Now, everybody who reads me knows that I am not a big supporter of administration policy on the Middle East. But, then, I am not a big supporter of its foreign policy almost anywhere. No, let me correct that. Not "almost anywhere." But "anywhere." That said, I don't believe that President Obama is trying to weaken the United States or its allies.
Ours is an age when the moral authority of accusers is at its height. Also the moral authority of accusations. There was a time when accusations had to be proven. That requirement has long since passed. After all, why would anyone bear false witness? So everybody is a witness, especially those with phantasmagoric tales to tell, especially those who yearn to testify against liberal societies which have established and proven processes to alert their own demos about evil. There are many of these foul witnesses: some ideologues, some ideological liars, some resentful, some haters.
To follow up on my item on Human Rights Watch, I slightly mischarcaterized HRW's reply. The organization didn't say that the vast majority of its reports were on othe countries, it said that about the vast majority of its Middle East/North Africa reports. That certainly narrows it down. But it still doesn't respond to the complaint, which is that the attention to Israel is disproportionate.
I don't know how I missed this, and I really don't know how Marty missed this, but it seems pretty significant that Robert Bernstein, the former president of Human Rights Watch, had an op-ed in yesterday's New York Times accusing his former organization of anti-Israel bias: When I stepped aside in 1998, Human Rights Watch was active in 70 countries, most of them closed societies. Now the organization, with increasing frequency, casts aside its important distinction between open and closed societies. Nowhere is this more evident than in its work in the Middle East.
It could have been predicted. In fact, I predicted it here. So, more or less, did Jon Chait and Leon Wieseltier, with subtle differences ... and, from The Washington Post, Jackson Diehl and Jim Hoagland, Charles Krauthammer and George Will, as well. Plus a few more here and there. No one from the New York Times? Huh. What a surprise. The Times never saw the Holocaust.
At the Non-Proliferation Treaty meeting beginning today in New York, Iran will try to shift the discussion to Israel’s nuclear weapons by proposing that the Middle East become nuclear-free. As historian Jeffrey Herf wrote at TNR Online last October, this is similar to a ploy the Soviets used in the 1980s: Our negotiations with Iran are not off to a good start. After the initial meeting in Geneva on October 1--with Iran on one side and Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the United States on the other--Iranian representatives said they had agreed to send processed uranium to Russia.
Toughened by their frontier ethos, steeled by serial wars, Israelis are not prone to flattery. Most, in fact, eschew using the closest equivalent to the Hebrew word for flattery--chanupa--in favor of the derisive Yiddish-derivative, firgun. An Israeli joke holds that the word, slashed by a red diagonal line, graces the exit from Ben-Gurion Airport, together with the warning, "You are now entering a Firgun Free Zone." Not surprisingly, then, several Israeli commentators reacted unflatteringly to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent speech to the U.N. General Assembly.
I hope that I'm not being too haughty. But these articles are provocative, trenchant and convincing. They will give some of you heartburn. 1.
The Israeli reactions to the Goldstone report on the Gaza war of January 2009 have focused, understandably, on its outrageous omissions and distortions and one-sided judgments, as well as on the moral corruption of the report's sponsor, the UN's Human Rights Commission.
You may recall (or you may not) that on September 12 I posted a recounting the tale of Fonda's appeal to the city and to the world that the Toronto Film Festival be boycotted because the program included a fest for the Tel Aviv movie industry and its artistic achievements. This sector of Israeli culture has over the last ten years produced an unusual number of very unusual productions. Ask anybody in the quality side of the business and he will tell you that Tel Aviv is now one of the great centers of film art (as Tel Aviv is also to dance). Sorry, this is not my ethnic chauvinism. It is t