Antipundit Rides Forth
Saturday, June 08, 2002:
Heart Of Oak
Come cheer up, my lads! 'tis to glory we steer,
To add something more to this wonderful year;
To honour we call you, not press you like slaves,
For who are so free as the sons of the waves?
Heart of oak are our ships, heart of oak are our men;
We always are ready, steady, boys, steady!
We'll fight and we'll conquer again and again.
We ne'er see our foes but we wish them to stay,
They never see us but they wish us away;
If they run, why we follow, and run them ashore,
For if they won't fight us, we cannot do more.
They swear they'll invade us, these terrible foes,
They frighten our women, our children, and beaus;
But should their flat bottoms in darkness get o'er,
Still Britons they'll find to receive them on shore.
We'll still make them fear, and we'll still make them flee,
And drub 'em on shore, as we've drubb'd 'em at sea;
Then cheer up, my lads! with one heart let us sing:
Our soldiers, our sailors, our statesmen and Queen.
Ali Choudhury // 5:53 PM
Saw Brazil vs China this morning. Absolute display of dominance.
Things are pretty messed-up in this World Cup since all the favourites
seem to be losing and England actually looks to be one of the best
sides, although IMHO Italy were robbed by a couple of daft decisions.
But then again, I can't recall any side which has lost in the World Cup
going on to triumph in the Final. So that would leave England, Germany
and Brazil. Germany still look like Bayern Munich without the class players,
Miroslav Klose notwithstanding, and Brazil really haven't been tested
defensively so far.
Ali Choudhury // 3:52 PM
Friday, June 07, 2002:
Oh yes and we won. At last. Argentina finally gets a right seeing-to. BTW that 17-man pass was the best footballing move I've seen at international level for a very long time. Well done England. Now the last demon to exorcise is getting our hands on the World Cup again. And that's actually not an impossibility now.
Ali Choudhury // 8:32 PM
How does a Wall Street lawyer defend suicide bombings in Israel? Gingerly.
"We've got to ask why they are happening," says Michael Tarazi, who abandoned a corporate-law career two years ago
to become a legal adviser to the Palestinian Liberation Organization in the West Bank. "Some Palestinians say we
have no choice, that [terrorism] is the only thing that works. We have to give these people an alternative."
That alternative, Mr. Tarazi insists, is full Israeli withdrawal from Arab territory occupied since the 1967 war and
the birth of a Palestinian state. It's a tough case to argue right now, with Israelis under unrelenting attack by
Palestinian suicide bombers, the latest, Tuesday, killing 17 people. But Mr. Tarazi prides himself on tough
Born in Kuwait, raised in America and educated at Andover and Harvard, the 34-year-old U.S. citizen is emerging as
the most articulate and sophisticated Palestinian advocate to come along in years. A rising star on the cable-news
channels, Mr. Tarazi is everything most Palestinian spokespeople are not: young, witty, fluent in American English,
knowledgeable about international law and steeped in Western liberal ideals.
His graceful speeches and sound bites, and sharp, well-researched legal papers, borrow a page from Israel's
playbook: statesmanlike spin, in perfect English.
"Abba Eban comes to mind," says Rabbi Joshua Stampfer of Portland, Ore., after having lunch with Mr. Tarazi last
month. Mr. Eban, South African-born and silver-tongued, helped win international support for the founding of Israel
in 1948. "Tarazi is closer than anything the Palestinians have had before," Rabbi Stampfer says.
But he isn't there yet. On a recent speaking tour of several U.S. cities, Mr. Tarazi told civic groups and private
gatherings that Palestinians are misunderstood. He called suicide attacks on Israelis desperate acts by desperate
people -- acts he personally opposes "point blank," he said. Yet many listeners, after hearing him, said he comes
across as almost too forceful, sometimes flippant and condescending.
Speaking at the World Affairs Council chapter in San Francisco, for example, Mr. Tarazi outlined a range of options
that Palestinians are willing to explore for compensating or resettling their refugees. He was a study in
open-mindedness, until this: "We'll ask Israel how many non-Jews can you take in your ethnically pure state, as
racist as that is," he said.
After the talk, some peopled grumbled on the way out about that gratuitous slap at Zionism. Asked about some of his
contentious statements, Mr. Tarazi says he doesn't play the "media game" and insists on speaking his mind. "The
minute I try to become a polished machine then I start betraying myself and I won't be effective," he says.
As a child growing up in Pennsylvania and Colorado, Mr. Tarazi had no idea he was Palestinian. Then, one day when he
was a 15-year-old sophomore at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., he called home to find his mother in tears over
the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in Lebanon. "That's when she told
me, `We are Palestinian; those are our people,'" Mr. Tarazi recalls.
