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).

Indecent Proposal
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.

The Foreign Policy Awards
December 29, 2009

BIGGEST TACTICAL BLUNDER: Pushing the Israeli-Arab peace process too hard. Obama took office looking for bold strokes at a time when peace seemed as far away as ever: Israel had just finished its punishing military campaign in Gaza last winter, and the Arab world was inflamed, and deeply uninterested in making offerings to Israel. Obama's squeeze on Israeli settlements, meanwhile, managed to a) tick off a backlash in Israel that enabled the Netanyahu government to stand its ground, without b) shaking loose meaningful Arab support.

Eight Pieces, Really One: Iran, Israel's Military Doctrine, The President And One Dumb Jewish Woman, The Wages of Copenhagen, The Christmas Terrorist, We Should All Stop Talking About The Middle East
December 26, 2009

Jews usually go out to the movies on Christmas ... and then they go out to eat "Chinese." I've spent it writing. Below is my harvest. I wish you all good cheer. Here are the motifs of my writing day. Alas, none of them cheery. 1. THE REAL GRIM REAPER: HOLY DAY VICTIMS IN IRAQ AND PAKISTAN 2. COLD COMMON SENSE ABOUT IRAN FROM, MIRABILI DICTU, "THE NEW YORK TIMES" 3. A WISE EUROPEAN FOREIGN MINISTER: "WE SHOULD SHUT UP ABOUT THE MIDDLE EAST" 4. A SOBER "TIMES" PIECE ON ISRAELI MILITARY DOCTRINE 5.

The Food Crisis In Gaza: Testimony From 'Palestine Today', A Gaza Publication
December 24, 2009

I don't mean to seem hardhearted. But I am frankly completely jaded--and made disbelieving--with the on-schedule, almost once-a-week story about the crisis in Gaza. Around Christmas, they are simply de rigeur. Here's a predictable one in the viciously anti-Israel, truly viciously anti-Israel, Financial Times. It is by Tobias Buck, who, while he can write these in his sleep, wrote this one just for Christmas.

Against the Green
December 23, 2009

As President Obama arrives empty-handed at the end of his year-long attempt to persuade Iran to address the international community’s concerns about its nuclear program, a curious paradox has emerged. Even if intensified--and highly costly--sanctions were to force the regime to comply with Western demands, an agreement between Tehran and Washington would benefit one party above all: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the illegitimate government that he now leads.

Rough Routes
December 19, 2009

An extraordinary Iraq war film takes place at home-at homes--and moves through wartime experience known generally yet generally disregarded. The Messenger is about the Army’s Casualty Notification office. When a soldier is killed, two uniformed soldiers, usually decorated veterans, are sent to the soldier’s home to notify the next of kin personally.