War, Détente or Deal: What’s Israel’s Next Move with Gaza?

The residents of Israel’s southern towns were hit hard during Israel and Hamas’ escalation of hostilities on Wednesday night. While a ceasefire currently holds, many are demanding a more comprehensive solution. Does this mean a broader deal? Or does it mean war? More at Business Insider.

There is still a range of choices in the spectrum between restraint and war… In the coming hours and days, a race will be on between the military and diplomatic timetables. If Egypt and the United Nations can’t achieve a binding “small agreement” – a full cease-fire in exchange for concessions on the movement of goods into the Strip along with enlarging Gaza’s fishing zone and perhaps the beginning of economic concessions – Israel will take further military action to force an agreement on Hamas.

In the meantime, Israel has to convey a message of strength while promising that if calm is achieved, it is ready to help in solving Gaza’s real problems… [People in southern Israel] deserve, as do the people of Gaza, to live in peace. We hope cooler heads will prevail and the current violence is precursor for the cease-fire plan being worked out. But if not, we count on the IDF to do what it takes to bring quiet to the South.

In the last war, taking down two high rises in Gaza was the last straw that led to a ceasefire. It was a message: From now on, if the war doesn’t stop, all hell will break loose. Today, taking down a building was meant to prevent a war that hasn’t yet started, but could start very soon. Israel does not want this war, but cannot tolerate for much longer the drip drop of fire from Gaza. Thus, it is now in Hamas’ hands.

Will Trump’s Space Force Make It off the Ground?

Trump is looking to advance his plans for a “Space Force,” a new branch of the U.S. military that will deal specifically with outer space. On Thursday Mike Pence called the Space Force “an idea whose time has come,” while Trump tweeted “Space Force All the Way!” The president envisions this plan coming to fruition by 2020, but a skeptical Congress may make it a failure to launch. More at WIRED.

Neither Russia nor China can match American military prowess on land, sea or air. A cheap workaround is to jam or even destroy the constellation of satellites the Pentagon — and civilian smartphone users — rely on for communications and navigation… At least for now, though, cyber attacks against the United States are more urgent threats than the militarization of the final frontier, and an entirely new service branch seems unnecessary.

Regardless of the outcome of the Space Force debate, Congress looks set to make some smart moves in national security in space. It is critical that the Air Force seize upon the interest from Congress and truly “go fast” in space. Failing to do so means America will cede the highest ground.

Hopefully the adults in the Pentagon, who’ve yet to commit to creating an entirely new branch, will find a way to stow Trump’s outlandishly irresponsible scheme. It’ll waste billions of dollars reinventing the wheel — a wheel the US Air Force already has. And, having served in numerous capacities alongside warriors in the US Air Force, I’m quite confident in the capabilities of our current fighters to defend us from threats both here on Earth and above the clouds, and their ability to adapt as the mission requires.

How Will We Remember Paul Ryan?

As Paul Ryan’s term as Speaker of the House draws to an end, people are reflecting on the legacy of his career. Was Paul Ryan a hero of the Never-Trump movement? In a new profile for the New York Times (below), Ryan says that most of his opposition to the president happened away from the public eye so as to avoid causing a rift within the party. That might be the case – but many Republicans are left wishing he had said and done more.

Why should Ryan, despite his own misgivings, make himself the vehicle for anti-Trump wish-fulfillment? The counter-counterfactual is this: Are Republican leaders so unwilling to condemn Trump because their voters support him so vigorously, or do these voters support Trump so vigorously because so few Republican leaders have dared condemn his actions? Chicken, meet egg.

…there is a ring of truth to what Ryan says… There are plenty of areas where Ryan could have said no — on tariffs, on Russia policy, on protecting the special counsel’s investigation, on whether the press is the enemy of the American people — without rupturing his relationship with Trump. He could have stuck his neck out a bit more in the name of decency. Maybe he did stop some of Trump’s truly crackpot ideas from ever seeing the light of day.

Ryan stood mute as Trump vilified Muslims, shafted Dreamers, and separated refugees from their kids… Cruelest of all, Trump signed a version of Ryan’s donor-driven fiscal fakery into tax law. Reality, indeed, bites. Thus ended Paul Ryan’s fatal deception. He becomes in history what he always was in fact — the avatar of a fiscally-ruinous wealth transfer to America’s 1 percent… Somewhere Ayn Rand smiles.

Is Israel Planning to Annex West Bank Land?

The Settlement Regulation Law, which allows for state confiscation of lands on which settlements are built in the West Bank, is being examined by Israel’s High Court. Critics, including the Attorney General, say that the law violates international law, but Harel Arnon, a private lawyer, is attempting to defend the legality of this law. Controversially, he’s using the Nationality Law to do so. More at Times of Israel.

The new Basic Law does not explicitly mention an annexation of “the Land of Israel,” and when, in its third Basic Principle, it grants the Jewish people an exclusive right to national self-determination, it does so within the context of the “State of Israel” alone. Yet in right-wing Israel, the line between “Land” and “State” is frequently blurred and easily crossed.

