C) The Israeli-Jewish Palestinian Fault Line

a) Yom Ha-Atzma’ut and Nakba

The hundred-year-war between the Jews of Israel and the Palestinians continues, not unabated, but not without casualties. On April 24, 2023, Israel National News reported a car-ramming attack near Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehudah open-air market; 5 civilians were injured, 1 very critically, while the driver was shot and killed by another Israeli civilian. The next day, Memorial Da, Yom HaZikaron for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism, another attacker shot at a group of Israeli runners. At the same time, rockets from Lebanon were reigning down on Israel’s northern areas.

The hundred-year-war took its most radical turn when Zionists in Israel declared its independence. That day is celebrated in Israel every tear as Yom Ha-Atzma’ut, the birthday of the State of Israel. May 15, 2023 was the 75th anniversary of the state of Israel, but the day is celebrated in accordance with the Hebrew calendar and the celebrations took place in 2023 on April 26th. The previous day was memorialized for Memorial Day, Yom HaZikaron. However, Nakba Day (ذكرى النكبة) or Dhikra an-Nakba, Memory of the Catastrophe, is generally commemorated on 15 May of the Gregorian Calendar, the day Israel declared independence in the eyes of the international community, even though the actual declaration took place on May 14th because May 15th in 1948 fell on Saturday, shabbat. Nakba memorializes the Palestinian Catastrophe, the day on which the large displacement of Palestinians from what became Israel as a result of the 1948-49 war (720,000) and the armistice, even though flight began before Israel was established and continued throughout the most critical phase of the hundred year war.

Both Israelis and Palestinians sanctify the whole land of what was called Palestine under the British Mandate.[i]  For Israeli Jews, the sanctity of the land (הארץ הארץ) was introduced into the Declaration of Independence by Harry Zvi Davidowitz, an American rabbi and former lieutenant in the United States Army who fought in the war of independence and was awarded both the Purple Heart and the Victory Medal by the American government.[ii] He also became a translator of Shakespeare’s plays into Hebrew, translations that are used in Israeli schools; in addition, he served as a congregational rabbi. He advised including in the Declaration the biblical phrase, Tsur Yisra’el (Rock of Israel), to mollify the differences between secularist and religious Jews, thereby consecrating at the same time unity in spite of the radical differences between the two groups as well as the sacredness of the land for both groups.

At the beginning of the state of Israel, many, if not most, observers, believed as I did in 1967, that in 1948, Israel would be crushed by five invading Arab armies. This was true even among those Brits who, very influenced by George Eliot’s nineteenth century novel, Daniel Derrida (an assimilated Jew who discovers his identity and makes Zionism his cause) became philo-Semites and even Christian Zionists as an inheritance. In the nineteenth century these Christian Zionists had been the precursors to the Jewish political Zionists at the end of that century.

Israel’s Declaration of Independence is as much a moral as well as political document. It declares the right of Jews to establish a state not only because of the UN resolution of 1947, but because of the connection to the land as recorded in the Torah, the Jewish bible. When Ben Gurion, as head of both the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency for Palestine, read out the Declaration (מגילת העצמאות) in the Tel Aviv Museum at 4:00 p.m. on May 14, 1948 (5 Iyyar 5708),  he declared Israel an independent state. It is noteworthy that the declaration only came halfway through the text. Preceding that political statement was a prologue that rooted the declaration in that traced Jewish habitation in the land for over three millennia, even though, in the Torah, they are first immigrants to the land and later, refugees in flight from Egypt.  The only religious justification and implicit (but not explicit) acknowledgement of God’s role, as stated above, is the phrase “with trust in the rock of Israel” (מתוך בטחון בצור ישראל). Further, the main emphasis is on the right of Jews to self-determination as is the right of all nations. There is NO appeal to the Jews as God’s chosen people or of a divine promise. Nor is Israel’s right to the land contingent on Jews keeping their covenant with God, but an irrevocable one as a result of the November 1947 resolution of the United Nations General Assembly. According to Ben Gurion, Jews were the native and indigenous people that had been exiled from their land for centuries and the UN document was a declaration of restoration, similar to the idea presented in the Book of Chronicles as distinct from the Torah.

