Author Archive for Harry Kanigel


Vidal gored

Gore Vidal, the novelist and essayist who died this week, famously remarked “I’m exactly as I appear. There is no warm, lovable person inside. Beneath my cold exterior, once you break the ice, you find cold water.” Equally (if not more) famously, he engaged in a hissing match with the late conservative icon William F. Buckley, Jr., infuriating the latter by calling him a “crypto-Nazi.” Buckley, ordinarily a civilized and skilled verbal pugilist, responded with ferocity best captured by the YouTube clip here: “Now listen, you queer,” he said, “stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in your goddamn face and you’ll stay plastered.” What is less well known is Vidal’s resentment fueled hatred of the Jews. In this vintage piece by Norman Podhoretz, the long-time Commentary editor dissects this pathological strain of Vidal’s pathological personality. Along the way, he treats us to entertaining and instructive tales of squabbles among the literary lions and pretenders of the second half of the twentieth century. Read “The Hate That Dare Not Speak Its Name.”


The Strange Case of Jewish anti-Semitism

Professor Steve Plaut tells a sobering tale of Jewish anti-Semitism, offering punchy profiles of some of the most egregious players on this ever fashionable scene. In this oldie-but-goody piece published back in November 2010, he assembles an impressive rogues’ gallery of intellectual miscreants, whose each succeeding thumbnail bio is more bizarre than the last. Plaut explores the evident psychopathology of such academic stars as linguist Noam Chomsky and Tel Aviv University professor Shlomo Sand, who actually doubts the provenance of the modern day Jewish people: “Sand last year published a ‘book’ … that claims that most Jews today are frauds, converts from the Khazar Turkic tribe, impersonators of Jews.”

Plaut rejects the appellation “self-hating Jew” as simplistic and just plain wrong: “they are masters of narcissism. They hate other Jews…” He offers his gut take on what makes these people tick: “I personally believe it is a sort of infantile rage by disturbed people, resentful towards their parents for forcing them to become toilet trained. I am serious.”

Lest the reader think that JAS is a marginal intellectual fad, Plaut rams home its pervasiveness, asserting that it is “experiencing an explosion…, a virtual plague,” citing examples all over the political map (this writer rejects “spectrum,” but that’s another post) and a reference to it dating to the 1947 Gregory Peck flick “Gentleman’s Agreement.”

Read more here.


Barack and Barak

From JWR, here is Mid East commentator and Jerusalem Post luminary Caroline Glick’s very nice, albeit disturbing, digest of the boggling irrational “strategy” and policies pursued by the two Baracks: Israeli Defense Minister and former PM, Ehud and the American President. Mr. Obama is revealed as alarmingly out of his depth while playing nicey nice with the likes of Erdogan, the Iranian mullahs and their enforcer Achmadinejad.

Excerpt: “Then of course, there is the Gaza precedent. Ignoring the lesson of Lebanon, Barak’s successor Ariel Sharon reenacted his unilateral surrender policy in Gaza. Like Barak, Sharon promised that once Gaza was cleared of all Jewish presence, it would magically transform itself into a Middle Eastern version of Singapore.”

Read more


Open Letter to Meg Whitman

The open letter examines a case of strange bedfellows, all knotted up, in the BDS (see below) campaign against Israel. HP is the client of Texnology Inc., whose president is active in ISM (International Solidarity Movement); This past week, she called for a demonstration at the Harvard graduation to protest US House vote to fund Iron Dome anti-missile system. HP itself is a long-standing target of BDS.

Dear Ms. Whitman,

It’s a curious juxtaposition.

On one hand, Hewlett-Packard is a target of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign, that potent and diffused instrument of an economic and propaganda war that seeks to isolate and enfeeble Israel. And on the other, we see that HP has a prominent place, as a high profile client, on the web site of a company called Texnology Inc. ( ), a service provider of publishing software. So where is the contradiction?

The rub is that Texnology’s owner, Amy Hendrickson, uses its resources – its e-mail servers – to disseminate anti-Israel propaganda to advance the objectives of BDS; these objectives include boycott and divestiture of HP because of its business interests in Israel.

