Has the White Nationalist Movement Lost Steam?

White nationalists gathered in Washington D.C. on Sunday to mark the anniversary of last year’s rally in Charlottesville, Va. The “Unite the Right” rally, at which white nationalists were greatly outnumbered by counter-protesters, was seen by many as a chance to evaluate the progression of the white nationalist movement since Trump’s infamous remarks after Charlottesville were criticized for legitimizing white supremacy and bolstering the movement’s visibility and growth.

White nationalists win by activating white panic, by frightening a sufficient number of white people into believing that their safety and livelihoods can only be protected by defining American citizenship in racial terms, and by convincing them that American politics is a zero-sum game in which white people win when only people of color lose. While this dynamic has always been present in American politics, it has been decades since the White House has been occupied by a president who so visibly delights in exploiting it…

In a movement that is largely disintegrating, many of the biggest names in the alt-right and white supremacist far-right are staying far away from Unite the Right 2. That’s both because of the aftermath of last year’s rally and because of a debate embroiling the alt-right about whether or not “optics” — like chanting “Jews will not replace us” before marching under a Nazi flag — matter, and whether they should even be rallying in public in the first place.

…if you lived through Charlottesville, 2017, you realized that it wasn’t the end of anything. It was the start of something. It was the start of peeling off the scales about what a seemingly perfect, sleepy Southern college town had obscured… It was the start of a clear-eyed view of what America has been built on and where it might go… where America still sees Nazis and flaming torches, I see the first stirrings of the thing that comes after.

Will Mueller Go Quiet Ahead of Midterms?

The Midterm elections may pose a problem for Special Counsel Robert Mueller. After the controversy surrounding James Comey and the Hillary investigation, Mueller may be reluctant to be seen as an influence on the outcome of November’s elections. Does this mean he’s going to go quiet? More at USA Herald.

Mueller has roughly three weeks to do whatever he’s going to do and then — who knows? Simply go quiet until after Election Day? Or wrap up his inquiry altogether? As usual, no one knows except him, and there is no independent statement from Mueller to suggest that he feels bound by any of these expectations. Trump and his attorneys, however, led by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have taken this as their working hypothesis and are crafting their strategy accordingly.

With a high probability that the obstruction issue reaches a crescendo before the midterm elections, there is now a growing likelihood that an anti-Trump wave will doom Republicans to a disastrous defeat in November… His attacks against Mueller have reached such extreme levels that he puts the fear of God into Republicans running in 2018.

Enough is enough. It’s time to subpoena the president… Assuming Trump contested the subpoena, it would take months to reach the Supreme Court, even on an expedited basis… It would mean that the obstruction report would not be delivered by November, thereby leaving the probe to hang over Republicans during midterm elections.

Will Israel Go to Early Elections Over Draft Law?

Netanyahu threatened to call for new elections if a deal cannot be reached between his secular and Orthodox coalition partners on an Orthodox military conscription law. The question of Orthodox conscription – specifically how many Orthodox should be required to serve in the IDF and what the consequences should be for not meeting quotas – has threatened to dissolve the current government for months. Will Bibi’s coalition be able to reach a compromise? More at Times of Israel.

The High Court of Justice will refuse to let the Knesset tarry until the summer. The Haredim will not get a better offer than the one laid on the table before them today… With or without the conscription bill, the approaching elections will be felt in all their gravity in the last winter session of the 20th Knesset. This government has practically finished its agenda, and the nation-state bill is the final, grating, ugly chord of the entire concert.

Lapid called the actions of haredim “blackmail.” “What will we tell the soldiers? What can I tell my son who has now for three years served as a combat soldier? What if the prime minister again absolves the haredim from army service again of political blackmail, since everything is political survival. What will we tell them and how would we even say it?,” Lapid asked.

The bill is ready. It is supported by the IDF, and by a large majority in the Knesset. It is supported by a majority of the coalition. It can easily pass. But one faction of one Haredi party objects to it. The Gur Rebbe opposes the bill and ordered his representative in the Knesset, a Deputy Minister, to resign if the law passes. Netanyahu faces a dilemma: He can pass the bill and open a breach with an important Haredi ally; he can let the deadline pass and deal with a crisis following a Supreme Court decision; he can dissolve the coalition and get more time (assuming the court gives a new coalition the chance to pass a bill). Judging by his recent ultimatum, his choice is made: legislation, or an early election. Possibly in February or March. Netanyahu made this decision for purely political reasons. He can gain from an early election more than all other parties.

Should Trump Be Blamed for Turkey’s Financial Crisis?

In response to Turkey’s refusal to release an American pastor being detained in Turkey on terrorism charges, Trump announced new and harsh sanctions on Turkey over the weekend. Turkey’s lira dropped dramatically in value after the sanctions were announced, but should Trump be blamed for the financial crisis? More at Bloomberg.

Mr. Erdogan is blaming Donald Trump’s sanctions and tariffs for the lira crisis, but the U.S. President was lighting a match on already dry tinder. The core problem is years of monetary mismanagement and overborrowing. The Turkish strongman wanted to win an election to change the constitution and consolidate his power, and he leaned on the central bank to keep interest rates low.

How does such a crisis end? If there is no effective policy response, what happens is that the currency drops and debt measured in domestic currency balloons until everyone who can go bankrupt, does. At that point the weak currency fuels an export boom, and the economy starts a recovery built around huge trade surpluses. (This may come as a surprise to Donald Trump, who appears to be levying punitive tariffs on Turkey as punishment for its weak currency.)

