Rejoinder to: “The Failure of Arab Liberals: How a Celebrated Freedom Movement Fostered The Success of an Islamic Order”, Commentary Magazine, May 2012 issue

Western observers should not confound a complicated political
landscape in North Africa and theMiddle Eastby neatly dividing
between those advocating liberalism, on the one hand, and those
promoting Islamic values, on the other. From such ground an Arab
Spring will not blossom.

The skeptical perspective which has engaged the vast majority of
contemporary western scholars, pundits and politicians has fueled a rather simplistic narrative. Those trumpeting Iran and Algeria rather than Indonesia and Turkeyas evidence that Islamic parties in newly liberated Arab lands will push an anti-liberal agenda have based their arguments on a familiar, if ultimately bankrupt, logic.

While it is obviously unfair to predict that fundamentalist Islam will prove adaptable to the high bar set by theUnited Statesin the two centuries since our Republic was first set on its constitutional course, there are good reasons to doubt the wisdom of publishing Sohrab Ahmari’s recent article in Commentary Magazine, “The Failure of Arab Liberals: How a Celebrated Freedom Movement Fostered The Success of an Islamic Order” (May 2012).

In the years following the ratification of the 19th amendment granting women the right to vote or the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education overturning a hundred years of de jure racial segregation for black Americans, we can say that our democracy has moved closer to insuring that Thomas Jefferson’s declaration that “all men are created equal” is translated into positive law.

In this first phase of Arab democratization, it is is unfair, then, to assume that just because Arab liberals have not achieved all the goals set out in their pro-democracy agenda, and some Islamist politicians continue to espouse anti-liberal views, then ipso facto political Islam is incompatible with cherished liberal ideals.

While debate continues over how to assimilate liberalism with
Muhammed’s prophetic tradition, what is undeniable is that
Muslim parties are far from monolithic—and many of the most prominent politicians from Tunisia to Egypt to Yemen have not only espoused liberal values like freedom of speech and assembly, religious tolerance and a free judiciary, but have provided reasons steeped in the Islamic tradition for why Islam, democracy and liberalism are not nearly such strange bedfellows.

Ahmari’s conclusion is that “If liberal values are worth fighting and dying for when it comes to confronting autocracy, they must be guarded more jealously against Islamists, who hate liberalism even more than did the likes of Mubarak and Ben Ali.” While this comports nicely with a whitewashed version of a Mubarak regime that consistently doctored election results, curbed free speech and put into place a security apparatus with millions of informers rivaling the the KGB, Stasi and SAVAK, there is no reason to believe that the rich and gaudy Mubarak or Ben Ali regimes were ever so devoted to liberal values. There is room, however, to argue whether they hate liberalism less than Islamists.

“Whoever sleeps full while his neighbor is hungry is not  a believer”, the foremost candidate for president ofEgypt, Abdoul Moneim Abol Fotouh, once referred to “as one of [the Muslim] Brotherhood’s most respected members,” recently stated.

David Kirkpatrick and Mayy El Sheikh write in the NY Times
(“Conservatives inEgyptBack Liberal to Oppose Brotherhood,” Sunday
April 29, 2012)”:

“Amongst other things, [Fotouh] often argues that the first
priorities in advancing Islamic law should be individual
freedom and social justice.

Addressing a rally of thousands in [a] Salafi stronghold in
the Nile Delta this week, he argues that Egyptian Muslims are
not waiting for a president to teach them to follow their
faith. They want a president to develop their agriculture and
industry, as he said Islamic law also requires.”

The winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, human rights activist
Tawakkul Karman, is also a senior member ofYemen’s main
Islamic opposition party, Al Islah.  Named “Mother of the Revolution,” this hijab-wearing activist was at the forefront of the movement to unseat the Saleh regime that ruledYemenfor nearly thirty five years.

