Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Comments on reads 11/8 II

Jackson Diehl: Why do Sarkozy and Obama hate Netanyahu?

Since taking office in early 2009, around the same time as Obama, Netanyahu has been mostly responsive to the U.S. president’s initiatives despite heading a rightwing coalition that views concessions to the Palestinians with distaste, to say the least. Early on he announced his acceptance of Palestinian statehood, something he has never done; he responded to Obama’s misguided demand for a freeze on Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem by imposing a six-month moratorium.
Earlier this year Netanyahu reacted angrily when Obama blindsided him with a speech publicly calling on Israel to accept a territorial formula for a Palestinian state based on its pre-1967 borders, with swaps of territory. Less noticed is the fact that the Israeli prime minister has since accepted those terms.
Though Netanyahu has recently allowed new settlement construction, it mostly has been in neighborhoods that Palestinian leders have already conceded will be part of Israel in a final settlement. This week he told his cabinet that West Bank outposts declared illegal by the Israeli Supreme Court would be uprooted.

Abbas, it’s fair to say, has gone from resisting U.S. and French diplomacy to actively seeking to undermine it. Yet it is Netanyahu whom Sarkozy finds “unbearable,” and whom Obama groans at having to “deal with every day.” If there is an explanation for this, it must be personal; in substance, it makes little sense.

FP: My instinctive reaction to this: What do you think does this teach the Palestinians and the Islamists? To compromise for peace?
Anyway, if this does not validate to a tee my claim that appeasing the West is a fool’s errand that will never sate and will invite further concessions until existence is given up, I don’t know what will.
Elliott Abrams concurs:

If Prime Minister Netanyahu were to ask a fair-minded, balanced, sensible adviser what he could realistically do to win the confidence and approbation of President Obama, the answer would have to be “nothing.”

No sooner does Netanyahu take this courageous step than he is denounced by French President Sarkozy and President Obama, in a private conversation that has now been revealed.

So we return to what our wise adviser might tell Netanyahu. In the very week that he moves on outposts—something Sharon and Olmert completely failed to do—he is called names by the French and the insults are apparently accepted and approved by the Americans. The advice to Bibi would have to be “forget it. Forget the possibility that Obama will ever treat you fairly. Forget the idea that he will give you a fair shake or pay attention to what you are actually doing.”
If this were only a matter of personal relations between Obama and Netanyahu, it could be left at that. But it is far more consequential, for by that comment—and especially as it was made in private and can be interpreted as his actual view—President Obama has joined the chorus of assaults on the Jewish State. We only have one president at a time and they only have one prime minister. To treat the prime minister of Israel in this way is disgraceful.

Unfortunately Netanyahu is not likely to take that advice. He will continue the fool’s errand.

Emmanuel Navon: Sarkozy, c’est fini

Since “making aliyah” (immigrating, ascendency-wise) to Israel eighteen years ago, I forwent my right to vote in French elections. I no longer share the destiny of France, a country I voluntarily left. In 2007, however, I made an exception. Nicolas Sarkozy impressed me, and I made a special trip (twice) to the French consulate to give the guy my vote. Sarkozy was an outsider. The son of a Hungarian immigrant, he was raised by a Jewish grandfather and grew-up as the ugly duckling in Paris’ posh Neuilly suburb. As opposed to the rest of France’s political leadership, he was not intellectually cloned by ENA, the French elite school for government. But, mostly, he sounded sincere when he said that he intended to replace French economic dirigisme with pro-market policies, and when he spoke fondly of Israel and of America. Indeed, it seemed too good to be true –and it was.
Sarkozy turned out to be a temperamental control-freak whose economic reforms are meager and whose foreign policy record is disastrous. His “Mediterranean Union” project was a flop. Besides angering his European partners (especially Germany) for not consulting with them on his half-cooked ideas (yet expecting them to share the cost of their implementation), Sarkozy made a fool of himself. In July 2008, he threw a grand party in Paris to launch his now defunct “Mediterranean Union” with embarrassing guests such as Hosni Mubarak and Bashar Assad. Sarkozy thought that his “Mediterranean Union” would convince Turkey to give-up its EU bid, while Erdogan had already made the choice of a pan-Islamic foreign policy.

FP: I was never impressed with Sarkozy and never bought what seemed to me the general delusion in Israel and the West that he was the great white French hope. He seemed to me an asshole and he has proved himself to be a big one. When it comes to the French, plus ca change…

Yaron London: Israel's Coming Demographic Horror! (h/t Vicious Babushka)

We should note time and again that the overwhelming majority of Orthodox rabbis in the Diaspora objected to Zionism because they believed the Jews should remain in the Diaspora until God shall salvage them. After the Holocaust, they claimed that it constituted a punishment for shunning our Torah.
Haredi leaders in Israel did not change this basic view, even if they do not voice it much: The salvation of the Jews is at the hands of God in the heavens and does not depend on the skill of our pilots in the skies.
This perception is increasingly being integrated into the views of the faithful belonging to religious Zionism. They believe that the more strictly they adhere to religious rules, the sooner the Messiah will come. The rabbis of the messianic camp encourage their students to serve in the army and turn it into God’s army. The resistance to female singing is one of many manifestations of messianic tendencies in the military.

