Category Archives: The Middle East

why calling Israel democratic increases criticism of Israel

If you tell Dutch people that Israel is a democracy like the Netherlands, Israel’s favorability rises among the conservative respondents but falls among those on the left. That’s according to an experiment by Lelkes, Malka, and Sheets (2015). They asked everyone the same questions about … Continue reading

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medieval iconoclasm and modern prejudices

More than 1,000 years ago, the Christian world was consumed with a violent conflict over religious images: whether they should be venerated or destroyed as idols. That conflict, which brought down emperors, has resonances today. But even before the days … Continue reading

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Jesus was a person of color

As everyone knows by now, Fox News host Megyn Kelly said last week, “Jesus was a white man, too. It’s like we have, he’s a historical figure. That’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa. I just want kids to know … Continue reading

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an argument against intervening in Syria

The Syrian government appears to have violated the Geneva Protocol to the Hague Convention (1925). The Protocol, which Syria signed in 1968, begins: “the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and of all analogous liquids, materials or … Continue reading

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the Nehemiah story: on the pros and cons of walls

In writing yesterday about the Palestinian city, Rawabi, that is rising not far from Jerusalem, I thought of the Book of Nehemiah in the Bible. It tells a good and relevant story–but also a problematic one. It is a step-by-step … Continue reading

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Rawabi, the planned Palestinian city

In yesterday’s New York Times, Isabel Kirshner reports from Rawabi, the planned city that’s rising on a hill between Jerusalem and Nablus. She describes Rawabi’s struggles with the Israelis over permits and water, limited support from the Palestinian Authority, and … Continue reading

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the limits of putting yourself in their shoes and looking with their eyes

Yesterday in Jerusalem, the president told the story of Israel, much as mainstream Israelis understand it, and then asked his audience to see the Palestinians’ side of the story. Those passages in his speech drew applause. I used to think … Continue reading

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bloggers remember what they wrote when the Iraq war started

Blogging was still pretty new in March 2003, but I was already at it. This week, on the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War, veteran bloggers have been reviewing their own opinions when it started. (See, e.g., contrasting posts by … Continue reading

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keeping a democracy from overreacting to terrorism

(Chicago) In her book What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat, Louise Richardson warns against generalizing but still ventures a cautious generalization about terrorists. What they want, she writes, are “the three r’s” of revenge, renown, and reaction. … Continue reading

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patenting smart water?

In a New York Times op-ed today, Charles Fishman argues that we should use the current severe drought to improve how we manage and distribute water, potentially achieving vast efficiencies. When I was in Israel recently, my group visited a … Continue reading

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