Mahmoud Abbas

Yes, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, one of those scholarly madmen in the Israeli orbit, did call forth a malediction against the Palestinians and their leaders. And, frankly, he deserves a similar anathema from all of us, he with his direct line to God from which he derives his marching orders to his followers. Fortunately, these followers may adore him.

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In his session with the press after an Oval Office discussion with Prime Minister Netanyahu. President Obama said, “We expect ... proximity talks to lead to direct talks, and I believe that the government of Israel is prepared to engage in such ... talks.” Indeed it is, without further ado and without preconditions. But it takes two to tango, and the Palestinians have steadfastly refused to initiate such talks unless Israel agrees to a complete settlement freeze in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

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From the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Executive Director Robert Satloff comes this analysis:  The Gaza Flotilla Incident: Impact on Three Key Arab Actors By Robert Satloff June 22, 2010   The Gaza flotilla episode pitted Israel versus Turkey, with Arabs as bystanders and observers. Yet reverberations of the incident have had a keen impact across Arab capitals. Egypt: Policy Adrift The country most negatively affected has been Egypt.

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There's a fascinating dispatch in Ha'aretz reporting that Palestinian
Authority president Mahmoud Abbas has made it clear to President Obama that he doesn't want Israel's naval blockade against Hamas lifted. This
should be no surprise, and it raises difficult questions for both America
and the meddlesome Europeans who can produce nothing diplomatically but hot air. In fact, why doesn't Europe attend to its own terrible problems, among
which are the survival of the Eurozone itself and the very liquidity of
Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland? What does that mean? Leave Israel alone. But it won'

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James Risen, a Washington-based writer, and Yossi Klein Halevi, a Jerusalem-based writer, have been friends since they both crashed the Nazi Party headquarters in Chicago as student reporters 30 years ago. They have been joking and arguing about news and politics ever since, especially when it comes to Israel and the Middle East.  This e-mail exchange began in the shadow of the dispute between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government.

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They are not unconnected. They are not unconnected at all. Now, presumably the president didn't want to provoke the rage of the Palestinians. (Although, then again, he might just have anticipated it.) But Palestinian rage is very easy to provoke. Snap your fingers and, there, you have it. You don't even have to rent a mob. It comes free will, so to speak. The fact is that Obama did more than snap his fingers. He sent out very top members of his administration to beat up on Israel and they did.

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Well, actually it's the governments of Israel and Palestine that are equal in this way. And it's in the propensity of high public officials to engage in sexual aggression against women. In fact, Israel wins the prize on this count. Former president Moshe Katzav resigned from office in order to ward off (unsuccessfully, it appears) an eight-count indictment on serious charges. The trial is now in process.

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Something Much Darker

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.

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“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.

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