Posted on March 10, 2016 in Countdown

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Thanks for Noticing Us, But Michigan’s Surprise Wasn’t Really Suprising

We hope the shock of a Jewish (gasp) candidate winning the vote of Arab Americans in Dearborn is beginning to wear off. Not only is the popular headline really ridiculous, but come on, you didn't need to be a rocket scientist to predict what happened in Dearborn or greater Michigan on Tuesday -- Sanders successfully courted a vote. Even though Clinton had the money, had the state apparatus, had the guts to be the first candidate in Flint along with many other meaningful/strategic/important/good events, the night went to the Democratic candidate who did it better. So, while the recognition that Arab Americans are an important part of the electorate feels like validation, making the night a story about Arabs voting for a Jew fails to take into account Michigan's history. You'll recall that Michigan's longest serving Senator is one Carl Levin, so the Jewish thing isn't new. And you'll also recall that Michigan has a thing for movements like the one Sander's is touting: Michigan was the first state to jump into the movement Jesse Jackson created in his 1988 campaign for president. Neither headline from the 2016 Michigan primary is new.

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The Obama & Israel Doctrine

We haven't seen the full reporting of Vice President Biden's meeting with Israeli PM Netanyahu yesterday, but there is more than enough to talk about without it. Like the fact that there wasn't a huge settlement announcement greeting him on the tarmac this time around. And like the drama and hilarity of the most recent spat between President Obama and Netanyahu that somehow left AIPAC without a headliner. And the seriousness of Vice President Biden arriving the same day an American student was stabbed and killed in Jaffa, which is just one incident in the escalating frequency of terror attacks. And then we also have Jeffrey Goldberg's sweeping  assessment of "The Obama Doctrine" in The Atlantic. Leaving non-Israel related content aside (there's a lot of it), President Obama seemed to be all over the map on Israel, saying on the one hand he'd consider it a "moral failure" if he didn't defend Israel, and on the other hand at the beginning of his first term he reportedly questioned why the U.S. should continue to guarantee Israel's "qualitative military advantage." Obama's presumably all-over-the-place thoughts on Israel are a pretty good indicator of what his policy has been, which is why we're having a hard time tying all of this week's Israel news together in one snark.

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Where Skirmishes Lead on the Israeli-Lebanon Border

In the 12 years since the last major war between Lebanon and Israel, it hasn't been a completely peaceful ride - neither have major issues been put to bed. It looks like war season is heating up again in Israel, with one senior IDF officer saying "the IDF can put Lebanon back 300 years and in parallel conquer the Gaza Strip and destroy all of its infrastructure" and "it's a question of when, not if." That's how we started the week; we're ending it having to reckon with Israel's actions that seemingly back up those words. The scary IDF quote was released on Monday, on Tuesday the Israeli military fired tear gas canisters across the border, and on Wednesday we read reports signaling a significant deployment of Israeli troops to the Lebanon border. Hezbollah hasn't been a bystander to any of this, and the vocalness of Nasrallah hasn't changed. The group's leader has promised more revenge attacks against Israel for their airstrikes targeting Hezbollah fighters in Syria, and has even threatened a Hezbollah attack on Haifa. Neither party is a stranger to armed conflict, and neither is doing much to deescalate. Is it that time again? We sure hope not.

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The Slippery Slopes of the Internet

While the Department of Homeland Security is going to great pains to find aggressive but legal ways to monitor and respond to social media to prevent acts of domestic terrorism, with regards to non-citizens they are all aggression. Duh, if you're not a U.S. citizen you don't have the rights of one. So, a 23-year old Egyptian kid studying in California was deported for posting this on his Facebook account, "I literally don't mind taking a lifetime sentence in jail for killing this guy [Donald Trump], I would actually be doing the whole world a favor." The post isn't just dumb, it's serious and scary. The student got investigated by the Secret Service, expelled from his program, stripped of his student visa, and then agreed to self deport back to Egypt. But we can't help but note two slippery slopes this whole incident brings to mind: first, when online behavior crosses an invisible line to become action; and, the growing feeling that the U.S. government treats Arabs and Muslims as perceived threats to national security in a way that doesn't always apply to those who aren't.

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Couples Therapy is Working for the FBI and NYPD

From 1 of the 2 reporters who broke the NYPD mapping story back in 2011, we got an eye-brow raising update this week regarding the surveillance activities of New York's biggest players: the FBI and the NYPD. Apparently, the turf battle between the two is over - so now they can spy in unison. What a relief. But seriously, it's good to know they've found a way to work together to keep New York and the United States safe from terrorism, we just hope that the make-up session included some refresher-course counseling on what is legal and illegal in the world of protecting us.