Five Best Tuesday Columns

Dennis Prager on the weekend's other tragedy and Martin Peretz on Obama

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Dennis Prager on This Weekend's Other Tragedy  Dennis Prager points out that while the world was, rightfully, consumed in coverage of the Japanese earthquake and subsequent tsunami, it ignored another tragedy taking place in Israel. He's talking about the murder of an Israeli family, including three children ages eleven, four, and three months, in their home Friday night by Palestinian attackers. Prager argues that it takes a certain type of dehumanizing hatred to stab a child, let alone a three-month-old baby. "In much of the Arab Muslim world, and some of the non-Arab Muslim world (such as Iran) today, 'Jew' is not a person. 'Jew' is not even merely the enemy," he writes. "In fact, there is no parallel on earth to what 'Jew' means to a hundred million, perhaps hundreds of millions of Muslims." He points, too, to the reported chanting of "Jew!" at reporter Lara Logan when she was attacked in Cairo. "Jew-hatred is often exterminationist," Prager says, and "exterminationist Jew-haters are particularly dangerous people," to be noted by Jews and non-Jews alike; the Nazis, he points out, famously killed Jews but took out over 40 million non-Jews as well. The hatred seen in the murder this weekend, he concludes, "will prove far more dangerous" than the earthquake in Japan.

Tina Rosenberg on Getting Our Money's Worth in Foreign Aid  Tina Rosenberg argues that, contrary to the popular belief of most Americans, a very small portion of the federal budget is spent on foreign aid--less than one percent. But, while most foreign aid is successful, there is a good portion that is "wasted, stolen or spent on projects that don't really help people." Rosenberg suggests there are better ways than what we are doing now to ensure the money donated to developing countries is not squandered. A "Cash on Delivery" system, to be tested by the British soon, would require programs to prove their success before being rewarded with funds. "It would also help create more accountability in poor countries. In most aid-dependent countries, citizens have no idea how much governments are getting in aid and how they spend it," she explains. "Cash on Delivery sets clear goals that requires that all information be public. It would also alleviate the sense that a country’s problem was fixed by outside intervention; local officials and citizens could claim ownership of the solution."

Martin Peretz on Obama's 'Scandalous' Approach to the Middle East  Writing in The New Republic, editor-in-chief emeritus Peretz argues that Obama has fundamentally misunderstood the reality in the Middle East. "What is curious about Obama’s infatuation with Arab that he knows just about nothing about them," Peretz writes, aruging that Obama "is a victim of a certain sort of 'orientalism'" that "idealizes whatever Arab reality happens to have survived western imperialism. Among them is the standing of the hijab or burqa." He argues that Obama is "petrified" by the recent revolutions in the Middle East, and "weak-willed and weak-kneed." Strong words, indeed, though not surprising from the perennially provocative Peretz. Looking towards Libya, Peretz says that regardless of supportive rhetoric, "the American refusal to recognize the provisional government in Benghazi is the true betrayal of the Arab revolution, of an Arab people and of Arab hope."

Bob Herbert on the Dangers of Football  Bob Herbert uses his New York Times column today to focus on the growing plight of professional football players who, after years of getting violently bruised and beaten on the field, spend their retirements suffering from lasting injuries and brain damage. Herbert urges significant changes to the regulations and equipment used in the NFL to prevent the types of brain damage that may have lead former NFL star Dave Duerson to take his own life last month--taking care even at the last to shoot himself through the heart, so that his brain could be studied. "The game is chewing up players like a meat grinder," writes Herbert. "With the carnage increasingly emerging from the shadows, there is no guarantee that football’s magical hold on the public will last. Players are not just suffering, some are dying."

Nathan Vanderklippe on Foreign Oil Companies in Libya  The continuing violence and unrest in Libya poses many complicated questions for the foreign oil companies working there, Vanderklippe explains in Canada's Globe and Mail. For one, with the outcome of the struggle between Qaddafi and rebel forces far from certain, oil companies are being asked to choose sides under the threat of consequences that could potentially last far beyond the current upheaval. Vanderklippe notes that Qaddafi has potentially met with ambassadors from Russia, China and India in regards to taking over Libya's petroleum production. "It remains early days, and the substantial uncertainty hanging over Libya makes it exceedingly difficult to know which political threats are credible and which are not," Vanderklippe writes. He says that many Canadian oil companies with pre-existing relationships with Libya have probably been able to "escape the sanctions that would otherwise hobble their work in the country," by applying for an exemption.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.