When dealing with certain politicians, to borrow a phrase from comic Patton Oswalt, I don’t always know where to start or where to begin. Take Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX).
Gohmert appeared on CSPAN’s Washington Journal on Wednesday to discuss immigration reform, but he and host Greta Brawner understandably opened with the Boston Marathon bombings. Gohmert led by singing the praises of 9/12—that is, the day after 9/11: "There were no hyphenated Americans that day, there were no Euro-Americans, African-Americans, everybody was an American, and it was just such a warm time," he said.
Win McNamee / Getty Images
Ok, first of all: I have the sneaking suspicion that hyphenated Americans who have the words “Arab,” “Muslim,” “South Asian,” “Iranian,” “Sikh,” or, in some cases, “Latino” to the left of their hyphen would beg to differ regarding the warmth of 9/12. These Americans surely suffered alongside the rest of us (indeed, some were among the dead), but pretty much no one let them forget that hyphen—not for a day, not for a minute.
Then the good Congressman managed to link this week’s bombings to his opposition to immigration reform, using Israeli blood to make his point:
We’ve seen this in Israel, and after Israel had to suffer the slings and arrows, and deaths and the maimings for so long—I’ve been in the coffee shops over there: ‘Oh this was a coffee shop where a bomber killed a bunch of people, oh this is a park bench area where people were killed, that’s where that bus blew up that killed a bunch of people’….
Finally the Israeli people said, you know what: Enough. They built [the Security Barrier] to prevent snipers from knocking off their kids and they finally stopped the domestic violence from people that wanted to destroy them, and I am concerned we need to do that as well.
Barack Obama's Jerusalem speech was an appeal directly to the Israeli public, even mentioning that change must start "not just in the plans of leaders, but in the hearts of people." Obama went on at length: "Political leaders will never take risks if the people do not push them to take some risks. You must create the change that you want to see." With Israel having just sworn in perhaps its most right-wing government ever just before the visit, Obama's message—and its reception among the students in the room—must have heartened the young, ambitious Israeli liberals who last year started a new think-tank called Molad.
A screen-capture of Molad's English-language website.
Obama's message was narrowly about peace, but it dovetailed with Molad's. Billing itself as "the Center for the Renewal of Israeli Democracy," the new group aims to foster a liberal political ethos capable of pushing Israel back from its hard-right turn, alleviating both the prevailing economic and geopolitical pressures on Israeli citizens wrought by the dominant factions' policies. "We're trying to be very political. We're not trying to hide it," Assaf Sharon, one of Molad's founders, told me recently at the group's headquarters in Jerusalem. "We're trying to build a political camp and give it ideas."
To do that, Molad draws heavily from the well of lefty activism. Along with Molad co-founder Avner Inbar, Sharon comes from the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity movement, a group that organized against evictions of Palestinians in East Jerusalem to make way for settlers. Molad's policy and communications director Mikhael Manekin was the director of Breaking the Silence, an NGO that collects anonymous testimonials from Israeli veterans (Sharon also worked with BTS). The former Knesset speaker Avrum Burg makes for what some call a sort of spiritual guide—though the website lists him as just a "Senior Fellow and Advisor"—and the staff roster and board are rounded out by a few other notable former officials, academics, and young go-getters. (Full disclosures: the Molad analyst and editor Elisheva Goldberg is a friend and former Open Zion editor; Manekin's father Charles is a personal friend.)
Margaret Thatcher's death has been the catalyst, in Britain, for a wide-ranging debate over her legacy. It's a debate that was conducted, by mainstream politicians at least, with a great deal of reverence, in contrast to the spontaneous street parties that broke out in celebration of her death. Tony Blair and many others, however, stood up for the respect that should be shown to a person in “their moment of passing.”
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher waves to the photographer from her London office window, Aug. 21, 1991. (Nigel Marple/AP)
I disagree with the chorus of hatred for Thatcher. In order to be characterised as evil, I think your probably need to do evil things for evil reasons. Thatcher did some evil things, but very rarely, if ever, for evil reasons. On many issues she was wrong, and the left were right to oppose her bitterly. On many issues she was in the right, and ahead of her time, and thus many of the policies over which she was opposed have become part of the political consensus. The British economy was in need of radical restructuring, and she made this happen, although she often did this with a callous disregard for those who stood to lose out. I wouldn’t have voted for her, but I certainly don't celebrate her death. She was Britain's longest-serving Prime Minister of modern times and therefore deserved, I think, some sort of public recognition upon her passing. But it would be disrespectful to the memory of this great parliamentarian—this woman who used to revel in the cut and thrust of public debate—not to subject her legacy to continued public scrutiny. And I would like to do so as a Zionist.
