Martin Peretz

The Obama presidency has been obsessed with remaking the Damascus-Washington relationship. Some of his experts told him it was both imperative and just beneath the surface. All you had to do was try. For some comic relief, I suppose, the State Department also sent two oh-so-brilliant men from the “wired” life-style: Alec Ross and Jared Cohen—yes, of course, Jewish—to Damascus to entice the Arabs into the future.

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This is my rather crude way of putting John Vinocur's subtle answer to the question he posed yesterday in his "Politicus" column in the International Herald Tribune: "Could U.S. lose Europe to Russia?" Of course, Obama cares mightily about the Third World. The Third World is a mess, an unholy mess, and it's about time that someone make this argument clearly rather than let it linger as an unspoken and mischievous truth. Not quite a half-century ago I was preparing for my graduate school general examinations and "African nationalism" was one of my special fields.

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Everybody, quite literally everybody is irked by Bibi Netanyahu's refusal to give the peace processors another two months of a ban on construction in the West Bank. As if such a prohibition would produce more than the last ten months when Israel unilaterally precluded construction in the territories and the Palestinians responded with squat. Well, I suppose I don't really mean everybody. But nearly everybody. And, my guess, dear reader, you too.

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It is a sour irony that there were no Palestinians around to claim the Arab state that the United Nations had bestowed on them at the end of the 30 year process of making separate polities from what once was the Ottoman Empire. As it happens, Palestinian nationalism (such as it was, and it wasn't much) was not a contender for the land at all.

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The average Frenchman will live to 81.5 years of age...and growing. And since France is nearly broke one of the steps -but just one of them- it has to take is to raise both the ages for minimum retirement and for full state pensions. The fact is that the Wall Street Journal editorial page is the site where the argument is made the most honestly and persuasively. Still and without alternative, the French are looking "for another Bastille to storm." Nicolas Sarkozy's proposal is to raise the age in both categories by two years.

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Adam Nossiter in the International Herald Tribune makes as clear as the facts allow why there is no mystery in the regime targeting the motorcyclists. As it happens, they are the "gun-wielding...assassins of police officers, politicians and others in this dusty city near the desert" that has moved "the authorities to declare that a radical Islamic sect thought to have been crushed by Nigerian troops last has been revived." The city is Maiduguri. The sect is Boko Haram.

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I wrote about “Ovadia,” the beloved head of the Council of Torah Sages and the leading Sephardi “adjudicator” (which is what the Jerusalem Post called him yesterday), about a month ago and in four different posts: here, here, here, and here. This was right around the time when I offended so many people with my comments on the heartlessness of jihadist Islam. It should also be very alarming that  Shas, the political party of the Jews from the Arab, Persian and Mediterranean orbits, should get its counsel from this heartless bigot.

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The newspapers have more or less stopped quoting Dr. A'jad in full or even enough for us to grasp the horror of it all.  This was a big trip for the tyrant.

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There's so much been written about the ethical collapse of "J-Street" that there's almost no need to comment some more. Still, the big news is that more than half its bills have been paid by one of the world's biggest billionaires and by some mystery lady in Hong Kong who may or may not have been forking over a Chicago gangster's cash. The other news is that the "J-Street" founder, the son of a corrupt British Labor lord, thinks that the founding of Israel was a mistake. There may be some Jews who agree. But they are mostly Jews who don't care about the survival of the Jewish people.  Anyway,

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Of course, it’s not only Obama’s debacle. The debacle started when the world’s self-appointed enforcers of what they imagined as peace put the squeeze on Israel as it fought Hezbollah in the summer of 2006. It is true that the fighting was not going as well as it might have for the Jewish state.

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