Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I have not been blogging too much lately, and neither have many of the bloggers I read. I chalk this up to the overwhelming nature of the Gaza campaign and the difficulty of saying anything cogent about it. Blogging patterns are weird, though, so the drought could just be a fluke. In case anyone is interested in what I think about this and a few other issues, or is just bored by the overall lack of posts and wants a quick read, here are some thoughts:

Operation "Cast Lead": A stupid name, but a justified campaign. Israel can't just be expected to let Hamas fire rockets into its cities. I am worried, though. Even though the Israelis planned this out pretty thoroughly (a lesson learned from the Second Lebanon War), it's not clear what the endgame is. I doubt a satisfactory ceasefire can be reached, since that would require Hamas to abide by it. My guess is that the Israelis will continue until the Obama administration tells them to cut it out. I hope that they can do enough damage in that time seriously to undermine the rocket attacks. Of course, this will be seen as a loss for Israel by the majority of the world. It makes me sick how gleefully The New York Times and others report that, despite the carnage in Gaza, Hamas is still managing to get rockets off. Oh, what a knee-slapper! The Israelis are engaged in ground warfare, which is killing civilians, largely because Hamas is using them as human shields, and Hamas is still managing to terrorize northern Israel. That will show Israel . . . what, exactly?

On a related note. . . Israel's decision not to allow most foreign reporters into Gaza: I have mixed feelings. The Times and others keep running whiny stories about how much they want to go into Gaza, but then if someone gets hurt, that of course will be Israel's fault. (Remember that idiot BBC reporter who got kidnapped by Hamas and was still sympathetic to them? I will charitably diagnose him with Stockholm Syndrome). I don't really understand why reporters want to go into those kinds of war zones. These opinions compete with my (and TF's) conviction that reporters should be able to report on the news, even if it's really unpleasant. What do you guys think?

Valkyrie: I can't believe I have to say this, but movie reviews, both from the popular press and from academic sources, seem to necessitate it: 1) This is not just an ordinary suspense movie! It has a strong polemical message, so stop devoting the entire review to Tom Cruise's acting ability and the effectiveness of the climactic scene; 2) Some professor of German literature referred to Claus von Stauffenberg, the guy Cruise plays, as a "German officer." Give me a break. He was a Nazi. In what army was he an "officer?" Oh, right. The Wehrmacht. He and his co-conspirators did not try to kill the yemach shemo because they were humanitarian Jew-lovers. They did it because they thought he was a bad military commander which, fortunately for the non-genocidal-maniac-world, he was. I can't believe how desperate even educated (and over-educated) people are to find a serious German resistance to Nazism. If this is the best you guys can do . . .

Academic conferences: Don't agree to deliver two completely different papers in three weeks. That's just dumb.

Satmar: Blech. Double blech. I just discovered, through Frum Satire's blogroll, a new blog called Hasidic Feminist. It is the story of a woman who grew up Satmar in Williamsburg, educated herself by sneaking off to the public library, got married at 17, and, at some point, took her kids and ran. It is beautifully written, but the subject-matter is kind of horrifying, I have to warn you.

And, on a lighter note, I am reading a great book called The Northern Clemency. Check it out.

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