Jerusalem institute – Sustainable Jerusalem http://sustainable-jerusalem.org/ Wed, 18 May 2022 01:23:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.3 https://sustainable-jerusalem.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/icon-12.png Jerusalem institute – Sustainable Jerusalem http://sustainable-jerusalem.org/ 32 32 Terrence Sejnowski of the Salk Institute receives the Gruber Prize https://sustainable-jerusalem.org/terrence-sejnowski-of-the-salk-institute-receives-the-gruber-prize/ Tue, 17 May 2022 14:11:10 +0000 https://sustainable-jerusalem.org/terrence-sejnowski-of-the-salk-institute-receives-the-gruber-prize/ May 17, 2022 Terrence Sejnowski of the Salk Institute receives the Gruber Prize May 17, 2022 LA JOLLA – Professor Terrence Sejnowski of the Salk Institute has received the 2022 Gruber Neuroscience Prize from the Gruber Foundation for his “pioneering contributions to computational and theoretical neuroscience”. He shares the $500,000 prize with Larry Abbott of […]]]>

Terrence Sejnowski of the Salk Institute receives the Gruber Prize

LA JOLLA – Professor Terrence Sejnowski of the Salk Institute has received the 2022 Gruber Neuroscience Prize from the Gruber Foundation for his “pioneering contributions to computational and theoretical neuroscience”. He shares the $500,000 prize with Larry Abbott of Columbia University, Emery Neal Brown of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Massachusetts General Hospital, and Haim Sompolinsky of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Harvard University.

Terrence Sejnowski.
Click here for a high resolution image.
Credit: Salk Institute

“Terry is a pioneer who revolutionized the field of computational neuroscience,” said Salk President Rusty Gage. “He created new computational models to better understand brain function, which can help researchers develop new therapies for neurological disorders.”

Sejnowski, who heads Salk’s Computational Neurobiology Lab and Distinguished Professor at UC San Diego, has helped shape the fields of neuroeconomics, neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, psychology, and intelligence. artificial. In 1985, while at Johns Hopkins University, he collaborated with computer scientist Geoffrey Hinton to invent the Boltzmann machine, the first algorithm to solve the problem of learning in multilayer neural networks. It remains the most biologically plausible of all subsequent learning algorithms for artificial neural networks.

Shortly after announcing the Boltzmann machine, Sejnowski created NETtalk, a computer program that, like the human brain, was able to learn how to turn written text into speech. Not only was this an astonishing technical achievement, but it also marked a major cultural milestone as it raised new challenges for philosophy, linguistics and cognitive science.

Sejnowski also helped develop the first unsupervised learning algorithm for component-independent analysis, which is now a mainstay in brain imaging. He also showed that sleep spindles (brain wave patterns during non-rapid eye movement sleep) are not synchronous across the cortex, as previously believed, but instead create progressive circular waves.

“I am honored to receive the Gruber Prize in recognition of my work,” says Sejnowski, Francis Crick Chair at Salk. “I hope this research will deepen our understanding of how the brain learns and how memory is affected in disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.”

Sejnowski has received numerous other awards, including the Frank Rosenblatt Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Neural Network Pioneer Award, the Hebb Award, and the Wright Award. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Inventors.

]]>
Iran, Turkey and the Future of the South Caucasus https://sustainable-jerusalem.org/iran-turkey-and-the-future-of-the-south-caucasus/ Wed, 04 May 2022 15:11:15 +0000 https://sustainable-jerusalem.org/iran-turkey-and-the-future-of-the-south-caucasus/ Since the end of September 2021, when Iran-Azerbaijan relations hit a low point, Tehran and Baku have embarked on a process of de-escalation. Much of the focus is on expanding economic cooperation and advancing plans to establish pan-regional transport links, such as the North-South rail corridor linking India to Russia via Iran and Azerbaijan. Such […]]]>

Since the end of September 2021, when Iran-Azerbaijan relations hit a low point, Tehran and Baku have embarked on a process of de-escalation. Much of the focus is on expanding economic cooperation and advancing plans to establish pan-regional transport links, such as the North-South rail corridor linking India to Russia via Iran and Azerbaijan.

Such efforts should be welcomed and encouraged as improving the collective economic well-being of the South Caucasus region benefits all states in the region. That said, underlying geopolitical tensions are always a factor and can derail attempts at economic integration at any time. In this context, the Iranian-Turkish competition for influence in the South Caucasus is the most pressing problem to be managed.

Iranian Turkey fears

From Tehran’s perspective, Azerbaijan’s victory in the 2020 war against Armenia could not have been achieved without Turkish and Israeli support and Russia’s inability to prevent Armenia’s defeat . In this Iranian reading, Baku is emboldened and considers “its military-diplomatic action strategy [as] justified. This includes his decision to choose Turkey and Israel as his main foreign partners.

From Tehran’s perspective, this sense of political justification in Baku presents its own challenges. Israel is, after all, Iran’s main regional rival. Since the mid-1990s, the Iranians have had to engage in a delicate balancing act not to let the close military-security cooperation between Baku and Jerusalem undermine Tehran’s preference for maintaining cordial relations with Azerbaijan. .

However, it is Iranian concerns over Turkish plans to expand its influence in Azerbaijan and the wider South Caucasus that could spark new tensions and open a new chapter in the region’s history. In short, Tehran fears that Ankara’s strategy to cement relations with Baku is a policy that relies heavily on a pan-Turkish message that aims to capitalize on the shared language, history and culture of Turkish speakers who live in a vast region from Turkey through northern Iran to the Caucasus and Central Asia and as far as China.

It is precisely pan-Turkism that worries Iranians the most. Meanwhile, Russia, which has its own sizeable Turkish minorities and shares Iran’s fears of Pan-Turkism, has a weakened hand in the region thanks to its invasion of Ukraine and the negative ramifications this has had on Moscow’s ability to continue to play its historic role. as an eminence in the South Caucasus.

There are no official data but about 20% of the Iranian population 85 million people are ethnic Azerbaijanis. This is a community deeply embedded in the fabric of the Iranian nation, and there are no signs of large-scale secessionist tendencies. Nonetheless, Tehran officials and analysts remain acutely sensitive to this issue, and in particular to any Turkish aspiration to incite Azerbaijanis in Iran to any upsurge in Iranian-Turkish tensions.

In this line of thinking, the argument often heard from Iranian officials is that the Turkish-Azerbaijani agreement to use the pan-Turkish map against Iran is fully supported by Israel. Tehran’s accusation against Baku is that it provides “safe havens” for ethnic Azerbaijani secessionists from Iran, a charge President Ilham Aliyev has flatly denied. Be that as it may, with Russia consumed by its war in Ukraine, some in Tehran expect Ankara and Baku to expand their support for pan-Turkism, which will invariably put them on a collision course with Tehran.

Iran, Turkey and the race for transit

This Iranian-Turkish competition in the South Caucasus also has economic dimensions. Iranian officials have long maintained that the country’s central location allows it to serve as a land bridge for transit routes linking West Asia with Europe and East Asia. This is a reality that no one can deny if you look at the map. What also cannot be denied is that the United States and Israel have opposed and continue to oppose Iran’s involvement in pan-regional projects that will benefit it economically.

