Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Israel's Press' Political Leukemia

Packing for summer in New Hampshire is usually a disorienting time. We are leaving a place where we work to make anything grow for a place where we work, if at all, to cut things back. But this year it feels peculiarly difficult to leave, not because New England seems so ontologically generous, but because Jerusalem seems so morally precarious.

I've had four or five conversations over the past couple of weeks in which people volunteered, without prompting, that they feel they now know what it was like to live in countries on the verge of fascism during the 1930s. You ask them why and they talk about touch-points, not great events: an education ministry that mandates a history curriculum in which the Oslo Agreements are effaced, a high school mock election in which Lieberman triumphs, the mayor of Jerusalem threatening to displace Arabs to build a Jewish tourist park, a Sami Smooha poll that shows a precipitous decline in Israeli Arab faith in Israel as a democracy "for Arab citizens as well" (from 63.1 percent in 2003 to 50.5 percent today) while the minority that supports using "all means, including violence" to achieve political ends is growing (5.4 percent to 13.9 percent).

More and more, you hear that the whole world hates us, but this immediately raises official claims that the old Antisemitism is coming back worse than ever. For ordinary liberals, there are straws in the wind that, when they land, are breaking backs. This column by Uriel Procaccia, one of Israel's most distinguished corporate law professors--who teaches at the IDC in Herzliya, and is the husband of one of the Supreme Court's judges--seems tell-tale.

FOR MY PART, I find myself cringing not because of the way Netanyahu's people answer questions so much as because of the way mainstream journalists ask them, or fail to follow up--the implicit "consensus" this seems to imply. Israel is not unique in its rightists: fundamentalists, ultra-nationalists, professional militarists, people just afraid of attack or just lacking in intellectual poise and ready to flock. For God's sake, cognitive science tells you that when you put a red shirt on a baby, he or she will respond favorably to adults with red shirts, and fear adults wearing other colors.

But what seems most dangerous to me is that, in the face of virulent forces, Israeli democracy, and especially its mainstream press, seems not to be producing anti-bodies, and for reasons that have to do with the legal and institutional improvisations the state has been making since the beginning.

How will the mainstream press, now, resist the claims of 700,000 ultraOrthodox, 500,000 settlers, a political class infused with military leaders, Russian immigrants looking for their Putin, Mizrahim looking for the big warm family, young people eager to prove bravery and fidelity, and so forth, when ordinary notions of individual liberty seem at odds with the Jewish national privileges and grievances that are taken to be the reason for the state? How do you fall back on principles of civil society which have come to be called merely "leftist" or even anti-Zionist? (Don't be mislead by what you read in Haaretz; the paper goes to at most 100,000 readers and its elite demographics, while impressive, are not politically decisive.)

CONSIDER THE PRESS' response over the past month to both the flotilla and the Haredi school in the Immanuel settlement--you know, where Ashkenazi parents refused to abide by a Supreme Court order to sit their children in classrooms next to Sephardi children. The two things may seem unrelated, but when you think about it, they are both symptoms of the political leukemia I am referring to.

For how should a free press answer parents of those Haredi children if not by insisting that the democratic state of Israel has the responsibility to ensure every child being treated as an individual, whose birth is not his or her fate, and whose mind needs to be cultivated by free exposure to what has been thought, said and done--in short, by standards for critical thinking?

Yet how to make that case when the state undermines the legal structures that backstop critical thinking in order to privilege Jews over Arabs; when its Labor leaders, too, from Golda Meir on, have taken steps to prevent the emergence (as in the 1970 Shalit case) of Israeli national identity and have denounced the idea that Israel is a state of its citizens; leaders who have, instead, preserved all kinds of privileges for people legally designated as "Jewish" according to Halacha--leaders who've depicted challenges to this narrow and pathetic version of Jewish statehood as evidence for a permanent existential threat? We kill off the marrow and wonder where the immune system has gone. And the thing we seem most immune to the capacity to distinguish between diagnosis and defamation.

In the case of the flotilla, the press defaulted to an almost automatic willingness to depict the Gaza blockade as an preemption of terror, a matter of life and death (though hardly a word was spoken in criticism when Netanyahu began lifting it under American pressure); in this context, the commandos landing on the deck of the ship were subject to a "lynch," and the deaths of nine Turkish citizens justified. One would be hard pressed to think of an event that so underlined the pathos of Israeli attitudes: the apocalyptic thinking that even justifies undermining relations with Turkey; the cheapness of enemy life; the idea that strategy boils down to never showing weakness; the interlocking historical narratives that depict any criticism, except for tactical criticism, of Israeli policy as Jew-hatred or ultra-leftism, or both.

