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Sunday Reads: The IDF’s views on the Palestinian Authority, Arthur Miller’s forgotten Holocaust play

[additional-authors]
May 31, 2015

US

Brookings’ Richard Sokolsky and Jeremy Shapiro write about America’s problem with its ‘free-riding allies’:

The United States should not always expect allies to do well or exactly what it wants. But taking such risks is necessary for building true capacity. American frustration with free riders is not a new problem. In fact, it’s hard to remember a time when a U.S. administration was not complaining about freeloading allies. The Obama administration is, rightly, less tolerant of these inadequate efforts and less willing to bail these countries out, because it recognizes that the problem of weak and unreliable partners has become much more severe. In the end, America has a large margin of security and can afford to take these risks in the short-term. For its long-term security, it must take these risks because, as experience amply demonstrates, no one will really build capacity if there is a safety net.

Michael Doran writes an open letter to his liberal Jewish friends about Obama’s synagogue speech:

Here’s my question. As Obama donned his yarmulke and embraced your community, did you also catch the hint of a warning? If you did, it was because the president was raising, very subtly, the specter of dual loyalty: the hoary allegation that Jews pursue their tribal interests to the detriment of the wider community or nation. Obama was certainly not engaging in anything so crude as that; nor is he an enemy of the Jewish people. But he did imply that many Jews—that is, Jews who support Benjamin Netanyahu—have indeed placed their narrow, ethnic interests above their commitment to universal humanistic values. In his view, they have betrayed those values. And so the warning was faint, but unmistakable: if Jews wish to avoid being branded as bigots, then they—you—must line up with him against Netanyahu.

Israel

Nahum Barnea writes about the IDF’s current assessment of the relations with the Palestinian Authority:

I spoke this week to a military official who tried to set things straight for me. The defense minister, the chief of staff and the coordinator of government activities in the territories are in favor of a liberal policy, he said. They have been encouraging the establishment of Palestinian industrial zones in Jalami, Qalqiliyah and Tarkumiyeh, all three of which lie along the seam line; in Jalami, the initial groundwork has already begun; the segregated bus issue aside, more and more Palestinian workers are being allowed into Israel; the Palestinian Authority understands that Israel's leadership wants to bolster it.

Jonathan Tobin argues that Netanyahu’s door is actually open for another round of peace negotiations:

American critics of Netanyahu can be as cynical as they want about him and his flip-flopping about two states. But if they aren’t willing to push on the door he has opened for them, then their laments about his opposition to peace must be labeled as being far more insincere than anything he has said or done.

Middle East

John McLaughlin explains what needs to happen in order for ISIS to win:

What is the foreseeable future? The group is almost certain to survive the Obama presidency. If two years into the next presidency, the Islamic State is still fitfully governing that area, it would be hard, in my view, to not call that a win.

According to Bruce Reidel, there are a number of reasons that make Saudi Arabia vulnerable to ISIS:

The Islamic State (IS) is targeting the Sunni-Shiite sectarian divide in Saudi Arabia to create discord and undermine the royal family's rule. The kingdom is vulnerable to sectarian strife given the family's intimate connections to the Wahhabi Sunni clerical establishment, years of suppression of Shiite Saudis and the war in Yemen.

Jewish World

Maxim Shrayer discusses Arthur Miller’s forgotten play about the Holocaust and what it says about “the Banality of Evil”:

The dynamics of Incident at Vichy—especially of von Berg’s transition from a guilt-tormented bystander to an incidental rescuer—dramatically complicate Arendt’s thesis. While the play alleges that Nazi evil has its own banal music and its own cardboard operatic complexity, it shows that personal sacrifice as a response to evil can never be banal. It can be simple, ordinary, unoriginal—but not banal. If every person of conscience were to make one act of personal sacrifice, how many victims of genocide might have been saved? To have said it, loud and clear, in 1965 was no small feat for any American playwright, Jewish or not Jewish.

Walter Russell Mead discusses President Obama’s attitude toward Iran’s anti-Semitic leadership:

President Obama seems to understand anti-Semitism as a much more superficial phenomenon. He has no patience for it, and scorns it morally and intellectually, but he sees it as an emotional force, a hatred that sometimes, “on the margins” causes people to do stupid and ugly things. An anti-Semite might kick a Jew when nobody is looking, or vent his feelings when in like minded company, but as a rational actor, the anti-Semite won’t indulge his emotional dislike of Jews at the expense of his vital interests.

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