Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin as Nobel Prize Laureates in Oslo, 1994 © Saar Yaacov/Government Press Office | Wikimedia Commons
EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

Twenty Years after Rabin’s Death: The Oslo Illusion

Looking back in the midst of the Third Intifada

Mahmoud Abbas made headlines last month when he announced in the U.N’s General Assembly that the Palestinians would no longer “continue to be bound” by the Oslo Agreements. He had warned that he was going to drop a “bombshell,” but given that Oslo has been dead for several years already, the significance of …

Male Houbara Bustard out for a walk © shankar s. | Flickr
EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

Against Pessimism: Reflections on the Prospects of the Israeli Left

For me March 17th was a day of joy. At least so it began. Election days in Israel are fully paid holidays, and this year the elections coincided with the dancing display of the male Houbara Bustard. The display is true nature marvel which I have never seen before. I woke up at 4:00am and with a fellow birder drove south for nearly two hours all the way to the border with Egypt. There, we watched a lone specimen of the endangered species, which faces environmental threats, much like the Israeli left.


Ayman Odeh, Israeli Arab lawyer and leader of The Joint List. © Anan Maalouf | OTRS
EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

The Arabs Are Coming!

Imagine that on a United States election day the candidate for the presidency urges the white citizens of the country to get out and vote so as to outnumber the African American voters who are flocking to the polling station. It is almost a certainty that such a statement would result in the downfall of this candidate and the disgrace of his or her party.


Billboard promoting Likud and Benjamin Netanyahu for the Israeli legislative election, 2015 © Avi1111 dr. avishai teicher | Wikimedia Commons
EducationEssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

The Cultural Basis of the Netanyahu Victory

I received this note the day after the recent elections in Israel. -J.G.

Dear Jeff,

As you know, I am frequently blamed for being “pessimistic.” Indeed I am. I am on record stating that Bibi would win three days before the election. Nevertheless, even I did not expect this MAJOR victory. It is “our” liberal biased view that blinds us from looking coldly at how Israeli culture is moving away from our cherished liberal democratic values. In some respects, and given what is going on in the Middle East, this development is quite congruent with the neighborhood we are in…


The Israeli Disaster

There is no question that the fact that Benjamin Netanyahu will form the next Israeli government is a disaster for Israel and the world. Israel is a state that was formed in 1948 by the United Nations in response to worldwide public opinion. It is a state whose legitimacy was questionable from the first because of the failure to found Palestinian state at the same time. While Israel has now had a long history of its own, the truth is that its only friendly neighbors are dictators and that it is increasingly a pariah state. Its racist internal policies as well as the occupation are essentially unique holdovers from an earlier, colonial epoch and will not survive. Given that context one has to ask what were the Israelis thinking when they cast a vote for Netanyahu?


"Masquerade" by Aubrey Beardsley (1872 - 1898) © Public Domain |masterpieceart.net/aubrey-beardsley
EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionMedia & Publics

We Say No to the “Sacred Union”

In the aftermath of the killings at Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher, critical voices have largely been drowned in the general sea of undifferentiated outrage. But this statement by French colleagues, which recently appeared in Le Monde, is a major intervention and a welcome exception.

Quartz crystal © Macroscopic Solutions | Flickr
CapitalismEssaysThe Left

Seven Steps toward Enlightenment: The Case of the French Killings

When a crystal breaks, it breaks along lines of pre-existing weakness. Thus traumatic assaults, like the one in Paris, can serve as X-rays into the body politic that endures them. Certainly, the US invasion of Iraq, a response to 9/11, serves as a paradigm case of how a terroristic attack can provoke the blind aggressivity otherwise obscured and disguised in the self-professed guarantor of world peace. By examining the range of responses to the massacre at Hebdo, we can learn something more about ourselves, and perhaps correct our mistaken stance. In my view there are seven levels of response to these attacks, each a mixture of ideology and truth, progressing closer and closer to something comprehensive and just, albeit also elegiac and incomplete. …

An ironic flag: the German-Israeli connection as depicted in Berlin © Marla Showfer | Flickr

Israelis in Berlin and The Elephant in the Room

Notes on migration, pudding, an island economy, and frustrating metaphors (with cream on top)

“Fight from Tel Aviv, not from Berlin,” demanded former Minister of Immigrant Absorption Uzi Baram in Haaretz, while the New York Times  featured the infantile (or “still adolescent”) Israeli society as the center of frustration for many Israelis now clamoring to Berlin because of the impossible price of living. The coverage of Baram’s outcry in the German national and German Jewish press resisted the Holocaust metaphors only barely. …

Twin explosions in southeastern Kobane on October 8, 2014, caused by a suicide bomber ©  Karl-Ludwig Poggemann | Flickr
EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

The Overlooked Besieged Alternative in the Middle East

The Rojava Cantons

In my previous article I wrote about how both soft and hard Islamists render a very dark future for the Middle East. I finished my article by stating that the Kurdish Movement may provide a salient alternative for the whole region. However, this alternative is currently under attack by Islamists and its supporters.

As I write this article, ISIS thugs surround the northern Syrian city Kobanê — also known as Ayn Al Arab. While both the Kurdish guerilla group PKK, Syrian arm PYD and some factions from the Free Syrian Army are desperately fighting to keep ISIS out of town, the situation is getting worse by the day. Turkey is reluctant to open its borders for humanitarian and military assistance, and so help ISIS to take over the town. …