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.

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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.

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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.