The U.S. Congress has long lost patience with the way Erdogan is conducting himself… Right now, Turkey remains a NATO member state with all of the privileges membership provides. But Ankara’s actions, both its crackdown of democratic governance and its foreign policy, is pulling it further away from the transatlantic community. It’s not at all clear what NATO can do about it, and one can imagine Tayyip Erdogan grinning ear-to-ear about it.

Racism and Reverse Racism: Where Do Jews Fit In?

Earlier this month a controversy emerged over the New York Time’s new tech writer, Sarah Jeong— an Asian-American woman criticized for “white bashing” posts on her social media accounts. As the country debated the nuances of “reverse racism,” Jews were left wondering what happens to antisemitism when racism is defined solely through institutional power dynamics.

Last month, a federal judge ruled that racial discrimination law applies to Jews, noting that anti-Semites hate Jews for their “Jewish blood” and for “the fact that they were Jewish.” However, especially on the left, some see anti-Semitism as a wholly separate phenomenon from — and perhaps a lesser form of bias than — racism. Racism, in this line of thinking, is fundamentally worse than all other forms of prejudice precisely because it is systemic.

Unlike racism against people of color, which stems from white people believing they are superior to people of color, hatred of Jews stems from the belief that Jews have supernatural powers, controlling the rest of the world from a secret cabal that is almost mystical in its structure and influence. In other words, anti-Semitism is based on the notion that Jews are dangerously and despicably superior to whites, using their evil powers to the detriment of white society.

Jews, in particular, should be wary of the attempt to link racism with institutional power… We’re watching this perspective play out in real time as European leftists claim that anti-Semitism is fully justified thanks to power imbalances between Israel and its enemies. Jews are targeted when they’re powerful, as they are in the Israeli government; they’re targeted when they’re weak, as they were in the ghettos of Europe.

Does Pro Golf Need Tiger Woods?

The comeback of Tiger Woods had many speculating (and hoping) that he would emerge victorious from the PGA Tour. Sunday’s match saw him at the top of his game, but it still wasn’t enough to take the championship, which went to Brooks Koepka. Despite this – plenty of fans are saying that Sunday belonged to Tiger.

Things have changed, though, regarding Woods at least. Stand on a tee box today with a foursome of middle-aged men, be them white, African-American or any race and they are all likely to jump on the Tiger Woods comeback 2018 train. At a moment when racial lines and tensions have never been so distinct if not troubling Tiger Woods’ comeback is building up a bandwagon, winning ratings and energizing a mostly-white crowd that’s pulling for a championship and working itself into a “frenzy.”

The day had everything, from Tiger providing the amuse-bouche of showing up looking like he was ready to go on a long Navy SEAL ruck to igniting the roars reminiscent of a decade ago with shots we didn’t think we’d ever see again… And it had the scrambling — the ability to get the most out of day when you do not have it — that, more than any other trait, has made him arguably the greatest golfer who ever lived.

Koepka may have won, but this was Woods’ day nonetheless. And with the FedEx Cup Playoffs approaching, Tiger has the golf world on notice. He’s going to compete. And as long as he’s competing, fans will patiently await his win. 2018 is Woods’ best year in half a decade, and the sport is better off for it.

Roundtable Extra: Was Ben-Gurion Against the Occupation?

On July 22nd, the New York Times ran a piece by Max Fisher which stated that David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, warned Israeli society about the potential dangers of occupying the lands conquered by Israel in 1967.

Ben-Gurion insisted that Israel give up the territories it had conquered. If it did not, he said, occupation would distort the young state, which had been founded to protect not just the Jewish people but their ideals of democracy and pluralism.

If this sounds familiar, it is likely because this is an oft-repeated story about Ben-Gurion. But is it true? Historian Martin Kramer says that it is little more than a legend:

As it happened, a few months ago I’d grown suspicious of this story, and so I tracked down the transcript of Ben-Gurion’s remarks in his archives. I found no evidence of his having said anything of the sort.

The New York Times acknowledged Kramer’s response but ultimately decided to stick with the version of events presented in the original article.

Still – did Ben-Gurion say it or not?

An interview with Ben-Gurion from 1968 (a year after the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and East Jerusalem came under Israel’s control) may shed light on the origin of this Ben-Gurion story. In footage from this interview, which was included in the documentary “Ben-Gurion, Epilogue,” the former PM comments on the issue of trading land for peace.

“If I could choose between peace and all the territories which we conquered last year, I would prefer peace,” he said. He did have two exceptions though: Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

Another origin for the legend that Ben-Gurion was against territorial expansion is, according to Kramer, a book by American rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, “Israel: The Tragedy of Victory,” in which the author “would recall hearing a speech by Ben-Gurion in July 1967 at the Labor training institute Beit Berl.” It was that day, according to Hertzberg, that Ben-Gurion stated that “all of the territories that had been captured [in the June Six-Day War] had to be given back, very quickly, for holding on to them would distort, and might ultimately destroy, the Jewish state.”

True or false? Kramer has a more nuanced view:

So Hertzberg’s Ben-Gurion—advocate of an immediate, unilateral, and almost total Israeli withdrawal—was a figment of the rabbi’s imagination. But Hertzberg didn’t consciously fabricate him. (I allow myself to say this as someone who briefly had Hertzberg as a teacher.) He simply did what many do when they want to validate their own political notions: they trace them back to a (mis)quotable “founding father.”

Today’s Hot Issues

Has the White Nationalist Movement Lost Steam? Will Mueller Go Quiet Ahead of Midterms? Will Israel Go to Early Elections Over Draft Law? Should Trump Be Blamed for Turkey’s Financial Crisis? Racism and Reverse Racism: Where Do Jews Fit In? Does Pro Golf Need Tiger Woods? Roundtable Extra: Was Ben-Gurion Against the Occupation?