Monday, April 30, 2012

The Middle East Media Sampler 4/30/12: Benzion Netanyahu Dies At 102

From DG:
1) Benzion Netanyahu 

Unsurprisingly the New York Times obituary of Benzion Netanyahu, the Prime Minister's father is titled, Benzion Netanyahu, Hawkish Scholar, Dies at 102. I'm uncertain why the adjective, "hawkish" is necessary.
Ultimately, Israel was created as a result of the partition the revisionists opposed. Nonetheless, Rafael Medoff, director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, said in a letter to The Jerusalem Post in 2005 that Mr. Netanyahu was instrumental in building American support for the smaller Israel that did emerge.
Mr. Medoff said Mr. Netanyahu persuaded the leadership of the Republican Party to put a call for a Jewish state in its 1944 platform. It was the first time a major party had done this, and the Democrats followed suit. 
In his 1995 book, “The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain,” Mr. Netanyahu offered a radical new way of viewing the Inquisition. Rather than seeing it as the persecution of Jews for secretly practicing their religion after pretending to convert to Roman Catholicism — which had been the predominant view — Mr. Netanyahu offered evidence that most Jews willingly became enthusiastic Catholics. Jews were thus burned at the stake, he concluded, for being perceived as an evil race rather than for anything they did or believed.
The announcement from the Prime Minister's Office. (via IMRA)
Ben-Zion Netanyahu was born in Warsaw on 25.3.10, named Ben-Zion Mileikowsky. In 1920, he and his family immigrated to the Land of Israel. In 1944, he married Tzila, whom he had met during his studies in the Land of Israel. Ben-Zion Netanyahu had three sons – the late Col. Yonatan Netanyahu, who fell during Operation Yonatan at Entebbe; Benjamin, the Prime Minister of Israel; and Ido, a doctor, author and playwright. 
Prof. Netanyahu was among the great historians of the Jewish People. In his research, he focused on the history of the medieval Spanish Jewish community and the history of Zionism. Among his books are a biography of Don Isaac Abravanela history of the Spanish Marranos and his major work, 'The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain', which received global acclaim. He also authored 'The Founding Fathers of Zionism' about the lives of the founders of political Zionism – Leon Pinsker, Theodor Herzl, Max Nordau, Israel Zangwill and Zeev Jabotinsky.
Other reporting and commentary is at the Jerusalem PostIsrael Matzav, and Ma'ariv (translated by Daled Amos)

2) Waving the waiver

Late last week, President Obama issued this waiver:
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 7040(b) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2012 (Division I, Public Law 112-74) (the "Act"), I hereby certify that it is important to the national security interests of the United States to waive the provisions of section 7040(a) of the Act, in order to provide funds appropriated to carry out Chapter 4 of Part II of the Foreign Assistance Act, as amended, to the Palestinian Authority.
 In Context provides the context of the waiver (it is part of the legislation) but notes:
Bottom line: not only is such a waiver not in the national security interest of the United States, it runs directly counter to any such interest. There is no national security interest in propping up a failed dictator who is now more than three years past the term of his elected office. There is no national security interest in continuing to feed US taxpayer dollars, even if we had them to spare (which we do not), into an anti-US, anti-Western, antisemitic kleptocracy that knows no bounds.
3) Does Thomas Friedman read his own columns?

Towards the end of Words of the Prophets, Thomas Friedman wrote:
"Everyone expects these Arab revolutions to solve the problems, but what they are actually doing is revealing the existence of all these problems that were put in a freezer,” the Arab commentator Hazem Saghieh told me. “All these years, the only thing that was allowed to come to the surface was that there is a consensus on the beloved leader and animosity to Israel and imperialism. There was no room for politics and differentiation. Behind this facade, Arab society became rotten, and now we are seeing the return of the repressed.” 
It’s like a kid who was beaten and left uneducated by his parents for 50 years and one day the kid finally decides to fight back, he added. “Morally, you have to support his right to revolt, but this guy is very traumatized.” 
So let’s help in an intelligent, humane way, but with no illusions that this transition will be easy or a happy ending assured.
Ten years ago Friedman gave a clean bill of health to the members of the Arab League. Why? Because they had offered Israel a "peace" initiative. Friedman didn't care that they were repressing their own people, just that they had supposedly made an offer of "normalization" with Israel, if Israel would accede to their demands. Back then, Friedman was supporting the consensus that his source now disparages.

If he wishes to quote Simon and Garfunkel, I'd recommend, "A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest."

4) One nation invisible

Indispensable but invisible by Jackson Diehl:
They say that — and then they speculate about when and whether the Obama administration might decide to abandon its passivity. The United States, after all, is more than capable of creating and defending a humanitarian zone in Syria, with help from Turkey and NATO. If it were to support the arming of the Free Syrian Army, there is little question that the army would soon have more weapons. Many in the Syrian opposition believe that merely the announcement of such U.S. initiatives would cause Assad’s regime to crumble from within. 
What’s missing, of course, is a decision by President Obama to make that commitment. To do so, he would have to set aside the idea that any action must be authorized by the U.N. Security Council. He would have to forge an ad hoc coalition with Turkey and other NATO members, led by the United States. And he would have to order U.S. diplomats to work intensively with Syria’s opposition movements and ethnic communities to build an accord on a post-Assad order. 
In other words, Obama would have to behave as if the United States were still what Bill Clinton understood it to be: the indispensable nation.
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