The Party Line
April 07, 2010
Russia and the Arabs: Behind the Scenes in the Middle East from the Cold War to the Present By Yevgeny Primakov Translated by Paul Gould (Basic Books, 418 pp., $29.95) Over the decades, many people in the West, and certainly most Israelis, came to view the Soviet Union and then Russia as a force for ill, if not evil, in the Middle East, and perhaps farther afield as well.
Dear Rahm: Barack Obama and Yitzhak Rabin, The Link That Will Not Help
November 02, 2009
This coming Wednesday will be the 14th anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin at a Tel Aviv rally for the Oslo peace accords. Like the initial rally itself, the memorial--scheduled for Saturday, October 31, but postponed due to what turned out to be only light rains--was to be a highly charged political event. Except that in 1995, Israel was still stirred by hopes of bringing the decades of war with the Arabs to an end. Yet, at the same time, foreboding grew that these hopes themselves constituted a trap, a mortal trap.
How the Nobel Peace Prize Works
October 10, 2009
It is just about 15 years since Yasir Arafat received the Nobel Peace Prize. Everybody understood that the two leaders of the State of Israel who shared the award with him, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, actually deserved it. But Arafat's primary deed in life was to be a terrorist. A tactician of terror and a strategist of terrorism. Thinking about Arafat in the royal palace made me cringe then. When I went to Al Gore's installation two years ago, I could not get out of my head that the rais had stood in the same spot, a usurper and a fraud.
Jerusalem Dispatch: True Colors
February 14, 2005
Imagine the likelihood of thousands of American students, intellectuals, and Hollywood celebrities marching in support of George W. Bush, and you will begin to appreciate the marvel of the Israeli leftists now rallying around Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Reviled for engineering the Lebanon war, for masterminding the settlement movement, for opposing every attempt at reconciliation with the Palestinians, and as the personification of Israeli militarism and anti-Arab racism, Sharon today is viewed by many leftists as the settlers' bete noire and Israel's foremost champion of peace.
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.
October 28, 2002
Two types of people win the Nobel Peace Prize. The first are the more obvious: People who resolve international conflicts. In 1926, Aristide Briand and Gustav Stresemann won for the Locarno Pact, which supposedly guaranteed the borders of Germany, Belgium, and France. In 1929, America's Frank Kellogg won for the Kellogg-Briand Pact, in which the great powers renounced war. In 1973, Henry Kissinger and Vietnam's Le Duc Tho won for ending the Vietnam War.
Cambridge Diarist: Regrets
April 22, 2002
The 1929 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to U.S. Secretary of State Frank Kellogg. And why not? The year before, he had persuaded the great powers to outlaw war. Among those that ratified the historic Kellogg-Briand pact were the democratic countries, plus Germany, Japan, and Italy. High-minded people, deluded that signed agreements shaped history, were delirious with joy. Barely a decade later, of course, most of the world was plunged into war. Did the committee that chose the prize's recipients have any second thoughts?
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
Now He Tells Us
March 28, 1994
More than any other Jewish thinker, Maimonides, who lived in the twelfth century, still has sway over the modern mind and not just the modern mind of Jews. He was also a physician, and wrote widely on medicine. Among his voluminous writings--on drugs, asthma, sex, poisons, almost everything but managed competition--is this short prayer: "Supreme God in Heaven: Give me the merit to regard every suffering person ... as a human being, without any distinction between rich and poor, friend and foe, good person and bad.