If You Build It...
September 02, 2010
Dear Imam Feisal, Ramadan Kareem. I pray that you are bearing up under the strain of recent months. I write as a well-wisher and friend. Though we met only briefly, our encounter turned out to be at a fateful moment, and, for me at least, was of lasting significance. We met, you will recall, on September 5, 2001, at a symposium on a book I was about to publish recounting my journey into Islam and Christianity in the Holy Land. (The book was actually released six days later, on September 11.) You appeared on the panel offering a Muslim response to my journey.
Ovadia Curses; In the Meantime Hamas Shoots Four Israelis Dead, One Pregnant
September 01, 2010
Yes, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, one of those scholarly madmen in the Israeli orbit, did call forth a malediction against the Palestinians and their leaders. And, frankly, he deserves a similar anathema from all of us, he with his direct line to God from which he derives his marching orders to his followers. Fortunately, these followers may adore him.
From the Dept. of It Just Doesn’t Matter
August 26, 2010
Who cares whether one in five people think Barack Obama is a Muslim? Yes, that’s even more people than a couple of years ago, based on results from a Pew Research Center poll last week. But even so, though this misconception is a personal insult to a president many of us think warmly of, does it really matter? In the grand scheme of things? Because the grand scheme is what should be on our minds, not score-settling and mud-slinging in the present moment.
The Women of Hezbollah
August 09, 2010
Since the 1980s, the Shia terrorist group Hezbollah has not been given to blunt public moralizing about the need for women to wear the veil. It originally made no secret of its desire to convert Lebanon into a Shia Islamic state—the organization’s 1985 manifesto called for the establishment of “Islamic government” and the conversion of Christians to Islam—but these efforts proved exceedingly unpopular, given Lebanon’s plurality of Christian and Sunni Muslim citizens.
Thoughts From Tehran
July 29, 2010
We were all dreamers then. When we overthrew the Shah, we thought a bright new age had dawned. Tyranny had been defeated and soon we would vanquish all the secularists, Westernizers, imperialists, and Zionists. Our glorious revolution would be the model for millions, not only in the Middle East but among Muslims everywhere. Islam would be restored to its rightful place at the center of people’s lives, and piety would replace politics. Some of us even imagined that all the prophecies of the Koran were about to come true. Such dreams.
David Cameron Has Been to Washington. He Got The Message...And Now He's Delivering It.
July 28, 2010
On Wednesday, The Independent announced that "Cameron uses Turkish visit to launch ferocious attack on Israel." The Guardian reports that he "likened the experience of Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza Strip to that of a 'prison camp'." Having just been to Washington, was Cameron doing a transmission job for Barack Obama? Probably not. This missive about Israel is surely not the one that Obama really wants to transmit now.
Unshackle the Troops
July 26, 2010
Many good people who have never fought in a war find something appealing in America’s willingness to take more casualties in order to spare innocent civilian lives. For those, like me, who have been in combat, the choices at hand look somewhat different. Consider the following likely scenario. A platoon of Marines is patrolling an area in Afghanistan. To avoid IEDs, the Marines stay off the roads and advance through a field. At the edge of the field is a row of huts. Suddenly, two Marines are hit. The Marines take cover, although there is little to protect them in the open field.
July 26, 2010
No soldier wants to be the last one to die in a war, goes the old saw. In Afghanistan, make that: No coalition member wants to be the last one to quit. And so, competitive withdrawal has practically begun. According to President Obama, the United States will start drawing down next year. Canada is preparing to exit in 2011. Poland is talking complete withdrawal by 2012. Britain wants to end it all by 2015. This is no way to win. It’s like a trainer announcing in round three that he will throw in the towel in round six.
Murder In Dubai: The Mossad
July 18, 2010
You may recall the death of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, actually the killing of al-Mabhouh, God rest his soul or, better yet, inshallah. The “victim” was a top man in Hamas whose personal achievements were plenty, mostly the taking of innocent human life. The Israelis had promised themselves to get him, and they did. No Palestinian murderer could be safe as long as the Mossad was permitted to forge passports. So, on the discovery of the corpus delicti and the suspicion that it was the Jews who’d done him in, everybody went bananas about the falsified travel documents.
How Obama Will Deal With Our Wayward Ally, Turkey
July 01, 2010
It’s a shock to see one of the pillars of American foreign policy start to disintegrate before our very eyes. That’s what seems to be happening to the relationship between the United States and Turkey, which policymakers in both countries have taken for granted for decades. I know it’s often said that formal alliances are losing their central place in international politics. If so, maybe the bad blood between Ankara and Washington is just part of a trend, something we wearily adjust to.