Articles which have caught my interest. Mostly Israel stuff and other nubbins from the ongoing holy war.
Wednesday, September 25, 2002
Just last week it looked like Maccabi Haifa was going to end up the butt boy of Group F of the Champions League. Homegrown critics like my uncle Moshe bitched that the Mac Haifa players weren't in good enough shape to play with the European big boys.
The game against Manchester United wasn't a total disaster, as Haifa managed to get in 2 goals and come away with only a 5-2 loss. (However, if you ask Moshe, Man U took pity on them and didn't make the score 10-2). Haifa looked clearly outclassed, a bunch of guys from the sticks coming in to play with the real teams.
It didn't help that before the game, the Haifa players were shown taking pictures of themselves in the Manchester stadium like a bunch of real provincials.
Add to that the fact that the team has been forced to play its "home" games in Nicosia, Cyprus. Which means that when you face a team from Athens, as Haifa did last night, the "away" fans outnumber the "home" fans some 8 to 1.
However, the boys in green managed to slow the pace of the game to their level and ended up with a convincing 3-0 win. We still have 4 games to go in this round, but you can actually dream of making it to the next round.
As I've said before, you take any good news you can get around here...
PJ O'Rourke Goes to Egypt
O'Rourke is a mean-spirited sod, but he is occasionally quite funny. This travelogue to the Land of the Pyramids resonated a bit with me. I took a trip to Egypt almost exactly two years ago, returning to Israel about a week before everything went to hell. I'm really glad I managed to go, since I don't see that I'll be able to visit Egypt for a long, long time.
PJOR's best observation is of the hideous taste of Egyptians when it comes to home furnishings:
An ideal Egyptian davenport has two Fontainebleaus' (the one in France and the one in Miami) worth of carving and gilt and is upholstered in plush, petit point, plaid, and paisley, as if Donald Trump and Madame de Pompadour and Queen Victoria and The Doors had gotten together to start a decorating firm. Often there's a pair of matching chairs.
N.B. This description of the astonishingly ugly sofa is endemic to the entire Arab world, not just Egypt.
Transnational Progressives (PDF link)
An interesting paper which charts the rise of what the author calls "transnational progressives": all the motley NGOs and human rights and other organizations which have become high-profile in recent years.
The transnational progressives, he argues, are emerging as an ideological counterweight to democratic capitalism. Instead of emphasizing the person as an individual, the TPs emphasize the person's racial/sexual/ethnic group as his/her primary identification.
The groups are divided into Oppressors and Victims. The transnational agenda, among other things calls for exact proportional representation of each group in every sphere of life. Also, they argue against the concepts of citizenship and assimilation into an adopted society.
Unable to pass their agenda by using the normal democratic channels, the TPs focus their energies on supranational bodies such as the UN and EU. Because these groups are supposedly high-minded, the TPs come off as taking the moral high ground, even though their base assumptions are questionable at best.
I've given an incomplete analysis of the piece, which is definitely worth a read. It resonates strongly, since Israel has been one of the most frequent targets of these groups in the UN and EU.
On the one hand, I'm still liberal enough to feel uneasy about opposing an International Criminal Court and thumbing my nose at international conferences on racism and the environment. On the other hand, this is a subtle form of totalitarianism, communism by other means led by a minority of well-intentioned but misguided naifs who trumpet progressivism in the cause of some of the world's most backwards and repressive societies.
Sunday, September 22, 2002
For Rent: 32-Room 7-Room 1-Room Office Compound in Ramallah
Oy. Here we go again: Palestinians blow up a bus and kill some senior citizens and teenagers. Israel responds by going in doing a some remodelling of Arafat's Muqata'a. Our demands are the same they were the last time: release the murderers who have taken refuge under Arafat's roof. Before we go in and take the roof off.
Except this time around, the scumbags are not hiding out in the Church of the Nativity and the world's attention is more focused on developments to the East.
I suspect that this is leading up to Arafat's long-awaited exit from the world stage. Right after Saddam's.
Sympathy for the Devil?
This Atlantic Monthly piece profiling the "Beloved Uncle" of the Iraqis (and the Palestinians) came out a couple of months ago, but has found some new relevance in light of recent developments.
The piece is based on interviews with people who have had dealings with Saddam in the past and who had the good sense to hightail it out of Iraq afterwards. The portrait that emerges shows a man obsessed with his place in history and ultimately cut off from the people he tyranizes brutally. It shines a little light on Saddam's ridiculous megalomania and is filled with fun little anecdotes taken from the life of the dictator.
Like the time he gathered all the officials of the Iraqi Baath party for a conference, just after he took control of the country. At the conference, Saddam announced that some of the assembled had betrayed him and had his guards drag them off -- protesting their innocence and pleading for mercy -- to be shot. He had the whole scene filmed and distributed the tapes to regional officials to show them who the boss was. All class, that guy.
Also on the subject of Iraq, Victor Davis Hanson tackles Frequently Asked Questions About the War on Iraq and David Brooks looks at the anti-war left ignoring the big picture when it comes to Iraq.
The Rise and Fall of "Movement Lawyer" Lynne Stewart
Being the tale of a Queens housewife turned radical lawyer who went from defending Leftist radicals to defending drug dealers to defending Muslim terrorists.
Then, one day, she stepped over the line and began actively abetting said terrorists.The Government then stepped in.
To quote Susan Hays: Good white liberals fuck up more shit than anyone in the world.