Thatcher—despite being a great friend of Israel (such that our Prime Minister attended her funeral), and despite serving as something of an economic role-model for Netanyahu's own personal financial policies, making modern-day Israel a beacon of Thatcherism—espoused an ideology that basically threatens to usher in the death of Zionism.
Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz lived on Ussishkin Street in Jerusalem. The street was named by Menachem Ussishkin himself. An early Zionist leader, prideful, pugnacious, Ussishkin headed the Jewish National Fund for nearly 20 years. In 1931 he built an imposing house on what was then Yehudah Halevi Street, named for the 12th century philosopher-bard. All the streets in the new neighborhood of Rehaviah were named for poets and philosophers of the Spanish Golden Age. For his 70th birthday, Ussishkin decided to honor himself. He ordered JNF workers to remove all the signs saying "Yehudah Halevi" and replace them with ones that bore his own name. And so the name of the street is Ussishkin unto this day.
You can't imagine Yeshayahu Leibowitz doing this. If Leibowitz knew that city council members would one day propose naming a street after him and that the proposal would cause so much loud opposition that the mayor would have to drop it from the agenda, as happened last week, he would have felt honored by the controversy: The Yeshayahu Leibowitz Memorial Upheaval.
Picture dated February 1994 shows Yeshayahu Leibowitz, 91, Israel's most famous philosopher and critic of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. (Ricky Rosen / AFP / Getty Images)
The last time I visited Leibowitz was 19 years ago, on Israeli Memorial Day, 1994. I came to his home to pick up a handwritten article on the weekly Torah portion that he wrote for my magazine. Picking up Leibowitz's articles was the very best part of my job, because he would invite me in and talk, which is to say rage, for an hour or so. There was in fact enough space between the books to sit down in his living room. Between the top of each row of books and the bottom of the shelf above, more books in sundry languages were squeezed in on their sides. I don't know how many languages he spoke, but English was not among the first four he'd learned. Each time he'd hand me an article, he'd say, "You know English is not my mother tongue. You will have to edit it." The second part of this statement was false: All I had to do was read his shaky handwriting and type the article. His English was polished. His thoughts were precise, as if cut with a diamond-cutter's tools. A beautiful fury shone from within them. I believed back then with a perfect faith that Leibowitz had lived into his nineties because the Angel of Death refused to obey the order to take him, insisting that a black flag of illegality flew over it.
"I hope that after she got the headline she was after, she will drop this dangerous and irresponsible idea."
--Deputy Finance Minister and former Jerusalem police chief Miki Levy slams Likud MK Miri Regev for her possibly explosive plan to tour Jerusalem's Temple Mount in order to look into bringing Jews back to pray at the contentious holy site.
- Arab police volunteer says humiliated by senior Israeli officers - Volunteer, Yousef Balal, tells Haaretz his story after receiving no answer to letters he wrote to the police commissioner and public security minister, describing the October 2012 incident. (Haaretz+)
- Education Ministry: We will add more locations to visit on school trips to Hebron - After declaring recently that "We need to change the place that the students visit," Education Minister Shai Piron made clear: Children of Israel will continue to visit the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. (Maariv, p. 13/NRG Hebrew)
- Outgoing Palestinian prime minister calls for general elections - In his last address as prime minister, Salam Fayyad called for general elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and pledged to remain involved in Palestinian politics. (Haaretz+)
- Israeli plan to rebuild Herod’s tomb scrapped due to experts' criticism - The reconstruction of the West Bank monument, which would have set a precedent as the world's first archaeological structure to be fully restored, was championed by a local politician but slammed by archaeologists and academics as ostentatious and populist. (Haaretz+)
- The fence in Ofra was dismantled, security was heightened - A security fence built around Ofra settlement north of Ramallah was dismantled yesterday two months after a High Court order deadline. The fence was built on privately-owned land of Palestinian villagers from Yabrud. Last night the settlement was 'exposed without any protection,' Maariv reported. (Maariv, p. 1/NRG Hebrew)
- Israeli military court sentences Palestinian-American teen for throwing stones - New Orleans-born Mohammad Khalek was sentenced to two weeks in prison and fined $830, Palestinian prisoner rights group Addameer reported. Khalek's lawyer said interrogators told him that if he confessed to rock throwing quickly, he would be released. (Haaretz+)
- East Jerusalem terror cell charged with planning to abduct Israelis - According to indictment, cell also planned a terror attack against Israeli security personnel at Temple Mount. Cell leader Nur Hamdan, 25, confesses to planning attack, says inspired by YouTube videos depicting previous attacks against Jews in Jerusalem. (Israel Hayom)
For the full News from Israel.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking today to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, explained why he’s going about his Israeli-Palestinian shuttle diplomacy with such a sense of urgency. He believes the two-state solution will die within two years, if Israel and Palestine can’t come to an agreement before then. As Haaretz reported:
"I can guarantee you that I am committed to this because I believe the window for a two-state solution is shutting," Kerry told lawmakers. "I think we have some period of time, a year to year-and-a-half to two years, or it's over."
