The Week

(Roman Genn)


The fact that the euro-zone mineshaft is already filled with little avian corpses might normally make us reluctant to describe the shambles in Cyprus as a sickly canary in a very unhealthy coal mine. But not on this occasion. That is indeed what it is. Matters are in flux as we write, but it does seem that this latest chapter in the single currency’s sad saga may contain an unusually dangerous twist. It’s not the size of the crisis — small olives in an age of bloated bailouts — nor its novelty. These days there is nothing new about the spectacle of a floundering banking sector too big for its host country to save. What is new is the insistence that bank depositors chip in for the cost of their own rescue. That’s not going to help confidence in the currency union’s weaker banks. Depositors elsewhere in the euro zone’s periphery now know that their deposits — even their insured deposits — are not quite as sacrosanct as they had once believed. That’s going to make them nervous, and nervous bank depositors are the last thing that the euro zone now needs.

In the spring of 2011, the Egyptian military arrested women protesters in Tahrir Square and subjected seven of them to “virginity tests”: manual rape disguised as moral surveillance. A year later Samira Ibrahim, one of the victims, filed a suit against the government, which resulted in such tests’ being banned. The White House was slated to give her an award as a Woman of Courage, when The Weekly Standard and Egyptian bloggers found tweets of hers praising 9/11 (“America should burn”) and quoting Hitler. At first she said her Twitter account had been hacked, then she blamed “the Zionist lobby” for hounding her. Byron wrote of “the all-cloudless glory” of freeing one’s country. But many freedom fighters in history have been clouded with crackpot or tyrannical impulses of their own. It is remarkable when anyone in the Arab world, sunk in old religious hatreds, fostered by despots and radicals alike, is free of them. Samira Ibrahim, it turns out, is sadly typical.

Sir Vincent Fean, the British consul general in Jerusalem, was scheduled to give a speech at Birzeit University, the “Harvard of the Palestinians.” Sir Vincent was prevented from speaking. A student mob surrounded him, and they succeeded in kicking him. Security personnel were able to hustle Sir Vincent into his car. The students jumped on the car, threw rocks at it, and so on. It was a “show of rage,” said a news report. The students’ “chief grievance” was the Balfour Declaration: the 1917 document expressing Britain’s support for a Jewish homeland in ancient Israel. A “student leader” at Birzeit said, “We asked the university to cancel [the diplomat’s] visit because Britain is the cause of the Palestinian tragedy.” Actually, the Palestinians have been the cause of the Palestinians’ tragedy — and still are, as this story illustrates.

The French municipality of Bezons has a new honorary citizen: Majdi al-Rimawi, a Palestinian terrorist now serving a life sentence in Israel. The most glorious of his terrorist deeds was the murder of Israel’s minister of tourism, Rehavam Ze’evi. Far from denying these deeds, Rimawi and his supporters boast of them. The mayor of Bezons, Dominique Lesparre, said that honoring Rimawi was in keeping with a “tradition of peace, solidarity, and cooperation with the Palestinian people.” Our Mumia Abu-Jamal, the Philadelphia cop-killer, is an honorary citizen of Paris itself. Who will bring civilization to France?

In November 2008, the socialist Hervé Eon was arrested for holding up a placard that read “Casse toi, pauv’con” — or “Get lost, you [untranslatable expletive]” — while then-president Nicolas Sarkozy was visiting the French region of Laval. Eon was quoting the exact words that Sarkozy had thrown at a farmer earlier that year. For Eon’s trouble, he was charged with the crime of “insulting the president” and given a 30-euro fine. In a rare useful decision, the European Court of Human Rights struck down the punishment, contending that the fine contravened the freedom of expression that is (apparently) guaranteed in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Eon’s prosecution, the court wrote, was “likely to have a chilling effect on satirical contributions to discussion of matters of public interest, such discussion being fundamental to a democratic society.” More in keeping with EU form, the courts took five years to come to this conclusion.

April 8, 2013    |     Volume LXV, No. 6

  • Congress can limit drone strikes, but the Constitution does not.
  • The alarming scope of the power President Obama claims.
  • Reagan’s vision is not a national priority, but should be.
  • At South by Southwest, the politics are as conventional as the technology is innovative.
  • Justified and the dream of bourgeois life.
  • Obamacare cannot succeed while remaining Obamacare.
  • Catholic reform through evangelical purification.
  • At retirement, the Heritage Foundation’s leader is optimistic, as ever.
  • Prisoners should work and learn rather than be idle.
Books, Arts & Manners
  • Vincent J. Cannato reviews Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage by Jeffrey Frank.
  • Kelly Jane Torrance reviews In Sunlight and in Shadow by Mark Helprin.
  • Emmy Chang reviews The PBS American Masters program Philip Roth: Unmasked, written and directed by William Karel and Livia Manera.
  • Bruce Cole discusses many of the notable works on display in the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s The Civil War and American Art exhibit.
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .