Palestine

Juan Cole's Mania

One of the odd things about people with very left-wing views on the Middle East is that they're obsessed with the political influence of American Jews yet almost completely unfamiliar with the actual beliefs of the subject of their obsession.

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Yes, many—likely most—Israelis want this or that part of the city to go ultimately to the Palestinian Authority, a larger portion more forthcoming than less… But none want any of it to go to Hamas. Who will be the legatee, however, is not something that Israel has the ability to decide. Some Israelis want the whole of Jerusalem to remain under their sovereignty. That is neither feasible nor desirable. The opportunities are very small, indeed. The Arabs are enraged, although they are easily enraged and have been enraged for decades. Since the mid-1800s, Jerusalem has had a Jewish majority.

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In fact, Israel explicitly told them that it would, and Washington--with some regret, to be sure--accepted the fact. So why are the Obami having such conniptions?

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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 Financial Times is the six-day-a-week newspaper of the Pearson Publishing Group. It is, then, the sister of The Economist. Both are widely read, although the weekly magazine--that is, the latter journal--no longer has much competition in the English-speaking world. (And certainly not from Time or Newsweek.) Ten years ago, in a TNR piece about The Economist, Andrew Sullivan pointed out a particularly noxious passage in the magazine’s pages. Here’s what he wrote back then: Other vestigial Brittery abounds, including the usual condescension to Israel.

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The Elegist

All deaths leave a void, but mourners for Avrom Sutzkever, arguably the greatest Yiddish poet of the twentieth century, are feeling an accordingly outsize loss. Remembering the life and reading the work, one is struck once more by how genius and circumstance combine to create a means of expressing the inexpressible--and in a way that seems, considering the circumstances, almost natural.

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Indecent Proposal

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.

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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.

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Leave The Pope Alone

On September 3, 2000, Pope John Paul II, the Vicar of Christ beloved even by Jews, beatified Pius IX, one of his predecessors who reigned from 1846-1878. He was a nasty anti-Semite who re-established the ghetto in Rome and was instrumental in the kidnapping of a six-year old Jew boy who had been forcibly converted to Catholicism and whom the church itself kept in the Vatican away from his parents. These are not the least of his sins; nor are they the worst. But they contribute richly to his biography as a Jew-hater.

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