October 29, 2001
Playing It Safe: How the Supreme Court Sidesteps Hard Cases and Stunts the Development of Law by Lisa Kloppenberg (New York University Press, 304 pp., $38) For many years, Israel's General Security Service has engaged in certain forms of physical coercion, reasonably described as torture, of suspected terrorists. Suspected terrorists have been repeatedly shaken, in a way that causes their heads and necks to dangle and to vacillate rapidly. They have been tied in chairs for long periods of time, their heads covered in opaque and foul-smelling sacks, while very loud music is played.
October 01, 2001
On Wednesday morning, the train was silent. Grim, tight-lipped, and still. No one looked me in the eye and nodded; thus instructed, I also did not look or nod. In the tunnel underneath the Pentagon, the smell of smoke filled the car, but no one stirred or sighed. Out of the tunnel, the smoking building came into view. A few sobs escaped, and then we returned underground and were silent again. Silent because if we had spoken we would have wailed. In many ways, we americans have done well. We have rebounded, and with vigor.
July 23, 2001
In 1967, at the height of the Six Day War, Israeli jets strafed and firebombed a seemingly hostile ship near the Sinai coast. Israeli torpedo boats quickly converged to finish the job, then abruptly ceased fire and offered assistance to the battered crew. Israel had attacked the USS Liberty. In all, 34 Americans died, and 171 were injured. Israeli leaders apologized promptly and profusely, explaining that they had mistaken the Liberty for an enemy vessel--an explanation that subsequent investigations in both the United States and Israel upheld.
January 15, 2001
In the lobby of Likud headquarters hangs a plaque with a quotation from Samson, a novel written by the party's mentor, the late Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky: "Tell them three things in my name, not two: Gather iron, anoint a king, and learn to laugh." For many years Ariel Sharon—the iron-willed general and Likud hard-liner—seemed faithful only to Jabotinsky's first two imperatives. He appeared at once aggrieved and combative; even his massive physical presence seemed provocative. Yet, at age 72, the public Sharon has learned to relax and even to laugh.
January 15, 2001
The months of Palestinian rage known as the "Al-Aqsa intifada"—they are actually only the latest outbursts in the years of Palestinian rage that have comprised most of the political history of the Palestinians—should have demonstrated that peace will be made on the ground or it will not be made at all. The recent violence exposed the peace process as an exercise of elites, of the a bientot crowd, who are always cordial toward each other.
Good To Go
January 15, 2001
Five years ago—five years and two months, to be exact—I wrote in these pages that "no president of the United States has had such valent sympathy for Israel as President Clinton." "You could see it on his face," I went on, "...
October 16, 2000
David Grann explores Hillary Rodham Clinton's efforts to obtain the support of Orthodox church leader Dov Hikind during her senatorial bid.
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.