Noah Feldman

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How Oct. 7 is forcing Jews to reckon with Israel

Since the 2023 Hamas-Israel war broke out, almost no subject has garnered more global attention than Israel. For many Jews, both outside and inside Israel, the Gaza conflict feels pivotal. Since Oct. 7, Jews everywhere, whether sympathetic to Israel or critical or some combination, have found they have no choice but to deal with Israel’s impact and significance on their lives and feelings — whether they want to or not. This experience calls for a new account of what Israel means for being a Jew today.

To avoid oversimplifying would take a whole book — and in fact this essay is drawn from a book about being a Jew today that I’ve been writing for the past three years and thinking about most of my adult life.…  Seguir leyendo »

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli security forces in the West Bank on Dec. 22. | AP

Here’s a new year fantasy: Imagine that, in response to President Donald Trump’s announcement that the U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Palestinians had renounced violence and embarked on a sustained campaign of Gandhian protest.

Imagine that instead of reading from the same familiar script, Palestinian leaders had called for sit-ins, silent marches and civil disobedience rather than “days of rage.” Imagine peaceful Palestinian demonstrations aimed more at drawing world attention to the justice of their cause than at producing martyrs or provoking anger at Israel.

It’s hard to imagine, that’s true. The Palestinian Authority has historically thought it would take violence to create a sovereign Palestinian state, and in any case it lacks the ability to bind other groups.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pope Francis was warmly greeted on his visit to Sweden last week to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Andrew Medichini AP

Pope Francis is continuing along his remarkably liberal path, most recently by praising Martin Luther at a ceremony in Sweden beginning a year-long 500th anniversary commemoration of the Reformation. Yet despite the pope’s openness, and the corresponding good faith of the Lutherans, the two sides were unable to effect a reconciliation.

The episode raises two questions: Why try? And how is it that, in this post-theological age, not even Christian believers can get past their own wars of religion?

To start with the obvious, it’s moving that the pope would speak positively about Martin Luther, who is technically speaking still under a ban of excommunication issued by Pope Leo X in 1521.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Barack Obama administration is shocked -- shocked! -- that Afghan President Hamid Karzai was secretly negotiating with the Taliban. The previously undisclosed negotiations certainly explain what White House adviser John Podesta recently called Karzai’s “erratic” behavior in refusing to negotiate an agreement to keep U.S. forces in the country after 2014.

But what, exactly, is so terrible about Karzai negotiating separately with the same Taliban that the U.S. has repeatedly tried and failed to engage? In fact, although the Taliban are very likely playing the outgoing president, he is exactly the person who should be trying to negotiate an entrance to Afghan politics for the Taliban that would not involve mass killings of people who sided with the U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

At the Philadelphia convention of 1787, James Madison alone took complete notes in a rapid shorthand, a self-appointed job that he said almost killed him. But today, constitutional debates are recorded in Twitter bursts -- and in Tunisia, where the constituent assembly is compiling that nation's new constitution, the children of the Arab Spring are using the full range of technological tools to ensure a degree of transparency never seen before in such political processes.

At the heart of the technological openness is a Tunisian nongovernmental group called Al Bawsala, which means, roughly, the Compass. Bawsala staffers are 20-something Tunisians dressed in the same skinny jeans and sweaters worn everywhere by young people too cool to be called hipsters.…  Seguir leyendo »

If Israelis and Palestinians agree on one thing, it’s that more settlements in the West Bank will eventually make a two-state solution impossible. Rabbi Menachem Froman, who died on March 4 at age 68, thought differently.

Froman was a proud and early settler, a founder of the hard-line Gush Emunim (“Bloc of the Faithful”), theologically committed to permanent Jewish settlement in what he considered historical Judea and Samaria. But Froman also fully accepted the idea of a Palestinian state there -- in which he and his fellow settlers would continue to live as minority citizens.

Crazy, you say -- as did just about everyone else in Israel, to say nothing of other settlers.…  Seguir leyendo »

I hate to agree with an Egyptian general about anything, but Abdelfatah Al-Seesi, who’s also Egypt’s defense minister, had a point when he warned his countrymen on Facebook that continued violent protest in the streets might lead to collapse.

Ordinary Egyptians have plenty of reasons to be frustrated with the government of President Mohamed Morsi, which has by turns overclaimed its authority and underdelivered in establishing order. Still, it’s one thing to engage in mass protest when your target is a dictatorship — then you are a democratic revolutionary. It’s quite another to use mass protests to try and bring down a democratically elected government that you don’t like.…  Seguir leyendo »

Egypt is in a full-blown constitutional crisis. Syria is in a borderline civil war. Yemen elected its former vice president — who ran unopposed. Is the Arab Spring dead? If not, where is it living?

And the winner is . . . Tunisia, where it all started in December 2010 after a frustrated fruit seller set himself on fire. As you read these words, a freely elected assembly is drafting a new constitution from scratch. The coalition government has faced challenges, but it is functioning. A lively press and an active political class, both inside the 217-seat constituent assembly and outside it, are criticizing like crazy.…  Seguir leyendo »

Is Honduras ready for a return to the community of nations? It has been almost two years since the forced removal of then-President Manuel Zelaya at the hands of the Honduran military. On June 1, the Organization of American States said yes, when it lifted the suspension of Honduras from the organization by a vote of 32 countries in favor and one against. Still, the question on everyone's mind remains: Was there a coup d'état in 2009? Perhaps the better question to ask is: How can similar instability be avoided in the future in Honduras and elsewhere in the region?

Immediately after Zelaya's removal, the United States, the United Nations and the OAS denounced the ouster as illegitimate and demanded Zelaya's restoration, which triggered restrictions on foreign aid and trade.…  Seguir leyendo »

Eric Holder, President-elect Barack Obama’s nominee for attorney general, is scheduled to appear today at a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Op-Ed page asked five legal experts to pose the questions they would like to hear the nominee answer.

1. Do you believe the president has authorities under the Constitution’s executive power and commander in chief clauses on which Congress cannot impinge? What are they?

2. Will you give legal approval to covert counterterrorism actions that you believe are lawful but which you know will engender legal and political controversy if made public? What factors other than your best legal judgment will you consider?…  Seguir leyendo »

The West doesn’t know quite what to think of Turkey’s Islamic-oriented ruling party: does it envision a liberal, European future for Turkey or an Islamist one? A vote this week on the seemingly minor issue of whether head scarves should be allowed at universities will help us begin to answer that question.

The ban on women covering their heads on campus has long been a thorn in the side of the Justice and Development Party. The rule has the perverse effect of keeping devoutly religious women out of higher education. A few years ago, while on a trip to lecture about Islam, I met a daughter of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan — not in Istanbul, but at Indiana University, which she was attending at least in part so she could cover her head while getting an education.…  Seguir leyendo »