5 Best Tuesday Columns

Richard Cohen on Israel and apartheid, Bob Herbert on troubling police tactics, and more

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  • Richard Cohen on Israel and Apartheid The Washington Post op-ed columnist makes an impassioned argument to Israel's detractors to cut out comparisons to apartheid. Cohen, noticeably rattled by a Financial Times op-ed and the "imaginary grievances" of "Israel Apartheid Week" on college campuses, determines that while Israel is certainly worthy of criticism, "The Israel of today and the South Africa of yesterday have almost nothing in common." (For a rebuttal, see Salon's Glenn Greenwald deliver an equally impassioned response.)
Israeli Arabs, about one-fifth of the country, have the same civil and political rights as do Israeli Jews ... The West Bank, more or less under Israeli military rule, is a different matter. But it is not part of Israel proper, and under every conceivable peace plan... it will revert to the Palestinian Authority and become the heartland of a Palestinian state ... Interestingly, [Israel's critics] do not use it for Saudi Arabia, which maintains as perfect a system of gender apartheid as can be imagined -- women can't even drive, never mind vote -- or elsewhere in the Arab world, where Palestinians sometimes have fewer rights than they do in Israel.
  • Bob Herbert on Troubling Police Tactics The New York Times columnist examines the NYPD policy of random stop-and-searches, a practice that disproportionately affects New York City's young men of color. Herbert notes that "the people stopped had done nothing wrong" in "88.2 percent of all stops" between 2004 and 2009, yet their personal information is retained in a permanent police database whether they've committed a crime or not. Herbert can reach no other conclusion than that "the innocent people stopped are nevertheless permanently under suspicion."
  • Mona Charen on Voyeurism, Smugness, and Health A day after President Obama's annual physical was dissected by the blogosphere, the National Review columnist takes issue with pundits' persistent questioning of the health habits of public figures. Charen deems the practice equal parts voyeurism and smugness. "We have arrived at a cultural moment when no one would dream of waxing judgmental about your sexual life or your manners, but we feel free to place you in metaphorical stocks for offenses against health. To prove yourself, show us your HDL-to-LDL ratio!"
  • The Los Angeles Times on Economics and the Earth A pair of of professors, Yale's F. Herbert Bormann and UC Santa Barbara's Bruce Mahall, pen a guest op-ed calling for fundamental shifting in our socioeconomic model to be in harmony with the workings of Mother Nature. Any readers who might have mistakenly thought the column was tongue-in-cheek quickly encountered the duo's strident calls for change.
We need to find ways to avoid changing Earth in irreversible directions. We need to soberly evaluate anthropocentric economics' sacred cow, growth, in light of sustainability. And we need to think beyond our own brief lifetimes. Most important, in the new terracentric model, we need to acknowledge that there is nothing more important than preserving the viability of planet Earth. Nothing.

  • Harold Ford Jr. on Leaving the Senate Race The former representative from Tennessee and chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council explains his decision to withdraw from this year's Senate special election in New York. (See the full reaction to his op-ed here.) "If I run, the likely result would be a brutal and highly negative Democratic primary -- a primary where the winner emerges weakened and the Republican strengthened," Ford writes. He enumerates his disappointments with the state's Democratic Party, but affirms that he won't "do anything that would help Republicans win a Senate seat in New York."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.