A SETTLEMENT, John Kerry said this week, is better than settlements. Yet for years now, a practical sublation of this withdrawal versus occupation dialectic has been in place, involving the concurrence of ongoing peace talks and settler expansion into the West Bank. As I write this, news arrives both of the progress of the negotiations and the announcement of another 1,400 Jewish settler houses in Palestinian territory. Whatever the terms on paper, on the ground it is not one or the other: the peace settlement “process” now serves rather than contradicts the settlements.
FORMER US PRESIDENT Jimmy Carter, in a New York Times editorial “Two-State Solution on the Line,” invokes his view a month previous at the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem and reflects that
The rate of settlement growth in East Jerusalem and the West Bank is staggering. There are now more than 500,000 Israeli settlers living beyond the Green Line, in violation of international law. Their numbers have doubled since the Oslo peace accords of 1993. Thousands more settlement homes are planned or under construction.
IN THIS LATEST of the Gaza Wars, a little noted symmetry offers insight into developments which doubtless portend the years ahead. The symmetry to which I refer concerns the names attached to the battles of 2008-09 and 2012.
IT HAPPENS that I today regard the sudden retraction from Canadian soil of Linda Sobeh Ali, the Palestinian chargé d’affaires, as someone who has spent a number of years working in communications and public relations. In my profession — which has among other things interpolated me between and among differing cultures — I’ve had to pay due attention to protocol. I like to think I’m reasonably good at this delicate work and that I can smell from a distance those who are not. And at this moment I rather detect the aroma of amateurism on the air.
AT SOME point, without the help either of the nudge or the wink, I’ll wager you have grasped through one commonplace observation the cynical and fraudulent character of the more crude manifestations of American nationalism. Well, are you in? Good. The observation to which I refer is the Chinese manufacture of so many American flags.
There is a famous anecdote concerning two nineteenth-century British Prime Ministers and bitter rivals, Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone. The former may be credited with first articulating “Progressive Conservatism” — by way of his 1844 novel Coningsby, or The New Generation — and the latter with both establishing and dominating the British Liberal Party, having ended his affiliation to the High Tories. According to the standard account, Gladstone asserted (doubtless with approval) “I predict, Sir, that you will die either by hanging or of some vile disease.” Disraeli’s response was characteristically immediate, biting, and witty: “That all depends, sir, upon whether I embrace your principles or your mistress.”
Continue reading “When the Bookish Finish Last”
Readers of this humble column of mine know that as a matter of principle I defend the right to unfettered expression of any and all persons, regardless of point-of-view. The other and necessary half of this social compact requires that I subject to deliberation the jingoism, fear-mongering, and stupidity which from time to time result when this right is exercised. And so, Dear Reader, I give you Mr. Charles McVety. Continue reading “I Give You Mr. Charles McVety”