Jerusalem through barbed wire © Michael-Ann Cerniglia | Flickr
EssaysThe Psyche

When will the Barred Owl of Minerva Fly?

Time is running out for Israel-Palestine

On a cold, dreary November morning in the Berkshires, Massachusetts, I finally understood why owls are seen as wise, why in the ancient world they represented Athena and Minerva, the goddesses of wisdom. On my way from an academic symposium in Great Barrington …

At Abu Dis checkpoint, East Jerusalem © Kashi Halford | Flickr

The El Niño Intifada

Jerusalem's boulevards of broken dreams

I’m spending the year in California, which explains how earlier this week I found myself on a marine sightseeing trip, on a rough sea watching for seabirds. As my first such trip it was a wonderful experience, filled with many exciting species of shearwaters, storm-petrels, alcids, jaegers, and even one black-footed albatross. To the more veteran participants, the experience was mixed. The El Niño we’re now experiencing messes with sea …

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.


IDF Soldiers Uncover Tunnels in Gaza, July 17, 2014 © IDF | Flickr

Operation Protective Edge and Just War Theory

I teach Just War Theory (JWT). I defend it strongly as a necessary moral guideline for world politics in classes full of cynical students, Israeli-raised students, many of whom went through the grinding machine of the occupation (themselves grinding Palestinians in check points, night arrests, and the like); students who speak fluently the language of power. But at times I myself see the dark, the political abysses in which JWT becomes almost nothing but a scholastic exercise, like debating how many angels (or for that matter, demons) can dance on the head of a pin.

Think of the recurrent explosions of violence in Gaza/Israel, which in its current phase is called by Israel “Operation Protective Edge.” The recurrence of the violence has a fundamental importance that should not be overlooked in applying JWT to Operation Protective Edge. …