‘With Them or With Us’
November 05, 2009
Almost three decades ago, a group of radical Islamist students, dressed in army fatigues or covered in scarves and black chadors, forced their way into the American embassy in Tehran. According to some accounts, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then a student at a second-tier technical college in Tehran, was invited to join the hostage takers. He declined, saying he would join only if they would also occupy the Soviet embassy in Tehran.
Tall, Bronze, and Hideous
November 04, 2009
James Gardner, formerly the architecture critic of the New York Sun, now writes on culture for several publications. That Golem that was just unveiled in one of the main squares of Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, turns out to be none other than William Jefferson Clinton. Apparently he is something of a god over there: The locals are grateful for his initiating, in 1999, the NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia that curbed Serbian aggressions against the ethnic Albanians, and so they have raised this astounding monument to the man.
Nice Guys Finish Last
November 03, 2009
If Creigh Deeds loses today—and few candidates have hoisted themselves out of the kind of hole he’s dug—let it be known that the Commonwealth of Virginia missed out on having a very nice man in Richmond. “When you elect a governor, you elect not only their positions, but you elect their character, their heart,” declared Senator Mark Warner, to a gamely cheering crowd of about 150 in Alexandria’s Market Square last night.
Dear Rahm: Barack Obama and Yitzhak Rabin, The Link That Will Not Help
November 02, 2009
This coming Wednesday will be the 14th anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin at a Tel Aviv rally for the Oslo peace accords. Like the initial rally itself, the memorial--scheduled for Saturday, October 31, but postponed due to what turned out to be only light rains--was to be a highly charged political event. Except that in 1995, Israel was still stirred by hopes of bringing the decades of war with the Arabs to an end. Yet, at the same time, foreboding grew that these hopes themselves constituted a trap, a mortal trap.
The Fork in J Street
October 31, 2009
The self-declared mission of J Street, the dovish "pro-Israel, pro-Peace" lobby that just concluded its first national conference this week, includes redefining the meaning of the term "pro-Israel." For too long, the organization's founders and supporters argue, right-wing elements in the Jewish community have abused the term to hijack the debate and tarnish mainstream, sensible advocates of a two-state solution. J Street's "pro-Israel" bona fides were questioned almost immediately after its launch, and with good reason.
Seeing and Believing
October 30, 2009
Are representations of the Prophet Muhammad permitted in Islam? To make or not to make images of the Prophet: that is the question I will try to answer. It is an unexpectedly burning question, as the newspapers regularly demonstrate. But both the answer to the question and the reasons for raising it require a broader introduction. There have been many times in recent years when one bemoaned the explosion of media that have provided public forums for so much incompetence and ignorance, not to speak of prejudice. Matters became worse after September 11, for two additional reasons.
J Street's Choice
October 28, 2009
Yesterday I appeared on a panel at J Street, where I debated Matthew Yglesias on what it means to be pro-Israel, as well as J Street's role in this debate.
J Street is having an identity crisis right in front of the cameras. For a year and a half it's been trumpeting that it's both "pro-Israel" and "pro-peace." Actually, that's how I would characterize myself. I am for a two-state solution and always have been. I was for a "Jewish state" and an "Arab state" ever since I was a kid. That's ultimately what nearly every Israeli prime minister has been for, too. And that's what Israel has been trying in different ways and in different circumstances to negotiate.
If I Were Barack Obama, The People I’d Be Most Tee’d Off About Would Be J Street. And Maybe He is.
October 26, 2009
Now, everybody who reads me knows that I am not a big supporter of administration policy on the Middle East. But, then, I am not a big supporter of its foreign policy almost anywhere. No, let me correct that. Not "almost anywhere." But "anywhere." That said, I don't believe that President Obama is trying to weaken the United States or its allies.
October 26, 2009
California is a mess, but I love it all the same--especially the Bay Area, where I lived for 15 years. I went to Berkeley in 1962--a refugee from Amherst College, which at that time was dominated by frat boys with high SAT scores. I didn't go to Berkeley to go to school, but to be a bus ride away from North Beach and the Jazz Workshop. In a broader sense, I went to California for the same reason that other émigrés had been going since the 1840s. I was knocking on the Golden Door. Immigrants from Europe had come to America seeking happiness and a break with their unhappy pasts.