Abbas Doesn't Want the Embargo Lifted Either
June 13, 2010
There's a fascinating dispatch in Ha'aretz reporting that Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas has made it clear to President Obama that he doesn't want Israel's naval blockade against Hamas lifted. This should be no surprise, and it raises difficult questions for both America and the meddlesome Europeans who can produce nothing diplomatically but hot air. In fact, why doesn't Europe attend to its own terrible problems, among which are the survival of the Eurozone itself and the very liquidity of Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland? What does that mean? Leave Israel alone. But it won'
June 12, 2010
“Here’s how I play,” John Coltrane remarked in an interview in 1961. “I start from one point and go as far as possible. But, unfortunately, I never lose my way.” It was not long before Coltrane escaped the confinement of what he already knew, and made exploration itself into his highest value; but it must also be said that an ethic of unending exploration, a life of serial certitudes, may also be shallow and a mark of mere restlessness. There are many ways to be lost. (Coltrane at the end of his questing life certainly sounds lost to me.
June 10, 2010
In the wake of Israel’s sanguinary assault on the MV Mavi Marmara, much of the debate has focused on the question of whether those aboard the Free Gaza flotilla were humanitarians, peace activists, or Hamas supporters. The benign, and, crucially, the depoliticized interpretation was that they were humanitarians bringing aid to a besieged people desperately in need of it.
How Netanyahu Threatens Israel's safety
June 09, 2010
Gadi Taub has a spot-on take: Israelis are stunned by the fact that the world has grown to think of Hamas as the righteous victim and of Israel as the evil aggressor. This perception of Israel is false and malicious, but it does not mean that Israel bears no responsibility for it. Yes, there is a lot of anti-Semitism in the world. Yes, there are unfair biases against the Jewish state. But Israel has been feeding them. So long as Israel’s government continues to settle in the West Bank, no one—not even Israel’s American friends—will believe that Netanyahu seeks peace.
June 09, 2010
Tel Aviv, Israel — There once was a very successful campaign in Israel for road safety. Its slogan was, “On the road, don’t be right, be smart." The day after the flotilla raid last week, more than one pundit in the Israeli press brought up the slogan. We’re right, they said, but why can’t we also be smart? The raid was by no means smart. Israel blindly stepped into a p.r. campaign orchestrated by Turkey and Hamas, doing enormous damage to its own international image and credibility. But the raid was not an isolated incident.
The NGOs Love Hamas But Hamas Does Not Love the NGOs
June 05, 2010
In fact, just hours and days after the NGOs of Gaza—a motley group made up largely of pacifists who happen to admire and support Palestinian violence against the Jews— celebrated the ephemeral propaganda victory of Hamas over the Israel Defense Forces, the command of the mainstream Jihadist fanatics shut down the offices of some self-styled human-rights organizations. The Muslim extremists also confiscated files, computers and other records. There was particular emphasis in the seizures on women’s health and educational organizations. Why not?
Operation Make the World Hate Us
June 03, 2010
Israel does not need enemies: it has itself. Or more precisely: it has its government. The Netanyahu-Barak government has somehow found a way to lose the moral high ground, the all-important war for symbols and meanings, to Hamas. That is quite an accomplishment. Operation Make the World Hate Us, it might have been called. I leave it to others to make the operational criticisms of the Israeli action, and will say only that even my amateurish understanding of the tactical challenge posed by the interdiction of the boats suffices to suggest that there were other ways to do this.
Look, I wish the Israeli raid on the so-called “Freedom Flotilla” had ended differently. Why, I ask, didn’t Israel’s navy disable the engine of the Mavi Marmara and drag the ship into port? Who knows? The engines of the other boats were apparently disabled—or so reliable sources say. But, frankly, when some 800 men and women, distributed over six boats after weeks and weeks of preparation, are headed towards Gaza on the wings of slogan and hysteria, you don’t take that many chances.
May 24, 2010
Peter Beinart replies, or purports to reply, one more time: From Leon Wieseltier to Jonathan Chait to Jeffrey Goldberg to Jamie Kirchick to David Frum, the main complaint is that I didn’t spend enough time discussing the nastiness of Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, and extremist Muslims in general. Not only is that not my complaint, or even a complaint I agree with, it's a complaint I specifically disagreed with in both my replies to Peter. There's just no longer any point of contact between the argument I wish to make and the argument Peter wishes to refute.
May 21, 2010
Embarrassment is an important element in the pedagogy of experience. There are mistakes I will never make again because I made them once and was usefully shamed. In the winter of 1974, when I was a bright and callow student, and did not yet grasp the difference between knowledge and knowingness, I endured such a lucky education at the hands of Diana Trilling. The subject was the danger of simplification in the intellectual engagement with politics.