He went on to college and law school at Harvard, then worked in corporate law for seven years in New York and
Europe, starting with the law firm White & Case and then becoming European general counsel for software-maker
Euronet Services Inc. of Leawood, Kan. "I knew more Jews connected to Israel than Arabs," he says. "That gives me a
unique place in this conflict."
Weary of corporate law, he resigned from Euronet two years ago and moved to the West Bank government seat of
Ramallah. It was Mr. Tarazi's first direct contact with Palestinian politics. He eventually landed a job with the
Palestinian Authority and was put to work on a new team of lawyers assembled to advise the PLO's peace-talks unit.
But, increasingly since the deepening of Israeli-Palestinian hostilities this spring, his main task has been
"Michael is deeper than securities law; he needed something more satisfying," says Sarinah Kalb, a Jewish friend
from Andover and Harvard who has been hotly debating Mideast politics with Mr. Tarazi for 20 years.
In his standard stump speech -- "What Happened on the Road to Peace" -- Mr. Tarazi tries to dispel two "big myths"
for his audiences. One is that life for Palestinians improved under the Oslo peace accords with Israel in the 1990s.
It didn't, he claims, in part because Israeli settlements got much bigger. "How do you divide a pizza with someone
who won't stop eating it?" he says.
The other is that PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat spurned a historic chance for peace at the Camp David talks with
President Clinton two years ago.
The concessions offered there by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak were "huge," Mr. Tarazi acknowledges, yet
not enough to ensure a "viable, independent" Palestinian state. He shows audiences, on color-coded maps, where
Israel wanted to keep territory for settlements, roads and security perimeters, relegating Palestinian statehood to
a jumble of disjointed "cantonments," he says. "Camp David gave us larger prison cells without letting us out of
prison," he says.
Palestinian violence over the past 20 months -- including all the suicide bombings -- stems not from irreconcilable
hatred of Israel but from exploding political frustrations on the ground, Mr. Tarazi says. "If you believe we were
offered everything, then it's easy to believe we don't want peace, only violence," he says. "But neither belief is
That is the essential message he brought to lunch with three rabbis in Portland, Ore., last month, part of his
national speaking tour. The encounter, organized by the World Affairs Council of Oregon, Mr. Tarazi's host for an
evening speech, began with Rabbi Stampfer introducing himself as a "native Palestinian" -- born in Jerusalem in
1921. Mr. Tarazi swapped stories with him about birth certificates -- he was born in Kuwait in 1967 -- and talked
about kosher food laws with another rabbi who scanned the menu for a vegetarian meal.
"How do we stop the suicide bombings?" asked Rabbi Joseph Wolf of Portland's Havurah Shalom congregation.
Make peace, Mr. Tarazi said. The Palestinian authority successfully cracked down on terrorism in 1995, he said,
because enough Palestinians believed suicide bombings threatened their drive toward shatehood. But then the peace
process crumbled, he said, and people concluded diplomacy doesn't work.
"Israel is saying, `You give us security before we'll give you freedom,'" Mr. Tarazi said. "We're saying, `We need
freedom before we can give you security.'"
Said Rabbi Wolf: "We're back to the chicken and the egg."
Mr. Tarazi clearly delights in dissecting Mideast claims with American Jews. The son of a bookkeeper from Gaza and a
West Bank-born homemaker, he went to Andover on financial aid after discovering the boarding school in the "Preppie
Handbook." One of his mentors there was the Jewish chaplain, Rabbi Everett Gendler, who helped subsidize Mr.
Tarazi's first trip to Israel and the occupied territories in the summer of 1983.
Mr. Tarazi's parents didn't want him to go. But Rabbi Gendler encouraged him. Thereafter, Mr. Tarazi became part of
the Gendler family, attending birthdays and holidays at their Massachusetts home. Passover Seders were particularly
poignant, with Mr. Tarazi using the story of the Jews' exodus from Egypt to argue for Palestinians' own
"liberation," Rabbi Gendler says.
"Michael is able to affirm the needs of Palestinians without negating the comparable human and political needs of
Jews," the rabbi says. "If only we had 100 Michael Tarazis!"
After lunch with the rabbis, Mr. Tarazi was grilled by the editorial board of the Portland Oregonian -- "the most
hostile reception I've ever had," he said afterward. Oddly, he says, Israeli audiences tend to be much more
receptive to his maps and "myths" than do Americans, who give him a harder time.
Bob Caldwell, editor of the Oregonian's editorial page, complains that Mr. Tarazi "parses history" to fit
Palestinian claims. For example, when asked about Israel's claims that Mr. Arafat financed terrorism, Mr. Tarazi
dismissed the evidence in a technical "lawyerly" way more suited to a criminal trial than a search for truth, Mr.