To make her point that much of what is said in the name of
Islam is merely cultural, Karman decided to replace the traditional niqab, a veil which fully covers the face, for a scarf on national television. Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, a former dean ofCairo’s Al Azhar University reaffirms Karman’s position, stating the “niqab is a cultural tradition and has nothing to do with Islam.”

Like many of her counterparts inYemen’s opposition, she has advocated religious freedom and human rights values. She went so far as to state in a 2011 speech at theUniversityofMichigan, “I am a citizen of the world. The Earth is my country, and humanity is my nation.” With reference to women’s rights, Karman writes that:

“The solution to women’s issues can only be achieved in a
free and democratic society in which human energy is
liberated, the energy of both women and men together. Our
civilization is called human civilization and is not
attributed only to men or women.”

Sohrab Ahmari’s rather glib conclusion, notwithstanding, that “Islamists…hate liberalism even more than did the likes of Mubarak and Ben Ali”, it is important to consider the extent to which remarks like Karman’s are beginning to especially resonate amongst religious Muslim women. Western critics should not assume that political Islam will inevitably follow the course of Saudi Wahabism orIran’s ultra-conservative regime. The question is as much a matter of progressive (re) interpretation of Sharia-law as the fire and brimstone flourish of some Islamic public officials. “The only problem is the misunderstanding from the people who act –Islam, Christian, Jewish or any other religion—,” says Karman, “(as if to say) ‘this is the religion.”

Cherry picking quotes by leading liberal writers, activists and
intellectuals from the Arab world to suggest widespread liberal
accomodation to a fundamentalist brand of Islam on the ascent, as
Ahmari does, distorts what ought to be the central focus of an article highlighting the incompatibility of  political Islam with liberal ideals. But rather than consider what is a very serious interpretive debate over the best way to integrate Islamic precepts with liberal value schemes, those most severely represssed under autocrats like Ben Ali, Mubarak and Saleh have all been tarred and feathered as medieval obscurantists.

Given widespread political gains amongst formely-banned Islamic
parties, how Sharia law is debated in light of liberal ideals will
have a great impact on the fate of democracy movements throughout the region. Moreover, an Egyptian society that decides
to push back against U.S. calls for liberal reforms will ultimately threaten its annual aid package, trade and foreign direct investment. Will religious political parties associated with the Brotherhood and Salafists in Egypt chance an economic downturn in the name of anti-liberal repression? Will Egyptians voter both secular and religious accept a repeat of a Mubarak-style police state? Will Yemenis let the Islamist Al-Islah party revoke gains made by the millions of Jasmine Revolution protesters in the name of free speech and assembly?

Must an “Islamic Order” as Commentary’s editor’s have chosen to
essentialize what is certainly a plural debate be the end or beginning of this discussion? Is it not possible that scholars of Islam and Islamists will inevitably accommodate core liberal values in the name of democratic political stability? Can democracy work without a free and impartial judiciary, a free press, the freedom to speak and assemble, the right to property and other liberal provisions? And if democracy can’t work in this region because liberal ideals can not be accomodated to Islamic principles, then will a predominantly religious citizenry inEgypt, for example, be willing to repeat a Mubarak-style police state?

The Koran does not mean one thing.  However, the monolithic
phrase “Islamic Order[s]” clearly implies that there is only one way of interpreting Muhammed’s prophetic words? It is like contemporary Jews opining that the now-deceased chief rabbi of the Satmar branch of hasidic Judaism, Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, who used to quote the tractate Ketuboth in the Babylonian Talmud to claim that no Jewish State couldbe established before the messiah had arrived would have agreed with Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a Zionist, on the relationshiop between religion and state. Or that Rabbi Meir Kahane, who headed the rabidly anti-Arab Kach party would see eye to eye with Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Jewish renewal movement on the relationship between liberal values, religion and the manifest destiny of Jews to settle the lands of greater Israel. Or that Ovadia Yosef, former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israeland spiritual leader ofIsrael’s Shas party, should be taken as the final word on Jewish –Gentile relations when he says “Gentiles were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world – only to serve the People of Israel.”

