I'm trying to catch-up with all the exciting things I missed when I was gone, including responding to an e-mail that began: "I AM THE ABSOLUTE=YEHOVAH." I think I should answer the guy, just in case he is the ABSOLUTE=YEHOVAH. You never know how or when God is going to appear. Chances are, not in my inbox, but you don't know.
Posting will be abbreviated for the next few days on account of Passover. (And Happy Easter, as well.)
A number of items:
1) I was at Ft. Bragg yesterday and had the great fortune to spend some time with one of my heroes, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Sidney Shachnow, the former commander of U.S. Army Special Forces Command and former commanding general of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center Airborne, as well as a Silver Star recipient for heroism in Vietnam. Shachow was born into a Jewish family in Lithuania and spent part of his childhood in the Kovno Concentration Camp. His is one of those absolutely unbelievable, only-in-America stories. I recommend his autobiography, Hope and Honor, to everyone.
2) Just in time for Passover, former Waffen-SS member and Nobel Prize Laureate Gunter Grass launches a blood-libel attack on Israel. You can read about the controversy in this Guardian piece, preciously headlined, "Günter Grass gives voice to German anger at Israel." Another time, I'll post on the fascinating subject of how some Germans expiate their Holocaust guilt by accusing Jews of thinking about committing the same crimes that their ancestors actually committed.
3) Another great book I want to recommend to you is Jonathan Sarna's "When General Grant Expelled the Jews," which is the subject of an admiring Janet Maslin review today in the Times. Sarna's subject is the infamous document called General Orders Number 11, which mandated the expulsion of Jews from territory captured by Grant's army during the Civil War. Maslin quotes one of many great passages:
The reaction (to the Order) of one Jewish merchant in Paducah, Cesar Kaskel, touched off a firestorm. He took off on what Mr. Sarna calls a "Paul Revere-like ride to Washington." He alerted and roused the press. And he managed, through a congressman, to gain access to Lincoln, who "turned out to have no knowledge whatsoever of the order, for it had not reached Washington." Here is an excerpt from the overblown conversation Kaskel claimed to have had with Lincoln:
Lincoln: "And so the children of Israel were driven from the happy land of Canaan?"
Kaskel: "Yes, and that is why we have come unto Father Abraham's bosom, asking protection."
Lincoln: "And this protection they shall have at once."
4) I would like to draw your attention to this Haaretz piece, in which Ari Shavit schools Roger Cohen on how to be a journalist.
5) Daniel Levy, in a pro-settlement-boycott article for the Atlantic.com, writes:
Four themes of argumentation are wielded against a settlement boycott. Let's call them the four H's: Holocaust, Happy Arabs, Hamas, and Hunker-down effect. The first three fall at the merest whiff of intellectual scrutiny. The first H was deployed, for example, by The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg on twitter: "anti-Jewish boycotts? I know where this ends.". But, as Goldberg himself asked President Obama in his recent interview, "Is it possible that the prime minister of Israel has over-learned the lessons of the Holocaust?"
Always nice to find out on the Atlantic website that I've failed the intellectual scrutiny whiff-test. Of course, I never mentioned the Holocaust in this tweet, and I wasn't thinking about the Holocaust. Levy surely knows that the history of economic boycotts directed against Jews is not limited merely to the Nazi period. So where does a partial Jewish boycott (i.e. the boycott of products made over the Green Line) end? It ends, like many boycotts of Jews end, in the establishment of Jews as a pariah class. This is bad enough. I don't know why Levy has to bring up the Holocaust. Obviously, a boycott of Israel, even a total boycott of Israel, doesn't end in a Second Holocaust. How could it?
And as a bonus, Levy shamelessly mischaracterizes my interview with President Obama. Yes, I asked the President, "Is it possible that the prime minister of Israel has over-learned the lessons of the Holocaust?" But I was asking this question in reference to Iran, not to the settlement boycott. I'm sure Levy knows this, having read the interview, which was about only one thing. So, here's Levy's neat trick: First, he accuses me of invoking the Holocaust in the matter of the settlement boycott when I didn't invoke the Holocaust. Then he presents "proof" that even I think that a settlement boycott is not analogous to the Holocaust because I asked President Obama about the Holocaust. Of course, Levy could have called me, or e-mailed me, to ask me what I meant, but he didn't. Nor did his Atlantic editor apparently suggest that he do so, either.
6) Oh, by the way, in reference to Mr. Grass, the CIA believes Iran is moving forward on its nuclear program at a brisk pace:
Iran expanded its nuclear program last year with continued uranium enrichment and growing infrastructure development, according to an annual CIA report to Congress.
The report on arms proliferation covering 2011, made public by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), reveals that Iran has produced 4,900 kilograms of low enriched uranium.
"Iran continued to expand its nuclear infrastructure and continued uranium enrichment and activities related to its heavy water research reactor" contrary to U.N. resolutions, the report says.
7) Finally, an old standby: Corby Kummer, Joan Nathan and Mrs. Goldblog make gefilte fish:
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