Weekend long read

On the occasion of the 100th birthday of Professor Bernard Lewis, Mosaic magazine carries an essay by Martin Kramer about the man and his work.Weekend Read

“As the year 1976 opened, the Middle East hardly seemed poised for a great transformation. The shah of Iran remained firmly seated on his peacock throne. Off in Iraqi exile, an elderly Iranian cleric named Ayatollah Khomeini nursed his grievances in obscurity. Anwar Sadat, Egypt’s confident president, had the country under his thumb; the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots languished in ineffectual opposition. In Saudi Arabia, a young man named Osama bin Laden finished his education in an elite high school, where he had worn a tie and blazer. Since the previous summer, Lebanon had been roiled by battles, according to Western reportage, between “leftists” and “rightists.” A key player there was the Palestine Liberation Organization under Yasir Arafat, darling of the international left and champion of a “democratic, secular state” in Palestine.

The role of Islam in politics? There wasn’t any to speak of.

Imagine, then, the surprise of the readers of Commentary magazine when the January issue landed in their mailboxes bearing these words on the bright yellow cover: “The Return of Islam.” The byline beneath that sensational headline did not belong to a roving journalist or a think-tank pundit but to Bernard Lewis, the eminent British historian of the Middle East, just recently transplanted to America. Thus did the West receive its very first warning that a new era was beginning in the Middle East—one that would produce a tide of revolution, assassination, and terrorism, conceived and executed explicitly in the name of Islam.”

At J-TV, Dr Qanta Ahmed talks about BDS and more with Dr Alan Mendoza.

Over at Tim Marshall’s website, Nehad Ismail brings some interesting impressions from his recent visit to Jerusalem.

“I had spoken to dozens of people, on average 5 or 6 a day. I spoke to street vendors, shop keepers, café owners, taxi drivers, academics, teachers, Beir Zeit university students, mothers, hotel receptionists, car salesmen, petrol station attendants, pancake makers, falafel fryers and even a medical doctor. […]

The most shocking revelation to me was most of the people I spoke to are not happy with the Ramallah administration of Mahmoud Abbas and his colleagues.  Several people told me that the Palestinian Authority is corrupt and is run by merchants or business people not by nationalist statesmen.  In Arabic the words ‘merchant and businessman’ are interchangeable. They see Abbas as putting his family’s business interests above the national interests. They say he has compromised too much and has given too many concessions to Israel without getting anything tangible in return.”

At the Times of Israel, Avi Issacharoff has an interesting article titled “Deceiving Cairo and helping IS, Hamas sets Gaza on course for new troubles”.

“According to an abundance of Arab, Israeli and Palestinian sources, wounded members of Islamic State are still being brought into Gaza for medical treatment at almost the same rate as before the Hamas delegation’s visit to Cairo two months ago. Likewise, arms smuggling from the Gaza Strip to Sinai and vice versa continues, albeit at a reduced rate, supervised by members of Hamas’s military wing. Overall, in short, it is largely business as usual.” 

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Weekend long read

1) At the Jewish Chronicle, Yiftah Curiel presents his analysis of the recent BBC programme ostensibly relating to the Jerusalem light rail system in an article titled “Why Panorama went off the rails“.Weekend Read

“When Wishart visits an East Jerusalem neighbourhood he witnesses a violent attack on an Israeli checkpoint; a young boy praises in Arabic those who are “attacking the soldiers, the Jews”, translated to BBC audiences as “attacking the soldiers”. In what has become a worrying trend recently at the BBC, rather than see these statements for what they are – symptoms of widespread institutional incitement within Palestinian society – editors make do with telling us that “when they say ‘Jews’, they mean ‘Israelis'”.”

2) Tablet magazine has an interesting interview with Israeli diplomat George Deek.

“He spoke slowly and softly, as someone who had given much thought to the issue. He said that his grandfather’s choice should be a model for the Arab minority in Israel as a whole: “Unfortunately, Arabs in Israel today are forced to choose between two bad options. One is assimilation—young Arabs look at their Jewish peers and decide they want to speak like them, walk like them, and behave like them. This attempt is a bit comic but also sad, since it is doomed to fail. In the end they are not Jews and will never be.

“On the other hand, and this is a far more common choice, there is an option of separatism, which is promoted by the Arab political and religious leaders. They say that we are not really Israelis, only Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, but this nuance creates dissociation. They speak about Arab cultural autonomy and about separation, which I think lead to extremism and animosity with the Jews. According to this version, a loyal Arab-Israeli must define himself first and foremost through being anti-Israeli.

“With the first choice, you lose who you are; with the second, you lose who you can become. But I believe that there’s a third way. We can be proud of our identity and at the same time live as a contributing minority in a country who has a different nationality, a different religion, and a different culture than ours. There is no better example in my view than the Jews in Europe, who kept their religion and identity for centuries but still managed to influence deeply, perhaps even to create, European modern thinking. Jews suffered from the same dissonance between their own identity and the surrounding society. Their success was not despite their distinctiveness, but because of it. I am talking about Marx, Freud, Einstein, Spinoza, Wittgenstein.”

3) Another very interesting interview took place when the President of the Technion sat down recently with Dr Qanta Ahmed to talk about Islamist extremism, BDS, the Lancet and more.

4) An epidemiological assessment of the casualties and missile attacks during last summer’s conflict between Israel and Hamas which was complied by the Jerusalem Center for Genocide Prevention and Hebrew University Hadassah Genocide Prevention Program and was submitted to the United Nations ‘Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict’ can be found here.

“Timelines for cumulative death tolls in Gaza and missile attacks from Gaza from the start of Operation Protective Edge steadily rose during the war. Both stopped when Hamas accepted a ceasefire under terms virtually the same as other previous ceasefires. Ninety one percent of the 2127 deaths in Gaza and one hundred percent of those in Israel would have been prevented had Hamas accepted the first ceasefire.”