Does Israel Need to Rethink Its Response to Gaza Protests?

Israel has faced sharp criticism in the past days for its use of live ammunition on protesters and rioters at the Gaza border fence. At the same time, defenders have pointed out that the IDF targeted only those protesters adopting violent means and attempting to infiltrate the Gaza border fence. As Israel struggles to defend both its border and its reputation, how should we think about the IDF’s response to the Gaza protests?

I’m writing because I am one of the few who was there… Yes, right there on the fence where the demonstrations are happening… I want to testify that what I saw and heard was a tremendous, supreme effort from our side, to prevent in every possible way Palestinian deaths and injuries. Of course, the primary mission was to prevent hundreds of thousands of Gazans from infiltrating into our territory. That kind of invasion would be perilous, mortally dangerous to the nearby communities…

To protect its sovereignty and border security Israel must neutralize individuals (some armed and others unarmed) attempting to storm the border at the expense of its international image, while failing to defend its boundaries could result in mass border infiltration… However, the IDF has operated with exceptional professionalism, and despite the fog of war it has achieved three important aims: protected the integrity of its border and avoided Israeli civilian and military casualties, minimized the number of Palestinian civilians killed to the extent possible, and prevented escalation to a broader conflict.

Israel should rather respond to the marchers with law enforcement measures, which are not governed by the laws of international humanitarian law (the laws of war), but rather by the laws of international human rights. Under the law enforcement paradigm, the default manner of responding to violent riots, including riots in border areas, should involve methods of crowd control (such as tear gas, water cannons or rubber bullets) and not live ammunition. Only when the rioters present an imminent risk to life of limb can lethal force be resorted to…

Is Kim Jong Un Really Going to Cancel His Summit with Trump?

After weeks of diplomatic progress with North Korea, a stumbling block has appeared. In response to U.S. talk of North Korea’s full denuclearization, and also in response to the U.S. and South Korea carrying on with joint military drills, North Korea is threatening to cancel the summit meeting with Trump. Is this just tough talk? Or was this Kim’s plan all along? More at USA Today.

Trump tries to act nonchalant, but it’s no secret that a deal with North Korea would amount to a huge political win for an embattled President, who is already fantasizing about winning a Nobel Peace Prize. Just last week, when asked if he deserves the Nobel, he beamed, “Everyone thinks so.” Kim is testing Trump. He is trying to do precisely what his father and grandfather before him managed to pull off: extract concessions, economic and political gains, while making small concessions or promises they later failed to keep.

A colleague suggested that Kim was playing the part of Lucy in the old “Peanuts” comic strip. Lucy, you’ll remember, held the football for Good Ol’ Charlie Brown to kick, but, in a betrayal repeated again and again, pulled it away before he could connect… Meanwhile, Trump would do well to refrain from taking to Twitter to express either alarm about Tuesday’s developments or confidence that this too shall pass. But hoping for such self-control from this president may be as unrealistic as expecting Lucy to change her ways.

Kim clearly wants the summit. He wants the summit because it gives him an opportunity to please Beijing and placate Trump with promises (real or fictional) so as to avoid new sanctions and give himself more time to develop his warhead re-entry vehicle. Trump should totally ignore North Korea’s threat. Rather, Trump should warn South Korean president Moon Jae-in that if he withdraws South Korean forces from the exercise, Trump will withdraw from the summit.

Is America Going to Actually Start Tackling Infrastructure?

Infrastructure, one of Trump’s favorite talking points, has not been a high priority for his administration. Overshadowed by large-scale White House dramas, “Infrastructure Week” came and went with little fanfare and close to no action. Now, suddenly, it’s infrastructure week again. But this Infrastructure Week is an industry event rather than a White House event. Trump says that America’s roads and bridges are crumbling. But will any amount of Infrastructure Weeks get him to do something about it? More at NPR.

Today, builders, engineers, and manufacturers kicked off Infrastructure Week events at Union Station in Los Angeles and Union Station in Washington, D.C. These bicoastal celebrations are the work of Infrastructure Week, a nonprofit coalition cofounded by the U.S. Chamber of Conference that represents the consolidated interests of more than 400 affiliates… Fake holidays manufactured for publicity are an American specialty. But, at least at the White House, it seems no amount of publicity can manufacture a real bill.

Americans can’t rely on private institutions or local governments to make these changes without help. Voters agree that the country needs national policy… With state and local officials, communities and a resounding majority of Americans backing federal action on flood preparedness, our national leaders have a real opportunity to make resilience the norm. The time to do that is now, before the next flood arrives.

We do have two federal infrastructure proposals on the table…While both these plans have faults and critics, they have enough in common that a bipartisan bill could be fashioned by taking the best ideas of each. Meanwhile, House and Senate committee staff are quietly negotiating the Water Resources Development Act, and legislation to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration is taking off. It’s not all we had hoped for, but it’s a start.

What Do We Really Know About Anne Frank?

Anne Frank’s diary has been read by millions and has become a iconic symbol of humanity in the face of bleak oppression – so much so that some think that Anne’s personality has taken a backseat to her symbolic value. New pages discovered in her diary (she had carefully taped brown paper over them) reveal another fragment of Anne Frank as she really was. Dirty jokes, notes on sex and contraception, and other teenage curiosities fill these pages. Does this change what we think about Anne Frank? More at BBC.

Over the decades Anne Frank has grown to become the worldwide symbol of the Holocaust, and Anne the girl has increasingly faded into the background. These uncovered texts from her diary bring the inquisitive and in many respects precocious teenager back into the foreground.

