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Sunday Reads: Are Yaalon & Gantz Complacent?, Erdogan vs.The Internet, The Rise of Israel’s Center

by Shmuel Rosner

March 23, 2014 | 4:14 am

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (C) walks next to Israel's armed forces chief Major-General Benny Gantz (R) during a visit to a military base near Kibbutz Kissufim outside the central Gaza Strip May 7, 2013.
Credit: Reuters/Amir Cohen

The US

Charles Krauthammer believes the US should take some more serious measures in the Crimea to show Russia and the world that it is still a force to be reckoned with –

As I’ve argued here before, there are things we can do: Send the secretary of defense to Kiev tomorrow to negotiate military assistance. Renew the missile-defense agreement with Poland and the Czech Republic. Announce a new policy of major U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas. Lead Europe from the front — to impose sanctions cutting off Russian enterprises from the Western banking system.

According to Paul D. Miller, the Crimean crisis proves that Great power rivalry has never really left us –

Russia's annexation of Crimea illustrates that the end of the Cold War was the end of an ideological contest, but not the end of great power rivalry. Russia has continued to play the game of great power competition, as have China, India, Japan, and others. The United States remains the preeminent power in the world, but the new world of increasingly multipolar great power competition has been gradually emerging for several decades. American policymakers have long been schooled on models of international relations centered on bipolar competition, unipolar hegemony, or liberal internationalist cooperation. The best response to Crimea would be for U.S. officials to learn the rules of this game of multipolar great power rivalry -- new to them, but old to most of the rest of the world -- quickly.

Israel

Veteran war correspondent Ron Ben Yishai believes that Israel's Defense Minister & the IDF Chief of Staff have been making some mistakes lately (due to complacency)–

There has been a disquieting phenomenon within the IDF and defense establishment in recent weeks. Alongside impressive operational achievements, such as commandeering of an Iranian arms shipment to Gaza and the discovery of a massive terror tunnel from Gaza, the third this year, some grave and worrying failures have taken place. Failures that indicate a sense of complacency and euphoria among the commanding echelons.

Yossi Klein Halevi celebrates the Rise of the Israeli Center –

A crucial moderating force in Israeli society has been the emergence in recent years of a political and cultural center. Centrists view the ideological certainties of the rival camps and the existential fears directed at fellow Jews as the real danger to the long-term viability of Israeli society.

The Middle East

Matthew Levitt discusses the growing violence in West Bank and argues that the Palestinians have a lot to lose at this point –

President Mahmoud Abbas's White House meeting with President Obama this week was intended to spark support for the peace process among Palestinians and a sense of urgency among all parties. There is no guarantee that a deal will be reached within the current timeline. Yet as frustrating as the current lack of progress is, a return to armed struggle -- by Fatah, Hamas, or others -- would be a disaster for Palestinians. Even apart from the diplomatic setback and potential loss of life, a wider armed struggle would destroy the Palestinian economy at a time when traditional donors are occupied by the more pressing disaster in Syria, the Ukraine crisis, and Iranian nuclear negotiations.

Cengiz Candar muses on Turkish PM Erdogan's fight against the internet -

Turkey thus became the second country in the world, after China, to ban Twitter. Remember, Turkey is a member of NATO and the European Council, a candidate for European Union membership, and now, it is the first Western country to have banned Twitter. You may also add that it is the first democratic country to ban Twitter. But since a democratic country banning Twitter may be out of place, Turkey may well have lost its "democratic" label.

The Jewish World

Adam Kirsch expects the upcoming airing of Simon Schama's 'The Story of the Jews' to be a major event in US public perception of Judaism (it definitely was in Britain) –

When the series first aired on the BBC in Britain last year, some 3 million people watched it—and since the country’s Jewish population is only about 250,000, that means that a substantial number of non-Jewish Britons were finding out, through Schama, about what Judaism actually means. When the program airs in America, with its much larger Jewish population, the same thing will likely happen on an even bigger scale.

The Jewish Review of Books publishes an interesting Zionist speech given by a major Hollywood screenwriter to a bunch of serious Jewish mobsters in 1948 –

Tucked amid the Ben Hecht Papers at the Newberry Library in Chicago is an undated typescript of 21 pages, with a penciled heading: “Speech at dinner at Slapsy Maxie’s, L.A., financed by Mickey Cohen.” Hecht was, of course, a fabled writer for stage and screen, Mickey Cohen was the notorious Los Angeles gangland boss (recently portrayed by Sean Penn in the movie Gangster Squad), and the speech, which has never before been published, is one of the most riveting and remarkable Jewish fundraising speeches ever delivered. What gives?

 

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