Which brings me to, correspondingly, to the Immanuel decision. I heard the news of the court's verdict driving to Tel Aviv, and the interviewer on Reshet Bet,the anchor of the noon roundup, began soliciting reactions from various people. One of the rabbis at the school put it this way, more or less: "The Torah is 3000 years old and is above any state law; what our rabbis decide to be the workings of Halacha is above any state law." The interviewer was dumbfounded. A moment later she was speaking with a leader of a Haredi party, and she asked about this response, wondering if it was perhaps unanswerable. He responded, more or less, that things should never have become so polarized, and what we needed was "a compromise."

Imagine the South Korean government lavishly subsidizing the Moonies for three generations and the press coming to think this natural. Oh, and no reporter even thought to raise the fact that this was a settlement from which Arabs are totally excluded. Eventually we got the compromise, which all chief rabbis hailed as a victory over the court.

In all of this Israeli liberals have one comfort, which is a terrible one, and can backfire, that the fear of the world hating this country will eventually sink in and engender new, bolder leadership; that politicians promising global Israel will trump those insisting on Greater Israel--that Israel is, (as Ambassador Michael Oren put it) just "a pixel" on America's world map, and Obama will eventually force the issue. Perhaps. Anyway, the degree to which this fear is indeed sinking in was revealed last month when Channel One's prime-time newscast devoted three full minutes to a "breaking story," which turned out to be culled from the Drudge Report and the National Inquirer, that President Obama had had an affair and would now be fighting for his political life.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Silwan: Raising The Stakes

Friday afternoon, about 500 organizers and supporters of the Sheikh Jarrah movement brought the weekly protest to Silwan, where the Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat recently announced a plan to raze a wide swath of buildings, 22 in all, to build an "archaeological park." Barkat's idea is to expand what he, his NGO partner, the right-wing Elad (recently awarded the right to administer the site), Elad's zealot settler-supporters and American funders, Israel's Tourism Ministry--all of them--call "The City of David." This site has been developing beneath the radar for several years across from the Dung Gate, where you enter to the plaza leading to the nearby Wailing Wall.

Just to be clear, there is about as much evidence that King David's palace would be excavated by this project as evidence that Queen Helena actually found the grove from which the true cross had been cut in the Valley of the Cross. But like Helena's sites--she was said to be the greatest archeologist in history, because she never looked for something she didn't find--Barkat's City of David is actually meant to excite pilgrims--you know, guests to the Shapiro bar-mitzvah who are looking for something to do on Sunday afternoon.

But even if the site had some scientific value--excavations were carried on here under British auspices during the Mandate Period--it would be terribly provocative to make 22 families homeless, as in Sheikh Jarrah, or impose a development plan on the neighborhood without agreement of its residents (who have a neighborhood committee, willing to negotiate). Silwan is the heart of the most heavily populated, impoverished and angry parts of the city, certain to be in any future Palestinian capital.

Which means that protests in this part of the city are much more explosive than in Sheikh Jarrah. In Silwan, stoning of police and settlers is commonplace, as are armed threats by settlers against residents. Youth gangs and neighborhood resistance are hard to tell apart. When we walked down the streets and neglected alleyways of Silwan, it was clear from the men on the stoops, women and children in the windows, and preening young men on the corners, that they had never seen, nor expected to see, so many Jewish Israelis coming into their neighborhood to back them--and that, for some, the mere presence of more Jews of any kind was not entirely welcome. Call it a teaching moment for all of us who were, on both sides, making ourselves vulnerable to the other's decency.

Halfway through the march, someone in the settler-occupied houses overlooking the march let off a couple of stun grenades, which made a dreadful boom, but caused no real hesitation. Then, in the middle of the square slated for demolition, we gathered for speeches, and one of the heads of the neighborhood association took the megaphone. He picked up the Hebrew chant protesters has used often in Sheikh Jarrah: "Jews and Arabs are not meant to be enemies"--a banal thought when you think about it, but deeply moving surrounded by this kind of tension.

