Tag Archives: news

Items Left by the Wayside: New Year’s Eve Edition

A handful of links I put aside this year – none related to New Year’s Eve, though…

That NYTimes article – two months late and yet, hats off to them for this thorough and depressing investigative report on Hamas’ use of sexual assault (or rather, depravity). A difficult read, but read it one must.

Matti Friedman on Hamas’ insight and understanding of how effed up the West is. He puts it more diplomatically than that, but I have to say, as early as October 8th, I found myself wondering if the terrorists indeed knew just how many useful idiots there were out there.

A couple of pieces from BHL – thank goodness for the old liberal lion – about Ukraine, including this, about how Ukraine and Israel are part of the same fight and about what Ukrainians need in order to win.

David Mamet on how the Democrats betrayed the Jews. Same could be said in Canada about parties that traditionally supported the Jewish community and Israel, but that now seem to be willing to seek excuses for the slaughter of Jews, and also to be hyper-critical of the justifiable Israeli response to that slaughter.

One of my favourite historians writes about a false narrative relating to Israel (one among oh so many).

Brendan O’Neill on the unholy alliance between woke-ism and barbarism.

And no list of mine can ever be complete without an animal story – a California otter was seen stealing surfboards! As I’ve said before, the animals are done with us, and understandably so.

Happy New Year, all.


Douglas Murray on Kissinger – much fairer than some of the insane ramblings from old hippies I know. A couple of years ago, I read the Isaacson book about him and got a fuller picture – I was inspired to do so when I attended a Munk Debate (over a decade ago now!) where Kissinger was one of the speakers. What struck me was that, even though he was about 90 at the time, he was able to sum up important points quickly, suss out the weakness/nonsense in his opponents’ arguments and express himself with great economy. I was reminded of that debate when I heard Elon Musk speaking with Isaac Herzog in Israel this week. Spot on analysis of what needs to be done. No nonsense. Brevity.

Anniversary of 7/7

Last week saw the 18th (!!!) anniversary of the London bombings. I remember that day well – I was about to leave for Israel for ten days and wondered if my trip would be affected (it wasn’t). I also remember having a long discussion with my oldest brother about Ken Livingstone’s speech that day. On the surface, it sounded appropriate, but there was one paragraph that we both found revealing:

I want to say one thing specifically to the world today. This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not aimed at Presidents or Prime Ministers. It was aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old. 

Given Livingstone’s ideology, one couldn’t help but feel that had the attack indeed been aimed at Presidents or Prime Ministers, at the rich and the powerful, he would not have minded as much. (There were reports that his staff celebrated 9/11.) It reminded me a bit of what I wrote here, about the envy that seems to consume so many of us, making us forget empathy and take delight in certain people’s suffering.

Uplift and its Opposite

Is the opposite of uplift “downlift”? Not sure, so I won’t use that word. Here is a touching story – a clip of a pup being rescued from the earthquake in Turkey. I love how gently and carefully they dig the little fella out, and his expression of trust. Utterly unfazed. (Could not embed, for some reason, so click on link above – it is really worth it.) And an extraordinary feature about migrant children in the United States and the work many of them are doing to survive. The reaction of the Biden administration is that they are going to “crack down” on this problem – good, because it is a situation created by said administration’s policies and all of the ginned up hysteria about immigration during Trump’s time in office. This is a fiendishly complicated, sad situation. I like what Abe Greenwald has written about it here. (Don’t let the headline put you off – that is not what Greenwald is saying.)

Earthquake in Turkey and Syria

Whatever your preferred organizations to help might be, please do give to them. There are horrors on this planet each day, of course, but the sheer numbers here and the painful images are quite something altogether. I do have a personal connection to Turkey, however small, and I will always feel a pang when things like this happen in a place I called home. A couple of my students from those days have been in touch with me – a reminder that when we teach kids, we make connections that last and (for better or for worse) we leave a bit of us with them. I am lucky, because my students seem to remember me fondly. (Not sure I deserve that!) It means so much to me, though.

Related: the Cat Man of Aleppo and, a piece I wrote about Turkey.

Tyler Adams

This young guy is quite impressive: watch as this reporter from Iranian state media tries to play “gotcha” with him. He responds beautifully – he has massive emotional intelligence. And just plain intelligence, from what I can see. The U.S. is out of the World Cup, as is Canada – so I am currently rooting for England – but so far, this is one of my favourite stories from the event.

Shinzo Abe

Shocking, shocking act of violence last Friday in Japan. As some of you know, I lived in Japan during the ’90s and always stay as on top as I can of politics there. So I was pretty disgusted Friday morning when I went online to read about the assassination and I found this AP article. Keep in mind that he was referred to as “divisive” and “arch-conservative” in the original lede (one cannot see that in the linked piece). I have no objection, in an obituary or news article, to referring to whatever controversies might have surrounded a politician. But the use of provocative, polarizing language to describe a man who had just been murdered was appalling. Abe was a cultured fellow and he was democratically elected – yet to many in media circles, anyone who is conservative must necessarily be a rube with dictatorial instincts. The choice of language also showed some ignorance of Japanese politics and culture – it felt like a projection of Anglo/Western politics and language onto a man who did not live or operate in an Anglo/Western environment. Yes, Japan is “Western” in many ways, but it also isn’t.

Not unrelated is what has happened in Sri Lanka. What I mean is that “green” policies that are popular and even desirable in countries like Canada and the United States, France or Germany, don’t necessarily belong in places like Sri Lanka. A nightmare has unfolded.