Hizballah

Almost no one in Washington has emerged happy from the debt ceiling fight. But farther afield, there’s at least one person who had good reason to be smiling: Bashar Al Assad, the president of Syria. On Sunday, as the House and Senate inched towards an agreement on the debt ceiling, Assad’s regime sent tanks into Hama, the focal point of the protest movement, quelling the unrest by shooting at protestors as well as innocent onlookers, and killing more than 70 people. Assad’s security forces killed people in other towns as well, bringing the death toll to as many as 100, according to reports.

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Sinking Fast

The U.S. ship in the successor flotilla aiming to break the Israeli embargo of the Gaza Strip has been named The Audacity of Hope. It is a bad joke that Barack Obama deserves. His proven coldness toward Israel has emboldened these foolish and meretricious people (including the uproariously silly Alice Walker) to open yet another front against the Jewish state. Of course, their campaign is not really about the embargo. It is about the very existence of Israel. It is not genocide, but it is politicide, and this is also a crime against humanity.

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A couple months ago, I wrote a column quoting a Clinton administration official during the 1990s, who said of the Republican Party's self-destructive aggression, "Every once in a while the Hezbollah wing of their party gets ahold of the steering wheel and drives right off the cliff." Joe Scarborough complains: Chait — who once criticized mainstream Republicans for using an apocalyptical approach against their opponents — compared the GOP’s leadership to a terrorist organization that killed over 250 Marines in Beirut, tortured to death a CIA operative and a Marine colonel, kidnapped scores of

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Back in 2006, the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah was riding high. Having fought the Israeli army to a standstill, the organization’s leader Hassan Nasrallah declared “divine victory.” The war was a public relations coup for the militia, which emerged from the campaign as the most favorable personification of Shiism in the largely Sunni Muslim world. So impressive was the alleged victory that the campaign sparked a widely reported trend of conversion to Shiite Islam in the region.

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I don’t know where to begin. So let me start with Bashar Al Assad—whose father, Hafez, Jimmy Carter wrote he had higher regard for than any other leader in the Middle East. Barack Obama never said anything quite that hagiographic about the son. But Hillary Clinton, his pliant chief diplomat, told “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the Syrian president was considered by members of Congress from both parties to be a “reformer.” How many senators and representatives will own up to Hillary’s characterization? It is hokum. The hokum started long ago.

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Most of this country is still grieving for the five people in the Fogel family who were murdered late Friday night in the religious settlement of Itamar, near Shechem (or Nablus) where, more or less, Jewish history began. This last assertion is probably thought by many readers—and maybe by you—to be reprobate.

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Time for a Reset

President Obama is in a tight spot. The 2010 elections have sharply contracted his ability to achieve legislative victories, while his room to maneuver on other issues will be limited by the intrusive investigations which are almost certainly coming his way. Progress will be harder to attain than ever.

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There are two ways to think about the impact upon Israel of the collapse, fast or slow, but inexorable, of the Mubarak regime in Egypt. The first is to be concerned for Israel. The second is to be concerned about Israel. Until the peace treaty with Egypt was concluded in 1979, it was said about Israel, and rightly, that it was surrounded by “confrontation states.” The accord with Egypt, followed by the accord with Jordan, destroyed the monolithic character of the security threat to Israel.

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This is with regard to my two previous posts on "orientalism" and the "modern" Arabs. An old friend reminded me that "it was a Gérôme that was the cover of Said's expiring "classic," Orientalism.  But, as for Said being buried in Lebanon, it actually speaks to his cosmopolitan rootlessness. On the other hand, he did once, in a pathetic display of the fighting spirit, throw stones at the Israeli frontier from the Leabanese side...and in front of a ghoulish Hezbollah poster, no less.    

The Obama presidency has been obsessed with remaking the Damascus-Washington relationship. Some of his experts told him it was both imperative and just beneath the surface. All you had to do was try. For some comic relief, I suppose, the State Department also sent two oh-so-brilliant men from the “wired” life-style: Alec Ross and Jared Cohen—yes, of course, Jewish—to Damascus to entice the Arabs into the future.

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