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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 »

So Wrong

June 28, 2017

At a recent gay-pride march in Chicago, organizers asked a number of women to leave because they were carrying Jewish Pride flags. The flag—a rainbow with a Jewish star—was deemed “offensive” and made other participants feel “unsafe.” The reason? Besides being about LGBTQ rights, participants were told, the march was also “anti-Zionist” and “pro-Palestinian.” This is so wrong on so many fronts. Let me count the ways. Read the rest of this entry »

Jewish and Democratic

March 3, 2017

Many people, motivated by genuine love and concern for the State of Israel, have urged Israel to reach a territorial accommodation with the Palestinians. Their goal is to ensure that Israel can maintain its identity, so central to the Zionist dream, of being both Jewish and democratic. Ruling over a non-Jewish population, the argument goes, places these two ideals at odds with each other. If Israel annexes the West Bank it must either absorb a sizable Arab population, becoming a bi-national state rather than a Jewish one, or deny these people the full rights and privileges of citizenship, thus sacrificing its democratic character. Read the rest of this entry »

What’s New in UNSC 2334

January 7, 2017

On December 23, 2016, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 2334 condemning Israel and its settlement policy. Justifying American acquiescence to this shameful pronouncement, administration officials and apologists argued that the U.S. has always allowed, or even supported, anti-Israel resolutions in the Security Council. This claim is not only false, it’s preposterous: Since 1973 the United States has vetoed at least 30 Security Council resolutions regarding “occupied Arab territories” and “the Palestinian question.” Read the rest of this entry »

Why We Lost

[Note: I don’t normally publish here my writings on American domestic politics, especially partisan politics, but I have not found another forum for these comments, so am offering them here in the hope of prompting self-reflection and discussion among Democrats and their supporters.]

November 18, 2016

Like millions of Americans who supported Hillary Clinton for president, I woke up on November 9 dismayed by the news, deeply disappointed by Donald Trump’s victory, and profoundly anxious about the future of our country. Others have described their emotions in stronger terms: shock, grief, fear, or post-traumatic stress. But we’re not hearing enough critical introspection or serious analysis of the economic and social forces that brought us president-elect Trump. Read the rest of this entry »

Dear Anti-Israel Activist

September 23, 2016

Dear Anti-Israel Activist,

I don’t know you personally, but I know what you do. You demonstrate on college campuses, in front of stores that sell Israeli products, at co-op grocery outlets, and in the town squares of liberal places like my community of Seattle. You wear a keffiyeh and carry signs that say “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Shall Be Free” and other slogans that deny Israel’s right to exist. I see your swastikas and other classic antisemitic images. Read the rest of this entry »

Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism

April 3, 2016

The University of California has almost a quarter of a million students, making it the nation’s largest institution of higher education. In recent years, it has also become the “epicenter of the campus war against Israel.” Realizing that the problem has gone well beyond student politics or protests, the UC Board of Regents—the governing body of the 10-campus system—finally decided to take action. The Regents recently issued a statement denouncing “antisemitic forms of anti-Zionism” along with antisemitism. Many have hailed this as a major achievement for Jewish students and the broader community; others lamented that it didn’t go far enough. Perhaps at the University of California, with its pervasive intimidation and toxic environment for Jewish students, the statement of condemnation is indeed a significant accomplishment. But it the wording is also highly problematic. Read the rest of this entry »