Bibi Netanyahu

It is debatable whether the deal struck this weekend in Geneva, Switzerland between Iran and the P5+1 nations (led, the existence of secret bilateral backchannel talks indicates, by the United States) generally recognizes Iran’s right to enrich uranium.

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I.  It is not the business of Israel, although it seems to be the business of the politicians of Israel, to hector and harass President Obama about the release of Jonathan Pollard, who served as a certified espionage agent of the Jewish state in and against its one truly reliable ally, the United States of America. Maybe Pollard’s sentence was a bit harsher than it should have been. But I don’t even concede that. In any case, there are probably hundreds of thousands of convicts now in jail who can argue that their prison sentence was not equable or even just in the first place.

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In the Jewish struggle around Zionism there were at least three strands in opposition so fierce that it was evident that the very meaning of “the people Israel” was at stake. The first of these was a vast religious cohort, at once immensely learned or purported to have such learning and having, as well, the authority of the sages. Or the ages. While ongoing study and “trust in the Lord” constituted their program, they practiced a politics that was fundamentally anti-political. God was both their instrument and their end.

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At the G20 Summit last week in Cannes, Nicolas Sarkozy held only four private meetings. One was with Barack Obama and a second was with Manmohan Singh, prime minister of India.

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The New York Times ran with two demographic surveys one day after the other. The first, which it headlined “Snapshot shows U.S. public more disillusioned than ever,” demonstrated that the American people are fundamentally miserable with their condition. They expressed egalitarian instincts at least to the extent that they want the distribution of wealth to be more even.

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For Israelis, this is the time of the return of the lie. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas tells the UN General Assembly that Israel bears sole blame for the origins of the conflict, that Israel is the sole obstacle to resolving it, and that, in effect, the Jews have no connection to the land of Israel. And he receives a standing ovation.   This is also a time of inversion of expectations: Barack Obama, Israelis’ least favorite president, emerges as the defender of truth, while Bill Clinton, whom Israelis adored, joins the distorters.

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Dictators in Turmoil

Dictatorships fear nothing quite like they fear a mob in the streets. In Tunis and Cairo, however, it was not mobs that gathered but crowds. Non-violent crowds, thoughtful crowds. Alas, there were some 300 dead among the protestors. So this was not exactly a costless revolution in terms of human life. Still, the dynamics that unfolded in Tahrir Square were rooted in peaceful communications. In many ways this was a re-enactment of the Committees of Correspondence. These were initiated in 1773 by Dabney Carr, an intimate of Thos.

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Just about every principle of President Obama's foreign policy has been exposed as, at best, stupid and, at worst, treacherous. As of this writing, there have been no statements from the president. But it takes time to construct an appropriate apologia for such a wholesale disaster for such a haughty man. So, in the meantime, Hillary Clinton (why is she almost always called Hillary Rodham Clinton? is there another Hillary Clinton out there somewhere?) has been sent out to stem the damage. If the damage can be stemmed, that is.

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In response to a couple entreaties to Bibi Netanyahu to abandon the settlers and form a more centrist, pro-peace coalition, an exasperated Matthew Yglesias replies: At some point don’t we need to give this game up? You can make the case that even if the current Israeli government were much more reasonable than it in fact is that there still wouldn’t be a peace deal thanks to bad behavior on the Palestinian side. But it’s actually not puzzling at all why Netanyahu doesn’t form a different coalition and agree to a settlement freeze—Netanyahu favors settlement building.

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It is not what Bibi Netanyahu wanted. Still, the breaking of the moratorium applies only to building projects approved before the work stoppage had begun. Maybe this is not much of a consolation. But it is true, and whatever progress has been made in the tortuous path of accommodation—there has been little—between Israel and the fissiparous Palestinians has been in the interstices and on the margin. It is reassuring that the Palestinian leadership did not grab the opportunity to walk away from the political traffic to make another self-defeating statement of aggressive pity.

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