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.
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.”
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