Tel Aviv, Israel — There once was a very successful campaign in Israel for road safety. Its slogan was, “On the road, don’t be right, be smart." The day after the flotilla raid last week, more than one pundit in the Israeli press brought up the slogan. We’re right, they said, but why can’t we also be smart? The raid was by no means smart. Israel blindly stepped into a p.r. campaign orchestrated by Turkey and Hamas, doing enormous damage to its own international image and credibility. But the raid was not an isolated incident.
Japan has a new prime minister, Naoto Kan, but he comes from the same party—the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)—as Yukio Hatoyama, who resigned last Wednesday. He will almost surely want to continue Hatoyama's policies of strengthening Japan’s political democracy and forging an independent foreign policy that is allied with the United States, but not subordinate to it. If Kan follows that course, he will undoubtedly displease much of Japan’s establishment, which still identifies with the defeated Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) that Hatoyama's party trounced in last year's election.
President Obama wants it both ways. His dreary international initiative to put finis to nuclear arms is seen as so unlikely and so impossible that Russian president Dmitri Medvedev has already sent the atomic arms reduction treaty, negotiated with the American president, to the Russian parliament, where it has no chances of failure. Obama sent the document to the Senate earlier this month.
On Friday, John Heilprin of the AP reported that the Security Council voted unanimously (!) to “withdraw up to 2,000 peacekeeping troops [from the Congo] and redefine the remaining force as a ‘stabilization’ mission to coincide with [the celebration of the state’s] 50th anniversary of independence.” What there is to celebrate, it is hard to discern. And, as it happens, there isn’t much to stabilize either. The meaning of the unanimous vote, however, is very clear, despite the long and bitter behind-the-scenes argument that preceded it.
It's official now. You cannot use "Muslim extremism" or "Islamic terrorism." Not because the words don't describe a real phenomenon in the world. An ugly phenomenon. And, alas, an abundant phenomenon. But because the president doesn't like the thought. And he certainly doesn't like the religious adjective. I myself don't mind calling Jewish extremists "Jewish extremists." In fact, calling them Jewish extremists neatly separates the very few from the very many.
The Globe often uses its news columns to reinforce its editorial page. As you know, the slowly expiring daily is hostile to Israel—very hostile. And its hostility is sustained by its simplicity, which is even more simple than that of its papa paper, The New York Times. All Israel has to do is vacate the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the lion will lie down with the lamb. Or the lamb with the lion.
The most damning analysis of Richard Goldstone’s report was written for The New Republic by Moshe Halbertal, a moral and legal philosopher at Hebrew University and NYU Law School. On December 28 in The New York Times, columnist David Brooks saluted Halbertal’s essay as one of the best “long form articles that have narrative drive and social impact.” It certainly did have social impact, and, for weeks and weeks, the discussion of Goldstone revolved around Halbertal’s critique of him, of Goldstone’s tainted jury of judges, and of their enmeshment with the United Nations.
Maybe you missed it. But, earlier this week, President Obama signed into law the Daniel Pearl Press Freedom Act, a piece of legislation that will do nothing for anyone. And certainly not for freedom of the press. In his tiny talk, Obama said almost nothing. “Obviously, the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is.” Pabulum. Actually, the murder of Pearl did not remind me at all of the value of a free press. It reminded me of the precarious places in which Jews find themselves around the world.
Not a single person is excluded from the system. The non-citizen Arabs of Jerusalem are included in it.
Barack Obama believes everything that would lead us away from a confrontation with our antagonists. William J. Broad and David E. Sanger report in the New York Times that: President Obama’s plans for reducing America’s nuclear arsenal and defeating Iran’s missiles rely heavily on a new generation of antimissile defenses, which last year he called “proven and effective.” His confidence in the heart of the system, a rocket-powered interceptor known as the SM-3, was particularly notable because as a senator and presidential candidate he had previously criticized antimissile arms.