Terrorism Will Get Nowhere in Great Britain

I’m listening to the BBC and marveling at the resolve and sensibility of the folks in Manchester. Young women are saying, “Some things we can’t control. So we just go about our lives.” If there are any people who history shows can’t be terrorized it is the English, Welsh, and Scots. They have stood guard at the gates of our civilization before and never given up. Continue reading

The Best and Worst in Biblical Religion: An Open Letter to Christine Flowers

Christine, You have asked me to apologize to your friend, who called Islam evil, for calling her ignorant and bigoted. And you have threatened to block me on Facebook if I don’t do so. I have no intention of apologizing and instead I’m going to explain why I think you need to apologize for betraying the best in the religious tradition of which you claim to be so proud. If you don’t like what I have to say and you block me, that’s fine. I frankly think I’ve learned all anyone can from reading you. Let me take a moment to explain how I look at the political, moral, and religious traditions that animate our country. I grew up in an orthodox Jewish synagogue, though I moved away from orthodoxy pretty soon after my Bar Mitzvah. I’ve spent most of the last forty years studying the history of political and … Continue reading

So that’s what the Middle East looks like to everyone else

I hope everyone read the long article in the Times on Sunday about the history of the conflict leading up to the war in Georgia. It is worth understanding how this war began. But I especially hope strong partisans on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides of that conflict read it. For I suspect that their initial reaction will be like mine: both sides are responsible for this mess and both ought to be acting a whole lot more sensibly. Its is hard not to sympathize with the Georgians with the Russian Bear next door, until you see what the Georgians have been doing to their minorities and how they are provoking the Russians. That’s more or less the way I look at the Israel-Paletinian conflict these days. I’m still a supporter of Israel’s right to exist. (And I wrote my first published article calling for a Palestinian state in … Continue reading

Why we may have to fight

It is not easy for those of us who came of age politically during the Vietnam War to support any war, let alone one that does not respond to an imminent threat to our country. We know that war is horrible, even for the victors. And we distrust those who tell us that war is necessary, especially when we can see alternatives. These are healthy instincts. They account for the opposition of many people to President Bush’s determination of go to war against Iraq in order to disarm Saddam Hussein. But even our best political instincts have to be checked against the truth of the situation we face. Unless Saddam changes direction and agrees to disarm, war is likely to be the best response to our situation. What are the alternatives to war? The first is deterrence. We can prevent Saddam from using weapons of mass destruction to pursue his … Continue reading