This past week, Texnology’s servers were the source of a mass distribution e-mail, composed by Ms. Hendrickson, that set its sites on the “Iron Dome,” Israel’s cutting edge missile defense system, whose sole function is defensive. Its primary purpose? To thwart incoming Grad Katyusha missiles fired at school buses and other civilian targets in southern Israel by Hamas terrorists from the Gaza strip. But Hendrickson’s missive insists that the project will “kill Palestinians, destroy their land and homes and make war on neighboring countries.” Her e-mail clamors for protest at Harvard’s graduation ceremony this week against US funding of Iron Dome, recently approved by the House of Representatives by a vote of 411 – 2.

Such a lopsided vote affirms Israel’s right to self-defense and its historic strategic and intelligence sharing relationship with the United States, which is undermined by Hendrickson’s false protestations of Israeli aggression.

So, let’s connect the dots. Ms. Hendrickson supports the terrorist group Hamas and BDS; she uses her company’s servers to advance their ends; HP’s name links to Texnology prominently on those same servers. So HP endures the shame of association with a terrorist sponsor and is itself a target of that sponsor. Isn’t that just great?

I would add that HP might want to rethink its high visibility business relationship with a company whose president uses company resources as a tool of war against an ally of the United States.  Thanks for your attention.

Harry Kanigel


Herman Cain’s moment

The grave illness of boxing great Joe Frazier brings to mind his chief pugilistic adversary, the unforgettable Ali and the rope-a-dope tactic he employed in a match against George Foreman, of Foreman grill fame. The tactic should have been dusted off by Presidential candidate Herman Cain who could have played it to great advantage in the sexual harassment dust-up…

It is widely reported that Cain had a ten day heads up that the eleven year old S H charges would make news. What a great opportunity for a wily Cain to lie in wait for the media onslaught and calmly introduce himself to the mass of Americans who are not paying attention to the Republican pre-primary skirmishes and the tedious observations of cable news pundits.

With major media outlets irresistibly drawn to the seemingly wounded black conservative, Herman could have held forth expansively under the glare of hostile attention on the big stage; a primed and unflappable Cain could have swatted aside the nebulous and anonymous charges with impressive good cheer and equanimity — to great effect.


Protecting Civilians in Libya?

For a bit of refreshing sanity, consider British author and essayist Peter Hitchens’ trenchant take on the Libyan conflict and, broadly, the “Arab Spring.” Hitchens affirms the obvious but oddly soft-pedaled truth that the thugs who will control Libya after Gaddafi are likely to be worse – much worse. This can be confidently stated without shying from the sure knowledge that the Gaddafi regime is indefensible.

So why are NATO troops there? Hitchens effectively swats aside the quaint hope that it’s about principle. If it were, “…we would be bombing Bahrain too, and demanding the withdrawal of the Saudi troops who arrived there in such sinister fashion last Monday [March 7, 2011]. But Bahrain’s the base of the U.S. 5th Fleet, so we won’t be doing that. And as I’ve said here before, this supposed objection to rulers killing their own people is not consistent. Sometimes–as in China, Bahrain and Syria–we’re happy to let them do it. “

Astute blogger and author Lawrence Auster effectively stitches together a couple of Hitchens’ Libya columns – here.


Now it’s Progress

Victor Davis Hansen considers the recalibrated media take on U.S. interventionism that has accompanied Obama’s Libya actions. National Review Online, Mar 31. A snippet:

(e) Stuff happens: Many supporters of the Iraq War condemned Abu Ghraib as the poorly supervised, out-of-control prison it was. Lax American oversight resulted in the sexual humiliation of detained Iraqi insurgents. It was a deplorable episode, in which, nonetheless, no one was killed, and yet it took an enormous toll on the credibility of Bush-administration officials. But while the media were covering the Libyan bombing and the Middle East uprisings, a number of Afghan civilians allegedly were executed by a few rogue American soldiers. That was a far worse transgression than anything that happened at Abu Ghraib during Bush’s tenure — but it was apparently an incident that, in the new media climate, could legitimately be ignored. Obama made “stuff happens” an acceptable defense for those doing their best to run a war from Washington.

Read more here


Stealth government

Tony Blankley has a column today on ever more freedom-destroying regulation by Obama administration and a rare opportunity for conservatives to fight back. (Readers should know that your old friend, the incandescent light bulb is scheduled to become illegal, in a phased manner, beginning in 2012.) Blankley is leisurely in getting to his point, so I will quote last few sentences here:

“And to help [the Republican controlled House], the conservative media and think tanks need to bring much more focus on such abusive regulations. The administration and liberals generally are delighted to let the continuing re-regulation of America continue under the radar.

