A couple great stories:

A quick excerpt from "President Apostate?":

As the son of the Muslim father, Senator Obama was born a Muslim under Muslim law as it is universally understood. It makes no difference that, as Senator Obama has written, his father said he renounced his religion. Likewise, under Muslim law based on the Koran his mother’s Christian background is irrelevant.

Of course, as most Americans understand it, Senator Obama is not a Muslim. He chose to become a Christian, and indeed has written convincingly to explain how he arrived at his choice and how important his Christian faith is to him.

His conversion, however, was a crime in Muslim eyes; it is “irtidad” or “ridda,” usually translated from the Arabic as “apostasy,” but with connotations of rebellion and treason. Indeed, it is the worst of all crimes that a Muslim can commit, worse than murder (which the victim’s family may choose to forgive).

With few exceptions, the jurists of all Sunni and Shiite schools prescribe execution for all adults who leave the faith not under duress; the recommended punishment is beheading at the hands of a cleric, although in recent years there have been both stonings and hangings. (Some may point to cases in which lesser punishments were ordered — as with some Egyptian intellectuals who have been punished for writings that were construed as apostasy — but those were really instances of supposed heresy, not explicitly declared apostasy as in Senator Obama’s case.)

And yet another story, excerpted from "The Jewish State at 60":

This week marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. There have already been many birthday greetings, some heartfelt, some perfunctory, along with numerous reflections on the meaning of the occasion, some profound, some commonplace. For me, however, a discordant voice broke through.

Israel is a “stinking corpse” on its way to “annihilation,” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said last Thursday as Israel celebrated Independence Day. “Those who think they can revive the stinking corpse of the usurping and fake Israeli regime by throwing a birthday party are seriously mistaken,” proclaimed the president of Iran, a nation that is a member in good standing of the United Nations and an active trading partner of countries like Germany and Russia. “Today the reason for the Zionist regime’s existence is questioned, and this regime is on its way to annihilation.”

I didn’t intend, in writing this column, to quote Ahmadinejad. I hate to dignify him by even taking note of his comments. I meant to pay tribute to the Zionists — men like Weizmann and Jabotinsky, Ben-Gurion and Begin — who made possible the almost miraculous redemption of the Jewish people in 1948. And I also intended to recognize the defenders of Israel at moments of crisis — men like Harry Truman and Richard Nixon and George W. Bush.

I thought I might even dwell on the amazing essay by the novelist George Eliot who made a case for Zionism in 1879 — 17 years before the publication of Theodor Herzl’s “The Jewish State.”

“The hinge of possibility,” Eliot wrote, is that among the Jews “there may arise some men of instruction and ardent public spirit, some new Ezras, some modern Maccabees, who will know how to use all favouring outward conditions, how to triumph by heroic example, over the indifference of their fellows and the scorn of their foes, and will steadfastly set their faces towards making their people once more one among the nations.”

I especially found the latter column to be amazingly well done. I've never been a huge fan of Kristol, but he has jumped incredibly in my estimation.

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