Jewish Journal


June 3, 2012

by Shmuel Rosner

June 3, 2012 | 2:43 am

Syrians protest against the Assad regime in Homs, April 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

Note to Syria interventionists: Be careful what you wish for

International intervention in Syria could push President Bashar Assad into even more ‎extreme actions in what has now become a sectarian war, warns Chemi Shalev in ‎Haaretz.‎

The Syrian conflict may have been sparked by the Arab Spring, but by now it ‎has very little to do with it. The standoff between the Alawi-dominated ‎regime and the exclusively Sunni opposition is not a part of some Facebook ‎revolt or Twitter rebellion and is no longer, if it ever was, an insurrection of ‎democracy-seeking civilians against an oppressive autocratic regime. This is ‎now a sectarian blood feud, an age-old vendetta, another bloody chapter in ‎an ongoing conflict between a pilloried, outcast and persecuted sect that 40 ‎years ago, after a millennium of persecution and degradation, ingeniously ‎succeeded in seizing power and turning the tables on its historical ‎oppressors.‎

Syrian intervention risks upsetting global order

Writing in the Washington Post, Henry Kissinger takes a critical look at the criteria ‎for international intervention in a sovereign state, and whether action in Syria would ‎meet those criteria. ‎

While the United States accelerates withdrawals from military ‎interventions in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan, how can a new military ‎commitment in the same region be justified, particularly one likely to face ‎similar challenges? Does the new approach — less explicitly strategic and ‎military, and geared more toward diplomatic and moral issues — solve the ‎dilemmas that plagued earlier efforts in Iraq or Afghanistan, which ended in ‎withdrawal and a divided America? Or does it compound the difficulty by ‎staking U.S. prestige and morale on domestic outcomes that America has ‎even fewer means and less leverage to shape? Who replaces the ousted ‎leadership, and what do we know about it? Will the outcome improve the ‎human condition and the security situation? Or do we risk repeating the ‎experience with the Taliban, armed by America to fight the Soviet invader ‎but then turned into a security challenge to us?‎

Orthodoxy and the Internet

The ultra-Orthodox world is fighting a losing battle on censoring the internet, a ‎medium which has thrown Jewish thought and expression open to the masses, writes ‎Jeremy Rosen of Algemeiner.

Much of the Charedi world preserves its intellectual stranglehold on the ‎faithful by censoring innovative rabbinic opinions. Books printed over the ‎past five hundred years that have expressed contrarian or lenient views have ‎had pages and sections removed from new editions. Uncomfortable personal ‎details that give the lie to stereotypes and hagiography have disappeared ‎from official view. The internet now allows the originals of all such books to ‎be published and readily available to anyone with a computer and a basic ‎Talmudic education. We can now all see what was permitted in previous ‎generations and where current rabbis have pushed the boundaries far ‎further than ever before.‎

The Human Rights Council: Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

Results show that the United States was right to engage with the UN’s ‎controversial Human Rights Council, and will be better placed to end its ‎obsession with Israel from within, writes Stewart M. Patrick in the Council ‎on Foreign Relations.‎

Beyond placing abusers in the “hot seat”, the United States has over the past ‎three years scored some impressive victories on thematic resolutions.  For ‎years, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and its predecessor (the ‎Organization of the Islamic Conference) had pushed a “defamation of ‎religion” resolution that collided with free speech principles. The Obama ‎administration, building on its emerging partnership with Egypt, launched a ‎diplomatic outreach to major Muslim capitals, from Jeddah to Islamabad. ‎The result was an historic achievement: passage of a resolution on freedom ‎of expression and religion that contained none of the problematic ‎language—and yet enjoyed widespread support among Muslim countries. ‎

The Window is Closing for Riyadh

Saudi oil money will not last forever, and the country needs to invest in its human ‎resources before it is too late, argues Robert Looney in Foreign Policy.

Initially caught off guard when the Arab Spring movement erupted in early ‎‎2011, Saudi officials scrambled to stave off unrest in the way that comes ‎naturally to this authoritarian kingdom awash in oil revenue. Their ‎response focused largely on the immediate problem of easing the country’s ‎surprisingly high unemployment, shelling out $120 billion on social ‎programs, government and private-sector job creation schemes, and ‎subsidies to household income. But pouring money on the problems goes ‎only so far; the economy must find better ways to cope with an entitled, ‎skill-short Saudi workforce, not to mention religious restrictions that ‎constrain efforts to modernize the economy. ‎

Dangers Ahead for Egypt

Nathan J. Brown of the National Interest finds that while neither of Egypt’s ‎presidential candidates promises a smooth future, he still has hopes for the ‎country’s new -found democratic spirit.‎

When they return to the polling stations in mid-June, Egyptians will be ‎forced to choose between one candidate posing falsely as Mr. Order ‎‎(Ahmed Shafik, a cranky leftover from the old regime) and the other ‎even less persuasively as Mr. Personality (Mohamed Morsi, the ‎Brotherhood’s “spare tire” who became the movement’s nominee only ‎when its first choice was disqualified because he previously had been ‎convicted by a kangaroo court).‎

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