Yossi Klein Halevi

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An Israeli firefighter extinguishes a fire caused by rockets launched from the Gaza Strip on Sunday. Credit Jack Guez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Israelis are adept at the pretense of normalcy. We move with seeming ease between daily life and life-threatening crisis. Our home front has endured assaults from Saddam Hussein’s Scud missiles, Hezbollah’s Katyushas and precision missiles, Hamas’s homemade rockets and the more lethal Iranian models currently falling on our neighborhoods, along with suicide bombing and car ramming and stabbing sprees.

The Israeli ethos of coping is summed up in an ironic but heartfelt phrase, Lo na’im, lo norah, “not so pleasant but not so terrible.” Even when it is terrible, as it is now, with half the country forced into air raid shelters and “safe rooms,” we know there is a morning after.…  Seguir leyendo »

Palestinian demonstrators tried to pull down part of the fence on the Israel-Gaza border, east of the northern town of Jabalia, on April 27. Credit Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In 2002, when the much of the international community was severely criticizing Israel for its tough military response to the wave of Palestinian suicide bombings known as the Second Intifada, the United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, asked with rhetorical exasperation, “Can Israel be right and the whole world wrong?”

Most Israelis would have surely answered: Of course.

After all, only two years earlier, Israel had offered to withdraw from virtually the entire West Bank and Gaza. In return, it received the worst wave of terrorism in its history. That Israeli narrative of why the peace process failed transformed Israel’s politics for a generation, leading to the near-total collapse of the left as a viable political force.…  Seguir leyendo »

June, 1967: Israeli Centurion tank corps prepare for battle during the Six-Day War. Credit Three Lions/Getty Images

As far as the world is concerned, June 5 marks the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War. For Israelis, though, the anniversary doesn’t begin on June 5, when the fighting broke out between Israel and its Arab neighbors, but three weeks earlier. What we remember is not only a story of our triumph and conquest, but the vulnerability and isolation that preceded the war.

On May 16, 1967, President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt evicted United Nations peacekeeping forces along the Israeli border and remilitarized the Sinai Peninsula. Israelis watched in shock as the United Nations complied with President Nasser’s demand, without so much as a Security Council debate.…  Seguir leyendo »

Outside my window, in the Palestinian village across the road, they celebrated every night after the cease-fire. Fireworks hailed the supposed victory of Hamas over Israel — despite the devastation in Gaza, despite a cease-fire that gave Hamas nothing and could have been achieved a month earlier. A poll confirmed that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians believe Hamas won, and that an astonishing 87% now support the organization whose deepest religious longing is the destruction of Israel.

I watched and tried to resist despair. I believe that Israel's long-term survival depends on ending the occupation, on empowering our neighbors. The Jews didn't come home to deny another people its sense of home.…  Seguir leyendo »

Forty years ago this month, on a cold desert night, 700 Israeli paratroopers crossed the Suez Canal in rubber dinghies in a secret operation that was about to bring Israel its greatest military victory. It was the height of the Yom Kippur War, and the Jewish state had been caught in a surprise attack by Egyptian and Syrian armies. In the first chaotic days following the invasion, Israel nearly lost. Only after the paratroopers — reservists in their late 20s and early 30s — established a beachhead on the western banks of the Suez Canal did the Israeli army manage to surround Egyptian forces and win the war.…  Seguir leyendo »

After decades of failed negotiations over a Palestinian state, it is tempting to imagine that the potential vote in the U.N. General Assembly on Palestinian statehood might help finally resolve one of the most vexing problems that the world has inherited from the previous century. And after all, that's just how a Jewish state was born — by a U.N. General Assembly vote in 1947.

But a U.N. vote that seeks to bypass negotiations and impose a fait accompli on Israel will only undermine a two-state solution. By deepening Israel's isolation, the vote will reinforce the sense among Israelis that this is not a time for concessions but for resolve.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israelis want to rejoice over the outbreak of protests in Egypt’s city squares. They want to believe that this is the Arab world’s 1989 moment. Perhaps, they say, the poisonous reflex of blaming the Jewish state for the Middle East’s ills will be replaced by an honest self-assessment.

But few Israelis really believe in that hopeful outcome. Instead, the grim assumption is that it is just a matter of time before the only real opposition group in Egypt, the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, takes power. Israelis fear that Egypt will go the way of Iran or Turkey, with Islamists gaining control through violence or gradual co-optation.…  Seguir leyendo »