The poet Auden understood many things. He understood truly important things as only the poets can. He understood that humankind can always be found in pretty much the same imperiled condition.
A few weeks ago, Jimmy Carter gave an interview to the German newspaper Der Spiegel, mostly on the recent Lebanon conflict. It was classic Jimmy Carter - at once moralizing and morally confused, ill-informed and preachy - illustrating why the American people voted him out of office after just one term and the politically partisan Swedish Academy awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize.
A drama is slowly but steadily unfolding in Israel that is rare for that nation or any other civilized country. Fresh from the Lebanon battlefield, Israel's citizen-soldiers, joined by families of the fallen as well as ordinary citizens, are mobilizing again - this time for a campaign of marches, letters, petitions and other public activities in regard to the recent unpleasantness up yonder.
Many readers no doubt took issue with the relatively optimistic tone of my recent op-ed column ("Things Worth Remembering," Aug. 18) on the war between Israel and Hizbullah. Make no mistake: The outcome of the fighting upset me as it did all of us who love our State of Israel and our Jewish People.
Like a pig returning to his vomit, Mike Wallace came out of retirement last month to genuflect in the presence of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadine-jad and then to spread the word that the man who’s denied the Holocaust and called for wiping Israel off the map is not really such a bad guy after all.
Technically, the Lebanon war against Hizbullah is over. In fact, however, Israel remains starkly vulnerable to further rocket attacks, and - even more ominously - to a still-nuclearizing Iran. Making matters worse, Prime Minister Olmert has yet to openly change course from his indisputably catastrophic plan for "realignment" and "convergence."
For generations of Diaspora Jews raised on the idea of an invincible Israel, the last month has been something of a blow. While historians will probably have better luck sorting out the results of the recent weeks of fighting between Israel and its Hizbullah antagonists than journalists, there is little question that the result was a lot less than most of Israel's supporters in this country were expecting.
Clichéd postmortems analyzing Israel's failure to deal Hezbollah a clear defeat miss the point in blaming Prime Minister Olmert's lack of military experience or native ineptness. The key reasons for Israel's poor performance are deeper and far more ideological.
If a truly independent Israeli government inquiry is commissioned to scrutinize all aspects of the Jewish state's recent war against Hizbullah, the two Israeli political leaders most likely to undergo the most severe grilling are former prime minister Ehud Barak and the current premier, Ehud Olmert.
Unless you know your way around the blogosphere or get your news from publications like the Malaysia Sun, Australia’s Sunday Morning Herald or Germany’s Die Welt, you likely missed the story last week that some 84 Hollywood celebrities – actors, directors and producers – had signed an ad condemning Hizbullah and Hamas that appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Hollywood Reporter and Variety.
In an ancient myth, the Greek gods condemn Sisyphus to roll a great rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone will inevitably fall back of its own weight. By imposing this terrible judgment the gods had prescribed the dreadful punishment of interminable labor. But they also revealed something vastly more difficult to understand, namely, that even such useless labor need not be altogether futile. Such labor, they knew, could also be heroic.
Undeterred by the Heathrow shutdown, I turned up for the Aug. 10 night flight to Israel. I had no business there and no formal holiday plans. I just felt I needed to be there, perhaps to help out friends and family whose breadwinners had been called up for reserve duty.