February 07, 2005
Breaking Ground: Adventures in Life and Architecture By Daniel Libeskind (Riverhead, 288 pp., $27.95) I. 'The most conspicuous thing about memorials is precisely that one does not notice them," Robert Musil famously wrote. We can walk along a street every day for months, getting to know each crack in the sidewalk, and yet be astonished one day to discover a plaque announcing that "from eighteen-hundred-something to eighteen-hundred-something-else the unforgettable Someone-or-other lived and worked here." Yet memorials, Musil continues, must not be allowed to fade into the background, because t
December 20, 2004
Franklin Foer on Persia and the neocons.
October 11, 2004
For more than a decade, you could take several things for granted in Turkey. Islamists normally had no role in government, the army was ultimately in charge of politics, and Ankara was a staunch ally of Israel. The rise of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's popular prime minister, whose party was elected in 2002 in the biggest vote in recent Turkish history, changed the first two assumptions. Erdogan hails from an Islamic party that had pushed for the legalization of the headscarf and other blurrings of the line between mosque and state.
September 27, 2004
Jerusalem, Israel--The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, had planned on offering the usual complaints when he visited Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last week. There was the stalled road map, Israel's security fence, and the recently announced expansion of West Bank settlements close to the Green Line. But, before he arrived in Jerusalem, something happened that changed Lavrov's agenda: the massacre of Russian children by Chechen Islamist terrorists.
June 07, 2004
This is wartime, which is no time to be soft. The terrorists are tough, and so we must be tough. I am feeling tough, and toughly I feel also that too many children are being killed by the right side in this war, by my side, by Americans and by Israelis, in whose actions I am differently and willingly implicated. It is not all the same war, of course, unless one accepts the Bush administration's reduction of all our enemies into one enemy, a simplification better suited to sermons than strategies.
Key to Success
June 07, 2004
In March 2003, Americans thrilled to televised scenes of U.S. forces moving into Iraq. Well-spoken soldiers, modern equipment, and embedded reporters suggested a sense of purpose, competence, and courage that resonated across the country. But today, 14 months later, the mission is in shambles, scarred by rising Iraqi popular discontent, continued attacks against U.S. forces, infiltration of foreign fighters, mounting civil strife, and no credible sense of direction. Despite President George W. Bush's calls for staying the course, American public opinion has clearly turned against the mission.
May 03, 2004
THE APRIL 14 meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was a climactic moment of both grim and hopeful truth. For Sharon and the Likud, it represented the belated and ideologically embittering acknowledgment of demography—the recognition that Israel can safely preserve its Jewish and democratic character only if its territory contains a hefty majority of Jews.
Politics by Other Means
March 22, 2004
A History of Modern Palestine:One Land, Two PeoplesBy Ilan Pappe (Cambridge University Press, 333 pp., $22) Ilan Pappe and I walked a stretch together in uneasy companionship, but we have now parted ways. In the late 1980s and early 1990s we belonged to a group dubbed the "New Historians" of Israel, which also included Avi Shlaim and Tom Segev. This group, contrary to the conspiratorial image projected by our critics, was never a close-knit or monolithic school of intellectuals who plotted together around the table at Friday-night meals. Some of us barely knew one another.
He Meant What He Said
February 02, 2004
I. Adolf Hitler's so-called second book was not published in his lifetime. Written, as Gerhard Weinberg convincingly speculates, in late June and early July 1928, the book’s publication was postponed because Mein Kampf, Hitler's first massive text, was selling very badly and could hardly stand competition with another publication by the same author. Later, after Hitler was appointed chancellor and Mein Kampf became one of the greatest (and allegedly most unread) best-sellers of all times, the second book was apparently seen as disclosing his foreign policy plans too explicitly to allow publica
Jerusalem Dispatch: Fantasy
December 15, 2003
Some two million Israeli homes recently received in the mail the 47-page text of the Geneva Accord, which claims to be the comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Accord, a European-funded effort secretly negotiated by Palestinian officials and Israeli public figures for two years--and signed in a symbolic, lavish ceremony in Geneva this week--states that Israel will withdraw to the 1967 borders, a Palestinian state will emerge with its capital in Jerusalem, and the two peoples will recognize each other's right to statehood and resolve the refugee issue.