Displaying posts published in

October 2017

“The Thucydides Trap – As It Applies to Europe” by Sydney Williams

“There is no week, nor day, nor hour when tyranny may not

enter our country, if the people lose their roughness and spirit of defiance.”

Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

The Greek Historian Thucydides (460BC-395BC) wrote that the growth of Athens and the fear that caused in Sparta would lead inevitably to war. It did, the Peloponnesian Wars (431-404BC), which were ultimately won by Sparta. Graham Allison, Harvard professor of political science coined the term “Thucydides Trap,” otherwise known as the “security dilemma,” to describe the rise of a new power and the fear it instills in an established, dominant power – China and the United States. A clash, he argues, almost always ensues. Such phenomena are not limited to geo-politics. In physics, it would be an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. And, all of us were once recalcitrant teen-agers, pushing back against resolute parents.

In his book Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’ Trap?, Professor Allison looks to history to provide lessons for managing “great power” rivalries that were resolved without full-blown war: the Spanish-Portuguese match-up in the 15th Century, the rise of the U.S. in the 19th Century against the British Empire, the more recent peaceful resolution of the Cold War, among others.

While a nuclear conflagration between great powers represents the world’s biggest risk, the desire for self-rule, for security is not limited to great powers. Its consequences can be seen in the rise of nationalism, and the desire for sovereignty and respect, throughout many parts of the world – Scotland, Catalonia and Ukraine in Europe; the Kurds in the Middle East, and secessionists in the West African nations of Cameroon and Nigeria. It is in those areas where the unwary might be ensnared.

Each part of the world is unique, as is each group’s desire for independence. Regardless of the merits of each bid for independence, it is the causes that must be addressed. We can treat symptoms, and we can play the “blame” game, but cures require an understanding of causation.

In Africa, causes relate to centuries of colonization, along with the tribal nature of their indigenous people. Two countries on that continent are now experiencing separatist movements – Cameroon and Nigeria, both which became independent in the early 1960s. Cameroon, one of the oldest continuously populated parts of the world, had been occupied from the 15th through the 19th Centuries by Portuguese and Germans. After World War I, the French and English divided the country. It is the English-speaking regions that today want to split off. Nigeria, the largest country in Africa, in terms of population (and the 7th largest in the world), was once part of the British Empire. The natives of Biafra, in the southeast of the country, want independence. Like most African nations, their borders were drawn by Europeans who cared more about mineral extraction and commodities produced, than the tribes that comprise their populations. (There are, for example, over 500 languages spoken in Nigeria.) A civil war in that region fifty years ago left a million dead. Nigerian forces have again been deployed to put down this new rebellion.

In the Middle East, the Kurds seek independence from four countries – Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria – where they comprise significant minorities. Apart from Turkey, which is what remains of the Ottoman Empire, these countries, as in Africa, had their borders drawn by European colonial powers after the First World War, with little regard for the people who had lived there for centuries.

Justin Trudeau is Far More Dangerous Than Donald Trump Jonathon Kneeland

Readers of the above statement will likely fall into two categories: those who knew this all along, and those who will find the statement absurd. I am putting this argument out there for the latter category and hopefully it will be read with an open mind. If you are the type of person who does not have the ability to question their own beliefs, and prefer the comfort of an echo-chamber, then this piece is probably not for you. I will offer only one caveat on my position: Donald Trump will only turn out to be more dangerous in the short-term if he blunders his way into a nuclear war.

Before I begin, I just want to make a couple of things clear. My political leanings would make me either a classical liberal, or perhaps a left-leaning libertarian, depending on the criteria used. I am not a conservative or a Trump supporter, but I have been forced to abandon my support for the Left because of its increasingly alarming and bizarre politics. I care deeply about my country and our precious and rare civilization. I dislike suffering, and wish to act in a way that minimizes it for all people. The reason that I am writing this piece is that I believe that we are being duped, and that this is going to lead to a lot of suffering in the future.

I believe that the tool that is being used to dupe us is political-correctness. It is a very powerful tool because it stifles all argument and creates the perfect conditions for mass manipulation of the population. Those in charge set all of the rules and conditions for conversation and a large percentage of the population becomes afraid to make statements that they know to be true; or worse, are forced to make statements that they know to be untrue. Christopher Hitchens issued a warning about this more than twenty years ago when he said, “There’s a police-state coming, get used to it. And it will all be done in the name of niceness”. Well, it’s arrived.

