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Middle East


  • Originally published 04/07/2014

    Harvard's Richard N. Frye dies at 94

    Richard N. Frye, the Aga Khan Professor of Iranian Studies Emeritus, who was sometimes called “dean of the world’s Iranists,” passed away on March 27.

  • Originally published 03/30/2014

    35 years after the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty

    March 26 marks the 35th anniversary of the signing of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, most famously evoked by the three-way handshake on the White House lawn that changed the Middle East.

  • Originally published 01/16/2014

    The Israel Double Standard

    The prejudice against Israel in diplomatic matters is as troubling as more crude bigotry against Jews.

  • Originally published 01/07/2014

    The Numbers Game

    Why the statistics crisis is hurting the GOP in particular.

  • Originally published 09/03/2013

    No Good Options for Obama in Syria

    Inaction means Assad remains in power and Obama looking weak, but the president faces hurdles to action both at the UN and in Congress.

  • Originally published 08/23/2013

    Daniel Pipes: Obama's Foreign Fiasco

    It's a privilege to be an American who works on foreign policy, as I have done since the late 1970s, participating in a small way in the grand project of finding my country's place in the world. But now, under Barack Obama, decisions made in Washington have dramatically shrunk in importance. It's unsettling and dismaying. And no longer a privilege.

  • Originally published 07/16/2013

    Stop Thinking of Only the "Arab World"

    For now, most serious treatments of the Arab uprisings will remain inadequate from a historical perspective, including this one! The first objective is to avoid the outlandish or lazy analytical treatments that proceed from some idiosyncratic political or cultural essence, and/or those monist approaches that reduce outcomes to one variable. There is no place for either sort of reductionism in serious political or historical inquiry. The second objective is to recognize the limits of our ability as analysts in pinning down the right mixture of weighted variables in explaining revolutionary outcomes. But explanatory despair should not be the takeaway from these precautions. The trick is gradually to refine the conversation on the question of causes. Revolutions, or uprisings, are not a science -- even according to Political Scientists! We simply can’t predict them, but we surely can do much better than the outlandish and the monist.

  • Originally published 07/09/2013

    Colin Thubron: When the Ruins Were New

    Colin Thubron is the president of the Royal Society of Literature. Among his books are Mirror to Damascus, The Hills of Adonis: A Quest in Lebanon, Jerusalem, In Siberia, and, most recently, To a Mountain in Tibet.
 (January 2012)In February 1862 the eldest son of Queen Victoria, the Prince of Wales and future King Edward VII, embarked on a four-and-a-half month journey through the Middle East. The royal party followed what was on the face of it a conventional itinerary, sailing from Venice down the Dalmatian coast on the royal yacht Osborne to Alexandria, cruising up the Nile to Aswan to view the sites of ancient Egypt, crossing to Jaffa for a tour of the Holy Land, then returning to England via the Ionian islands and Constantinople.Among the party—included at the last moment—was the photographer Francis Bedford, who in over 190 prints produced one of the earliest photographic records of the region. These sepia studies, soft-lit yet rich in detail, were achieved with a cumbrous caravan of lenses, tripods, chemicals, plates, and a portable darkroom. His subjects were mostly but not all the sites of ancient or biblical significance that Western visitors already favored: the ruined survivors of a stupendous past that they could half claim for themselves.

  • Originally published 06/16/2013

    Top Ten Conclusions from Iran’s Election

    Those who believed that Khamenei would try to fix this election for Jalili as he is accused by the Green ovement of doing four years ago were mistaken. 

  • Originally published 05/13/2013

    Nuclear Terror in the Middle East

    Credit: Wiki Commons.In those first minutes, they’ll be stunned. Eyes fixed in a thousand-yard stare, nerve endings numbed. They’ll just stand there. Soon, you’ll notice that they are holding their arms out at a 45-degree angle. Your eyes will be drawn to their hands and you’ll think you mind is playing tricks. But it won’t be. Their fingers will start to resemble stalactites, seeming to melt toward the ground. And it won’t be long until the screaming begins. Shrieking. Moaning. Tens of thousands of victims at once. They’ll be standing amid a sea of shattered concrete and glass, a wasteland punctuated by the shells of buildings, orphaned walls, stairways leading nowhere.This could be Tehran, or what’s left of it, just after an Israeli nuclear strike.

