Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales during a visit to La Paz. (Photo: Reuters)
The Fight Over Who Fights in Israel
Jodi Rudoren of the New York Times takes a look at Israel’s divisive issue of national service for Haredi men.
The resentment, even demonization, of Haredim is deep and growing, most profoundly among the strictly observant Jews known here as Modern Orthodox or National Religious. In Ramot, an elegant area of East Jerusalem, and in the exploding city of Beit Shemesh, many of these religious Jews — people whose children study in yeshivas before and after their army tours; people who find time to study Torah as an avocation alongside serious careers; in some cases men so religious they do not shake hands with women — talk about having to leave their beloved neighborhoods because the Haredim are taking over. What to think, as Zehava Alon, a leader of the universal-draft movement put it, of a state where “there is a law that says our kids’ blood is less valuable”?
Child Molesters and Those Who Protect Them, Cannot Be Called Religious Jews
Ronn Torossian of Algemeiner speaks out against those in the American ultra-Orthodox community who have sought to downplay accusations of child abuse leveled against its members.
Words do not exist to describe those who molest children. The fact that it happens is sickening, tearful and just horrendous and as a Jew it is infuriating to hear molesters, or those who protect them, described as “religious.” What makes a Jew or any person religious? One cannot be a religious Jew and a molester of children – I don’t care how many times a day one prays.
Hezbollah’s Prisoner of Conscience
Lee Smith of the Weekly Standard discusses the fate of Sheikh Hassan Mchaymech, a former high-ranking Hezbollah official turned critic, who was arrested by Syrian security forces.
It is not difficult to see why Hezbollah wants to keep Mchaymech quiet. Says [Lebanese activist Lokman] Slim: “It was at first difficult to rally support among the Shia community, considering the taboo nature of the case. But it eventually became a moral obligation for all those fed up with Hezbollah’s political blackmail. Rejecting the abuse of Sheikh Hassan Mchaymech became a pretext for open protest.”
Saudi Arabia’s More Perfect Union
Writing in the National Interest, Bruce Riedel examines a Saudi push for closer unity among the monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula.
The Saudis believe they and their fellow monarchs must hang together or hang separately. If the Bahraini royal family accepts genuine political reform and democracy, pressure inside the kingdom will grow. The Saudis also recognize that there are limits to even their largesse and ability to buy off dissent. A more unified Arabian royal club would provide greater access to the fabulous wealth of Qatar and the UAE, which have only tiny native populations, to help buy off unrest in poorer and more populous states like Bahrain and Oman. For equally obvious reasons, Doha and Abu Dhabi don’t want to play.
Iran Woos Bolivia For Influence In Latin America
Iran has extended its largess to Bolivia, with an eye to deepening its influence in the region, writes Ilan Berman in the Daily Beast.
What is clear is that, at least for the moment, the Islamic Republic has placed considerable value on its burgeoning ties to Bolivia. In exchange for access from the Morales government, Iran has proffered hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to the Bolivian government, agreed to $1 billion-worth of joint commercial and industrial projects, and offered to sell warplanes and helicopters to the Bolivian military. (To date, however, most of these economic overtures have not materialized.)