Something Much Darker
February 08, 2010
I. “Trying to explain the doctrine of the Trinity to readers of The New Republic is not easy.” On June 2, 1944, W.H. Auden penned that sentence in a letter to Ursula Niebuhr. On January 26, 2010, Andrew Sullivan posted it as the “quote for the day” on his blog. Displaced and unglossed quotations are always in some way mordant, and bristle smugly with implications. Let us see what this one implies. Auden was at Swarthmore when he wrote his letter to his friend.
The Financial Times and the Satanization of Israel
February 01, 2010
The Financial Times is the six-day-a-week newspaper of the Pearson Publishing Group. It is, then, the sister of The Economist. Both are widely read, although the weekly magazine--that is, the latter journal--no longer has much competition in the English-speaking world. (And certainly not from Time or Newsweek.) Ten years ago, in a TNR piece about The Economist, Andrew Sullivan pointed out a particularly noxious passage in the magazine’s pages. Here’s what he wrote back then: Other vestigial Brittery abounds, including the usual condescension to Israel.
February 01, 2010
All deaths leave a void, but mourners for Avrom Sutzkever, arguably the greatest Yiddish poet of the twentieth century, are feeling an accordingly outsize loss. Remembering the life and reading the work, one is struck once more by how genius and circumstance combine to create a means of expressing the inexpressible--and in a way that seems, considering the circumstances, almost natural.
They’ve Been Telling Us All Along...
January 31, 2010
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, against which I warned long ago, passed unanimously on August 11, 2006. Two days later, the Israeli cabinet approved the motion 24-0--but with one astute minister abstaining. For whatever it is worth, I thought (and wrote) that the restrictions on Hezbollah (and, more than inferentially, on both Syria and Iran) meant less than nothing.
January 29, 2010
“The cruel God of the Jews has you beaten too.”--Racine An interview by Joe Klein in Time magazine is hardly a historical event. But, when the interview is with Barack Obama, it lays claim to some newsworthiness. This is especially true when it is ballyhooed as a firstanniversary event. Since, moreover, (right after awarding himself good grades on Al Qaeda in Yemen and Somalia) it’s clear that Obama wanted to make a point: “The other area which I think is worth noting is that the Middle East peace process has not moved forward.
I Don't Know That Much About Iran. But I Know Whom to Trust...
January 12, 2010
And they are Abbas Milani, Nader Mousavizadeh, a few others, amongst whom there is the controversial but very insightful Michael Ledeen. The conventional wisdom, frankly, is almost never a conclusion drawn from facts, but a conclusion drawn from temperament. I suppose this was the case with Barack Obama, who was sure that the ayatollahs and their president would negotiate on the basis of his sweet reason. Here’s a piece posted by Michael Ledeen on the Web at 8:25 p.m.
Israel: Robotics and Start-Ups
January 12, 2010
In 1949, a magazine called The Contemporary Jewish Record, now more or less Commentary, published an explosive essay called “Anti-Semitic Stereotypes in Zionism.” It was not at all an attack on Zionism. Instead, it proposed that the Jewish national revival would actually reverse certain character traits that had lodged in the people of the book and were keeping them from being active in their own history. The Jewish thinker who made this argument--a Zionist, in fact--was Yehezkel Kaufman, a specialist in many scholarly fields. Here’s a very dressed-down version of his case: 1.
Does al Qaeda Imperil America?
January 11, 2010
Marty, dissenting from my praise for Peter Beinart's column on the degraded capability of al Qaeda, writes, "There is an instinct among many liberals and lefties to deny that the U.S. faces real peril from Al Qaeda." Obviously the debate here hinges upon how we define "peril." I'd define "peril" to mean a threat that could destroy or seriously alter the character of our country. By that definition, I don't believe that al Qaeda poses any peril to the United States right now (an important caveat I'll flesh out below).
January 09, 2010
The Invention of the Jewish People By Shlomo Sand Translated by Yael Lotan (Verso, 400 pp., $34.95) By the books an age reads and respects ye shall know it.
Jews Who Hate The Jews Who Hate Palin
January 08, 2010
The complaint of the Jewish Republican is a small but hardy feature of our political discourse. The complaint runs as follows: Jews are foolishly ignoring their self-interest by voting for Democrats on the basis of sentimental concerns (secularism, concern for the poor) rather than pursuing their true self interest (maximal hawkishness on the Middle East, low tax rates on the rich) as represented by the GOP. Occasionally these arguments take the form of gloating predictions that Jews will soon join other white ethnics in abandoning their hoary Democratic loyalties.