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Today’s Top Stories:
1. An unusual mea culpa: Joan Juliet Buck, who wrote Vogue’s pilloried profile of Asma Assad, describes how the story came about.
Why now? She no longer works for Vogue. Buck describes (in The Daily Beast) dealing with editors who wanted a non-political feature, P.R. executives who wanted a positive story, a compromised laptop, and a sinking discomfort as the Arab Spring exploded on the very day she met the Assad family:
“Send a political journalist,” I said.
“We don’t want any politics, none at all,” said the editor, “and she only wants to talk about culture, antiquities, and museums. You like museums. You like culture. She wants to talk to you. You’d leave in a week.”
A week: clearly my name was last on a list of writers that the first lady had rejected because they knew nothing about Mesopotamia. I didn’t consider the possibility that the other writers had rejected the first lady.
Maybe The Guardian’s journalist might like to consider that violence against women might very well be a by-product of a society that glorifies violence and terrorism, where children can spend their summers learning jihadi skills at Hamas sleepaway camps.
3. In an in-depth report, Propublica examined ten terror attacks attributed to the Iran/Hezbollah alliance:
Iran and Hezbollah have waged a determined campaign to strike their enemies in retaliation for attacks on the Iranian nuclear program and the killing of a Hezbollah chief, counterterror officials say. The offensive led by the Quds Force, Iran’s elite foreign operations unit, has displayed impressive reach and devastating potential.
“The Hezbollah-Quds force threat is the big thing worldwide right now,” a U.S. counterterror official said. “There has been a wave of activity.”
Yet the modus operandi so far has veered between agility and clumsiness, precision and improvisation. Most of the attempted strikes have failed, often hampered by hasty execution and unreliable operatives, according to counterterror officials and experts around the world. In some ways the apparent opportunism and erratic behavior make the menace worse, increasing the chances of conflict with the West, experts say.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Must read: Jay Michaelson challenges his fellow left-wingers to be honest about their blind spots and explain how their criticism of Israel becomes anti-Semitic. Michaelson writes in The Forward:
First, there is a problematic lack of disclosure among many critics of Israel that their ultimate view is that Israel should not exist at all . . . Yet, many times, left-wing critics of Israel pretend to speak out about this or that human rights abuse, while really, they have no vision for the future other than Israel not existing at all. I find myself supporting one cause (criticizing this latest abuse) when the real cause is actually something else (calling for the end of Israel).
. . .
There is no way that a binational state will be a safe haven for the Jewish people or that it will preserve Jewish culture. It also creates a curious anomaly: the one-state solution means that every people on the planet, from Peruvians to Pakistanis, deserves self-determination — except one. This is where anti-Zionism slides into anti-Semitism. Why are Jews to be treated differently from every other nation on the planet? Is Jewish nationhood more dubious than others?
. . . .
Third, and relatedly, it is true, as the Jewish right alleges, that the left is oddly focused on the State of Israel, as opposed to human rights abusers who are demonstrably and quantitatively worse . . . China’s occupation of Tibet has killed more Tibetans than there are Palestinians in Gaza. If we’re interested in solidarity with the oppressed, let’s focus on those who are most oppressed.
. . .
Finally, many of Israel’s critics are guilty of massive oversimplification of both Israeli and Palestinian society. For its part, Israel is often defined solely in terms of the Occupation, as if it’s the only salient feature of Israeli life and culture. Any discussion of other topics — its environmental achievements, LGBT rights, even domestic social justice issues — is said to be a distraction, or propaganda, or worse. That is absurd. Israel, like anywhere else, is multifaceted and complex, and discourse about Israel is not a zero-sum game. Ads promoting “Gay Tel Aviv” are tourist advertising, not political propaganda.
• Suha Arafat’s seeking a French murder investigation into the death of her husband. But judging from Reuters, its hard to imagine any Palestinians — or Israelis — facing French prosecution:
A legal source told Reuters the Nanterre court would, in the first instance, have to determine whether it had jurisdiction to examine whether a case of alleged poisoning that took place in another country could be legally investigated in France.