Arafat

Who lost Fayyad? This is the question that historians, and Israelis, and Palestinians, will ask about the most recent spiral into nothingness of the search for the necessary peace.

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Economic Miracle

Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington is a good opportunity for the prime minister and President Obama to ponder why decades of strenuous diplomatic efforts and hundreds of billions in aid have done so little to advance peace or improve the lot of Palestinians, who still languish in refugee camps or in chronic penury under the oppressive rule of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas. For decades, diplomats have been seeking formal peace based on the political separation of Jews and Arabs.

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The end of Larry King Live, after 50 years and a steep drop in ratings, was inevitable in a cable news climate that values mindless partisanship over mindless nonpartisanship. In contrast to the likes of MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann and Fox’s Glenn Beck, CNN’s middle-of-the-road tack was flailing. King’s farewell aptly coincided with the end of another institution in softball interviewing: The Oprah Winfrey Show, that stronghold of cheery neutrality and generic goodwill.

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As I pointed out several times in the last few days there are in Israel haredim—those who tremble before the Lord—who are murder-inciting Zionists. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is one of them, although his followers seem not to go the way of his sermons. Thank God. Another ripple in his life is that he was and is an extraordinary scholar. My TNR colleague Leon Wieseltier tells me that Ovadia has recently published an incandescent volume on the meaning of mourning in Jewish life.

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The Counter-Thinker

 The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism By Pascal Bruckner Translated by Steven Rendall (Princeton University Press, 239 pp., $26.95) I. Once upon a time, it seemed an incontestable fact that the life of the mind radiated from the Left Bank outward. Within a small quadrant of the Latin Quarter in Paris, an intellectual elite labored to produce magisterial works that lesser minds all over the world received eagerly, gratefully—and by and large uncritically.

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The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western MasochisBy Pascal Bruckner Translated by Steven Rendall (Princeton University Press, 239 pp., $26.95) I. Once upon a time, it seemed an incontestable fact that the life of the mind radiated from the Left Bank outward. Within a small quadrant of the Latin Quarter in Paris, an intellectual elite labored to produce magisterial works that lesser minds all over the world received eagerly, gratefully—and by and large uncritically.

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The Americans like Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. He is an extremely intelligent man, and U.S. personnel have dealt comfortably with him. The Israelis also like Fayyad, even Bibi Netantyahu, who believes that, if a deal can hold, it will be the P.A. PM who will hold it. Fayyad is, I am told by economist friends in Israel, practical, trustworthy, systematic ... and no patsy. The problem is that the Palestinians don’t seem to like him or, what’s more important, trust him.

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Minority Report

On October 19 of last year, the op-ed page of The New York Times contained a bombshell: a piece by Robert Bernstein, the founder and former chairman of Human Rights Watch (HRW), attacking his own organization. HRW, Bernstein wrote, was “helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.” The allegation was certainly not new: HRW had been under assault for years by American Jews and other supporters of Israel, who argued that it was biased against the Jewish state. And these attacks had intensified in recent months, with a number of unflattering revelations about the organization.

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Not long ago, Andrew Sullivan had ultra-hawkish views on Israel and the Middle East. The problem as he saw it, was very simple: The Muslim world was anti-Semitic and wanted to kill all the Jews. Naive Western governments pushed innocent Israelis to make peace, when the only answer was force. Here are some excerpts from an August 2001 column he wrote: [T]he notion of a negotiable peace with the murdering hoodlums who run the PLO was always a fantasy.

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As much as politically-minded Israelis are fixed on how the actions of George Bush will affect their destinies, they are also psychologically enmeshed with the American presidential race. Israelis are savvy folk. Retired Jewish Miamians may think that Rudolph Guiliani is the likely Republican candidate. But Jerusalemites and Tel Avivians do not. In any case, like most American Jews, the first real contest for them in the presidential elections is the Democratic contest for the nomination. And the fact is that most Israelis knew Bill Clinton as a lover -- but as an unfaithful lover.

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