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His People

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View of the World From 9th Avenue  Saul Steinberg

When I first heard the pundits use the term “Trump’s people,” I thought they meant those who live on Fifth Avenue with a fabulous view of Central Park. Now I know they mean the “white working class” and other “angry white people.” Putting aside Trump’s appearance (the strange hairdo and the perpetually pursed lips), the lack of government experience, and his “unpresidential” behavior, I cannot buy Donald Trump as a working class hero. The man is, after all, a “New Yorker,” and New Yorkers do not get elected president.

A New Yorker is someone who grew up in Manhattan, and most other Americans (of all races, religions and creeds) find them annoying, and for good reason: They give off a powerful air of overweening superiority. People from the other boroughs of New York City as well as Long Island like to think of themselves as New Yorkers, but Manhattanites know better. Even those who live in the “bedroom communities” of Connecticut and New Jersey and work in “The City” (what other town in America is referred to as The City?), like to think of themselves as New Yorkers, but as a neighbor of mine, born and bred in The City, once observed: They’re “worse than the boroughs.”

The last U.S. president from New York was FDR, and he wasn’t really a New Yorker; he lived “upstate” in Hyde Park, the place with which he was most closely identified. The last presidential nominee from New York was Governor Thomas E. Dewey, who lost twice, first to FDR and then to Harry Truman in probably the most surprising upset in history, although, arguably, Trump’s victory over Hillary comes close to or surpasses Truman’s defeat of Dewey.  However Dewey also was not really a New Yorker, for he was born and raised in Owosso, Minnesota (population as of 2010 – 15,194) and afterward lived 65 miles north of The City.  Since then, no one from New York has been nominated by either party (until Trump), despite New York’s large number of electoral votes (the largest number throughout much of American history until 1968, and currently the third largest).  Credible candidates from New York like Nelson Rockefeller and Rudy Giuliani couldn’t even win their party’s nomination.

The New Yorker attitude towards the rest of America was best portrayed in Saul Steinberg’s New Yorker Magazine cover, “View of the World from 9th Avenue.” The picture suggests that New Yorkers believe that there isn’t much of a country between the Hudson River and the Pacific Ocean (see above). Another famous example of the New Yorker attitude towards the rest of the country is the late New Yorker Magazine movie critic Pauline Kael’s possibly apocryphal line, that she didn’t know how Nixon could have won the 1968 presidential election because “nobody I know voted for him.” Some believe that the real quote is from a speech in which she said,“I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.” Either way, Kael remains the embodiment of Manhattan snobbery.

Growing up Jewish in Chester, PA, near Philadelphia, I often heard derogatory remarks about New Yorkers, particularly about New York Jews, who, it was said, felt superior to all other New Yorkers. New York German Jews were even worse because they considered themselves smarter and more sophisticated than everyone. My family and their friends conceded that New York Jews were smart and funny (most of the great comedians, from Groucho Marx to Woody Allen are New York Jews), but German Jews were, like the rest of their former compatriots, bereft of any sense of humor.  Most of all they believed that Jews from New York were the incarnation of the Jewish anti-Semitic stereotype: the “pushy,” money grubbing, loud, obnoxious “kike.” Not unlike the nominally Presbyterian President Donald.

The Donald’s opponents have loudly proclaimed him to be an anti-Semite and racist. The opponents also believe that Trump’s father was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. The “evidence” backing this assertion is that someone who was probably Trump’s father was arrested at a 1920 Klan march in Trump’s Queens neighborhood when the father was twenty. The New York Times report notes that he was arrested for not immediately obeying a police officer’s order that he move on and that he was shortly released. The report notes that there is no evidence to support any of the possible reasons why he was there, and the evidence that he was there at all is less than air tight. Yet, from this comes the claim that he was a Klan member.

It is well known that Trump’s son-in-law and close adviser is Jewish and that his daughter converted to her husband’s Orthodox Judaism. The opponents assert that a person with close Jewish relatives in addition to many Jewish business associates and friends can still be an anti-Semite. That he lives in and is closely identified with a city Jesse Jackson infamously called “Hymietown” (the Jewish population of New York City is exceeded only by Israel’s) is apparently irrelevant as well. And we are supposed to believe that Trump’s alleged anti-Semitism (and racism) motivated Hilary’s “Deplorables” to vote for him.

To be sure, I agree with much if not most of the case against Trump. He is obviously unqualified to be president. Business experience is a good thing for a president to have, but it apparently does not mean that he knows how to get Congress to enact the programs he ran on.  I also agree that a lot of his behavior in office is bizarre if not pathological. Still they say that “his people” support him and even approve of his behavior. I don’t think bigotry has anything to do with the reasons why he (improbably) defeated Hilary. Trump achieved the previously unimaginable because he was the only candidate who seemed to understand that an awful lot of people out there in “flyover country” and even states like Pennsylvania are fed up with weaselly politicians, Stalinist politically correct “students,” government waste, illegal immigration (and spectacularly unconstitutional “sanctuary cities,”), racial quotas, presumptuous federal judges, cop haters, a ridiculously complicated health care system and tax code, do-nothing government bureaucrats and more, much more. All of that overcame the distaste that many Americans have for New Yorkers.

Now, if only a more qualified and disciplined candidate, regardless of where he came from, had understood what Trump understood and had the nerve that Trump had to run on it.

 

 

 

 

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Missy

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Missy, her sister, and her mother

Missy is my wife’s sister-in-law. She lives in Vancouver, Canada with her husband Allan. Raised in Southern California, Missy at first looked to my wife Eleanor and me to be sort of an airhead Valley Girl. It was probably the way she dressed and her hair style at the time. I think that, at the same time, she considered us to be East Coast, intellectual-wannabe snobs. Anyway, we didn’t like each other when we first met.

However it didn’t take long before we learned how wrong we were about Missy. The first thing I noticed was her wicked sense of humor. Then I discovered her warm smile and kindness. A couple of years ago, we visited Missy and Allen to attend their daughter Lindsay’s wedding. I was beginning to descend into a depression that made me feel that my family and friends disliked me. Missy and I talked for a couple of hours, and she convinced me (at least during that visit) that I was wrong. Her smile, her warmth, and her obvious honesty were amazingly therapeutic.