In return, Tehran has done next to nothing to seek ways to reduce such opposition, as that would require reorienting its overall foreign policy and reducing tensions with the United States and Israel. Instead, Tehran has focused on countries, like Turkey, that seek to take advantage of Iran’s inability to function as a regional hub for trade and transit.

While the Iranians recognize their shortcomings, they have been slow to act to rectify the situation. This lack of momentum is something Tehran should already regret when you see how quickly Turkey is moving to become the regional transit hub for all of West Asia, including the South Caucasus and the Central Asia. As a result, Turkey’s recent efforts, including the unveiling of plans to link up with Central Asia via the Caspian Sea, are seen as a direct challenge to Iranian interests.

Take for example Turkey’s “East-West-Middle Trans-Caspian Corridor Initiative”, which Ankara also calls “the Middle Corridor”. This connects Turkey to the Caucasus via Georgia and Azerbaijan, then via a maritime link crosses the Caspian Sea to Central Asia and China. Turkish marketing calls this a “revival” of the Silk Road, which is a lie since the historic Silk Road passed through what is now Iran.

A subcomponent of these Turkish efforts is the “Turkey-Georgia-Azerbaijan-Turkmenistan-Afghanistan Transit Corridor Agreement”, also known as the “Lapis Lazuli Agreement”. Again, the net loser in the development of a route linking Central Asia and Afghanistan to the Black Sea and the Mediterranean is Iran, which will be excluded from a potentially important regional transit network. It will also jeopardize Iran’s trade relations with Afghanistan and Central Asian states, as more trade flows will mean more competition for the same export markets that Tehran currently depends on.

Despite these realities, Iran is still slow to act. In Tehran, the relevant regional trade and transit policy bureaucracy needs to be overhauled and streamlined. In one case in October 2021, when two Pakistani trucks carrying goods transited through Iran to Turkey, they faces considerable bureaucratic delays at the border — delays that were only resolved after mediation by senior customs officials in Tehran. The incident exposed a broken system that is not attractive for large-scale international trade. Iran must also sign bilateral and multilateral transit agreements with its neighbors and beyond to become a main transit route.

Upcoming Options

In short, Iran and Turkey are currently engaged in a subtle but deeper competition for influence in the South Caucasus, including in the area of ​​possible new transit projects. The Iranians know that the lifting of sanctions is essential to their ability to become a regional transit hub. It is a source of income that Iran would appreciate. The revenue from each ton of goods passing through Iran is apparently the same like that of each barrel of oil exported.

But Tehran’s predicament is greater than its inability to turn its geography into a source of revenue by becoming a transit hub. Despite recent efforts by Baku and Tehran to focus on mutually beneficial economic cooperation where possible, broader political dialogue is needed. Above all, Iran must do more to promote the constructive role it can play as a mediator between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

There is no doubt that Tehran was caught off guard by the 44-day war between Armenia and Azerbaijan at the end of 2020 for control of the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Iranians were also shocked by the extent of Turkish and Israeli involvement during the fighting and in the aftermath of the Moscow-brokered ceasefire but where Ankara was – unlike Tehran – a party to the negotiations.

Like former Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif Put the in January 2021, Tehran’s intention is to seek different ways in which countries in the region can “work together to help the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis [to come to an end] and [improve] the situation of peace and stability. This is what the Iranians and Turks have called the “union of six” between Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Russia and Turkey. Only time will tell if Iran can recover the lost ground in the South Caucasus, but there is no doubt in Tehran today that Iran has neglected too much the region’s importance for its geostrategic and economic interests.

Alex Vatanka is director of the Iran program at the MEI and principal researcher at the Frontière Europe Initiative. His most recent book is The Battle of the Ayatollahs in Iran: The United States, Foreign Policy and Political Rivalry Since 1979. You can follow him on Twitter @AlexVatanka. The opinions expressed in this article are his own.

Photo by Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

]]>
Forsyth County 68th Baptist Training Institute Launches Virtual Session https://sustainable-jerusalem.org/forsyth-county-68th-baptist-training-institute-launches-virtual-session/ Wed, 20 Apr 2022 19:48:51 +0000 https://sustainable-jerusalem.org/forsyth-county-68th-baptist-training-institute-launches-virtual-session/ The 68th Forsyth County Baptist Training Institute, organized by the Rowan Baptist Forsyth County Missionary Union, is launching the 2022 virtual session, “Our Mission in Service to the Present Age.” Please join class and worship at 6 p.m. each weeknight from Monday, April 25 through Friday, April 29. This year, Rev. Frederick L. Barnes, Jr., […]]]>

The 68th Forsyth County Baptist Training Institute, organized by the Rowan Baptist Forsyth County Missionary Union, is launching the 2022 virtual session, “Our Mission in Service to the Present Age.” Please join class and worship at 6 p.m. each weeknight from Monday, April 25 through Friday, April 29. This year, Rev. Frederick L. Barnes, Jr., pastor of Antioch Baptist Church, will serve as host pastor and share an inspirational message each evening.

Adult class instructors will focus on discussions to engage each group as they study “To Serve This Present Age – Social Justice Ministries in the Black Church”, authors Danielle L. Ayers and Reginald W. Williams.

Classes are sponsored by the Forsyth County Missionary Union: President, Lynda Breeden; vice-presidents, Gloria Morgan-Flowers, Carolyn Kerns and Carolyn Thompson; and co-sponsored by the Baptist Ministers’ Fellowship: President, Reverend James Fullwood; the Ushers’ Union: President, Mr. Bobby Clinkscales; the Sunday School Union: President, Mr. Marcus Neal; and the Health & Wellness Guild: President, Min. Rochelle Martin. Classes will meet for deacons and trustees.

All churches and friends in the community and surrounding area are invited to participate every evening. Join this Zoom event by phone, computer or tablet. More information such as connections to access the Baptist Training Institute and event details can be found in our flyer. To request a flyer, email fcbaptisttraining.info@nogmail.com.

The instructors and courses are as follows:

The pastors and ministers class will be taught by Reverend Ronald Speas, pastor of the New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church. Reverend Speas, active in Christian ministry for over 25 years, has taught at a variety of venues including North Carolina State Baptist General Convention, Yadkin Valley Baptist Association, High Point Educational, Missionary Baptist Association and the Forsyth County Sunday School Union. He is second vice moderator of HPEMBA and vice president of the Winston-Salem Baptist Ministers’ Conference.

The administrator class instructor, Mrs. Marilyn James, is a graduate of Forsyth Technical Community College. She is a member of Galilee Missionary Baptist Church and a member of the Galilee Board of Trustees. There she serves as a trustee and provides biblical training for trustee ministry. She also teaches at the Forsyth County Sunday School Union.

The Sunday School Union class instructor for superintendents and teachers, Minister Velma McCloud, is an associate minister at Piney Grove Baptist Church. She is a member of the missionary, intercessory prayer and prison ministries. She is a counselor with the Young Adult Ministry and teaches Sunday School.