The same American Jewish Committee (AJC)  that founded Commentary Magazine in 1945 condemned Yosef’s remarks after he made them in 2010, stating that “Rabbi Yosef’s remarks – suggesting outrageously that Jewish scripture asserts non-Jews exist to serve Jews – are abhorrent and an offense to human dignity and human equality [...] Judaism first taught the world that all individuals are created in the divine image, which helped form the basis of our moral code.”

Political Islam is in its infancy stage. As time moves on we will
certainly have a better idea of the degree to which Islam and
liberalism are compatible. There will be religious politicians who
will continue to promote a retrograde version of Islam, who will
attempt to restrict women’s’ rights, and who will advocate the death penalty for crimes like adultery and religious heresies.

This should not mean, however, that there is only one version of Islam that will be promoted. Tawwakul Karman and many of the other young leaders of Yemen’s uprising, members of the religious Al-Aslah party, believe this narrative. If sodomy was a crime punishable in many U.S. states up until the 2003 “Lawrencev.Texas” Supreme Court decision reversed established law, then surely political Islam can accommodate more liberal ideals.

A special thanks to Rabyaah Althaibani.

Dumb Bombs are Sometimes Smart

As we enter the New Year things seem bleak. Little did we know that the bombs would begin to fall so soon after the ball dropped.

Israel’s war against Hamas has been highlighted by images from smart bomb aerial attacks on YouTube. For your eyes only: an IDF strike on a Hamas government complex.

As part of its PR campaign, Israel’s posting a series of videos online to showcase how it uses its smart bombs with the greatest degree of accuracy. The way these smart bombs have been publicized, you’d think they were trying out for American Idol.

Smart bombs alone however are not a convincing argument for war. “Life-saving weaponry” remains as strangely oxy moronic as “army intelligence”.

While it’s imperative to acknowledge Israel’s right to self defense, the question of “how much” force Israel should use is an important one to consider. Even utilitarian arguments are sometimes under-girded by serious ethical considerations. Quantity is often a question of quality, too. (25% of the casualties so far have been civilian)

Though Israel is in its right to defend itself, its ground offensive will in all probability result in heavy casualties. As with the  South Lebanon invasion in 2006, Israel will be marching into enemy territory.  A radicalized civilian body, and terrorist outfits hidden in the narrow souks of Gaza, will probably spell tragedy for Israeli soldiers. And for Gazans? Over 500 have been killed so far–and the death count mounts.

What about proportionality?

Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz writing in the Wall Street Journal (“Israeli’s Policy is Perfectly ‘Proportionate’”) has this to say:

The claim that Israel has violated the principle of proportionality — by killing more Hamas terrorists than the number of Israeli civilians killed by Hamas rockets — is absurd. …There is no legal equivalence between the deliberate killing of innocent civilians and the deliberate killings of Hamas combatants. Under the laws of war, any number of combatants can be killed to prevent the killing of even one innocent civilian.

His summation:

Until the world recognizes that Hamas is committing three war crimes — targeting Israeli civilians, using Palestinian civilians as human shields, and seeking the destruction of a member state of the United Nations — and that Israel is acting in self-defense and out of military necessity, the conflict will continue.

The problem with Dershowitz’s rendering is that it’s too glib. He overlooks the fact that in targeting the very-congested Gaza Strip, large numbers of civilians are bound to be killed.

Even if Hamas fighters are hiding amongst civilians, Dershowitz’s claim remains a bit of a red herring. Civilians are to be found virtually everywhere in a country with only 60 kilometers of border. Gaza City alone has a million and a half residents. Can smart bombs really minimize damage given the packed-like-sardine nature of the Strip?

There are lots of “ins and outs and what have yous” that need to be addressed. A grad buddy of mine  remarked that history, culture, and social and political inequalities play into any serious analysis of the Israel-Hamas War. To my mind, the argument that “because Israel has not done enough for the Palestinians to redress grievances, Hamas should be allowed to shoot mortars into Israel” surely does not wash. But what of proportionality? Can one quote a line or two of international law, as Dershowitz does, and claim justification for more than a hundred civilians killed under the rubric “collateral damages”.

