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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 Feb. 5, 2009 / 11 Shevat 5769

Beware of the smarties

By Jonathan Rosenblum


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "The older I get the more I see how overrated brains are," an older friend said to me recently. Even in Talmudic learning — on its face an intellectual exercise — pure intellectual firepower is an unreliable predictor of long-range achievement. So when I see the The New York Times becoming all hot and bothered by the multiplicity of Ivy League degrees in the new administration, I get nervous.


There are many good reasons for Israelis to be concerned about a shift in American policy towards Israel. One is the appointment of Harvard professor Samantha Powers, who has called for the stationing of a "mammoth [American] force" in Israel to protect Palestinians from genocide, to a senior position in the National Security Council.


A second is President Obama's Alice in Wonderland portrayal on Al Arabiya of some halcyon era of "respect and partnership" between America and the Muslim world "as recently as twenty or thirty years ago." That period includes: the seizure of the American embassy in Teheran, Hizbullah's bombing of a U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, the Lockerbie bombing, and a ruinous Arab oil embargo, just for starters. No one begrudges the President a few rhetorical flourishes and outreach towards the Moslem world, as long as we know he doesn't really believe what he is saying.


But of no less concern is the misplaced confidence in their ability to solve all the world's problems of all those high IQ types in the new administration. Nobel Laureate in Economics, Professor Robert Lucas declared in 1996 that economists now possess sufficient knowledge and tools to end the threat of another worldwide depression forever — a boast that appears less and less well-founded by the day. The U.S. Congress issued the economic wizards of the Treasury a blank check to free up credit markets, but so far more than 350 billion dollars have been spent to no effect.


Hints of similar hubris with respect to forging a Arab-Israeli peace are flying fast and furious from Washington D.C. President Obama's first phone call was to Mahmoud Abbas, the present or former head of the Palestinian Authority, depending on whom you ask, and one of his first newsworthy acts in office was the appointment of former Senator George Mitchell as his special envoy to the region.


The President has pronounced the Palestinian-Israeli conflict "ripe" for resolution, and even allowed on Al Arabiya that "there are Israelis who think that it is important to achieve peace." But wherefore the ripening of hopes? Has there been an end to anti-Israel incitement in the Palestinian Authority media? Some new polls showing a growing Palestinian rejection of terrorism? Has Fatah shown itself capable of running a state?


Someone should send the President the collected news reports of Khaled Abu Toameh on the Palestinian Authority. Abu Toameh told an audience in Philadelphia this week that Americans have no idea with whom they are dealing if they think peace is to be had with either Fatah or Hamas. Peace will only come, he said, when the Palestinians and Israel are forced to deal with one another alone, without the former looking for an outside savior.


The main lessons learned by Israelis since the last bout of hyperactive American peacemaking, in the dying days of the Clinton administration, are that territorial withdrawals lead to missile fire and only an IDF ground presence can protect against missiles and terrorist attacks.


Senator Mitchell's denial that there is such a thing "as a conflict without end," prior to leaving for the Middle East reflects the same dangerous belief that to every problem there is a solution. The successful peace negotiations in which Mitchell participated in Northern Ireland did not bring about a dramatic shift in attitudes between Catholics and Protestants. Rather those negotiations followed the emergence of a Protestant leader, David Trimble, eager to put aside old hatreds, and a radical shift in attitudes by the leadership of the IRA on the Catholic side.


No such shift of attitudes has taken place among Palestinians nor has a Palestinian civil society begun to emerge that can underpin a stable, democratic state as Israel's neighbor. As long as the Palestinian-Israel conflict remains one over Israel's legitimacy — i.e., essentially theological in nature — there can be no permanent peace.


But smart technocrats are notoriously thick when it comes to apprehending the force of religion, either for good or bad, because it so rarely plays a role in their own lives. Those who entreat Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist, for instance, fail to comprehend that they are asking Hamas to dissolve itself and to renounce its fundamental religious belief that all land which was ever under Moslem sovereignty must remain so forever.


A COROLLARY of the smarties' overconfidence in their own problem-solving ability is the tendency to reframe every situation as a technical problem. Thus after the first World Trade Center bombing, the Clinton administration did not awaken to the threat of Islamic terrorism, but rather treated the matter as a simple law enforcement issue of rounding up the relevant miscreants.


New York Times columnist Roger Cohen repeated the mistake last week when he waxed ecstatic about President Obama's declaration, albeit sotto voce, of an end to the war on terror. From now on, no more talk of Islamic terrorism, only of defeating particular terrorist organizations. And that, declared Cohen, is "not a war, [but] a strategic challenge."


Dangerous talk of civilizational clash can now be canned, writes Cohen. Apart from a few Moslems who wish to violently destroy America (and who hopefully don't include the Iranian leadership), most Moslems, Cohen declares, "merely dislike, differ from or have been disappointed by America." In other words, they have a series of local grievances, many of which can be healed by ceasing to embrace "an Israel-can-do-no-wrong-policy."


Pattern recognition is one of the key indicia of intelligence, but apparently not when it cuts against the cherished belief that all problems are merely technical in nature. But some patterns cannot be safely ignored - e.g., the unique propensity of Moslems to react to grievances with murderous rage. Or the findings of a U.N. study written by Moslem scholars of high rates of illiteracy, scant scientific achievement, low democratic indicators, and suppression of women, in almost every Moslem country and every Arab one.


In the Arab-Israeli context, we continually witness attempts to frame the issues as technical ones, essentially no different than negotiations over a new union contract. Each side is portrayed as seeking a slightly larger slice of the pie, and the general contours of the final solution are said to be known in advance.


That picture, however, is predicated on a false equation of incommensurate items as the subject of trade-offs — e.g., recognition of Israel's right to exist versus Israeli settlements. To attempt to impose solutions without first eradicating a culture of Palestinian hatred, which has only intensified since the outset of Oslo, reflects not intelligence but a flight from reality.

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JWR contributor Jonathan Rosenblum is founder of Jewish Media Resources and a widely-read columnist for the Jerusalem Post's domestic and international editions and for the Hebrew daily Maariv. He is also a respected commentator on Israeli politics, society, culture and the Israeli legal system, who speaks frequently on these topics in the United States, Europe, and Israel. His articles appear regularly in numerous Jewish periodicals in the United States and Israel. Rosenblum is the author of seven biographies of major modern Jewish figures. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago and Yale Law School. Rosenblum lives in Jerusalem with his wife and eight children.






© 2009, Jonathan Rosenblum