We also learned that Missy is an extremely talented folk artist. Christmas objects of art is one of her specialties. She crafts beautiful angels and incredibly detailed Santas (with all sorts of handmade miniature toys in his sack), as well as lots of other kinds of folk art. An expert seamstress, she makes clothing: shirts, dresses, and more. Most astoundingly, she is a skilled  woodworker; her bedroom set is just one example of the furniture she has made with powerful, often dangerous (if you aren’t skilled) tools.

But to me, her most impressive quality is her courage, what Hemingway termed “grace under pressure.” Six years ago we all got together in Palm Desert, California for my father-in-law’s 90th birthday (he’s still chugging along today). As I remember it, a couple of days before the party, Missy felt very ill. Allen took her to the hospital where the doctors discovered a tumor in her heart. A few days later, she returned to Vancouver where a surgeon removed a baseball-sized tumor, which was found to be malignant. Doctors gave her 14 months to live.

It was a year and half later that we flew to Vancouver to attend Lindsay’s wedding. And there was Missy–smiling, laughing, funny as usual. It was as if the surgery, the months of unpleasant chemotherapy, and the doctor’s belief that she would soon die had never happened to her. As I mentioned before, it was during that visit that Missy took the time to comfort me when I was moaning and groaning that nobody cared for me.

The wedding was beautiful.  Missy’s brother, sister and mother–all cancer survivors– were there; smiling, warm, and friendly. Just like Missy. Missing was a brother who had died from cancer years ago. Another of Missy’s brothers had had cancer surgery on his jaw, as I remember, and a part of the jaw had been removed, but it didn’t seem to affect his happy, warm demeanor.

Just about two months ago, Missy had a setback.  The tumor in her heart had returned and surgeons removed it again. A few hours after the surgery, Missy was out of her room and smiling as usual for the picture Allan sent us. But soon after, they discovered blood on her brain. They believed she had had a stroke. Whatever it was, she lost most of her peripheral vision. She also developed sarcomas on her scalp and had “spots” on her liver.

Meanwhile, Lindsay was close to giving birth to Allan and Missy’s first grandchild. Missy and everyone else hoped that Missy would make it long enough to see her. She was born recently and Missy was delighted.

This morning I awoke as I usually do since becoming depressed. I call it my morning rant, which the Webster Dictionary defines thusly: “to talk loudly and in a way that shows anger; to complain in a way that is unreasonable.” In the middle of my morning rant, my wife came in with her phone and showed me an email from her brother. Doctors had discovered another tumor, this time in Missy’s brain. The prognosis?  Days, not weeks. The email ended my morning rant of self-pity in an instant.

Allan reminded us that Missy had proven the doctors wrong before and he believed she could do it again.  One thing I know is that, if anyone can do it, Missy can.

A week or so ago, I spoke  on the phone with Allan.  He told me that Missy had said to him recently that the thought of suicide had passed through her mind.  Allan jokingly asked her not to mess up the bathroom.  Missy’s response:  That’s OK, the cleaning lady comes tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

Deja Vu All Over Again

I haven’t written for a while. Politics is so repetitive and, frankly, boring. nowadays. There’s Obama who seems to be immune from any scandal. Overall, the media backs him,no matter how incompetent and petulant he is. Scandals come and go despite this or that senator or congressman pledging to “get to the bottom” of every outrage: Benghazi, the IRS, Fast and Furious. The list is endless and no one gets to the bottom of anything and no one is held accountable.

Hillary ought to be considered a joke, but she seems to be on her way back to the White House (with Bill) despite the sleaze she and her husband are mired in.

Except for isolationist Rand Paul, the Republican candidates seem vastly superior to Hillary, but we can count on the media to denigrate them mercilessly. So Jeb Bush misunderstood the question about Iraq: Would he have gone into Iraq knowing then what he knows now? Big deal. Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, Lindsay Graham all seem sensible and knowledgeable and are at least relatively forthcoming about what they really think, unlike Hillary.

The fact is that the weapons of mass destruction argument was only a small part of the rationale for getting rid of Saddam Hussein. He was in violation of more than a dozen binding UN resolutions, and after 9/11, the West, led by America, had to make a stand against Middle East outlaws. The U.S. put up with one Arab/Islamic outrage after another from Arafat’s assassination of the U.S. ambassador to the Sudan to the Achille Laurel, to the blowing up of the Marine barracks in Lebanon and more, culminating in the 9/11 attack.

We should have gone to war against Iran when they took our embassy hostages back in 1979. We should never have allowed the religious fanatics to take over a large important country like Iran. But the fact that they got away with their storming of the embassy and holding of our hostages only encouraged more of this nuttiness, and led directly to 9/11 and the current ISIS obscenity

On a Beautiful Day in May

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As I was saying…Since I wrote here last, we had a wind and ice storm (in February) which knocked out power for five days (longer in other neighborhoods). After about the third day, without electricity inside and freezing temperatures outside, I decided to call my local “commissioner,” a woman named Cheryl Gelber. Her attitude was basically: Who the eff are you and what do you want me to do about it”? So I then wrote my Pennsylvania state senator, one Daylin Leach the Fifth (I made up the last part of his name, I think), and he gave me the same song and dance and in addition, he didn’t like my “tone.”

Goodness gracious, we’re without electricity and heat for about five days and it’s in the single digits out there and Sir Daylin doesn’t like my “tone.” He even noted that his family was without power for two days. I emphasize the word family because I took it to mean that he was toiling in the feverish swamps of Harrisburg where at least the lights were on.

Just to be bi-partisan (Cheryl and Daylin are card carrying Democrats), I also wrote to the Republican governor of Pennsylvania and next morning got a call from one of his mouthpieces who joined the Gelber-Leach chorus, ie, what the eff do you want me to do about it?

Just a thought:  I would have thunk that the prime requirement for going into politics is a very thick skin. But these “folks,” as our Dear Leader likes to say, are extremely touchy. I mean, I didn’t expect them to get up on the pole and get my power back on;  all I wanted was a little Clintonian I feel your pain jazz. Nup, they couldn’t fake a little sincerity even.

So fast forward a couple of months. The lights are on, the flowers are starting to bloom, and I am out for a constitutional, as they used to say. I run into a local neighborhood activist (Democrat) who is very close to both Daylin and Cheryl. So I mention my experience with her putatively public servant friends.  She immediately bristles and calls the ice storm and the power outage “an act of God.” Being me, I couldn’t help myself from pointing out to her that when hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans (which I believe is below sea level and is a bullseye in one of the country’s hurricane alleys), I didn’t remember any liberals calling it an act of God. I guess I really meant: If our neighborhood was run by people of the opposite party, she would not be calling it an act of God.