How about the claim that Israel is actively seeking to undermine the political-economic interests of Palestinians?

If it’s any basis for comparison, West Bank Palestinians under PA leadership have recently had an economic surge. “Israeli and Palestinian officials”, says the Guardian, “report economic growth for the occupied territories of 4-5% and a drop in the unemployment rate of at least three percentage points.” Does Israel then deserve any credit for this uptick in economic prosperity? And if Israel can aid on the economic front, would it be so bold to suggest bilateral political progress is not far away?

Analogizing Israel’s situation to that of Mexico shelling the U.S. on its borders, says my friend, is inappropriate Is it really a fair comparison to say that Hamas, a sovereign power with no control over its borders, no army in place, overseeing an impoverished, highly congested, unemployed and hungry third world population is anything like Mexico? Isn’t it more like the Cherokee rebellion?

The war continues to be conducted from the air. The ground troops are moving in. Defense Minister Barak is on all the major networks plugging the campaign. And the IDF continues to upload aerial photographs onto video sharing sites.

All said, no good faith measure can ever be implemented if the world continues to make moral equivalencies out of the plight of Palestinians. Though it is bad, it is no genocide. No Darfur.  Poor governance, graft,  indoctrination of children, glorification of suicide bombings and a plethora of celebrated martyrdom techniques are reason for pinning a good chunk of the blame on Hamas. The conspiracy goes both ways.

That is the reason dumb bombs are sometimes smart.

*Here are some links to other sites commenting on Israel’s Post Modern War, including My Media Musings, Okie Campaigns, Modern Mitzvoth, Alas A Blog and Pajamas Media.

Ahmadinejad Has a Blog

The official blog of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinajed is up and running in four languages: Persian, French, Arabic and English. Whether the translations are verifiable only MEMRI knows. For now, web browsers or blog bums can become giddy all over with the knowledge that one of the great demagogues of our times, a man with admiration for the tactics and strategies of old time despots and charlatans, is a member of the cyber cult.

The last couple of weeks in my annual summer doldrums, watching feats of moral equivalency rearing its ugly head in response to the ugliness that has been going on in southern Lebanon and Israel, I could only help but think that  we don’t have enough warring ideologues creeping around the net.

So here we have it–a modern day Saladin meets Hitler–the son of a poor artisan from the sticks who overcame adversity to place 132nd out of 30,000 in state entrance examinations. What we don’t have–because such would undermine rules of concealment–is a transparent web blogger, a man that owns up to some of the most perniciously anti semitic rants of modern times. Ahmedinajed the Populist, preaching from his Friday afternoon pulpit the grand strategy of the Islamic caliphate is not Ahmadinajed Sane Member of the International Order. So it goes.

The only fair response to this budding internet scribe is for our own G. Dubya to drop handlers and sit down for some serious net shmooze. He could set up shop at ‘Transparency Central’. Maybe even embark on a campaign to change that bufoonish image of his as the blundering tex-arcane grammarian. The race of ideas is on as the everpresent hype mongers like to say. And who will win the hearts and minds of cyberspace hinges on this ever necessary fireside chat.

Neighborhood Bully?


This one is from a blogger that I’ve linked up to several times in the past. BobFromBrockley questions the strong use of force by the Israeli military in recent weeks, while destroying liberal idols that equate the Jewish State with some sort of fascistic regime. Few on the blogosphere are able to grasp both the nuanced dimensions of Israel’s existential concerns, as well as its more glaring social and political flaws.

From Bob: 

Israel/Lebanon-What About Proportionality?

I suppose I’m going to have to blog about the horrific state of affairs in the Middle East, if only to respond to Adele’s question “what about proportionality?” I guess I’ve got two things to say.

