Saturday, November 24, 2012

Book Signing

I'm pleased to announce that I'll be doing a book signing/meet and greet on behalf of my book In the Absence of God at Hearts and Minds bookstore in Dallastown, PA on the evening of December 14th starting at 7:00pm.

My friend Byron Borger, the proprietor of Hearts and Minds, has graciously offered to host this event at his bookshop, and I hope many of you can make it, especially if you live close-by. It'll be an evening of good conversation, light refreshments, an opportunity to make new acquaintances, and an opportunity to browse the shelves of perhaps the most charming bookstore you'll ever visit.

It's also a great place to do some Christmas shopping, and In the Absence of God may make the perfect gift for someone who prefers novels to non-fiction and who's interested in questions about God. For more information on the book click on the link at the upper right of this page.

The address of Hearts and Minds is 234 East Main Main Street, Dallastown, PA. I hope to see you there.

Why the Israelis Stopped

Debkafile has a fascinating piece on what precipitated Israel's agreement to commence a cease-fire in the recent hostilities with Hamas. Here's the lede:
Binyamin Netanyahu agreed to a ceasefire for halting the eight-day Israeli Gaza operation Wednesday night, Nov. 21, after President Barack Obama personally pledged to start deploying US troops in Egyptian Sinai next week, debkafile reports. The conversation, which finally tipped the scales for a ceasefire, took place on a secure line Wednesday morning, just hours before it was announced in Cairo. The US and Israeli leaders spoke at around the time that a terrorist was blowing up a Tel Aviv bus, injuring 27 people.

Obama’s pledge addressed Israel’s most pressing demand in every negotiating forum on Gaza: Operation Pillar of Cloud’s main goal was a total stoppage of the flow of Iranian arms and missiles to the Gaza Strip. They were smuggled in from Sudan and Libya through southern Egypt and Sinai. Hostilities would continue, said the prime minister, until this object was achieved.

Earlier, US officials tried unsuccessfully to persuade Israel to accept Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s personal guarantee to start launching effective operations against the smugglers before the end of the month. The trio running Israel’s Gaza campaign, Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, were willing to take Morsi at his word, except that Israeli security and intelligence chiefs assured them that Egypt has nothing near the security and intelligence capabilities necessary for conducting such operations.
There's much more to this development at the link. Debkafile notes three significant consequences of the American deployment:
1. A US special forces operation against the Sinai segment of the Iranian smuggling route would count as the first overt American military strike against an Iranian military interest.

2. The US force also insures Israel against Cairo revoking or failing to honor the peace treaty Egypt signed with Israel in 1979.

3. It essentially makes the U.S. a partner in the blockade of Gaza.
The debkafile article doesn't mention it but the deployment to the Sinai also puts American troops in harm's way on behalf of Israel. Until now we've managed to keep out of Israel's neighborhood but will now be seen as intervening directly on their behalf. This is not a reason not to do it, but rather a significant change in what has been the United States' position heretofore and a very significant change in the Obama administration's attitude toward the conflict in the Middle East. At the very least it sends a message to Iran that Mr. Obama is not unwilling to use force against their interests, a consideration that should make their pursuit of nuclear weapons a bit more problematic.