I forgot to mention that I had circulated my email exchange with the politicians among some of the non-politicians in the neighborhood.  Rosa Serota, the aforementioned neighborhood activist, asserted that many in the neighborhood were outraged over my “tone” and took it upon themselves “to apologize” to Cheryl for me. I never knew how you apologize for someone else but whatever….

Fast forward to Memorial Day.  I am at the annual Memorial Day block party, which I have attended for, perhaps, decades. I’m enjoying a beer and a chicken wing when a neighbor nudges me and points to a woman across the street whom I had never seen in attendance at past block parties. (My wife even went up to the woman and said: Who are you?)  Well, you probably guessed already – It was none other than Cheryl Gelber.

I looked around. The flowers were in bloom, the weather was fair, temperature in the 70’s. And if I had been inside, I would have noticed that the lights were on. And on a beautiful day in late May, our “alderwoman” was mingling with the masses.

Just perfect.

 

 

 

You Cannot Be Serious!

Unutterably Pathetic


The other day someone asked me if I “liked” Mitt Romney. There is a word for people you like: friends. Friends are people you enjoy spending time with and who enjoy spending time with you. However, as Groucho Marks might have put it: I would not vote for any politician who would have me as a friend.

Clearly, a lot of Barack Obama’s putative appeal to liberals (or “progressives” as they like to be called nowadays) is that he is or at least tries to come across as someone you (or at least they) would like to hang out with. How else to explain his undignified appearance “slow jamming” on the Jimmy Fallon Show and his non-stop pandering to all the politcally correct victim groups: “women,” Hispanics of the non-white variety, college students, and the non-“rich,” among others.

G.K. Chesterton once wrote: “When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything.” Though I am not religious myself, I have always admired Chesterton’s insight into the liberal mind. The guy who asked me if I liked Romney was really asking if I believed in Romney.

Perhaps this is why Jay Leno recently observed that conservatives are better able to laugh at themselves than liberals. Conservatives don’t believe in politicians the way liberals do, and to believe in politicians is to condemn yourself to a lifetime of bitter disappointment. Perpetually disappointed people are incapable of being amusing or amused.

To be sure, conservatives have raised Ronald Reagan to near demigod stature, but I consider that similar to Jews making a big deal out of Hanukkah so that their kids won’t convert to Christianity for the presents. The Democrats are always looking for a savior, while the Republicans are looking for someone merely to prevent or undo the damage.

If you allow yourself to think about it, the Democrats, I must conclude, were extremely irresponsible to thrust an inexperienced community activist on the nation because it made them feel morally superior that their candidate was not “white” and thus would redeem them and the rest of us from the mortal sins of slavery and Jim Crow. Surely there were more experienced and tested Democratic politicians than Barack Obama (and Hillary Clinton).

Take Evan Bayh: a two term Indiana governor and U.S. Senator. He’s young, articulate, good looking and to my knowledge did not attend a racist church for two decades or obstruct justice (as a special prosecutor reported in the case of Hillary whom he refused to indict because he didn’t believe he could get a Democratic D.C. jury to convict her). But Bayh is merely a white guy, not a redeemer.

Which brings me to Mitt Romney. I wish he would stop trying to be a regular guy like Obama pretends to be. I wish he’d lose the blue jeans and put on a suit and tie. But most importantly, I wish he’d start talking about the serious stuff in a serious way. An example: He should admit that the 2008 meltdown was a bi-partisan production caused mostly by government pressure to get banks to provide mortgages to unqualified people which thus created a system doomed to collapse when the inflated prices of houses went south. It is Romney’s responsibility to counter Obama and the Democrats’ claim that the debacle was the fault primarily of the loosely regulated private sector.

Dorothy Rabinowitz urges Romney to get serious in today’s Wall Street Journal:

…It would help if [Romney] showed, first of all, a capacity to run a campaign not obviously dependent on the latest polls, or the fears of consultants. He could begin by ignoring the chorus of hysterics agonizing over the gender gap, then proceed to comport himself like a presidential candidate who grasps that women see themselves as citizens like any other—not as a separate group assigned victim status, to be favored with special tenderness…

He’d do well, too, to discard the established wisdom that his indisputably appealing wife is his most powerful weapon—and to cease regularly throwing her at audiences. There is only one campaign presence that counts for voters, and his name is at the top of the ticket.

If that ticket is to be a winning one, Mr. Romney had better begin doing what Republican primary candidates so assiduously avoided doing for so many months. Other than those pronouncements extracted by debate moderators, there has been no silence more deafening, more ridden with fear—fear of the isolationist wing of the tea party—than that shown by the Republican candidates this year on matters of foreign policy.

Mr. Romney had better spell out clear positions on that, and on our national security. Even now the ideologically deranged sector of the tea party—tormented believers whose every living hour is devoted to the discovery of newer and more terrible violations of the Constitution—is pushing a serious legal war on the government’s right to detain terrorists.

We should hear from Mr. Romney on a matter of this kind. And in full and bold detail, what the voice of America will be in a Romney presidency—what it will stand for in regard to Syria, Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan. It won’t be enough to assert in passing that we intend to stand by America’s allies, or that there will be no more apologizing for the United States, splendid vows though they are.

Mr. Romney will have to run against President Obama with roughly the firepower with which he dispatched his competitors for the Republican nomination—and he’ll have to do it in his own voice, unflinchingly. He might take a lesson from the example of John McCain, today the most formidably cogent, spirited and relentless of Mr. Obama’s critics.

Little of this was on display four years ago, during Sen. McCain’s own presidential run, a picture of hesitancy and political caution. A campaign in which the candidate—fearing charges of racism—refused even to mention the reality of Mr. Obama’s 20 years of happy obliviousness to the hate-consumed, anti-American tirades of his longtime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Such cautions did not prevent the Obama campaign and its surrogates from hurling charges of racism at every opportunity, including in the primary race, when Bill Clinton himself—known to some as the first black president—stood accused.