The Usher’s Union class will be led by Mr. Rodney McCormick, a member of Mt. Olive Baptist Church. There he served as president of the Senior Usher Board, superintendent of Sunday School, and director of the Vacation Bible School. Currently, he is the associate dean of the North Carolina State Baptist General Convention. He graduated from NC A&T State University and the University of Kentucky.

The Health and Wellbeing Guild (formerly known as the Nurses Guild) will be taught by Ms. Sharon Roberts. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management and a Master of Arts in Management from Ashford University. Ms. Roberts is a member of the New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church where she serves on the Ministry of Health and is president of the Alms for Christ missionary ministry. She is currently employed at the Forsyth County Public Health Department as a Community Fitness and Wellness Center. Coordinator, Adult Health Educator and NC Minority Diabetes Prevention Coordinator for Region 3. She is the current Vice President of the Forsyth County Union Health and Wellness Guild.

The Deacon class will be taught by Deacon Christopher Brooks who also led the class last year. He describes himself as a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. He is currently president of the deacons at Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Walkertown. He is a Sunday school and evening Bible study teacher.

The main missionary instructor is Mrs. Sheila Sullivan of the New Jerusalem Baptist Church. She was a teacher at the institute for several years. Ms. Sullivan is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University and Vintage Bible College and Seminary, where she earned continuing education credits and certificates in missions, Christian education, youth ministries, young adults, the elderly and women.

The young adult missionary teacher is Dr. Cynthia Dixon, who accepted the call to ministry in December 1994. She is associated with First Waughtown Baptist Church. Dr. Dixon is committed to becoming a disciple. She has served faithfully in many capacities, including youth church teacher, missionary, Bible study teacher, and vacation Bible school teacher. She is the founder and CEO of Cynthia Dixon Ministries, Inc. A A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, Dr. Dixon earned a master’s degree in theology from Shaw University, a master’s degree from Gardner-Webb University, and a doctorate from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. She is employed by the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School System in the Careers and Technical Department.

Young people are especially invited to attend this Zoom event on Thursday and Friday evenings. The youth monitors are eager to share these dynamic topics.

The Missionary Youth Messengers class (ages 15-20) will study “You Are My Witness – Sharing Jesus in the 21st Century”. This course will be led by Dr. Jeremiah Shipp, a member of Love and Faith Christian Fellowship Church in Greensboro. At Love and Faith CFC, he is a ministry director, providing leadership, training, and many supportive ministries within his church family. Dr. Shipp completed his education at Tennessee State University, earning a Bachelor of Business Administration, a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies from Carolina University in Winston-Salem, and a Doctor of Education from Texas A&M University in Commerce, Texas. . He declares, as he teaches and preaches the Word of God, that he strives to see people saved, delivered, and equipped for the work of the ministry.

The Missionary Youth in Action class will welcome participants ages 9-14, as they study “The Fruit of the Spirit.” The instructor, Reverend Michelle Hudson, is an associate minister of the Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church who serves in youth ministries and as president of young adult missionaries. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from NC State University in Raleigh. Reverend Hudson teaches in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school system and serves as the youth supervisor for the Forsyth County Missionary Union.

“Developing the Heart of a Servant,” for young missionaries up to age 8, will be taught by Reverend Clara Goode, associate minister of Morning Star Baptist Church. She has been in children’s ministry for over 40 years. An instructor at Vintage Bible College and Seminary, Reverend Goode conducts seminars entitled “Leading a Child to Christ”, “Teaching Children in the 21st Century”, and various other workshops. She teaches at the High Point Educational and Missionary Association Youth Tract and the General Baptist State Convention Youth Division.

Baptist Training Institute Director Nancy Green, a member of Red Bank Baptist Church, welcomes returning and new attendees from Forsyth County, Rockingham County, Alamance County and surrounding areas. For connections to access the Baptist Training Institute, email fcbaptisttraining.info@nogmail.com.

]]>
Russia Blackmails Bennet’s Government to Obtain Alexander’s Court https://sustainable-jerusalem.org/russia-blackmails-bennets-government-to-obtain-alexanders-court/ Wed, 20 Apr 2022 17:21:22 +0000 https://sustainable-jerusalem.org/russia-blackmails-bennets-government-to-obtain-alexanders-court/ Russia claims against Israel the transfer of the Alexander Court from Jerusalem in Moscow. Dr. David Horowitz, a Jerusalem history researcher at Bar-Ilan University, claims that in 1859 the Tsarist Russian Empire acquired land outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City. One of the lots is located near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the […]]]>

Russia claims against Israel the transfer of the Alexander Court from Jerusalem in Moscow. Dr. David Horowitz, a Jerusalem history researcher at Bar-Ilan University, claims that in 1859 the Tsarist Russian Empire acquired land outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City. One of the lots is located near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the place where the court of Alexander was founded.

After Palestine gained the mandate from the British Empire in 1917, in 1948 the UN decided to return all Russian assets in Jerusalem to their former owners. The Russian Empire fell in 1917. The Orthodox clerical establishment fled abroad where they established the Russian Church in Exile. This church was seriously opposed to the church controlled by the counterintelligence of Soviet Russia on the issue of the management of foreign property.

Following the declaration of the State of Israel, certain religious properties in Jerusalem were transferred to the Russian Church controlled by the special services. However, Alexander’s court was located in territory controlled by present-day Jordan rather than Israel. The Hashemite Monarchy granted all rights to Russian assets to the Russian Church in Exile.

Court of Alexander (red) near Al-Aqsa Mosque.

In May 2007, the Russian Church in Exile merged with the Secret Service-controlled Church.

In June 2015, former Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered proceedings to legalize Russia’s rights to the Court of Alexander and the Church of Alexander Nevsky in Jerusalem.

However, in March 2022, an Israeli court dismissed claims by the Russian Federation to get hold of heritage belonging to someone else.

Accordingly, on April 18, President Putin sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and demanded the transfer of the court of Alexander to Russia.

In order to induce Israel to comply with the demands of the Kremlin, Moscow is playing tricks on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Russia controls, uses and assists Palestinian extremist groups to pressure Israel and increase its influence in the region. The Russian impact in Palestine is strong due to President Mahmoud Abbas’ long-term cooperation with the Soviet intelligence services, whose foreign assets were given to Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union.

According to Mitrokhin’s records, while living in Damascus, Syria, Abbas served as a KGB agent working for the Palestine Liberation Organization under the code name “Krotov.”

The Alexander’s Courtyard transfer case is under the supervision of Sergei Stepashin, the former director of the FSB, the current president of the Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society (IOPS). This is the person who paid 40 million dollars to buy a fake fragment of the Holy Cross stored on board the sunken cruiser “Moscow”. In his activity, Stepashin often uses anti-Semitic statements.

There is no doubt that the FSB was behind the provocation against Israeli Naama Issachar, who was arrested for transporting 9 grams of hashish through one of Moscow’s airports in 2020. The incident gave the Kremlin the green light to benefit from the public reaction to the scandal. Moscow offered former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to transfer the rights to the architectural heritage to Russia in exchange for the release of Issachar.

