The Blog

Arianna in Israel

3:01 PM, Oct 1, 2009 • By RACHEL ABRAMS
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Mrs. Huffington visits Israel -- a lifelong dream -- and a disappointingly boring series of sketches is all she manages to wring out of her visit. The "progressive populist," who laughably tells the Jerusalem Post that "At The Huffington Post we really avoid looking at American politics with the prism of Right and Left because we believe it is very obsolete and it obscures more than it reveals," spends most of her time in the Holy Land talking to like-minded people -- that is, people who, with her, find Israel as culpable in its ongoing struggle against anti-Semitic Islamofascism as its mortar-shooting bus-exploding cafe-bombing terrorizing neighbors. When her interlocutors deviate from Israel-is-to-blame orthodoxy, she makes sure to let them know -- more perhaps in sorrow than in anger, but still.

A few highlights from an otherwise pedestrian journal:

Israeli President Shimon Peres, extolling the intellectual resources that have made possible his country's astonishing scientific and technological achievements, gets this amazing rejoinder: "But, I countered, brains without heart and empathy are never enough. After all, Germany in the 30s was a highly educated country."

"Yes," he replied, "and we need to express our empathy in practical terms. That's what we are trying to do through the Peres Center for Peace. We've brought 5,500 gravely ill Palestinian children and their mothers to be treated in Israel. We've also trained Palestinian doctors in -- and provided equipment for -- fighting cancer."

To which the neither-Right-nor-Left Mrs. H. responds: "There is an enormous amount of philanthropy in Israel but the horror of what happened to civilians, especially children, in Gaza continues to overwhelm the good that's been done."

She visits the Wailing Wall, her shoulders covered "with a hastily borrowed shawl," places her own "folded up prayer" in a crevice and wonders, "What is it about shoulders, in particular, that God would find so disquieting?"

She dines with Ehud Barak, asks him "to compare George W. Bush's leadership to Obama's when it comes to Israel," elicits the really very indiscreet: "‘I'm an ABB,' he said. ‘Anyone But Bush.'"

She enjoys the hospitality of Rabbi Daniel Gordis at lunch, and listens, apparently without remark (she doesn't make one here, at any rate) to his impassioned arguments against the Goldstone Report -- which is as far as she ever ventures from her blame-Israel comfort zone; if she visits any settlers, for example, or speaks to a single representative of the Israeli Right, she doesn't say -- then trots off back to more familiar territory for a succession of meetings with her favorite roster of Palestinian victimologists.

And oh, the sorrow and the pity: "The security wall. The roadblocks and barbed wire. The separate roads that the Palestinians have to use. The checkpoints and ‘buffer zones.' The very large, sprawling, and very permanent-looking Israeli settlements carved out on Palestinian land. No wonder Palestinians feel like strangers in their own land."

Yes, maybe that's why, Arianna, or maybe it's because by their murderous refusal to accept the existence of the Jewish Homeland they have relinquished any claim to sharing any part of it.