Things won’t be different this election season, Mr. Romney should know. The race card will be played even more energetically this time around, despite such proof of racism as white America’s overwhelming support that put Mr. Obama into the presidency in the first place. Mr. Romney could do worse than a presidential run in the spirit of the Mr. McCain we see today—a man free of useless caution. Of course, the senator now has a fat target: the four years of the Obama presidency. But so has Mr. Romney.

The Republican nominee to be may not find it easy to drop the habits and training of his primary campaign—the most cautious, heavily managed, no-unplanned-moment-allowed quest for the nomination in memory. He’ll have to do it, nevertheless—perhaps by recognizing that he won not because of that caution but in spite of it.

It would help, finally, if Mr. Romney proved himself the first candidate in years to grasp that aspirants to the presidency who appear on late-night comedy shows invariably end up looking like buffoons. That’s in addition to denigrating their candidacy, the presidency itself, and looking unutterably pathetic in the effort to look like regular guys.

Most voters with any sense—this will perhaps exclude a fair number of the screamers in the late-night studio audiences—will understand that the candidate isn’t one of them, not even close. That voters in their right minds don’t choose a candidate for president because they’ve had the privilege of seeing him look unspeakably absurd while engaging in obsequious exchanges with late-night hosts…

Snowe Job

Maine’s “moderate” Republican senator Olympia Snowe has decided to retire because of “the world’s greatest deliberative body’s” “dysfunction” and “political polarization.” She explains herself in today’s Washington Post:

…Simply put, the Senate is not living up to what the Founding Fathers envisioned.

During the Federal Convention of 1787, James Madison wrote in his Notes of Debates that “the use of the Senate is to consist in its proceedings with more coolness, with more system, and with more wisdom, than the popular branch.” Indeed, the Founding Fathers intended the Senate to serve as an institutional check that ensures all voices are heard and considered, because while our constitutional democracy is premised on majority rule, it is also grounded in a commitment to minority rights.

Yet more than 200 years later, the greatest deliberative body in human history is not living up to its billing. The Senate of today routinely jettisons regular order, as evidenced by the body’s failure to pass a budget for more than 1,000 days; serially legislates by political brinkmanship, as demonstrated by the debt-ceiling debacle of August that should have been addressed the previous January; and habitually eschews full debate and an open amendment process in favor of competing, up-or-down, take-it-or-leave-it proposals. We witnessed this again in December with votes on two separate proposals for a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.

As Ronald Brownstein recently observed in National Journal, Congress is becoming more like a parliamentary system — where everyone simply votes with their party and those in charge employ every possible tactic to block the other side. But that is not what America is all about, and it’s not what the Founders intended. In fact, the Senate’s requirement of a supermajority to pass significant legislation encourages its members to work in a bipartisan fashion.

One difficulty in making the Senate work the way it was intended is that America’s electorate is increasingly divided into red and blue states, with lawmakers representing just one color or the other. Before the 1994 election, 34 senators came from states that voted for a presidential nominee of the opposing party. That number has dropped to just 25 senators in 2012. The result is that there is no practical incentive for 75 percent of the senators to work across party lines.

Actually, the system is working exactly as it was intended to work. The framers made it hard to “get things done” without a consensus on what is to be done. In the 90’s there was a consensus among the voters that welfare as it existed then needed to be changed radically so that the taxpayers were not subsidizing illegitimate births, sloth, and crime. This consensus resulted in a welfare reform law that passed both houses of Congress and was signed by a president whose most fervent supporters were opposed to it. It passed because the overwhelming majority of voters supported it, in other words, a consensus.

The big issue today is whether the federal government in Washington is to be responsible for all that goes on in the country or whether most of “what gets done” is better left to the states, localities and individuals.

This is a really big deal, as Joe Biden might say. As of yet, there is no consensus, and as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, fewer and fewer people understand that the federal government is constitutionally responsible for only a few specific, enumerated tasks and is prohibited from passing laws that infringe on the inalienable rights listed in the Bill of Rights.

The states, localities and people, however, can do whatever they want. Thus if Massachusetts wants to have socialized medicine with a mandate, they are free to do so. That’s the key difference between Romneycare and Obamacare. And it’s a big difference. Obamacare passed the Senate because the Democrats were willing to use a parliamentary maneuver traditionally used only for uncontroversial legislation, not legislation that alters 16% of the economy and is unpopular with a majority of the voters.

But Senator Snowe, a longtime Washington fixture, thinks Senators ought to vote against the wishes of most of the voters in their states to achieve “the common good” (whatever that means):

…The great challenge is to create a system that gives our elected officials reasons to look past their differences and find common ground if their initial party positions fail to garner sufficient support. In a politically diverse nation, only by finding that common ground can we achieve results for the common good. That is not happening today and, frankly, I do not see it happening in the near future.

For change to occur, our leaders must understand that there is not only strength in compromise, courage in conciliation and honor in consensus-building — but also a political reward for following these tenets. That reward will be real only if the people demonstrate their desire for politicians to come together after the planks in their respective party platforms do not prevail.

The above is a steaming load of, what Obama might call in a different context, “you- know-what.” You can only compromise when there is a consensus and the differences of opinon are small. If politicians think their consitutuents are wrong in their beliefs, then it is up to them to convince those misguided people of their errors. It’s easy for Olympia Snowe to criticize her Republican colleagues who represent conservative voters when the majority of her constituents typically vote for Democrats.

The 2012 election will either reveal a national consensus on entitlement and the size and power of the federal government or it will produce a divided national government and a continuation of “gridlock.”

And that is exactly what the Constitution’s framers wanted.

Thatcher: Philo-Semite. Keynes: Not

Thanks to PowerLine for pointing out the antisemitism of Paul Krugman’s favorite economist and the warm regard with which Margaret Thatcher held Jews.

Damian Thompson provides a repulsive quote from liberal icon John Maynard Keynes:

…[Jews] have in them deep-rooted instincts that are antagonistic and therefore repulsive to the European, and their presence among us is a living example of the insurmountable difficulties that exist in merging race characteristics, in making cats love dogs …

It is not agreeable to see civilization so under the ugly thumbs of its impure Jews who have all the money and the power and brains…


On the other hand, Charles Johnson describes Margaret Thatcher’s (an ogress to the left) staunch support for Israel and Jews:

When asked about her most meaningful accomplishment, Margaret Thatcher, now embodied by Meryl Streep in the biopic Iron Lady, did not typically mention serving in the British government, defeating the Argentine invasion of the Falkans, taming runaway inflation, or toppling the Soviet Union. The woman who reshaped British politics and served as prime minister from 1979 to 1990 often said that her greatest accomplishment was helping save a young Austrian girl from the Nazis.

