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The Washington Institute Book Prize

The Washington Institute Book Prize | Martin Kramer on the Middle East | Scoop.it

Last call! The Washington Institute Book Prize, May 1 deadline.

Martin Kramer's insight:

The deadline for the 2014 Washington Institute Book Prize is almost here! It's May 1, and the prize is a lucrative one: $30k for the Gold, $15k for the Silver, and $5k for the Bronze. Go to link for prize rules, past winners, and other vital information. Reminder: last year’s winners were ‘The Twilight War: The Secret History of America's Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran’ by David Crist (Gold), ‘The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War’ by Fred Kaplan (Silver), and ‘Tested by Zion: The Bush Administration and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict’ by Elliott Abrams (Bronze).

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FCO Travel Advisory Map: Lebanon

Martin Kramer's insight:

Here’s a de facto partition of Lebanon, by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Red: “Advise against all travel.” Orange: “Advise against all but essential travel.” Green: “See our travel advice before travelling.” (Full advisory: http://bit.ly/advisoryfco.) 

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Boycott Me. Please. by Martin Kramer | Foreign Policy

Boycott Me. Please. by Martin Kramer | Foreign Policy | Martin Kramer on the Middle East | Scoop.it

"We will continue to teach our Israeli undergraduates the fundamental ideals behind the world's greatest democracy, and their origins and resonance in the Jewish tradition. Boycott or not."

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Special Relationships by Martin Kramer | Commentary

Special Relationships by Martin Kramer | Commentary | Martin Kramer on the Middle East | Scoop.it

“To the best I can determine, in his present job, Kerry hasn’t ever described the U.S.-Israel relationship as ‘special.’”

Martin Kramer's insight:

John Kerry always talks about the “special relationship”—between the United States and Britain. Between the United States and Israel? Never a mention. Even in the lip service department, the Obama administration has downgraded Israel.

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New demo reel of aerial filming in Israel with drones

"We are very proud of the aerial productions we have completed over the years. Filming from the air is complicated..."

Martin Kramer's insight:

What else can you do with drones? Dramatic aerial photographer. The Israeli company Highlight Films specializes in this (and in time-lapse photography too). Enjoy.

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The Opening of Shalem College - אירוע הפתיחה

“Government ministers and renowned scholars, Israel-Prize laureates and philanthropists, and the members of Israel's Revolution Orchestra joined Shalem's first class of students and their families for the college's opening ceremonies at its Jerusalem campus on October 6, 2013.”

Martin Kramer's insight:

Here’s a medley of outtakes from the spectacular opening of Shalem College last week. Other coverage:

• New college dedicated to the humanities opens in Jerusalem, Jerusalem Post http://bit.ly/jpostshalem

• From Moses to Machiavelli, Shalem College sets up shop as Israel’s answer to the Ivy League, Haaretzhttp://bit.ly/haaretzshalem

• New Liberal Arts College Opens in Jerusalem, The Media Line http://bit.ly/mediashalem

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Not Anymore: A Story of Revolution [Syria]

This powerful and tragic film gets startlingly close to the struggle of ordinary Syrian people against Assad brutality. Learn More: http://www.syrianrevoluti...

 

Their lives have been torn apart, but female photographer Nour and FSA leader Mowya are determined to continue to fight the Assad regime. This powerful and tragic film gets startlingly close to their struggle.

A little girl is singing straight to the camera during a street gathering when a mortar strikes just a few metres behind her, throwing the innocent scene into bloody chaos. This is not a dramatically staged fiction film, but the reality of daily life in Syria. "Somebody has to know what this monster is doing to us, to his own people. I'm making sure that somebody is going to know," says Nour. Aged 24, she has abandoned her teaching job to become a war photographer. "I'm not afraid of death", she says. "So many girls have died in their kitchen." The memory of her friends who have died or been tortured and raped during the conflict strengthens Nour's determination to continue the fight. She firmly believes, "we're going to build this whole country again from scratch". Walking through the destroyed and abandoned streets of Aleppo, charismatic FSA leader Mowya manages to retain a dark humour. "Maybe if you film some cats and put it on YouTube a million people will watch the video. Maybe the Americans will help the cats. They don't care about people."

