November 16, 2018

Sunday Reads: The Trump-Putin meeting, The India-Israel breakthrough, On intermarriage as a ‘path to Jewish survival’


The Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes writes about Trump’s meeting with Putin:

The Trump administration has touted its approach to the world as “principled realism.” But what are the principles that lead to a naive embrace of an adversary? And what kind of realism requires a willful ignorance of reality?

Tillerson summarized the Trump-Putin meeting this way: “The two leaders, I would say, connected very quickly. There was a very clear positive chemistry between the two.”  

Yes. And that’s the problem.

And Anne Applebaum believes that the US-Russia relationship is no longer about Russia or America, only about Trump and Putin:

A nearly empty room. A blank slate. The Russian-American relationship, which has always been atypical, has now become strange, even surreal. It is not even predictable, in the way that most diplomatic relationships are usually more or less predictable, because it is not driven by the geopolitical or economic interests of either Russians or Americans. It is driven, rather, by the personal interests of the two main players. 


Walter Russell Mead and Sean Keeley take a look at the breakthrough in Israel-India relations:

25 years after establishing formal diplomatic ties, the India-Israel partnership is stepping out of the shadows. In part, theirs is a relationship built on defense dollars: as India makes a mad dash to modernize its military and upgrade its arsenal, Israel has become its third-largest arms supplier, with $599 million worth of weapons sold last year. And if April’s $2 billion arms deal is any indication, that figure will only rise in years to come, as Delhi turns to Israeli expertise on missile defense and cyber technology to boost its own capabilities, particularly along the Pakistani border.

Ben Dror Yemini is not pleased with his prime minister’s tendency to cave to pressure from Israel’s Haredi and right-wing parties:

A lot of things can be said about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It’s kind of hard to say that he doesn’t know what’s good for Israel. He does. He says so himself. He was in favor of an equal share of the burden, but gave in. He was against the Regulation Law, but gave in. He is against building outside the settlement blocs, but he gave in. He was against Orthodox conversion monopoly, but gave in.

And that’s precisely the problem with our prime minister. Because when he has to choose between the national, democratic and Zionist interest and the Haredi and right-wing parties, he always—without fail—chooses the latter.

Middle East

Fabrice Balanche examines the Syrian refugees’ intentions (or lack thereof) to come back to Syria:

The way in which these sentiments develop will, no doubt, depend on security conditions and the speed of reconstruction in Syria. However — as a general rule — the more time refugees spend abroad, the less likely they are to return to their countries of origin. Yet should conditions deteriorate dramatically in their host country — Lebanon, in this example — Syrian refugees would be persuaded to return home regardless of any improvement in the security and economic situation. The deterioration of living and security conditions in Lebanon could also lead to the radicalization of people who cannot return to Syria and who, somewhere along the way, succumb to desperation.

Stephen Cook believes that, for all his many faults, there is something Trump does get about the Middle East:

Whether by insight or accident, Trump has signaled that he and his administration understand the limits of American power in the Middle East and will thus pursue a policy that goes back to basics—ensuring the free flow of energy, helping to secure Israel, preventing any single country (except the United States) from dominating the Persian Gulf, fighting terrorism and countering proliferation. Admittedly most of what the administration has done so far, besides firing cruise missiles at Syria for Assad’s use of chemical weapons, has been rhetorical. But at least the president’s words demonstrate some insight into the nature of domestic struggles in the Middle East and how irrelevant the tools of American diplomacy are to resolving them.

Jewish World

Frank Bruni tries to figure out why Trump keeps “dissing” the Jewish people:

You can be only so considerate to others when you never stop considering yourself. And the flamboyantly nonconformist culture of Trump’s presidency has downsides. This administration shrugs off and throws away some rituals and niceties that do matter to people, estranging them in the process.

 Sam Kestenbaum writes about Rabbis who are embracing intermarriage as the path to Jewish survival:

 In describing their rationale for rethinking their approach to intermarriage, community leaders describe intermarriage as something that is already happening -— and say that they’re simply catching up to it. If rabbis at B’nai Jeshurun or Romemu, for example, don’t perform the intermarriages, couples will simply go find a rabbi who will.

 “The fear for leaders is that Jewish loyalty will be diluted,” Blecher said. “This is very threatening to Jewish leadership.”