Nakba recalls 1948 very differently. Though Palestinians, like the Zionist Jews, are also celebrated for their resilience, the call to resistance is the major theme. It is to “Free Palestinian land, Free Palestinian people, Free Palestinian art and Free Palestinian culture. FREE PALESTINE!”[iv] Note the reference is to Palestine and not just the West Bank, Gaza or East Jerusalem. In the 2021 documentary film Recovery by Rashid Masharawi shot at the beginning of the Covid Pandemic and shown at the 2023 Toronto Palestinian Film Festival (TPFF), the audience is taken on a journey through memory lane of Palestinian life in Jaffa (now a very integral part of Tel Aviv) between 1930 and 1948 before the declaration of Israel as an independent state and his father’s forced exile. It is a film of nostalgia. It is a film of dreams. As the first Palestinian to show his film at Cannes. Masharawi described film as escapist: “Cinema is like dreams. Israel cannot occupy dreams. They can occupy houses. We want to dream. In a refugee camp you dream as well. You want to change your reality.” When he recalls seeing three movies for two pennies with his father, I am thrown back to a very early period in my life when my father took me to one of the big movie houses on Yonge Street in Toronto where I was treated to candies, two films and a serial.

Using photographs, oral testimony, sensuality and sound, life in Jaffa, as conveyed in the old mesmerizing stills, the vivid VHS tapes of Taher Al-Qalyubi and Viktor Epp’s perfect sound track, we stroll with Taher (who fled Jaffa and was not forced to flee) as we experience the sounds and smells of its streets, the sweetness of its inhabitants and its spirit, and the gentle waves on Jaffa’s shore while watching Palestinian fishermen. It is remarkable at how brilliantly he translates the feelings of closure and confinement, of curfews and coercion, of the Covid shutdowns that so enhanced and enriched his memories of his childhood in the Al-Shati, the Beach refugee camp in northern Gaza.

In contrast, there is the delightful experience as a kid of summer camp perched on a camel presumably with siblings or cousins. There is also a “sacred” personal rock and the taste and smell of Jaffa oranges identified in international memory entirely as an Israeli creation.

The film is, however, not primarily about delight, but about loss, a sense of loss that is reinforced as refugees haul out their keys to their former homes, and about confinement and compression.  Of course, it is admittedly a film of mnemonic history and not objective history. It is an exercise brought forth through the lens of recollected experience with no attempt to provide a comprehensive and detached portrait of Jaffa at the time. Because the film starts in 1930, the writer and director cannot be expected to record anything about the Arab riots in Jaffa between May 1 and May 7, 1920, that killed 95 Jews. But the Arab revolt of 1936 definitely had an impact on experience but the filmmaker was too young at the time to be affected by the violence.

The revolt against the British began with spontaneous acts of violence committed by the religiously and nationalistically motivated followers of Sheikh ʿIzz al-Dīn al-Qassām, who personally had instigated the violence in 1935. After he was killed by the British, in April of 1936, his group initiated a general strike in Gaza as well as a general strike not only in Nablus but in Jaffa as well. Rumours spread in Jaffa that Arabs had been killed by Jews and Arabs began a riot. The British killed two of the rioters when the Anglo-Palestine Bank was attacked. The mob began killing Jews in the street. A general strike was the instigated by the Arab Higher Committee. The History of the Haganah claims that the rioting first broke out among the dockworkers in Jaffa Port where a mob of Arab men rampaging through the mixed Muslim, Christian and Jewish neighbourhoods wrecking businesses and homes and beating and killing Jews. 9 Jews dies; many others were wounded, mostly by knives. Ultimately, the British suppressed the riots.[v]

It is well to resurrect objective history as well as mnemonic history, if only, in part, to understand the motives of the Israeli nationalist right at the same time as one notes that the 2023 government of Israel is both maintaining and deepening its occupation over the Palestinians. As the Jewish reestablishment of the Jewish presence in what was once the Mandate of Palestine expands and Palestinian control and occupation of the land shrinks and is compressed, as the new government of 2023 establishes new settlements and extends new ones, throws overboard any intention to resurrect the two-state solution based on a land divided between two nations, we instead experience the hardship on Palestinians enhanced by their nostalgic dreams while progressive Israelis protest against blinkered nationalism and the undermining of Israeli democratic institutions, of Israeli rights while putting Palestinian rights on the back burner.

[i] Cf. Nili Wazana (2018) “Declaration of Independence and the Biblical Right to the Land,” Torah Journal.

[ii] “The Conservative Rabbi Who Kept God – by Another Name – in Israel’s Founding Document,” Mosaic, April 25, 2023.

[iii] R. Avital Hochstein (2023) “Sanctity and Land Yom HaZikaron & Yom Ha-Atzma’ut 5783,” Mosaic Magazine.

[iv] Toronto Palestinian Film Festival (TPFF) 2023.

