This week’s reads

I am trying to keep better track of what I’ve been reading that’s worth sharing. So to that end, here are:

Some articles from the past week

Two views of the future of Search—that need not be mutually exclusive

Keach Hagey, Miles Kruppa, and Alexandra Bruell. “News Publishers See Google’s AI Search Tool as a Traffic-Destroying Nightmare.” Wall Street Journal. December 14, 2023.

Google’s integration of AI is crystallizing for media outlets the perils of relying on big technology companies to get their content in front of readers and viewers. Already, publishers are reeling from a major decline in traffic sourced from social-media sites, as both Meta and X, the former Twitter, have pulled away from distributing news.

As bad as the social-media downshift is, Google’s generative-AI-powered search is the true nightmare for publishers.

Andrew Holland. “Why Brand Mentions Are the Future of Backlinks.” Search Engine Land. December 14, 2023.

In Google’s “Panda patent,” there are not just normal, or express links, but also implied links which “reference … the target resource” but don’t actually link.

Remember, brands are entities.


We can already see that Google favors brands, as well as media and large publishing sites.

And brands get featured in the media.

It’s digital PR that fuels those features.

And in the future of search, you want more of them, not less.

Brand mentions are the fuel to aim for.

Terms explained in the context of the Gaza-Israel conflict

Mira Fox. “So What Does ‘Intifada’ Actually Mean?” The Forward. December 15, 2023.

Daniel Lefkowitz, a professor of language and culture in the Middle East at the University of Virginia who lived in Israel for several years in the early 2000s, hypothesized that, for most Palestinians, the word brings up memories of the First Intifada, a largely non-violent Palestinian protest largely involving work stoppages, boycotts and demonstrations. Some Palestinians also attacked Israelis, mostly with small weapons such as rocks or Molotov cocktails, and on some occasions with firearms or grenades.

Federica Marsi. “‘From the River to the Sea’: What Does the Palestinian Slogan Really Mean?” Al Jazeera. November 2, 2023.

To Palestinian and Israeli observers alike, different interpretations over the meaning of the slogan hang on the term “free”.

Nimer Sultany, a lecturer in law at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, said the adjective expresses “the need for equality for all inhabitants of historic Palestine”.

Interestingly, the piece notes, in its 1977 manifesto Israel’s Likud party itself used a similar phrase, stating that “between the Sea and the Jordan there will only be Israeli sovereignty.”

… and geography not understood

Ron E. Hassner. “From Which River to Which Sea?” Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2023,

of the students who embrace the slogan were able to name the river and the sea. Some of the alternative answers were the Nile and the Euphrates, the Caribbean, the Dead Sea (which is a lake) and the Atlantic.

More on why Russia cannot be allowed to win in Ukraine

Frederick W. Kagan, Kateryna Stepanenko, Mitchell Belcher, Noel Mikkelsen, and Thomas Bergeron. “The High Price of Losing Ukraine” Institute for the Study of War Institute for the Study of War. December 14, 2023.

The overall military potential of the United States and its NATO allies is so much greater than that of Russia that there is no reason to doubt the West’s ability to defeat any conceivable Russian military even assuming that Russia fully absorbs Ukraine and Belarus. But as Americans consider the costs of continuing to help Ukraine fight the Russians in the coming years, they deserve a careful consideration of the costs of allowing Russia to win. Those costs are much higher than most people imagine.


Speaking of The Forward, earlier this month they discontinued their paywall, “because during this chaotic moment of war, disinformation and rising antisemitism, open access to our independent Jewish journalism is essential.” They could use our financial support.

I’ve been relying on them heavily for nuanced, in-depth news about Israel and the war and related issues—along with Haaretz in English, which I wish offered more paywall-free news and analysis. (I came to the progressive Forward via interest in and working on learning Yiddish, which language they also publish in—and have done since before they even had an English-language edition.)