Andrew writes of Roger Cohen:
He too saw this coming, and was vilified by the usual suspects for reaching for peace. If you want to read classic old media journalism by a reporter with passion and courage, his missive tonight is as good as it gets. Cohen proves the old media is not dead. May it rise again.
On behalf of the "usual suspects," let me just say this: Roger Cohen in no way "saw this coming." In fact, he made a name for himself internationally as one of the leading Western apologists for Khamenei and Ahmadinejad, arguing that the regime was substantially benign and that engagement with these murderers was practically a moral necessity. He saw nothing coming, nothing at all. He has even admitted as much. To his credit, last week he wrote: "I erred in underestimating the brutality and cynicism of a regime that understands the uses of ruthlessness."
Strange days. This is from CNN:
Mohammad: Excuse me, sir. I have a message for the international community. Would you please let me tell it?
Roberts: Yes, go ahead.
Mohammad: Americans, European Union, international community, this government is not definitely -- is definitely not elected by the majority of Iranians. So it's illegal. Do not recognize it. Stop trading with them. Impose much more sanctions against them. My message...to the international community, especially I'm addressing President Obama directly - how can a government that doesn't recognize its people's rights and represses them brutally and mercilessly have nuclear activities? This government is a huge threat to global peace. Will a wise man give a sharp dagger to an insane person? We need your help international community. Don't leave us alone.
Chetry: Mohammad, what do you think the international community should do besides sanctions?
Mohammad: Actually, this regime is really dependent on importing gasoline. More than 85% of Iran's gasoline is imported from foreign countries. I think international communities must sanction exporting gasoline to Iran and that might shut down the government.
From the Times today:
At a news conference Monday, Hassan Qashqavi, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, called the turnout a "brilliant gem which is shining on the peak of dignity of the Iranian nation."
A terrible thought, but what if the Iranian regime actually suppresses the revolt of the Iranian masses?
I don't think this is possible, in the long run, of course: A regime that slaughters its own children has no future. But it can presumably maintain its grip on power for at least a while. What does this mean for its looming confrontation with America and, in particular, Israel, over its nuclear program? Do the events of recent days prove Benjamin Netanyahu right?
Yesterday, on Meet the Press, Netanyahu told David Gregory that recent events have "unmasked" the true nature of the regime, and this is undoubtedly true: No one, not even the regime's apologists, believes that these men are secret moderates interested in seeing Iran rejoin the civilized world. So in one way, the regime's murderous response to dissent helps Netanyahu make his case that this is indeed a fanatic regime. But recent events also cut against Netanyahu's analysis, I think: The Iranian regime has exposed itself as interested mainly in self-preservation. Netanyahu told me earlier this spring that Iran is run by a "messianic, apocalyptic cult." But I think there's an argument to be made that Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are grubby men mainly interested in perpetuating their power. In other words, they seem to behave like rather quotidian dictators, not religious fanatics. A confrontation with Israel would certainly threaten the stability of their regime, and the stability of their regime is something they quite obviously cherish.
Goldblog reader Guy Handelman writes:
I just came back from Trader Joes. The manager told me that they only carry 2 Israeli products (couscous and feta cheese). They already sold out of feta cheese, so I bought a box of couscous. It looks like the anti-Israel folks picked the wrong store to boycott.
And this, from the Los Angeles Jewish Journal:
In Los Angeles... the only unusual activity reported was that of local patrons walking into the national food chain to ask to buy Israeli products in specific.
Since Trader Joe's only stocks two Israeli products, you'd think that the International Campaign to Scapegoat Israel would have picked a better target.
One other question has been raised in all this: Just what is Israeli couscous? As a friend once asked, isn't Israeli couscous Israeli the way that French toast is French? I'm not sure of the answer -- I suppose there could be an Israeli variant, developed in Israel's large community of Moroccan Jews -- but this question reminds me of the great hummus debate, as well as the periodic eruption of falafel fighting, described here in this Times article by Jodi Kantor:
It's nice to think that sharing a cherished food brings enemies together, easing tension and misunderstanding. But the world's rawest conflicts can include disagreements over common foodstuffs. Irish Catholics and Protestants have lightly bickered over whiskey. Turks and Greeks have feuded over coffee. And Jews and Arabs argue about falafel in a way that reflects the wider conflict, touching on debates over territory and history. ''Food always migrates according to immigration and commerce,'' said Yael Raviv, an Israeli student at New York University who wrote her Ph.D. thesis on Israeli nationalism and cuisine. ''But because of the political situation, falafel has taken on enormous significance.''
The incipient Iranian revolution has upset certain political categories at home, two to be exact: Scowcroftian realism and liberal interventionism (a/k/a neoconservatism). Both, IMHO, are inadequate to the current crisis. The bloodcurdling scenes of oppression on the streets of Teheran betray the limits of cold-hearted realism as an American doctrine: It is not who we are, to stand idly by. Realists believe that power, and power only, has salience in international relations, but American conceptions of right and wrong clearly do as well, and always have.
On the other side of the ledger, it seems as if some neoconservatives are demanding that Barack Obama do more than he's doing simply because that's what we Americans are supposed to do: More. This seems like an unwise strategy; the smartest strategy would be to follow the lead of the Iranian protesters. If they seem to need more American moral support, or other kinds of support, then we should reconsider. But Obama's strategy so far seems basically correct: He probably could give more direct and enthusiastic rhetorical support to the demonstrators than he's been giving, precisely because he's Barack Obama and could get away with it. But the idea that we should rush in and do something makes little sense at the moment. The overarching goal is to see the birth of a democratic Iran, not to make ourselves feel good, or get in the way.
That said, the liberal interventionist/neoconservative position is the easier one to understand, because it is the more human response. This has been my colleague Andrew Sullivan's basic response. He's done a phenomenal job of covering the chaos in Iran, but every so often he feels a need to throw an elbow at neoconservatives and at AIPAC, for no apparent reason, except to distance himself from people who, in the main, would like to see Ahmadinejad, to borrow a phrase, wiped off the map, just as Andrew would. Such was the case yesterday, when Andrew responded to the firing of Dan Froomkin, the liberal Washington Post.com columnist, by writing, among other things, that "maybe the quality of (Froomkin's) free-lancing was showing up the hackneyed AIPAC boilerplate they publish every day on their op-ed page." He went on to write, in reference to Froomkin's recent argument with Charles Krauthammer about torture, "Exposing the torture-monger Krauthammer would almost certainly have enraged (editorial page editor Fred) Hiatt. They look after their own the neocons."
For the record, I like Froomkin's column, read it often, and am sorry to see it go, but I don't know what this controversy has to do with Krauthammer (with whom Sullivan is in fundamental agreement on the righteousness and importance of the Iranian revolution) and I certainly don't know what this has to do with AIPAC, which, as far as I can tell, hasn't lobbied the Hill on this current Iran crisis and hasn't issued any statements at all about it. I think Andrew's attacks on Fred Hiatt, neoconservatives and AIPAC are a manifestation of the aforementioned category confusion. In any case, since I can't figure out Andrew's post, I asked Fred Hiatt if he could. He sent me this response:
"It is so incoherent, it's hard to know how to comment. But I will try. He says I was acting on neocon orders when we published a piece suggesting that Ahmadinejad may have actually had popular support. But elsewhere I am being attacked for publishing ostensibly neocon pieces criticizing Obama for not supporting Ahmadenejad's opposition. It's hard to see how both could be true.
I had forgotten until today that Dan (Froomkin) had gone after Charles (Krauthammer), which Sullivan says 'almost certainly' would have 'enraged' me. If Andrew wants to know whether it enraged me, why does he not call and ask? That's called reporting, and I would be happy to tell him. In fact nothing pleases me more than when our columnists engage with each other, in print or on Post Partisan, as any of them could tell you. It's good for traffic, and it makes for lively debate.
The disappointingly dull truth is that the decision not to renew Dan's contract--which was not made by me, but which I supported--was based on viewership data, budget constraints and judgments about how well the column was or was not adapting to a new era."
I'm guessing Andrew will probably have a response to Hiatt's criticism.
Several Goldblog readers have asked for information about the possibility of making donations to a fund for Stephen T. Johns' family. Here is a link to one such fund. Johns' funeral is today. A special section of the church has been reserved for Holocaust survivors. The heart breaks.
Rachel Lehmann-Haupt reports that DNA testing is helping people discover their Jewish ancestry. I think I'm going to take one of these tests. I've long suspected that I'm Jewish, and I'd like to find out once and for all.
To the jew Goldberg,Hi. I was just reading your Goldblog piece on those who insist that the world economy is controlled by Jews, and that Tim Geithner is a Jew. As a matter of fact I was one who googled 'Geithner Jew' to see if he was one, and I'll admit to a suspicion that he was Jewish even after discovering that he wasn't. This is partly because Wikipedia had Geithner listed as Jewish before changing its listing; and partly because there is a trend for the financial positions in the United States government to be weighted towards the Jewish side - which makes a supposition that Geithner might be Jewish perfectly natural. I am semi-literate, I believe, with a degree in English literature from Oxford University. I believe that the world economy is constantly extremely involved with the position of Jews. For example, the current recession is not unrelated to the pretence that nothing needed to be addressed in the world order after September 11 (which was an attack upon Jews). The Jews have this secret (even from themselves) which they don't want people to know about, which is that they are using America and Americans to keep them masters of Arabia. Instead of publicly mentioning or privately recognising this secret and its relation to the deaths of 3000 innocent Americans, simple-minded George Bush and his team of oil crooks embarked on an aggressive consolidation of previous policy, in collusion with the interests of zionists, which implicitly encouraged economic growth at home based on misconceived premises, growth which is now being reversed. The point I am making is that this economic growth and now recession was based on an misconceived philosophy that significantly related to the interests of Jews. I suspect this recession would not have been so possible were it not necessary for the business of Jews to be suppressed from the thoughts of humankind! In fact the recession and other world issues have a lot to do with Jews and their publicly unrecognised issues. It is regrettable that we aren't able to talk about it openly and in a mature fashion (or an immature one for that matter). Even more regrettable, perhaps, that those who are not in a position to understand may now start to take it out on innocent Jewish people.
Ta-Nehisi discovers that Pat Buchanan is a lunatic.
James Kirchick, who profiled the below-mentioned neocon gay porn king in The New Republic, passed along this press release:
June 15, 2009 (New York, NY) -- Lucas Entertainment is proud to announce that production has wrapped on its groundbreaking adult feature, MEN OF ISRAEL. This endeavor marks a first in the gay pornographic world, as the premier Israeli film produced by major adult studio with an all-Israeli cast. Executive Producer/Co-Director Michael Lucas and Co-Director/Videographer mr. Pam were on location for over a month, diligently scouting and shooting extensive amounts of footage for the film. MEN OF ISRAEL captures not only the irreproachable, physical beauty found in each and every Israeli, but also the unique and wondrous allure of the country itself. The exotic backdrops for many of the sex scenes eclectically range from the pristine desert cliffs of the Dead Sea, ancient ruins near Jerusalem dating back to over a millennium, to avant-garde skyscraper condos in the enriched metropolis of Tel Aviv.
Now the anti-Israel maniacs want people to boycott "Israeli couscous" at Trader Joe's. What prejudice! Israel has problems, yes (why, I just posted on one such problem), but the hard-left boycott-Israel folks are so discriminatory it's repulsive. My recommendation: Head to Trader Joe's and buy anything made or grown in Israel. I hear the Israeli couscous goes well with grilled scapegoat, by the way.
In an op-ed piece in the Jerusalem Post, Samuel Freedman writes:
With President Barack Obama's forceful, repeated calls for a total freeze on settlements, he is surely betting that he can assail a consistent policy of Israeli governments, both Labor and Likud, without alienating his substantial support among American Jewish voters.
Freedman has written an important piece. The leadership of the organized American Jewish community - that means you, Malcolm Hoenlein - doesn't seem to understand what is happening in America, among its Jews, and also, by the way, among its non-Jews. American Jews - or let's say, for argument's sake, the Jews who voted for Obama, which is to say, most Jews - no longer conflate support for Israel with support for the settlement movement. Quite the opposite: Many American Jews see the settlements, as I have written many times, as the vanguard of binationalism, which is to say, an ostensibly Zionist movement that is anti-Zionist in effect. But liberal American Jews not only see the colonization of the West Bank as a demographic threat to Israel; they see it as a moral threat as well, a moral threat to Israel, and a moral threat to the previously mainstream understanding that justice is on Israel's side.
What all this means politically is that Obama is positioned now, in ways that previous American presidents weren't, to tell Israel what it needs to hear; that the Zionist idea is just, but that the Palestinian idea has justice to it as well. He will be able to cajole, and ultimately force, Israel to make compromises that might be painful short-term (Judea and Samaria, a/k/a the West Bank, is historically Jewish, as well as, more recently, Palestinian) but that will save the Jewish democratic idea.
Malcolm Hoenlein and the other grandees of the organized American Jewish leadership believe that masses of Jews will rise up against Obama if he forces Israel out of its settlements. They won't. I believe the majority of American Jews want two things: A secure Israel, and a moral Israel that is a light unto the nations. Settlements make Israel insecure, and they make it seem immoral in the eyes of the world.