Jerusalem District Court Judge Mordechai Kaduri canceled the registration of the Russian government’s property rights to the Alexander Court in Jerusalem and submitted the case to the Bennett government. Bennett’s decision in favor of Russia would mean the government’s ignorance of the Israeli court’s decision which found no legal basis to transfer the lot to the Russians (the issue was submitted for examination through the prism of a political solution), as well as a sign of the weakness of the Bennett government. Such a scenario would undermine Western confidence in the Israeli government, as well as Israel’s potential for international mediation.

Russia has no interest in cooperating with Israel, as it relies primarily on Syria and Iran, as well as Palestinian proxies in the region. Thus, the transfer of Alexander’s Courtyard to Russia will be used by Moscow to strengthen its position in the region among anti-Israeli countries.

Pal2
poutine1
]]>
Phoenix inflation is the highest in the United States, according to the Common Sense Institute https://sustainable-jerusalem.org/phoenix-inflation-is-the-highest-in-the-united-states-according-to-the-common-sense-institute/ Sat, 09 Apr 2022 00:50:00 +0000 https://sustainable-jerusalem.org/phoenix-inflation-is-the-highest-in-the-united-states-according-to-the-common-sense-institute/ Nobody likes to pay more for less. But if you live in the Phoenix metro area, you do just that. Inflation there is higher than anywhere else in the country, according to a recent study of the Common Sense Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank based in Phoenix. Inflation is hitting all Americans, but no […]]]>

Nobody likes to pay more for less. But if you live in the Phoenix metro area, you do just that.

Inflation there is higher than anywhere else in the country, according to a recent study of the Common Sense Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank based in Phoenix.

Inflation is hitting all Americans, but no more so than Arizonans who have faced an unprecedented price spike of 10.9% over the past 12 months, 3 points higher than the rest of the country.

“It has a significant impact on the typical household,” said Jim Rounds, a Tempe-based economic analyst. Phoenix New Times. “This is close to the worst it’s going to be.”

In February 2021, a gallon of gasoline in Arizona cost $2.25. Today it’s $4.63, more than double, according to AAA.

“The gas price issue is a real issue,” Rounds said. “It has an impact when you’re buying milk or cheese, because those items have to be transported.”

Yet it’s not just fuel prices that are on the rise, dripping past the gas pump onto grocery store shelves.

Remember when a gallon of milk is $1.98 in Phoenix last year? Today, Valley residents aren’t likely to get a gallon of whole milk for their Apple Jacks for less than $3.26, according to the United States Department of AgricultureMarch report.

Inflation is a growing problem in the Phoenix metro area.

Since October, prices of basic necessities have jumped at least 1% every month.

Phoenix lends itself to unprecedented inflation due to its rapidly growing economy, Rounds said. Stronger economic growth leads to greater demand for products.

This does not bode well for Valley residents as businesses continue to struggle to get food, drink, clothing and sundries to consumers amid soaring fuel prices and shortages. of shipping containers, among other issues.

“A high-growth region like greater Phoenix is ​​under more pressure to deliver to consumers,” Rounds said. “But at the moment it can’t.”

It all started with the pandemic.

Demand for gasoline, recreation and services plummeted as a mass exodus from the office locked people at home in isolation. When people returned to work last year, demand reverted to something resembling the pre-coronavirus norm.

Supply, however, still lags behind.

“COVID still has an impact on what’s happening right now,” Rounds said. “It’s causing this lingering effect that hits the wallets of every household in Arizona.”

Inflation has an outsized effect on low-income people, say economists.

According to the Common Sense Institute study, the average household in the Valley spends an additional $4,462 on food, shelter, transportation, medical care and other goods and services compared to a year ago.

Since February 2021, all items have increased in price. Fuel has increased by 44% and energy by 29% in Arizona, the study finds.

The study, citing the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, also points out that housing costs have jumped by more than 12%, almost three times more than the rest of the country.

New data from Rent.com shows renters are paying 81% more for a studio in Gilbert compared to the same period last year the biggest increase in an apartment for rent in any city in America.

“Housing affordability is a major issue,” Rounds said. “House prices are rising here more than anywhere else.”

In 2020, the cost of energy, clothing, raw materials, education, durable goods, recreation and transportation have all gone down. Annual inflation from 2010 to 2019 averaged just 2% in Arizona.

A lot has happened since then.

“The Ukrainian crisis and the US response to it are likely to put additional pressure on commodity, energy and gas prices,” the researchers of the recent study concluded. “For these reasons, we believe further consumer price inflation is likely over the next three to six months, rather than an easing.”

Rounds says it could take until the end of the calendar year for rapid inflation to subside in metro Phoenix.

Other experts predict early 2023.

“It’s going to be sticky for a little while,” Rounds said. “Prices will remain stuck at this higher level for some time to come.”

In January, the Phoenix metro area recorded the second highest inflation after the Atlanta metro area. But inflation has risen more than 2% since then, putting the Valley of the Sun at the top of the list.

Rounds advises low-income people in the Valley to make a conscious effort to live within their means, but not to stop spending altogether.

The good news, he says, is that Phoenix has one of the strongest economies in the country.

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “We will get there.”

]]>
Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen on Israel’s ‘revolutionary’ summit https://sustainable-jerusalem.org/lucy-kurtzer-ellenbogen-on-israels-revolutionary-summit/ Tue, 05 Apr 2022 14:35:16 +0000 https://sustainable-jerusalem.org/lucy-kurtzer-ellenbogen-on-israels-revolutionary-summit/ Experts from the U.S. Institute of Peace discuss the latest foreign policy issues from around the world in On Peace, a brief weekly collaboration with SiriusXM’s POTUS Channel 124. Transcription Julie MasonLucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen is director of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict program at the US Institute of Peace. Previously, she worked with the State Department as an […]]]>

Experts from the U.S. Institute of Peace discuss the latest foreign policy issues from around the world in On Peace, a brief weekly collaboration with SiriusXM’s POTUS Channel 124.

Transcription

Julie Mason
Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen is director of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict program at the US Institute of Peace. Previously, she worked with the State Department as an Arabic language specialist and as a program officer for the Kennedy School of Government’s Middle East initiatives at Harvard. She is here to discuss a very important summit that was held in Israel. Hi Lucy.

Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen
Hi Julia.

Julie Mason
It’s really great to find you at the top. I mean, there was a bit of play, but not too much. Can you tell us about it?

Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen
Sure. Although this is really a groundbreaking meeting that you saw last week, you had at the level of foreign ministers Israel, and for the Arab states, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco, as well as the United States, again, at the foreign ministers’ level meeting in Israel, so deeply symbolic, certainly, you can’t think of a more dramatic way perhaps to underline the acceptance of Israel, in the Arab world in the region by these Arab States. Since the signing of Abraham McCoy, this meeting, let’s remember, was Israel’s invitation. And not only did this not only take place in Israel, but really in a rather symbolic place. It took place at Kibbutz Baca, which is very deeply associated in the minds of Israelis, as the final resting place of David Ben-Gurion, who is really the founding father of Israel, the first signatory of the Declaration of Independence of ‘Israel. So again, symbolically, certainly, what you had here is something quite powerful. And let’s also remember that it was that the United States was there. But as a guest, we are used to seeing these kind of summits, whereas we have seen them a few times in the past organized by a third party. And here, it was really a very local effort.