The first is that the way Israel is prosecuting its war in Lebanon and in Gaza is absolutely morally wrong, as well as strategically short-sighted and bad for Israel. It is morally wrong because there must always be a presumption against fighting a war that leads to massive civilian casualties, that kills more innocent families in their homes than it does enemy combatants. This is not to say that a state at war should never kills innocent civilians, but it must minimise these deaths and it must only use methods that lead to this scale of civilian casualties when it is faced by a serious existential threat, such as Israel is not in fact now experiencing.

The strategy only makes sense morally according to a racist moral calculus whereby some lives are worth more than others – whereby Jewish lives are worth more than Arab lives. This moral calculus is obscene.

And it is strategically short-sighted and ultimately bad for Israel because it further alienates Israel – on the Arab street and on the world stage – at a time when Israel could have had the moral high ground, after the kidnappings and rocket strikes by Hamas and Hizbullah. Israel’s status as a rogue state, as a neighbourhood bully, has rarely been so clear. It is the duty of Israel’s friends to demand a stop to this strategy immediately – and not in a couple of weeks.

The second thing I have to say about all this is that, however wrongly Israel is prosecuting this war, it remains the victim here. In the sort of left liberal circles in which I move, there is either ignorance or wilful amnesia about the literally thousands of rockets that Hizbullah and Hamas have been pumping into Israel, about the fact that Hizbullah is not some ragtag bunch of guerrillas but probably the third most effective armed force in the whole Middle East, that Hizbullah is armed to the teeth by Syria and Iran, that Syria and Iran are not peaceful little democracies but highly bellicose and brutal dictatorships. Thus, even if there is no clear and present existential threat to Israel, as long as Hizbullah and Hamas exist (and as long Ba’athism and Shi’ite theocracy exist), the spectre of such a threat continues to haunt the region, and there is no possibility of peace and co-existence.

Israel’s status as a rogue state is so taken for granted in left liberal opinion that the theocratic, inhumane, militaristic – in fact fascist – nature of Hizbullah and Hamas are completely denied. On the far shores of left liberal opinion, in fact, Hizbullah and Hamas are seen as plucky freedom fighters, as the legitimate voice of Arab self-determination, as essentially benign and progressive. It is the duty of truly progressive people to struggle against these malignant myths.

Saudi Arabia Swings Both Ways

Saudi Arabia’s denunciation of the extremist organizations Hizbollah and Hamas this week for thier war against Israel is not unsurprising. Despite the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 descended from Saudi Arabia, and despite the well-known faustian pact that members of the Saudi government have made with leading anti-American Wahabi radicals throughout the years, Saudi Arabia has everything to gain in denouncing non-state actors like Hamas and Hizbollah.

With a growing, unemployed youth population, restive and attracted to Islamist propaganda encouraged throughout the madrasah system, one can only surmise that Saudi Royalty (of Fahd descent) are worried about a coup. Non-state actors would affect the dictatorial status of the Saudi regime if they were ever to press for political rights. It is therefore in the regime’s best interests to officially denounce the violence perpetrated by Hamas and Hizbollah, so as to squelch open hostility from Saudi Arabia’s radicalized dispossessed.

Although Hamas is now a democratically-elected majority party with Sunni leanings, it does not subscribe to liberal internationalist etiquette, and thus, is a much less savory representative of the Palestinian cause for the Saudi royalists than the corrupt, authoritarian descendents of the late Yassir Arafat’s PLO. For that reason alone, and not because Hamas calls for Israel’s extinction in its swaggering charter, Saudi Arabia has denounced Hamas actions.

As for Hizbollah, it is a Shiite guerilla movement in a majority Sunni Middle East. It is also a responsible party to the Khobar Tower bombings in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, which saw the death of 19 and the injury of over 200 U.S. servicemen and women. (For a firmer grasp of Khobar history, read former FBI chief Louis Freeh’s account of the bombings and Iranian involvement on the Saudi-American Forum)

For Saudi Arabia, consequently, an Iran restrained by Western powers would also produce a more stable authoritarian regime in the elite House of Fahd.

