"Come on, Mr. Davis," he said with an edge now in his voice. "You should know better. You're a journalist. That neocon crap is just as easily disproved as Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. It's clear fabrication -- used by Bush and his cronies to justify an unjustifiable war. Better to check the terrorism coming out of Washington before looking elsewhere."
Those expecting democracy to spring to life in Iraq soon after an allied invasion might wish to recall the fate of another Arab strongman from 36 years ago.
In June, 1967, Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser was sitting in the darkened studios of Cairo Radio, with barely a candle to illuminate his script. His voice cracking, he delivered his political testament:
"We expected the enemy to come from the east and the north, but instead he came from the west. I must accept full responsibility for this disaster that has befallen us and must now resign as your president."
No sooner had he spoken than the hum of Israeli Mysteres could be heard in the skies above the city and the crack of anti-aircraft batteries filled the air.
Whatever our opinions about Israel's claim on the territories, its attitude to Palestinian nationalism or its rights to self-defense, no one was asking us to risk our lives for Israel's sake.
I had neither the right nor privilege to challenge the government of Israel's decisions on how to protect its citizens. If I did so, I was in some way undermining that government and endangering Israel's existence in a hostile world.
In a cynical age such as ours, this parochial attitude might seem charmingly out of date. And yet, this central tenet of a Zionist education remained embedded in my consciousness throughout high school, through my student leadership days and even into my 30s, when I had to make strenuous efforts to channel my bitter opposition to the Oslo process into nonpublic activism.
There are few locations in the Middle East that excite fiercer debate than the Jewish community of Hebron.
Burdened with the intrigues of this murderer and terrorist for 40 years, it must now make a crucial final accounting: Is Arafat worth more to them dead or alive?
Scottish philosopher David Hume hit the nail on the head when he observed that "the heart of man always attempts to reconcile the most glaring contradictions." Hume, of course, wasn't thinking of Palestinian apologists back in 1749. But he certainly wouldn't have been ashamed of applying his pithy aphorism to their persistent bouts of moral incoherence.
In the Arabic world, education systems are riven with notions antithetical to the values of tolerance and understanding that are so intently promoted in the West. In recent years, the signal failures of those systems to reverse years of misguided teachings appear to be dooming the region to years of further conflict.
While the words may not come naturally to his lips, the president of the United States is talking openly these days about the creation of a Palestinian state.
Watching the second tower of the World Trade Center crumble into dust on Tuesday, I was able to imagine the horror of the survivors of the Titanic as they witnessed their vessel sink into the Atlantic Ocean. A symbol of human progress and ingenuity, a monument to economic strength and power, the Titanic was regarded as indestructible. So too the World Trade Center represented, more than any other edifice in the United States, America's sense of its own power and invulnerability. Rising more than 100 stories high, these towers once so effectively dominated the New York skyline that in the air they could be seen from 150 miles away. When a 1993 car bomb failed to destroy them, the sense of invulnerability may have also given way to a sense of complacency.
The anguish of having a child reject the teachings and practices with which they are raised, troubles hundreds of thousands of parents from all cultures and backgrounds every day.
The sight of Israeli Minister of Tourism Moshe Katzav being kissed by Israeli singer and Eurovision song contest winner Dana International must have made someone, somewhere blush. But you wouldn't have known it by reading any of the Israeli papers last week. With the kind of glee that is only reserved in the Holy Land for the smashing of idols, Israeli editorialists pounced on Dana's victory as further proof that Israel, having produced not just a Eurovision contest winner, but a transsexual one, has finally arrived as a nation among nations. So finally, we have the good word from Israel: Androgyny is in. Ethnocentricism (read Judaism with its intolerance for diversity and priggish emphasis on sexual purity), is most definitely out.