According to a moderate forecast, the ratio between “Jews and others” and haredim and Arabs would be 1.7 million compared to 2 million. Based on the extreme scenario, the ratio will be 2.2 million “Jews and others” compared to 2.5 million haredim and Arabs.
In light of these figures, only a fool would avoid the reasonable assumption that in the next generation the Zionist share of the population would be a minority. If the haredi community’s spirit and lifestyle don’t change, it would be doubtful whether Israel would be a political entity that is different than surrounding states: A theocratic county, poor in economic and spiritual terms, incredibly crowded and very similar to the frightening Iran.
Should the Iranians show patience, they would be able to spare themselves the effort inherent in developing a nuclear bomb.

FP: Given its nature, a haredi Israel would not be frightening except to secular Israelis and would be finished off by the Arabs much before the Iranians get to it. Already Gender segregation on rise in Israel
Reality is not so shiny. The World Economic Forum recently released an unfavorable image of women's earning power in Israel, and in 2009, the last year for which data are available, Israeli women earned two-thirds what men did.
The newly enforced separation is felt most strongly in Jerusalem, where ultra-Orthodox Jews are growing in numbers and strength. The phenomenon is starting to be seen elsewhere, though in the Tel Aviv region, Israel's largest metropolis, secular Jews are the vast majority, and life there resembles most Western cities.
Still, secular Jews there and elsewhere in Israel worry that their lifestyles could be targeted, too, because the ultra-Orthodox population, while still relatively small, is growing significantly. Their high birthrate of about seven children per family is forecast to send their proportion of the population, now estimated at 9 percent, to 15 percent by 2025.
Though categorizing is difficult, it is estimated that about one-quarter of Israel's 6 million Jews are modern Orthodox, another quarter are traditional and the rest secular.
Numbers aside, the ultra-Orthodox wield disproportionate power in Israel's fragmented political system.
"The stronger the ultra-Orthodox and religious community grows, the greater its attempt to impose its norms," said Hannah Kehat, the founder of the religious women's forum Kolech. Their norms, she said, are "segregation of women and discrimination against them."

Having had personal experience with the ultra-orthodox, I can vouch that they are a real and present danger for Israel.

Daniel Klein: I Was Wrong, and So Are You

Shouldn't a college professor have known better? Perhaps. But adjusting for bias and groupthink is not so easy, as indicated by one of the major conclusions developed by Buturovic and sustained in our joint papers. Education had very little impact on responses, we found; survey respondents who'd gone to college did only slightly less badly than those who hadn't. Among members of less-educated groups, brighter people tend to respond more frequently to online surveys, so it's likely that our sample of non-college-educated respondents is more enlightened than the larger group they represent. Still, the fact that a college education showed almost no effect--at least for those inclined to take such a survey--strongly suggests that the classroom is no great corrective for myside bias. At least when it comes to public-policy issues, the corrective value of professional academic experience might be doubted as well.

FP: All that “education” gives you these days is indoctrination and huge debts with serious doubts about repayment. Here’s another aspect of it:
Why Science Majors Change Their Minds (It’s Just So Darn Hard)

But, it turns out, middle and high school students are having most of the fun, building their erector sets and dropping eggs into water to test the first law of motion. The excitement quickly fades as students brush up against the reality of what David E. Goldberg, an emeritus engineering professor, calls "the math-science death march." Freshmen in college wade through a blizzard of calculus, physics and chemistry in lecture halls with hundreds of other students. And then many wash out.
Studies have found that roughly 40 percent of students planning engineering and science majors end up switching to other subjects or failing to get any degree. That increases to as much as 60 percent when pre-medical students, who typically have the strongest SAT scores and high school science preparation, are included, according to new data from the University of California at Los Angeles. That is twice the combined attrition rate of all other majors.

Hey, why bother when business and lawyering are so rewarded and nothing is manufactured in the US anymore. And here’s yet another perspective: The Disadvantages of an Elite Education.

Malcolm Gladwell: The real genius of Steve Jobs

Jobs, we learn, was a bully. “He had the uncanny capacity to know exactly what your weak point is, know what will make you feel small, to make you cringe,” a friend of his tells Isaacson. Jobs gets his girlfriend pregnant, and then denies that the child is his. He parks in handicapped spaces. He screams at subordinates. He cries like a small child when he does not get his way. He gets stopped for driving a hundred miles an hour, honks angrily at the officer for taking too long to write up the ticket, and then resumes his journey at a hundred miles an hour. He sits in a restaurant and sends his food back three times. He arrives at his hotel suite in New York for press interviews and decides, at 10 P.M., that the piano needs to be repositioned, the strawberries are inadequate, and the flowers are all wrong: he wanted calla lilies. (When his public-relations assistant returns, at midnight, with the right flowers, he tells her that her suit is “disgusting.”) “Machines and robots were painted and repainted as he compulsively revised his color scheme,” Isaacson writes, of the factory Jobs built, after founding NeXT, in the late nineteen-eighties. “The walls were museum white, as they had been at the Macintosh factory, and there were $20,000 black leather chairs and a custom-made staircase. . . . He insisted that the machinery on the 165-foot assembly line be configured to move the circuit boards from right to left as they got built, so that the process would look better to visitors who watched from the viewing gallery.”

FP: Normally I would not bother with this subject, but in a previous post I concurred with another writer who doubted that the post-mortem worship of Jobs was justified. The current Western culture in general, and American culture in particular are sort of upside down and backwards, so turning Jobs into a god seemed very suspicious to me. And, well, bingo.

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