Thursday, May 22, 2014


by Alan Edelstein

"Have you seen it?"  "It's unbelievable!"  "Startling!" "I've never seen  stuff like this."   "You have got to get it!"

This is about all I heard a few months ago from many of my American Jewish friends who are interested in Israel and the Middle East.   One exclamation reflecting astonishment after another, backed up by a unified choir of praise and wonder from pundits and reviewers.

One would have thought that someone discovered that Moses had a sixth book, or perhaps that Sports Illustrated had put out a gold-emblazoned 50-year compilation of the best of the issue everyone anticipates but no one reads.

The only hint that they were talking about something that was not wonderful and miraculous was that the exclamations often also included comments such as "We were terrible."  "How could we have done this?"  "I'm ashamed."

It turns out many of my friends and acquaintances, along with the professional reviewer and pundit classes, were hyperventilating about the recently published My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, by Ari Shavit, the left-leaning columnist for Haaretz, Israel's well-known left-leaning daily newspaper.

What got them so excited when there have been so many other books about Israel and the region?

All my friends and acquaintances mentioned to me was Shavit's characterizations of how we Zionists wiped out Arab villages, took their lands, and made the Palestinians into the downtrodden, victimized refugees they allegedly are today.

Several of the excited ones specifically mentioned Chapter Five, in which Shavit recounts his version of how and why the Zionists allegedly designed and implemented a plan to throw all Arabs out of the city of Lydda.  It probably didn't hurt that an edited version of Chapter Five was published in the The New Yorker, which is edited by Shavit's good friend, David Remnick.

That, of course, got the chattering classes chattering to the uber-degree, and the book seemed to be touted just about everywhere.  A slam on the Zionists?  Home run.  In The New Yorker?  Grand slam!

Thursday, May 1, 2014


I did not have high hopes that much, if anything, would come out of the latest quasi-negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Anyone with an ounce of knowledge of the conflict would know not to have much hope that this dispute is going to be resolved anytime soon.  Still, those of us who truly desire a solution and who are willing to compromise, we still hope.  As the saying goes, you gotta have hope.  Even if it's audacious. 

I have previously lamented, some would say bitterly ranted, about how President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry, wittingly or unwittingly, do and say just about everything possible to encourage the Palestinians to believe they need not make concessions and to ensure that negotiations will fail, that Israel is blamed for the failure of negotiations, and that Israel is undermined in the court of world opinion. 

(See, for example, What In The World, Birthday Wishes and a New Jersey Gangster's Threats, and It's The Bomb!)  

In the wake of the apparent demise of the talks, the Secretary continues his virtually 100 percent record in this regard.  Although the State Department subsequently, post-headlines, backed off slightly, the Secretary initially laid the blame for the current failure on Israel's doorstep. 

The Secretary said that Israel's refusal to release the fourth batch of terrorist prisoners and its announcement of "700 settlement units in Jerusalem" was "poof," the end of negotiations.  But why were those actions the cause of the breakdown?  Why did they constitute the "poof" moment?

Because the Palestinians decided they were reason enough, or an excuse, to walk away from negotiations. 

Why was Abbas making it clear that he intended to negotiate until the fourth batch of prisoners was released and then to quit and to go to the UN and other international bodies not the "poof" moment that caused the breakdown?

Why was Abbas and his associates repeatedly, clearly, and unequivocally stating that they would never recognize the right of the Jews to a nation not the "poof" moment that caused the breakdown?