Matthew VanDyke

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Israel likes its U.S. presidents strong | Martin Kramer on the Middle East

Israel likes its U.S. presidents strong | Martin Kramer on the Middle East | Martin Kramer on the Middle East | Scoop.it
Israel frets that Obama went to Congress over Syria. If that's a precedent for Iran, Israel might have no choice but to strike first.
Martin Kramer's insight:

The Wall Street Journal only gave me 300 words to explain why Obama’s punt of the Syrian ball to Congress appalled Israelis. So elsewhere I provide the historical context. Israel once went to a president with a plea for minimal action to remove a dire threat. That president balked: he needed the permission of Congress. The rest is history, and the legacy is a problem. 

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Syrian President Bashar al Assad Charlie Rose Interview (full) September 9, 2013

Martin Kramer's insight:

Bashar Assad’s full interview with Charlie Rose is an eye-opener. One of the differences between Syria and Iraq, or Iran, or Libya, is that it will be impossible to cast Assad in the role of a wild-eyed fanatic. It was relatively easy to put Saddam and Qadhafi in the kill box. Assad survives because, however savage his war, he’s the opposite of the flamboyant Arab dictator. 

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Days of Rage [in Egypt] by Brett Mason

Filmed in the middle of Egypt's days of rage in August, this report got to the heart of the tensions that erupted into violence in Cairo, providing a close-up look at the country's newly increasing turmoil.


Following the massacre of over 500 pro-Morsi supporters, thousands have taken to the streets in defiance of the military crackdown. "Sisi wants to have massacres to frighten the people and subject us once again to military rule" cries one protester as bullets fly. But just around the corner another local, Ramy Raouf, argues Morsi had his chance and blew it. "This is not a coup. OK?" With the political gulf as wide as ever and Cairo's morgue struggling to cope, a peaceful resolution seems impossible.

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Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon's Party of God: Book Launch

In his new book published by the Georgetown University Press, Dr. Matthew Levitt offers the first thorough examination of Hezbollah's covert activities beyond Lebanon's borders, including its financial and logistical support networks and its criminal and terrorist operations worldwide.

To discuss the origin, current operations, and future of Hezbollah, The Washington Institute invited Dr. Levitt and Ambassador Frederic C. Hof to address a Policy Forum luncheon and book launch event on September 3, 2013, in Washington, DC.

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Bad timing for Jeffrey Sachs on Turkey

Bad timing for Jeffrey Sachs on Turkey | Martin Kramer on the Middle East | Scoop.it
Martin Kramer's insight:

The know-it-all economist Jeffrey Sachs wrote an ill-timed paean to the Erdogan regime only a few days before mass protests erupted, under the title: “Why Turkey is Thriving” (http://po.st/VD1GVM). His name can be added to the list of Western academic poobahs who’ve lost their compass when encountering “trains-run-on-time” authoritarians in the Mideast. (No joke: he hails Turkey’s “high-speed intercity rail network.”) One of his former (Turkish) teaching assistants has explained why Sachs has it all wrong (title: “Why Turkey is NOT Thriving,”http://bit.ly/17lJmQV). Money quote: “Sachs is the latest in a long line of celebrities who have recently declared their love for Turkey, or at least to Istanbul… [They] never see Istanbul’s ugly face: Their hotel is conveniently located away from the maddening traffic. They would not even be aware of the latest alcohol bans. They never get tear-gassed.”

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Karl reMarks: Satellite Navigation Error Sends Hezbollah’s Men Fighting In The Wrong Place in Syria

Karl reMarks: Satellite Navigation Error Sends Hezbollah’s Men Fighting In The Wrong Place in Syria | Martin Kramer on the Middle East | Scoop.it

“Judging by the continuous supplies Hezbollah are receiving however, it seems that their satellite navigation devices are still making the same mistake.”

