Look Who’s Talking
March 03, 2011
The current wave of democratic uprisings in the Middle East is a welcome development. But it will almost certainly empower long-suppressed political parties inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood. That movement—whose slogan reads, in part, “Koran is our law; Jihad is our way”—presents several urgent challenges for American policymakers: How can political parties that seek Islamic law through holy struggle be cajoled and pressured to respect the rules of democratic politics? Is political Islam even compatible with open, civil societies?
Time for a Reset
February 05, 2011
President Obama is in a tight spot. The 2010 elections have sharply contracted his ability to achieve legislative victories, while his room to maneuver on other issues will be limited by the intrusive investigations which are almost certainly coming his way. Progress will be harder to attain than ever.
“With Our Eyes Wide Open”
February 04, 2011
There are two ways to think about the impact upon Israel of the collapse, fast or slow, but inexorable, of the Mubarak regime in Egypt. The first is to be concerned for Israel. The second is to be concerned about Israel. Until the peace treaty with Egypt was concluded in 1979, it was said about Israel, and rightly, that it was surrounded by “confrontation states.” The accord with Egypt, followed by the accord with Jordan, destroyed the monolithic character of the security threat to Israel.
A Separate Peace
October 28, 2010
It is more than likely that the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) will reach a dead end. If not on the issue of settlements then on other matters. It’s not in the details, it’s in the big picture: Benjamin Netanyahu will not go as far as his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, and the Palestinians have already rejected Olmert’s generous deal. So it is probably a good idea to start thinking about Plan B. To do this, we Israelis must first set our priorities straight: The more urgent goal is not peace; it is partition.
September 20, 2010
The most durable myth in the Middle East is: "It's Palestine, stupid." It lies at the heart of Barack Obama's Middle East diplomacy, which is why the president has been pummeling the Israelis and pushing the Palestinians to resume talks. According to this myth, the most urgent problem is not the Iranian bomb or Syrian ambitions. It is not Egypt, once an anchor of stability and now slipping into precarious irrelevance. It is not Iraq, which is tottering between occupation and anarchy. It is not Al Qaeda in Yemen, the return of the Taliban, or the ticking time bomb that is Pakistan.
Egypt's Regime Will Change
September 04, 2010
Sometimes, it seems like the United States is more interested in giving aid to Egypt than Egypt is to receive it. This year, for example, Egypt objected to a $250 million civilian aid package if USAID funded unregistered NGOs. Many human rights groups in the country have trouble receiving official sanction from the Egyptian government and thus require outside support to be effective. So, instead of standing firm, the Obama administration agreed to cut their USAID support, departing from U.S.
If You Build It...
September 02, 2010
Dear Imam Feisal, Ramadan Kareem. I pray that you are bearing up under the strain of recent months. I write as a well-wisher and friend. Though we met only briefly, our encounter turned out to be at a fateful moment, and, for me at least, was of lasting significance. We met, you will recall, on September 5, 2001, at a symposium on a book I was about to publish recounting my journey into Islam and Christianity in the Holy Land. (The book was actually released six days later, on September 11.) You appeared on the panel offering a Muslim response to my journey.
Ovadia Curses; In the Meantime Hamas Shoots Four Israelis Dead, One Pregnant
September 01, 2010
Yes, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, one of those scholarly madmen in the Israeli orbit, did call forth a malediction against the Palestinians and their leaders. And, frankly, he deserves a similar anathema from all of us, he with his direct line to God from which he derives his marching orders to his followers. Fortunately, these followers may adore him.
From the Dept. of It Just Doesn’t Matter
August 26, 2010
Who cares whether one in five people think Barack Obama is a Muslim? Yes, that’s even more people than a couple of years ago, based on results from a Pew Research Center poll last week. But even so, though this misconception is a personal insult to a president many of us think warmly of, does it really matter? In the grand scheme of things? Because the grand scheme is what should be on our minds, not score-settling and mud-slinging in the present moment.
The Women of Hezbollah
August 09, 2010
Since the 1980s, the Shia terrorist group Hezbollah has not been given to blunt public moralizing about the need for women to wear the veil. It originally made no secret of its desire to convert Lebanon into a Shia Islamic state—the organization’s 1985 manifesto called for the establishment of “Islamic government” and the conversion of Christians to Islam—but these efforts proved exceedingly unpopular, given Lebanon’s plurality of Christian and Sunni Muslim citizens.