The Price of U.S.-Israel Friendship
The automatic federal budget cuts under the sequester are going into effect Friday, and that means U.S. military aid to Israel will take a hit.
Israel also could lose money that the Pentagon won’t have available to spend on joint weapons projects such as the Arrow missile system.
Jamie Dupree at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has an entertaining if maddening transcript of the latest jousting between the White House and the press over what the sequester will actually do. (If you were planning for the end of the world this weekend because of the sequester, well, sorry; it’s a slower-motion train wreck.)
This whole mess is another argument in favor of something I suggested six years ago (I think) in the Atlanta Jewish Times: Israel, for its own good, should wean itself from direct U.S. aid. Israel needs to immunize itself as well as possible from the vagaries of U.S. politics, and that starts with learning to live without the money.
Elsewhere around the web:
• A University of California, Irvine professor expresses at National Geographic’s Water Currents blog his admiration for Israel’s water management and the lessons he has learned during a water diplomacy trip to the Middle East.
• Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan called Zionism a “crime against humanity” Wednesday at a United Nations summit on tolerance, Israel Hayom reports, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center is unhappy that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has not spoken out in response, The Algemeiner says. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, did not hesitate to criticize Erdogan.
• Elder of Ziyon has a video with an Israeli haredi leader talking about the ultra-Orthodox opposition to mandatory national service, as well as the possibility of a compromise based on age.
• Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren previews President Barack Obama’s Mideast trip in three weeks and includes a warning about Iran in this USA Today video.
• A senior Hamas leader predicts “the biggest political disaster in the history of Palestinian-American relations” if Obama visits al-Aqsa mosque during his trip, Al-Monitor reports in an extensive interview. Salah Bardawil also expects a third intifada soon. Knesset member Ahmad Tibi, on the other hand, doesn’t expect an armed uprising. Foreign Policy’s Jonathan Schanzer explains that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has an interest in preventing an intifada at least until after Obama’s visit.
• Obama’s stop in Israel might not happen, however, The Times of Israel reports, explaining that if Netanyahu hasn’t formed a government by March 16, the president will skip Israel. The Algemeiner reports that, as long expected, Netanyahu will seek a two-week extension to form a coalition when Saturday’s deadline arrives. The Times had reported Wednesday that the prime minister was ready to cut a deal with Yesh Atid and Jewish Home, which have made themselves a package deal. Yesh Atid won’t join any coalition that includes the ultra-Orthodox parties, Ynet reports, because the haredim don’t pray for Israel’s soldiers.
• Open Zion, never a home to blindly pro-Israel columns, offers a pair of articles calling for the pro-Palestinian side to restrain its rhetorical excesses: Gil Troy’s piece about the anti-peace effects of trying to delegitimize Israel and Robert Cherry’s attack on the claims that Israel is an apartheid state.
• The Jewish Book Council in New York has announced the five finalists for the 2013 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature: Israeli Shani Boianjiu, “The People of Forever Are Not Afraid”; American Ben Lerner, “Leaving the Atocha Station”; American Stuart Nadler, “The Book of Life”; Israeli Asaf Schurr, “Motti”; and Englishwoman Francesca Segal, “The Innocents.” The winner, to be announced in April, will get $100,000.
• The Israeli Health Ministry will investigate allegations that Ethiopian-Israeli women were given contraceptives against their will, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency says.
• The president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Rabbi Dan Ehrenkrantz, has announced his resignation after more than a decade as the head of the seminary in Wyncote, Pa. He will stay until a search finds his replacement.
• If you want to fret about Seth MacFarlane’s Oscar shtick, you should be less concerned about what he said about Jews in Hollywood and more worried about the TV audience for whom he expected jokes about Jewish power to resonate, writes the Forward’s Gal Beckerman.
• An Ethiopian-born Jew has won the Miss Israel title for the first time, The Times of Israel reports. The Forward’s Sisterhood blog hopes that Yityish Aynaw uses her crown for good. JNS notes that she cited Atlanta’s own Martin Luther King Jr. as her hero.
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