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Iran: Lessons Learned

January 27, 2021

It’s not 2015 anymore.

President Biden faces a major challenge in the Middle East. How can the U.S. stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, ensure Middle East stability, and avoid new wars? In the six years since the nuclear agreement was reached between Iran and six world powers, we have learned important lessons about Iranian goals and behavior, about the region, and about international negotiations—lessons that can inform the administration’s decisions and help shape future policies.
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Understanding IHRA

November 27, 2020

Discussions about Israel, often passionate, occasionally get sidetracked by a descent into—or accusations of—antisemitic rhetoric. When does criticism cross the line from legitimate debate into antisemitic hate speech? Are Israel’s antagonists really bigots hiding behind a veil of political disagreement, or are Israel’s overzealous advocates falsely alleging antisemitism to deflect the conversation? Read the rest of this entry »

“Annexation” Pros & Cons

June 20, 2020


When the new government of Israel was finally sworn in in late April 2020, its coalition agreement allowed, beginning on July 1, a vote to apply Israeli law in parts of the West Bank, as part of the implementation of President Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan. This ignited a vigorous debate in Israeli, Jewish, and foreign-policy circles about the legality and wisdom of such a move. I sent my own thoughts to a few friends, some of whom asked to share it more broadly. This is a slightly edited version of the same thread. Read the rest of this entry »

Not Illegal

December 1, 2019

First, a disclaimer: Even if something is not illegal, it can still be wrong strategically, diplomatically, politically, or morally. I do not support the broad Jewish [re-]settlement project in Judea and Samaria/the West Bank; but the U.S. is correct in saying that settlement construction is not illegal under international law.  Read the rest of this entry »

BDS Casualties

July 17, 2019

The boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign (BDS, more accurately bigotry, deception, and slander) has failed spectacularly. Israel’s economy is booming, exports are expanding, tourism and foreign investment are thriving. But the misguided initiative has not been completely inconsequential. It has achieved some results and caused some pain—albeit not to its intended target. BDS efforts have hurt the Palestinian economy and people, the institutions unsuccessfully weaponized against Israel, the cause of peace, and innocent bystanders. Read the rest of this entry »

BDS Fails

July 12, 2019

The boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign is an effort to delegitimize the state of Israel and deny Jewish peoplehood and sovereignty. Its stated goals are to change Israeli policies with regard to borders and settlements, civil and political rights for Israel’s Arab minority (who in fact already enjoy full civil and political rights), and absorbing millions of descendants of Palestinian refugees who aim to overrun—and ultimately to destroy—the Jewish state.  Read the rest of this entry »

Major Lessons from Minor Events

December 23, 2018

Last month, Israel engaged in a military operation that did not escalate into a war, resulting in a coalition crisis that did not bring down the government. Non-events, in the global scheme of things, right? But despite the limited scope of both episodes, they revealed two more significant trends with longer-lasting implications. One was the Israeli public reaction to the Gaza ceasefire. The other was Prime Minister Netanyahu’s surprising caution and moderation. Read the rest of this entry »

The Nation-State of the Jewish People

September 5, 2018

Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, just as Japan is the nation-state of the Japanese and Finland is the nation-state of the Finns. A nation-state is a self-ruling ethnic group, one that practices self-determination and political sovereignty within defined national borders. Read the rest of this entry »

Jerusalem, Israel’s Capital

December 21, 2017

Long before the term “Zionism” described the national liberation movement of the Jewish people—the quest to reunite an indigenous people with its ancestral homeland—“Zion” was a synonym for the city of Jerusalem. The city was the center of Jewish religious and political life since the Israelite Kingdom of Saul, David, and Solomon, and its national capital and the site of the Jewish Temple since the 11th century B.C.E. Mentioned hundreds of times in the Hebrew Bible, Jerusalem remained the Jewish spiritual center throughout the centuries of exile and dispersion. It has always been the target of Jewish prayer; “Next year in Jerusalem” is a traditional refrain of longing for personal and communal redemption. Read the rest of this entry »

Ending the Conflict

November 29, 2017

Arab states created the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; they now have the opportunity—and the responsibility—to end it. Over the last seventy years, Arab countries have, on three different historical occasions, sacrificed their Palestinian brethren at the altar of their anti-Israel animus. It is time for them to correct this historical injustice and bring peace to the Middle East. Read the rest of this entry »