“The mere application of a certain Israeli norm [law] to an anonymous place outside the state does not necessarily make that anonymous place part of Israel,” private attorney Harel Arnon said in a legal brief in support of the Settlement Regulation Law. “The Knesset is not restricted from legislating extra-territorially anywhere in the world, including in the region,” Arnon said. He added that “the Knesset can legislate in Judea and Samaria.” His brief is the newest government submission in defense of the Settlement Regulation Law…

In virtually any other context, jurisdictional adjustments within a national court system would probably not be deemed particularly noteworthy. In the Israeli-Palestinian context, however, this seemingly technical legal measure is yet another site of a raging political battle over the nature of the Israeli presence in the West Bank… Nevertheless, it does continue an alarming trend of Knesset legislation that undermines the fundamental tenets of the legal relationship between sovereign Israel and the West Bank.

Is It Fair for Dems to Blame the Green Party for Taking Votes?

As Ohio contemplates a recount for Tuesday’s too-close-to-call Special Election, many Democrats are blaming the Green Party for siphoning Democratic votes and tanking the election for Danny O’Connor. It’s a complaint familiar to Americans since the 2000 Presidential election when Green Party Candidate Ralph Nader was accused of losing the election for Democrat Al Gore. From a numbers perspective, it’s easy to understand what the Dems are upset about. But others maintain that Americans should be voting for the party they believe in the most.

Voting in a democracy is tactical, but it’s also expressive — a way of communicating one’s preferences to the organs of government. Greens voting Green may sometimes, in some cases, be taking a tactical risk. But it is their prerogative to let interested parties know what sort of policies might capture their votes, and the distinction is real enough, at this point, to explain some adamancy.

Greens will sometimes justify these runs as movement-building tools, but they never seem to actually build a movement. “They don’t know how to multiply themselves,” Ralph Nader once told me, explaining the dissipation of the party after his 2000 presidential run. “It’s a peculiar characteristic: Green Party people, they don’t like to raise money, they allow themselves to live in neighborhoods and communities where they become minorities of one.”

As long as we have a first-past-the-post system—and we shouldn’t—two things are true about the Green Party: they aren’t going to win, and they are going to get Some Votes. For some reason, liberals have never been able to account for the fact that Green Party candidates are going to get some votes in the same way that Republicans have reckoned with the fact that Libertarian candidates will get some votes. It’s not clear they want to, either. After all, if there’s no Green Party candidate in the race, who are they going to blame for their losses?

Did You Catch These Jewish Stories?

In case you missed them…

How have Jewish Summer Camps evolved with Jewish values?

Is there a message for Jews in “BlacKkKlansman?”

How do we reconcile tradition and flexibility in Judaism?

Post-Holocaust American Jews realized what the socialist and Zionist camps before them realized: summer camp is the only place where they can have unfettered access to Jewish kids, the best opportunity to shape young minds for the future. “There is this sense that we can take clay and mold it into a meaningful Jewish life for these kids,” says Prell. “And we can do it because we have them all day…” That shaping took various forms: instilling a sense of history, pride, and knowledge, but also social justice and civil rights, and a desire to form Jewish families and raise more Jewish kids.

…the film acts as an argument for a positive version of what the Baldwin character is describing: a more perfect union between the black and Jewish populations. There’s one more scene that sticks out for a Jewish viewer, one that, at first, seems to have no Jewish presence. At a rally, black radical Kwame Ture (Corey Hawkins), the man formerly known as Stokely Carmichael, surprisingly utters a few sentences familiar to most Hebrew school graduates: the three questions of first-century Jewish sage Hillel the Elder. As Ture puts them, “If I am not for myself, who will be? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?”

The fear that has sapped our creativity and originality for generations, and continues to drive us apart, is rooted in a belief that it is impossible to find new clarity and meaning in our core texts without risking their alteration or abstraction. But, as God illustrated throughout the Tanakh, flexibility doesn’t mean wiping the slate clean. It entails rethinking, reworking and retooling without ever actually changing the core components. It’s about drawing out the light from a closed system so that it no longer feels closed and making foundational concepts the beginning of a vibrant conversation rather than the last word on the matter.

Roundtable Extra: Commentary on Parashat Re’eh

Today we present a collection of past Torah Talks on Re’eh. Five rabbis – five viewpoints. Click here to watch the discussions.

In this Week’s Torah Portion – Parashat Re’eh (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17) – Moses continues speaking to the people of Israel right before he passes away and before they cross the Jordan River and enter the Promised Land. Moses asks them to recite certain blessings and curses on Mount Grizzim and Mount Ebal after they enter Israel. He demands that they destroy all remnants of idolatry from the Promised Land and asks them to choose a city which will host the Holy Temple. The Parasha also discusses false prophets, kashrut, the sabbatical year and charity, and includes an imperative to “open your hand,” “not harden your heart” and “lend whatever is sufficient to meet the need.”

Today’s Hot Issues

War, Détente or Deal: What’s Israel’s Next Move with Gaza? Will Trump’s Space Force Make It off the Ground? How Will We Remember Paul Ryan? Is Israel Planning to Annex West Bank Land? Is It Fair for Dems to Blame the Green Party for Taking Votes? Did You Catch These Jewish Stories? Roundtable Extra: Commentary on Parashat Re’eh