The Spine

Tunisia and Egypt
January 26, 2011

When one wave of revolution hits an Arab country it is very likely to hit several others. Like the revolts of the colonels. It started with a coup d’état of army colonels by Gamal Abdel Nasser (who supplanted his lackey Muhammad Naguib) in early 1953. There followed another coup of colonels in Syria which then teamed up with Egypt to comprise the United Arab Republic in 1956. The preposterous flag with two stars, one for each state, is about as deep as the union was.

Christians in the Middle East
January 24, 2011

The numbers may look identical. But it was not the same bombing. Early last week, the Times' Stephen Lee Meyers, based in Iraq, reported (and I commented on) the bombing in Tikrit that took roughly 50 lives--give or take a dozen, more likely give. The number of wounded was, of course, enormous and also uncertain. Alas, the Times news staff in Iraq is getting basic training in how cruel people can be to one another.

No Arab Society Is Immune
January 19, 2011

That is a simple fact, no matter what the apologists, paid and unpaid, say. And what they are not immune from is murder activated by politically motivated killers. It almost doesn't matter who the victims are. It's the numbers that count, the bigger the better. Yesterday, Stephen Lee Meyers reported in the New York Times that at least 49 hopefuls for the police academy were blown to smithereens in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's home town. Meyers wrote that the ministry of the interior had announced that there had been 60 dead. The reporter's own number for the wounded and maimed was 116.

Today’s News Is Like Yesterday’s: Killings In The Muslim World
January 17, 2011

Actually, I didn’t read this anywhere—no, not anywhere—but in an A.P.

Most Jewish Israelis Want To Live Separately From Their Ultra-Orthodox Brethren. And The Haredim Don’t Want To Live With Modern Jews Either.
January 14, 2011

Of course, the issue of residential segregation in Israel comes up mostly between Arabs and Jews. And the fact is that it is the pattern but not the law. Arabs are a communal group with tight bonds among the generations. These bonds are often frayed—and often more than frayed—by what are sometimes multi-generational feuds.

Europe is Not Entitled to Hector Any Country
January 13, 2011

In the circles in which I move there are many people who are quite snarky about Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman. I've never really understood why. Maybe it’s just because he wants higher taxes than they do. But as an explicator of economic realities he as good as they come. And in a New York Times Magazine essay about the grim financial status of contemporary Europe he has made it all crystal clear. Most of the members of the European Union have made a tremendous mess of their fiscal situation, and many are in desperate trouble or near- desperate trouble looking into the future.

Gabrielle Giffords' Jewish Testament. May She Live Till 120
January 11, 2011

This morning I read David Greenberg's article about the attempted murder of Congresswoman Giffords. It stirred some thoughts. One of them was that the assault was an attempt to bring down a Jewish woman. Of course, that's what David had suggested -although, like me, he drew no conclusions.

The States And Peoples Of Africa...The Coming Break-Up
January 10, 2011

Perhaps it was fated that Sudan, possibly the most preposterous of African states and certainly among the most murderous members of the United Nations, should after two wars waged against populations imprisoned within its borders be the first to actually break up. Of course, it depends on two uncertain circumstances. The first is that secession wins the vote in the south. The second depends on whether Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan who is under indictment for war crimes by the International Criminal Court, would allow the choice of independence to stand.

The Invention Of Islamophobia
January 10, 2011

Anyone who suggests that there is a war being waged by Muslims in their own lands and in the lands in which they have settled—these last, by the way, are the really aggressive “settlers”!—against rationalists and true liberals, traditional conservatives and Islamic dissenters, Christians and Jews is likely to be labeled an “Islamophobe.” I have been, and thousands of you out there, perhaps millions, have been so labeled...or almost.

My Conclusion Is That You Simply Cannot Trust An Article By Isabel Kershner
January 10, 2011

She is not Walter Duranty, the New York Times’ fancifully favorable correspondent in the Soviet Union during the darkest years of Stalin’s rule. And she also is not Herbert Matthews, the Times’ ritual denier of Castro’s crimes in Cuba. To both of these journalists but not them alone (after all, we had I.F.