by Seth Rogovoy
GREAT BARRINGTON – What is too often omitted from the daily reports of violence and bloodshed in Israel is the basic fact that there is a war going on between a nation trying to defend itself – its civilian population, its borders, its future – and an ad hoc group of true believers whose ultimate goal is to conquer and destroy the Jewish state.
The New Yorker
There is little to take comfort from in Jeffrey Goldberg’s “The Martyr Strategy” in the July 9th issue of the New Yorker. After interviewing several Palestinian Arab leaders in Gaza and Ramallah, Goldberg concludes that “it was as if [they] had fired up a time-travel machine and taken us back to 1968, when the leaders of the P.L.O. still spoke unabashedly of erasing Israel from the map of the world.”
Goldberg visited the home of Islamic Jihad terrorist Abdullah Shami, where he found his three, school-age sons pretending to be suicide bombers enacting the sort of attack that recently killed 22 people, including the bomber, outside a Tel Aviv nightclub. The children’s reenactment was replete with pretend explosion and the heroic funeral procession that awaits the so-called martyrs in real life.
Goldberg brings to the fore what too often gets lost in all the reporting about the conflict between Israel and the P.L.O. -- that the goal of Arab terror is to murder civilian Jews, plain and simple, along the way to its ultimate goal, still enshrined in the P.L.O. constitution, of destroying the Jewish state.
“What his group needs to do, he said, is kill more Jews,” writes Goldberg of Shami and Islamic Jihad. “We must fight Israel until it is gone,” says Shami, who wants his 18-year-old son to be a suicide bomber. “But it’s his own choice,” he says. “I won’t push him in either direction.”
Perhaps even more disturbing than his visit to Shami is Goldberg’s revelation that Marwan Barghouti, a Fatah leader widely touted as a likely successor to the ailing Yasir Arafat, has of late shed any pretense toward favoring a diplomatic solution to the conflict. Goldberg found Barghouti at a meeting of the terrorist Popular Front, allied with Hamas, talking about dismantling the state of Israel entirely.
In the meantime, Barghouti fears assassination at the hands of Israel, and so he has moved his office between apartments that house families with children.
The American Prospect
What’s that sucking sound you hear? It’s the sound of a presidency deflating. One by one and piece by piece, George W. Bush is either losing in Congress to the Democrats, alienating himself from the vast majority of voters, or flip-flopping on the issues of greatest concern to his loyal conservative flank.
“The fundamental mystery of the Bush administration is how it so grievously misread – and continues to misread – the political landscape,” writes columnist Harold Meyerson in “Bush Burning” in the August 13 issue of the American Prospect. In spite of the fact that Bush squeaked into office with a minority of votes, replacing an immensely popular president of the opposing party in a time of great national unity, he is acting as if he is responding to a tidal wave of discontent a la Ronald Reagan circa 1981.
Whereas Reagan surrounded himself with impressive figures of national political stature, Bush is surrounded by “southern white male philistines…. too narrow a group to govern a nation successfully.” The result is the daily torrent of political tone-deafness emanating from the White House, most notably on energy policy and the environment.
But there’s no point crowing about this too loudly. Let Bush be Bush and dig his own grave as he slouches toward the end of his presidency in 2004.
For over half a century Studs Terkel has been a chronicler of the American quotidian, a self-described guerrilaa journalist interviewing everyday people: laborers, street people, and the men and women next door on his daily radio show in Chicago and in his 12 books of oral history, including “Race” and “Working.”
In the August 2 issue of Rolling Stone, the tables are turned on Terkel and he is the subject of the interview. As one might imagine, he is filled with good stories, such as the time Mahalia Jackson stood up for him when a TV executive ordered him to sign a loyalty oath and he refused.
“You tell Mr. Big back in New York that if they fire Studs they’ll have to find another Mahalia Jackson,” Terkel quotes the singer.
Terkel recounts the consequences of Jackson’s action. “You know what happened? Nothing! The guy disappeared. And what’s the moral of this? That in her little finger, she had more Americanism than all the networks and advertisers put together.”
In a breezy interview, Terkel connects seemingly disparate movements including the American labor movement, Jesus’s apostles, and the yippies, all of whom he says spoke truth to power in the manner that only fools can.
American Prospect: Box 601, Mt. Morriss, IL 61054-7531; $30 (22 issues)
Rolling Stone: Box 420870, Palm Coast FL 32142-8338; $20 (26 issues)
New Yorker: Box 56447, Boulder, CO 80322-6447, or 1-800-825-2510, or firstname.lastname@example.org ; $44.95
[an error occurred while processing this directive]