"Everybody I talk to in the region and all of the supporters globally who care want us to move forward on a peace effort," he added. "They're all worried about the timing here. So there's an urgency to this, in my mind, and I intend on behalf of the president's instructions to honor that urgency and see what we can do to move forward."
Kerry did not spell out why he believes so little time is left for an agreement that would establish an independent Palestine existing alongside a Jewish state recognized by its neighbors.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on April 09, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Matty Ster / U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv via Getty Images)
Kerry may not have spelled it out, but, frankly, it shouldn’t be that much of a head-scratcher. In fact, yesterday’s news may have spelled it out for him. Though the Haaretz article goes on to gesture vaguely in the direction of “the growing numbers and political strength of Israel's settlers,” it neglects to connect Kerry’s statement to an announcement issued by Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel less than 24 hours earlier. Speaking at an Independence Day event, Ariel said that “in another year and a half apartments will be built in E1,” referring to the highly controversial E1 area of the West Bank. He added that it is “our right and our obligation to build here.”
With unanimous consent from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a revised version of a resolution that originally sought to green-light any Israeli attack on Iran will now pass to the hands of the full Senate. With backing from the influential Israel lobby group AIPAC and 79 co-sponsors, the non-binding resolution looks poised to pass the upper chamber. While the new language assuages some fears about the original bill, the trajectory of the stated push by one of its hawkish co-authors, Lindsey Graham, seems decidedly on track to ratchet up tensions between Iran, and Israel and the United States.
The most troubling clause of the resolution itself—one that pledged unconditional U.S. support, including "military" support, for an Israeli strike on Iran—was modified in a mark-up by the committee. Joel Rubin of the Ploughshares Fund noted to ThinkProgress that invoking the mark-up procedures was "relatively rare for this type of resolution"—perhaps spurred by harsh criticisms and activism by pro-peace groups. One of the latter groups, the liberal pro-Israel group Americans for Peace Now, which pressed its activists to get in touch with their representatives on the Hill, catalogued the changes in the new version in a press release:
- It refers to “legitimate” self-defense, making clear that the U.S. will judge what is and is not genuinely an act of self-defense.
- It explicitly narrows the scope of what would qualify as a legitimate act of self-defense to one taken against “Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” as opposed to any Iranian targets.
- It makes clear that support for Israel in such a case must be in accordance with U.S. law, including constitutional requirements for Congressional authorization of use of force before committing the U.S. to any military action.
The resolution was a centerpiece of AIPAC's legislative agenda coming out of its annual policy conference in March—one of the "asks" its own thousands of activists made of Members of Congress. Yesterday, the group reacted by praising the resolution's move to the full Senate and urging its passage, while never mentioning the language changes. The AIPAC press release added: "The resolution also reiterates that the policy of the United States is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability and to take such action as may be necessary to implement this policy." This is indeed the policy of Israel, and the policy of the Romney campaign, and the policy which Graham has pressed—on the same disingenuous grounds as AIPAC—upon the Obama administration, and the policy which the Congress adopted on Graham's heels. But neither Congress nor Netanyahu nor Mitt Romney set U.S. foreign policy: that's left up to the President of the United States. Barack Obama has been unequivocal that he will prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon; the Iranian nuclear "capability" drawing the ire of AIPAC, Netanyahu and Congress is ill-defined, except that it surely sets a lower threshold for war.
