Lebanon

The Butterfly Effect

It is often said that the age of the Washington hostess is dead. Gone are the days, we are told, of Katharine Graham and Pamela Harriman, who assembled Washington power players around tables where deals were struck and alliances forged. But that may not be entirely true. The name Rima Al-Sabah doesn’t ring many bells to people outside the Beltway. Inside, it rings a lot. Al-Sabah is the wife of the Kuwaiti ambassador, Salem Al-Sabah. Since the couple arrived in Washington in 2001, she has become known as the issuer of invitations one doesn’t decline.

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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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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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Tim Pawlenty has staked out the maximal hawkish position within the Republican primary field. At the same time, he and every Republican candidate must maintain maximal Ronald Reagan fealty. Jeffrey Goldberg interviews Pawlenty and watches the brain circuits fry: Lately, some conservatives have taken to praising President Ronald Reagan’s decision to withdraw from Lebanon after the fatal Marine-barracks bombing in 1983. ... I asked Pawlenty if he thought Reagan’s decision to withdraw from Lebanon was wrong.

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There’s just so much press attention the Arab world can receive before even obsessives like me begin to tire of its frenzy, pitilessness, and perfidy. Yes, endless repetition of violence and violation can also seem routine. Which, to tell you God’s honest truth, they are. There is a great deal of exactitude behind this morbid fact. Still, the present upheavals in their cumulative impact are deadening. Not only to the victims of the regimes but to their observers, commentators, rapporteurs. Actually, many of these observers, perhaps most, are infatuated with the Arabs.

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Living Dead

I was living in Damascus in early 2009 during the Gaza war. The entire city turned tense, and my neighborhood with it. Store owners along the popular shopping avenues decorated their windows with pictures of blood splattered, scorched Palestinian kids. A popular caricature of Tzipi Livni, who was then the Israeli foreign minister, had her lipstick melting into a drool of blood and her eyes colored to suggest beaming demonic light. Across the exterior of the mosques, citizens hung banners depicting recently killed Palestinian soldiers.

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“We are not talking about a civil war between factions, we are talking about a massacre.

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What is now clear is that the only help Barack Obama was willing to give to the Arabs was his coldness to the Jewish nation. Or, and I want to be frank, his hostile indifference to Israel. It has been a not quite sub rosa sub-theme of his presidency since the beginning. He had not the slightest idea or maybe couldn’t care less that Zion and Zionism meant the retrieval of the Jews from a harrowing if remarkable history.

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The memory of Stephen Solarz, who died this week, should serve as a rude reminder of a time, not long ago but nonetheless ancient, when Capitol Hill was deeply immersed—when it led—in American foreign policy, and a congressman could become a significant figure on the world stage. The honorable gentleman from Brighton Beach had an impact upon the fate of nations.

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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.    

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