What we need on our side for fighting regulations is something like Brent Bozell’s Media Research Center (that acts as both a research center and clearinghouse that effectively monitors and publicizes liberal media excesses).

Many conservative think tanks do a good job of studying government regulation. But we desperately need big private funding to gather all that research and focus it upon the media.

With the right resources and attention, 2011 could be a banner year for the deregulation of American life.”
Read more here.

Here is more on unelected bureaucracies stealthily encroaching on freedom in short piece by Aaron Gee in American Thinker. A key sentence:
“One has to wonder if the reason the [FCC rules regulating the Internet] that were issued were so innocuous and provided so much leeway was to prevent a court challenge. If the FCC’s authority goes unchallenged the regulation of the Internet becomes a fait accompli.” Full article here:


Obama a Genius?

Bush’s “misunderestimated” formulation is rather quaint and endearing. It’s true that he’s no great light but neither have any of our other presidents over the last seventy years except the pilloried Nixon and possibly the execrable Carter (though his claim to be a “nuclear engineer” was a stretch). (Hoover was smart — a lot of good it did him.) And, of course, Reagan. His special gifts seem to transcend the matter of mere intellectual power. Examination of his prodigious output of carefully hand-crafted speeches over the decades belatedly gave the lie to mean spirited charges of intellectual mediocrity. I would suppose that Bush and most of the others have IQ’s about 115 or 120. The current occupant of the WH (you know, the one who refers to “corpsemen” and is markedly inadequate when delivering extemporaneous remarks) is in the same general league; his much vaunted intellect has more to do with marketing than mental acuity. Note well that there has been a remarkably thorough cover-up of every detail of his academic career. We are not permitted to see his undergraduate grades that merited admission to Harvard Law, where he produced no published work as Editor of the Review. His academic record at HLS is suppressed as well. There is no plausible interpretation of this other than that his academic performance was far from stellar and is being hidden because it weakens his brand. Otherwise it would be trumpeted from the mountaintops.


Israel’s Quandary: Defensible Borders

From American Thinker 2 Jan ’11: The Occupied Territories Revisited: The Doctrine of Defensible Borders by Harry Kanigel. The article examines the philosophical moorings of Israel’s enemies and the Jewish state’s requirements for defensible borders with a backdrop of international law and the realpolitik jockeying of Israel’s early days. The essay revisits the proposed map of Israeli strategist Yigal Allon of 1967 vintage and extrapolates a neo-Allon plan applicable to present day geopolitics.

“It’s a puzzle – isn’t it? A tiny state of a few million industrious souls is viewed as a truculent, sneering imperialist bully. Surely there’s a story behind such a cognitive burr. Why would we dispute the morality of a nation that retains territory of high military value gained in a defensive war?” [read more]


The Power of Information Warfare

From Jewish World Review 6 Jan ’11: Hizbullah and the Information War. See Carolyn B. Glick’s clear-eyed analysis of the effects of propaganda and news management.


On May 8, 2001 a group of Palestinians from a village adjacent to the Israeli community of Tekoa in Gush Etzion got their hands on two Jewish children Koby Mandell and Yosef Ishran from Tekoa. The two boys were bludgeoned to death with stones. The details of the butchery are unspeakable.

The question is what can make human beings butcher children? How can a person hurt a child the way that their killers hurt them?

The answer is Palestinian television.

In the weeks before the murder, PATV (funded by foreign donors) broadcast doctored footage around the clock of what they claimed were atrocities carried out by Israel. They showed doctored images of mutilated corpses and claimed that Israel had mutilated and abused them. Israel and Jews were so demonized by these false images that after awhile, the Palestinians watching these shows believed that Jews, including Jewish children, were all monsters who must be destroyed and made to pay for their imaginary crimes.

This was an act of information warfare that in the event, led Palestinians to butcher Koby Mandell and Yosef Ishran.

As for information warfare aimed at Westerners, here too, the Palestinian Authority, like Hizbullah has a long track record of success. Journalists know that the PA has no compunction about kidnapping, arresting and beating up reporters. They do it to Palestinian reporters routinely. With their sure knowledge, Western reporters who come in to the PA recognize that if they want to be safe, they have to report stories that will make the PA happy.

