• Freedom of expression took another hit in the West Bank. Bethlehem journalist George Canawati was arrested by the PA after he made derogatory remarks against the commander of the city’s police force on his radio station. According to the Jerusalem Post, Canawati arrived in court with a big black eye and has launched a hunger strike to protest his detention.
• Stanley Fish followed up on his recent column addressing academic boycotts of Israel. Judging from the feedback, says Fish, readers rightly opposed to academically boycotting Israel aren’t making the most effective argument. So please don’t play the “consistency” card.
I was pleased to find more readers than usual on my side, but one argument favored by those who agreed with my negative view of the boycott is, I think, beside the point. That is the argument that the boycott is wrong because it is selective, because it singles out Israel when there are so many other countries in the world whose policies and actions are just as bad or worse . . .
The problem with this debating point is that it puts the emphasis on the wrong question — whether Israel is a good or bad country, and thereby implies that if it were clearly one or the other, the boycott would be clearly bad or good. But Israel’s moral status is irrelevant to the right question, which is whether academic institutions boycotting other academic institutions can ever be an expression of, rather than an undermining of, academic freedom.
• Dan Kaszeta is a former US Army and US Secret Service specialist on chemical, biological, and radiological defense, fisks the Swiss report on Yasser Arafat’s possible polonium poisoning. Among the issues Kaszeta raised: the report’s handling of polonium’s half-life decay, the evidence’s uncertain chain of custody, and the presence of radon gas in Arafat’s grave. What’s the big deal about radon?
Polonium is an eventual decay production of the particular isotope of Radon detected.
Iranian Atomic Urgency
• Did Avigdor Lieberman mellow out during his time out from politics? On his first day back as Foreign Minister, Lieberman insisted that Israeli-US rifts shouldn’t be aired publicly.
“The time to oppose [a deal] is when you see what it is,” he said. “Not to oppose the effort to find out what is possible.”
• Iran’s nuclear drive has cost it $170 billion in the last 20 years. AFP quotes Israeli estimates:
Of the $170 billion price tag, $40 billion were “invested over the past 20 years in the construction and operation of nuclear infrastructure,” the sources told AFP.
They said Iran had “lost $130 billion because of sanctions put in place since 2012,” including $105 million linked to the oil sector and $25 billion to banking, trade and industry, development and investment.
• In addition to the snooty NY Times staff-ed, similar sentiments were expressed (in varying tones) by Fareed Zakaria and Jonathan Steele. On the other hand, there’s Bret Stephens’ biting take at the Wall St. Journal (click via Google News), Time‘s Karl Vick, Dore Gold, and a Washington Post staff-ed. For more commentary/analysis, see David Horovitz, Roger Cohen, Max Boot, Globes, and the LA Times.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• Egypt’s intelligence chief, Gen. Mohammed Farid el-Tohamy, talked to the Washington Post about the Sinai situation, the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, and Syria.
For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.