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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

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 May 23, 2011 / 19 Iyar, 5771

The Latest Futility: New President, Same Middle East

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Remember our president's speech in Cairo at the bright onset of his tenure, the speech that was going to change everything? But the Middle East being the Middle East, and Barack Obama being Barack Obama, it changed nothing.

Yet some things can change in that part of the world -- with the speed of wildfire. See events this year from, west to east, Tunisia to Syria. This administration is still trying to catch up with that whirlwind, aka the Arab Spring, and it still sounds way behind.

We've seen this movie before. Recall all the ballyhoo that accompanied the new president's appearance in Cairo on June 4, 2009, which now seems so long ago. That speech was going to be a Breakthrough, a New Departure, a Historic Outreach to that part of the world. Which is how Thursday's presidential address was billed, too. And it's likely to have about as much effect.

If there is a single phrase to sum up this administration's policy in the Middle East, it would be Too Little, Too Late. Way too little and way too late. It's taken this president almost half a year to endorse the Arab Spring in his own, always carefully qualified way. (Only this week did Washington impose travel restrictions on Syria's dictator for his accustomed brutalities.)

It all fits into a disappointing pattern. Our president's first official venture into the shifting sands and ephemeral winds of the Middle East could scarcely be described as a rousing success. That "breakthrough" speech consisted largely of apologies for the West's being the West while he extended an open hand to all the autocracies -- i.e., Islamic countries -- in the region. We can all see how well that worked.

Yet there was much to be learned from the new president's initial appearance in that troubled region even if he didn't learn it. For instance, there was that telling moment, the significance of which may not have been fully recognized at the time, when he almost apologized for introducing what he called a "controversial" subject: democracy and the need for it in Hosni Mubarak's Egypt.

Mr. Obama needn't have hesitated, as it turned out. His university audience broke into applause when he spoke of democracy. But its significance was lost on this stranger in a strange land. Our still new president seemed surprised, even nonplussed at the enthusiastic response to his throwaway line. But then he recovered and went on as if nothing had happened, as if he hadn't just accidentally bumped into the future.



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His first venture into Middle Eastern speechmaking and peacemaking having proved a bust, Barack Obama chose a different but all too familiar tack this week. He rolled out all the tried and tested (and failed) cliches of American diplomacy in those sun-drenched latitudes.

In a speech before his Mideast speech Thursday, a trial run earlier in the week, he fell back on every platitude, banality and meaningless generality that has marked presidential speeches about the Middle East for, oh, the past half-century or so. It wasn't a speech so much as a long press release -- indeed, a compilation of the State Department's press releases about the Middle East since time runneth not to the contrary.

Speaking just after his meeting with Jordan's latest King Abdullah, the president's talk consisted largely of one tinker toy phrase joined to the next with such predictable regularity that the official text should have come with hyphens between the familiar, not to say timeworn, words:

"… (I)t-is-more-vital-than-ever-that-both-Israelis-and-Palestinians-find-a-way-to-get-back-to-the-table-and-begin-negotiating-a-process-whereby-they-can-create-two-states-that-are-living-side-by-side-in-peace-and-security. We-will-continue-to … encourage-an-equitable-and-just-solution-for-a-problem-that-has-been-nagging-the-region-for-many-many years."

You still with me? If you haven't nodded off, please note that the solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict must always be described as "just-and-equitable." Or sometimes "fair-and-equitable." It's against house rules for that elusive solution to be only one or the other.

By now justandequitable must have become just one word in the style book for presidential addresses on the Middle East. Like one of those German compound nouns that rumble past like a line of boxcars. The same construction is also a favorite of Jordanian monarchs, who are inclined to take refuge in talk of the just-and-equitable when things aren't.

A president can be excused for rising above the sordid facts now and then. An American leader, like an American preacher, should make it a point to sound a note of hope. It is part of the Western tradition. Not for us the fatalism of So It Is Written, So It Must Be. Which is why an American president should side with the forces of freedom now sweeping across the Middle East. And point out that peace and freedom go together, even if it may take patience and fortitude to see that they do.

The course of freedom, like true love's, never did run smooth. In any part of the world. But that's no excuse for withdrawing from the struggle. On the contrary, it is another good reason to stay committed to it.

The moral of this story: An only fitful attention to the securing of freedom every couple of years just won't get it.

As for the oldest established permanent floating mirage in the Middle East, at least about the Arab-Israeli conflict, it centers about the idea/illusion of trading land for peace. But after retiring from Lebanon, and watching Hezbollah fill the vacuum, and after leaving Gaza, and watching that ancient pesthole become the base of a separate but equally hateful terrorist outfit, Hamas, the Israelis may finally have seen through this game.

American policymakers still talk of the conflict between Israel and her neighbors as if it were a territorial dispute -- just a matter of drawing new lines on the map, holding a peace conference, and signing on the dotted line, as in any other real estate deal. But it has become clearer and clearer over the years that the key territory much of the Arab side is interested in acquiring is Israel itself.

That last point is only underscored by the inclusion of Hamas, an outfit sworn to Israel's destruction by its charter, in the new leadership of the proto-state of Palestine. Nor is that goal just a matter of words; the words are regularly punctuated by rocket attacks on Israeli cities. Whatever the president says, he's not proposing to negotiate with a group of Jeffersonian democrats here. And the Israelis shouldn't.

Some may call this a territorial dispute, but for Israelis with eyes to see and experience to learn from, it is an existential one. And may always have been. Even that untiring negotiator, George Mitchell, seems to have finally understood the futility of such negotiations; he's just resigned.

It is good for an American president to have his hopes, but they will not be realized if they are founded on a basic misunderstanding of what is at stake in this conflict -- not just Jerusalem or the West Bank or the Golan Heights but Israel's existence. This conflict, it has slowly become clear -- even to those of us naifs who once thought peace was inevitable in the Middle East once direct negotiations began -- has never been about the creation of still another Arab state, but about the elimination of the Jewish one.

So long as an American president will not recognize that elemental, brutal, obdurate truth, and confront it openly, directly and honestly, then one futile presidential speech will follow another. That's the Middle East.

Paul Greenberg Archives

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

JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

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