Honest Debate And The Middle East
June 10, 2010
One frustrating thing I've found about getting sucked into debates on the Middle East is that it's very rare that critics of my views describe them accurately. By "accurately," I don't mean "in the terms I would use myself," but "in terms that aren't totally inconsistent with my actual beliefs." Oddly, this happens much less often when I argue with right-wingers. The latest instance is Matthew Duss of Think Progress.
June 10, 2010
In the wake of Israel’s sanguinary assault on the MV Mavi Marmara, much of the debate has focused on the question of whether those aboard the Free Gaza flotilla were humanitarians, peace activists, or Hamas supporters. The benign, and, crucially, the depoliticized interpretation was that they were humanitarians bringing aid to a besieged people desperately in need of it.
Helen Thomas And The Rights Of Abhorrent Speech
June 07, 2010
A few years ago, I wrote about the absurdity of Helen Thomas's image as a paragon of journalistic integrity and the toughest member of the White House press corps. She made her name by being willing to endure the tedium of the stenographic role of the White House press far longer than any sentient reporter could bear.
Look, I wish the Israeli raid on the so-called “Freedom Flotilla” had ended differently. Why, I ask, didn’t Israel’s navy disable the engine of the Mavi Marmara and drag the ship into port? Who knows? The engines of the other boats were apparently disabled—or so reliable sources say. But, frankly, when some 800 men and women, distributed over six boats after weeks and weeks of preparation, are headed towards Gaza on the wings of slogan and hysteria, you don’t take that many chances.
President Obama wants it both ways. His dreary international initiative to put finis to nuclear arms is seen as so unlikely and so impossible that Russian president Dmitri Medvedev has already sent the atomic arms reduction treaty, negotiated with the American president, to the Russian parliament, where it has no chances of failure. Obama sent the document to the Senate earlier this month.
May 30, 2010
On the surface, it seems as if tomorrow's Egyptian elections will be a dreary formality. Although the official campaigning period for the Shura Council, Egypt’s upper house of parliament, has been going for two weeks, the streets of Cairo are noticeably silent. The only overt evidence of political gamesmanship is the paraphernalia of the ruling party’s candidates plastered in the city’s central squares. Campaigns here tend to be lackluster because they don't usually matter.
May 28, 2010
Last week I suggested that I became interested in writing about the Middle East because the left's embrace, or semi-embrace, of the Walt-Mearsheimer argument was changing the American political discourse in disconcerting ways. Here's a recent example. A few days ago, Democratic Congressional candidate Marcy Winograd attacked Reps.
Four Columns Wide At The Boston Globe
May 25, 2010
The Globe often uses its news columns to reinforce its editorial page. As you know, the slowly expiring daily is hostile to Israel—very hostile. And its hostility is sustained by its simplicity, which is even more simple than that of its papa paper, The New York Times. All Israel has to do is vacate the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the lion will lie down with the lamb. Or the lamb with the lion.
A Reply To Peter Beinart
May 17, 2010
Not long ago, I ran into an AIPAC staffer at a social gathering. We debated the Middle East for a bit, and continued the discussion over lunch. I told him that I thought the political estrangement of liberalism and support for Israel posed a long-term existential threat, and that his organization was contributing to the problem. We agreed to disagree. Former TNR editor Peter Beinart has a sharp, attention-grabbing essay in The New York Review of Books making this case not just against AIPAC but most of the mainstream American Jewish organizations. Indeed, he goes much further.
May 12, 2010
One of the frustrating things about debating the Middle East is that most of the people to my left find it difficult to fathom, or sometimes inconvenient to acknowledge, the existence of actual liberals who have somewhat hawkish views on Israel. So anybody whose view on the Middle East is to the right of Naomi Klein must be a reflexive supporter of Israel and probably a "Likudnik," and could not possibly have any other foreign policy principles that dovetail with their views on Israel. Last week I wrote about a report bringing to light Richard Goldstone's Apartheid-era history.