Sunday Reads: Can the divide on Iran be bridged?, Is Germany a safe place for Jews?

February 22, 2015


Dennis Ross believes that the core Netanyahu-Obama divide on Iran could actually be bridged:

Although everyone debates the propriety of the Israeli prime minister challenging President Obama’s policy in such a setting, the partisan nature of the invitation and the timing of the speech — just two weeks before an Israeli election — the substance of the issue has been pushed aside. Why is there such a divide between the United States’ and Israel’s positions, and can they be bridged?

Reihan Salam argues that President Obama should stop offering the world friendly interpretations of Islam:

Who knows? There might even be a place for the U.S. government to covertly give a boost to Muslim defenders of pluralism and modernity, just as the Cold War CIA bankrolled intellectuals on the anti-communist left. Our president, however, would be wise to stay out of theological controversies. It’s not the place of Bush or Obama to engage in dialogue with Islamic extremists over the finer points of the Quran or the life and times of Muhammad—it’s to protect American lives.


Ben Dror Yemini discusses the recent high-profile BDS provocation:

Israel is far from perfect. There are also exceptions. Wars also harm innocent people, which is always very unfortunate. One must add at this point, that according to a study by the American Public Health Association (APHA), 85-90% of victims of conflict since World War II have been civilians. This also applies to conflicts of recent decades involving NATO armies, the US and Britain. Even if the findings of the APHA are exaggerated, and even if all the allegations against Israel are right – and they are not right – the IDF causes far less harm than any other army in the world.

Mazal Mualem analyses the latest scandal at the Netanyahu residence and explains how it could affect the elections:

But, as previously mentioned, the election campaign could take a turn in the coming days if the police investigation continues to develop and hurts Netanyahu. For now, the polls conducted since Feb. 18 do not indicate a significant blow and one must wait for the next polls to gauge the effect of Naftali's testimony. The more Likud voters wander over to his party, the more Kahlon’s bargaining power will grow. This will turn him increasingly instrumental to the formation of any government, thus obviously entitling him to be the next finance minister of the State of Israel. ​

Middle East

Steve Negus writes about ISIS’ attempt to draw Egypt into a wider war:

But strategically, the real target is almost certainly President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, the former field marshal who, in 2013, toppled Egypt’s first freely elected president on the back of massive protests. Sisi’s allies have defined the prime objective of his presidency as defeating “terrorism,” a word they use to describe both violent and nonviolent Islamist opposition to his regime. Given Sisi’s strong rhetoric and promises to defend the homeland, it’s next to impossible for him not to respond when actual terrorists target Egyptian citizens.

Turkish journalist Pinar Tremblay writes about the worsening levels of violence against women in Turkey and about the ruling AKP party’s role in it:

Sexual and physical harassment of women has been a pervasive and long-term problem in Turkey. While it did not start with the AKP government, they remain unconvinced that its faulty policies and dangerous rhetoric have contributed to the number of murdered females to skyrocket. A hope for change is therefore fruitless.

Jewish World

Josh Nathan-Kazis examines the curious drop in enrolment to non-orthodox rabbinical seminaries:

A Forward analysis of data provided by the five leading non-Orthodox rabbinical seminaries in the United States reveals a gradual decline in enrollment. There were 114 non-Orthodox rabbis ordained in 2008; only 74 first-year students matriculated at the same five schools in 2014.

Deider Berger, the Director of AJC Berlin, discusses the safety of Germany’s Jews at this point in time:

That there have so far been no terrorist attacks in Germany is due less to lack of trying than to intelligence information that prevented planned attacks. Let us not fool ourselves: anti-Semitic incidents occur every day in Germany, on the streets, in schoolyards, in train stations, on the soccer field, and throughout social media. In Germany alone there are dozens of trained jihadists who have returned from Syria, seeking fresh targets.

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I was amused by this scene of an elderly, ultra-Orthodox couple enjoying a coffee while a sensual French song came on. Do they have any idea what this song is about? I wondered.

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