Martin Kramer's insight:

The laughable Rami Khouri, who once toadied to Hezbollah and Nasrallah as Arab and Lebanese heroes for standing up to Israel, finds himself in a tight spot now that Hezbollah has turned its “resistance” guns against Syrians on Syrian turf. He’s written another one of his silly “we-shall-see” pieces, as if all his readers were naifs: http://bit.ly/sillyrami. To which the best answer is this splendid satire by Karl Sharro.

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Patrick Seale in Israel | Martin Kramer on the Middle East

Patrick Seale in Israel | Martin Kramer on the Middle East | Martin Kramer on the Middle East | Scoop.it
Patrick Seale, who traded on his access to Hafez Asad, has died. He made exactly one public appearance in Israel.
Martin Kramer's insight:

The journalist and author Patrick Seale, who traded on his access to Hafez Asad, has died at age 83. I had a couple of encounters with him—one, adversarial, the other cooperative. The first was in Chicago, the second in Tel Aviv, where I found myself involved in his one and only public lecture in Israel. 

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The Iran Foray of the ASA by Martin Kramer | Commentary

The Iran Foray of the ASA by Martin Kramer | Commentary | Martin Kramer on the Middle East | Scoop.it

"So what if institutional members of the ASA like Brandeis and Penn State Harrisburg drop out? There’s always the University of Tehran to take their place."

Martin Kramer's insight:

ASA president Curtis Marez admits that Israel’s neighbors have worse human rights records, but adds that “one has to start somewhere.” But the Israel boycott resolution isn’t the ASA’s first “start” in the Middle East. In fact, the ASA had an earlier foray, in Iran. More precisely, it coddled one of Iran’s most prominent America-bashing academics, at the very moment when Iran’s President Ahmedinejad was busy purging Iran’s universities.

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U.S. strategy in the Middle East (unclassified) by Martin Kramer | Sandbox

U.S. strategy in the Middle East (unclassified) by Martin Kramer | Sandbox | Martin Kramer on the Middle East | Scoop.it
“The Obama administration’s policy in the Middle East is an effort to get back to what worked for the United States in the past. It is a nostalgic project.”
Martin Kramer's insight:

Does the US have an overarching strategy in the Middle East? I think so, although I infer it from how the US acts, and not from any document or public statement. Bottom line: the US wants to put the Middle East on the back burner, and keep it there—on the cheap. Here are its four approaches for doing just that.

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Obama’s March to War | Emergency Committee for Israel

The stakes are too high for empty promises.
Martin Kramer's insight:

The Emergency Committee for Israel specializes in these shorts, and the punch line here deserves its name. 

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Hajj 2013 | Exclusive Kaba Kiswa change 2013-1434 Arafa Day

"Background Audio: Makkah Isha Salah by Sheikh Baleela from 8th Dul Hijjah 1434."

Martin Kramer's insight:

The ancient Kaaba, the cuboid structure in Mecca that Muslims worldwide face in prayer, is located at the center of the Great Mosque in Mecca, and is covered by a massive embroidered black silk fabric known as the kiswa. (For those interested in Semitic cognates, it is related to the Hebrew kisui.) The kiswa is changed each year during the hajj pilgrimage; the old one is cut up and distributed to pilgrims. The kiswa switch is quite an operation, and you can watch it in this fascinating clip, filmed during the just-concluded hajj. More on the production process: http://bit.ly/kiswa.

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The October War and Beyond: The Israeli Perspective by Itamar Rabinovich

Prof. ltamar Rabinovich, President, The Israel Institute, Washington DC, speaking at the INSS Conference on "The Yom Kippur War:- A Launching Pad for U.S. Middle East Policy Conference," September 10, 2013.

Martin Kramer's insight:

Always interesting.

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Ian Lustick’s Iron Dice by Martin Kramer | Commentary

Ian Lustick’s Iron Dice by Martin Kramer | Commentary | Martin Kramer on the Middle East | Scoop.it

"I don't think even the inveterate 'peace processors,' whom Lustick now dismisses so contemptuously, ever assumed repeated failures would bring them closer to their goal. Lustick did believe it."

