Monthly Archives: August 2014

Open letter to the Guardian

Yeah, I’ve been writing a couple letters lately.  If people want peace, the first necessity is a common understanding of basic realities.  Feel free to write them yourself at

Regarding your defence of the anti-Hamas advertising:

While I admire your defence of an advert, the dithering language in which you defended it distresses me. You are a newspaper. You could have easily countered the clamor among your readers with an investigation on whether the human shields argument is TRUE or not. Which, it is. There’s plenty of evidence out there to make that assertion, or at least defend it. I’m sure I, Rabbi Shmuley, or any number of your readers would be happy to engage people on this topic. Indeed this is what needs to be done in a forum where more Israel opponents deny Hamas is even firing rockets into Israel.

If all you are is a gossip column for those who want to believe a propaganda line, then by all means continue what you’re doing. But if you aspire to be journalists, I urge you to at least research a bit and not just be a weather vane for public opinion.


Open letter to The Economist

SIR – I will spare you any vitriol about your coverage of Israel last week Losing the War – I’m sure your mailbox has been full of it already. Rather I’ll say I’m disappointed. It was so focused on Israel, and whether you find it legitimate, you blinded yourselves to the real news and opportunities coming out of the entire region. Egypt is discarding politicised Islam, what seems to be a popular move and not just dictatorial fiat. They destroyed the tunnels to Gaza and are railing against Hamas in their media. Even Saudi Arabia is jumping on board. Israel is looking at its neighbors and seeing itself NOT surrounded by sworn enemies, for the first time ever.
It’s setting the stage for an entirely new politics and economy in the Middle East. To not report on this, and discuss the opportunities involved, well that’s like refusing to cash your dividend check because it was signed by a dirty Jewish banker.
Meanwhile, your analysis of people’s perception of Israel seems to only be a census of social rot. Ironic that it follows on the heels of “Tethered by History” and a rather weak defense of why the Jews should feel safe in Europe in the face of renewed anti-Semitism. It would be more interesting to see the demographics involved in this. If I am correct, classic European neo-Nazis and Muslim immigrants are getting together to bash Jews. Politics makes strange bedfellows indeed, and it’ll be a nasty hangover when they wake up from that orgy and look across the bed at each other. It calls into question the deepening decay of Europe.
A whole new world is being born out of this conflict in Gaza. The Economist’s mission is smart capitalism which is aware of political events and the economic opportunities they bring. Failing to see and analyze this would be a catastrophic failure on your part.

When New Worlds are Born

“Hannibal Tactic” – it’s the new term my mom told me the Israeli left was using about the Israeli military.  That somehow they killed those three soldiers themselves and blamed it on Hamas so they could break the truce.

The current conflict in Gaza, with all its Fog of War, has no shortage of such conspiracy theories.  Some on the left have even proposed that there’s oil under Gaza and the war is a pretext to exploit it. I’m not going to debunk them here, I’ll just say I’ve seen enough of them at work in my many years of political activity to notice what’s really going on.

The real issue is that people tend to get their worldviews at a certain point in their lives, and it works for a while, but then they never stop to examine their views.  Meanwhile, the world changes in ways that boggle the imagination and needs to constantly be rethought and re-analyzed.  So they keep trying to jam current events into a worldview that’s been obsolete for years, even decades, and only come across as more and more ridiculous.

Indeed that’s why I got into political theory.  It recognizes at its heart that there’s nothing absolute about reality, that it’s a social construct that is actively fought over by various political powers in a life and death struggle.

And what we’ve been seeing in the past three years, beginning with the Arab Spring and culminating in this conflict over Gaza, is our entire understanding of world politics being rewritten.

You could say the current understanding of the Middle East comes from two events: the 1975 UN resolution equating Zionism with racism, and the Camp David accord declaring peace between Egypt and Israel in 1978.  This set a framework where Israel was isolated by Arab neighbors who were steadfast enemies, while Egypt maintained a shaky peace that everyone thought was only maintained by a dictator against the population’s will (Anwar Saddat, the Egyptian signatory, was assassinated).

And the world watched and interpreted those events in Israel and the Occupied Territories according to that framework.  This gave Israel very few options for dealing with Palestinians in those territories, since any military action met with swift calls for a cease fire by its neighbors.  And Arabs both in the occupied territories and neighboring countries like Lebanon felt much bolder to take potshots at Israel.

Enter the Arab Spring. Which I called a pro-Western, secular democratic revolution in earlier blog posts.  Others quickly lamented all the shortcomings of these revolutions, which is complaining that the newborn can’t speak, but I saw world-changing potential.

And now those potentials are coming forth.  The major change in this current conflict with Gaza is Egypt is no longer a friend of Hamas.  Egypt destroyed the smuggling tunnels leading into Gaza, their media rails against Hamas, and as I write this they are negotiating with Hamas without Israel’s presence, and it sounds like they’re just trying to bring Hamas back to reality.

Indeed it seems like Hamas is still operating with the demands and politics of the 80s, and their unpleasant surprise is now – there’s a new reality in the Middle East.

And, while the world continues to rail against Israel, Egypt quietly dissolved the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing .  A quick search of the comments section shows that Egyptians welcome this move.   But very few news channels are really exploring this.  CNN posted this, which is a start:

And even they aren’t noticing the elephant in the room.  Wait a minute – Egypt is ALLIED with Israel?? Wait another minute … SAUDI ARABIA and JORDAN are allied with Israel?  Even if it’s under the radar, even if overtly they insert an obligatory “death to Israel” at every speech (like this guy) we’ll take it with jubilation!

Because at the same time, they’re alerting Hamas and the rest of the world to a new political reality.  It’s a reality where Israel will look around at its neighbors and see, if not friends, at least people with similar interests and temporary alliances.  And that is HUGE for a country that’s been isolated since its inception.

Like I told my mom, just wait another month.  Everything you know about the Middle East is going to be thrown out the window, and a whole new world will be born.