Tel Aviv Journal
I. It is not the business of Israel, although it seems to be the business of the politicians of Israel, to hector and harass President Obama about the release of Jonathan Pollard, who served as a certified espionage agent of the Jewish state in and against its one truly reliable ally, the United States of America. Maybe Pollard’s sentence was a bit harsher than it should have been. But I don’t even concede that. In any case, there are probably hundreds of thousands of convicts now in jail who can argue that their prison sentence was not equable or even just in the first place.
No sooner had Mitt Romney triumphed in the Michigan primary than Rick Santorum edged into his victory by succeeding in winning an equal number of delegates. Romney polled 3 percent higher than Santorum in the popular vote. But that meant nothing in the arcana of counting at the polls that will be translated into 15 delegates each at the Tampa convention in August.
There is a temptation to think of the two Koreas as twins. But certainly not identical twins. After Japan surrendered to the United States and the Soviet Union in August 1945 (the Soviets had only been in the war for days … really just for days!), battered Tokyo relinquished the peninsula it had seized and brutalized from 1910 onwards. Korea had gone through nearly a half century of both imperialism and colonialism, quite different manifestations of similar instincts, and was left again as a captive nation. With a difference, of course.
I know that this is harsh. But I use the word pusillanimous in its ugliest meaning—which is the “unmanly” meaning—especially in relation to Saudi Arabia, having stockpiled weapons and trained soldiers for decades so that by now it is the only Arab country capable of taking on the monstrous regime in Damascus … and winning. I say “unmanly” because the kingdom has done nothing of the sort.
My posting, “All of Western Civilization Could Soon Be Threatened By a Nuclear Iran,” went up on Friday/Saturday at midnight. I don’t know whether there have ever been as many readers’ comments as there were for this piece. To be sure, some of them were simply stupid and produced by the lame brains who have attached themselves (ongetshepet, my mother would have said onomatopoetically) to my writings.
I don’t know whether it’s time just yet for someone, anyone to bomb Iran. But it’s been quite a few years since the wise folk in the strategy profession have been saying “sanctions need time.” This sounds very reassuring unless, of course, Tehran’s nuclear option beats out Tehran’s financial collapse. Just how much economic pain will the world’s self-appointed moral monitors permit even a repellent and perilous Islamic power to endure until all the strings of conscience are played and the will to act is foreclosed.
I commented long ago in The Spine about the courtship between fundamentalist Christianity and Israel. One of the early signs that it was meshing was the meeting between [Israeli Prime Minister Menahem] Begin and the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Bailey Smith, who had said that God doesn’t hear the prayers of a Jew. That’s a big theological rift already. But Begin tried to finesse the history.
I. The U.N. General Assembly has, by a vote of 137-12 (with 17 abstentions), condemned Bashar al-Assad and his relentless killing of the Syrian opposition which has gone on for nearly a year. The news was on page 12 of The New York Times which tells you just how significant the paper’s editors thought the resolution to be. The gifted reporter, Rick Gladstone, told us just about everything you would want to know.
My old student, that is, my former student from four-plus decades ago, Michael Kazin, has written that the long life of the Christian Right has come to an end. It certainly has lost its old “failsafe” battles. I have no nostalgia at all for the hardened hearts and mellifluous voices which judged intricate human dilemmas through dogma, through harsh dogma, at that. It’s odd, though—isn’t it?—that black churches, rarely labeled as “right anything,” are among the places where same-sex marriage, even the idea of same-sex sex, runs into trouble, big trouble.
A New Republic blogger last week pronounced the president’s foreign policy record “hawkish.” This is especially odd, given Barack Obama’s ongoing attempt at persuading himself and the world that he had altered the model of international relations so that it now worked by talk and suasion. This is probably how his enthusiasts—and young enthusiasts, especially—still experience him. Illusions die hard. But even Obama can no longer be wholly persuaded by this, his own fantasy.