From Reuters:

Some elements and groups have got loose and slipped into taking decisions on their own that Israel has exploited to wage a ferocious war against Lebanon and to imprison the entire Palestinian people,” a cabinet statement said.

“Saudi Arabia stands together with the legitimate and reasonable-minded national forces in Lebanon and occupied Palestine to combat these dangers to the Arab and Muslim nation,” it added.

Saudi Arabia last week criticized Hizbollah and its backer Iran saying “elements” in Lebanon and “those behind them” were responsible for an Israeli offensive on its northern neighbor to stop strikes by the Shi’ite guerrilla group.

Should Israel Commit to Total War?

This blog will be–as promoted–a sounding board for the next “big idea for ambitious minds”, a place to call home after the dark days of ideological warfare.

My goal is to use my current training in political theory to enter into a conversation with as many people as possible on issues related to global stability (terrorism and the threat of nuclear anhilation), toleration (what the enlightenment means in actual terms), democratization (the strengths and weaknesses of imposing democracy), total war (the Schmittian legal analysis of what constitutes an exceptional extra-legal rationale for war), and, to question with great vigour and insight all these meaning-laden issues.

That said, read this downright scary rejoinder by Dr. Louis Rene Beres to the cherished values of pluralism and peaceful conflict resolution. I intend to answer Dr. Beres’ argument for total war in the coming days.

For now I give him the podium.

Louis Rene Beres (P.H.D., Princeton, 1971), a lecturer on international relations and international law is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press:

Israel now faces existential destruction from two main sources: The Islamic Republic of Iran and the aspiring Islamic republic of “Palestine.” One source is an established state with an expanding near-term potential to inflict nuclear harms. The other is a Hamas-led configuration of terror groups that seeks to become a state for the immediate purpose of annihilating an existing state. Neither Iran nor Hamas is particularly subtle or circumspect about what it hopes to inflict upon Israel. On the contrary, both are entirely explicit about their unrelenting intent to commit genocide.

What shall Israel do in order to endure? The use of force in world politics is not inherently evil. In preventing nuclear and terrorist attacks, force is indispensable. All states have a right of self-defense. Israel has every lawful authority to forcibly confront the evil of Iranian missile strikes and Palestinian terror. Facing at least a two-pronged assault on its very survival, it now has the clear legal right to finally reject being a victim. Instead, it has the regrettable but clear corollary right to become an executioner. From the standpoint of providing security to its own citizens – a provision that is central to all government authority – this right has now become a distinct obligation.

Albert Camus would have us all be “neither victims nor executioners, …living not in a world in which killing has disappeared (we are not so crazy as that), but one wherein killing has become illegitimate.” This is a fine expectation, yet the celebrated French philosopher did not anticipate another evil force for whom utter extermination of “The Jews” was its declared object. Not even in a world living under the shadow of the recent Holocaust did Camus consider such an absurd possibility.

But Israel lacks the quaint luxury of French philosophy. Were Israel to follow Camus’ genteel reasoning, the result would be another boundless enlargement of Jewish suffering. Before and during the Holocaust, for those who still had an opportunity to flee, Jews were ordered: “Get out of Europe; go to ‘Palestine’.” When they complied (those who could), the next order was: “Get out of ‘Palestine’.” For my Austrian-Jewish grandparents, their deaths came on the SS-killing grounds at Riga, Latvia. Had they made it to “Palestine,” their sons and grandsons would likely have died in subsequent genocidal wars intended to get the Jews “OUT of ‘Palestine’.”

Failure to use force against murderous evil is invariably a stain upon all that is good. By declining the right to act as a lawful executioner in its struggle with genocidal war and terror, Israel would be forced by Camus’ reasoning to embrace its own disappearance.

Why was Camus, who was thinking only in the broadest generic terms, so mistaken?