We currently live in what I would argue is the best civilization ever created in any place or at any time in human history. It isn’t perfect, but it is amazing when you consider our humble beginnings and if you compare us to the rest of the planet. If our great civilization were to be compromised past a certain point, there is a strong likelihood that it would never recover. No one knows for sure if the society that we find ourselves in is even our natural state – it might be an anomaly. If it is, we had better be extremely careful with it. I would say, based on a quick look around the world, that our society is an anomaly. The massive amounts of luck combined with the bits of design that got us to this point should not be taken for granted; indeed, this would be a fatal mistake that could devastate our society and leave it severely degraded for future generations. While the current state of our society provides most of us with much freedom and also an excellent quality of life, the future could easily provide only poverty and violence. Be very wary of a desire for too much change.

And now on to my argument:

I have studied Justin Trudeau very carefully for quite some time now and I have not noticed anything that would justify the fawning adulation that is heaped on him by the media. In fact, when I study him, the word that immediately comes to mind is twit. I don’t say this lightly or just to be insulting – it is exactly how I feel. Now, to be fair, I also agree with much of the constant criticism that we all hear about Donald Trump. Now that I’ve gotten this very minor name calling out of the way, I will move on to the important distinctions between the two men.

There are two things about Donald Trump that remind me of George W. Bush. The first of those things is a willingness to acknowledge his country of birth as a great civilization. The second is a natural extension of the first: the need to protect that civilization. And while I have always found both of them painful to listen to, I respect them both for their willingness to engage difficult topics and also to start a fight if necessary. It’s as if both of them are blessed with a deeply ingrained and innate sense that their civilization is worth defending. Trump doesn’t seem to have the ability or the desire to articulate his position in satisfying terms; however, maybe that quality doesn’t need to be articulated, as it’s something we can actually see. I think that this allows me to say that the very least you could say about Trump, however you feel about him, is that he is not going to let anything happen to his country without a fight – and that’s important. Actually, it is the fundamental quality that is required for a nation’s long-term survival in anything resembling desirable conditions.

While Trump is a constant bungler, egomaniac, hot-head, and possibly a corrupt individual, he does not engage in the vile and always eventually deadly game called identity-politics. This is a big deal and it’s likely the biggest contributing factor in Trump’s victory. So, while Trump has many faults, his basic instinct to protect the US and maintain its status as a great civilization, while avoiding identity-politics all together, is worthy of some respect. He also came right out and said that he “doesn’t do political-correctness” – again, worthy of respect.

Justin Trudeau, on the other hand, does not seem to have anything innate about him that is worthy of respect. He has made some very troubling statements that make this very obvious. He has expressed a desire to see Canada as “the first post-national state” and said that “there is no core identity or mainstream in Canada”. These are alarming statements, and yet, they have gone largely unnoticed. The reason for this is that the media have given him a free pass in the same way that the mainstream media in the US gave Bill Clinton a free pass after he had executed a mentally ill black man whose IQ was so low that he asked to save his desert until after his execution. Like Trudeau, Clinton was the charming new Liberal and the narrative had to be maintained at any cost. This is exactly the same type of sickly behaviour that we are currently witnessing by the main-stream media towards Justin Trudeau.

Not one mainstream media outlet stopped to ask by what right Trudeau could decide that Canada had no core identity, and why he thought that he was entitled to allow its carefully constructed and unique society to be hollowed out and left to rot by his own personal agenda. He claims to have undertaken this project on behalf of Canadians. The CBC – the country’s excessively large public broadcaster and recipient of Trudeau’s promise to increase funding if elected – did not invite any serious opposing viewpoints to counter his alarming statements. Every time Trump tweets or makes any kind of statement on any topic, no matter how benign, the media goes into high gear to discredit and mock it. And whenever Trudeau goes for a jog or changes his socks, the entire news industry starts giggling, blushing, and fawning on him in the most disgusting way. Why the glaring contradiction? The media used to complain that Stephen Harper’s Conservatives were secretive and overly controlling with information. Trudeau’s government has turned out to be even more secretive, and as a result, information is more difficult to acquire through the Freedom of Information program. Still, the media seem interested only in telling us about his latest photo-bomb incident or his latest socks, while displaying a pseudo-journalistic style that can only be described as ditzy.


