Dahlia Scheindlin

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Russian President Vladimir Putin is pictured at a meeting in Novo-Ogarevo, Russia on Aug. 7, 2007. DMITRY ASTAKHOV/AFP via Getty Images

Russia pounced on Ukraine even as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rambling speech denying Ukraine’s sovereignty was still reverberating. History will recall that the symbolic trigger for the devastating war was not a bullet but a single word at the end of his tirade, symbolizing decades of Russia’s post-Cold War grievances: recognition.

Why did Putin bother recognizing the independence of the breakaway territories in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region instead of just sweeping in, as he clearly planned to do? It is becoming futile to try to guess Putin’s motives, but his misuse of diplomatic recognition symbolizes how international norms are being twisted and manipulated—and how badly the international structure itself is sagging.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israeli soldiers eat at the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Be’er Tuvia on Wednesday. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

After extraordinary revelations that the Israeli company NSO Group’s mercenary cyber-surveillance tool, Pegasus, was allegedly used to target political dissidents, human rights activists, journalists and politicians around the world, Israel should be asking itself a few questions. Does its groundbreaking hi-tech industry have a dark side? Do the actors involved in exporting lucrative surveillance products – including the defence ministry, which must approve such sales, or perhaps the top levels of the previous government – bear responsibility?

While top Israeli officials are taking the revelations seriously, Israelis appear neither shamed nor shaken. The day after the NSO story broke, there was an announcement from another company that would eclipse talk of the rogue use of surveillance spyware.…  Seguir leyendo »

The First Job for Israel’s New Government: Clean Up Bibi’s Mess

After four election cycles, two years and one man in power since 2009, Israel appears to be on the brink of change. On Wednesday evening, eight wildly ideologically different political parties announced that they would establish a coalition, aligning behind Yair Lapid of the centrist party Yesh Atid (“There Is a Future”) and Naftali Bennett — a former leader of a council of West Bank settlers — of the nationalist party Yamina (“Rightward”) to remove longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

But the new government is not yet a reality. The coalition still faces procedural and political hurdles. Ideological differences nearly killed the coalition in the negotiation stage.…  Seguir leyendo »

Naftali Bennett, leader of the Yamina party, speaking in the Knesset, Jerusalem, May 2021. Photograph: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90 local pool/AFP/Getty Images

As Israel inches closer to ending two years of political stalemate and 12 consecutive years of Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership, pressure on rightwing parties preparing to join a “change” coalition from pro-Netanyahu rightwingers, has reached a crescendo. Like other rightwingers in the “change” bloc, Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, leaders of the hardline Yamina party, have been called traitors and collaborators and received death threats throughout the last month for their planned defection from Netanyahu’s camp.

As so often in Israeli politics, there is an American parallel: Bennett and Shaked’s predicament recalls the unforgettable moment the US senator Lindsey Graham, days after the 6 January Capitol riots, was harangued by Trump-cult followers, unhinged by Graham’s denunciation of their leader.…  Seguir leyendo »

Smoke rising after Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City on Tuesday. Credit Mohammed Saber/EPA, via Shutterstock

For a few days in early May, Israel appeared close to establishing a new government. After four elections in two years that failed to produce a decisive result, the country was poised for a surprising partnership of ideologically diverse parties including, for the first time, an independent Arab party — Raam. Such a government would have been fraught, even shaky, but it would have ended the two years of political chaos and replaced Israel’s right-wing prime minister, a man currently standing trial for corruption.

What happened instead followed a grim pattern: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict flared yet again. Within days of the start of the military escalation between Hamas and the government of Benjamin Netanyahu that was sparked in Jerusalem and compounded by Jewish and Palestinian violence in Israeli cities, the crisis had put political change on hold.…  Seguir leyendo »