December 16, 2018

Sunday Reads: Inside Kerry’s peace talks, The Egyptian-Iranian thaw, Global demographic trends & the Jewish world


Former Senator Gary Hart believes that a special bipartisan investigation commission is the only way to settle the Trump-Russia affair once and for all:

Consideration, therefore, might be given to a special panel composed of respected statesmen and stateswomen of both parties empowered to compel testimony under oath, inspect personal and classified documents (including tax returns), and issue a public report that either eliminates all suspicion of prior Trump-related activities in Russia or identifies areas of conflicting interest.

Paul Blumenthal writes about a racist French novel that Steve Bannon has been referencing to explain current global developments:

But the top Trump aide’s repeated references to The Camp of the Saints, an obscure 1973 novel by French author Jean Raspail, reveal even more about how he understands the world. The book is a cult favorite on the far right, yet it’s never found a wider audience. There’s a good reason for that: It’s breathtakingly racist.

“[This book is] racist in the literal sense of the term. It uses race as the main characterization of characters,” said Cécile Alduy, professor of French at Stanford University and an expert on the contemporary French far right. “It describes the takeover of Europe by waves of immigrants that wash ashore like the plague.”


Michael Herzog revisits the John Kerry efforts on the Israeli-Palestinian front:

Reaching a deal in nine months was clearly unrealistic, given the very significant gaps and mistrust between the parties. This should have been realized from the outset. After all, it was not for want of trying that past efforts had failed. The Palestinians, highly skeptical of the talks, insisted on straightjacketing them within a limited timeframe, since they wanted to keep in sight the alternative option of unilaterally advancing their aspirations for statehood through the United Nations. Kerry not only acceded to the tight framework but also loaded it down with the titanic goal of reaching agreement on all core issues.

Dr. Moshe Elad doesn’t believe that Hamas are going to attack Israel so soon:

The apocalyptic predictions, which described how the “charismatic terrorist” was sweeping the strip into another round of serious violence, are only based on an evaluation of his hawkish personality and on his militant statements in the past. They ignore the basic fact that leaders in our era, even radical dictators, are no longer considered stronger than their people and their surroundings.  

Middle East

Haisam Hassenein takes a look at what an Egyptian-Iranian thaw means for US Middle East policy:

A U.S. failure to contain the dispute between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Egypt’s wariness of Sunni Islamism, and Cairo’s financial problems could jeopardize American efforts to contain Iran. Allowing Egypt to tilt further toward Iranian interests in the region is likely to empower Iran and its allies, leading to further destabilization as well as the failure of American efforts.  A U.S. strategy that contains Iran and is aggressively intolerant of Sunni Islamism is the way forward for any U.S.-led stabilization efforts to work in the Middle East.

Julia Sveshnikova explains why Iran will not be a bargaining chip between Russia and the US:

Tehran and Moscow pursue their relationship based not on the abstract concept of “brotherhood,” but on their own medium- and long-term goals. That is why Iran should in no way be considered a bargaining chip between Russia and the United States under Trump. It is true that some academics and politicians in Iran are still very distrustful of Russia, believing it would turn its back on Tehran for better deals with the United States, as it has on several occasions in the past.

So, it is not a “blind preference” for Iran over possible deals with the United States that might be expected here from Moscow, but a neat pragmatism that will keep Russia committed to its own priorities and the ways of upholding them.

Jewish World

A new JPPI background paper examines the effects of shifting global demographic trends on Israel and the Jewish world:

Most of American Jewry (about 70 percent) has historically been affiliated with the liberal-democratic base and the values of human rights, equality, and opposition to racism and discrimination. This means that the majority of American Jews are firmly on the losing side of the elections. This creates a double dilemma for some Jewish leaders: the first – how to oppose Trump and his ideas but maintain the identity of a loyal minority; the second – how to oppose Trump and his ideas without harming the interests of the State of Israel, which sees him as a close friend.

Nathan Guttman talks to Abe Foxman about Donald Trump and the recent wave of anti-Semitic attacks:

The danger, Foxman believe, is with the Jewish community’s reaction to the rise in anti-Semitic incidents. He argued that the issue “has been hijacked politically by Democrats who’ve made it a political issue to attack Trump, and by Republicans who have made it a political issue to defend him.”

Foxman believes that the demand that Trump come up with a plan to combat the anti-Semitic attacks is misguided, since it is up to the Jewish community to suggest such plans.

“The whole issue has become a political football and that doesn’t serve us,” he added.