Michael B. Oren

Egyptians marked the fortieth anniversary of their army's putative triumph over Israel by bloodying one another in Tahrir Square. Syrians, too, commemorated the date with internecine violence. Only in Israel were chests, rather than heads, beaten in collective remembrance. The contrast illustrated the curious ways history can be marshaled, forgotten, and mourned. Memory indeed serves, but ever-changing masters. 

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Deep Denial

Toughened by their frontier ethos, steeled by serial wars, Israelis are not prone to flattery. Most, in fact, eschew using the closest equivalent to the Hebrew word for flattery--chanupa--in favor of the derisive Yiddish-derivative, firgun. An Israeli joke holds that the word, slashed by a red diagonal line, graces the exit from Ben-Gurion Airport, together with the warning, "You are now entering a Firgun Free Zone." Not surprisingly, then, several Israeli commentators reacted unflatteringly to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent speech to the U.N. General Assembly.

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Fleeing Moment

About 400,000 people, many of them children, annually tour the battlegrounds of Ypres, near the French border in Western Belgium, the scene of some of history's most savage combat. Millions of troops fought here during World War I; more than 600,000 of them died.

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  "Unfriendly Fire: Why Did Israeli Troops Attack The USS Liberty?" July 23, 2001   "The Rescuer," Review of Race Against Death: Peter Bergson, America, and the Holocaust, by David S.

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Back to the Front

Dawn, the morning after Israel's ground incursion into Gaza. Last night, I received an emergency IDF call-up order--via SMS. Israel, 2009. Gone are the days when such commands were hand-delivered or broadcast in code over the radio. Gone are the prearranged assembly points in town where members of various units would meet and file into specially-mobilized buses. Today we travel to our bases individually, often by cab.

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CNN International’s coverage of yesterday’s fighting in Gaza concluded at midnight with a rush of images: mangled civilians writhing in the rubble, primitive hospitals overflowing with the wounded, fireballs mushrooming between apartment complexes, the funeral of a Palestinian child.

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The Jerusalem theater lights came on, and no man between the ages of 25 and 35 moved. We had just watched Waltz With Bashir, Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman's animated documentary about Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon and the subsequent Sabra and Chatila massacre. The film deals with Folman's struggle with the surreal trauma that many veterans of that conflict retain.

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JERUSALEM--At first glance, Ehud Olmert and Bashar al-Assad have nothing in common. The first is a slick, media-savvy politico, while the second is an awkward, anti-charismatic, unloved and unlovable dictator. But Israel's prime minister and Syria's ruler have both concluded that the best way to beat the rap, respectively, on corruption and murder charges is to make peace with one another. That, at least, is the impression of many Israelis, prominent commentators among them, in light of last week's revelation of indirect talks between Syrian and Israeli negotiators in Turkey.

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Quiet Riot

What does Jerry Falwell have in common with Paul Wolfowitz and Howard Dean? What links columnist George Will with The New Republic? All, according to a recently issued "working paper," a shortened version of which appeared in the London Review of Books, are agents of an amorphous but incalculably powerful "Israel Lobby." That same inscrutable organization, the paper alleges, has dictated the decisions of politicians from George W. Bush to Jimmy Carter and determined the content of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. The goal of the lobby?

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Pass the Fault

Ticket lines for movies are rare in Israel, and rarer still for features that have already been showing for five weeks, and unprecedented for a German production centered on the character of Adolf Hitler.

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