As if we could even think of taking Netanyahu at his word

[Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu said that he still wanted “a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that he had not intended to reverse the position he took endorsing that in a 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University. “I haven’t changed my policy,” he said in the interview, his first since his resounding victory on Tuesday, which handed him a fourth term. “What has changed is the reality.”

“I don’t want a one-state solution; I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution, but for that, circumstances have to change,” he said. “I was talking about what is achievable and what is not achievable. To make it achievable, then you have to have real negotiations with people who are committed to peace.” . . .

“I wasn’t trying to suppress a vote,” he said [of his dire warnings that Arabs were voting in large numbers]. “I was trying to get something to counter a foreign-funded effort to get votes that are intended to topple my party, and I was calling on our voters to come out.”[1]

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  1. [1]Jodi Rudoren and Michael D. Shear, “Israel’s Netanyahu Reopens Door to Palestinian State, but White House Is Unimpressed,” New York Times, March 19, 2015,

An intractable hatred

No, in case you were wondering, I do not have any special insight into Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as a consequence of my studies of conservatism. I’ve been focusing on U.S. conservatism, which shouldn’t be generalized to Israel without further study, but I suppose that if I were to classify him according to my schema, he might be neoconservative.

Certainly, from what I’ve seen, most neoconservatives in the U.S., with the exception of Barack Obama,[1] adore him. But then so, it would seem, do authoritarian populists, whom House Speaker John Boehner was seeking to appease when he invited Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress.[2] Read more

  1. [1]I concluded that Obama was a neoconservative in David Benfell, “Oy Vey: Paleoconservatives, Neoconservatives, and Alleged Anti-Semitism,” April 1, 2014,
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Bibi’s train wreck,” February 8, 2015,

Gratitude for Daylight Savings Time: An Insight into Wealthy Male Authority

I have always hated daylight savings time. When I was a kid, the change to daylight savings time occurred on the last Sunday in April, right around the time of my birthday (on the 29th) and I thought it was a lousy present from the world that I would have to get up an hour early.

But of course, politicians love to mess with time. Hence, for example, the months of July and August, reputedly added by Roman emperors. There is, it seems, and I want to emphasize the ‘seeming’ rather than the ‘real’ here, a certain godly quality to altering time—or, more precisely, but less apparently, altering the measure of time. Read more

Magical Thinking and Paying the Bills

In Sebastopol, California, there is a coffee house called Coffee Catz. Outside the shop is a gratitude tree that looks like a small tree, but it is bare of leaves. People are supposed to attach little notes indicating what they’re grateful for.

If the people in Sebastopol were being honest about their lot in life, that tree would be buried under an avalanche of these notes. By and large, they’re quite well off. They’re quite close to some of the most scenic coastline in the world with what is, for most people, a very agreeable climate. Even the years-long California drought hasn’t seriously impacted this part of the world yet and the surrounding countryside is increasingly covered with vineyards. Read more

Looking for a “vision of a future not built on a transporting to the past”

Charles Blow asks about the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), “Where were the grand conservative thinkers? Where was the philosophical heft?” He’s right to ask about that, and wrong to ask, “Where was the vision of a future not built on a transporting to the past?”[1] Read more

  1. [1]Charles M. Blow, “CPAC: Hackneyed and Hollow,” New York Times, March 2, 2015,