Julie Mason
It’s interesting, isn’t it to see the United States and other countries relying on the Abraham Accords?

Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen
Absoutely. I mean, again, when it started, I think they were certainly considered historic and groundbreaking at the time, but I think there were questions about how far could they go, and what we’ve really seen to varying degrees with the different countries that are engaged, but we’ve really seen a flourishing and full speed ahead. In some cases, we’ve seen embassies set up, we’ve seen, you know, trade deals, deals, on, on energy, really all kinds of signs that it wasn’t just a blip, that they are truly here to stay. And I think the one thing to look at is that there was a lot of analysis, when the Abraham Accords were signed, that it was really Iran that was the main motivating factor in the sense of a threat shared by Israel in the United States, certainly in the case of the Emirates and return of rain. But what you’ve really seen are these agreements, and these relationships go beyond just joining forces in the face of this common threat, but to really look at opportunities all the way. Again, when it comes to things like the economy, tourism, it was announced at the end of the summit, that there were these working groups to be established, one of which deals with security , but other issues concerning tourism, energy, health, education. So again, you really feel like these are countries looking for shared opportunities, not just trying to find common cause against shared security threats.

Julie Mason
Is the underlying, is there an underlying motivation for this, the idea that with greater economic prosperity, there will be less opportunity or less need for violent conflict?

Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen
Well, certainly that could be part of the consideration, again, because there are many opportunities that countries see here. And I think there’s probably some sense that it can certainly help a situation where, you know, I think a lot of people make an association between violence and lack of opportunity, lack of employment, that kind of of factors. But I think, I think again, that’s also what I read in this engagement, which goes back to this idea of ​​the United States being at the top, Tony Blinken being there as a guest because it’s really these countries, in terms of what you call self-reliance, I think over the last few years the states have felt that the United States is pulling out of the Middle East. It is certainly their perception. And I think what you’re seeing are these countries saying that maybe we can no longer count on the United States to weigh in on the interests that we have in mind. And so it’s, it’s up to us to start putting more energy into it. And so that’s what I read quite significantly both visually symbolically, again, the United States being invited there rather than being the host, as one might have to be expected with this kind of dramatic peak in the past, but really also a taking the reins of his future.

Julie Mason
What about the idea of ​​the two-state solution? We know that the Israeli, the current Israeli government is not that interested?

Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen
Yes. So what was very interesting, another interesting thing about this summit actually, I don’t know if it was a coincidence, but it actually happened exactly 20 years to the day since the signing of the ‘Arab Peace Initiative in 2002. And just a quick reminder of what the Arab Peace Initiative was, which was a groundbreaking agreement itself at a time when the Arab states, at the Arab League summit in Beirut, got together and said, after decades since 1967, to say we wouldn’t recognize it, well, we won’t negotiate with Israel, we won’t have peace with Israel. Of course, Egypt and Jordan had made peace in the meantime, quite controversially at first, but there had really been this block of not accepting Israel and maintaining those three nose principles that in 2002 of the Arab Peace Initiative, the state said, we will agree to normalize relations and have peace with Israel, once there is a negotiated two-state solution and a state Palestinian will be created. And that line had really been toed until the Abraham Accords shattered that paradigm of the two-state Palestinian state solution having to happen first. So you have the summit taking place 20 years to the day since it was signed. And so it wouldn’t be wrong to say, Well, it seems that this idea of ​​needing to be a Palestinian state no longer hinders any progress or cooperation between states. But I think it’s also important to note that if you watch the press conference at the end of the summit, the term two-state solution was used a lot. Tony Blinken, the Secretary of State made a point of saying that this summit is historic and that these relations do not replace progress on the Israeli-Palestinian front. The Moroccan Foreign Minister stressed the importance of achieving this goal. You had the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, who made this the focus of his remarks. The Bahraini foreign minister also mentioned it. So I think what we’re seeing is yes, we’re no longer at a point where those kinds of relationships, the shared interests, the states see that they’re not going to be held back by any progress on that front. But the question is certainly still relevant. Well. And we should also note that what was glaringly missing from this summit was Jordan. Yeah, who while the summit was going on was actually in Ramallah to meet President Abbas.

Julie Mason
Ah, so it was a scheduling conflict and not some kind of deliberate omission on anyone’s part.

Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen
I don’t think we know. I don’t know if we will ever find out. But it was certainly a striking juxtaposition that King Abdullah of Jordan was meeting with Palestinian Authority leaders to talk about concerns of violence, that everyone is very concerned about a time of heightened tensions, Ramadan began this weekend. end, Passover is approaching at Easter will also occur. And these are usually times when tensions arise, especially in Jerusalem around shared holy sites. And again, of course, the summit also took place against the backdrop of an upsurge in terrorist attacks. In Israel, I believe there were 11 deaths from terrorist attacks in just one week during this period surrounding the summit. So, again, this is a conflict that can sometimes be pushed aside but will not be ignored.

Julie Mason
And finally Lucy, this summit was very far from Ukraine, but was the conflict in Ukraine mentioned?

Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen
I am convinced that the Ukrainian conflict was on the agenda. You know, each of these players in the Middle East has a different set of central considerations and interests in relation to this conflict and also sometimes different from the United States. You know, if you look at Egypt, just like some of that was there, they’re the biggest importer of wheat in the world, and I believe over 70% of that wheat comes from Russia and from Ukraine, I believe, mainly Russia, you have a period of time, but because of this war, there are oil prices going up, wheat and other basic products, you know, like prices of these are rising, there is absolute concern in many of these countries about the destabilizing effects. So, of course, we can assume that I think this issue was ongoing. The Russian war in Ukraine was certainly central to the US agenda and perspective. They also have an interest in convincing the UAE who were there to really help them mitigate the oil price hike that you’ve seen because of this so far. This revealed some tensions in the relationship between the UAE and Saudi Arabia and the United States. But it’s something that all of these actors have in mind.

Julie Mason
Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen, thank you very much for joining me this morning.

Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen
Thanks for having me, Julie.

]]>
Portland Events: Housing-themed slam and panel https://sustainable-jerusalem.org/portland-events-housing-themed-slam-and-panel/ Thu, 31 Mar 2022 15:18:53 +0000 https://sustainable-jerusalem.org/portland-events-housing-themed-slam-and-panel/ The pro-housing YIMBYtown Conference is just around the corner, and for those in the Portland area, good news! His two evenings will be open to the public and you won’t want to miss them. Public Testimony: Housing Advocates Make Their Voices Heard at Story Slam A Moth-style storytelling event featuring a wide range of tales […]]]>

The pro-housing YIMBYtown Conference is just around the corner, and for those in the Portland area, good news! His two evenings will be open to the public and you won’t want to miss them.

Public Testimony: Housing Advocates Make Their Voices Heard at Story Slam

A Moth-style storytelling event featuring a wide range of tales about finding and defining home.

Monday, April 11, 7:30-9:00 p.m. PT: Stage 722 (Morrison Market, 722 SE 10th Ave, Portland, OR)*NOTE: Those registered for the full YIMBYtown conference do not need to purchase separate tickets for these evening events. They are included in your conference registration.

Buy your tickets here

How do we get home? Abundant housing for a sustainable and equitable future

The conference closing keynote will focus on the intersections of housing abundance, climate, homelessness and racial justice, hosted by Oregon Public Broadcasting. David Miller and with the panelists:

  • Demsas of Jerusalempolitical reporter for The Atlantic (formerly of Vox)
  • Rukaiyah AdamsBoard Chair, Albina Vision Trust
  • Sam Diazexecutive director of 1000 Friends of Oregon
  • Marisa Zapata, PhDDirector of the Portland State University Homelessness Research and Action Collective and Associate Professor of Land Use Planning

Wednesday, April 13, 7:30-9:00 p.m. PT, Revolution Hall (1300 SE Stark St, Portland, OR)*NOTE: Those registered for the full YIMBYtown conference do not need to purchase separate tickets for these evening events. They are included in your conference registration.

Buy your tickets here

Both events will feature food and drink available to buy from vendors on site from 6 p.m. Arrive early, enjoy a bite to eat and meet others from near and far who are working to advance abundant housing in our communities. We’ll see each other there!

For any questions, contact [email protected].

For more information on the YIMBYtown 2022 conference, taking place April 11-13 at Portland State University, see yimby.ville. Hosted by Sightline Institute, Portland: Neighbors Welcome, and Portland State University, this will be the fourth gathering of community leaders, organizers, planners, policymakers, educators, housing providers, and anyone interested in ” Yes in my back yard” (YIMBY). share resources and strategies to build more affordable, sustainable and equitable communities. Find YIMBYtown on Twitter and Facebook.

]]>
Negev summit promotes Arab-Israeli normalization https://sustainable-jerusalem.org/negev-summit-promotes-arab-israeli-normalization/ Thu, 31 Mar 2022 07:00:00 +0000 https://sustainable-jerusalem.org/negev-summit-promotes-arab-israeli-normalization/ The summit offered a chance to further normalize ties between Israel and the Arab states that signed the Abraham Accords. What progress has been made – both tangible and symbolic – and what does this tell us about Israel’s continued diplomatic position in the region? Kurtzer-Ellenbogen: There was a healthy dose of symbolism atop the […]]]>

The summit offered a chance to further normalize ties between Israel and the Arab states that signed the Abraham Accords. What progress has been made – both tangible and symbolic – and what does this tell us about Israel’s continued diplomatic position in the region?

Kurtzer-Ellenbogen: There was a healthy dose of symbolism atop the Negev from the start, starting with its location. With four Arab foreign ministers meeting at the invitation of their Israeli counterpart at Kibbutz Sde Boker – the final residence of Israel’s founding prime minister and first signatory of the country’s declaration of independence – Israel’s acceptance in the area has been reported with a poetic touch.

Moreover, with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry joining the signatories of the historic Abraham Accords, Egypt’s pioneering – and at the time regionally controversial – step of restoring peace with Israel in 1979 seemed justified. . This precedent was punctuated in remarks by UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Perhaps the most tangible outcome of the summit was the announcement that it would henceforth become a permanent rotating forum, and press reports reported the formation of six workgroups focus on security, energy, tourism, health, education, and food and water security.

With echoes of the five task forces emerging from the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference, there is another, albeit unintended, symbolism that ran through the Negev gathering. Unlike the convocation of Israeli and Arab leaders to Madrid three decades earlier, which was co-hosted by the United States and Russia, this initiative was “local” and country-based.

The only non-regional party present this time was the United States – a guest at this otherwise regional party. And while Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was the only one to explicitly refer to “a new regional architecture to deter common enemiesthe summit underscored regional players’ concern about the reliability of the United States to safeguard their interests. They appear to be leaning towards self-reliance instead, while pleading with the United States for continued support and the need to maintain the Middle East as a strategic priority.

As for Israel’s diplomatic position in the region, 55 years after the famous “three no’s” of the Arab League summit in Khartoum – “no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no peace with Israel” — The Negev summit and its focus on regional cooperation and coordination sent the signal that not only is Israel now accepted by key players in the Middle East, but that it is itself an integrated regional player.

The Arab states present continued their dialogue with Israel despite little progress on a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – a historic red line for normalized relations. Where does this summit leave the future of Israeli-Palestinian talks and a two-state solution?

Kurtzer-Ellenbogen: Whether by coincidence or by design, the Negev summit took place 20 years to the day after the adoption of the Arab Peace Initiative (API) at the Arab League summit in Beirut in 2002. This initiative, revolutionary at the time, offered full normalization and peace with Israel upon Israel’s acceptance of a Palestinian state and the achievement of a solution to two states.

This IPA paradigm of a Palestinian state in exchange for normalization was significantly shattered with the announcement of the Abraham Accords in August 2020. And the glaring absence (let alone invitation) of Palestinian leaders to the Negev summit underscored how incidental the nascent set of newly normalized relations are to the Palestinian cause – flourishing despite any lack of progress on this front.

Yet, out of sight did not equal out of consideration. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized and reaffirmed the US goal of a two-state solution in his prepared remarks after the summit. Likewise, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita and his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry have underscored its importance, with the latter bringing the issue to the fore.

So while the current leader of Israel’s government, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, made it clear that the pursuit of two states was not on his agenda, Sde Boker’s message was that the end goal paradigm of two states is neither gone nor forgotten. .

Notably missing from the gathering was Jordan – the second signatory to a peace deal with Israel. Whether it was a scheduling conflict or a strategic decision, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi instead accompanied the Jordanian monarch, King Abdullah, to a meeting in Ramallah with the President of the Palestinian Authority. Mahmoud Abbas on concerns about the prospect of violence in Jerusalem as Ramadan, Easter and Passover are about to coincide.

As the country arguably most at stake with the perpetuation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the persistence and growth of the Israeli occupation and the death of a two-state solution, one could not help but read the importance of juxtaposing the summits with King Abdullah’s meeting in Ramallah, intentionally or not.

Jordan’s absence is not the only reminder that popular Arab sentiment is not yet fully on board with “the new normal”, and that some leaders need to tread carefully. Sudan, the fourth of the “new normalizers”, was also absent amid the ongoing domestic crisis. And Saudi Arabia – despite its progress silent cooperation and stronger gestures towards Israel – has yet to join the ranks of the normalizing states. It is a sign that the Palestinian issue still weighs heavily on Arab consciousness and, with it, the ability to thwart full-fledged regional cooperation and diplomatic detour. Israeli-Palestinian talks seem far from in sight. The takeaway from Sde Boker is that this will not impede progress in areas of mutually beneficial cooperation with Israel, but such cooperation will not make the problem go away either.

Yousef: This summit sends a number of important messages to both the Israeli public and the Israeli government. This puts another nail in the coffin of the continued false assertion from some circles in Israel that Arab countries do not accept Israel in the region.

