Quote IconHaredim have sought to drive “corrupt” elements out of their neighborhoods by making them inhospitable places for those who are not ultra-Orthodox. The victims of this strategy are usually women, whose bodies have become the battleground in what is essentially a religious turf war.

The Feminists of Zion. By Allison Kaplan Sommer and Dahlia Lithwick.

What’s behind the Mormon relationship with Israel?

During their trip to Israel this past Sunday, Mitt Romney and his wife Ann, made an unscheduled stop at one of Judaism’s holiest sights, the Western Wall. As is customary, Romney, donning a black yarmulke and bowing his head, spent several solemn minutes at the wall—the largest remnant of the Second Temple, which Roman armies destroyed around 70 CE. Later at a speech in Jerusalem’s Old City, Romney collapsed America’s security interests with those of Israel. Quoting at length from the late Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Romney declared, “[We] now have the responsibility to make sure that never again will our independence be destroyed, and never again will the Jew become homeless and or defenseless.”

Many see Romney’s staunchly pro-Israel stance as a political play for the Jewish vote, both in America, and in Israel (there are some 250,000 American citizens living in Israel and the vast majority of those voted for John McCain in 2008). Romney was also clearly after some Israeli campaign cash; the candidate raked in $1 million dollars from just 45 donors at his fundraiser on Monday.

Max Perry — “Mormonism’s Occasionally Unrequited Love for Israel

"But I do not come, like some others, to speak prophetically to my people. My own bitterness at certain trends in Israeli politics, and at the Israeli government’s refusal to press relentlessly and imaginatively for an answer to the most difficult question—Netanyahu’s supporters exult in his success at driving the Palestinian question from the agenda: an achievement!—my own bitterness is not all that I need to know. More precisely, it is not occasioned only by Israel’s part in the thwarting of peace. Intellectual honesty always requires that one be unhappy for many reasons. Mahmoud Abbas, too, is leading his own people nowhere, and using Benjamin Netanyahu as his excuse. His immobility, and his search for every remedy but a negotiated one, will perpetuate Palestinian statelessness and hasten an explosion. I hear that there is a new conversation taking place within Hamas, but it is somewhat vitiated by the rain of rockets from Gaza."

- Leon Wieseltier, The Lost Art

Photo courtesy of Emily L. Hauser - In My Head

What do you think of Gunter Grass’s controversial new poem?

"The idea, put forward by Grass, that there is a taboo in German intellectual and political life about criticizing Israel and its policies has been a favorite theme of Israel’s critics since the 1960s. But the taboo does not exist. There has been no silence in Germany, especially in such places as Der Spiegel or the Süddeutsche Zeitung, not to mention among intellectual and political forces to their left, for many decades. On the contrary, hostility to both Israel and the United States, and the view that these two countries are the major threat to world peace, became embedded in the German left-wing and left-liberal mainstream many decades ago. In this sense, Grass’s diatribe is part of a long established conventional wisdom. It takes neither courage nor intelligence to run with the mob. Grass’s poem seeks to make the mob yell even louder.”

- Jeffrey Herf, The Odious Musings of Gunter Grass

Photo courtesy of The Leader Post

Would deterrence work against Iran?

"Thirty years ago I wrote a tiny book in defense of nuclear deterrence. Against the nuclear freezers and the nuclear war-fighters, deterrence was not hard to defend: my argument was drearily sensible. But I was nervously aware that I was urging good sense about a strategic situation that was senseless, because it was premised upon the credibility of a threat of holocaust."

- Leon Wieseltier, The Confidence Game

Photo courtesy of the blaze

Can Israel count on Obama’s support if it launches a strike?

"When the President of the United States repeatedly says he’s got your back, and in precisely those words, what more can you ask for?

Yet as I read Obama’s interview with Jeff Goldberg in The Atlantic, then his speech to the AIPAC convention, and finally reports of his meeting with Netanyahu, I felt increasingly uneasy”

-Yossi Klein Halevi, Why Israel Still Can’t Trust That Obama Has Its Back