1 Why Israel is winning yet losing (Munir Akram in Dawn) This fourth Israeli incursion into Gaza in 10 years has once again demonstrated Israel’s considerable military prowess. Hamas’ asymmetric resistance is heroic but militarily puny. Yet, Israel’s military success is unlikely to yield sustainable security. There are four broad trends which portend more difficult times for the Jewish state.
First, Israeli extremism. Over the past decade, Jewish religious parties and the 250,000 Israeli settlers on the West Bank have emerged ascendant in Israeli politics. They believe the occupied territories are part of historical Israel — Judea and Samaria — and cannot be returned to the Palestinians. No Israeli leader is bold enough to advocate the removal of the West Bank settlements. As a consequence, there are diminishing prospects for the two-state solution that all have agreed is the only basis for a settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Second, demography. Israel will have to rule over a Palestinian population which is growing rapidly; while Jewish immigration to Israel has petered out after the post-Cold War inflow of Russian and East European Jews. Controlling a growing, hostile and increasingly radicalised Palestinian population will become, literally, a bloody business.
Third, Palestinian and Arab radicalisation. The plight of the Palestinian people is often, and rightly, cited as the core cause for the initial rise of religious radicalism in the Arab and Muslim world. Over the past 70 years, Israel has faced ever more ideologically ‘difficult’ adversaries: initially its neighbouring Arab states; then the PLO and Fatah, now Hamas. Today, ISIS is not only at the gates of Baghdad but also on Israel’s border with Syria.
Fourth, eroding Western support. Israel has been justifiably condemned for its disproportionate response to the largely ineffective rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza. Israel’s leaders should look into the future. Do they want to consign their people, the Palestinians and the region to never-ending violence and war? There is a narrow window of opportunity to reverse their disastrous course and agree to the concessions required to achieve a two-state solution. Fatah will obviously accept such a solution.
2 $475m funding for Airbnb (Carolyn Said in San Francisco Chronicle) “When I first heard about Airbnb, I thought it was the stupidest idea I’d ever heard of,” Andreessen Horowitz partner Jeff Jordan said in January. He soon changed his mind, leading his venture capital firm to invest in the San Francisco hospitality marketplace and becoming a board member.
On Friday, Airbnb publicly confirmed that Jordan, as well as previous investor Alfred Lin of Sequoia Capital, participated in its latest megaround of funding, a cool $475 million raised in April, according to an SEC filing. The funding reportedly values the 6-year-old San Francisco hospitality marketplace at $10 billion, ranking it among the world’s most valuable startups, worth more than many long-established hotel chains.
Airbnb’s business model of turning homes into hotels is under attack in cities including San Francisco, New York and Barcelona. Its wild popularity — and the antagonism it sometimes faces — has spurred its hometown, where short-term residential rentals are currently illegal, to tackle how to legalize and regulate people offering rooms and homes to travelers. The practice is controversial, with housing activists saying it diverts much-needed supply, and landlords saying it threatens security and violates leases.
3 Tackling the violent male (Jonathan Jansen in Johannesburg Times) I told a group of young women academics the other day that the greatest danger to their scholarly careers would be the man they marry, for those who make that choice. Why? Because a man’s understanding of what it means to be a man depends on how he saw his father behave towards his mother. A typical South African man expects to come home to warmed-up slippers, an ironed newspaper, a fresh-looking spouse, dinner ready, and the children washed and prepared for bed.
The fact that the wife also works does not bother this man-man in the least; that is the order of things. Dad did it, and so this is normative behaviour. Most of the women I have supervised to obtain advanced degrees, especially doctorates, have divorced. Their men simply could not handle the fact that the woman had a much higher status than they did. Not only did the wife start earning more money than he – a trigger for violence – she gained a voice. Her confidence meant she had learnt to reason through complex problems rather than simply accept the 19th-century notion of “Hubby knows best”.
Of course, not all men are like this and those who were fortunate to have had fathers who were kind and gentle and gracious under pressure would have learnt a different model of being a man – a man who respects his partner and responds to a crisis with calm and reason. But that kind of man is in a minority in a culture in which men take on multiple wives, not to honour culture, but to demonstrate power and show off privilege.
Fathers, teach your boys how to cry. Show them how to love; be especially aware of how you respond in a crisis for they are watching you. Teach them that hands are for hugging not hurting. Condemn bad male behaviour loudly and cut out those sexist jokes with your male friends at the braai. And if a taxi swerves in front of you on the main road where you live, climb out and politely ask the driver whether his brakes failed.