"I came out of there thinking I'm not changing my opinion," the editor says, "but I'll think about what he said."
I like this article, from the Wall Street Journal. Maybe some of the bloggers will read this and perhaps apply a little perspective instead of screaming about how evil those vicious, barbaric Palestinians are.
Frankly if Israel seriously wanted peace, it could have it. But they just seem to want the Palestinians to stay mum while they continue to expropriate land and supply first-class living facilities to Jewish settlers.
Few bloggers ever comment that those settlers shouldn't even be there in the first case. And finally you're a lot more likely to hear about some poor Israeli teenager being blown to bits than about the numerous injustices and humiliations which take place in the West Bank due to Israeli control.
Ali Choudhury // 8:30 PM
Thursday, June 06, 2002:
Heard some Vex Red on ITV as they were replaying footage of Senegal vs France. Need to see a concert before I leave London.
Ali Choudhury // 9:25 PM
I read some more George Orwell stuff today. Great writer whose style (along with Abe Lincoln’s) I try to copy when it comes to my own scribblings. He was terribly wrong about socialism vs capitalism, but I figure if Orwell had been around a couple of decades more, he would have changed his mind. Like Keynes, he was quite free from dogma. Probably the best writer about the dangers of totalitarianism that I know of. He would have probably appreciated Star Wars too.
Ali Choudhury // 9:25 PM
Anticipating the England vs Argentina match. To be honest even if they d beat us, fate has already given them a real butt-fucking for the Hand of God. Here the UK is still kind of chugging along, New Labour’s idiocy as regards transport, education, health, industry, spending etc. notwithstanding and the Queen has just celebrated 50 years of her reign while England’s economy has grown bigger than France’s and we’re the fourth-biggest economy in the World. Meanwhile, Argentina is about as screwed as Zimbabwe and making a rapid descent to the Fourth World with a president who doesn’t know shit and a populace who are bawling their eyes out notwithstanding their own guilt in letting themselves be bribed by vast deficits. Hopefully Bolivia will not go down the same route.
Ali Choudhury // 9:25 PM
Just saw Stephen Carter on Hardtalk just now. Impressed me, he is very intelligent. A pity that jabronis like Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan and Al Sharpton cast themselves as representatives of black America, when there are people of Carter’s calibre about. I’d disagree with him about expanding affirmative action but his notion of how love and charity could be treated more as obligations rather than passions was interesting and thought-provoking. Came up with a good riposte to the presenter (seemed a left-wing secularist) on the participation of religious leaders in political discourse. Got to try to root out some of his writings.
Ali Choudhury // 9:24 PM
Woke up yesterday morning and watched the USA vs Portugal. TV reception was bad so I was a bit shocked when it cleared up enough to let me see the scoreline was 3-1 to the US. To be honest though, Portugal were god-awful and the US were organised enough to take advantage of them. The Portugese seemed to be tired, jaded and looked as if they’d much rather be on the beach with their children and their Swedish model wives. They were sloppy and disinterested, especially the goalkeeper Vitor Baia who had a horrendous game. It’s probably the last time we’ll see him play for Portugal. Figo was clearly struggling with injury, a shadow of the player he was in Euro 2000. Portugal also struggled with getting any penetration. It is a pity they seem to lack anything like a direct striker in the Shearer mold. The USA defending did lack technique at times and their approach play was nowhere as developed as some other teams e.g. Ireland. A better opposition would have gone for the kill once Agoos’ own goal had gone in, but to their credit the Americans didn’t panic and showed great composure and team spirit. Their match versus South Korea should be interesting.
In other matches Russia beat Tunisia (yawn) and Ireland got a last-minute draw against Germany who have still not recovered the invincibility that was shattered by Croatia in France 98. That’s the brilliant thing about football, everything can change within the space of 3 seconds. Ireland’s approach play was a delight to watch and you wonder if they should play with three at the back in order to give their attack a boost.
Ali Choudhury // 9:24 PM
Sunday, June 02, 2002:
The bloggers reviewed
Instapundit - Repetitive in comments but good source of info, like Drudge.
Brothers Judd - Crazy guy, but excellent content. Second to Layne.
Ken Layne - Numero uno. Best writer on the Web.
Matt Welch - Pretty good.
Andrew Sullivan - Not bad but tends to get obsessed with particular topics.
Libertarian Samizdata - Nice posts but not good enough for regular viewing.
Patrick Ruffini - Disturbing to see someone this young being so into politics.
Ali Choudhury // 9:51 PM