Jewish Journal


Sunday Reads: Abbas-Hamas & Netanyahu, Ignoring Geopolitics, On Stefan Zweig’s Suicide

by Shmuel Rosner

April 27, 2014 | 3:34 am

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo, 12.21.2011. Photo by Reuters


Walter Russell Mead argues that the US has been ignoring global geopolitics at its own peril –

Obama has done his best to separate the geopolitical issue of Iran’s surging power across the region from the question of its compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, but Israeli and Saudi fears about Iran’s regional ambitions are making that harder to do. Another obstacle to striking agreements with Iran is Russia, which has used its seat on the UN Security Council and support for Assad to set back U.S. goals in Syria.

CFR President Richard Haas is worried about how the world doesn't seem to treat the US seriously these days–

But it is not just a matter of ensuring American strength and continued internationalism in the face of growing isolationist sentiment. It is also a case of sending the right message to others. Foreign and domestic policy developments over the past decade have raised questions about American competence and reliability. Revelations about NSA activities that signaled to many friends and allies that they are not treated all that differently from adversaries exacerbated such problems. The result is accelerated movement in the direction of a post-American world in which a growing number of decisions are made and actions taken with reduced regard for U.S. preferences and interests. Such a world promises to be messier and less supportive of American interests.


Avi Issacharoff takes a look at what the Hamas-Abbas agreement might mean for Netanyahu –

Israeli panic over the creation of the Palestinian technocratic government sounds like something of a joke. For years, Netanyahu and his people have been complaining that Abbas couldn’t deliver peace even if he wanted to, because of the split between Gaza and the West Bank. And now, just as Abbas is showing the first signs that he can deliver, Netanyahu is again claiming that there is no partner.

Gwen Ifill talks to Hussein Ibbish and Jeffrey Goldberg about the possible death of the peace process following the Hamas-Abbas reconciliation –

(Goldberg) And, you know, and going back to what Hussein says, we  don’t really knows what’s going to happen within the framework of this agreement between Hamas and Fatah. Look, if Hamas abides by these conditions, then there’s no particular reason why the Israelis can’t move forward.

Of course, for Hamas to agree to those conditions that Hussein just laid out would mean that it’s ceasing to be Hamas. So I find it somewhat unlikely that we’re going to see much progress with that unity government.

Middle East

FP's Column Lynch takes a look at Bashar Assad's disturbing war on his country's medical system -

Preventing medicines from being delivered to conflict zones has long been considered a violation of international humanitarian law. But both the government and some rebel factions in Syria's brutal civil war have tried to prevent medicines from reaching communities suspected of sympathizing with their enemies. Syrian doctors and nurses have paid a high price: Since the beginning of Syria's conflict, more than 68 public health workers have been killed and another 100 injured.

Wael Nawara examines the reasons why the US and Europe seem to be reconciling with Egypt –

While it may be premature to celebrate these “victories,” especially with Egypt’s membership in the African Union still suspended, it is clear that the international players are switching their positions — even if uneasily — to align themselves back with Egypt. Why? Is it because the nature of politics is inherently Machiavellian, and governments must eventually put interests above values? Is it because of pressure applied by the Saudi government, which has taken a tough stance against its former protege the Muslim Brotherhood? Given current events in Ukraine, and with Egypt and Russia suddenly rekindling their lost love, is it the Cold War all over again? Or are the United States and EU finally seeing the dangers of Islamist politics, its close links with international terrorism and the need to support the "secular revolution" in Arab countries?

The Jewish World

Anka Muhlstein reviews a new book (by George Prochnik) about Stefan Zweig’s exile and suicide –

One way to understand Zweig is in contrast to Thomas Mann, who came to the United States around the same time, forcefully declaring that he represented the best of Germany: “Where I am, there is Germany…. I carry my German culture within me. I have contact with the world and I do not consider myself fallen.” Zweig lacked such self-confidence, and bemoaned the fact that “emigration implies a shifting of one’s center of gravity.” The chief difference between the two men was that Mann was a member of the German high bourgeoisie, with roots sinking many generations deep in his country’s past, while Zweig, a Jew who rejected Zionism, appreciated above all else “the value of absolute freedom to choose among nations, to feel oneself a guest everywhere.”

Donald Snyder writes about a debate going on in Poland concerning the commemoration of the country’s righteous gentiles –

No one doubts that the non-Jewish Poles who sought to save Jews were extraordinarily brave. Any Pole caught helping a Jew faced summary execution by the Nazis, as did the members of his or her family. But opponents regard the proposed monument’s location across from the museum, in the district where a few hundred doomed and ghettoized Jews launched a sustained and hopeless uprising in 1943 against the Nazis, as a violation of a sacred space.

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