February 20, 2019

Weekend Reads: Obama goes to shul, Coach Blatt’s Complaint, Erdogan’s popularity problem

US

Here’s the transcript of President Obama’s synagogue address from Friday:

And as an honorary member of the tribe, not to mention somebody who’s hosted seven White House Seders and been advised by — (applause) — and been advised by two Jewish chiefs of staff, I can also proudly say that I’m getting a little bit of the hang of the lingo.  (Laughter.)  But I will not use any of the Yiddish-isms that Rahm Emanuel taught me because — (laughter) — I want to be invited back.  (Laughter.)  Let’s just say he had some creative new synonyms for “Shalom.”  (Laughter.) 

Brookings’ Michael O’Hanlon tries to assess President Obama’s Foreign Policy legacy:

As the presidential race of 2016 heats up, there is ample room for debate about the foreign policy legacy of Barack Obama. In the meantime, there is much that Mr. Obama himself should try to correct so as to leave the nation safer and to place his successor in a stronger position. But none of this should proceed from the premise that American foreign policy, because of the policies of Obama, is in systemic crisis. It is not.

Israel

Veteran Israeli journalist Amnon Abramovich thinks that Labour should ditch Herzog:

Labor needs leaders who are less affiliated with Tel Aviv's Tzuk Beach and more affiliated with the next Operation Tzuk Eitan (Protective Edge). Amir Peretz and Shaul Mofaz, for example. One is a social Mizrahi, the other a security Mizrahi. It may be Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai. Maybe even Knesset Members Erel Margalit or Omer Bar-Lev. Someone who provides a feeling or an outward appearance of leadership, of security. Someone who is capable of marketing leadership, rather than fruit puree and baby food.

Alan Dershowitz gives his take on the President’s speech at Adas Israel:

Having just listened to his speech at a conservative Jewish congregation in Washington, I was reminded why I supported him both times he ran for president, as well as when he ran for the US Senate. Barak Obama is a good and decent person, who admires the Jewish people and supports Israel’s right to exist as the nation state of the Jewish People as well as its right to defend itself against attacks, both domestic and foreign. He disagrees with the Netanyahu administration on several issues.

Middle East

Micha’el Tanchum examines the Turkish people’s dwindling enthusiasm for Erdogan, ahead of the upcoming elections:

Current trends do not look favorable for Erdogan. Three and a half weeks out, a survey by Metropoll, the Turkish polling company with the best track record of predicting election results, indicates that an increasing number of voters are growing tired of the AKP. Asked about their views on Erdogan’s plan for a presidential system, almost 55 percent of respondents opposed it, with just under 32 percent in favor. When asked to choose from a list of descriptions of Erdogan’s proposed “Turkish-style” presidentialism, including “a democratic form of government” and a system “more efficient in administrative matters,” 59 percent of respondents picked the option that described the potential system as one that “causes authoritarianism.”

According Ahmed Ali, ISIS isn’t winning and the world should calm down:

But the Islamic State is not on an unstoppable march. In Iraq, and to some extent Syria, it remains on the defensive. In April, the Islamic State’s defenses in large swaths of Salahuddin Province and the provincial capital, Tikrit, collapsed. In the north, Iraqi Kurds have contained the Islamic State. In Syria, Kurds supported by Iraqi pesh merga forces and by American airstrikes decisively defeated the group in the town of Kobani. Unlike the disastrous fall of Mosul in June 2014, the conquest of Ramadi hasn’t led to a collapse of Iraqi military units.

Jewish World

Liel Leibovitz sees Cleveland coach David Blatt as a Philip Roth character:

He’s the coach who knows about wild ambition and grudging respect and heartbreak and unrealistic expectations and letting it all out. He’s a Philip Roth character, and those, even when they lose, always somehow come out on top.

Evelyn Gordon discusses the disparity between the growing conservatism of worldwide Jewry and the liberal American-Jewish public:

Thus if American Jewish liberals don’t want to go the way of their counterparts overseas – i.e., if they want to be able to continue voting left without feeling that they are thereby sacrificing their Jewish and Zionist identity – they need to mount an urgent campaign to convince their own political camp that any good liberal should also be pro-Israel. That’s far from an impossible case to make, since it has the advantage of being true, as I explained in detail in a COMMENTARY article in March. But conservatives can’t do the job for them; only liberals can persuade their fellow liberals.