TNR Staff

Venezuela's Top Chomskyite

As for President Chávez, he did his hero Noam Chomsky a big favor by holding up his book, Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance, at the General Assembly podium. Now, Chomsky is no stranger to big audiences. But this kind of attention ... that may be a bit heady even for him. On the other hand, according to Helene Cooper in yesterday's New York Times, Chávez later lamented at a news conference that he hadn't met Chomsky before the great linguist died. Well, Chomsky is alive and, I assume, well. It's his ideas that are dead, dead, that is, intellectually.


Darfur's U.n. Fantasy

Poor Darfur. The African Union (AU) will stay in the region. Many people around the world will then think that there is a robust peacekeeping force preventing the Sudanese military and its bloody Janjaweed allies from murdering their designated enemies, the black Muslims of Sudan. The AU says they will only be there until a U.N. mobilization arrives, better equipped and with more soldiers. This is a fantasy that will never happen, and both the AU and the United Nations know it. The Khartoum government won't allow them to enter the country.


Holiday Wishes

I write as the sun goes down over Manhattan, where I am this weekend to mark, with my children, the High Holy Days of the Jewish new year and the Day of Atonement. This is a period of penance, reflection, and prayer. The penance of individuals towards each, to the community, and to God. And, let me state that, as the great Yiddish poet Jacob Glatstein wrote, "der got fun mein nishgloybikeit is prekhtik" or, rendered in English, "the God of my unbelief is magnificent." This is the basic foundation stone of most modern Jews, though they can't always articulate this.



by Jacob T. Levy A couple of things worth noting: Phoebe Maltz on that very strange Tony Judt essay in the London Review of Books, an essay that purports to be a complaint about liberals silencing themselves, but really seems to be a complaint about them saying things with which he disagrees.


The Shrewd Little Gentleman

by Richard Stern What did we think, that the world's presidents and prime ministers (many democratically elected) would conform to our notions of how they should perform? Thank God the United Nations gives these supposed mountebanks and arch villains space for their dramatic expressions of themselves and their place in the great world. Our president speaks to the world "as if he owns it," in Chávez's milder words.


The Party Of Torture

by Sanford Levinson Is the Republican Party "the party of torture?" A recent book by Ramesh Ponnuru is helpfully titled The Party of Death: The Democrats, the Media, the Courts, and the Disregard for Human Life. To my knowledge, no Republicans have suggested that there is anything over the top about that title.


French Connection

The last time I was at New York's Supper Club, off Times Square, was to hear Yo-Yo Ma with the Buenos Aires-New York Connection, and what they were playing in this very chic nightspot was the great tango music of Astor Piazzolla. Last night, I went again to the Supper Club to hear Arielle Dombasle, a remarkable film actress and true French chanteuse. But the fact is that she was born in America and brought up in Mexico. OK, so she is an international chanteuse. I'm not exactly an expert on the genre.


Church And State

Some 2 percent of the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza are Christians. Not so long ago they were roughly 15 percent of the Arab population. The rest are Muslims, all Sunnis. What explains the decline? Birth rates, of course. Christians are better educated than Muslims (all over the Middle East), and they know that if you want to raise a productive, truly loving, and educated family, you'd be wise to raise fewer children and give them all more attention. The other reason that so many Christians have gradually abandoned Palestine is that their living among Muslims was a frightful experience.


Safety Update

Apropos my September 19 posting, "Safety Inspection," a friend emailed me last night: You will be happy to know that terrorism is no longer a threat--at least on Alitalia. Leaving Milan I wore my shoes thru security, and carried in my purse hand gel and face cream. Go figure.

Maybe you read my posting "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," (September 17) which was the first place you could have read that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was meeting with select members of the Council on Foreign Relations. Well, how select? Even former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who'll run after anybody, refused to attend. The guest list was the "B list," what with Martin Indyk, Brent Scowcroft, and Maurice Greenberg (yes, formerly of AIG) being about as distinguished as they come. Which is not very. Did the attendees learn anything? Only if they know nothing ...