RE: Other Than That, Mr. Biden

Joe Biden’s trip to Israel isn’t getting any better. The New York Times cites an unknown “Western diplomat” — it seems George Mitchell or whoever is churning out the Israel-bashing today wouldn’t even permit “American” to be affixed to the blind quote — as saying that the Israelis’ housing announcement put a “damper” on the visit. Yes, when things were going so swimmingly! The Israelis have no problem with on-the-record statements:

Yuli Edelstein, minister of public affairs for Israel, said in an interview that the timing of the housing announcement was not aimed at harming the visit by Mr. Biden. “But it is also very important to make things clear and not to play make-believe,” he said. “Prime Minister Netanyahu and others have been saying loud and clear that according to Israeli law Jerusalem is sovereign Israeli territory, so no special commissions are needed to build within the municipal borders of Jerusalem. There will not be in the foreseeable future an Israeli government willing to divide Jerusalem. Normally our friends in Washington understand that.”

Meanwhile, the predictable J Street and Peace Now crowd is piling on the Obami’s undiplomatic diplomacy, nervous that the spat might interfere with the proximity talks. (At this rate, we might need another party to go back and forth between the U.S. and Israel.) Meanwhile, JTA points out:

On Thursday, according to Palestinian Media Watch, the Palestinian Authority is planning to go through with plans to name a public square after Dalal Mughrabi, who led a 1978 bus hijacking in which 37 Israelis, including 12 children, were killed. Thursday is the 32nd anniversary of the attack. Biden will still be in town. So it’ll be interesting to see if he wieghs in, as he did on the Israeli housing starts.

Any word from J Street on that one? From Foggy Bottom? Morton Klein from the Zionist Organization of America doesn’t mince words: “The record shows that within the PA, few opportunities are missed to glorify a terrorist, celebrate a suicide bomber, or inculcate Palestinian youth into worshipping cold-blooded murderers. The record also shows that all aspects of PA life — the schools, youth movements, sports teams, newspapers, TV, even the names of streets — are made vehicles for honoring and praising terrorism. This in turn breeds more terrorists and bloodshed.” But the Obami think the problem is apartment buildings.

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RE: Other Than That, Mr. Biden

Must-Reads from Magazine

Defending Trump’s Tweets Backfires

Is it really worth it?

When it comes to foreign affairs, Donald Trump has not governed as he campaigned. So far, he has largely abandoned radical populist isolationism and protectionism in favor of conventionally hawkish tweaks on the status quo, abandoning ideology in favor of consistency. Doing so, he’s had a relatively successful run. For this White House, cautious but positive verdicts on the Trump administration’s conduct just don’t cut it. Trump must be a transformative figure, incapable of miscalculation or imprudence; he says so himself, after all. Trump cannot have mere successes, and they most certainly cannot be unexpected or the result of a concession to critics. This president’s image must be burnished at every turn, even if that means besmirching the legacies of Trump’s Republican predecessors.

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The U.S. Must Show Iranians That They Can’t Have It All

Not a hard choice.

The fact that Iran’s anti-regime protests appear to have died down is not a reason to relax the pressure on Tehran. On the contrary, it’s a reason to increase it through serious sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program as well as its support for terror and regional aggression. The protests will only become a truly mass movement if enough Iranians come to realize what the protesters already have: Contrary to the promise held out by the nuclear deal, Iran can’t have it all. Terror and military aggression are incompatible with a thriving economy.

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Should Professors Go Public?

Reality and self-delusion.

Over at the Chronicle of Higher Education, Leonard Cassuto argues  that academics “need to go public.” That’s an extension of the reasoning behind his 2015 book, The Graduate School Mess, in which he questions the strange notion that advanced education in the humanities exists to produce unread journal articles.

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The DACA Compromise May Be Dead on Arrival

Bipartisanship really isn't popular.

Americans love it when politicians in Washington strike bipartisan deals that make everyone happy. At least, in theory. If that were true in practice, there would be many more bipartisan deals. Political realities ensure that compromise is almost always a fraught prospect. The temptation to eschew concession and consolation in order to court the uncompromising maximalists who hold sway over both party’s base voters is often too great to resist. The illusory consensus around a White House-backed proposal to pursue modest immigration reform is illustrative of this sorry state of affairs. The plan proposed by the Trump White House last week would make everyone happy. It’s a perfect middle ground. That’s precisely why it’s doomed.

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Confusing the Profane for Sacred

Contempt, not compassion.

Befitting our post-literate political age, in which the American president and his courtiers actively deride expertise and activists across the political spectrum reject thoughtfulness in favor of ornery truculence, Donald Trump’s style of reasonably communicative grumbles seems to be supplanting more formal forms of language. The all-consuming presidential cult has now sunk its hooks into the American Dialect Society. The nearly 130-year-old organization of linguists, lexicographers,  and grammarians revealed that 2017’s “word of the year” was “fake news,” a label the president applies to anything of which he disapproves—demonstrable or dubious—that finds its way into a journalist’s copy. But ADS saved a saucier “word of the year” for the internet crowd, and it far better exemplifies the rapid deterioration of the national discourse.

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