Three disturbing news reports crossed my desk recently, which, taken together, reveal anew the hostility of radical Islam toward the rights of women and children. The first was the widely reported story of two adult, male terrorists in Baghdad who drove through a checkpoint in a car with two young children in the back seat. Because of the children, they were waved through. Once on the other side, the two men got out of the car—leaving the boys inside—ran some distance away, and hit the detonator. They children were killed, along with one bystander.
According to the Washington Times, this use of children as camouflage or cat’s-paws has become routine. Al Qaeda in Iraq uses kidnapped children to pick up dropped weapons from battlefields because they know that U.S. soldiers won’t shoot at them. (Last year there was a period when using children with Down syndrome was the fashion.) I suppose we are not surprised by this sort of barbarity anymore. But we should be: Islam is not, by history or nature, a suicide cult. It is important to consider that people willing to do this to their own flesh and blood—for pretty meager tactical payoffs in terms of enemy dead—are not people who can co-exist with civilized society.
Back in January, in Jews, Muslims, and the Democrats, I pointed to the emergence of a Muslim-Left caucus composed of about 40 to 50 congressmen within the Democratic party who, “in varying degrees of intensity, have felt free to express an uninhibited hostility toward the Jewish state.”
My analysis provoked a sharp rebuke from Ira N. Forman, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, who accused me of “cherry-picking facts, inflating their importance, adding half-truths, and scrupulously avoiding evidence that contradicts [my] thesis.” I answered Forman here (scroll down past the other letters to find my reply).
But now, as if on cue, comes Nancy Pelosi’s pilgrimage to Damascus, demonstrating another way in which some ranking Democrats are being cavalier about Israel’s–and America’s–security. Against the wishes of the Bush administration, in a visit filled with photo-ops, the Speaker has journeyed to the Middle East to jump-start “peace talks” between Israel and Syria.
Ron Rosenbaum has a fascinating essay up at Slate on Saul Bellow’s Ravelstein—his last novel, a roman à clef centering on Bellow’s friendship with Allan Bloom at the University of Chicago, where they taught together. Rosenbaum admits to being a Bellow skeptic (something Sam Tanenhaus decidedly is not) but a lover of this particular novel, and speculates about the source of Ravelstein‘s great power. He suggests that it resides in an episode of food poisoning that nearly took Bellow’s life (and which appears in the novel). “The cigua toxin didn’t kill [Bellow],” Rosenbaum writes, “it made him, or made his work stronger, more vibrant and luminous, shimmering like Ravelstein’s golden sport coat or like the Caribbean waters that harbored the toxic seafood.”