Carlo Strenger

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Israel is at a fascinating, and frightening, crossroads. In the last two years the Knesset has proposed and passed laws that seriously endanger Israel’s identity as a liberal democracy.

It began with a law forbidding public commemoration of the Palestinian refugee crisis of 1948, known as the Nakba; it continued with the demand for all new Israeli citizens to swear a loyalty oath to a Jewish and democratic country, and recently culminated in a bill outlawing calls to boycott any Israeli group or product — including those from the occupied territories.

On the other hand, in the last two months, Israel’s democracy has come dramatically alive after a long period of hibernation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Binyamin Netanyahu has scored a diplomatic victory, as many pundits have pointed out, because the US administration has shifted pressure from Israel to the Palestinians and coaxed them into direct talks with Israel. He probably assumes that the talks will fail because the Palestinians will walk out at some point, and then he will have a case for maintaining the status quo. But such a victory would be hollow.

Netanyahu's world view has consistently been that Israel, as the west's outpost in the Middle East, is likely to face threats for a very long time to come, and that any peace agreement must address all realistic threats.…  Seguir leyendo »

There is a phenomenon, the self-righteous left, which lives in a simple black-and-white universe, governed by what I call SLES, short for Standard Left Explanatory System – a concoction that is ruining the left's credibility and integrity. This system, which started to evolve in the 1960s, says: "Always look for the underdog and then blame the stronger party for anything the underdog does, particularly if the stronger party belongs to the west. Never hold the underdog (particularly when non-western) accountable for anything."

SLES, when applied to the Middle East, is remarkably simple. If Palestinians, Muslims or Arabs say something that isn't nice (like "It is a religious duty to kill Americans", or "Israel needs to be wiped off the map"), or do something even less nice (like blowing up the Twin Towers, killing entire families on the first evening of Passover in Netanya, or attacking London's public transport system) you have a very quick explanation for it: "There is something that the Jews/Americans did that must have hurt him/her terribly.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Gaza military operation has created a curious phenomenon in Israel. The country, at least for the first days of the attack, was united in a consensus that there was no choice. Even the most liberal among us felt Hamas had put Israel in a situation that no sovereign country could tolerate.

This was not just because of the rocket attacks. Hamas's stated long-term goal is a war of attrition with the explicit objective of destroying Israel. Peace is not within Hamas's vocabulary, which is characterised by the rabid antisemitism of its charter. It makes use of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion - one of the most notorious antisemitic forgeries of the last century - continues with the incantations that turn jihad against the Zionists into every Muslim's duty, and ends with suicide terrorism.…  Seguir leyendo »