Eurasian Balkans

Israelis Dissing Obama

I love it when the Israelis and Americans fall out amid mutual recriminations.

The mood at the 11th annual Herzliya conference, where Israel’s top policymakers come to debate strategy and diplomacy with invited international experts, is understandably twitchy. The events in Egypt hang over the conference like the threatening grey clouds. And yesterday those clouds unleashed a savage hailstorm, in the form of a stinging attack on the Netanyahu government by Tzipi Livni, the former foreign minister who now leads Israel’s fragmented opposition. Nobody here claims that they saw the upheaval in Egypt coming, and few think that President Hosni Mubarak’s regime will be replaced by one that Israel will find anything like as easy to live with.

World’s Oldest Cemetery Comes with Pets

This is the red fox skull from Grave I at 'Uyun al-Hammam in Jordan after conservation and reconstruction.A 16,500 year-old grave site at ‘Uyun al-Hammam, Jordan is still yielding controversy about humans and pets.

Jonathan Franzen on “Freedom” (Video)

Jonathan Franzen confirms my suspicion, that no one should ask an author about his/her work. To his credit Franzen, I think, recognizes this, when he characterizes himself as a professional interviewee and an amateur writer. Still that doesn’t stop him from drawing an analogy from friendship to political freedom. It’s part of the Aristotelian framework, but alien to American traditions.

Why Fewer Journalists Is a Good Idea

I don’t speak about Afghanistan – or, Iraq, these days, but Michael A. Cohen set me off today – now I recall why I stopped subscribing to TNR. “Why haven’t progressives mounted more of a challenge to the war in Afghanistan?” Short answer: they’re not “progressives”!

…liberals generally support the objectives of the war in Afghanistan—and for a good part of the past seven years have been calling on the U.S. to devote more attention to the war there, rather than Iraq.

The Wrong Reason to Fire Helen Thomas

I agree that former White House correspondent Helen Thomas’ odious comments about Israel’s conduct of the Gaza flotilla operation warranted her dismissal. It wasn’t just that this episode is startling in the context of her usually banal performances. Her tenure, after she shattered the glass ceiling for women reporters, was also an affront to meritocratic norms. She epitomized all the selfish scorn for democracy any politician she mocked did.

And, she was very banal indeed in the context of some of these comments, particularly this criticism of Israeli democracy.

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