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The madness of George

NEW YORK — It's all out there now, in all its vivid madness. America's democracy, on "Justice Department" stationery, impaling us on the horns of our own sanctimony. Paragraph after paragraph of banal, mediocre legal prose, the work of the department's "Office of Legal Counsel" attorneys, who are now back in private practice (or on a federal bench).

Tel Aviv celebrates hundredth birthday

 TEL AVIV — Purple fireworks sprayed off the roof of Tel Aviv’s City Hall last week to open festivities marking a century since Zionist pioneers began construction of the “first Hebrew city.” Watching among the crowd in Rabin Square, Marko Martin wept. A German journalist, Martin travels the world to write cultural articles for Die Welt, filing from Myanmar to El Salvador. But he returns again and again to this Mediterranean metropolis, where his Israeli friends call him “Mister Tel Aviv.”

Analysis: Inside Netanyahu's head

JERUSALEM — In Hebrew the word for “to visit” — levaker — is the same as the word for “to criticize.” He visited me; he criticized me. Exactly the same. So why would you invite 30 of the most critical people in the country to visit you every Sunday, to sit around your table and run their mouths? You wouldn’t. Unless you wanted trouble.

A father's shadow

In the land of the biblical patriarchs, the stories of fathers and sons matter. And the story of the Netanyahu family is something as ancient as Leviticus and as modern as the Kennedys. To understand Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, you need to understand the hard-line, uncompromising ideology of a father who pushed his sons to succeed and how the tragic death of the oldest son shaped the destiny of the younger brother, who Tuesday was sworn in as prime minister of Israel for a second time.

The real "special relationship"

NEW YORK — There are many ways to measure the quality of a relationship. Durability, loyalty, profitability and compatability, to name just a few. In diplomacy, ties between states rest inevitably on the mutual benefit each perceives in the arrangement. Does the relationship enhance or diminish our influence in the world? Does the upside of good ties with the other nation exceed the downside? Does the partnership make you more or less secure?

On his return to Harvard, Gerry Adams gets a peacemaker's welcome

CAMBRIDGE — The hair and the beard are more peppered with gray, the voice sounded a bit hoarse, the tone less strident. And in the 15 years since the last time Gerry Adams came to the hallowed halls of Harvard University, the legendary leader of the Irish nationalist struggle had become a statesman.

A lesson in Middle East politics

JERUSALEM — It’s never easy to get politicians to agree. When they’re Middle East politicians, forget about it. That’s why the current coalition negotiations in Israel and the haggling over a so-called “unity government” among the Palestinians are so unedifying. It’s fair to say that everyone involved in these talks has so far made choices guaranteed to play badly on the international stage.

Splitting the differences

BOSTON — The murder of two British soldiers and a policeman in Antrim and Armagh, after more than a decade of peace in Northern Ireland, sent a chill down the spines of Ireland and Great Britain. The Good Friday agreement, signed 11 years ago, was supposed to end “The Troubles,” as those lost years of violence were called.

Sports: When the outside world intrudes

There were two particularly distressing events in international sports last week. The first was the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team, which was on its way to the stadium in Lahore, Pakistan to play the host country’s national team. The second was the decision by Sweden to play its Davis Cup match against Israel without any fans in the arena because of security concerns.

The center of the world

JERUSALEM — My guidebook to Jerusalem pictures a medieval map of the world, symbolically represented as a cloverleaf with three petals: Europe, Asia, and Africa. America exists as a trivial island.
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