For instance, after a television crew from Italy’s Mediaset network broadcast footage of the PA police-supported lynch mob murdering and dismembering IDF reservists Vadim Nozhitz and Yosef Avrahami in Ramallah in October 2000, Ricardo Cristiani, deputy chief of Italy’s RAI television network’s Jerusalem bureau published an apology in the PA’s newspaper Al Hayat al Jadida.

Among other things, Cristiani wrote, “We [RAI] emphasize to all of you that the events did not happen this way, because we always respect (will continue to respect) the journalistic procedures with the Palestinian Authority for (journalistic) work in Palestine and we are credible in our precise work.”

Fearing Palestinian revenge attacks, Mediaset was forced to shut down its offices. This week, Swedish and Danish police announced the arrest of four Muslim terrorists who were en route to carrying out a massacre at the Jyllands Posten newspaper. The attack was supposed to avenge the newspaper’s publication of cartoons of Muhammed in 2005. [read more]


Two State Solution

See trenchant analysis of bleak prospects for a two state solution here:


Standing for Nothing

Yesterday’s Delaware primary kerfuffle envisages a third party in America – The Milquetoast party – a new home for Democrats marginalized by the Stalinists who have hegemonized the Democrat party and RINO Republicans too weak-kneed — or strangers to principle — to support genuinely conservative candidates.


Metaphysical Underpinnings

I received an alert from Amazon just now recommending a book whose title touts its message, to wit “The Cell’s Design: How Chemistry Reveals the Creator’s Artistry.” It leads me to muse that fashions of thought have not always been so doggedly materialistic as now and that such a book title would not always have been controversial. Sir Isaac Newton, as rigorous a thinker as there ever was, existed in a cognitive realm in which the Creator was the presumed source and backdrop of all phenomena. It was only with the advent of Darwinism that some found justification for being, in the words of Richard Dawkins, “an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” The Enlightenment had flirted with the reductionism and materialism that had begun to pervade Western culture but Darwinism was transformative; it upped the ante by providing a foundation for materialism that substituted random processes for purposeful ones. But this is no more than a fashion or fad; it doesn’t add rigor or refinement to our intellectual standards.


Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer – Reviewed by Harry Kanigel

From Telicom, Journal of the International Society for Philosophical Enquiry, Q1 2010, Book Review of Signature in the Cell by Stephen C. Meyer


“Stephen C. Meyer changes the game in the intelligent design fight with Signature in the Cell (SITC), a big book that methodically, but agreeably, constructs an argument that intelligence, in some unspecified form, is responsible for the bio-molecular machinery in the cell and, therefore, for first life…”

“With engaging whimsy, [Meyer] ingeniously adduces The Cat in the Hat as a metaphor for the displacement of one problem by another in a kind of continuing regress in which each highly improbable arrangement is explained by another. Readers will recall Dr. Seuss’s immortal sequel, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, in which our eponymous hero must triumph over the tenacious pink bathtub ring, the pink stuff that spreads from one household item to another as the Cat gamely concocts successive ploys to restore order before the parents return.

The target of this conceit is various theories, computer simulations and laboratory experiments conceived to explain biomolecular activity as the product of undirected processes.” [read more]


Words That Should Exist

Let this be a discussion of:
(1) concepts or physical things for which there really, really ought to be words, (2) triumphantly identifying elusive words for such concepts and things or (3) coinages that are not yet legitimate but that ought to be so because of their aptness, utility and elegance. Here is my first contribution to get you started:

My wife and I returned home from a round of errands with a new coffeemaker that was selected after much gnashing of teeth about its features and whether suitably presentable. Our old coffeemaker had died due to years of sedimentary deposits and we were in crisis mode to effect a replacement. I unpacked the damn thing, dropping the ‘decanter’ in the process – only through heroic effort was I able to break its fall with my extended foot, nearly pulling a hamstring in the process — and set it down, side-by-side, with its predecessor. I pronounced it ok “aesthetics wise.” Hmm…aesthetics wise. This clumsy phrase evoked peals of laughter from my wife (and me too) and instantly triggered musings as to whether there was a word for such a self-canceling phrase. To be clear, we are talking about a word or phrase that has properties that contradict its meaning. Now, of course, this would not be an oxymoron since it is not the coffeemaker but rather the phrase that lacks grace. It also smacks of onomatopoeia, though is really its opposite, since the phrase has a quality directly at odds with its subject matter. So, there it is. Any suggestions?

June 2023