Thoughts on the World on This Day

Beyond the Cusp

The negotiations between Turkey and Israel are proceeding as if running uphill through thick maple syrup. The Turkish Foreign Minister claims that the next high level meeting will end with an agreement. The Israeli negotiating team in London, England stated that these most recent negotiations showed no progress and that the impasses remain. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin recently stated matter-of-factly that there can be no rapprochement between Turkey and Israel until Israel ends the naval blockade of Gaza and ends the occupation by Israel of Palestinian lands. This would appear to be a deal breaker making any return of normal relation impossible. We find this wonderful news as we believe that Israel normalizing relations with Turkey, a Muslim country which plays both ends of Islam against one another, is just one more sycophantic symptom of Israeli leaders belief they must please the whole world, even or…

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Inconvenient Genocide

Christian communities, which like the Jews, predate Islam, are being targeted for eradication.

The Christian communities of Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon are well on the way to joining their Jewish cousins. The Jewish communities of these states predated Islam by a millennium, and were vibrant until the 20th century. But the Arab world’s war on the Jewish state, and more generally on Jews, wiped out the Jewish populations several decades ago.

And now the Christian communities, which like the Jews, predate Islam, are being targeted for eradication.

The ongoing genocide of Middle Eastern Christians at the hands of Sunni jihadists is a moral outrage. Does it also affect Israeli national interests? What do we learn from the indifference of Western governments – led by the Obama administration – to their annihilation? True, after years of deliberately playing down the issue and denying the problem, the Obama administration is finally admitting it exists.

Embarrassed by the US House of Representatives’ unanimous adoption of a resolution last month recognizing that Middle Eastern Christians are being targeted for genocide, the State Department finally acknowledged the obvious on March 25, when Secretary of State John Kerry stated that Islamic State is conducting a “genocide of Christians, Yazidis and Shi’ites.”


Barbra Streisand’s Evolution From Kooky Waif to A-list Beauty

Barbra Streisand turns 75 next year. In her 50-plus year career, she has made her mark on the silver screen, on Broadway, in nightclubs, and on the record charts. Her beginnings were humble—she grew up poor and scrappy in Brooklyn with a mother and stepfather who were far from encouraging, and knew early on that she wanted to be a star regardless of her unconventional looks and comportment. How did she do it? What was the source of her broad appeal? And why does she stand out as a unique cultural figure in the landscape of so-called ethnic performers?

Writer Neal Gabler tackles these and other questions in Barbra Streisand: Redefining Beauty, Femininity, and Power, a new title in Yale University Press’s Jewish Lives Series. Gabler joins Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry to discuss Streisand as an ersatz Christ figure, how she has functioned as a metaphor for American Jewishness, and the deep debt she’s owed by Melissa McCarthy and Adele.


Morning Briefing – The Telegraph

Good morning.

Jeremy Corbyn is going to try to persuade Britons today to accept the EU “warts and all”. In his long-awaited address, we report this morning, the Labour leader will argue “you cannot build a better world unless you engage with the world, build allies and deliver change”. He won’t be able to away from his previous criticism of the political bloc, having once written in an article (later deleted from his website) that “the project has always been to create a huge free-market Europe”. Corbyn and his chums might privately rage about the EU “free market”, but others – even in the Eurosceptic ranks – would think that sounds quite nice. The Remain campaign will hope his pro-EU appeal is heard by Labour-leaning voters, with an Ipsos MORI poll finding that 27% of voters thought he was “important” to them as they made up their minds how to vote. You can follow what happens on our liveblog.

Young people are more likely to back the EU, but less likely to turn out and vote, as Nick Clegg found to his cost in 2010 and Ed Miliband in 2015. Will Corbyn’s intervention help ensure they turn out on June 23? The Leave campaign will be quietly praying that it won’t as it sets about planning a “Brexit blitz” over the next 48 hours. Both sides are neck-and-neck in the polls, with a YouGov survey for the Times putting support for Leave and Remain at 39% each, so campaigners will working flat out.

