Dates in the Middle East are like corn for the Maya — not just a crop but an icon, the “bread of the desert,” a symbol of life itself. The date palm appears on mosaic floors laid by Roman artisans and on coins stamped by the early caliphs. The fruit recurs in the Quran and the Hebrew Bible: Many scholars believe the honey in “land of milk and honey” refers to honey from dates, not bees.
With their long shelf life, dates were beloved by Arabian nomads and caravan traders, and are still eaten to break the Ramadan fast. In Israel the name Tamar, which means “date” and appears in the Book of Genesis, remains the most popular Hebrew name for girls.… Seguir leyendo »
Just when Israeli democracy most needed saviors, they materialized.
No one saw where they came from. They just appeared amid the thousands of horn-blowing, pot-banging protesters in Jerusalem: seven caped superheroes in matching pink spandex, striking Superman poses and going through coordinated dance moves as they advanced toward the protest’s focal point at the official residence of the man known here as the “crime minister.” One superhero with a megaphone led her comrades in a chant about “hope” and “democracy,” and everyone cheered, but I couldn’t hear much more because of the guy next to me and his accordion.
The protests growing since early summer outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem on Balfour Street, and smaller demonstrations across the country, have given Israel’s battered moderate camp an outlet for its political energies and grievances — an outlet outside Parliament, that is, where its representatives are hapless, impotent and divided.… Seguir leyendo »
or Amir Ohana, the shift that led to Israel’s current political moment — and indirectly, to his own unlikely rise — can be pinpointed to one incident in the fall of 2000. Mr. Ohana, who was just appointed this country’s first openly gay cabinet minister, was then a 24-year-old from a desert backwater making his way in Tel Aviv. The Israeli right, his political camp, was out of power, the public still hoping for peace with the Arab world.
On Oct. 12, two Israelis in their 30s reporting for their annual stint of reserve duty took a wrong turn in the occupied West Bank and ended up detained in a Palestinian police station in Ramallah.… Seguir leyendo »
If you are reading this, you’ve most likely seen much about “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” in the pages of this newspaper and of every other important newspaper in the West. That phrase contains a few important assumptions. That the conflict is between two actors, Israelis and Palestinians. That it could be resolved by those two actors, and particularly by the stronger side, Israel. That it’s taking place in the corner of the Middle East under Israeli rule.
Presented this way, the conflict has become an energizing issue on the international left and the subject of fascination of many governments, including the Trump administration, which has been working on a “deal of the century” to solve it.… Seguir leyendo »
Last month, the first section of a new high-speed rail line opened in Israel. When it’s fully operational a few months from now, passengers will board fire-engine-red carriages in Tel Aviv and be whisked on electrified track over the country’s longest bridge, then over its highest, and through the longest tunnel, and finally into a new station 260 feet under Jerusalem. The trip, about 35 miles, will take less than 30 minutes, making it, by a wide margin, the fastest way to get between the country’s two most important cities.
The line, more than a decade and many delays in the making, is the new Israel.… Seguir leyendo »
During my years in the international press here in Israel, long before the bloody events of this week, I came to respect Hamas for its keen ability to tell a story.
At the end of 2008 I was a desk editor, a local hire in The Associated Press’s Jerusalem bureau, during the first serious round of violence in Gaza after Hamas took it over the year before. That conflict was grimly similar to the American campaign in Iraq, in which a modern military fought in crowded urban confines against fighters concealed among civilians. Hamas understood early that the civilian death toll was driving international outrage at Israel, and that this, not I.E.D.s… Seguir leyendo »