You know the warning “People who live in glass houses should not throw stones?”
Hillary Clinton compares Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein: ‘We just elected someone who admitted sexual assault as president’http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/hillary-clinton-trump-harvey-weinstein-11345108

She said such behaviour “cannot be tolerated anywhere, whether it’s in entertainment, politics – after all we have someone admitting to be a sexual assaulter in the Oval Office”

The former Democratic Presidential nominee sat down for an interview with the BBC and was initially asked about the allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

“This kind of behavior cannot be tolerated anywhere, whether it’s in entertainment, politics, after all, we have someone admitting to being a sexual assaulter in the Oval Office,” Clinton said.

The interviewer responded to Clinton’s comments by pointing out that the same allegations have been made about her husband, former President Bill Clinton. “That has all been litigated. That was [the] subject of a huge investigation in the late ’90s and there were conclusions drawn. That was clearly in the past.”

When she did address allegations surrounding Weinstein, however, Clinton said she was shocked and appalled to hear the news.

Right-Wing Victory in Austria Today The populist right, though scorned by the Left as Islamophobic, gains ground in yet another European election. By John Fund

Angela Merkel’s misguided migration policy — which allowed nearly 1 million people from Africa and the Middle East to enter Germany in 2015 — has claimed another political victim. Her centrist Christian Democratic government lost a great deal of support to the populist Alternative for Germany in last month’s election because of her mishandling of the migration flood. And today, Christian Kern, the left-wing Social Democratic chancellor of Austria, lost his job because of his own party’s involvement in opening Austria to 75,000 new migrants. Germany borders Austria, and many refugees and economic migrants entered Germany through Austria, with 75,000 remaining.

Festering public anger at uncontrolled immigration, crime, wasteful spending, and bureaucratic arrogance has hurt all established political parties. But the damage to left-wing parties has been the most severe. Taken together, the three left-wing parties in Germany — the Social Democrats, the Greens, and the Left party — won only 38 percent of the vote in last month’s elections. Twenty years ago, the three combined won 53 percent. Similarly, in Austria, the three left-wing parties together won only 34 percent of the vote today, with the environmentalist Greens shut out of parliament for the first time in more than 30 years.

The clear winners are the parties of the populist Right. Take Austria. The center-right People’s Party was floundering early this year, trapped in an unpopular, status-quo coalition with the leftist Social Democrats. Then, in May, 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz — the leader of the party’s youth wing — mounted a coup and ousted the party’s complacent leadership.

Kurz quickly moved his party to the right. He promoted tougher policies in a range of areas: migration, welfare benefits for foreigners, relations with the European Union, and border controls. He called for a ban on the wearing of burqas. He then announced his party could no longer govern with the Social Democrats, forcing this month’s snap election.

All these moves pushed Kurz’s People’s Party into first place in the polls, leapfrogging both the Social Democrats and the Freedom Party, a long-time populist party that once had neo-fascist associations but has worked to purge itself of questionable elements. Heinz-Christian Strache, the Freedom Party’s leader, joked at the “late bloomer” Kurz for stealing his party’s ideological clothing. He proclaimed himself “the visionary” who had shown Kurz the way.

In the end, Kurz and his party took first place, with 31.4 percent of the vote. The Freedom Party won 27.4 percent, and the Social Democrats won 26.7 percent. Even Chancellor Kern of the Social Democrats had to admit the nation has seen a “massive slide to the right.” The Freedom Party’s Strache was exultant that the negative media coverage hadn’t prevented his party from gaining votes. “The voter is always right. The ongoing hounding of us libertarians did not work,” he told Der Standard newspaper.

The almost certain outcome of the election will be a coalition government of the People’s Party and the Freedom Party. They governed together once before, from 2000 to 2005, and were able to implement what for Austria were radical economic reforms before they split after various scandals.

A Classical War of Modern Violence World War II traced the contours of previous conflicts to an endpoint of unprecedented death and destruction. By Victor Davis Hanson

Editor’s Note: The Following is the first in a series of excerpts adapted from Victor Davis Hanson’s new book The Second World Wars. It appears here with permission.

Some 60 million people died in World War II.