I approached the unofficial leader of the protest, Assaf Sharon (profiled, among others here, in this excellent Haaretz article by Nir Hasson from the week-end supplement), and found him relieved, even gratified, by how many protesters had come out, given how much grittier, and potentially dangerous, was the confrontation in Silwan than in Sheikh Jarrah. He was running back and forth, scanning the hills for potential disruptions, feeling responsible, like the father of a toddler near a jungle-gym. The idea, he told me, was to let Barkat know that if he brings bulldozers, there will be hundreds sitting down this time, his eyes betraying both weary optimism and a certain apprehension. "Anyway, just look at these people coming out, and the way they are being received."

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Boycott and Divestment?

The following has just been published in The Nation.

Insanity, they say, is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Actually, that is just scientific irrationality. In human affairs, alas, insanity is doing the same thing and expecting the same result. A case in point is the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, which—considering what happened at the University of California, Berkeley, in late April, and off the Gaza coast in late May—will be coming soon to a campus near you.

If you missed it, Berkeley's student senate passed a BDS resolution against Israel, targeting General Electric and United Technologies, which presumably support Israel's occupation force. The student president vetoed the resolution. The senate then failed to override it, but the vote was thirteen to five in favor, with one abstention. The reports I've read of the debate suggest people falling into a familiar pattern: professors, students, union activists, etc. torturing logic to depict Israel's faults—which are serious enough to be unique—as "apartheid," while rehearsing the principles of action that arguably worked against South Africa a generation ago.

I say "arguably" because some of apartheid's most courageous critics, who helped to bring about an end to white rule, were opposed to B and D, even when they cautiously favored S. In 1987, when I was an editor of the Harvard Business Review, I interviewed Tony Bloom, CEO of the South African food processing giant Premier Group. Early on, Bloom rejected apartheid's foundations, and his company hired political detainees after they were released from prison. He had been among the small group of white business leaders who risked all in 1985 to meet with ANC leaders in Zambia—a great turning point. He befriended future South African President Thabo Mbeki and worked to support the transition to democracy. Though he eventually moved to London, he continued to transform his conglomerate into a model postapartheid firm.

What Bloom told me in 1987 was that, yes, foreign government sanctions on South African trade made sense in certain cases. But the boycott of South African universities and business people, and especially divestment campaigns against international companies doing business in the country, were seriously counterproductive. Why? Because those actions generally undermined the very people who advanced cosmopolitan values in the country. To get social change, you need social champions, in management as in universities.

Corporations like GM, Daimler and IBM did profit from the apartheid era, in the sense that they made the cars, trucks and computers South Africa needed and made enough profit to stay in business. But by this standard, tenured professors of democratic philosophy at Witwatersrand profited, too. The point is, great corporations, like great universities, are teaching institutions. Bloom thought foreign, technology-heavy corporations were especially important breakers of apartheid taboos, bringing what might be called scientific doubt—not to mention international management protocols opposed to racism and bigotry, like the Sullivan Principles. Their managers were Bloom's elite allies; had they been forced to pull out by their shareholders, it would have been a disaster for him and others devoted to reform.

This, I hasten to add, was a regime whose original wealth was almost entirely extractive, built on the labor of black Africans in mining and farming, and an economy whose trade was still largely in diamonds, minerals and produce. Sanctioning South African trade meant distressing, mostly, mine and plantation owners who profited directly from the old exploitation. There was a common political language, English, and despite strong local ethnicities and tongues (Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, etc.) a perversely unified culture divided by class and race. Yet people like Bloom personified a growing urban industrial sector (mainly with British roots) that needed global technological culture, financial services and commercial know-how. The entrenched security state seemed to him a throwback to naked colonialism, defending a more retrograde capitalism and a huge (largely Afrikaner) public sector. Even under apartheid, that is, you had enlightened people who needed the world's backing, and B and D cut the ground out from under them. In contrast, Bloom thought, state officials might be shunned. Segregated sports teams might be shunned. South Africa might be kept out of regional free-trade agreements, so the economy as a whole might be seen by the public as promising and yet held back by racism.

Which brings us to Israel today. Some Israeli democrats and peace activists welcome the BDS trend, if reluctantly. They argue what seems plausible, that the only way to influence the Israeli government (and the Israeli right more generally) to end the occupation is through mounting outside pressure. And, true enough, the Israeli state apparatus persists in according semiofficial status to various institutions—the Jewish Agency and Jewish National Fund, the Orthodox rabbinate—that privilege J-positive blood. The warped legal frame accommodating these institutions, from the administration of national lands to the "status quo" agreement banning interfaith marriages, valorize a settlement mystique, a tribal conception of Jewish identity and a cult of Jerusalem; the groups resisting democratic reform of the state are, unsurprisingly, the same that support Greater Israel. (I argued all these points in my book The Tragedy of Zionism in 1985—hence, my interest in Bloom.)

Nevertheless, is Israel really like apartheid South Africa? No. The Israeli economy does not depend on Arab labor—and never did. (From 1967 to the 1990s, it is true, Israelis did employ tens of thousands of Palestinians in construction and agriculture; but these proved marginal industries, and foreign workers eventually replaced them with little dislocation.) What, if not residual colonialism, accounts for residual discrimination? Tragically, the very institutions that make Israel discriminatory today consolidated their power during the 1920s and '30s, under the British Mandate, and were meant to cultivate autonomous "Hebrew labor" and economic self-sufficiency separate from the Arab feudal culture. The idea, then, was a revolutionary, secular Hebrew culture (which is why most Diaspora rabbis thought Zionists to be apostates). This separatism led to the globalized Hebrew republic in greater Tel Aviv, a civil society that's become a greenhouse for technology start-ups as independent of labor-intensive industry as Silicon Valley. Economically, the ideal solution for Israeli entrepreneurs would be to saw Tel Aviv and the coastal plain off Eurasia and float it out toward Cyprus. The internal rival to Greater Israel is Global Israel.

And, not coincidentally, Israelis and Palestinians can hardly be thought of as antagonistic classes in a common political economy. Rather, they both cherish linguistic and other cultural distinctions they want to protect—distinctions that morph into inflamed nationalisms and "religious war" when people on either side of the Green Line feel backed against the wall. Finally—despite institutionalized discrimination and the disquieting excesses of its security apparatus—the Israeli state still accords its citizens, including about 1.5 million Arabs, a functioning democracy, the right to vote, a free press and an independent judiciary. Democratic Israel is under threat from growing numbers of rightists for whom settling "Eretz Yisrael" is of a piece with containing, if not disenfranchising, Israeli Arabs and Jewish dissenters skeptical of their version of the Jewish state. But, then, how to strengthen dissent? By isolating dissenters?

People who advocate for boycott and divestment often slide over these matters. They may say they are modestly trying to pressure Israeli elites into ending the occupation. But take the Berkeley initiative to scale and add in the boycott of Israeli universities, recently proposed in England's academic union. How would cutting off the most progressive forces in Israel from global corporations and international scholarly events accomplish this? Even generalized trade sanctions, like keeping Israel out of the OECD (which, in fact, it recently joined), would have mainly impaired Israel's estimated $25 billion in high-tech exports, not extractive, postcolonial industries, as in South Africa. Polls show that about 40 percent of Israeli Jews have abidingly secular and globalist (if not liberal) attitudes. Who gains from economic decline and the inevitable consequence of most educated Israelis fleeing to, well, the Bay Area? Wouldn't the rightists, also about 40 percent, be most satisfied to see Israel become a little Jewish Pakistan?

Besides, divestment on the Berkeley model assumes the capacity to identify companies specifically supporting occupation activities. But Israel's networked economy makes this virtually impossible. Is United Technologies bad because one division, Sikorsky, makes Israeli attack helicopters—or is it good because another division, Carrier, makes Palestinian air conditioners? And what about GE CAT scans? For that matter, what about the Samsung cellphone the attack helicopter pilot may be carrying, or the Android software on the cellphone? OK, some will respond, just make the boycott more general. But the idea that precipitating Israeli economic collapse will somehow hasten a democratic outcome is like smacking a TV to fix the picture. Come to think of it, it is like blockading Gaza to sink Hamas.

My impression from various encounters with advocates for B and D is that they are simply unable to imagine that the post-1967 Israel, an Israel of occupation, is not the only possible one. They take for granted that all Israelis are colluding in an immoral, outdated structure—that, QED, a "Jewish state" must mean racist privileges for Jews. They imply, but will not just say, that the two-state solution is an illusion and that Palestine is bound to become a bantustan; that we are on the path to a binational state, one person, one vote, in the whole of historic Palestine—and that punishing Israeli globalization will hasten its arrival. (Presumably, as in South Africa, the citizens of this new state will all speak an exotically accented English.)

But what seems far more likely than a binational state, given the irredentist instincts of the Israeli right and the precedent of violent "steadfastness" of Palestinians (reinforced by the Islamist trend gripping many Palestinian young people), is a kind of Bosnian war. It could start tomorrow with, say, a riot among increasingly impoverished Jerusalem Arabs and spread like wildfire across the West Bank and Israeli Arab towns of the Triangle region. How will B and D do anything but make all Israelis feel demonized and prone to apocalyptic thinking and ethnic cleansing? Already, polls suggest that the Israeli center, which is skeptical of the settlers, feels "the West" does not appreciate what it is like to live with suicide bombers and missile attacks.

Targeted sanctions against the occupation are another matter, however. Foreign governments might well ban consumer products like fruit, flowers and Dead Sea mineral creams and shampoos produced by Israelis in occupied territory, much as Palestinian retail stores do. The EU already requires Israel to distinguish products this way. If Israel continues building in East Jerusalem, and the UN Security Council majority sanctions Israeli tourism, the US government might well choose not to veto the resolution. The Pentagon might sanction, say, Israel Aerospace Industries if, owing to continued settlement, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations break down. Any US sanctions would dominate Israeli headlines for weeks. These would not much hurt the economy directly but would gesture toward the larger truth Israeli managers understand in their bones, namely, that an advanced, networked economy is built as much on expanding relationships with global companies as algorithms, and political isolation will naturally lead to economic isolation.

Israelis, indeed, must be made to choose between Global Israel and Greater Israel, but you do not automatically hurt the latter by wrecking the former. Sanction the Israeli government for activities that obstruct peacemaking. Hurt the settlements. But boycott and divest from the private sector, and you may
create an economic implosion. Israel's ratio of debt to GDP looks eerily like that of the weakest EU economies. Unlike Greece, Israel has a rising class of cosmopolitan entrepreneurs who have been politically complacent, especially during the second intifada and Bush administration. But only they can lead the country out of political crisis—and only if they can hold on to their prestige, which is itself rooted in international commerce. This prestige, after all, is what diplomatic "engagement" aims to achieve—does it not? We want the soft power of global markets to encourage the formation of more worldly business and professional classes everywhere, from Russia to Syria. Isn't that why we invest such hope in Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad? We said Bush, Cheney and Rice were wrong to boycott whole countries. They were.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sheikh Jarrah Movement In Crisis

I've just returned to Jerusalem, after a couple of weeks in the US, to find the Sheikh Jarrah leadership contending with a problem that has been building for weeks, but suddenly seems a full-blown crisis. There is no flagging of their determination, and the cause is as catalyzing as ever--perhaps more than ever. But the Jerusalem police has been using their unchecked authority to bring charges against leading activists--charges the courts have routinely thrown out, but which have resulted in crushing legal costs for these young people, some of whom are graduate students with small children. I have just donated to their defense fund and I appeal to readers of this blog to do the same. You may do so here. I like to think that, every now and then, you've felt a twinge of guilt that you've been getting these posts for free, and even free of distracting web ads. Now is your chance to repay the effort. And please send this appeal to three friends. Let's get something going.

Here is the letter one of the activists, Avner Inbar, prepared for distribution:

Between August 2008 and November 2009, 4 Palestinian families were evicted from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem. 24 families still face imminent threat of eviction. These Palestinians are all former refugees who escaped their erstwhile houses during the 1948 war. Arriving in then Jordanian ruled East Jerusalem, these 28 families waived their UN refugee cards in exchange for the right to build houses on a vacant lot in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

After Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, a Jewish organization which owned the land prior to the ’48 war reclaimed ownership over their new houses. The families, however, were not allowed to regain ownership over their former properties in Israel. Indeed, while Israel’s “Absentee Properties Law” officially strips Palestinians of ownership rights over their pre-1948 properties, Jews are free to reclaim possession of pre-48 assets. And this inequality before the law is responsible for the current crisis in Sheikh Jarrah.

The small struggle for the rights of the Palestinian residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem is quickly turning into a vibrant social movement. Each Friday, hundreds of protesters from all over Israel congregate in the small neighborhood, standing shoulder to shoulder with the local Palestinians. On March 6th, more than 4,000 people descended on the neighborhood for one of the largest and most inspiring Israeli-Palestinian rallies in recent history. Due to the growing momentum of these protests, Israelis can no longer turn a blind eye to their government’s irrational and immoral policy of “Judaizing” East Jerusalem, and the international community, led by the White House, is finally taking a resolute stance on this key issue. Many commentators in Israel and around the world view what came to be known as the Sheikh Jarrah Movement as the new promise for the Israeli peace camp.

