Photo Credit:
Ahmed Jabari and his prize possession, Gilad Shalit

But that seems to be the foreign-policy mode of the Obama administration.  Where will all this go?  My money is on an uneasy ceasefire in which Hamas continues to act up, but everyone sees that the longstanding Hamas-Israel dynamic is old and busted, geopolitical-transformation-wise.  New and hot is the nation-state dynamic for reordering the Middle East – and it’s not ready to tee up quite yet.

I’ve outlined the major actors in this dynamic before:  Egypt, Turkey, Iran, and shifting permutations of terrorist groups, with closer or looser ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, operating with or against them.  None of these actors is prepared today to achieve a strategic stroke out of the messes created by Hamas.  But they’re working on it.

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No summary of today’s events would be complete without mentioning the backstory on the IDF’s operation name.  It’s being translated “Pillar of Defense” in English, but unofficial translations have run the gamut from “Pillar of Cloud” to “Cloud Pillar” and even an apparently literal “Block Cloud.”  These expressions are, of course, a reference to the pillar of cloud which protected the Israeli people against the pursuing army of Egypt during the Exodus.  (Exodus 14, including verses 19-20 and 24, describes the pillar of cloud.)

Christians quickly get this much.  But for Jews, there’s more to it, as explained by Elder of Ziyon and Yair Rosenberg at Tablet.  A widely-taughtmidrash on Exodus 14 – an exegetical interpretation, recorded by Rashi, an 11th century rabbi – portrays the pillar of cloud as protecting the Jewish people from “arrows and stones” catapulted at them by the army of ancient Egypt.

The pillar of cloud in Exodus had multiple functions; the one invoked in the operation name is its function of protecting the Jews against missiles being launched at them.

Originally published at the Optimistic Conservative.

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