Monday, August 1, 2011

My First Novel

My first novel The Mighty Quinn is now available via Amazon Kindle. It's a satire of environmentalism, Moby-Dick, samurai movies, Scientology, stupid hippies, nausea, and many other highly amusing things. Also, sex and violence. And whales. If you like it, spread the word. And if you don't have a Kindle, these apps let you read it on various other highly amusing devices. Enjoy!

Friday, July 29, 2011


Before 1967 it was rarely the tendency of Zionists to cite God as their master. Even Zionists of a distinctly religious bent formulated an esoteric but highly effective theology according to which Zionists were—albeit unknowingly—serving God, not vice-versa.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Test

It is an accepted if oft-forgotten truism that political fortunes can change with dazzling speed, especially in a country as volatile and contentious as Israel. No one, however, could have predicted the sudden change in the fortunes of the current Israeli government. It has come, politically and metaphorically, out of left field.

Continue reading The Test

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Fallen Woman

Media coverage of the sudden though not entirely unexpected death of British R&B singer Amy Winehouse mentioned only in passing that she was Jewish. This says something in and of itself, but the truth is that Winehouse’s Jewish identity was always just below the surface of her fame, particularly among her Jewish fans.

Continue reading The Fallen Woman

Tahrir in Tel Aviv?

For a moment, at least, it felt as if – to steal a line from Albert Camus – all the guns of Tel Aviv were firing at once. The night of Saturday, July 23, 2011 marked the largest political demonstration in Tel Aviv in over a decade.Tens of thousands of people took to the streets, marching to the plaza in front of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, across the street from the Kirya, the underground headquarters of the IDF.

Continue reading Tahrir in Tel Aviv?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

An Open Letter to the Arab Street

First and foremost, congratulations. Even from our vantage point on the other side of a seemingly unbridgeable divide between our peoples, the extraordinary nature of what you have accomplished in recent weeks is obvious. The eventual outcome of your revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and elsewhere is clearly still in question, but there is no doubt that by your actions you have changed the Middle East, possibly forever.

From our point of view, two very ironic things have emerged from what you have done. The first is that, contrary to the widely held belief that the Israel-Palestinian conflict is the main reason for the "anger" of the Arab street, and the great impediment to political reform in the region, Israel's name has been all but absent from your demonstrations and protests. This, in and of itself, is a hopeful sign. The second is that Israel's own reaction to these events, despite their great promise, has been an ambivalent one.

Continue reading at An Open Letter to the Arab Street » Main Feature » Jewish Ideas Daily

Friday, March 18, 2011

Stieg Larsson, Lars Larson, and me

Listen to my discussion with Lars Larsson about the libertarian politics of the Millennium trilogy.

The Objectivist with the Dragon Tattoo

One of the strangest publishing phenomena in recent memory is the extraordinary international success of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy. A semi-famous left-wing Swedish journalist who died young and relatively uncelebrated, the three mystery novels Larsson wrote before his death, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, have sold millions of copies worldwide, gained a dedicated cult of adoring fans, spawned a hugely popular Swedish film series, and set in motion a Hollywood remake directed by celebrated filmmaker David Fincher.

There is really only one reason for the massive success of Larsson’s trilogy: a fascinating, unique, and entirely fictional young woman named Lisbeth Salander. While the books’ Swedish setting, their overtones of political and social criticism, and their main character, the plodding journalist and obvious Larsson alter ego Michael Blomquist, are interesting variations on the conventional mystery, it is Salander who elevates the proceedings into something entirely new in crime fiction.

Continue reading at Pajamas Media » The Objectivist with the Dragon Tattoo

What J Street Means When It Says ‘Pro-Israel’

There are certain terms whose meanings are — or seem like they ought to be — obvious. The term “pro-Israel” is one of them. One presumes that it simply means having positive sentiments toward the state of Israel and sympathy for its political or military position. In our strange day and age, however, this is no longer the case. Even the simplest terms have become hopelessly foggy.

Indeed, there is now something of a quiet but impassioned debate within the American Jewish community over what it means to be “pro-Israel.” This dispute has gone public with the emergence of the left-wing lobby J Street. Advertising itself as both “pro-Israel” and “pro-peace,” J Street both implicitly and explicitly attacks its rivals — especially the much older and more influential lobbying group AIPAC — as being neither. Critics of J Street attack the group as itself neither pro-Israel nor pro-peace, but rather pro-Palestinian or pro-Arab.