In 1938, Edith Muhlbauer, a 17-year-old Jewish girl, wrote to Muriel Roberts, Edith’s pen pal and the future prime minister’s older sister, asking if the Roberts family might help her escape Hitler’s Austria. The Nazis had begun rounding up the first of Vienna’s Jews after the Anschluss, and Edith and her family worried she might be next. Alfred Roberts, Margaret and Muriel’s father, was a small-town grocer; the family had neither the time nor the money to take Edith in. So Margaret, then 12, and Muriel, 17, set about raising funds and persuading the local Rotary club to help.

Edith stayed with more than a dozen Rotary families, including the Robertses, for the next two years, until she could move to join relatives in South America. Edith bunked in Margaret’s room, and she left an impression. “She was 17, tall, beautiful, evidently from a well-to-do family,” Thatcher later wrote in her memoir. But most important, “[s]he told us what it was like to live as a Jew under an anti-Semitic regime. One thing Edith reported particularly stuck in my mind: The Jews, she said, were being made to scrub the streets.” For Thatcher, who believed in meaningful work, this was as much a waste as it was an outrage. Had the Roberts family not intervened, Edith recalled years later, “I would have stayed in Vienna and they would have killed me.” Thatcher never forgot the lesson: “Never hesitate to do whatever you can, for you may save a life,” she told audiences in 1995 after Edith had been located, alive and well, in Brazil.

Other British politicians and their families housed Jews during the war, but none seems to have been profoundly affected by it as Thatcher was. Harold Macmillan, a Thatcher foe and England’s prime minister from 1957 to 1963, provided a home for Jewish refugees on his estate, but his relations with Jews were always frosty, the mark of a genuflecting anti-Semitism common among the Tory grandees.

During the controversial Versailles peace talks that ended World War I, Macmillan wrote to a friend that the government of Prime Minister Lloyd George was not “really popular, except with the International Jew,” the mythic entity thought to be behind all of Europe’s troubles and made famous by Henry Ford’s eponymously titled book. Macmillan often made snide jokes about Jews and Jewish politicians, derisively calling Leslie Hore-Belish, a Liberal member of Parliament and a critic of appeasement in the years before World War II, “Horeb Elisha,” a jabbing reference to Mount Horeb, where the Ten Commandments were handed down to Moses. Viscount Cranborne, a Tory member of Parliament and a Foreign Office official in the 1930s, undermined attempts to ease the entry of Jews into Britain or Palestine, shutting out those other would-be Ediths from finding safety under the British Union Jack. And together, Cranborne and Macmillan were among the Tory parliamentarians who forced Hore-Belish out of the government in the early 1940s for allegedly conspiring to force Britain into a war on behalf of the Jews on the mainland.

Thatcher, by contrast, had no patience for anti-Semitism or for those who countenanced it. “I simply did not understand anti-semitism myself,” Thatcher confessed in her memoirs. Indeed, she found “some of [her] closest political friends and associates among Jews.” Unique among British politicians, she was unusually free of even “the faintest trace of anti-Semitism in her make-up,” wrote Nigel Lawson, her chancellor of the Exchequer, in 1992. Lawson knew of what he spoke. Alan Clark, a senior Tory politician, wrote in his diaries that some of the old guard, himself included, thought Lawson could not, “as a Jew,” be offered the position of foreign secretary. Lawson’s “Jewish parentage was disqualification enough,” the Sunday Telegraph wrote in 1988, without a hint of shame. Rumors and speculation persisted well into the 1990s about why this or that Jewish member of Parliament couldn’t be made leader of the Conservative Party.

Early on in her career—even before she entered politics—Thatcher had worked alongside Jews as a chemist at J. Lyons and Co., a Jewish-owned company. (She had graduated from Oxford in 1947 with a degree in chemistry.) After quitting chemistry, she became a barrister and grew increasingly involved in politics. She ran for office in some of the more conservative districts and lost each time. Thatcher finally won when she ran in Finchley, a safe Tory seat in a north London borough. Finally she had found her constituents: middle-class, entrepreneurial, Jewish suburbanites. She particularly loved the way her new constituents took care of one another, rather than looking to the state: “In the thirty-three years that I represented [Finchley],” she later wrote, “I never had a Jew come in poverty and desperation to one of my [town meetings],” and she often wished that Christians “would take closer note of the Jewish emphasis on self-help and acceptance of personal responsibility.” She was a founding member of the Anglo-Israel Friendship League of Finchley and a member of the Conservative Friends of Israel. Aghast that a golf club in her district consistently barred Jews from becoming members, she publicly protested against it. She even joined in the singing of the Israeli national anthem in 1975 at Finchley.

The Jews of Finchley were “her people,” Thatcher used to say—certainly much more so than the wealthy land barons that dominated her party.

When Thatcher became leader of the opposition in 1975, it was suggested that her closeness with British Jews might imperil the country’s foreign policy. Official correspondence released in 2005 shows the unease with which bureaucrats at the Foreign Office treated Thatcher’s affiliations in the run-up to her election as prime minister in 1979. Michael Tait, an official at the British embassy in Jordan, worried that Thatcher might be too readily seen as a “prisoner of the Zionists” unless she severed her official ties with pro-Jewish groups. Tait even suggested that Thatcher give up her beloved Finchley constituency for Westminster, a less Jewish district, and distance herself from the “pro-Israel MPs” that might make Middle East peace impossible. In the end, Thatcher reluctantly agreed to quit the Jewish groups she belonged to, but she kept her district and her relationships with pro-Israel parliamentarians.

Once she became prime minister, Thatcher appointed a government of outsiders. “The thing about Margaret’s Cabinet,” Macmillan would later say, “is that it includes more Old Estonians than it does Old Etonians.” (Eton, the famous prep school, required that its students’ fathers be British by birth, so as to keep out the Jews.) British politics had always been a club for genteel gentiles; Thatcher wanted to make it a meritocracy.

