Before the Israeli-Palestinian conflict plunges even further into its cycle of violence, we should pause to examine one day in July when peace almost broke out. After weeks of intense discussions, diplomats from the European Union and the U.S.
A popular Middle Eastern joke insists President Bush’s recent speech on a Palestinian state was delayed for a few days, waiting for a translation from the original Hebrew. The joke reflects Arabic anger that U.S. policy is driven by what the current Israeli leadership thinks is good for Israel.
For several months Congress had been calling for President Bush to coordinate the work of security-oriented agencies spread throughout the executive branch. The president, who retains a 75 percent approval rating, resisted such a move.
The most distressing reality for Americans observing the Middle East is not the deadly struggle between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat. What is most distressing, and even chilling, is the fact that no candidate for the U.S. presidency dares to display any awareness of the Palestinian perspective.
Secretary of State Colin Powell’s slow journey to Jerusalem gave Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon an extra week to continue his military assault on the Palestinian West Bank. If that was the purpose of his meandering schedule, Powell need not have bothered. Sharon still repudiated President Bush’s demand that he pull out his forces immediately.
It may have been just a coincidence that the Israeli army invaded the grounds of a Christian-run school in Bethlehem while the American media were focusing their attention on the six-month anniversary of September 11. Or maybe it wasn’t a coincidence.
Any year that gives us films from directors David Lynch, the Coen brothers, Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick has to be a good year. True, the Spielberg-Kubrick combined effort, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence is not pure Kubrick, since his death required that the work be finished by Spielberg. But it remains the most significant film released in 2001.
George W. Bush and Ariel Sharon are working from the same play book, and for the moment, they are winning their wars against terrorism. But their strategy will ultimately fail. Maintaining a climate of fear and hatred against a demonized enemy will work only in the short term. Why? Because violence breeds violence. It does not provide security.
After a particularly heavy U.S. bombardment of Kunduz, al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters initially refused to surrender. Northern Alliance factions argued over how to arrange the surrender of Kunduz, provoking one U.S. official to describe the situation in and around the city as “chaotic.” His word reminds me of an exchange in Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons.
It was much easier to oppose the gulf war. The situation that evoked the U.S. military response ten years ago was not personal, unless you count the loss of a plentiful oil supply as personal. Certainly Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait didn’t carry anything like the emotional impact of the September 11 attack that killed 5,000 citizens.
After leading the West to a victory over Iraq in the gulf war, President George Bush boldly promised a new world order for the 21st century. That hope received a major blow on September 11. In response, his son George W. Bush launched a military assault on Afghanistan.
Shrapnel in Peace opens with a close-up of a woman in traditional Muslim attire who is chopping into hard ground with a small shovel. As the camera pans back, we see that she is digging a hole beside a large metal plate. In the distance are the remains of a downed fighter plane. When the hole is deep enough, she moves under the plate and laboriously lifts it over her head.
The latest battle in the Middle East language war is over how to describe the killing of Palestinian leaders by the Israeli army. Israel prefers the term “targeted killings” to describe the deaths of 40 Palestinians who have been killed in their cars, homes and offices.
Many critics say that A.I.: Artificial Intelligence is marred by a clash between the sensibilities of its two directors, the late Stanley Kubrick, who developed the concept, and Steven Spielberg, who completed the project. Whereas Kubrick produced cool, intellectual films, Spielberg has specialized in warmhearted pictures. But these critics are wrong.
God so rarely is taken seriously on television that it came as a shock when President Josiah Bartlet on The West Wing orders his Secret Service detail to block all entrances to the National Cathedral so that he might have a little one-on-one with the Lord. The president wants to talk about divine justice following the funeral of his longtime friend and personal assistant, Mrs.
On this year’s Israeli Independence Day, Gideon Samet wrote in a column for the Jerusalem newspaper Ha’aretz that as long as Israel occupies the West Bank and Gaza, it will never freely celebrate its own independence. ‘’In order to achieve true independence, there is no escaping [Palestinian] independence.’’
I should be attending a conference in New York, but I am at home staring at my computer, with an entire week of travel wiped out because of a pesky bronchial infection. I have no intention of saying anything further about an annoying medical matter. But I have learned something from this experience.
In Why Religion Matters, Huston Smith argues for the importance of having and articulating a worldview. “Life’s problems press so heavily on us that we seldom take time to reflect on the way our unconscious attitudes and assumptions about the nature of things affect the way we perceive what is directly before us.”
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).