A massive public outcry greeted the ruling last month by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declaring that the words “under God” in public school recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance violate the “no establishment of religion” clause of the First Amendment. Congress rushed to condemn the decision. President Bush termed it ridiculous and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle called it “just nuts.
A senior Israeli official, listening to President Bush’s June 24 speech outlining U.S. policy on the Middle East, kept waiting to hear what pressure the U.S. was going to apply to Israel. He never heard it mentioned. “I thought all the way through the speech: this is the carrot, now comes the stick,” said the official. But “there was no stick.”
Many Americans have become born-again believers in patriotism since September 11, some to their own surprise. Writing the “My Turn” column in Newsweek, for instance, 20-something Rachel Newman confessed that before 9/11 she and her girlfriend had been talking about moving to another country because of the perceived inequalities in the U.S.
When Kentucky was considering a ban on all cloning of human embryos this year, the debate struck close to home for legislator Jim Reynolds. His father suffers from Parkinson’s disease and dementia—the sort of diseases scientists hope to cure through the use of the versatile stem cells that can be extracted from cloned embryos.
President Hassan Rouhani of Iran had his brother hand deliver a check for $400,000 last month to Tehran’s only Jewish hospital with the message that “our government intends to unite all ethnic groups and religions, so we decided to assist you.” In September Rouhani’s administration had issued a Rosh Hashanah greeting to Jews around the world. Though some question Rouhani’s motives, his behavior is a refreshing contrast to that of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is a Holocaust denier (New York Times, February 6).