It is unclear why Frank chose to cover her musings with the sticky brown paper, but researchers say she may have been trying to hide the content from her father or anyone else living in the cramped attic quarters. Despite being shrouded in mystery for more than 70 years, the uncovered pages “do not alter our image of Anne,” the Anne Frank House said. The writings were not unusual for the teen, who had other diary entries about sex and “regularly” recorded dirty jokes, the museum said. The pages are significant because they show Frank’s first attempts to develop her literary voice, the AP reported.

That the diary is miraculous, a self-aware work of youthful genius, is not in question. Variety of pace and tone, insightful humor, insupportable suspense, adolescent love pangs and disappointments, sexual curiosity, moments of terror, moments of elation, flights of idealism and prayer and psychological acumen—all these elements of mind and feeling and skill brilliantly enliven its pages… [but a] story may not be said to be a story if the end is missing. And because the end is missing, the story of Anne Frank in the fifty years since “The Diary of a Young Girl” was first published has been bowdlerized, distorted, transmuted, traduced, reduced; it has been infantilized, Americanized, homogenized, sentimentalized; falsified, kitschified, and, in fact, blatantly and arrogantly denied.

Does Objectifying Men Count as Social Progress?

Society objectifies women’s bodies all the time – but what about men’s bodies? Objectification is supposed to be a bad thing, but could society’s heightened focus on slim, small, shy guys (“Twinks”) be an antidote to toxic masculinity?

Female body types have always cycled in and out of style; yet with men, alternatives to the ideal of imposing physicality have usually been ignored or lampooned. But as women continue to use their voices to undo that legacy of toxic masculinity, a different kind of change is taking place from within the culture: These twinks, after all, aren’t just enviably lean boys or the latest unrealistic gay fantasy, but a new answer to the problem of what makes a man.

Gay guys have bears and twinks; queer women have bois and butches; women of all kinds navigate beauty-mag buzzwords as well as locker-room-labeling by guys. Only recently has pop culture began returning the favor for straight men: Talmudically delineating types of bros, dubbing the CBS-sitcom standard as “dadbod,” and now, opening debate on how to conceptualize waifish, white-boy appeal. There’s an argument to be made that subjecting straight men to the same objectification everyone else has long lived with is not only fair play, but in fact social progress…

The idea that a body type is what makes a man capable of sexual assault, and that this new image of a slim, white male will somehow counteract women’s trauma of the past, is wildly ludicrous. It ignores the fact that there have and will continue to exist many abusive men with a “twink” frame, and that it’s the power structures of Hollywood that contribute to men committing sexual crimes. The cultural embrace of a new body type isn’t some grand response to #MeToo or to the concept of masculinity.

What Breakthroughs in Cancer Research Are Coming Out of Israel?

Israeli scientists and doctors are thinking outside of the box when it comes to cancer research and treatment. Here are just three promising new developments made recently in Israel:

A group of researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, led by Professor Varda Shoshan-Barmatz, PhD, have developed a molecule that prevents cancer cells from growing and turns them into normal, non-cancerous cells… By targeting VDAC1, Shoshan-Barmatz and her team have essentially figured out how to make cancer cells start acting like regular ones. So far, in vitro and mice models have suggested that this treatment might be effective for lung cancer, triple negative breast cancer, and glioblastoma (the type of brain tumor that John McCain is currently battling).

Israeli scientists at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have successfully treated a cancerous tumor, eradicating its cancer cells using a “nano-factory” – a synthetic cell that produces anti-cancer proteins within the tissue, the Technion announced in February. Synthetic cells, the prestigious Haifa-based university says, “are artificial systems with capacities similar to, and, at times, superior to those of natural cells.”

Researchers at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Soroka University Medical Center in Tel Aviv say they have developed a new and accurate way to screen for early breast cancer, using an electronic nose to analyze breath and a urine test analysis. In their study, published in Computers in Biology and Medicine, the researchers said the methods they used allowed them to isolate relevant data and thereby more accurately identify breast cancer biomarkers.

Roundtable Extra: Tom Wolfe in His Own Words

Few journalists leave behind as towering a legacy as Tom Wolfe, who died Monday at the age of 88. A founder of the “New Journalism” movement, Wolfe believed that a journalist’s role was to get involved and to experience the realities he reported upon. With this as his guiding principle, Wolfe lived among the subcultures he wrote about – notably in the “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.”  His fiction, too, was was as powerful as his non-fiction, with many praising his novel “Bonfire of the Vanities” as an incisive critique of our society. A man of many words, here are some notable quotes from Wolfe on writing and on life:

The problem with fiction, it has to be plausible. That’s not true with non-fiction.

The modern notion of art is an essentially religious or magical one in which the artist is viewed as a holy beast who in some way, big or small, receives flashes from the godhead, which is known as creativity.

The reason a writer writes a book is to forget a book and the reason a reader reads one is to remember it.

Man is born to live, to suffer, and to die, and what befalls him is a tragic lot. There is no denying this in the final end. But we must deny it all along the way.

If a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged, a liberal is a conservative who’s been arrested.

Today’s Hot Issues

Does Israel Need to Rethink Its Response to Gaza Protests? Is Kim Jong Un Really Going to Cancel His Summit with Trump? Is America Going to Actually Start Tackling Infrastructure? What Do We Really Know About Anne Frank? Does Objectifying Men Count as Social Progress? What Breakthroughs in Cancer Research Are Coming Out of Israel? Roundtable Extra: Tom Wolfe in His Own Words