On average, 27,000 people perished on each day between the invasion of Poland (September 1, 1939) and the formal surrender of Japan (September 2, 1945) — bombed, shot, stabbed, blown apart, incinerated, gassed, starved, or infected. The Axis losers killed or starved to death about 80 percent of all those who died during the war. The Allied victors largely killed Axis soldiers; the defeated Axis, mostly civilians.

More German and Russian soldiers were killed in tanks at Kursk (well over 2,000 tanks lost) than at any other battle of armor in history. The greatest loss of life of both civilians and soldiers on a single ship (9,400 fatalities) occurred when a Soviet submarine sank the German troop transport Wilhelm Gustloff in the Baltic Sea in January 1945. The costliest land battle in history took place at Stalingrad; Leningrad was civilization’s most lethal siege. The death machinery of the Holocaust made past mass murdering from Attila to Tamerlane to the Aztecs seem like child’s play. The deadliest single day in military history occurred in World War II during the March 10, 1945, firebombing of Tokyo, when 100,000 people, perhaps many more, lost their lives. The only atomic bombs ever dropped in war immediately killed more than 100,000 at Hiroshima and Nagasaki together, most of them civilians, while tens of thousands more ultimately died and were maimed from radiation exposure. World War II exhausted superlatives. Its carnage seemed to reinvent ideas of war altogether.

Yet how, why, and where the war broke out were familiar factors. The sophisticated technology and totalitarian ideologies of World War II should not blind us to the fact that the conflict was fought on familiar ground in predictable climates and weather by humans whose natures were unchanged since antiquity and thus who went to war, fought, and forged a peace according to time-honored precepts. Reformulated ancient ideas of racial and cultural superiority fueled the global bloodbath between 1939 and 1945, which was ostensibly started to prove that some ideologies were better, or at least more powerful, than others. Nazi Germany certainly believed that other, supposedly inherently spiritually weaker Western nations — Britain and France in particular — had conspired since World War I to prevent the expression of naturally dominant German power. In his memoirs, Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz, commander-in-chief of the Kriegsmarine, the German navy, after January 1943, summed up accurately the German justification for the war: “Britain went to war in 1939 because Greater Germany, growing in strength and united with Austria, was becoming a menace to British imperial and economic interests.” Notice how Doenitz’s key phrase, “Britain went to war,” assumes that the German invasion of Poland was the result of victimization and grievance and thus should not have provoked a wider war.

By 1939, Germans had concluded that the postwar policies of the Western European nations were unfair, vindictive, and, with some tolerable sacrifices, correctable, given the rebirth of Germany under a uniquely powerful National Socialism. An unfettered Germany would establish hegemony throughout Europe, even if that effort might require dramatic changes in current borders, substantial population exchanges, and considerable deaths, though mostly of non-Germans. In time, both Fascist Italy (which had invaded both Ethiopia and Albania prior to September 1, 1939) and Japan (which had invaded China well over two years before the German attack on Poland) felt that if Hitler could take such risks — as he had throughout 1939–1941 in apparently successful fashion — then they too might take a gamble to share in the spoils. Perceived self-interest — and a sense of the ancient Greek historian Thucydides’ realist notion of honor and fear — as much as ideological affinity, explained which power entered the war, or left it, or chose to remain neutral.

World War II was conceived and fought as a characteristic Western war in which classical traditions of free markets, private property, unfettered natural inquiry, personal freedom, and a secular tradition had for centuries often translated to greater military dynamism in Europe than elsewhere. If the conflict’s unique savagery and destructiveness can only be appreciated through the lenses of 20th-century ideology, technology, and industry, its origins and end still followed larger contours of conflict as they developed over 2,500 years of civilized history. The Western military’s essence had remained unchanged but it was now delivered at an unprecedented volume and velocity, and posed a specter of death on a massive scale. The internecine war was largely fought with weaponry and technology that were birthed in the West, although also used by Westernized powers in Asia. The atomic bombs, napalm, guided missiles, and multi-engine bombers of World War II confirmed a general truth that for over two millennia the war-making of Europe and its appendages had proven brutal against the non-West, but when its savage protocols and technology were turned upon itself, the corpses mounted in an unfathomable fashion.

— Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

Trump Adopts Robust Approach Toward America’s Enemies On everything from UNESCO to Iran deal, Trump delivers on campaign promises. Ari Lieberman

Last week the Trump administration initiated a series of hard-hitting measures aimed at putting the enemies of the United States on notice that it would no longer be business as usual at the White House. No longer would the United States allow itself to be subjected to indignities with impunity. There would now be a heavy price to pay for attempts to subvert the interests of the United States and its allies.

On October 10, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Counterterrorism Nathan A. Sales, announced that the United States would be placing bounties of $7 million and $5 million respectively on the heads of two senior Hezbollah members Talal Hamiyah and Fu’ad Shukr. Hamiyah is the organization’s commander for overseas terror operations which target U.S. and Israeli interests. Shukr is a senior Hezbollah commander who has taken an active role in perpetrating atrocities in Syria and was also involved in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, which resulted in the deaths of 241 service members.

Sales also directed criticism against countries which absurdly make distinction between Hezbollah’s political and military wings. He bluntly stated that Hezbollah has no political organization and the group in its entirety is “rotten to its core.”

The new robust approach vis-à-vis Hezbollah is refreshing and stands in marked contrast with the way the Obama administration dealt with the notorious terrorist organization. In its zeal to strike a bargain with Iran and maintain détente with the world’s premier state sponsor of international terrorism, the Obama administration treated the Iranian proxy terror arm with kid gloves.

In September 2016, former secretary of state John Kerry met with Syrian opposition members and tried to convince them to focus their energies on ISIS while steering clear of Hezbollah. During the exchange with the oppositionists he blurted, “Hezbollah is not plotting against us.” It was a shocking display of abject ignorance underscored by the fact that barely nine months later, the U.S. Justice Department announced the arrest of two Hezbollah operatives in New York and Michigan, who were plotting to carry out terror attacks against the United States.

Two days after Sales’ press conference, the State Department announced that it would be withdrawing from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The decision was made only after UNESCO, led by its Muslim bloc, passed a series of ludicrous and pernicious resolutions aimed at severing the Jewish (and Christian) nexus to holy sites in Israel and territories administered by Israel.

The multiple resolutions Islamicized Jewish and Christian holy sites. They referred to Jerusalem as “occupied territory” while the Rachel’s Tomb, a site revered by Jews world over for over 3,000 years, was referred to as the “Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque” and a “Palestinian site.” This despite the fact that even Muslims had always historically regarded Rachel’s Tomb as a revered Jewish site. But UNESCO’s outrages and historical mendacity didn’t end there. In July, the body designated the burial site of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah – the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs – as an endangered “Palestinian Heritage Site” ignoring the fact that while the site was under Muslim rule, Muslim guards refused Jewish worshipers entry beyond the seventh step leading to site’s entrance.

The July resolution was particularly egregious because it disregarded a recommendation issued by the International Council of Monuments and Sites highlighting a number of problems with the proposed UNESCO resolution.

The move to withdraw from UNESCO was spearheaded by Nikki Haley, Trump’s indefatigable U.N. ambassador. Unlike her Obama-appointed predecessors, Haley has taken a proactive approach in dealing with UN’s inherent anti-Israel, anti-Western biases. In the short span that she’s been at her post, she has scored impressive results and changed the tenor at the body. In fact, the U.S. announcement to withdraw from UNESCO may have had a positive influence on a crucial vote for the leadership of UNESCO the following day.

After several voting rounds, two candidates for UNESCO’s Director-General spot emerged – France’s Audrey Azoulay, who is also of Jewish descent, and Qatar’s rabidly anti-Semitic Hamad Bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari. Azoulay was a dark horse but surprisingly prevailed over her anti-Semitic rival by a vote of 30-28. Divisions within the Arab world no doubt worked in Azoulay’s favor; the Saudis and their allies despise Qatar. Nevertheless, the State Department’s announcement likely jolted some of UNESCO’s members into voting for the saner choice. It is too early to tell what effect, if any, Azoulay will have on UNESCO but the U.S. decision to withdraw does not go into effect until the end of December giving the State Department some time to assess whether UNESCO will alter its mendacious, anti-Israel, agenda-driven trajectory.