[v] Albert Viton (1936) “Why Arabs Kill Jews,” The Nation, June 3; Aryeh Avneri (1982) The Claim of Dispossession: Jewish Land-Settlement and the Arabs, 1878-1948. Transaction Publishers. p. 32.


Fissures, Fractures and Fault Lines

B) The conflicting fault lines within the Jewish Community

Any survey of social and class differences in Israel will reveal cleavages, multiple cleavages. But the groups and sub-groups that form are fluid. They shift over time. They grow or shrink as we move on. Thus, if we posit a gap between the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox in Israel versus the progressive elements in the Jewish religious population, where do we place the egalitarian Orthodox groups? These have been growing. In 2018, they performed approximately one thousand marriages. The next year it was 1800.i  

But in other areas we find both growth and shrinkage. There are now over 125 Reform or Conservative (Masorti) congregations in Israel. 8-10 Reform rabbis are ordained each year. There is a Reform rabbi as a member of the Knesset and the Environmental Minister is a Conservative who lives on a Conservative religious kibbutz. Progressive Orthodox rabbis conduct 400 conversions a year. More spectacularly, 12-13% of Jews in Israel (800,000) identify as Reform or Conservative. Their rabbis perform marriages, some even same-sex marriages, but those marriages are neither legal nor recognized by the state.ii The numbers who identify may be growing, but the percentage affiliated have been shrinking. This is a global pattern.

These figures are telling in another way. The majority have nothing or little to do with organized religion. Conservative and Reform Judaism are both in general decline. Larger shifts lie ahead. The younger generation is turning less and less to the sort of institutions and the forms of Judaism that were strong in the second half of the 20th century. As for Orthodoxy, as indicated above, in the words of Schiff, “There is no one thing called ‘Orthodoxy.’ Orthodoxy comprises a range of different types of observance. There are those who call themselves modern Orthodox; there are those who call themselves Hasidic; there are those who have more of a Yeshiva-type orientation. All these forms of Judaism, which are lumped together under the heading of Orthodoxy, are really quite distinct one from the other.”iii

Tears in the flesh of the body politic of the nation do not a crisis make. Instead, it is the very structural elements that lead to fractures and not just tears. And some are compound fractures that break through the flesh. Then, conflict becomes pervasive and society fractures; the result may be a failed state.

However, fractures are the result of falls. Fractures are the result of external blows. And these alone are insufficient to result in a failed state. Look at Ukraine as it fights its war with Putin. Its sense of identity and mission have both grown as the infrastructure is being blown to smithereens. In the case of Israel, there are even deeper problems than fissures or fractures. Israel has possibly been constructed on two very fundamentally different fault lines. There are deeper divides than rifts or fissures in the flesh of the body politic. The first potential fault line is the internal one, between and amongst Jews. The external one between Jews and Palestiniansmuch more clearly a fault line. (See next blog.)

Have fractures within the Jewish community revealed a deeper fault line. Or are the schisms just fractures, or not even fractures but simply deep fissures? After all, as great as the strains are within the Jewish polity, there have been no signs of civil war, few signs of even a fracture let alone a compound one. And that has to be a surprise. In almost any other country the strains and stress to which the Israeli polity has been subject to would have led to significant coercive pressure from the government side or militant dissent from the opposition. Or both!

But perhaps these appearances simply hide or disguise fault lines within the Jewish community. Let’s begin with the divisions within the religious community with which we began this section. One obvious division cannot be avoided. The vast majority of Jews, from the black hat ultra-Orthodox to the religiously more moderate knitted cap Israeli religious Jews, is almost 90% right-wing. Among the ultra-Orthodox can be found the most extreme racists in the country. The West Bank nationalist settler movement is dominated by the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox. Liberal and left, including moderate or progressive religious Jews, as much as they have grown in numbers, long ago lost the battle for the hearts and minds of Jewish religious Israelis. Further, of the four parties in the current government (April 2023), three are religious, the Sephardic Shas Party, the Ashkenazi United Torah Judaism Party and the third, Religious Zionism, a merger of three far-right parties that leans towards ultra-Orthodoxy.

If the religious members (about 7) of Likud, the largest party in the four-party coalition, are counted, then about half of the 64 seats of the current government are held by conservative and right-wing religious Jews. Yet they only constitute 17% of the population, 12% of which are Haredi. In contrast, Progressive religious Jews, as described in the opening paragraphs, make up the same percentage of the population as Haredi Jews. Yet they have no representation in Government. