntz writes about ISIS’ growing use of child soldiers:

It is difficult to determine how many child soldiers Islamic State is training. Experts estimate that about 1,500 boys are serving the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria. Some are born to the militants. In fact, more than 31,000 women are currently pregnant in IS-held territory. Other children arrive with their parents from abroad when the parents join the jihadist movement. In many cases, the “lion cubs” are also children of local fighters or orphans who join IS voluntarily. Others, like Ahmed and Amir, are kidnapped.

Adnan Khan discusses how Turkey has become a patri dish of Islamist politics:

Under Erdogan’s rule, Turkey has become a petri dish for Islamist politics. For a time, it seemed his vision for society was not so much Islamist as it was mildly conservative. Over the first few years of its rule, the AKP implemented socially conservative reforms, including placing limits on when alcohol could be sold in corner stores and defunding abortions at state-run hospitals. It tested the public’s appetite for laws based on Islamic values without impinging on the secular foundations of Turkey.

Jewish Journal

Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cadrozo writes about chaos in the world of Halakha and about Maimonides’ place in it:

One of the most remarkable aspects of Orthodox Halacha is that it is almost an open market. Any person with halachic knowledge can write and state whatever they believe is true, knowing full well that others could refute their arguments. They must surely have all the relevant sources at their fingertips, but they are completely free to use the information in a creative way, so long as they adhere to the masoret, an unwritten and undefined tradition going back thousands of years. Some will view the masoret as a minimal and almost fundamentalist observance, and others will view it as a maximal and highly flexible tradition, which allows for much innovation.

Yoav Sorek takes a look at Ultra-Orthodox self-taught scholars working under the radar from fear of societal constraints:

They may be exceptional and individualist, but one unmistakable quality binds them all together: they are autodidacts. This is evident in how they handle material in a foreign language. Some of these scholars have never studied English or German systematically yet refer to non-Hebrew sources in their articles. Each apparently bridged the gap in his own way.

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