Sunday Reads: Staying in Europe as a Jew, Israel as GOP litmus test, Why Yemen matters to Washington

March 29, 2015


Jonathan Tobin describes Obama’s attempt to reach a détente with Iran as a march of folly:

Appeasement isn’t so much a method for Obama as an end in itself… That is the only way to understand these latest concessions to Iran and those that will inevitably follow them both before and after a deal is signed in the president’s march of folly.

Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett, on the other hand, stress what America has to gain from additional engagement with Iran:

Today, America cannot achieve any of its high-priority goals in the Middle East—e.g., combatting the Islamic State, forestalling another violent Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, and resolving conflicts in Syria and Yemen—without better ties with Iran. Under any political order, Iran is a pivotal country, given its demographic and territorial size, its geostrategic location, its identity as a civilizational state with a history as long as China’s, and its hydrocarbon resources.


Following the backlash to James Baker’s recent comments, Peter Baker tries to understand how Israel has become the official litmus test for GOP politicians:

Republican presidents like Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon and George Bush were not always seen as unequivocally supportive of Israel. For decades, throughout the Cold War especially, Republican leaders were viewed as close to anti-Communist Arab allies and the oil industry. They presided over a predominantly Protestant electoral base while Democrats assembled a more urban coalition with lopsided support from American Jews. Even when Republican presidents supported Israel, they also openly quarreled with its leadership at times, much as Democratic presidents did.

Hanoch Daum has some harsh words for the Israeli media, which he believes has been quite out of touch with the Israeli public:

An overwhelming majority of Israel's leading media people have a Tel Aviv area post code, which is probably why they did not even entertain the possibility that someone would vote for Netanyahu. They really did not meet anyone like this, not in their neighbourhood, not in the supermarket and not in the circles in which they work. In their entire daily routine, everyone they met told them that they despised Netanyahu. With its wall-to-wall Netanyahu haters, this world gave fuel to the fire and guided the unprofessional and tasteless coverage.

Middle East

Anthony Cordesman explains the strategic importance of the recent developments in Yemen to the US:

Yemen is a growing reminder of just how important the strategic U.S. partnership with Saudi Arabia really is. It is one thing to talk about the war against ISIS, and quite another to realize that U.S. strategic interests require a broad level of stability in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula and one that is dependent on Saudi Arabia as a key strategic partner.

Max Fisher compiles an interesting selection of 40 maps which explain the Middle East:

Maps can be a powerful tool for understanding the world, particularly the Middle East, a place in many ways shaped by changing political borders and demographics. Here are 40 maps crucial for understanding the Middle East — its history, its present, and some of the most important stories in the region today.

Jewish World

Our former guest Diana Pinto resents the recent questions addressed to the Jews of Europe:

The only thing we Jews in Europe ask of you is to at least consider us, those who are staying put, with a modicum of respect. We are not blind fools. We are responsible citizens committed both to our Judaism and the countries we live in. And these in turn are committed to our ongoing presence. And unlike Wieseltier, we find this appreciation of Jewish life on the continent to be an important, hardly irrelevant, factor in its democratic growth.

Josh Glancy writes about the predicament facing left wing British Jews in the fourth in a series of interesting articles about Anti-Semitism in Britain:

Here’s the thing that is rarely said: If your anti-Zionism is such that you hate Israel’s very existence, then for most British Jews the effect of this is similar to anti-Semitism, because to a greater or lesser extent, most British Jews are Zionists, meaning that they believe that the project of collective Jewish existence is a legitimate one, or as legitimate as the existence and aspirations of any other nation, including the Palestinians. And because Israel is the Jewish state, British Jews take Israel-hatred personally. Asking them to disavow their affiliation to Israel in order to maintain their liberalism therefore presents an agonizing choice.

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