The answer lies in his presumption of a natural reciprocity among human beings and states in the matter of killing. We are asked to believe that as greater numbers of people agree not to become executioners, still greater numbers will follow upon the same course. In time, the argument proceeds, the number of those who refuse to accept killing will become so great that there will be fewer and fewer victims. But Camus’ presumed reciprocity does not exist – indeed can never exist – especially in the Jihad-centered Middle East. Here the Islamist will to kill Jews remains unimpressed by Israel’s disproportionate contributions to science, industry, medicine and learning. Here there are no Iranian or Palestinian plans for a “Two-State Solution”; only for a Final Solution.

Martin Buber identifies the essence of every living community as “meeting.” True community is an authentic “binding,” not merely a “bundling together.” In true community, each one commits his whole being in G-d’s dialogue with the world, and each stands firm throughout this dialogue. But how can the dialogue be sustained with others who cannot “bind” in the absence of murder? How can there ever be any conceivable solution to the genocidal enmity of Iran and Hamas/“Palestine” to Israel, so long as this enmity is presumably indispensable to their declared primary meanings in the world?

In national self-defense and counter-terrorism, Jewish executioners must now have an honored place in the government of Israel. Without them, evil would triumph again and again.

For Iran and Hamas, the murder of Jews is not so much a means to an end as an end itself. In this antiheroic Islamist world, where killing Jews is often both a religious mandate and a presumed path to personal immortality, an Israeli unwillingness to use all necessary defensive force will invite mega-death and unrelieved despair.

To be sure, killing is sometimes a sacred duty, but certainly not for the loathsome reasons expressed daily by Iran and Hamas. Faced with undisguised sources of evil, all civilized states must sometimes rely upon the executioner. To deny the Israeli executioner his proper place at this 11th hour of danger would make a mockery of the principle of “Never Again” and would simultaneously open the floodgates of even greater human catastrophes. In the best of all possible worlds, Buber’s “binding” would supplant all “bundling,” but we don’t yet live in the best of all possible worlds. And in our existing condition, we must always remain prepared to fight strenuously for our collective Jewish survival.

Here are some blogs that have reprinted articles by Louis Rene Beres: The Freeman Center, The Black Kettle, IsraPundit, InfidelBloggers and Guy in the Army.

The Battle to Free Shalit

The scene of the most recent soldier abduction in Israel is hauntingly reminiscent of  Israel Defense Force (IDF) soldier Nachshon Wachsman’s capture in ’94. In that poorly executed raid, special forces invaded the Islamic militant safehouse where Wachsman had been held, and in the shoot em’ up that ensued between soldiers and radicals, the young captive was killed.

Hopefully the case of Gilad Shalit, 19, kidnapped on the Gaza border earlier in the week by Hamas militants, will bring more promising results. For more information check these articles out. From YNET, The DailyNews and The TimesOnline (I hope to post on the Hamas deal and the Israeli incursion into Gaza, as well as the ramifications of Syria’s hardline response in the coming days).

Not Open For Business makes the point that Israel’s arrest of several dozen Palestinian ministers in response to the kidnapping is a lawful act. He says that unlike the premeditated action of the Hamas abduction, Israeli army units have not kidnapped but rather arrested Palestinian officials. Although the action might prove deft in retrospect, I don’t think it’s a very lawful response.

Here’s the head of Hamas Ismail Haniyeh on Israel’s actions:

When they kidnapped the ministers they meant to hijack the government’s position, but we say no positions will be hijacked, no governments will fall

Here’s the response from Not Open for Business:

…Israel did not “kidnap” anyone, Mr. Prime Minister of terror. Hamas kidnapped an Israeli soldier through the use of a pre-meditated tunnel that took two months to dig. Israel, in turn, arrested the officials of your government which is responsible for this crime and act of war. Those ministers that were arrested are not to be used as bargaining chips – they have been arrested as party to a crime. However, Israel is pretty damned lenient, and if the soldier is returned unharmed, then those ministers will be releases as well, since the crime would have been solved.