Review Category : Middle East

Escaping the Prison of One’s Own Paradigm

“Abandoning existing assumptions is no easy matter. Students of world politics, like politicians, are prisoners of their paradigms, unwilling or unable to escape the state premise of state predominance and constantly tempted to cling to familiar assumptions about hierarchy, authority and sovereignty.”
—-James N. Rosenau, The Two Worlds of World Politics

Like an abusive marriage which should have ended in divorce years earlier, many people seem wedded to their unexamined political ideas, and will end up taking them to their graves without ever, once, having had let some empirical data creep in to challenge them.

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The Belief in Impossible Things

There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen…. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Lewis Carroll, “Alice in Wonderland”

As I write these words, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is about to enter into the oval office and have his first meeting with President Barak Obama.

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Happy Birthday, Israel

This week, Israel has celebrated its 61st birthday. The miracle of its existence, let alone its robust emotional, ethical and economic health and its unparalleled contributions to the disciplines of medicine, of science and of the humanities is simply astounding. This, despite the seven brutal wars, the intifada, the economic boycotts, the systematized anti-Semitism among some of the chattering classes of academia and within the diplomatic community and, most particularly, in the United Nations, and the imminent threat of a nuclear bomb coming out of Iran.

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Stretching the Definition

On March 1st, I participated in the JCPA annual plenum in Washington, DC in a debate/dialogue with Ken Jacobson of the Anti-Defamation League and Jeremy Ben -Ami of J Street entitled “How Big a Tent for Pro-Israel Advocacy?”

Jeremy Ben Ami of J Street would like very much to consider himself a “pro- Israel advocate.” J Street is a new lobby in Washington made up, primarily of left wing Jews who are of supporters of “American Friends for Peace Now”, “Israel Policy Forum” and “New Israel Fund”, and the like. On their web site, they dub themselves as “pro-Israel”, yet by their words and by their deeds that would stretch the definition of pro-Israel to include the most egregious critics of Israel’s existence.

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Aid for Hamas?

On Thursday, March 6th, I attended a briefing on Capitol Hill sponsored by the New America Foundation, which served as a venue for a number of congressmen, notably Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) and Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), along with New America Foundation Scholar Daniel Levy to discuss their observations after returning from a recent trip to Gaza. Despite having traveled to both Gaza and Sderot during their trip, the congressmen showed video only of ruined Gazan buildings, which their translators and guides claimed were factories for “ice cream and biscuits” and a “daycare” destroyed by Israeli fire. They told also of visiting the American School in Gaza, which was struck by Israeli fire. Of course the long proven track record of Hamas’ use of these civilian centers as launching pads for terror was never once mentioned.

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Facing Down Iran

Dear Mr. President,

You are taking office during a perilous time. Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, acknowledged in April of this year that the Islamic Republic is installing 6,000 more centrifuges to enrich uranium. Elements within this dangerous regime, who would like nothing more than to enable the “coming of the Twelfth Imam” through a messianic apocalypse, may have found its modus operandi—the nuclear bomb. Thus, no issue will be more pressing during your presidency than the Iranian nuclear standoff. How you handle this threat will define your legacy.

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