Cutting Edge: New ideas / Sharp opinions
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Nir Hasson in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on a settlement project that threatens the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: "[President Barack] Obama needs to stop this settlement project -- not just to save face, but to protect Americans. He needs to show Arabs and Muslims -- and everybody else -- that no nation, including Israel, can take America's support completely for granted; that America won't stand by impotently as Israel embarks on a project that shows contempt for the Palestinian people and for world opinion. ... Here's how he should proceed:
"1. Write out a statement that he's willing to deliver on TV. It should criticize [Benjamin] Netanyahu sharply and say something that will shock the Israeli people: If the prime minister is going to behave this outrageously, America can no longer guarantee that it will stand by Israel's side at the United Nations. It can no longer guarantee that it will veto Security Council resolutions that declare West Bank settlements in violation of international law. Indeed, America may now introduce such a resolution -- that's how outrageous this latest settlement project is.
"2. Call Netanyahu, read him the statement, and tell him that if the settlement plans haven't been reversed within 48 hours, Obama will deliver the statement on TV. And Obama has to mean it. He has to be ready to deliver the statement -- because then Netanyahu will sense that he means it, in which case Obama won't have to deliver the statement."
Uri Friedman in Foreign Policy on the digging up of Yasser Arafar: "[Last month] a Palestinian medical team cranked open the West Bank grave of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, took samples of his remains and handed the evidence over to European experts to determine whether Arafat was poisoned -- by Israel, the theory goes -- before his death in 2004. 'This will bring closure,' Arafat's widow observed, 'We will know the truth about why he died.' But that answer won't come for at least another three months ... and even then the results could very well be inconclusive. ... If the long history of exhuming world leaders is any guide, the macabre exercise rarely proves the conspiracy theorists right."
Mr. Friedman then cites seven famous examples, including U.S. President Zachary Taylor. Taylor was thought to have died of a stomach ailment, but author Clara Rising in the early 1990s became convinced that he had been poisoned because of his opposition to slavery. She persuaded a coroner in Kentucky to dig him up. Medical officials determined that Taylor died from any of "a myriad of natural diseases which could have produced the symptoms of gastroenteritis."
Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin: "Jim DeMint, R-S.C., is leaving the Senate to take over the Heritage Foundation. ... He expressed no qualms about leaving the Senate before his term is up, nor did he reflect on his legislative achievements, of which none come to mind.
"Let me first explain why this is very bad indeed for Heritage. Even DeMint would not claim to be a serious scholar. He is a pol. He's a pol whose entire style of conservatism -- all or nothing, no compromise, no accounting for changes in public habits and opinions -- is not true to the tradition of Edmund Burke, Russell Kirk and others. By embracing him, Heritage, to a greater extent than ever before, becomes a political instrument in service of extremism, not a well-respected think tank and source of scholarship. Every individual who works there should take pause ...
"Now, for the U.S. Senate, I am sure many senators on both sides are clicking their heels. DeMint has been a destructive force, threatening to primary colleagues, resisting all deals and offering very little in the way of attainable legislation."
The Borowitz Report: "PYONGYANG -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un surprised Korea-watchers today by abruptly canceling his nation's controversial rocket test and launching a fragrance instead. The dictator's signature fragrance, called 'Number Un,' could be on store shelves in time for Christmas, according to the Korean Central News Agency.
" 'I think Kim Jong-un most likely said to himself, "Given how badly my last rocket did, maybe I'll just launch a fragrance," ' [said North Korea expert Hiroshi Kyosuke of the University of Tokyo] ...
"The official North Korean announcement offered this description of the new fragrance: 'Number Un deliriously combines the sweet smells of North Korea's native unicorns with the irresistible aroma of our Dear Leader himself.' "
First Published December 9, 2012 12:00 am