The Beginning of the End of Progressive Domination? The overreach of the Left’s response to Trump’s victory — and its consequences. Bruce Thornton

For over forty years the left has been successfully reshaping American culture. Social mores and government policies about sexuality, marriage, the sexes, race relations, morality, and ethics have changed radically. The collective wisdom of the human race that we call tradition has been marginalized or discarded completely. The role of religion in public life has been reduced to a private preference. And politics has been increasingly driven by the assumptions of progressivism: internationalism privileged over nationalism, centralization of power over its dispersal in federalism, elitist technocracy over democratic republicanism, “human sciences” over common sense, and dependent clients over autonomous citizens.

But the election of Donald Trump, and the overreach of the left’s response to that victory, suggest that we may be seeing the beginning of the end of the left’s cultural, social, and political dominance.

The two terms of Barack Obama seemed to be the crowning validation of the left’s victory. Despite Obama’s “no blue state, no red state” campaign rhetoric, he governed as the most leftist––and ineffectual–– president in history. Deficits exploded, taxes were raised, new entitlements created, and government expanded far beyond the dreams of center-left Democrats. Marriage and sex identities were redefined. The narrative of permanent white racism was endorsed and promoted. Tradition-minded Americans were scorned as “bitter clingers to guns and religion.” Hollywood and Silicon Valley became even more powerful cultural arbiters and left-wing publicists. And cosmopolitan internationalism was privileged over patriotic nationalism, while American exceptionalism was reduced to an irrational parochial prejudice.

The shocking repudiation of the establishment left’s anointed successor, Hillary Clinton, was the first sign that perhaps the hubristic left had overreached, and summoned nemesis in the form of a vulgar, braggadocios reality television star and casino developer who scorned the hypocritical rules of decorum and political correctness that even many Republicans adopted to avoid censure and calumny. Yet rather than learning the tragic self-knowledge that Aristotle says compensates the victim of nemesis, the left overreached yet again with its outlandish, hysterical tantrums over Trump’s victory. The result has been a stark exposure of the left’s incoherence and hypocrisy so graphic and preposterous that they can no longer be ignored.

First, the now decidedly leftist Democrats refused to acknowledge their political miscalculations. Rather than admit that their party has drifted too far left beyond the beliefs of the bulk of the states’ citizens, they shifted blame onto a whole catalogue of miscreants: Russian meddling, a careerist FBI director, their own lap-dog media, endemic sexism, an out-of-date

Electoral College, FOX News, and irredeemable “deplorables” were just a few. Still high on the “permanent majority” Kool-Aid they drank during the Obama years, they pitched a fit and called it “resistance,” as though comfortably preaching to the media, university, and entertainment choirs was like fighting Nazis in occupied France. The bathos and ridiculous hyperbole of their whining exposed for all to see their rank egotism and lack of discernment and judgment.

This childish behavior came hard on the whole “snowflake” and “microagression” phenomenon in colleges and universities. Normal people watched as some of the most privileged young people in history turned their subjective slights and bathetic discontents into weapons of tyranny, shouting down or driving away speakers they didn’t like, and calling for “muscle” to enforce their assault on the First Amendment. Relentlessly repeated on FOX News and on the Drudge Report, these antics galvanized large swaths of American voters who used to be amused, but now were disgusted by such displays of rank ingratitude and arrogant dismissal of Constitutional rights. And voters could see that the Democrats encouraged and enabled this nonsense. The prestige of America’s best universities, where most of these rites of passage for the scions of the well-heeled occurred, was even more damaged than it had been in the previous decades.

Letters of Love to Jerusalem By Harold Goldmeier

MY JERUSALEM: The Eternal City
Ilan Greenfield, Editor
Ziv Koren, Photography
Published by Gefen Publishing House and
Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, 2017/5778

I love Chicago. It’s the city in which I lived from birth into retirement. I can describe the skyline on Lake Michigan, with its majestic sunrise and sunset. Every neighborhood is its own architectural marvel crowned with lush greenery. But I will never describe Chicago or Boston or New York or Sedona as eloquently as Matthew Bronfman does in My Jerusalem: The Eternal City. Bronfman’s romance with Jerusalem is in “its breathtaking glory.” Bronfman is one of 48 contributors proffering letters of love to Jerusalem, enriching its reputation by juxtaposed elegant and rich photographs.