Unsurprisingly, Israeli authorities have not remained silent in the face of this burgeoning movement. More than 120 activists have been arrested since December 2009 and the Jerusalem Police is now beginning to press charges against dozens of them on the pretext of “illegal assembly.” The crackdown had recently escalated when policemen arrived at the doorstep of one of the activists during the Shabbat dinner, taking the activist into custody without legal warrant. On Friday, May 14th, dozens of activists sat on the road opposite the police barrier blocking them from entering the neighborhood in an inspiring act of non-violent civil disobedience. The police reacted with extreme violence, breaking arms and ribs, and arrested 14 activists.

Even though the legality of the Sheikh Jarrah protests had been repeatedly reaffirmed by three panels of the Israeli court, the police are unyielding in their attempt to crush them. And, while we are confident that the court will continue to uphold our right to protest against the intolerable injustice of the occupation, the Jerusalem Police’s politically motivated war of legal attrition against the Sheikh Jarrah movement is taking its toll on the activists.

Legal costs are mounting. The much appreciated voluntary work of a few dedicated lawyers is no longer sufficient to counter the upcoming wave of indictments or to enable the activists to appeal against Police persecution. And so, while we have been able to launch and maintain this struggle without funds or institutional support, we must turn to you for help at this crucial moment. We are in desperate need of a legal fund in order to defray the costs of supplying more than 120 activists with the appropriate legal defense, and to continue our string of legal victories against an overly politicized Police.

What is more, the growth of the Sheikh Jarrah movement entails rapidly growing expenses. At the moment, our inability to pay for buses from Tel Aviv and other locations in Israel result in much small demonstrations than are currently possible. Donations for transportation will help us turn these demonstrations into increasingly influential mass events.


Avner has also provided a breakdown of the movement's expenses:

Legal costs per arrestee: $2,500. Cost of currently pending cases: $60,000 (2 unified cases + 20 individual cases). Many more cases are awaiting arraignment hearings with the good possibility that there will be further indictments.

Cost of back and forth bus from Tel Aviv: $500. We aim to bring 2 busses of demonstrators per week. Heretofore, these were funded by the demonstrators themselves and the sale of T-shirts. However, bus fare is too expensive for many demonstrators to come each week, and most of the regulars already own T-shirts (or several). We need to provide transportation to keep the regular demonstrators coming and to enlarge the numbers that can attend. Estimated monthly transportation costs: $4000

Overall costs for the next 6 months: $84,000


Avner can be reached directly at avner_inbar@yahoo.com. Anyone who can contribute significant amounts, or knows somebody who can, please contact him immediately. Or, again, you may contribute $50, $100, $200 or more here.

Monday, June 7, 2010

PdF, The Network Effect, And The Mentor State

I was in New York on Friday to present some provisional ideas about what I've called the "mentor state" to the Personal Democracy Forum's yearly confab. My thanks to Micah Sifry for inviting me and teaching us all about how networks are changing the makings of democracy. My remarks are viewable here. I was particularly encouraged by the various ways they rhymed with those of Aneesh Chopra, the remarkable Chief Technology Officer of the Obama White House, viewable here. My post-presentation interview with Justmeans, summarizing the main point, can be viewed here. And if you missed it, the Inc. Magazine cover story on electric cars and the networks they are nested in can be read here.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Gaza Follies

File under: "Couldn't have said it better myself." Gershom Gorenberg on the background. Didi Remez on a portent of Israeli-Turkish relations. Aluf Benn on the failed Gaza policy. Oh, and please spare me the litany of Hamas atrocities. Everything Israel has done has played into Hamas hands, as Sam Bahour and I have, indeed, said ourselves, here and more recently, here.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Transitions

I'm in transit to the US, so I cannot do more than urge you to read Haaretz's many responses to yesterday's grotesque events, especially (as usual) its judicious editorial. I must also mark, too hastily, the death of Lova Eliav, whom I greatly admired, and to whom I owe many kindnesses. He was a man of rare qualities: the courage to stand alone and a fascinating sense of mission, but also a confident humility. Let's just say he was the kind of Zionist I had originally come for. I interviewed him back in 1975, after he founded a new peace party, and we got to talking. I told him, bluntly, and with a chuzpah that embarrasses me now (I was 26), that his party was saying all the right things, but that he himself did not have the charisma to lead it. Why, I asked, didn't he call, say, the Hebrew University's Shlomo Avineri, and try to nudge him into politics? He looked a little pained, but more bemused than insulted. The next time I saw him, he embraced me and said, as if updating a consultant, "I called Avineri but he wasn't interested." I count the twinkle an important piece of my political education.