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Sunday Reads: Does Netanyahu get America?, ‘Supporting the moderates’, King David’s Jerusalem

by Shmuel Rosner

August 17, 2014 | 4:14 am

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu gives a speech at the US Congress, photo by Reuters

US

Aaron David Miller imagines what the foreign policy of a Hillary administration would have looked like had she won in 2008 –

But on substance, Clinton’s policies would probably not have diverged fundamentally from the ones the president pursued while she was his secretary of state or those he has embraced subsequently. Indeed, Clinton could never have become Obama’s top diplomat and functioned so well in that job had they not been largely on the same page in terms of how they saw the world and what America should do about it. They both are transactors, not ideological transformers — smart, pragmatic centrists largely coloring inside the lines in a world of long shots and bad options. In other words, there’s no need for them to “hug it out” on foreign policy.

James F. Jeffrey explicitly argues in favor of going to war with ISIS –

Do military actions of this sort open the door to a "slippery slope" that could lead to new Iraqs and Vietnams? In theory, yes. But Barack Obama is the least likely president to make a mistake of this sort. Moreover, the reality doesn't equal the fear: Over scores of deployments and combat operations since 1945, the United States has rarely headed down the slippery slope. And let's be clear: The Iraq adventure under President George W. Bush was not a slippery slope but an intentional regime-change strategy gone wrong.

Israel

Alan Dershowitz reminds people like Jimmy Cater and Desmond Tutu that advocating for the legitimacy of Hamas is tantamout to supporting bigotry and anti-Semitism –

It may be necessary to negotiate - directly or through intermediaries - with Hamas, just as one "negotiates" with kidnappers, hostage takers or extortionists. But to "recognize" their "legitimacy," as Jimmy Carter and Bishop Tutu would do, is to recognize the legitimacy of anti-Semitism. Carter, Tutu and other Hamas cheerleaders may be willing to do that, but no reasonable person who hates bigotry should legitimate Hamas's anti-Semitism or its express goal of destroying Israel and killing its Jewish inhabitants.

Israel Factor Panelist Alon Pinkas has some serious doubts and some harsh words about Netanyahu's understanding of America –

Yes. Benjamin Netanyahu. The man who markets himself as an America-ologist – a world-renowned expert to the subtlety of American politics with an American accent and a proper tie to match – has simply gotten lost.

Netanyahu's America, that of the late 80s, no longer exists – and he's the only one who has yet to internalize that fact.

Middle East

According to Fareed Zakaria, the US policy of supporting the Middle East moderates is a difficult one to carry out, because there are so few of them and they are usually on the losing side –

For decades, U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East has been to support “moderates.” The problem is that there are actually very few of them. The Arab world is going through a bitter, sectarian struggle that is “carrying the Islamic world back to the Dark Ages,” said Turkish President Abdullah Gul. In these circumstances, moderates either become extremists or they lose out in the brutal power struggles of the day. Look at Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya and the Palestinian territories.

The Washington Institute’s Harry Reis writes about a number of agreements and precedents that might help with the rebuilding of Gaza –

Hamas will not give up its weapons willingly -- the latest fighting showed that it clings to its rockets more dearly than to the lives of its citizens. The international community is determined to relieve suffering in Gaza, and statements such as the recent EU declarations indicate that it is also determined to prevent Hamas from rearming. Fortunately, existing instruments can be strengthened to achieve both objectives -- there is no need to start from scratch.

Jewish World

A new book makes Benjamin Ivry ask some tough questions about John Paul’s attitude towards the Jews –

Such honoring of converts made some Jewish observers feel uneasy. They felt even worse when John Paul II sought to canonize Pope Pius XII, the wartime pontiff whose silence in the face of Nazi atrocities resulted in ongoing reproaches. Nor did John Paul II open Vatican archives on World War II to Holocaust researchers. Instead, he welcomed with state honors such visitors as Yasir Arafat and Austria’s Kurt Waldheim. In 1987, charged with lying about his Nazi past, Waldheim was put on a watch list and banned from entering the United States, but in 1994, Pope John Paul II awarded Waldheim a knighthood in the Order of Pius IX.

A curious article by Daniel Pioske examines the myths and the reality behind King David’s Jerusalem –

We may deride the many historical inaccuracies strewn throughout famous representations of David and Jerusalem, such as Frans Francken II’s celebrated portrait of David’s entry into his royal city. But such depictions serve as an important reminder that the desire to claim David’s Jerusalem as one’s own did not end with Charlemagne’s reign. Jerusalem is an idea as much as a place.

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