Tel Aviv

What Are Nukes Good For?
April 07, 2010

The nuclear order seems to be falling apart. Gone is the uneasy balance between the cold war superpowers. We now face a slew of new nuclear actors. North Korea has reprocessed enough plutonium for perhaps ten bombs, in addition to the two it has already tested. Iran’s centrifuge program seems poised to produce weapons-grade uranium. And Syria was apparently constructing a clandestine nuclear facility, before it was destroyed by Israeli air strikes in 2007. It’s not just enemies that pose a problem.

And Now We Hear From the Foreign Minister of Luxembourg
March 22, 2010

We hadn't heard from Jean Asselborn, the foreign minister of 
Luxembourg. But the European Union was still meeting in Brussels, and the Baroness Ashton was still talking.

 Asselborn wanted to be heard. So he was. He told the government of Israel
that “Jerusalem is not Tel Aviv.” Doesn't the foreign minister understand that Luxembourg is
nothing? Nothing but a footnote to the emerging nothingness of the E.U. itself.


Something Much Darker
February 08, 2010

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.

The Financial Times and the Satanization of Israel
February 01, 2010

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.

Erich Segal Z”L
January 27, 2010

I met Erich Segal in 1959, in a Harvard University graduate-school dorm. It was in Richards Hall, designed in the early ’50s by Walter Gropius, which Erich said only proved that “great men” could do desultory work. He was doing his graduate work in classics and comparative literature, and I in government. Of course, he knew more, much more, about my field than I did about his. In fact, he was rapacious in his pursuit of knowledge. And cheerfully intent about music and song. He was a man of traditional culture ...

Erich Segal, Z"L
January 21, 2010

I met Erich Segal in 1959, in a Harvard University graduate-school dorm. It was in Richards Hall, designed in the early fifties by Walter Gropius, which Erich said only proved that "great men" could do desultory work. He was a Ph.D. candidate in Classics, and I in Government. Of course, he knew more, much more about my field than I did about his. In fact, he was rapacious in his pursuit of knowledge. And cheerfully intent about music and song. He was a man of traditional culture ...

Weimar, the Bauhaus, and Auschwitz
January 13, 2010

Tel Aviv’s distinctive architectural style is that of the Bauhaus. Many exemplars of that school of design dot Haifa and; here and there in Jerusalem, you will also find its presence. There’s a Bauhaus Museum on Bialik Street in what’s called the White City, mostly in recognition of the Jewish escapees, architects, and designers from the Nazi regime which swallowed up Bauhaus.

Eight Pieces, Really One: Iran, Israel's Military Doctrine, The President And One Dumb Jewish Woman, The Wages of Copenhagen, The Christmas Terrorist, We Should All Stop Talking About The Middle East
December 26, 2009

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.

Derisionist History
November 28, 2009

Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations By Avi Shlaim (Verso, 392 pp., $34.95) Avi Shlaim burst upon the scene of Middle Eastern history in 1988, with the publication of Collusion Across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement, and the Partition of Palestine. Before that, as a young lecturer at Reading University in England, he had produced two books, British Foreign Secretaries Since 1945 (1977) and The United States and the Berlin Blockade, 1948–1949 (1983), and several revealing essays on modern Middle Eastern historical issues in academic journals.

Uncovering Syria's Secret Nuclear Site
November 06, 2009

In case you haven't gotten your issue of Der Spiegel this month, the German mag has some very cool details on the intelligence work that led to the discovery--and eventual destruction by Israeli airstrike--of a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor being built with North Korean help: In the spring of 2004, the American National Security Agency (NSA) detected a suspiciously high number of telephone calls between Syria and North Korea, with a noticeably busy line of communication between the North Korean capital Pyongyang and a place in the northern Syrian desert called Al Kibar.

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