On the dust jacket, the name Jerusalem is embossed in gold set against a night-lit orange photograph of the Tower of David (or Jerusalem Citadel). This touch epitomizes its sobriquet, The City of Gold, Yerushalayim Shel Zahav, popular in Hebrew verse and song, the words to which appear on the first page. It is the place, writes Shimon Peres, where “every morning, at the moment when the sun rises … it is as if heaven and earth have met.”

At first glance, I looked forward to an emotion-filled experience through a magical photographer’s eye. Ziv Koren’s works of art do not fail me. But the book is so much more. My Jerusalem is a compendium of personal love letters assembled by Ilan Greenfield’s selection of Jewish and Christian leaders to a city built by a king of the Jews. She is a city under siege for some 2,000 years but endowed as the holiest of holy places on Earth for three monotheistic religions.

Most contributors know her only as a city rebuilt and designated the capital of modern Israel. But Ilan Greenfield has assembled My Jerusalem contributors spanning generations. President Rivlin and Prime Minister Netanyahu recall childhood memories of growing up in war-torn and divided Jerusalem from 1948 to 1967. The P.M. describes the city divided by barbed-wire fences laden with land mines and a garbage dump “with snipers on the walls.” “[S]trangled, it was withered, it had no future” until its liberation in 1967. Then there is a heartwarming picture of the president hiking his old pacified trails in the hills of Jerusalem.

Editor Greenfield complements the romantic without giving short shrift to the controversies Jerusalem inspires, as any beautiful maiden does among anxious suitors. Greenfield declares in the publisher’s note that she is mine, My Jerusalem, “the eternal capital of the Jewish people,” not only an eternal city. The book’s dedication is “[t]o the land and people of Israel with deep gratitude for a life of meaning and the privilege of being part of the wondrous Zionist enterprise.”

“Yerushalayim Shel Zahav,” written by Naomi Shemer, is a wildly popular complement to Israel’s national anthem. Is it coincidence that the melody is based on a Basque lullaby, from a province of Spain, fighting for generations for independence? Moreover, her sister province, Catalonia, is enduring armed, club-wielding, anti-freedom repressors concomitant to the release of My Jerusalem, which daily faces threats to her independence and Jewish heritage from international world bodies and foreign former oppressors of the Jews.

The introduction from Alan Dershowitz, a political raconteur, wastes little time reminding readers that Jerusalem is “one of the most divisive political hot spots in the world.” We all know that. I might have placed a born and raised Jerusalemite like President Rivlin to introduce the book. Rivlin gives authenticity: “The history of Jerusalem in the early years of the state is also my personal and family history.

Yes, Trump is Winning By Roger Kimball

Last week, I went to a dinner event at social club of which I am a member but rarely patronize. You will guess why when I tell you I ran into a friend of longstanding—someone I know well, but hadn’t seen in a couple of years—and she greeted me with the exclamation, “Here’s a Trumpster!” I could see that that was partly for the benefit of the gents she was talking to, a sort of tribal-marking announcement (“He’s one of those, boys”) but I couldn’t immediately tell whether the glint in her eye was friendly or otherwise. She soon cleared up that ambiguity. I said something about “our president.” “He’s not my president,” she snapped, adding that Donald Trump was deeply unpopular and would probably be driven from office soon.https://amgreatness.com/2017/10/15/yes-trump-is-winning/

“Actually,” I offered, “his approval ratings are on the rise.”

“So were Mussolini’s,” came the icy rejoinder.

Got it. At least I knew where we stood.

One is encouraged to leave politics at the front door of this particular club (unlike London’s “Other Club” where Rule 12 stipulates that “Nothing in the rules or intercourse of the Club shall interfere with the rancour or asperity of party politics”). But so thoroughly pink is the majority of the membership that the issue rarely arises. For the herd of independent minds, unanimity is a consoling patent of authenticity. “We all believe this, ergo it must be true—indeed, it is invisible. It simply is.”

Hence a defining irony of the contemporary progressive (one cannot truthfully call it “liberal”) dispensation: convinced that their opinions represent not their opinions but, on the contrary, that they mirror a virtuous state of nature, they regard dissent not as disagreement but as either heresy or insanity. The former calls for condemnation or ostracism, the latter for pity tinctured by contempt.

Donald Trump has introduced several novelties into this dynamic. From the point of view of my (I suspect former) friend, Trump is both (never mind the contradiction) an impossibility and an affront. Everyone she talks to knows this.

