Memoirs By Hans Jonas Edited by Christian Wiese Translated by Krishna Winston (Brandeis University Press, 320 pp., $35) The Life and Thought of Hans Jonas: Jewish Dimensions By Christian Wiese (Brandeis University Press, 292 pp., $50) I. Hans Jonas was a philosopher, not a prophet, but his teachings speak as powerfully to our age of global warming, global markets, and Manichaean geopolitics as they did to the century of world wars in which he developed them.
I spent last May with a group of writers touring Arab universities, meeting with students in Syria, Jordan, and Palestine. Whenever we were able to speak informally, politics--specifically, American politics--came up again and again. At times, the anxiety among the students we met was overwhelming. They wanted to know why we had gone to Iraq, why we had reelected Bush, why we had squandered our opportunity to lead. Which brings me to this year's presidential contest. I've never voted with much enthusiasm, and, certainly, this year feels different.
The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy By John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 484 pp., $26) In October 2002, Osama bin Laden issued a statement in which he analyzed America's inexhaustible number of sins and prescribed ways of repenting for many of them. The statement was, by the standards of bin Laden's cave encyclicals, unusually coherent.
Some of us remember filling those old Jewish National Fund boxes with nickels and dimes (plus a few quarters) with which "we" helped reforest the land of Israel and also buy land from perfectly willing--indeed, very eager--Arab sellers. It is a luminous and true memory, and it also taught us our responsibility for others.
Shortly after I arrived in Damascus this summer, I dropped by the offices of Dr. Mohammed Al Habash, one of Syria’s leading religious scholars, to interview him about the rise of Islam in his country. But the Danes beat me to him. Habash’s Islamic Studies Center was hosting the first official Danish delegation to travel to Syria since a mob, infuriated by the publication of cartoons of the Prophet in a Danish newspaper, had attacked and burned the Danish Embassy in February.
Were Norman Mailer to pen a sequel to The Armies of the Night, his chronicle of a 1967 antiwar march on the Pentagon, his notes might read something like this: Good news and bad news to report from this weekend’s protest in Washington against the Iraq war—good news because over 100,000 demonstrators turned out to voice their opposition to war, racism, and inequality; bad news because the loudest voices belonged to pre-adolescents. Yes, as I traverse the Mall on Saturday, I cannot escape 13- and 14-year-old girls with peace signs (and the occasional Mercedes logo) painted on their cheeks.
When the Rose Revolution began in the fall of 2003, there was little reason to hope for a happy ending. Twelve years earlier, the former Soviet Republic of Georgia had stepped from communism into civil war. The old Communist eminence Eduard Shevardnadze may have brought greater stability when he took over the government in 1992, but his corrupt rule also generated huge new pools of ill will among the populace. Some of this disgust manifested itself in small, peaceful street protests.
With the increasing violence leading up to this week's Iraqi elections for 275 seats in a new national assembly, a despair emerged in some U.S.
Imagine the likelihood of thousands of American students, intellectuals, and Hollywood celebrities marching in support of George W. Bush, and you will begin to appreciate the marvel of the Israeli leftists now rallying around Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Reviled for engineering the Lebanon war, for masterminding the settlement movement, for opposing every attempt at reconciliation with the Palestinians, and as the personification of Israeli militarism and anti-Arab racism, Sharon today is viewed by many leftists as the settlers' bete noire and Israel's foremost champion of peace.
President Bush's inaugural speech was delivered on the day Muslims around the world celebrated Eid Ul Azha, the festival marking the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj. But, as soon as it was over, the state- run news media of authoritarian U.S. allies in the Middle East were quick to criticize it. Egypt's Al Ahram lamented that Bush made no reference to either Iraq or Palestine, the two most important issues in the region Bush hopes most to democratize.