The Yom Kippur liturgy, just followed in synagogues around the world, repeats several times references to God as one who rescues captives. The central daily Jewish prayer as well refers to God who “supports the fallen, heals the sick, sets captives free.” And throughout Jewish history, the redemption of captives has been considered an important commandment. This is the background to the repeated decisions by the state of Israel to free a hundred or a thousand Arab prisoners in exchange for one single captive Jew.
The United States, President Obama said at the U.N. General Assembly last week, “worked with many nations in this assembly to prevent a third world war—by forging alliances with old adversaries.” Presumably, the president was not referring to his deeply flawed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the recent agreement that the White House has marketed as the only alternative to war with a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran.
The Palestinian press has been saying for weeks that Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas would “drop a bombshell” when he spoke to the United National General Assembly today. In the event, the bomb did not go off.
Antisemitism has never been an easy subject for America’s foreign-policy establishment. Read through State Department telegrams and Central Intelligence Agency operational and intelligence cables on the Middle East and you will seldom find it discussed, even though Jew-hatred—not just anti-Zionism—has been a significant aspect, if not a core component, of modern Arab nationalism, Islamic fundamentalism, and what usually passes for critical thought among sophisticated Arab elites.
Until mid-September, the half-million migrants who had been marching northwards into central Europe seemed like the Old World equivalent of Hurricane Sandy survivors. Families uprooted by the war in Syria were seeking safety, according to this view of things. It was sad to see little girls sleeping by the side of the road, but inspiring to see European volunteers, with their clipboards and their bags of snacks, their water bottles and Port-a-Potties, showing such compassion and logistical expertise.
Senator Marco Rubio explained foreign policy in Russia and Syria concisely during Wednesday's Republican Debate. Putin is "trying to replace us as the single most important power broker in the Middle East and this president is allowing it." Watch the full clip here:
A photograph of a drowned 3-year-old boy washed up on a Turkish beach after his family failed to find refuge from the war in Syria seems to have finally gotten the world’s attention. The conflict has been an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe for more than four years. A quarter of a million are dead, and millions have been driven from their homes, either displaced within Syria or moved to flee abroad, where they take their chances on reaching shelter.
Radio host Hugh Hewitt interviewed Donald Trump Thursday and asked the Republican frontrunner some details on foreign policy. After Trump confused some terminology, he accused Hewitt of asking "gotcha questions."
In May, President Barack Obama donned a yarmulke and spoke in a Washington, D.C., synagogue. He reminded his audience that Jeffrey Goldberg, a member of the congregation, once called him the “first Jewish president.” He claimed to be flattered by the characterization. And perhaps he was—most Jews, after all, voted for him for president, and many Jews of Obama’s acquaintance have sometimes seemed to care more about the well-being of Planned Parenthood than about the survival of the state of Israel.
John Kerry is bullish on the Middle East. He believes that the Iran deal will make it possible for the White House and Tehran to tamp down wars in places like Syria and Yemen. And—who knows?—maybe even solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
General Ray Odierno, the outgoing chief of staff of the Army, blamed President Obama's disengagement from Iraq for the country falling apart. He made the comments in an interview tonight on Fox News:
"Well, it's frustrating to watch it," Odierno said of the collapse of Iraq. "I think a lot of hard work into that. And we thought we had it going exactly in the right direction. But now we watch it fall apart--it's frustrating."