Thatcher appointed whomever she liked to positions in her government, whatever their religious or family background. Chaim Bermant, the Anglo-Jewish writer, probably went too far when he said Thatcher has “an almost mystical faith in Jewish abilities,” but he wasn’t completely off the mark. In addition to Nigel Lawson, she appointed Victor Rothschild as her security adviser, Malcolm Rifkind to be secretary of state for Scotland, David Young as minister without portfolio, and Leon Brittan to be trade and industry secretary. David Wolfson, nephew of Sir Isaac Wolfson, president of Great Universal Stores, Europe’s biggest mail-order company, served as Thatcher’s chief of staff. Her policies were powered by two men—Keith Joseph, a member of Parliament many thought would one day be the first prime minister who was a practicing Jew, and Alfred Sherman, a former communist turned free-market thinker.

With Thatcher, Joseph and Sherman formed the Centre for Policy Studies in 1974 to inject classical liberal ideas into Britain’s Conservative Party. Joseph, son of one of the wealthiest families in Britain, wanted to “fundamentally affect a political generation’s way of thinking.” It wasn’t enough to win elections, he believed; there had to be a change in how people thought of politics. He took his cue from his ideological nemesis, the Fabian Socialists, a group of British intellectuals who wanted to make Britain a socialist country through gradual change. Joseph would copy the Fabians’ style by writing policy papers, giving speeches, and writing to famous Brits to try to change public opinion. One of those forays became a co-written book, Equality, published in 1979, which argued that equality of opportunity “requires that no external barrier shall prevent an individual from exploiting his talents. No laws shall permit some men to do what is forbidden by others.” It was Thatcherite to the core.

Thatcher’s philo-Semitism went beyond the people she appointed to her government; it had clear political implications as well. She made Jewish causes her own, including by easing the restrictions on prosecuting Nazi war criminals living in Britain and pleading the cause of the Soviet Union’s refuseniks. She boasted that she once made Soviet officials “nervous” by repeatedly bringing up the refuseniks’ plight during a single nine-hour meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev, “The Soviets had to know that every time we met their treatment of the refuseniks would be thrown back at them,” she explained in her book The Downing Street Years. Thatcher also worked to end the British government’s support for the Arab boycott of Israel. During the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Thatcher criticized Tory Prime Minister Ted Heath’s refusal to supply Israel with military parts or even allow American planes to supply Israel from British airfields. In 1986, Thatcher became the first British prime minister to visit Israel, having previously visited twice as a member of parliament…

It Takes A Professor

The Deep Thinker


Democrats like to label Republicans, particularly Tea Party people, “extremists.” The recent kerfuffle over the “birthers” gave Democratic media types like David Gregory and the MSNBC “pundits” the opportunity to smear non-Democrats as paranoid conspiracy mongers. The attempt to tar the right with responsibility for the Tuscon atrocity is another example.

Yet Republicans are really rank amateurs when it comes to conspiracy mongering. James Piereson, author of Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism (Encounter Books, 2007), dates the beginning of serious modern left wing paranoia to the successful campaign of the Kennedy family and JFK’s hagiographers to portray Kennedy as a “civil rights martyr.” This campaign was perhaps a well-meaning attempt to use Kennedy’s murder to rally public opinion in favor of civil rights legislation that was going nowhere before November 22nd, 1963. Jackie Kennedy modeled her husband’s funeral after Lincoln’s who, you could convincingly argue, was a martyr to the anti-slavery cause.

But the inconvenient truth is that Kennedy, if he was a martyr to anything, died in the struggle to save the world from Communism. Lee Harvey Oswald, Kennedy’s assassin, was a pro-Castro Communist who emigrated to the Soviet Union and who attempted unsuccessfully to murder a high official in what was then the organization embodying right wing paranoia, the John Birch Society. Oswald was certainly a supporter of the civil rights movement, so Kennedy’s murder had nothing to do with the struggles of black Americans.

As Piereson indicates, the insistence of the Kennedy people that JFK’s murder be used to support civil rights legislation caused a great deal of confusion in the country and is responsible for the fact that an incredibly large number of Americans, not to mention foreigners, still refuse to accept the fact that Kennedy was killed by a lone Communist fanatic.

Kennedy’s assassination and the paranoia it produced led to what we now call “The 60’s” and all the nonsense about that generation’s being “the most intelligent, most moral generation in all of human history.”

When I heard Obama say the other night that he would not release photos of bin Laden’s corpse because that “isn’t who we are,” I sensed that Obama believes American history began in 1963 (or 1967, during the “Summer of Love”?). Do you think that when Lincoln allowed William Tecumseh Sherman to march through the South pillaging and burning along the way, anyone said to him: Abe, this isn’t who we are. This Long March is bringing immense suffering to women, children, old people and slaves.

When we firebombed Tokyo and dropped two atom bombs, there may have been a few who had qualms, but the real orgy of moral preening began during the 60’s when the “revisionists” attempted to make Truman and Churchill into war criminals.

Of course this left wing conspiracy mongering continued with 9/11 and continues today in the aftermath of bin Laden’s “extra-judicial murder.” It’s source? The usual place: the professoriat and other really smart people.

Here’s Christopher Hitchens on the recent silliness from professor Noam Chomsky and other prominent “gurus of the left”:

…Ten years ago, apparently sharing the consensus that 9/11 was indeed the work of al-Qaida, [Chomsky] wrote that it was no worse an atrocity than President Clinton’s earlier use of cruise missiles against Sudan in retaliation for the bomb attacks on the centers of Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. (I haven’t been back to check on whether he conceded that those embassy bombings were also al-Qaida’s work to begin with.) He is still arguing loudly for moral equivalence, maintaining that the Abbottabad, Pakistan, strike would justify a contingency whereby “Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic.” (Indeed, equivalence might be a weak word here, since he maintains that, “uncontroversially, [Bush’s] crimes vastly exceed bin Laden’s.”) So the main new element is the one of intriguing mystery. The Twin Towers came down, but it’s still anyone’s guess who did it. Since “April 2002, [when] the head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, informed the press that after the most intensive investigation in history, the FBI could say no more than that it ‘believed’ that the plot was hatched in Afghanistan,” no evidence has been adduced. “Nothing serious,” as Chomsky puts it, “has been provided since.”

