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Archive for the ‘Notes’ Category

The Five Lessons I’ve Learned at Stanford by Yotam Berger

May 1, 2024

Guest post by Yotam Berger
First published in Globes (Hebrew) and (English)

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What’s Wrong with UNRWA

January 31, 2024

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has been in the news after key donor countries suspended funding to the organization. The agency was created in 1950 to implement UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which called for “the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees.” Since then, UNRWA has not resettled or rehabilitated a single refugee. Rather, it has become one of the United Nations’ largest agencies, serving millions of Palestinians in five countries. It provides food, shelter, education, and medical services, and – as has become glaringly obvious recently – is a breeding ground for terrorists.

What went wrong? The answer can be found on multiple fronts: institutional failures, ideological bias, long-time ties to terrorism, and complicity in the October 7 atrocities. Read the rest of this entry »

Colleyville Antisemitism

January 18, 2022

In the aftermath of the hostage crisis in Colleyville, Texas, authorities, and the synagogue itself equivocated and dithered on the motives behind the attack. But there can be no doubt: the incident at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas was clearly an anti-Jewish hate crime. In fact, it exhibited four different manifestations of antisemitism: Targeting Jews for violence, scapegoating, a blood libel, and nefarious stereotyping of Jews. Read the rest of this entry »

Academic Anti-Boycott

Updated January 2022
(first published September 19, 2014)

Many people agree that academic boycotts of Israel are a perversion of academic values. Beyond statements of condemnations, universities can counter this ugly campaign by taking public, proactive, affirmative actions to embark on or increase high-profile collaboration projects with Israeli scholars and institutions. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s Not About Israel

July 10, 2021

Anti-Israel rhetoric and discriminatory initiatives are not really about Israel at all. They are certainly not about the Palestinians. They are not about justice or morality. They are in fact about American Jews and our place in American society. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »