Jewish World Review Jan. 22, 2003 / 19 Shevat, 5763
Musings, random and otherwise
In 1981, a 27-year-old Israeli pilot named Ilan Ramon took part in the destruction of Iraq's nuclear reactor
at Osirak. His mission severely set back Saddam Hussein's deadly plans and saved an unknowable number of
In 1942, while imprisoned in the Jewish ghetto of Theresienstadt, 14-year-old Peter Ginz drew "Moon
Landscape," an aching view of Earth as he imagined it might look from mountains on the moon. Two years
later, he was murdered by the Nazis in Auschwitz.
Last Thursday, the space shuttle Columbia lifted off for 16 days of scientific work in low-gravity orbit. Its
crew includes Ramon, now an Israeli Air Force colonel and astronaut. In its holding bay, on loan from the Yad
Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, was Ginz's drawing, carried into space at Ramon's request. On the
same day, UN weapons inspectors in Iraq discovered a cache of chemical warheads in a desert bunker
southwest of Baghdad.
The hell of Auschwitz; the averted hell of Osirak; the hellhound still at large in Iraq. There are truths apart
from science, and one of them is symbolized by the vessel now circling the Earth every 90 minutes: When
homicidal tyrants are appeased instead of crushed, when their lust for the tools of genocide is met with words
instead of deeds, young artists eventually die in concentration camps. Godspeed, Columbia.
It has now been 10 years since Canada, Mexico, and the United States adopted the North American Free
Trade Agreement, and we still don't hear Ross Perot's "giant sucking sound" of jobs and factories draining
south of the border.
The dire warnings of Perot and NAFTA's other foes, it turns out, couldn't have been more wrong. Far from
hemmorhaging jobs, the US economy generated 15 million new ones in the years after NAFTA took effect (not
all due to foreign trade, of course). And while US firms did shift $2.2 billion a year into Mexican factories
between 1994 and 2001, what was that compared with the $200 billion they invested yearly in domestic
Which isn't to say that Mexico didn't benefit, too. Trade maven Dan Griswold of the Cato Institute notes
that NAFTA helped spark the aggressive reforms that transformed Mexico's economy into one of the most
dynamic in all of Latin America. Adam Smith had it right: When it comes to the wealth of nations, free trade
generally means win-win.
Tom Reilly needs a refresher in Economics 101. The Massachusetts attorney general blasted the state's big
pharmacy chains last week for implying that customers are the ones required to pay the Legislature's new
prescription drug tax. For example, signs at CVS declared: "CVS is required to add a $1.30 pharmacy tax to
every . . . prescription dispensed." Reilly demanded that they be reworded to make it clear that the tax is
assessed to pharmacies, not consumers.
But that's a distinction without a difference. Business doesn't pay taxes, it only collects them. One way or
another, it's always the public that pays.
The MacArthur Foundation has just awarded an unrestricted $14 million grant to National Public Radio. It
is the largest single gift in the network's history, and it brings to $31 million the total that NPR has received in
donations from just the MacArthur Foundation alone.
It also raises an obvious question: Why should a radio enterprise able to raise tens of millions of dollars
from a single private donor -- and many millions of additional dollars from all its other willing donors and
sponsors -- continue to put the arm on the US Treasury? Other broadcasters do without government
subsidies. NPR can, too.
It is clear that the president gave considerably more thought to the conflict between militant Islam and the
West than his father ever did when he was president. The George Bushes? No, the John Adamses.
The year was 1829, and John Quincy Adams was preoccupied with the Greek revolt against the Ottoman
Empire that had raged for most of the decade. As scholar Richard Samuelson explains in the new Claremont
Review, Adams foresaw that the war for Greek independence was just the start of what would be a prolonged
clash of civilizations. In an essay written shortly after he left the White House, Adams predicted that the
Christian West, with its Enlightenment ideals of liberty, tolerance, and progress, would always be at daggers
drawn with the Islamic East and its drive to bring the world under Koranic law.
It dismayed the former president that European elites were blind to the real stakes in the fight over Greece.
The Ottomans, by contrast, understood exactly what they were fighting for. Adams quoted the Sultan: "This is
not like former contests, a political war for provinces and frontiers. . . . This war must be considered purely a
religious war and a national war." Muslims must fight the infidels wherever they found them, the Sultan
decreed, for West and East were now in a struggle for supremacy.
The war we are in is an old one. It didn't begin with Osama bin Laden.
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Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.
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04/08/02: Peace at any price = war
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02/08/02: STEVEN EMERSON AND THE NPR BLACKLIST
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01/11/02: Friendship, Saudi-style
01/07/02: Shakedown at Harvard
01/04/02: More guns, more safety
01/02/02: Smears and slanders from the Left
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12/24/01: The littlest peacemakers
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10/15/01: Rush Limbaugh's ear
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09/17/01: Calling evil by its name
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08/21/01: Remembering the 'Wall of Shame'
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08/07/01: Is gay "marriage" a threat?
08/03/01: A colorblind nominee
07/27/01: Eminent-domain tortures
07/24/01: On protecting the flag ... and drivers ... and immigrants
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07/17/01: Why Americans would rather drive
07/13/01: Do these cabbies look like bigots?
07/10/01: 'Defeated in the bedroom'
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02/27/01: A lesson from Birmingham jail
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