Furthermore, it also sends a message that the claim that Arab countries are no longer interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not true. It will be difficult for public opinion in Israel not to record that those occupying the six podiums at the summit press conference officially support the two-state solution.

The message to the Palestinians was that their cause was not forgotten. But at the same time, some Arab countries may not be willing to wait for them and proactive and constructive action from their leaders is expected, especially in terms of reconciliation and good governance. The fear is that the Palestinian public is already moving beyond the two-state paradigm.

The subject of Iran and stalled talks to revive the nuclear deal loomed large at the summit. Was there a consensus on how the participants viewed the situation? What are regional leaders looking for when it comes to Iran?

Yousef: There is no doubt that reviving the nuclear deal is a matter of great importance to those involved at the summit and beyond. The U.S. summit partners recognize that this issue has been an urgent priority for the Biden administration since taking office, that the administration has a clear belief that the previous administration’s maximum pressure policy has failed, and that therefore a return to a similar approach was highly unlikely unless Iran proved totally inflexible and unreasonable in its positions.

With reports that a possible agreement is approaching, it can be assumed that the Negev summit was the occasion to discuss the two possibilities: that an agreement is reached or that this last effort also fails.

It is doubtful that the summit was aimed at reaching a consensus among the participants, as the positions of these actors vary widely and focus on different concerns regarding Iran. Israel’s most immediate concerns are more focused on stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, a number of countries in the region, particularly in the Gulf, are more concerned about Iran’s destabilizing policies in the Middle East – and in particular Iran’s support for its proxies in places such as Lebanon and Yemen, as well as its missile program.

The Biden administration has also argued that once a deal is back in place, it will aim to bolster Iran’s nuclear commitments and curtail its destabilizing policies, a tall challenge that has likely been taken on board. account in the deliberations. However, the details of the discussions on this matter have not yet been revealed.

What role did Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – and the resulting US-Russian tensions – play in the summit?

Yousef: Shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the imposition of unprecedented and far-reaching sanctions on Russia, Russia required a written guarantee from Washington that these sanctions will not affect its trade with Iran if a nuclear deal is reached. This insistence threatened to derail the entire negotiation process, but Russia backtracked after a visit by the Iranian foreign minister.

Another important aspect of the invasion of Ukraine is the impact of the current hostilities on food and energy security, particularly in Egypt and Morocco. Egypt is the largest wheat importer in the world and imports more than 70% of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine. Meanwhile, Morocco imports most of its energy needs and about half of its grain needs.

Of course, it will be far more devastating for Lebanon, Syria and Yemen given their already dire humanitarian situation and disproportionate reliance on Russian and Ukrainian exports. markets. The World Bank has warned that Russia’s war on Ukraine is likely to have a destabilizing impact on the Middle East and Africa due to rising prices for oil, wheat, sunflower oil and oil. other commodities.

The invasion of Ukraine also forced the United States to realize that although it was not dependent on energy from the Arab world itself, American influence was needed to try to persuade energy players regions to increase the flow of oil and gas to meet Europe’s needs. energy needs and stabilizing the global energy market – which was particularly crucial at a time of high inflation rates that are detrimental to what is hoped to be the post-COVID era.

However, the most significant impact on the summit in this regard is related to the perception that the United States is withdrawing from the region and the resulting vacuum. In the context of great power competition, Russia and China would be eager to take advantage of this withdrawal. Russia focusing more on the political and security side, relying on its influence in Syria and Libya, while China would focus more on the trade and investment side relying on the involvement of many countries in the region in its “Belt and Road” initiative.

]]>
The US can’t just leave the Middle East | American Institute of Enterprise https://sustainable-jerusalem.org/the-us-cant-just-leave-the-middle-east-american-institute-of-enterprise/ Wed, 30 Mar 2022 18:43:28 +0000 https://sustainable-jerusalem.org/the-us-cant-just-leave-the-middle-east-american-institute-of-enterprise/ A profound realignment is underway in the Middle East. Not just the Sunni Arab-Israeli accord – evidenced by the Emirati-Bahraini-Moroccan accord hosted by Israel Mountain peak over the weekend – not the controversial Iran-US rapprochement, but also the growing coverage against US betrayal by traditional allies like Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. […]]]>

A profound realignment is underway in the Middle East. Not just the Sunni Arab-Israeli accord – evidenced by the Emirati-Bahraini-Moroccan accord hosted by Israel Mountain peak over the weekend – not the controversial Iran-US rapprochement, but also the growing coverage against US betrayal by traditional allies like Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. What is happening is indisputable. And the why is easy to deduce, too — growing doubts about Washington’s loyalty to old friends, questions about the judgment of successive US administrations on traditional threats like Iran, and new adversaries like al-Qaeda and ISIS. . The question is what to do. The future security of the region and of American geostrategic dominance hinges on the response.

For Middle Eastern hands, straws have been in vogue for quite some time, perhaps even as early as the turn of the 21st century. Israeli governments were becoming more and more obviously irritated by the perennial American efforts to “resolve” the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. The Palestinian leaders, too, had soured on the “peace process” which, after more than half a century, appeared more like a process than like peace. Each began to seek to advance their national interests in parallel, but less and less often withUnited States.

American disaffection with the region in the wake of the war in Iraq has only deepened existing trends and fears. When the Arab Spring broke out in 2011, the Obama administration made it clear that it had little interest in backing longtime US ally Hosni Mubarak (not a Democrat), nor in the aftermath of the political tsunami. that swept across the Levant, North Africa and even Iran and Iraq. Barack Obama’s disinterest in the war in Syria, the Syrian people’s battle for democratic freedoms or even, ultimately, the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons have been viewed with dismay across the region. His willingness to invite Russia into Syria, regardless of the consequences, stunned most observers.

NATO’s bizarre and reckless intervention in Libya has only compounded the dilemma for Arab and Israeli leaders. Of course, Muammar Gaddafi was no loss, but Libya’s almost pathological lack of strategic follow-through and Obama’s oft-stated horror at joining the campaign sounded less like a bug than a feature of the news. American foreign policy. Layer on Obama’s disastrous Iran nuclear deal which, from the region’s perspective, gave a new license to Iran’s hegemonic goals, and the roadmap to move away from dependence on Washington was written.

The Trump administration was an aberration in some ways. The will of the Trump team to abandon all the clichés about the good conduct of American policy in the Middle East, to relegate the question of Palestine to the background, to lock Iran into a web of punitive sanctions and throwing its weight behind what had been a clandestine partnership between the Gulf Arabs and Israel had an almost transformative effect: new peace treaties, new attitudes towards security partnerships and a firm and shared conviction that the century American was well and truly over.

Ironically, with Trump outlining what could be, Obama’s former VP return to the White House has only reinforced the idea that the future is too uncertain and Iran too dangerous to assume. that the answer to all security questions would be Washington. Also, regional leaders note, look at the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Finally, however, Ukraine did lay bare the change: Israel was reluctant to apply sanctions against Vladimir Putin and his cronies despite calls to do so from Europe and the United States. Saudi Crown Prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, would have refused to answer a call from US President Joe Biden asking for oil to fill Russia’s lost supply. Ditto the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates, Mohammad bin Zayed. The White House later denied that the calls had been dismissed, but the message from the Middle East is clear: We don’t trust the United States and will no longer align with your national security priorities.

Others have skillfully exposed the evidence of the Middle East blanket, including the quiet but obviously important Moscow-Jerusalem relationship; Emirati arms purchases from China; Saudi culture from Russia and China; and much more. But the question is not whether this realignment is happening, it is whether it is in the American interest to allow it to continue. And perhaps more importantly, if not, what to do.

Is realignment in America’s interest? From the perspective of the Biden administration and its Obama remnants, the sooner the Middle East tends to knit together, the better. Israel can defend itself against Iran and others; as for the rest of them… In this view, renewing the deal with Iran is a coda, supposedly blocking the Islamic Republic’s path to nuclear weaponry and paving the way for Washington to deal with threats more serious like China. But it’s an ahistorical, willfully ignorant take.

Certainly, much of the Middle East is drudgery – autocrats, Salafis, murders, chaos, tyranny. There are only two democracies (Tunisia, for those wondering who counts next to Israel), and neither is the Eastern Netherlands. However, unlike the distorted global landscape seen from 1600 Pennsylvania, America has enduring interests in the Middle East. Some are economic interests, like the energy supply that prompted the President of the United States to call the crown prince of Saudi Arabia and lured his national security adviser to Riyadh on his knees. Other interests are directly related to the safety and security of the American people, including the likely proliferation of nuclear weapons, the growth and flourishing of Sunni and Shia Islamist terrorism, and the security of Europe (if where some would have forgotten the masses of refugees pouring into Europe from Syria in 2015).

There is no confrontation with China without a secure supply of oil, no guarantee of Israel’s security from the Pacific, and no claim that freedom of navigation through Suez or the Bab al Mandab is worthless.

If the reality is that the United States has real geopolitical interests in the Middle East – putting aside the false statements on the imperative of democracy or human rights – then the second question is how to pursue them, having royally ruined Washington’s relations with even its closest friends, the Israelis.

The most obvious source of the deterioration of relations with Arabs and Jews is Iran. The simplest step for the Biden administration to take would be to recognize that its efforts to resuscitate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran should end and be replaced by an effort to forge what nominee Biden promised to to be a “longer and louder” chord. . This is not a marginal recommendation, but rather the opinion of the majority of Congress (including Republicans and Democrats) and many members of the nonproliferation community.

It’s not that Iran’s neighbors aren’t afraid that Iran is finalizing its development of a nuclear weapon; is that additional money, sanctions relief and readmission to the community of civilized nations is a proven recipe for Iranian escalation, attacks on its neighbors, increased funding flows to terrorist groups and greater regional destabilization. It happened in 2015, and it will happen again in 2022 if Biden’s negotiators capitulate to Tehran’s demands.

Another key to restoring relationships is acknowledging that commitments have been broken to almost all of Washington’s former friends and partners. In Iraq, promises to secure the country against both political and military Iranian threats have fallen through. In the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, promises to deal seriously with Yemen’s growing Houthi attacks on soft targets and to provide defensive weapons have been ignored. Israel’s security demands were honored, but growing threats from Syria and Lebanon were ignored. It is no coincidence that all these threats come from Iranian-backed proxies.

It is also high time to acknowledge that the terrorist threats plaguing the region are very real. Lebanon was taken over by the most powerful terrorist group in the world, Hezbollah. Syria is a hub for Iranian arms proliferation and a training ground for Islamist terrorists. Egypt is under fire from the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda. Yemen is an ongoing threat to its neighbors and a training ground for terrorists targeting the United States. These are indisputable facts, and the Biden administration’s willingness to downplay these threats – removing the Houthis from the terrorist list, downplaying Hezbollah’s dominance over Lebanon, completely ignoring Syria, (repeatedly) declaring defeat of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State – lessens the very real dangers to the peoples of the Middle East.

These are not very difficult steps; restoring trust will be more difficult. This will require reversing many of the Biden administration’s signature ambitions. Furthermore, many will – rightly – insist that outside of Israel, the nations of the region are largely tyrannies with no moral claim to American friendship or support. In most cases, the charge is fair. But there will be no progress in democracy or human freedom without leverage. And no leverage without a relationship of trust. The key is to understand that the partnerships Washington has abandoned over the past few decades are vital to America’s interests around the world and essential to continuing to lead. They need to be corrected.

]]>
Italian court seeks return of ancient marble statue from Minneapolis Institute of Art https://sustainable-jerusalem.org/italian-court-seeks-return-of-ancient-marble-statue-from-minneapolis-institute-of-art/ Wed, 30 Mar 2022 18:40:03 +0000 https://sustainable-jerusalem.org/italian-court-seeks-return-of-ancient-marble-statue-from-minneapolis-institute-of-art/ An Italian court recently ruled that the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) must return an ancient marble sculpture because it was illegally excavated. The sculpture, a two-meter high copy Colorado potato beetle (a famous and long-lost bronze from the fifth century BC by Greek artist Polykleitos) was acquired by Mia in 1986 for $2.5 million […]]]>

An Italian court recently ruled that the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) must return an ancient marble sculpture because it was illegally excavated. The sculpture, a two-meter high copy Colorado potato beetle (a famous and long-lost bronze from the fifth century BC by Greek artist Polykleitos) was acquired by Mia in 1986 for $2.5 million from a Toronto-based Swiss dealer.

Time of Acquisition Reports indicate that the anonymous dealer claimed the sculpture was found off the coast of Italy in the 1930s. However, the recent Italian court ruling suggests that it was actually illegally excavated in the 1970s under the direction of Elie Borowski, the prolific antiquities collector who founded the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem and died in 2003. Borowski had ties to a number of antiquities dealers known to traffic in illegally excavated artefacts, including Rober Hecht and Gianfranco Becchina.

The Tribunale di Torre Annunziata prosecutor’s office in Naples is said to have contacted US authorities to help enforce the confiscation decree that was issued. Gaetano Cimmino, the mayor of the town of Castellamare di Stabia south of Naples, near where the statue is believed to have originated, has joined calls for its return with the aim of displaying it in a local archaeological museum.

The sculpture, which dates from 27 BC. AD to AD 68 J.-C., has long been a star attraction of the Mia. At the time of its acquisition, the then chief curator, Michael Conforti, said, “It really is the most important thing in the history of art”, adding that it would “increase ten times [the museum’s] collection of old art. It is a life-size depiction of a naked athlete, a javelin thrower, although much of the figure’s left arm and the javelin he once held have been lost. It is currently on display in the museum’s former art galleries.

In a statement to The arts journal, a spokesperson for the museum said: “We have seen news reports that a court in Naples, Italy has requested the return of a work of art to the museum’s permanent collection. We have not been contacted by the Italian authorities regarding the court’s decision. If the museum is contacted, we will review the matter and respond accordingly.

]]>