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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 24, 2008 / 26 Mar-Cheshvan 5769

Don't flatter your enemies, protect your friends

By Barry Rubin


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The debate in Washington is far away from the debate in the Middle East. In America's capital, the talk is of how the radicals are more moderate than thought, how they will be won over by Obama's charisma and changed American policies. The disconnect between the region and the rationalizers is frightening

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | In explaining why he was too fearful to vote in Jerusalem's mayoral election, an east Jerusalem Palestinian shopkeeper, Issam Abu Rmaileh, said, "I would have liked to vote because it's in our interest, but who's going to protect me and my family afterwards?"


Let's call it the Abu Rmaileh principle; it is extraordinarily important in the Middle East. Why should someone support you if you cannot protect them? If they cannot depend on you to be tough, they might as well play it safe by doing nothing or make their own deal through appeasement and shout radical slogans.


Here is the Abu Rmaileh principle at a higher pay grade. Jordan's Foreign Minister Salah Bashir stated in a closed meeting, "For us the Iranian surge for hegemony has become a crisis," according to a participant who asked not to be named.


And here's the flip side from a frustrated American colonel fighting in Iraq, "All these guys we rounded up, they're saying in the interrogation, if we don't torture them, we're not going to get the information."


How important is popularity? According to the school enthusiastic about President-elect Barack Obama in the United States, it is everything. One journalist explained that al-Qaida is afraid of Obama because, presumably, he will win away Muslims from supporting radical Islamism. It is written in the Washington Post: "Even among the followers of radical groups, such as Hamas and the Taliban, Obama has inspired a sense of change and opportunity."


That last statement — intended to imply that even extremists like Obama — is worded with a shocking, though unintentional, ambiguity. It is sure true that Hamas, the Taliban, Hizbullah, Iran, Syria, and al-Qaida view this "change" as an "opportunity." Unfortunately, they view it as an opportunity for being more aggressive.


Here's how Iranian Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami put it, in words typical of the reaction from Iran and these other groups. He sees Obama's slogan of "change" as a retreat caused by Iran's revolution, which brought down American power, and says the United States is continuing to decline.


For them, Barack the creator of a more popular America and a figure of weakness. Should there be any doubt that his flexibility will be interpreted as retreat, no matter how well-intentioned he is?


The debate in Washington is far away from the debate in the Middle East. In America's capital, the talk is of how the radicals are more moderate than thought, how they will be won over by Obama's charisma and changed American policies. The disconnect between the region and the rationalizers is frightening.


There is no policy change in Washington that will appease the radicals. And there are no concessions that will make an American president popular in a meaningful way among Middle Easterners. Even more worrisome, such steps are not going to make moderates feel more secure. Here the al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri gets it just right. He tells Obama: "It appears that you don't know anything about the Muslim world and its history... You are neither facing individuals nor organizations, but are facing a jihadi awakening and renaissance which is shaking the pillars of the entire Islamic world; and this is the fact which you and your government and country refuse to recognize and pretend not to see."


Zawahiri even invokes the Abu Rmaileh principle: "It appears that you don't know anything about... the fate of the traitors who cooperated with the invaders against it." In other words, anyone who cooperates with the United States or fights the Islamists will die.


Al-Qaida is not a very important group nowadays. But the rise of Islamist forces is clear, even though some of them are hostile to each other. It is Iran, not Ayman, who is the main beneficiary of this phenomenon, though Muslim Brotherhood groups — most notably Hamas — are also advancing.


In which way are President George Bush and his successor identical? Both believe that being liked in the Middle East will bring victory. Bush thought that by gifting the locals with a non-dictatorial Iraq and democracy they would come to love him. The opposite happened. Obama's strategy of being a nice guy and making concessions is likely to be less costly in direct terms for the United States but will also be used by the radicals for their own benefit.

One problem with the belief that Obama's popularity and flexibility will succeed is the Abu Rmaileh principle: Don't tell me who is nice; tell me who is going to protect me. Being feared and respected, as Syrian dictator Bashar Assad rightly put it, is more important than being liked. Osama bin Ladin noted that people understandably prefer to put their money on the horse that seems more certain to win the race.


A second problem is how people in the Middle East are going to find out that you are such a great guy. They don't follow the American or European media but local sources, including both government and radical Islamist propaganda.

The frustrated American colonel in Iraq quoted above was bewildered by the fact that ""We poured a lot of our heart and soul into trying to help the people" only to hear them say the most inaccurate things about the United States stealing their oil, taking their land, and "turning our country over to Israel." A US pull-out may well be the right policy, but it will not bring gratitude.

What's needed is not a president who can work with Iran or Syria but a president who can work with Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Lebanese forces who want their country to be free, and so on, along with Israel and Europe in a grand alignment. Yes, it is in large part a zero-sum game: What makes Teheran or Damascus happy is going to damage their intended victims.

Alas, just because something isn't true doesn't mean people can't believe it. That's a truism applicable both to the Middle East and to Washington DC.


Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

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JWR contributor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, Interdisciplinary Center, and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs. His latest book is "The Truth About Syria".


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© 2007, Barry Rubin