Speak No Evil
February 07, 2005
President Bush's inaugural speech was delivered on the day Muslims around the world celebrated Eid Ul Azha, the festival marking the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj. But, as soon as it was over, the state- run news media of authoritarian U.S. allies in the Middle East were quick to criticize it. Egypt's Al Ahram lamented that Bush made no reference to either Iraq or Palestine, the two most important issues in the region Bush hopes most to democratize.
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.
Money and Soul
January 12, 2004
The PatronA Life of Salman Schocken,1877-1959By Anthony David(Metropolitan Books, 451 pp., $ 30)For a year in the early 1960s, not long after finishing college, I had a job working for Schocken Books, a small publishing house in New York. Actually, "small" is something of an overstatement. Schocken consisted at the time of four people working in a two-room apartment on 38th Street and Park Avenue: the editor-in-chief Herzl Rome, two secretaries, and the editorial staff, which was me.
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.
April 21, 2003
The Palestinian People: A History By Baruch Kimmerling and Joel S.
October 28, 2002
A Race Against Death: Peter Bergson, America, and the Holocaust by David S. Wyman and Rafael Medoff (The New Press, 269 pp., $26.95) Twenty-five years ago, while researching Holocaust history for the Joint Distribution Committee in New York, and as I was preparing to immigrate to Israel, I came across a clipping from The New York Times from 1936.
September 09, 2002
I am not one of those who believes democracy will come soon either to Iraq or to the entity to be called Palestine (when—and if—the Palestinians finally grasp that they cannot have both a state and a warrant to kill Israelis). There is no reason to believe either of these polities will succeed in the democratic experiment that has failed or, to be more precise, has not been seriously tried in the Arab world. But there are improvements short of democracy: police who are not routinely brutal, government that isn't routinely corrupt, and courts that are not satraps of politics.
July 08, 2002
Jerusalem, Israel "The world hates us and always will," a neighbor said to me on the stairs before wishing me a good day. "What more do you need than the Holocaust?" He is Sephardi, without familial memory of Europe; but the bitter, new mood of besieged Israel has penetrated everywhere.
October 22, 2001
“Anyone who thinks Islam is a religion of peace has never been to the Sudan,” said the county commissioner in Malual Kon, a small village nestled among farms and swampy grassland about ten miles from the front line of the country’s civil war. There, where Christians and animists have spent almost 20 years resisting the Sudanese government’s self-declared jihad, political correctness is in short supply. “They teach their children that killing a non-Muslim is a key to paradise,” the Christian official explained further.
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.