Jerusalem—It was a nation of ambivalent Israelis that listened to President Obama’s latest Middle East plan—an interim agreement based on ending the occupation of the Palestinians while somehow ensuring the security of the Israelis. Israeli ambivalence is peculiar: It has nothing to do with uncertainty or confusion. Instead, to be an ambivalent Israeli is to be torn between two conflicting certainties.
In April, the southern Israeli town of Sderot hosted its eighth annual French film festival, which was an achievement more impressive than it sounds. Sderot is a small town, and it is also a poor one; it has only 20,000 residents, many of them immigrants from former Soviet Asian republics. But Sderot’s biggest challenge may be the missiles. For the past ten years, not long after the beginning of the Second Intifada in 2000, Hamas has launched thousands of Qassam missiles over the border from Gaza, barely a mile away.
When They Come for Us We’ll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry By Gal Beckerman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 598 pp., $30) By the standards of the 1960s, the founding demonstration of the Soviet Jewry movement was hardly notable. On May 1, 1964, a thousand students gathered across from the Soviet mission to the United Nations in Manhattan to protest a Soviet ban on baking matzo and other anti-Jewish measures. Compared to demonstrators for the far better known causes of the time, they were a tame lot. No one blocked traffic or scuffled with police.
Dear Imam Feisal, Ramadan Kareem. I pray that you are bearing up under the strain of recent months. I write as a well-wisher and friend. Though we met only briefly, our encounter turned out to be at a fateful moment, and, for me at least, was of lasting significance. We met, you will recall, on September 5, 2001, at a symposium on a book I was about to publish recounting my journey into Islam and Christianity in the Holy Land. (The book was actually released six days later, on September 11.) You appeared on the panel offering a Muslim response to my journey.
James Risen, a Washington-based writer, and Yossi Klein Halevi, a Jerusalem-based writer, have been friends since they both crashed the Nazi Party headquarters in Chicago as student reporters 30 years ago. They have been joking and arguing about news and politics ever since, especially when it comes to Israel and the Middle East. This e-mail exchange began in the shadow of the dispute between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government.
JERUSALEM—Suddenly, my city feels again like a war zone. Since the suicide bombings ended in 2005, life in Jerusalem has been for the most part relatively calm. The worst disruptions have been the traffic jams resulting from construction of a light rail, just like in a normal city.
The Israeli reactions to the Goldstone report on the Gaza war of January 2009 have focused, understandably, on its outrageous omissions and distortions and one-sided judgments, as well as on the moral corruption of the report's sponsor, the UN's Human Rights Commission.
Israelis are furious about an article printed in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet last week accusing the Israeli army of killing Palestinians in order to harvest their organs.