Continue reading at Pajamas Media » What J Street Means When It Says ‘Pro-Israel’

Friday, February 25, 2011

Peter Beinart’s Liberal Fantasies

It is a difficult thing to keep one’s head when the world is in a state of euphoria. This is probably why so much of the coverage of recent events in Egypt, including the recent resignation of Hosni Mubarak and the installation of a military government, has lacked the kind of elementary skepticism that ought to be applied to any event of such potential magnitude. To a certain extent, this is understandable. The intoxicating power of revolutionary change is very real, and can overwhelm even the most cynical personality. It becomes problematic, however, when people become so addicted to it that, like any run-of-the-mill alcoholic, the suggestion that they might have a problem throws them into a defensive rage. The reaction toward Israel’s cautious skepticism in regard to the Egyptian revolution provides a case study in the phenomenon, with many apparently intelligent and worldly journalists throwing themselves into spasms of inchoate fear and loathing at the Israelis’ refusal to jump on the happy bandwagon. What this has revealed is not so much the childlike naïveté lurking beneath the sophisticated exterior of many commentators, but also their tendency to abandon their own intelligence whenever Israel is involved.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Watching Egypt Burn: An Israeli Perspective

Like the rest of the world, Israel doesn’t know what to think about the revolution in Egypt. We aren’t even sure if it really is a revolution. We certainly don’t know if it’s good or bad. And we have absolutely no idea what the eventual outcome will be. Unlike the rest of the world, what is happening now in Egypt has immediate and potentially disastrous consequences for the Jewish state.

Continue reading at Pajamas Media.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Is Israeli Democracy Finished?

In a now somewhat notorious story published on January 11, Timemagazine announced that Israeli politics was taking an ominous "rightward lurch." Citing, among other things, a newly proposed law that would require an oath of allegiance from naturalized citizens, another that would strip Israelis convicted of espionage and terrorism of their citizenship, a motion to investigate local NGOs that receive funding from foreign governments, and statements made by certain rabbis calling on Jews not to rent property to Arabs, the magazine's Jerusalem correspondent concluded that the Middle East's only democracy is on the slippery slope toward something like . . . fascism. According to one source quoted in the article, Israeli society today is reminiscent of nothing less than "the dark ages of different places in the world in the 1930s."

While Israel-bashing of all kinds is much in style these days, the Time article was sufficiently inflammatory to elicit a vigorous point-by-point rebuttal from the office of Prime Minister Netanyahu. What the rebuttal did not mention is that the fascism charge was itself both the product and an echo of the rhetoric of Israel's own domestic Left. Indeed, over the last year or so, going well beyond the heated criticisms expected of a political opposition, the Israeli Left has exhibited signs of a serious derangement. Lately, however, it seems to have gone altogether around the bend.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Loughner and How America Treats Its Mentally Ill

When I was twenty years old, I smashed through a plate-glass tabletop with a hammer. It scared the hell out of my co-workers and, I must admit, it scared the hell out of me too. I did not do it for any logical reason. It was an eruption of raw emotion, mainly rage and frustration. The immediate cause was nothing less innocuous than hitting my thumb with a hammer. Almost immediately after it was over, and I looked down at the shards of glass and felt the eyes of other people on me, I felt nothing but confusion and shame. I had no idea what had come over me. But I knew that it was a sign that something was wrong. Very wrong. Looking back on it now, the fact that I was suffering from a form of mental illness is so obvious that I wonder how I managed to miss it, or deny it, at the time.

My illness is a relatively mild one, a form of chronic depression marked by occasional hypomanic episodes. It is somewhat more severe than ordinary depression, but a great deal less severe than bipolar disorder and other, far more terrifying diseases of the mind. It requires no more than two pills a day to keep it relatively under control, and the side effects, while irritating at times, are negligible. In many ways, I count myself lucky. It is perhaps for this reason that I found myself, somewhat against my will, identifying with Jared Loughner, the young man who shot and horribly wounded Representative Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others last Saturday.

Continue reading at Pajamas Media.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Obama’s Irrelevant Bid for Mideast Peace

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not always a zero-sum game. Sometimes both sides win, and this is one of those times. It must be admitted that this is a somewhat counterintuitive idea, especially since most observers of the peace process seem to think that the breakdown in negotiations between the two parties is an unmitigated disaster for all involved.

In fact, it is a disaster only for the Obama administration, and both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas have the right to claim something like a victory.

Continue reading at Pajamas Media.