Bernard Avishai

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A Palestinian demonstrator at the Israel-Gaza border fence in the southern Gaza Strip. Credit Yousef Masoud/SOPA Images, via LightRocket, via Getty Images

Donald Trump has left the Biden administration myriad international crises, and nowhere more obviously than in Israel and the Palestine Authority.

Mr. Trump dismantled relations with the Palestinian side and greenlighted an extremist Israeli government to act as it pleased, ratifying Israel’s exclusive claim to Jerusalem and its continuing settlement project. The normalization deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, whatever their other features, were presented as a way to pre-empt legal recognition of Israeli annexation of territory where Palestinians live outside Jerusalem.

As if to mock a President Biden administration, in November, Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet opened bids for the construction of 1,257 units in Arab East Jerusalem, and the United Nations has reported that settler violence spiked last spring, during the early days of the pandemic.…  Seguir leyendo »

Palestinian boys playing soccer against the backdrop of the Israeli separation barrier that bisects their school playground in East Jerusalem, 2006

“The two-state solution is over”, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters, responding to Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “Now is the time to transform the struggle for one state with equal rights for everyone living in historic Palestine, from the river to the sea”. As The New York Times subsequently reported, Erekat is hardly alone. The “over”-ness of “two states”—albeit with radical disagreements about the character of a hypothetical single state—has been claimed by ideological zealots, severe liberals, and exasperated peacemakers alike.

On the Palestinian side, one hears about the almost 700,000 Israeli settlers’ making annexation an established fact; on the Israeli side, about preventing recalcitrant Palestinian terrorists from firing missiles at Ben-Gurion Airport.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ultra-Orthodox Jews burning leavened food before Passover near Tel Aviv. Oded Balilty/Associated Press

“We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect.” Thus President-elect Donald J. Trump tweeted just before Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict last week. He added: “They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but …”

Mr. Trump was presuming to side with Israel in its regional fight, but … as Mr. Kerry implied, particularly when he spoke elegiacally of Shimon Peres, one cannot be a friend to Israel without actually being a friend to some Israelis over others, one conception of Israel, the region, and Jews, for that matter, over another.…  Seguir leyendo »

Netanyahu Sells French Jews Short

At the turn of the last century, Nachman Syrkin, a young democratic socialist drawn to the “political Zionism” of Theodor Herzl, was a student in Berlin, a member of a discussion group of émigrés from the Russian Pale of Settlement. One day, the speaker was a left-wing intellectual eager to prove that an emancipated Europe would be a home to all Jews — that separatist nationalisms were a mark of obsolete despair. He held up his tattered jacket. “Look at this,” he said. “The wool was taken from sheep which were pastured in Angora; it was spun in England, woven in Lodz.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israelis go to the polls today in an election that will likely give Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a third term; like the current one, Israel’s next governing coaltion will probably be heavily reliant on right-wingers and religious parties.

Even so, Mr. Obama’s second term could offer a pivotal opportunity to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. In his first term, he backed away from the process, figuring that America could mediate only if the parties themselves wanted to make peace — and that new talks were unlikely to be productive.

This is a mistake. The greatest enemy to a two-state solution is the sheer pessimism on both sides.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last night, rejecting criticism of his actions in Libya, President Obama outlined a standard for civilized multilateralism: “Sometimes, the course of history poses challenges that threaten our common humanity and common security,” he said. “Real leadership creates the conditions and coalitions for others to step up as well; to work with allies and partners ... to see that the principles of justice and human dignity are upheld by all.” If you should act, act where you can, and act together.

Obama gained a mandate from the U.N. Security Council, working with the European Union to rally the Arab League. He enlisted support from leaders of the Group of 20 in the process.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in Washington, purportedly to be part of the Obama administration’s relaunch of peace negotiations. But the urgent talk is of war, thanks to Jeffrey Goldberg’s much-discussed Atlantic Monthly cover article, which faithfully reproduced the logic of Israeli military and political leaders.

According to this, even Israelis who doubt that a nuclear Iran would immediately attack Tel Aviv argue that the threat is “existential.” An Iranian bomb would provide a “nuclear umbrella” for Hezbollah missiles and Hamas terrorism. It would force the Gulf states to ally with Iran against the United States and its cornered ally.…  Seguir leyendo »