Martin Kramer's insight:

I know, I should have ignored it, but I couldn’t help myself. So here is my take on Ian Lustick’s jeremiad in the New York Times, where he argues that the “one-state solution” is the way forward. Not so long ago, he claimed the “two-state solution” was inevitable. So what gives?

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State Department Intelligence and Research (INR) Predicted 1973 Arab-Israeli War

Washington, D.C., March 5, 2013 – The fabled but previously secret State Department intelligence memorandum that predicted, five months in advance, the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, has now emerged from classified vaults that were so obscure that even State Department historians and CIA FOIA officers could not penetrate them. Published for the first time today by the National Security Archive the INR memo from May 1973 warned Acting Secretary of State Kenneth Rush that there was a "better than even bet" that war between Egypt and Israel would occur "by autumn."

 

According to the INR analysis, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat would initiate a war with Israel not for specific military objectives but to spur "big power" diplomatic intervention in the Arab-Israeli conflict so that Egypt could regain the Sinai Peninsula lost in the 1967 War. On 6 October 1973 war broke out in the region....

 

The author of the INR paper, Roger Merrick, anticipated that if war unfolded, U.S. "interests" in the region would come under attack because of the close American-Israeli relationship. He anticipated the possible nationalizations of petroleum facilities, "efforts to displace US oil companies with those from Europe and Japan," and "prolonged oil embargoes."

 

More: http://bit.ly/17U40pS

Martin Kramer's insight:

This was an assessment by a junior analyst, and was definitely an outlier. The NEA bureau at State and the CIA had a view in line with Israeli intel. Full picture here: http://1.usa.gov/1bd4jiO

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What's Happening in Syria is Simple, remarks by Michael Doran | Brookings

"It's not that hard to figure out what what is happening in Syria."

Martin Kramer's insight:

Reward your friends, punish your enemies.

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Qaradhawi on US Strike in Syria: Muslims Cannot Do It, So Let the Oppressors Fight One Another | via MEMRI

Following are excerpts from a Friday sermon delivered by leading Sunni scholar Sheik Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi, which aired on Qatar TV on September 6, 2013:


Sheik Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi: If only we could be the ones to retaliate against those people [the Syrian regime]. I wish there were an Islamic power capable of punishing these people. If only there was an Islamic power capable of drawing the line for the oppressors, and imposing upon them the punishment they deserve.


We do not have such power, however, so if they are punished by others, it is better than nothing. Allah pits the oppressors one against the other. The ancients used to say: "Oh Allah, keep the oppressors busy with one another, and let us emerge from among them intact." We do not pity those people when they are attacked by whoever strikes them, because they deserve to be attacked, just like they attacked the Muslims.

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Palestinians demand Latrun...

Palestinians demand Latrun... | Martin Kramer on the Middle East | Scoop.it
Martin Kramer's insight:

The Negotiation Affairs Department of the PLO has put out a paper entitled “The Latrun Valley: An Integral Part of the State of Palestine” (http://bit.ly/latrun, pdf). Never mind that Israel’s Route 1, the main highway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, runs through it. In fact, the Palestinians have never given up on the salient (part of which was no-man’s land between 1949 and 1967—they claim that too). Here is the “solution” proposed in the so-called “Geneva Initiative”: http://bit.ly/genevalatrun. Just another example of how detached from reality the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” gig has become.

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Congratulations, SAIS Class of 2013!

Congratulations, SAIS Class of 2013! | Martin Kramer on the Middle East | Scoop.it
Martin Kramer's insight:

This afternoon, I’ll be joining the faculty procession at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Commencement at DAR Constitution Hall. The students I taught this year have been truly outstanding. A special congratulations to these Class of 2013 graduates who studied with me for credit this past academic year: Daniel Bingham-Pankratz, Jonas Brown, Michelle Cousland, Thomas Donnelly, Kimberly Ehrman, Elizabeth Forro, Jeff Johnson, Blythe Kladney, Yael Miller, Karen Poreh, Troy Smith, Kimberly Stokes, and Wayne Wall. Wishing you success!

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