Editor’s Wrapup: Attention and Thought
The summer of 2009 saw a lot of attention devoted to the Middle East but, other than the American withdrawal from Iraqi cities, little real movement. Much airtime went to the Iranian presidential election in June and tension between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu over settlements, but by summer’s end no one could tell what, if anything, had changed.
Two articles in this month’s edition look at what the events of the summer might mean. “The mass demonstrations against the stolen election in Iran were noble and courageous but did not come close to changing that country’s regime,” writes Barry Rubin. Surveying the various directions the Iranian challenge could take, Rubin adds that if there is anything good for Israel in the recent news from Tehran, it’s that the rest of the world may finally wake up to the extremism of Ayatollah Khamenei’s regime.
Looking at Netanyahu’s resistance to Obama’s call for a freeze on all settlement activity, Gershom Gorenberg observes that “domestic politics have made each less likely to budge,” but notes that the patchwork Israeli coalition government puts Netanyahu in the weaker position. Gorenberg cautions, however, that there may be much more going on diplomatically than what makes it into the news.
If it’s hard to discern political change, even under a spotlight, there is movement on a much quieter front: prayer. Rahel Musleah writes about the surge in independent minyans—those with no denominational affiliation—in North America, Barbara Trainin Blank looks at Aliza Lavie’s book of prayers that became a surprise best seller and Genie Zeiger adds a personal essay on her effort to put meaning in her individual prayers.
If there is a lesson in the prayer scene that can help in the political realm, maybe it’s that independent thinking is always a good thing.
—Alan M. Tigay