Palestine

The Battle for Tora Bora

Four days before the fall of Kabul in November 2001, Osama bin Laden was still in town. The Al Qaeda leader’s movements before and after September 11 are difficult to trace precisely, but, just prior to the attacks, we know that he appeared in Kandahar and urged his followers to evacuate to safer locations in anticipation of U.S. retaliation. Then, on November 8, he was in Kabul, despite the fact that U.S. forces and their Afghan allies were closing in on the city.

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Derisionist History

Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations By Avi Shlaim (Verso, 392 pp., $34.95) Avi Shlaim burst upon the scene of Middle Eastern history in 1988, with the publication of Collusion Across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement, and the Partition of Palestine. Before that, as a young lecturer at Reading University in England, he had produced two books, British Foreign Secretaries Since 1945 (1977) and The United States and the Berlin Blockade, 1948–1949 (1983), and several revealing essays on modern Middle Eastern historical issues in academic journals.

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The Third Intifada

The Palestinian territories are descending into chaos, but many in Washington seem unconcerned. The Palestinians in the West Bank have too much to lose from a new uprising, some are arguing, given the recent moderate improvements in their daily lives. Others assert that the Palestinian Authority Security Forces, trained under American supervision, will prevent the Palestinians from making the mistakes of 1987 and 2000. Yet the dynamics of Palestinian politics indicate that a third intifada is likely to erupt in the near future.

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Awakenings

Jewish history in the 20th century is full of might-have-beens, most of them too sorrowful to bear thinking about. The brief cultural moment that Kenneth B. Moss resurrects in Jewish Renaissance in the Russian Revolution (Harvard University Press) is one of the least known and most fascinating of those aborted futures: a two-year period when writers, artists, and activists in Russia and Ukraine believed they were midwiving the birth of a new Jewish culture.

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There were more than 100 others wounded in the 2008 Palestinian rocket attack on the doctor's clinic.  She herself has had eight surgeries on her face.  Goldstone doesn't give a damn. There were more that 100. (Pictured: Rocket attack victim, Dr. Mirela Siderer, testifying before UN.) From UN Watch:  "Why Didn't You Tell Me U.N. Council Declared Israel Guilty From the Start? Why Did You Humiliate Me?" Geneva, September 29, 2009 - The U.N.

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The Truman No-Show

In 1949, a year after the state of Israel was created, its Chief Rabbi visited President Harry Truman in Washington. Isaac Halevi Herzog told Truman that his role in helping the Jewish state achieve its independence was not just a matter of politics and diplomacy; it was a divine mission.

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I believe in "the two-state solution" even though I don't really believe that the Palestinians constitute much of a nation. I also think that this is the reason why the Arabs of Palestine, historically and now, have never been able to muster the inner resources to grasp the spiritual strength (as well as the materially transformational qualities) of Zionism that made it all but impossible to beat. Whatever Obama is trying to coax out of the Israelis will not alter the Palestinian realities. Still, the Jordanians aren't much of a nation either.

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The phrase, "a government in Tel Aviv," does not come from an article written in 1948 during which the provisional government of Israel had, in fact, headquartered itself in the city then only 40 years old. Not at all.

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What Obama's Cairo speech got wrong.

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The past few years haven't been kind to foreign policy idealism--the belief that when authoritarian states mistreat their own people, it is a matter of concern for all of us. We idealists can largely blame ourselves for this. The biggest reason idealism fell out of favor was Iraq--a disastrous war that many of us foolishly supported in the naive belief that substituting liberalism for totalitarianism in the heart of the Middle East would be a relatively simple thing. We made mistakes beyond Iraq, too.

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