Cambridge Diarist: Regrets
April 22, 2002
The 1929 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to U.S. Secretary of State Frank Kellogg. And why not? The year before, he had persuaded the great powers to outlaw war. Among those that ratified the historic Kellogg-Briand pact were the democratic countries, plus Germany, Japan, and Italy. High-minded people, deluded that signed agreements shaped history, were delirious with joy. Barely a decade later, of course, most of the world was plunged into war. Did the committee that chose the prize's recipients have any second thoughts?
February 24, 2002
The bearded Hezbollah man, arms folded and half-smiling, stood alone at the border fence on his daily vigil, just across from the Israeli army outpost called Tziporen. Beside him was a large metal sign imprinted with photographs of dead Israeli and South Lebanese Army soldiers--including a severed head--and the taunt in Hebrew, "Sharon, don't forget your soldiers are still in Lebanon," a reference to three Israeli soldiers kidnapped in the fall of 2000, whom the army believes didn't survive. I moved toward the fence to get a closer view but was stopped by an Israeli officer.
Jerusalem Dispatch: Normalcy
December 17, 2001
Terrorism is the ultimate anti-Zionist weapon. It subverts Israel's promise of normalcy for the Jews. One reason Israelis have learned to live with the recurring image of parents burying their soldier sons is that the death of young people in uniform isn't a violation of what humanity considers normal.
The Big One
November 05, 2001
RUNS ON GAS masks in major cities. Arguments about the relative efficacy of Cipro versus doxycycline. The House of Representatives temporarily relocating. As the war on terrorism enters its second month, fear of flying is giving way to fear of opening the mail. Psychologically, it may be that society can only concentrate on one threat at a time. But if that's the case—anthrax letters notwithstanding—the focus is in the wrong place. Biological weapons are bad, but so far none has ever caused an epidemic or worked in war. And it is possible that none ever will: Biological agents are notoriously
October 29, 2001
On the surface, the similarities between the late extremist rabbi, Meir Kahane, and Rehavam "Gandhi" Ze'evi, Israel's tourism minister and head of the far-right Moledet (Homeland) party, are obvious. Both men advocated the abhorrent "transfer" of Palestinians to neighboring Arab countries; both headed radical, peripheral political movements. Both were murdered by Arab terrorists, Kahane eleven years ago in November, and Ze'evi this week. But Israeli reactions to the two murders were drastically different.
October 29, 2001
Playing It Safe: How the Supreme Court Sidesteps Hard Cases and Stunts the Development of Law by Lisa Kloppenberg (New York University Press, 304 pp., $38) For many years, Israel's General Security Service has engaged in certain forms of physical coercion, reasonably described as torture, of suspected terrorists. Suspected terrorists have been repeatedly shaken, in a way that causes their heads and necks to dangle and to vacillate rapidly. They have been tied in chairs for long periods of time, their heads covered in opaque and foul-smelling sacks, while very loud music is played.
October 01, 2001
On Wednesday morning, the train was silent. Grim, tight-lipped, and still. No one looked me in the eye and nodded; thus instructed, I also did not look or nod. In the tunnel underneath the Pentagon, the smell of smoke filled the car, but no one stirred or sighed. Out of the tunnel, the smoking building came into view. A few sobs escaped, and then we returned underground and were silent again. Silent because if we had spoken we would have wailed. In many ways, we americans have done well. We have rebounded, and with vigor.
July 23, 2001
In 1967, at the height of the Six Day War, Israeli jets strafed and firebombed a seemingly hostile ship near the Sinai coast. Israeli torpedo boats quickly converged to finish the job, then abruptly ceased fire and offered assistance to the battered crew. Israel had attacked the USS Liberty. In all, 34 Americans died, and 171 were injured. Israeli leaders apologized promptly and profusely, explaining that they had mistaken the Liberty for an enemy vessel--an explanation that subsequent investigations in both the United States and Israel upheld.
January 15, 2001
In the lobby of Likud headquarters hangs a plaque with a quotation from Samson, a novel written by the party's mentor, the late Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky: "Tell them three things in my name, not two: Gather iron, anoint a king, and learn to laugh." For many years Ariel Sharon—the iron-willed general and Likud hard-liner—seemed faithful only to Jabotinsky's first two imperatives. He appeared at once aggrieved and combative; even his massive physical presence seemed provocative. Yet, at age 72, the public Sharon has learned to relax and even to laugh.
January 15, 2001
The months of Palestinian rage known as the "Al-Aqsa intifada"—they are actually only the latest outbursts in the years of Palestinian rage that have comprised most of the political history of the Palestinians—should have demonstrated that peace will be made on the ground or it will not be made at all. The recent violence exposed the peace process as an exercise of elites, of the a bientot crowd, who are always cordial toward each other.