World

“The Palestine Peace Distraction,” "The False Religion of Middle East Peace,” And Other Significant Recantations
April 27, 2010

Barack Obama came into office with one messianic mission. It was to bring statehood to the Palestinians. Of course, even he understood that he couldn’t quite put it that way. But statehood for the Palestinians necessarily also meant Palestinian peace with Israel, an aim worthy enough for any American administration. So that became his primary foreign policy mission. Still, the fact is that he saw the shadings of the conflict only through the eyes of the “disinherited.” And they really had nothing much to give in any transaction.

Who Says That Obesity Affects Only The Poor?
April 27, 2010

Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia are very rich. According to a New York Times article this morning by Michael Slackman, the first of these boasts the second highest per capita gross domestic product in the world. It has a population of 1.6 million, with only 250,000 native Qataris. That means citizens. These Qataris rank “sixth globally for prevalence of obesity and has the highest rate of obesity among boys in the Middle East and North African region.” They will win no soccer cups.

Do I Have A Funny Joke For You!
April 26, 2010

Well, here goes... A Taliban militant gets lost and is wandering around the desert looking for water. He finally arrives at a store run by a Jew and asks for water. The Jewish vendor tells him he doesn't have any water but can gladly sell him a tie. The Taliban begins to curse and yell at the Jewish storeowner. The Jew, unmoved, offers the rude militant an idea: Beyond the hill, there is a restaurant; they can sell you water.  The Taliban keeps cursing and finally leaves toward the hill. An hour later he's back at the tie store.

The Iranian Calamity And The President’s Obsession With A Little Street In Jerusalem
April 24, 2010

Frankly, I do not think that Barack Obama ever really believed that an accommodation with Iran over its nuclear designs was possible. What follows is that he prevaricated about this promising turn in diplomacy and that one, all the while knowing he was going straight down a dead-end street. And going down that street in a quite cavalier fashion so as to keep his critics at bay. Some Americans were even persuaded by the seemingly confident president that he must have something up his sleeve.

Looking For A Job In Israel
April 22, 2010

I am back from Israel, where I spent a full week looking for a job. Yes, I know exactly what I want to do. It is to teach English at a high school in Tel Aviv. Not a permanent job. But, let’s say, it would be work for a year. This is not aliyah. But it is voluntary service. Israeli schools are serviced by an enormous network of people who proffer their time, energy, and brains to a complex and secular system which knows how to use their talents.  I’ve been interviewed at three schools, each of them different from the others.

Does Obama Really Think He Can Micromanage American Jews?
April 22, 2010

There are signs that he thinks he can. Barak Ravid reports in yesterday’s Ha’aretz that a high-level but unnamed U.S. official has complained about American Jews speaking up about how they feel and what they think about U.S. policy towards Jerusalem. I don’t particularly agree with what I’ve discerned as Ravid’s political views. But he is certainly a reliable journalist. He did not make this up. It’s one thing, however unbecoming, for the Obami to lecture Israel about its capital. Still, truth be told, the U.S.

L’Affaire to Remember
April 21, 2010

Paris The impish headlines in Le Canard enchaîné, the satirical weekly that happens to be the most informative newspaper in France, rarely translate well. An exception might be the recent front-page lead: “SARKO EST D’UNE RUMEUR MASSACRANTE.” This play on the expression être d’une humeur massacrante—roughly, “angry enough to kill”—concerns the distemper of Nicolas Sarkozy over a certain rumeur massacrante (“foul rumor”) swirling around the French president’s two-year marriage to former supermodel Carla Bruni.

Barca Lounging
April 19, 2010

In the run-up to the first goal in the recent game between Real Madrid and Barcelona—known around the world as El Classico—Lionel Messi, currently the best player in the world by a long shot, was fouled and knocked down, only to get up quickly, receive the ball, and pass it on to Xavi, who returned it with a sublime chip over the hapless heads of Real’s defense—and while Raul Albiol* thrashed around as though about to speak in tongues trying to stop him, Messi scored with a shot that simultaneously looked clumsy and exactly perfect.

Ghosts
April 17, 2010

In memory of Tomasz Merta (1965–2010) The event known as Katyn began when the Red Army invaded Poland, along with the Wehrmacht, in September 1939. The Soviets took thousands of Polish officers prisoner and held them in the ruins of Orthodox monasteries. When these men were allowed to leave the camps, 70 years ago in April 1940, they expected that they would be returning home. Instead, they were taken to Kharkiv, or Tver, or Katyn. Over the course of a few days, 21,892 of these prisoners were shot in the base of the skull.

When Will He Ever Learn
April 13, 2010

I don’t know whether I should have ended the headline above with a question mark or an exclamation point. The first of my options would suggest that the president might actually learn from his palpable mistakes. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. But, to tell you the truth, I felt that would be playing with my readers. My alternative would hint—more than hint, I suppose—at my utter exasperation with Obama’s foreign policy. I don’t really want to go there. Still, are you not really exasperated with him and with it? Or are you one of those who care only about domestic affairs?

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