The past month has been nostalgic for me. The crisis over Ukraine and Crimea has felt and sounded, in the media and common conversation, very much like the halcyon days of my youth when the Cold War raged with all its mindless enmity. It’s a bit depressing to think someone like Hillary Clinton, who compared Vladimir Putin to Hitler thereby demonstrating she has absolutely no understanding of the situation and an even worse sense of global perspective, would be the person I’d be compelled to vote for if presidential elections were held today. I examine the atmosphere around Putin and the crisis in today’s Souciant. Check it out.
An edited version of this article first appeared in LobeLog
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with U.S. President Barack Obama this week, following in the footsteps of
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier in the month. But unlike Netanyahu, Abbas is a much less heralded, or even well-known figure in Washington. And, above all, he is a man with far fewer options.
With a deadline looming at the end of April by which U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had promised first to broker a permanent Israel-Palestine agreement and, later, a more modest goal of a framework for continuing talks, Abbas arrived in Washington with little to offer and less room to make further concessions. It’s a familiar position for the Palestinian leader, one he has been in since 2004, when he assumed the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) upon the death of Yasir Arafat.
Arafat was a universally respected leader to the Palestinian people, even, grudgingly, among his rivals; a fighter who had proven his worth in conflict. Abbas, by contrast, had long been Arafat’s number two, but he was more intellectual, having been an advocate, a resistance politician and a fundraiser for most of his time in exile and then after his return to the Palestinian Territories in 1994. Continue reading
Yesterday, an old Israeli “war hero” died. His name was Meir Har-Zion. He was a veteran of the Israeli military in its formative
years after the creation of the state, and we should look very carefully at the re-telling, upon his death, of an incident that took place in 1954.
The incident was an act of vengeance that Har-Zion, along with several accomplices, enacted in response to the killing of his sister, Shoshanna. We’ll get to it in a minute. But first, let’s understand how Har-Zion is viewed in Israel.
Moshe Dayan called Har-Zion “the greatest Jewish warrior since Bar Kochba.” That’s a description we should take a close look at. Bar Kochba is a Zionist icon, and a symbol of the nationalist revision of Jewish history. For most of pre-Zionist Jewish history, Bar Kochba was a very divisive figure, but the majority view of him was negative. He was seen as a false prophet (which he undoubtedly was) who duped the greatest religious figure of his day, Rebbe Akiva ben Yoseph (though some argue that he was not actually involved with Bar Kochba’s revolt) into supporting him and eventually led the Jews to final defeat and exile at the hands of the Romans. Continue reading
My latest piece at LobeLog reviews the failure of virtually all of Benjamin Netanyahu’s objectives during his trip to the United States last week. I strongly recommend it.
I hope to have something up on LobeLog later today about the spasm of violence in Gaza and Southern Israel. Here’s a hint: I don’t think it is what it seems to be.
My latest report for Inter Press Service, this one is about a new poll commissioned by pollster Shibley Telhami. The poll examines American attitudes in the event of the failure of a two-state solution. The results may surprise many.