  • Originally published 05/06/2013

    Victor Davis Hanson: An Irrelevant Middle East

    Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His new book, The Savior Generals, will appear this month from Bloomsbury Press. You can reach him by e-mailing author@victorhanson.com.Since antiquity, the Middle East has been the trading nexus of three continents — Asia, Europe, and Africa — and the vibrant birthplace of three of the world’s great religions.Middle Eastern influence rose again in the 19th century when the Suez Canal turned the once-dead-end eastern Mediterranean Sea into a sea highway from Europe to Asia.With the 20th-century development of large gas and oil supplies in the Persian Gulf and North Africa, an Arab-led OPEC more or less dictated the foreign policy of thirsty oil importers like the United States and Europe. No wonder U.S. Central Command has remained America’s military-command hot spot.

  • Originally published 03/20/2013

    Middle Eastern martime traditions explored in Exeter University's dhow exhibition

    The maritime traditions of people living and travelling on the major sea routes of the western Indian Ocean are being explored in a first-of-its-kind exhibition at Exeter University, which will even feature a traditiontally constructed dhow, which has been made specially for the exhibition by artist Paul Riley in a workshop on the River Dart.

  • Originally published 01/28/2013

    Jonathan Zimmerman: The Middle East's Nonexistant Gay Rights Movement

    Jonathan Zimmerman is a professor of history and education at New York University. He is teaching a course this January at NYU's Abu Dhabi campus.ABU DHABI -- "We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths -- that all of us are created equal -- is the star that guides us still," President Barack Obama declared at his inauguration last Monday, "just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall."But does it also go through Sharjah?That's where two dozen men were arrested and lashed in 2004 at an apparent "gay wedding" here in the United Arab Emirates, where homosexual relations are illegal. Since then, untold numbers of gays have reportedly received lashes, prison sentences, psychological "therapy" and hormone treatments to remedy the so-called "illness" of homosexuality.President Obama received just praise for mentioning Stonewall, site of a 1969 New York police raid and riot that touched off the modern American homosexual rights movement. And to his credit, the president and outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have instructed U.S. foreign aid agencies to support gay-rights efforts overseas. "Gay rights are human rights," Ms. Clinton said in 2011....

  • Originally published 01/16/2013

    Martin Kramer: Chuck Hagel and Linkage

    Martin Kramer is Schusterman senior visiting professor at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, and president of Shalem College in Jerusalem.Former Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel is President Obama’s nominee for secretary of defense. Much has already been said about the pros and cons of the nomination, and much more will be said during confirmation hearings in the Senate. Here is one possible line of questioning: given the centrality of the Middle East in U.S. military planning, how does Hagel think the region works? If the United States has limited resources, and must apportion them judiciously, where is it best advised to invest them?Hagel has a view of this, expressed on numerous occasions. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the core problem of the Middle East. Until it is resolved, it will be impossible to make progress in treating any of the region’s other pathologies. Hagel claims to have reached this conclusion by talking with leaders of the Middle East. He’s just repeating what they tell him, he has said. So it’s interesting to go back and see just what they did tell him—an exercise made feasible via WikiLeaks. (If you belong to that class of persons who have to avert their eyes from WikiLeaks, don’t follow the links and take my word.)...

  • Originally published 01/15/2013

    Edwin Black at Fordham University traces Farhud and the roots of the Arab-Nazi alliance in the Holocaust

    Award-winning, bestselling author Edwin Black will chronicle the centuries of intersection between Islam and Jewry that led to the Farhud pogrom in Baghdad in 1941 and the ensuing Arab-Nazi alliance in the Holocaust in a major address at Fordham University 6 PM January 31, 2013. Black's presentation is based on his recent bestselling and critically acclaimed book, The Farhud: Roots of the Arab-Nazi Alliance in the Holocaust. The event at the Lincoln Center campus of Fordham is sponsored by the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy. Black's presentation will be followed by a 28-minute filmed testimony by actual victims in the documentary "The Farhud," screened by Professor Haim Shaked.Dr. Shaked is flying in from Miami for the special event. He is the director of The Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies at the University of Miami. Black's presentation and the film are predicted to "completely re-define people's perception of mideast history, the Palestine conflict, and the basis for the robust international Arab alliance with the Nazis," said author Black.

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