Joel B. Pollak

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large and in-house counsel at Breitbart News. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, he also has a degree in Jewish Studies from the University of Cape Town. He ran for Congress in 2010 in his hometown of Skokie, IL and worked as a Research Fellow at the Hudson Institute, as well as speechwriter to the Leader of the Opposition in the South African Parliament. He enjoys improv comedy, rock 'n' roll, and the literature of liberal apostates and iconoclasts. His wife Julia is a Ph.D. Fellow at the Pardee Rand Graduate School and his daughter Maya is unbelievably cute.

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South Africa Journal: 'Neo-Liberal Fascists'

In Monday morning's Cape Times, Songezo Mjongile, the provincial secretary of the African National Congress (ANC), took to the op-ed page to defend the Times' firing of editor Alide Dasnois. His article ran alongside that of a "Black Consciousness" professor, Simphiwe Sesanti, who defended Dasnois against charges of racism. What is so striking about the ANC official's article is its virulence and its total indifference to the truth of the charges. Dec 22, 2013 10:27 PM PT

South Africa Journal: When the State is All

While in South Africa, I've been enjoying Anton Harber's excellent Diepsloot, an exploration of life in a teeming informal settlement north of Johannesburg that did not exist when Nelson Mandela was freed from prison but has since become one of the largest black "townships" in South Africa. I happened to spend a day in Diepsloot in 2004, and it was a chaotic blend of red rural expanse and urban squatter camp: today it is far more crowded. Dec 21, 2013 9:32 PM PT

South Africa Journal: Obama's Media Cadres

Press freedom has been a major issue in post-apartheid South Africa, especially since 2000, when President Thabo Mbeki and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) launched a campaign against the media, accusing it of racism. In fact, the media's main sin had been to take its new constitutional guarantees seriously, and to hold the new government accountable to its own standards and promises. The ANC did not like the scrutiny, and began lumping the media together with the parliamentary opposition and other "counter-revolutionaries." Dec 21, 2013 8:28 PM PT

South Africa Journal: The Dignity of Difference

If the United States is a melting pot, South Africa is a potpie kos--a stew of different ingredients that never quite lose their distinctiveness, even while blending together in the same dish. For a variety of reasons--some good, some bad--South Africans are used to cultural differences, and are less troubled by them than Americans seem to be. It might seem ironic, given the country's apartheid past, but South Africans excel at tolerance. Dec 20, 2013 4:47 AM PT

South Africa Journal: Failure to Connect

There are many immediate, practical differences about South Africa that strike an American visitor. Driving on the left is one: the hard part is not so much staying on your side of the road as adjusting to the physical dimensions of a car whose gear shift and rear-view mirror are on the “wrong” side. Another difference that takes some getting used to is the dismally slow Internet connection speed, which is among the slowest in the world. Dec 19, 2013 8:56 PM PT

South Africa Journal: The Life of the Party

When I worked as a speechwriter for the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) in the South African parliament, it emerged that despite controlling just over 12% of the seats, the DA asked something like 70% of the questions in the legislature to which the government had to respond. Accordingly, the DA provided the basis for most of the media coverage of politics on any given day--not because the media liked the DA (it didn't), but by default. Dec 18, 2013 8:43 PM PT

Obama, the Middle East, and Israel: An Overview

The Obama administration has had a profound effect on the U.S.-Israel relationship, with implications for the future of the region as a whole. Overall, President Barack Obma has overseen the emergence of a more unstable and dangerous environment for Israel (and the U.S.), and the erosion of traditional bipartisan support for Israel at home. Yet he has also encouraged Israel--however inadvertently--to take more responsibility for its own fate. Dec 18, 2013 8:23 PM PT

South Africa Journal: Extraordinary Generosity

As a corollary to my earlier post about crime in South Africa, it is only proper to point out another element of the South African national character that coexists, both tragically and ironically, alongside this society's more violent tendencies: extraordinary generosity. South Africans of all backgrounds are capable of the most striking acts of selflessness--and perhaps it is that trait that helped the country move through its difficult transition. Dec 18, 2013 5:19 AM PT

South Africa Journal: Have Fun! Try Not to Die.

We arrived in South Africa yesterday morning on a beautiful, and typical, Cape Town summer's day: clear blue skies, a cloud gently brushing Table Mountain and a stiff southeast breeze ripping through everything except the harbor. (It blew away the rental agreement for my car as I was loading the bags, and I had to return for another.) Also typical was the front page headline in the Cape Times: "Australian Tourist Stabbed." Dec 17, 2013 7:45 PM PT

South Africa Journal: What Is the Purpose of Opposition?

What is the purpose of an opposition? It is easier to explain, in the context of great ideological battles, why it is best to side with a struggling minority rather than a powerful majority. But it is less clear what purpose opposition serves in less contested times, and even in times of division it can be difficult to make the case for an opposition that has suffered repeated political defeats. The sheer strength of the majority is a flawed yet powerful argument for the truth of its opinion. Dec 17, 2013 2:21 AM PT

When Was the Tea Party in Control, Mr. Hume?

Fox News political analyst Brit Hume said on Sunday that with the passage of the Ryan-Murray bill, and with a blistering attack on conservative groups, Speaker of the House John Boehner proved that he had wrested control of the party away from the Tea Party: "He’s willing to take them on," Hume concluded. Dec 15, 2013 9:14 AM PT

The Post-Mandela Era Begins

Nelson Mandela has been laid to rest. And with his burial in his ancestral homeland, the new South Africa has truly begun. No longer can it enjoy the "Madiba magic" of its charismatic transitional leader. No longer will it be appreciated simply for the secular miracle of its peaceful, democratic settlement. Today South Africa becomes a country like any other--a developing country, with massive challenges and deep-seated political problems. Dec 15, 2013 6:49 AM PT

Fake Mandela Interpreter Burned Two People to Death with Mob

Fake sign language interpreter Thamsanqa Jantjie, who "translated" for President Barack Obama and other world leaders at the memorial for former South African president Nelson Mandela last week, admitted to South Africa's Sunday Times that he had been part of a vigilante mob that burned two people to death in 2003. "It was a community thing, what you call mob justice, and I was also there," Jantjie told the newspaper. Dec 15, 2013 6:17 AM PT

Negotiation 101: Why Iran Walked Out of 'Technical' Talks

Iran has already achieved a major coup in negotiations with the P5+1 (the U.S., France, Britain, Germany, Russia, and China) by winning the fact of, if not the right to, nuclear enrichment. Now it is out to eliminate all of the sanctions it has suffered for carrying out its secret nuclear program in the first place. That was made clear Friday when Iranian diplomats abruptly walked out of "technical" discussions between the parties. Dec 13, 2013 12:52 PM PT


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