And yet on the ground, in the real world, Trump is methodically pushing ahead with the agenda he campaigned on. That includes:

Nominating judges and justices who can be counted on to interpret and enforce the law but do not endeavor to use the law to promote their social agenda;
Addressing the problem of illegal immigration and securing the borders of the United States;
Developing America’s vast energy resources;
Rolling back the regulatory state, especially the administrative overreach of agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency;
Pursuing policies that put America, and American workers, first, not to the detriment of our relationships with our international partners but through a recognition that strength and sovereign independence make nations more reliable actors;
Restoring the combat readiness and morale of the United States military;
Simplifying the U.S. tax code, making it more competitive for U.S. businesses and more equitable for individuals;
Getting a handle on the unconstitutional and shockingly inefficient monstrosity ironically called the Affordable Care Act;
Putting a stop to the obscene violation of due process that Title IX fanatics brought to college campuses across the country.

The Associated Press and the Pronoun Wars Sohrab Ahmari

The transgender movement is at war with the English language. With a new set of style guidelines, the Associated Press has joined the trenches—on the transgender side.

With its precision and plain beauty, English has long posed an obstacle for activists who insist that there is no biological basis to gender and who seek to overturn the gender binary. Unfortunately for these activists, the gender binary is built into the structure of English, with its gender-specific pronouns and many gendered expressions. Most people speak a gendered English, moreover. When we hear that one of our friends or relations is pregnant, we naturally ask: “Boy or girl?”

We speak this way because our language mirrors the natural and inseparable bond between gender and sex. For transgender activists, however, this is merely evidence of how entrenched the oppressive gender binary is. By their lights, gender is completely fluid and open to individual choice. As one overexcited activist argued in Slate in 2014: “With infant gender assignment, in a single moment your baby’s life is instantly and brutally reduced from . . . infinite potentials down to one concrete set of expectations and stereotypes.” If the movement has its way, asking “boy or girl?” would become as unacceptable as smoking—or maybe even legally proscribed.

Already among “woke” media types there is a taboo against “dead-naming” transgendered people. It is verboten to remind readers that Chelsea Manning was once named Bradley (there, I did it). A Canadian bill passed this summer restricts “discrimination” on the basis of gender “expression.” That provision, proponents hope, will lead to “monetary damages, non-financial remedies . . . and public interest remedies” for those who dare use a non-preferred pronoun. (And yet, they insist, the bill won’t trample free speech.) California has enacted similar legislation.

Now comes the AP’s gender rewrite. In a series of tweets on Tuesday explaining the changes first promulgated earlier this year, the AP’s editors contended that “gender refers to a person’s social identity, while sex refers to biological characteristics” and admonished writers to “avoid references to being born a boy or girl.” The venerable news agency also endorsed the language- and prose-disfiguring use of “they/them” as a singular pronoun. It even left open the door to more exotic made-up pronouns such as “ze” and “zir.”

Tuesday also saw the AP introduce a new rule: Instead of the expressions “sex change” or “transition,” writers are to use “gender confirmation.” This was a deep kowtow to the transgender movement, which believes that physicians don’t alter anything essential or fundamental when they perform a sex-change operation: Caitlyn Jenner was always Caitlyn Jenner. The operation merely confirmed this ontological fact.

You needn’t agree with social conservatives on transgender ideology to see that this is wrongheaded. The editors are using the AP’s style authority to declare the transgender debate over. News articles on the transgender question—still the subject of heated scientific and political debate—will now reflect the assumptions and ideological preferences of one side. Given the ongoing debate, AP’s move can’t but appear as an effort to delegitimize the other side, which includes not just orthodox Christians but also secular psychologists, social scientists, and many others.

The AP and its defenders will say that the move is necessary because journalistic prose should reflect evolving norms and usages. And they will argue that adhering to trans pronoun preferences is a matter of respect. But social norms are only “evolving” among a narrow progressive cohort. Most AP readers still use “he,” “she,” “sex change,” and the like. Most people “dead-name.” The AP is actively pushing norms in a certain direction and calling it evolution. As for respecting individuals, surely there are ways to do that without violating journalism’s core truth-seeking function. To suggest that Jenner was never “born” male is absurd and illogical.