To ignore this dynamic is precisely the point. As Scott McConnell wrote of the original version of the bill, the intent was "to broadcast the falsehood that the U.S. and Israel see the Iranian nuclear issue in exactly the same terms." It's perhaps most remarkable because it requires forgetting what happened just a few short months ago when the aforementioned forces—Congress, Netanyahu and Romeny—led respective campaigns to pressure Obama into making the shift from his own "red lines" to Bibi's, which he didn't. Papering over these lasting gaps, as Netanyahu and Obama did in Israel, doesn't make them disappear, but it does maintain for now the improbable illusion that the interests of these two nuclear-armed allies are perfectly aligned.
After agreeing to the terms of the November 2012 ceasefire, Hamas and Israel have been engaged in indirect talks, mediated by Egypt, the guarantor of the peace. These talks represent a step in the right direction. However, to save the fragile ceasefire, they must be accompanied by a real change in policy.
Gaza's Hamas government prime minister Ismail Haniya and Hamas leader-in-exile Khaled Meshaal greet Palestinians as they parade the streets following Meshaal's arrival in Gaza City, on December 7, 2012. (Mohammed Abed / AFP / Getty Images)
Since Hamas took power in the Gaza Strip in 2007, Israel has dealt with the group through a strategy of non-recognition, isolation of Gaza, and military deterrence aimed at making Hamas's job of running Gaza extremely difficult, hoping to weaken them. However, this policy has not resulted in the implosion of Hamas, though it has resulted in inflicting severe harm on Gaza and its population and a dramatic deterioration in living standards. Although the situation partially improved following a “relaxation” of the restrictions since the summer of 2010, progress has been limited with extremely grim forecasts of what the future holds for Gaza. The restrictions have also greatly accelerated the social and economic disparities between the West Bank and Gaza, whose real GDP per capita dropped from 89 to 43 percent of the West Bank's between 2006 and 2009.
Lacking a political approach with respect to Hamas, Israel has invested in defending its home-front while boosting deterrence. However, as the repeated cycles of violence demonstrate, an approach that relies solely on military deterrence has delivered neither stability nor permanent security. Therefore, the current approach needs to be dramatically revised before the next escalation.
This week, while celebrating its 65th anniversary, Israel should be the toast of the world. A model “new nation,” the Jewish State may be the most successful of the post-colonial states that emerged in the twentieth-century’s wave of nation-building as the great nineteenth-century empires collapsed. Starting with little, Israel quickly developed a thriving democracy, a booming economy, and a list of impressive technological and pharmacological achievements that have made life worldwide easier, safer, happier, and longer lasting. Yet, for all its accomplishments, the start-up nation has also been the embattled state, built on contested territory, surrounded by hostile enemies many of whom seek to destroy it.
The duality of this high-tech Athens yet tough Sparta helps explain the intense, polarizing, sometimes-hysterical emotions the country often stirs. And this defining paradox also results in two different ways of periodizing its history, telling its tale. The conventional approach tells Israel’s story as the story of the Arab-Israeli conflict—going from war to war, and peace prospect to peace prospect, starting with the 1948 Independence War through 1967 and 1973, bringing in Palestinian terrorism and the Egyptian peace treaty, then reaching today’s no-real-peace-no-real-war stalemate. That narrative of war-making and peace-processing must be complemented with a happier story, showing how the society grew from the austere 1940s and 1950s to the lush and plush 2000s and 2010s.
Zoltan Kluger / GPO / Getty Images
Beyond the conflict, and despite the conflict, Israel has thrived. During the 1950s, Israel was overwhelmed with the task of absorbing 850,000 Jews from Arab countries, turning these refugees into citizens overnight—but taking much longer to help them become Israelis. By the 1960s, Israel’s economy had more than doubled in size and stabilized—by Israel’s 15th birthday in 1963, 97 percent of Israelis had running water, 93 percent had electricity—a remarkable accomplishment few of its neighbors matched. Israel was also the toast of the international community, with its communal farming settlement, the kibbutz, seen as its defining institution. Moreover, fulfilling the vision of Zionism’s founder, Theodor Herzl, who dreamed of helping to liberate Africa once the Jewish State was established, Israelis were working on development projects in dozens of new African countries—an initiative squelched in Israel’s 25th year, when Libya and Saudi Arabia used petrodollars to bribe poor African countries into boycotting Israel.
Apparently, Steve Emerson has literally forgotten the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the scene of his own most infamous mistake—which he repeated today.
Yet the purported terrorism expert somehow retains enough of his cachet to keep getting invited to talk about terrorism at places like AIPAC's annual conference and on cable television. All this even after he's been wrong again and again when it comes to his predictions and analysis of terror incidences. Most notably, he's been wrong in pronouncements that Islamic extremists were behind terrorist attacks; the most famous example came when Emerson blamed the 1995 bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City on Muslims because he said the attack bore a "Middle East trait" of being "done with the intent to inflict as many casualties as possible." That's what makes it so stunning that he completely forgot about this example today on Fox News when the anchor asked him about what it would mean if an Al Qaeda was behind the Boston Marathon bombing yesterday:
EMERSON: Remember that those domestic extremist groups, the white extremist groups or individuals, used guns, to carry out their attacks. And then they committed suicide or were caught. But this is the first time—
HOST: Oklahoma City bombing... bombing, a truck bomb.
EMERSON: That's actually very true. But this is the first time since 9/11 that an actually bombing's occurred successfully.
Perhaps Emerson was so convinced by his own misbegotten conclusions in 1995 that he's completely internalized them. Or perhaps, like ideologues everywhere, he simply allows his view of reality to be distorted by his ideology.
Salam Fayyad has achieved what the world thought was impossible. He finally got Fatah and Hamas to agree on something: the two bitterly divided factions both happily accepted his resignation.
During the 2006 legislative elections, the American-educated Dr. Fayyad ran alongside Hanan Ashrawi as part of the Third Way party. Both won their seats. Fayyad was vocally secular and anti-corruption. In June of 2007, he was appointed Prime Minister by Mahmoud Abbas. The key word here is appointed, not elected, which means he had zero legitimate popular support. Fayyad stepped into his new role after Abbas lost control of Gaza and declared a "national emergency" that conveniently has yet to end. He is considered a technocrat, which I believe means he's a Democrat who loves glowsticks.
Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad (R) tastes olive-based products during the annual Olive Harvest Festival in the Palestinian West Bank town of Bethlehem on November 3, 2012. (Musa Al-Shaer / AFP / Getty Images)
Complicating things is the fact that Hamas has its very own Prime Minister, the ever-lovable Ismail Haniyeh. This did nothing to bolster Fayyad's already shaky street credibility. It’s kind of like having two Popes minus the red shoes, and just like Pope Benedict XVI, Fayyad never caught on with the flock. The Palestinian streets’ number one beef with him was that they believed he was America’s puppet. This shouldn't have been a deal-breaker, though, since rumor has it the entire leadership is bought and paid for by the U.S. So what made Fayyad so special that he didn't get a pass and was, instead, the target of such wrath?
The social and political impact in the United States of the outcome of the investigation into the bomb attacks on the Boston Marathon is almost impossible to overestimate. It will, in all likelihood, define several key cultural markers for the next generation of Americans.
Although the country has been awash with violence of many different kinds, including various terrorist acts, this is by far the most culturally and politically significant since the 9/11 atrocities. Like 9/11, and the Oklahoma City bombing before it, the attack on the Boston Marathon has profound and national symbolic resonance. Nothing since September 11, 2001 compares in this regard.
Medical workers aid an injured woman at the scene of a bomb blast near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion in Boston on April 15, 2013. (Charles Krupa/AP)
Few facts are known and authorities say no suspects are identified or in custody. Therefore, a huge range of potential perpetrators with widely divergent motivations remains potentially culpable.
But within the wide range of possible scenarios, three obviously stand out. The culprits could be right-wing, anti-government American extremists. They might be some other kind of domestic extremists, or even a lone madman. But there is also the distinct possibility that the bombings may prove to be linked to some group of Muslim extremists, either foreign or domestic.
It is this last category that would have most impact.
Every spring brings a whipsaw of emotion to the American-Israeli peace-advocate Jew living in self-imposed exile (me, in this case, but I’m guessing I’m not alone).