Chomsky still enjoys some reputation both as a scholar and a public intellectual. And in the face of bombardments of official propaganda, he prides himself in a signature phrase on his stern insistence on “turning to the facts.” So is one to assume that he has pored through the completed findings of the 9/11 Commission? Viewed any of the videos in which the 9/11 hijackers are seen in the company of Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri? Read the transcripts of the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called “20th hijacker”? Followed the journalistic investigations of Lawrence Wright, Peter Bergen, or John Burns, to name only some of the more salient? Acquainted himself with the proceedings of associated and ancillary investigations into the bombing of the USS Cole or indeed the first attempt to bring down the Twin Towers in the 1990s?

With the paranoid anti-war “left,” you never quite know where the emphasis is going to fall next. At the Telluride Film Festival in 2002, I found myself debating Michael Moore, who, a whole year after the attacks, maintained that Bin Laden was “innocent until proved guilty” (and hadn’t been proven guilty). Except that he had, at least according to Moore one day after the attacks, when he wrote that: “WE created the monster known as Osama bin Laden! Where did he go to terrorist school? At the CIA!” So, innocent unless tainted by association with Langley, Va., which did seem to have some heartland flying schools under surveillance before 2001 but which seemed sluggish on the uptake regarding them. For quite some time, in fact, the whole anti-Bush “narrative” involved something rather like collusion with the evil Bin Laden crime family, possibly based on mutual interests in the oil industry. So guilty was Bin Laden, in fact, that he was allowed to prepare for a new Pearl Harbor on American soil by a spineless Republican administration that had ignored daily briefings on the mounting threat. Gore Vidal was able to utter many croaking and suggestive lines to this effect, hinting at a high-level betrayal of the republic.

And then came those who, impatient with mere innuendo, directly accused the administration of rocketing its own Pentagon and bringing about a “controlled demolition” of the World Trade Center. This grand scenario seemed to have a few loose planes left over, since the ones that hit the towers were only a grace note to the more ruthless pre-existing sabotage and the ones in Virginia and Pennsylvania, complete with passengers and crews and hijackers, somehow just went missing.

It’s no criticism of Chomsky to say that his analysis is inconsistent with that of other individuals and factions who essentially think that 9/11 was a hoax. However, it is remarkable that he should write as if the mass of evidence against Bin Laden has never been presented or could not have been brought before a court. This form of 9/11 denial doesn’t trouble to conceal an unstated but self-evident premise, which is that the United States richly deserved the assault on its citizens and its civil society. After all, as Chomsky phrases it so tellingly, our habit of “naming our murder weapons after victims of our crimes: Apache, Tomahawk … [is] as if the Luftwaffe were to call its fighter planes ‘Jew’ and ‘Gypsy.’ ” Perhaps this is not so true in the case of Tomahawk, which actually is the name of a weapon, but the point is at least as good as any other he makes.

In short, we do not know who organized the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, or any other related assaults, though it would be a credulous fool who swallowed the (unsupported) word of Osama Bin Laden that his group was the one responsible. An attempt to kidnap or murder an ex-president of the United States (and presumably, by extension, the sitting one) would be as legally justified as the hit on Abbottabad. And America is an incarnation of the Third Reich that doesn’t even conceal its genocidal methods and aspirations. This is the sum total of what has been learned, by the guru of the left, in the last decade.

And then British historian Andrew Roberts on the British versions of Chomsky and company:

…[My] countrymen’s reactions to the death of Osama bin Laden have made me doubt my pride in being British.

The foul outpouring of sneering anti-Americanism, legalistic quibbling, and concern for the supposed human rights of our modern Hitler have left me squirming in embarrassment and apology before my American friends. Yet what I most despise my fellow Britons for is their absolute refusal, publicly or even privately, to celebrate the most longed-for news in a decade…

Douglas Murray, the associate director of the Henry Jackson Society, told the BBC’s flagship program “Question Time” last Thursday that he felt “elated” at the news, he was booed, heckled and almost shouted down.

Another panelist, the writer Yasmin Alibhai Brown, was applauded when she said she was “depressed” by the killing, as it “demeans a democracy and a president who has shown himself to be the Ugly American. He’s degraded American democracy, which had already degraded itself through torture and rendition.” The former Liberal Party leader Paddy Ashdown was then cheered when he said: “I cannot rejoice on the killing of any man. I belong to a country that is founded on the principle of exercise of due process of law,” as though the United States was founded on some other idea.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, told reporters: “I think the killing of an unarmed man is always going to leave a very uncomfortable feeling because it doesn’t look as if justice is seen to be done.” Writer Henry Porter whined about “vital moral issues” in the Guardian. Add to that lawyers Geoffrey Robertson in the Daily Beast and Michael Mansfield in the Guardian defending bin Laden’s human rights, and a commentator on the radio station LBC saying that no one should celebrate the death because “we live in a multicultural society,” and you can see how utterly degenerate modern Britain has become when it comes to prosecuting the war against terror.

Of course, all the people so far quoted (except Mr. Murray) come from the salaried commentariat, who might be expected to parrot liberal and establishment pieties. The reason I am so worried is that ordinary people I met in London last week shared their pusillanimity.

There was the lady at a cocktail party who told me “It’s those gun-toting Yanks at it again.” There was my son’s classics teacher informing his young charges that he thought bin Laden deserved the “dignity” of a fair trial. And there was the letter about the U.S. celebrations to the conservative-leaning Daily Telegraph stating that terrorist cells “will be further fuelled by those inappropriate reactions by people who should have known better.” How? How, Ms. Tess Hyland of Bathurst, could al Qaeda possibly hate us more than they do already?

To the man who told me he didn’t believe bin Laden was buried at sea “according to Muslim rites,” I repeat that Mussolini was hung upside down on a meathook and then urinated upon. And as for those people who genuinely thought that the United Nations and Pakistan should have been informed of the raid beforehand, Lord, give me strength!

For the past five years, I’ve been writing a history of the Second World War, and if there is one central lesson I have taken from this study, it is that the intestinal fortitude of a people matters much more than weaponry, economics or even grand strategy. British fortitude was tested almost to breaking point in 1940 and 1941, and Russian fortitude in 1941-43, but they held, whereas Germany’s and Japan’s collapsed in 1945. Morale is almost impossible to quantify, whereas demoralization is all too evident.

