Martin Peretz

I know that soccer can engage and enrage the senses. And doubtless there have been other occasions when sports fans have killed and been killed in the frenzy of a game … or after. In Boston seven years ago, after a Red Sox win over the Yankees that clinched the American League pennant and was being celebrated in the streets, a 21-year old college student was killed and 16 others were wounded by police trying to control the crowds.

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The fight between the humane Egyptian opposition and the Islamists (both Muslim Brothers and Salafists) is not quite underway yet. The struggle between the religious fundamentalists and the military is still at the center of the city square. But there are shades of opinion even among the ultra-pious. Here is the voice of Sheikh Yousuf al-Qaradhawi, one of the learned men of Egyptian Islam:  “I think [the shari’a] should be implemented gradually. This is a law of the shari’a and a law of nature. […] “We should do things gradually. We should prepare the people, teach them.

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Mitt Romney is in the top .0025% of American income earners. That makes him poorer than Warren Buffett, George Soros, Sheldon Adelson, probably even than Jon Huntsman, the father of the junior Jon Huntsman, who, with all his money and a very decent record, scored virtually nothing in the Republican presidential sweepstakes. So the question about Romney is whether the electorate will resent his wealth or take it as an index of initiative, imagination and hard work. Also, I suppose, a real drive to be rich. No, not just rich, but downright wealthy, super-wea

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I was reminded of this devastating analysis of the sloppy case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn when I read that his wife, Anne Sinclair, is taking over the French version of The Huffington Post. This factoid was reported in Mediabistro, an online publication founded almost a decade ago by Laurel Touby and whose financing was put together by the sagacious investor Bill Ackman and by less sagacious me.

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I. A year has passed since liberal America and the liberal opinion class, in particular, went ecstatic over the Arab debut into the modern world. I know that my standing in that class is suspect. So, being a bit flummoxed myself by the not altogether dissimilar developments in the vast expanse from the Maghreb to Mesopotamia, I conquered my doubts and made a slight stab for hope. But I quickly realized that I was wrong and left the celebration.

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It was 1988 presidential primary time in New York, and I was on the press bus going from Manhattan to Boro Park in Brooklyn where Al Gore was scheduled to meet Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam, the Bobover Rebbe, the Grand Rabbi of Bobov, Poland. Of course, there are no Jews in Bobov—and hardly any in Poland. But, despite the fact that the Lubavitcher and Satmar Hassidim are the most well-known sects (and the latter notorious, too), the Bobover are the largest Jewish faction in New York.

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This is the second invitation to “grab bag” an invitation to a small and intimate White House dinner. The first came from the president. Yes, direct from him, no intermediaries, no celebrity members of Congress (no, not even Nancy Pelosi, who’s written so many askings for cash that they’ve taken her off the job), no celebrities period. Maybe the $3 come-on didn’t bring in enough pledges. So Michelle has been deputized to do the schnorrering.

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President Obama has asked me to dinner, and maybe he has asked you, too. Well, as you can see below, it is not exactly an invitation. And it’s not an auction either. It’s “bingo” and, I suppose, that’s as democratic a process as it comes. Or as populist, for that matter. All you have to do is give Barack’s campaign three bucks and you’re entered in the sweepstakes. You can bring a guest. Who wouldn’t? Your spouse, your partner (which has now replaced “significant other” in the lingo), or just a friend. Anyone. But not White House gate crasher Tarak Dirham Salahi.

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Our very last troops in Iraq have left for home. And, of course, Iraq is no longer ruled by the Ba’athist tyrant who murdered so many people both within his own country and in Iran that he should be counted in the bloody second circle right behind Hitler and Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot.

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Danger Zone

Newt Gingrich has dumbly stirred a ruckus in saying that the Arabs of Palestine are an “invented people.” It did not increase his chances of winning the Republican presidential nomination: How many Jews actually vote in Republican primaries? (And many Christian Zionists are already for him on altogether non-Zionist grounds.) But it should not have caused such a furor in the first place.

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