Rogue One

In “Rogue One”, prequel to the original Star Wars film released in 1977, the mighty walking tanks of the Empire seem vaguely like Godzilla trampling through Tokyo. Chalk that up to Gareth Edwards, director of Monsters (2010) and the 2014 release of—Godzilla. But while Godzilla was a truly awful movie—in fact a truly awful series—Rogue One sparkles.

There is the usual jousting among the critics over the perennial question of what does it all mean, with some arguing that this is the first adult Star Wars movie in the series. There is something to that claim. This is more than just a shoot-em-up, although there is plenty of that. In this film some of the good guys get shot, which is relatively rare in the just-for–kids genre.

The movie calls to mind the Peloponnesian Wars with the Empire (Sparta) fighting to put down the Rebellion (Athens). The Empire is a military state. The Empire has a bit of a glass ceiling problem though; women appear to be almost totally absent from their midst. Needless to say the Empire maintains its rule with an iron hand of terror; its soldiers follow orders unblinkingly, and of course there is a brutal hierarchy of power with the Emperor at its pinnacle and Darth Vador as first henchman. Kind of like the IRS.

The Rebellion on the other hand is idealistic. It runs on hope, as we are reminded a couple of times. Its members are there for “The Cause”. The Rebellion, as you might expect, is kind of fractious. The members have their own minds. There is a Senate, so the Rebellion is democratic. And it has a President, not an Emperor. The President, like the eventual leader of the Rebellion (Felicity Jones), is a woman so they seem to have solved that glass ceiling problem that the Empire’s bureaucrats seem so unconcerned about. And the Rebellion has the best music.

One problem the Rebellion hasn’t solved is the project the Empire is so busy working on: the Death Star. If the Empire can demonstrate its power with the Death Star, the Rebellion will fall apart and all the inhabitants of the Galaxy will be forced to live under the thumb of the Empire.

But the Rebellion does have members who have The Force. And The Force is not to be taken lightly. It allows a blind Jedi to shoot down Empire fighter jets with a Bow and Arrow, not to mention fighting off machine gun toting Empire soldiers with little more than a walking stick and some Kung-Foo moves thrown in for good measure. Who says this movie is not aimed at adults?

All in all, Rogue One is very entertaining, and well worth seeing. Especially in 3D in an IMAX Theatre.


Obama Tosses Israel Under the Bus

“Israel, we got your back” Obama famously claimed in August 2012. So the question must be asked, how  would U.S. foreign policy look any different if Obama’s goal were to put Israel on the road to extinction?




How for instance, Israelis are entitled to wonder, does it help for the United States to toss aside 50 years of policy in the waning days of an administration to delegitimize defensible borders for an Israel that is surrounded by hostile powers? How exactly does it help Israel for the United States to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran despite Israel’s strong objections? How does it help to put Iran on the path to a nuclear weapon? How does it help to send tens of billions of dollars in unmarked cash to an Iran committed to the destruction of Israel, and which the U.S. State department still considers to be the world’s leading State sponsor of terrorism.


It is probably true as John Kerry says, that the demographics of the Middle East require that Israel accept a two-state solution if it is to survive as both Jewish and a democracy. It depends on how democracy is defined. But it doesn’t mean that any two-state solution will do. A two state solution must recognize Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign state within defensible borders.


That poses a problem because Palestinian rejectionists refuse to concede Israel’s right to exist.


And why should they? They mean to win the war to eliminate Israel in the capitals of the West by isolating Israel and making it a pariah. They intend to do this by claiming the mantle of victimhood. They are, they claim, victims of Western colonial powers who seized their ancestral land in wars of aggression that date back at least as far as the Crusades. Their failures are the fault of the Western oppressors.


Except that there was that Muslim invasion of Spain that began in 711, not to mention Italy and France that came fast on its heels (historically speaking). Eventually Spain and Portugal fell under Islamic rule that lasted until 1492. Then there is that small matter of the Ottoman Empire’s entry into World War 1 on the side of Germany with an unprovoked attack on Russia, which was then allied with England and France.


But never mind. That was then.


Today progressives in Western capitals get to feel virtuous by simultaneously pulling the rug out from under Israel while insisting that Israel “take risks for peace”. This is the same crowd, by the way, that is busy creating safe spaces for undergraduates who live in terror that they might be forced to confront the horror of a gender specific pronoun.


There is a path to peace, but the path is not through Israeli settlements. Nor is it by surrender. Peace will come when the Arab and Persian governments of the Mideast stop using Israel as an excuse for their failures, liberalize their regimes and stop financing Hamas and their ilk.