Every year, I launch my Passover cleaning with a combined loathing of cleaning, a general-all-purpose laziness, and an overwhelming longing for home—and anger at the Israeli policies that inspired my Jerusalemite husband and me to choose the Diaspora over home, for the sake of our children. This invariably crests on the day of the Seder, as I get weepy over boxes of matzah and the recipes of beloved Tel Aviv friends, and then it passes, more or less, as the trial of the cleaning fades, and my little family revels in our little Pesach traditions. I engage with the Divine, I feel a special joy. A week later it’s back to the everyday—and every year I think that the roller coaster is behind me.
The Palestinian flag flies from the building housing the General Delegation of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Washington on January 18, 2011. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images)
Then another week passes, and suddenly it’s Holocaust Day. Almost without noticing, I sink into a kind of numb horror, a boundless grief, listening to Israeli radio and reading the memories of the millions lost, weeping off and on all day it seems, slowly emerging as the sun sets and our yahrzeit candle burns low. Again, I long to be with my people, and internally rage at the reasons that I find myself a stranger in a strange land. And again I think it’s passed.
And then a week later it’s the eve of Israeli Memorial Day, Yom HaZikaron, which is, in turn, the lead-in to Israeli Independence Day, Yom HaAtzmaut. And as much as I don’t know how to process the emotions of Passover and Holocaust Day, Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut bring with them an entirely different degree of difficulty.
The United States likes to think of itself as a benevolent force in the world, a view held by the range of political persuasions from liberal internationalists to neoconservatives. But the latest political drama to grip Palestine—the resignation of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad—gives a window into just how skewed this self-image can be when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There's no push there for international partners to adhere to the rule of law; instead, the U.S. is asking Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the opposite. Secretary of State John Kerry, amid shuttling back and forth to the Middle East, reportedly asked the Palestinians to ignore their own laws and retain Fayyad as long as possible (with my emphasis):
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) meets with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on April 7, 2013 in Ramallah, West Bank. (Thaer Ganaim / PPO via Getty Images)
"It looks like the president will wait to see the result of the two months that Kerry has asked for before he nominates a new prime minister," said a senior official close to Abbas who declined to be named. Palestinian law stipulates that Abbas should appoint a successor within two weeks. However, the president himself has overstayed his own mandate by four years and parliament has not met for six, indicating flexibility in the rulebook.
Fayyad, of course, rose to the role of prime minister only when the office was vacated by Hamas. That abdication came thanks to the civil war that bifurcated the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories into distinct parts: the West Bank under the P.A. and the Gaza Strip in the hands of Hamas. The schism—which erupted in 2007, after Hamas won parliamentary elections the year before, with the group's violent takeover of Gaza—came in the form of a pre-emptive counter-coup against a U.S.-backed plan to oust Hamas from power. That's when Fayyad, a technocrat, was appointed to be a prime minister with not even the shred of democratic legitimacy enjoyed by the man who appointed him.
Israel turns 65 today, old enough to know better; and if life begins at conception, the state and I are exactly the same age. So forgive me for going all meta. I can imagine pretty much what I'll be, if at all, in 20 years. But Israel?
I ask because the conflict with the Palestinians seems headed to something bad, yet the peace process has become a great bore. Presumably, everybody knows the arguments and grievances and indignations. They know that two states have been preempted by Tel Aviv's complacency, or settler momentum, or Ramallah's nostalgia, or Gaza's missiles; that we're too afraid and they're too angry; that you can care about "Jewish," or about refugees, but not both; that the occupation has created one state anyway, and seriousness about human rights means demanding one-person, one-vote, a notional prelude to a political dream palace, which actually means a prelude to Bosnia, but never mind.
Thaer Ganaim/PPO via Getty
But wait: isn't John Kerry serious and hasn't President Obama inspired? Won't a renewal of Palestinian insurgency, with Syria in chaos and the Egyptian economy collapsing, lead to regional violence? Even if Israel has the power to win any war, don't Palestinians have the power to make them despise any victory? Boring. Everybody also knows that in restarting negotiations over restarting negotiations, Kerry's in denial about how far apart the sides are, or the limited power of American diplomacy to force them closer, or (the same thing) the limited power of the president to defy the Israel lobby.
Matthew Kalman broke the story of physicist Stephen Hawking’s boycott of Israel. Then Cambridge University tried to falsely deny it.