From Britain’s pathetic and ignoble reaction to the death of our greatest ally’s No.1 foe, I fear for our fortitude in the continuing war against terror. The British government in London and the British Army in Afghanistan are magnificent, but if the people themselves are shot through with what Winston Churchill called “the long, drawling, dismal tides of drift and surrender,” I wonder whether we can be counted upon for much longer…

Today all I feel is shame at my country’s pathetic reaction to your own great day of joy

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Reflections On Legal, Historical and Moral Illiteracy

David Petraeus


British Foreign Minister William Hague


Here are a few good and true quotes in today’s media.

First the Wall Street Journal’s terrific columnist Dorothy Rabinowitz on General David Petraeus’s fatuous remarks on the recent Quran burning:

…In an interview Sunday in this newspaper, Gen. Petraeus reflected further on the problems caused by burning the Quran and how mobs could be influenced by those who might have an interest in hijacking passions—”in this case, perhaps, understandable passions.”

To this the only sane response is no. They are not understandable, these passions that so invariably find voice in mass murder, the butchery of imagined enemies like the people hunted down in the U.N. office Friday, and of everyone else the mobs encountered who might fit the bill. We will not prevail over terrorism and the related bloodlust of this fundamentalist fanaticism as long as our leading representatives, the military included, are inclined to pronounce its motivations as “understandable.”

And Roger Pilon, also in the Wall Street Journal:

…America, especially, is not one big family.

“We the People” constituted ourselves for the several reasons set forth in our Constitution’s Preamble, but chief among those—the reason we fought for our independence—was to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” Yet nowhere today is that liberty more in jeopardy than in a federal budget that reduces us all, in so many ways, to government dependents.

Our tax system sucks the substance and spirit of entrepreneurs and workers alike, filters that substance through Washington, then sends it back through countless federal programs that instruct us in minute detail about how to use the government’s beneficence. Manufacturing, housing, education, health care, transportation, energy, recreation—is there anything today over which the federal government does not have control? A federal judge held recently that Congress can regulate the “mental act” of deciding not to buy health insurance.

The budget battle is thus replete with moral implications far more basic than Sojourners and Catholics for Choice seem to imagine. They ask, implicitly, how “we” should spend “our” money, as though we were one big family quarreling over our collective assets. We’re not. We’re a constitutional republic, populated by discrete individuals, each with our own interests. Their question socializes us and our wherewithal. The Framers’ Constitution freed us to make our own individual choices…

And Melanie Phillips on the “Occupied Palestinian Territory” canard:

…[British] Foreign Secretary William Hague was at it again yesterday, when he condemned Israel’s decision to approve more than 900 housing units for Israelis in the East Jerusalem suburb of Gilo and the retrospective approval given for further such construction in five other disputed terrritory areas. Said Hague:

“This is not disputed territory. It is occupied Palestinian territory and ongoing settlement expansion is illegal under international law, an obstacle to peace and a threat to a two state solution.”

‘Occupied Palestinian territory’? But there is no Palestinian territory, because there is not, and never has been, a sovereign state of Palestine to own anything at all. It is in effect ‘no-man’s land’ – which is why the only neutral and accurate way to describe it is indeed ‘disputed territories’. Who can be surprised that the British Foreign Office still supports the falsehoods in the Goldstone report – even after its author has himself repudiated them — when it is guilty of such legal, historical and moral illiteracy?

It Happens In Every Generation


Commentary’s website Contentions reveals a British National Archives’ cable describing a 1979 meeting between Margaret Thatcher and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin:

Under its “30-year rule,” the British National Archives has released a November 1979 cable quoting Margaret Thatcher telling French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing that she “never had a more difficult man to deal with” than Menachem Begin, whose West Bank policy was “absurd.”

But there was more to the 1979 meeting between Thatcher and Begin than is reflected in the cable, evidenced by Yehuda Avner’s account of the meeting in his extraordinary new book, The Prime Ministers.

Thatcher, with British Foreign Secretary Lord Peter Carrington, hosted Begin for a lunch in May 1979 that Avner attended as Begin’s note taker. The book is based on shorthand notes he transcribed at the time: “anything [in my book] in inverted commas are the words actually spoken.”

The lunch went well until Carrington suddenly confronted Begin about settlements:

“Your settlement policy is expansionist. It is intemperate. It is a barrier to peace. The settlements are built on occupied Arab soil. They rob Palestinians of their land. They unnecessarily arouse the animosity of the moderate Arabs. They are contrary to international law — the Geneva Convention. They are inconsistent with British interests.”

Begin responded that:

“The settlements, sir, are not an obstacle to peace. The Arabs refused to make peace before there was a single settlement anywhere. No Palestinian Arab sovereignty has ever existed in the biblical provinces of Judea and Samaria, where most of the new settlements are located, hence the Geneva Convention does not apply. Besides, we are building the settlements on state-owned, not Arab-owned land. Their construction is an assertion of our basic historic rights, not to speak of their critical importance to our national security.”

Then Begin turned to Thatcher:

“Madame Prime Minister, your foreign secretary dismisses my country’s historic rights and pooh-poohs our vital security needs. So I shall tell you why the settlements are vital: because I speak of the Land of Israel, a land redeemed, not occupied; because without those settlements Israel could be at the mercy of a Palestinian state astride the commanding heights of Judea and Samaria. We would be living on borrowed time. And whenever we Jews are threatened or attacked we are always alone. Remember in 1944, how we came begging for our lives — begging at this very door?”

“Is that when you wanted us to bomb Auschwitz?”

“No, Madame, not Auschwitz. We asked you to bomb the railway lines leading to Auschwitz. In the summer of 1944, Eichmann was transporting to their deaths a hundred thousand Hungarian Jews a week along those lines to Auschwitz.”

Carrington abruptly challenged Begin again: “And what does this have to do with the settlements?”

“Lord Carrington, please have the goodness not to interrupt me when I am in the middle of a conversation with your prime minister. … As I said, whenever we are threatened or attacked, we have only our own fellow Jews to rely on.”

“Peter,” said Mrs. Thatcher softly, “I think an admission of regret is called for.” …

“Quite right, Prime Minister. … Somehow, your little country, Mr. Begin, evokes all sorts of high emotional fevers. Stirs up the blood, so to speak.”

Begin, his composure regained, smiled at him, the smile not reaching his eyes. “The story of our people is very much a tale of having to defend ourselves against bouts of irrationality and hysteria. It happens in every generation.”…