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Short Takes: Life Turned on its Head
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Short Takes: Life Turned on its Head

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

It is readily apparent that the Middle East is totally exploding in front of our eyes, yet the concerns of the world powers and of elite leaders continues to be whether or not the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians can be solved; after which everybody will get along! France has now announced that it does not does not recommend that its citizens invest in economic projects on the West Bank, the Golan Heights, or East Jerusalem.

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In France as well, there was a scene reminiscent of an Inspector Clouseau movie.  The Paris gendarmerie acted like a group of Peter Sellers’ extras as they proved themselves hardly able to adequately protect marchers who were demonstrating about the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers from hostile confrontational, extremist protesters.

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The Presbyterian Church at its General Assembly voted to divest its pension funds holdings from Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett-Packard corporations which they allege sell products which help Israel promote violence on the West Bank. In a very close 310-303 vote, after eight years and four GA’s in which the votes were defeated, it appears that some of the more radical professional staff together with some of the more leftist Presbyteries and spurred on by a small marginal group of pro-divestment Jews from the Jewish Voice for Peace, were able to push the vote through.

While the withdrawal amounted to approximately $21 million, the balance of the Israel resolution was generally supportive. There is a major concern among many Jews that this decision by the highly prominent and influential Presbyterian Church–although having only around 1.8 million members in the U.S.—may clearly encourage the other mainline churches to follow suit. This may well signal a period of both anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric spewing forth which may translate into heightened support for the overall BDS movement.

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Secretary Kerry is clearly trying to push the various parties in Iraq to join forces quickly to try to avert a total collapse of civil order in Iraq; but it may be too late. President Maliki may well want U.S. military assistance, but he appears to have rejected Kerry’s request to form a grand coalition to rule Iraq. As the ISIS forces take over all the border entry points and Syria commences air attacks on civilian targets, Kerry talked Kurdish to not separate from Iraq, but to join a new Government.  Meanwhile, there are reports that the Kurds who have have begun shipping oil to Israel                                  

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