Jerusalem, Israel—I’ve spent the past week in Israel listening to as many voices as I could. Based on what I’ve heard, a rough summary of the situation is this: Benjamin Netanyahu offers no viable alternative to the status quo, and the opposition offers no viable alternative to Netanyahu. Until Mahmoud Abbas recognizes Israel as a Jewish state, the prime minister says, serious talks are impossible. And besides, negotiating with a coalition that includes Hamas is unthinkable.
May 25, 2011
In his State Department speech last week, Barack Obama threw down the gauntlet to Benjamin Netanyahu. In the Oval Office a day later, and more fully in an address to Congress yesterday, Netanyahu picked it up and threw it right back. The question now is whether this clash can be turned into a new understanding between the United States and Israel that improves the prospects for the two-state solution both parties say they want. To bring this about, Obama will have to make further tweaks to his approach and rethink his declared stance on Palestinian refugees, among other matters.
The Problem With Obama’s Middle East Speech
May 24, 2011
Who is the forty-fourth president of the United States? After two-and-a-half years, we should have a pretty good idea. But we still don’t. Barack Obama remains a canvas for the mind—a wondrous, vexing projection surface. He is a rock star and redeemer to his devotees, and a left-wing Darth Vader to his enemies. Yet, above all, he is a man of too many qualities; take your pick. Or take his vaunted speech last week on North Africa and the Middle East.
Yes, We Can’t
May 20, 2011
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.
That Nebo Feeling
May 19, 2011
Who lost Fayyad? This is the question that historians, and Israelis, and Palestinians, will ask about the most recent spiral into nothingness of the search for the necessary peace.
May 19, 2011
Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington is a good opportunity for the prime minister and President Obama to ponder why decades of strenuous diplomatic efforts and hundreds of billions in aid have done so little to advance peace or improve the lot of Palestinians, who still languish in refugee camps or in chronic penury under the oppressive rule of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas. For decades, diplomats have been seeking formal peace based on the political separation of Jews and Arabs.
May 12, 2011
A specter is haunting the hopeful promise of a democratic Egypt—the specter of popularly legitimated anti-Semitism that would result from the electoral success of the Muslim Brotherhood. In light of the democratic victories enjoyed by Hamas in the 2006 elections in the West Bank and Gaza, the prospect is not a hypothetical one.
There’s just so much press attention the Arab world can receive before even obsessives like me begin to tire of its frenzy, pitilessness, and perfidy. Yes, endless repetition of violence and violation can also seem routine. Which, to tell you God’s honest truth, they are. There is a great deal of exactitude behind this morbid fact. Still, the present upheavals in their cumulative impact are deadening. Not only to the victims of the regimes but to their observers, commentators, rapporteurs. Actually, many of these observers, perhaps most, are infatuated with the Arabs.
Tel Aviv Journal: Bin Laden, Israel, and Obama
May 05, 2011
Martin Peretz discusses American foreign policy in the Middle East in the aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s death.
Town and Country
May 05, 2011
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.