Vote Leave, buoyed by being designated the official “lead” Brexit campaign by the Electoral Commission (with all the prestige and perks that follow), is sending Boris Johnson to Manchester on Friday to make a speech, before going on to speak in Leeds and Newcastle the following day. Michael Gove will speak in Nottingham while Priti Patel will make the Brexit case in Birmingham. “Ultimately, reforming our economy outside the constraints of the EU would be good for Britain,” writes Juliet Samuel in today’s paper. “But making it work will take the commitment and adaptability of a mature, democratic society, and not just belief in a beautiful dream.”

Eurosceptics may be hurriedly trying to patch up their differences and unite behind Vote Leave, but its rival campaign – Leave.EU – is refusing to bury the hatchet. Its chief backer Nigel Farage has struck an emollient tone, publicly congratulating Vote Leave, but Aaron Banks, Leave.EU’s chief executive, has been threatening to mount a legal challenge over what he dismissed as a “political stitch up” by the Electoral Commission, sparking fears that a successful bid could delay the referendum debate. “We would urge them not to go down this route,” we say in our leader. “The task facing the Leave side is difficult enough without the added distraction of an internal squabble ahead of the biggest decision the country will have made for 40 years.” His campaign will still operate in the referendum, no matter what happens, albeit under a lowing spending limit. If his legal bid doesn’t work, that may help Banks’ brand further as he can portray his group as the “anti-establishment” choice.

In any case, the watchdog’s decision means that voters will be seeing a lot less of the Ukip leader on their TV screens. This could help the Brexit cause though, as polls suggest Farage is generally regarded unfavourably by voters when speaking about the EU. Supporters argue that his tub-thumping rhetoric would help ensure Leave-inclined voters turn out on June 23, but having waited for this chance to vote on Britain’s membership of the EU  for years, are they really going to forget?

“It’s perfectly possible to be critical and still be convinced we need to remain a member.” Jeremy Corbyn

The Strange Case of the Woman Who Can’t Remember Her Past—Or Imagine Her Future

Like many American couples of modest but comfort­able means, Susie Mc­Kinnon and her husband, Eric Green, discovered the joys of cruise vacations in middle age. Their home in a quiet suburb of Olympia, Washington, is filled with souvenirs and trinkets from their travels. There’s a plastic lizard in the master bathroom with the words “Cayman Islands” painted on it. From Curaçao there’s a framed patchwork collage made of oilcloth hanging in the entrance hall. On the gray summer day when I visit them, we all sit comfortably in their living room, Green decked out in a bright shirt with “Bermuda Islands” emblazoned on it, from a cruise in 2013. As they regale me with talk of their younger selves and their trips to Jamaica, Aruba, Cozumel, and Mazatlán, they present the very picture of well-adjusted adulthood on the verge of retirement.

Except for one fairly major thing.

As we chat, McKinnon makes clear that she has no memories of all those cruises. No memories of buying the lizard or finding that oilcloth collage. She doesn’t remember any vacation she’s ever taken. In fact, she cannot recall a single moment in her marriage to Green or before it.


Sweden? Negative Image? What Could You Be Thinking?

No one seems to have given any thought as to where all the people who are granted asylum in Sweden are supposed to live. There is a massive shortage of housing, which has led to young Swedes, well into their 30s, being forced to live with their parents. In 2014, a report from the Swedish Union of Tenants (Hyresgästföreningen) disclosed that close to 300,000 young people between the ages of 20-27 do not have their own place to live. The Immigration Service has the right to send “unaccompanied refugee children,” who are often, in fact, undocumented adults, to the local municipalities — and then it is their problem to procure accommodation. It was also recently reported that adult migrants with residence permits have a right to bypass Swedes in waiting lists for housing. The municipality of Skellefteå now plans to inventory all the empty houses in the countryside, looking for possible alternatives for migrants.

February 3: Teenage girls attending the Vårboskolan high school in the Malmö suburb of Arlöv were sexually assaulted and stalked by young migrants in their 20s who take Swedish language classes at the school, according to the local daily newspaper, Sydsvenskan. As most of the migrants are male, the gender balance at the school has been severely skewed. 14-year-old Emilia and Nora told Sydsvenskan:

“The guys stared at us and made kissing noises. They said things we did not quite understand, told us we were sexy and good looking and stuff like that. And they took pictures of us and other girls with their phones. During recess, they stand outside waiting for us and then they follow us. Sometimes guys have groped us in the lunch line.”