Archive for the ‘Democracy and Freedom (or lack of)’ Category

Here’s a story from The New York Times that I thought you’d find interesting. Gazans and Israel could have made peace before. Now, demographic and ecosystem issues add urgency.


By Thomas L. Friedman

Princess Diana once famously observed that there were three people in her marriage, “so it was a bit crowded.” The same is true of Israelis and Palestinians. The third person in their marriage is Mother Nature — and she’ll batter both of them if they do not come to their senses.

Let’s start with Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist organization that rules the Gaza Strip. If there were an anti-Nobel Peace Prize — that is, the Nobel Prize for Cynicism and Reckless Disregard for One’s Own People in Pursuit of a Political Fantasy — it would surely be conferred on Hamas, which just facilitated the tragic and wasted deaths of roughly 60 Gazans by encouraging their march, some with arms, on the Israeli border fence in pursuit of a “return” to their ancestral homes in what is now Israel. [Read more →]

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BY DAHLIA SCHEINDLIN

The more Israel’s prime minister escalates tensions, the more his popularity grows.

In 2015, Benjamin Netanyahu was elected to a fourth term as prime minister of Israel. Within months, pundits began speculating when his government would fall. So far, the answer has been never.

Netanyahu has faced trouble, including ministerial resignations and police investigations, since shortly after the 2015 elections. Over the last year, the arguments for his imminent demise gathered steam: In February, police recommended that the attorney general indict him for corruption based on investigations in four different cases. The situation in the Gaza Strip festered; the Temple Mount nearly exploded; and the news warned almost nightly of a war with Hezbollah in Lebanon. There has been no progress on Israeli-Palestinian peace since negotiations collapsed in 2014. And at home, a wave of rage against economic hardship and massive social inequality erupted in 2011, when Netanyahu was prime minister as well, yet there has been no relief for the exorbitant cost of living in the seven years since.

Why then is Bibi more beloved than ever? In 2016, Netanyahu’s Likud party polled at an average of 25.7 seats in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, lower than the 30 seats it won in 2015 but still ahead of all rivals. Each year, the average has crept upward. When the police recommended indicting Netanyahu, his party’s numbers rose. When U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal on May 8, polls gave him the highest numbers in a decade, 35 or 36 seats; one survey was even rumored to predict 42. [Read more →]

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By Fareed Zakaria, Thursday, March 29, 2018

By way of explanation for some of President Trump’s bizarre foreign policy moves, we are often told that he is “unconventional” and that this could well be an asset. It’s certainly true that he doesn’t follow standard operating procedure on almost anything, from getting daily intelligence briefings to staffing the State Department. But his most striking departure from previous presidents has been in his rhetoric. American presidents have tended to weigh their words carefully, believing that they must preserve the credibility of the world’s leading power.

And then there is Trump, for whom words are weightless. During the campaign, he excoriated Saudi Arabia as a country that “want[s] women as slaves and to kill gays,” only to make his first presidential trip abroad to the kingdom and warmly embrace its rulers. He said NATO was obsolete and then affirmed the opposite. China was a currency manipulator that was “raping” the United States, until it wasn’t. [Read more →]

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It’s rare to see these well-documented facts so plainly stated on mainstream TV.
Worth your 3 minutes:

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On Saturday night, Darkeu screened this video to tens of thousands of Israelis, gathered in Rabin Square, who watched in stunned silence. Twenty-two years ago to the day, at that very spot, Yitzhak Rabin was murdered after months of the sort of incitement, hate and violence that is once again rising in Israel. On Saturday, Israel’s moderate majority gathered in the square, united in determination to never again let extremists determine their country’s future.

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By Fareed Zakaria, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017

“He was a sick man, a demented man,” said President Trump, trying to explain the latest mass shooting in the United States. We hear this view expressed routinely, after every new incident. But it is a dodge, a distortion of the facts and a cop-out as to the necessary response.

There is no evidence that the Las Vegas shooter was insane. (I prefer not to use his name and give him publicity, even posthumously.) He did not have a history of mental illness that we know of, nor had he been reported for behavior that would suggest any such condition. He was clearly an evil man, or at least a man who did something truly evil. But evil is not crazy. If we define the attempt to take an innocent human being’s life as madness, then every murderer is mad. If not, we should recognize that it is a meaningless term that adds little to our understanding of the problem.

Actually, the quick assumption of mental illness distorts the discussion. First, it smears people who do have mental disorders. Such people are not inherently highly prone to violence. They are more often victims of violence than perpetrators. And to the extent that some are violent, they are more likely to inflict harm on themselves. Mental-health issues are correlated to suicides far more closely than they are to homicides. [Read more →]

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The 20-something heads of the Centrist Project and the Millennial Action Project say the problems of America run deeper than just the current President. Source: CNN

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America was shamed on Tuesday as we have never been shamed before. We were debased as a nation by the words of a president who stood before the world and defended the honor of Nazis. He reduced himself in an instant from alarming buffoon to dangerous villain. We who elected him stand disgraced, humiliated.

But in fact our shame doesn’t matter. Our feelings, our sense of honor as citizens and as a nation are a matter of emotional satisfaction, but they’re not a matter of urgent, worldwide concern. Not when we face a global crisis of our own making, the unveiling before the world’s eyes of the hollow moral core at the center of the man we have installed as the most powerful man on earth.

Last week we could explain away Donald Trump’s gaffes as misunderstandings, ignorance, clumsiness. No longer. Now we know for a certainty, from the mouth of the president himself at a moment of unbridled candor, that he is unable to tell right from wrong. To distinguish Nazis and Klansmen from their opponents. To understand the moral chasm dividing George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, authors of this nation and its evolving freedoms, from Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, traitors who tried to destroy this nation in order to maintain the enslavement of millions. To understand that a mob marching under a forest of Nazi and Confederate flags, chanting “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us,” is not a mixture of “very bad” and “very fine” people. [Read more →]

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FDR started the Long Peace. Under Trump, it may be coming to an end.
By Fareed Zakaria, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017

In his first days in office, President Trump has begun to reverse the domestic policies of the previous eight years. But with regard to the United States’ relations with the world, Trump seems far more radical. In word and deed, he appears to be walking away from the idea of America at the center of an open, rule-based international order. This would be a reversal of more than 70 years of U.S. foreign policy.

[Read more →]

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[Read more →]

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