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21st-Century Pirates

Israel has made abundantly clear that it won’t tolerate Houthi terrorism and will strike back as it sees fit

21st-Century Pirates

The United States and the United Kingdom are teaming up to finally do something about Houthi piracy in the Red Sea. The two countries are beefing up their naval presence to deter the increasing attacks on international shipping in the region. The USS Carney, a destroyer, shot down 14 Houthi drones over the weekend, while a British destroyer, the HMS Diamond, shot down another.

Houthi pirates have operated in the shadow of Israel’s war on Gaza — and have also launched missiles at Israel, to provoke a wider conflict — but as shipping losses have mounted into the billions of dollars, Western powers moved this problem to the front burner. The Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a maritime passage that connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden, is particularly vulnerable, with around 7.8 million barrels of oil moving through it daily. Maersk, the international shipping behemoth, has slammed the brakes on its Red Sea operations.

Although the US and the UK are promising to take resolute action, Israel has made abundantly clear that it won’t tolerate Houthi terrorism and will strike back as it sees fit.

“We are giving the world a chance first,” warned Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. “But if we have to, we will know how to act.”

One might think that with the raging Gaza conflict and the looming showdown with Hezbollah, Israel would prefer to steer clear of this particular headache. However, experience has shown that waiting for the rest of the world to get its act together won’t pay off.


Making China Great Again

IN a twist of irony, China, the world’s eco-villain, has become the prime beneficiary of the electric car revolution. China has surpassed the once-mighty Japan as the world’s leading exporter of automobiles, shipping out more than four million units this year. The feat is even more remarkable considering that just three short years ago, Chinese auto exports barely cracked a million.

But it turns out a lot of this year’s exports can be traced to China’s skillful exploitation of geopolitical conflicts. With Russia facing sanctions and boycotts over its war in Ukraine, Beijing saw a ripe opportunity, dumping a cool 850,000 electric cars into the Russian market alone.


Week’s Most Wanted: MIT President Sally Kornbluth

Vultures are circling for the three university presidents whose tone-deaf testimony before Congress made jaws drop around the world. The University of Pennsylvania’s Liz Magill has resigned. Claudine Gay of Harvard, seems to have survived for the moment, although questions have arisen about possible plagiarism in her scholarly publications.

Meanwhile, MIT president Sally Kornbluth seems to be following a strategy of lying low. So far, it seems to have worked out well for; no one is asking about her future. Yet it would be imprudently optimistic for her to declare victory. The wisest course of action for her would be to keep flying under the radar, maybe working from an undisclosed location.


Extreme Realpolitik

TO learn the art of pleasing everyone, study the recent political maneuvers of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Last week, the far-right leader found himself on the horns of a dilemma: The European Union had frozen 27.6 billion euros earmarked for Hungary due to its violation of various EU rules. On the other hand, as Russian president Vladimir Putin’s only friend in the EU, Orbán has been working to frustrate Europe’s efforts to aid the defense of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the EU was readying a €47.7 billion aid package to Ukraine, and EU leaders scheduled a vote on opening negotiations with Kyiv over EU membership. Orbán wanted to torpedo both these initiatives; but he also really needed a thaw on those frozen EU funds earmarked for Hungary.

The wily Orbán figured out a way to stay in Putin’s good graces but still pry loose some of the money the EU was holding back. He used Hungary’s veto (considered a nuclear option in EU votes) to block the €47.7 billion aid package for Ukraine. But when it came time to vote on starting membership talks with Kyiv, Orbán allowed himself to be “persuaded” by German chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Orbán conveniently “absented” himself from the vote on opening membership negotiations with Ukraine. Then the EU executive office relented on €10 billion of the money owed Hungary.

Voila! Mission accomplished. The EU unanimity paved the way for Ukraine without Orbán officially giving a nod, and he earned a shout-out from Putin for vetoing the aid package. Hungary is still owed €17.6 billion in frozen funds, but even Orbán seems to know that “tafasta merubah, lo tafasta.”



The rate of increase in the number of homeless over the last year in the US. The total rose by more than 70,000 over the previous year to reach a staggering 653,100, the highest number since measurement began in 2007. According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the states with the most acute homeless problems are California, New York, and Florida. Two main factors are at play: the steep rise in housing prices, 22% since 2019; and cuts in state homeless assistance during the Covid pandemic years.


Democrats Use the GOP Playbook

AS 2024 elections loom, Democrats seem to have suddenly realized that leaving US borders wide open to illegal immigration is both leading to major problems and leaving party supporters disillusioned. Cue a chorus of Dem leaders demanding the Biden administration tighten border controls.

The numbers are mind-boggling: a whopping 9,000 migrants detained daily by the US Border Patrol. (Imagine the uncounted infiltrators.) Arizona’s Democratic governor, Katie Hobbs, ordered the National Guard to the Mexican border, accusing the federal government of “refusing” its responsibilities. Congressional Republicans saw an opening, demanding stringent border controls in exchange for increased aid to Ukraine and Israel. Donald Trump, meanwhile, began hammering home the point at his rallies, decrying illegal immigrants as “poisoning the blood of our country.”

The pièce de résistance came from an unexpected source: Senator John Fetterman (D–PA), whose wife had arrived as an undocumented immigrant at the age of seven. Fresh off his vocal support for Israel in its war against Hamas, Fetterman sounded a call for tougher immigration controls.

“Immigration is something near and dear to me, and I think we do have to effectively address it as well,” he said. “It’s a reasonable conversation — until somebody can say there’s an explanation on what we can do when 270,000 people are being encountered on the border, not including the ones, of course, that we don’t know about.”


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 991)

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