A Separate Peace
July 24, 2000
In a private conversation with recently resigned Interior Minister Natan Sharansky shortly after becoming prime minister of Israel, Ehud Barak said his goal was the creation of a Palestinian state in 50 percent of the West Bank. Until about a month ago, when the Israeli press leaked details of the Stockholm talks, it was widely assumed that no Israeli leader would dare offer Yasir Arafat more than 75 percent. This week, as Barak and the Palestinian leader meet at Camp David, both numbers are far too low to even merit discussion. What was once inconceivable is now inadequate. There are essentia
Exile and the Kingdom
March 15, 1998
Messianism, Zionism, and Jewish Religious Radicalism By Aviezer Ravitzky. Translated by Michael Swirsky and Jonathan Chipman (University of Chicago Press, 303 pp., $17.95) When it emerged as a political program for the Jews at the end of the nineteenth century, Zionism was a phenomenon for which traditional Jewish life was completely unequipped. It was new and it was perplexing, a movement that eluded categorization in the religious terms and the religious images of the past. It promised a political solution that was neither redemption nor exile.
Zionism At 100
September 17, 1997
Zionism was a necromantic dream, using necromancy in the apt dictionary definition of "the conjuration of the spirits of the dead for the purposes of magically revealing the future or influencing the course of events." It had three unique components: The rise of a collective messianism. Post-exilic Judaism begins with Ezra and Nehemiah and the return from the first Babylonian captivity. Jews had survived by becoming a people, practicing apartness and being united by the Book. It was a belief in national redemption rooted in the prophets and their system of ethical and social values.
A Man of Good Intentions
July 29, 1996
Profound disappointment creased the usually impassive face of Warren Christopher the night of May 29. The secretary of state and his staff on the seventh floor of the State Department were hearing about the election returns from Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu, a committed foe of trading the Golan Heights for peace with Hafez al-Assad's Syria, had defeated Shimon Peres, Israeli architect of the land-for-peace enterprise. Christopher had invested more than three years of effort, as well as presidential, national and personal prestige in trying to broker such a deal.
January 02, 1995
"Let me begin," says White House aide David Dreyer, "by contesting the premises of your question." It's a windless evening in November, and Dreyer is in his West Wing office, listening to a new recording of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier and defending the role of Tony Coelho, for whom Dreyer once worked, in the Democrats' electoral debacle. "First," he says, "Tony was not the party chair. He was never, to my knowledge, actually in the dnc building. Second, the role of party chair in a midterm election is relatively unimportant anyhow.
March 21, 1994
Clean Hands. In the course of many centuries, there were many crimes that Jews did not commit, but this was not least because they lacked the power to commit them. I remember the day that I discovered the obscure figure of Yusuf Asar. He appeared in a remarkable volume of Syriac Christian hagiographies, called Holy Women of the Syrian Orient. Yusuf Asar lived in the South Arabian kingdom of Himyar in the early sixth century. He was a Jew (or, according to the editors of the volume, "a Jewish upstart").
May 20, 1993
An interview with Qaddafi.
The End of Arab Nationalism
July 12, 1991
It is now a little more than half a century ago that George Antonius (an Alexandria-born Greek Orthodox writer of Palestinian background) published his manifesto, The Arab Awakening. All the grand themes of Arab nationalism were foreshadowed in Antonius's work: the "secularism" of the Arab nationalist movement, the primacy of the PanArab movement over "smaller" loyalties, the fragmentation of that movement at the hands of the colonial powers, and the presumed centrality of the Palestinian question to the entire Arab world. Antonius wrote with an Anglo-American audience in mind.
The Heresies of Pat Buchanan
October 22, 1990
Joe Sobran, a syndicated columnist who was himself accused of anti-Semitism a few years ago, offers this perspective on the Pat Buchanan flap: "Jewish claims are being cut down to size in various ways. It's coded by a lot of Jews as anti-Semitism. I don't think it is. It's more like counter-Semitism.'' Sobran says that "counter-Semitism," unlike anti-Semitism, does not seek a "negative outcome" for Jews.
Field of Dreams
September 04, 1989
From Beirut to Jerusalem By Thomas L. Friedman (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux 525 pp., $22.95) Thomas Friedman’s account of his journey as a reporter from Beirut to Jerusalem is rich in precisely the qualities that made his dispatches from those two capitals so memorable, and so breathtaking. We have to go back to David Halberstam, and perhaps to Homer Bigart, for another American foreign correspondent so unerringly alert to the illuminating detail.