It is rarely easy to point to one person responsible for landmark social change. But when it comes to civil rights in Israel, there was one person. It was Shulamit Aloni.
Before the Yom Kippur War, Yossi Beilin had blind faith in Israel’s leaders and in God. He emerged from the war utterly changed.
In June 2004 I visited Mahmoud Abbas in Amman. We met at the PLO’s official residence, where Abu Mazen (as Abbas is popularly known among both Palestinians and Israelis) likes to stay whenever he is in Jordan. We spent almost the entire day in conversation together.
President Bush was in this part of the world last month, and I had the opportunity to attend two of his speeches, one at the Knesset, the other at the World Economic Forum in Sharm el Sheikh. On both occasions I found myself standing up and clapping for a president whose feelings of friendship for Israel cannot be doubted — but both times I got up so as not to be the only person in the room to remain seated.
The decade of the 1970s was, for Israel, the era of the Yom Kippur War and the peace with Egypt that came in the war’s wake. The 1990s were the time of the Oslo agreement and the peace with Jordan that followed it. Sandwiched in between, the 1980s were a decade of missed opportunities. Ushered in by the diplomatic radicalism of the Begin-Sharon school, the decade was marked by a continuing political paralysis that resulted from electoral deadlock and the rotating premiership of Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Shamir.
Looking at the controversy that has erupted over former President Jimmy Carter’s book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” I have to say I am a little envious — envious of a national culture in which a book, or just a book title, can stir such a debate.
What President Carter says in his new book about the Israeli occupation and our treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories — and perhaps no less important, how he says it — is entirely harmonious with the kind of criticism that Israelis themselves voice about their own country.
The fate of the Middle East, over which recent events in both Gaza and Lebanon cast a foreboding shadow, is dependent on five weak leaders.
During the mid-1990s, Marwan Barghouti and his close friend Qaddoura Fares initiated a number of meetings with representatives of the Israeli peace camp. They presented themselves as people committed to turning the Oslo process into a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine by May 1999, the date that had been determined in bilateral
Yasser Arafat has been a walking symbol. With his own hands he created an image — part Fidel Castro, part Che Guevara, part Marshall Tito — of a man unifying his people under a pseudo-liberal and sole rule. The obscurity surrounding his birthplace, the somewhat hazy story of his life, his pretensions of being an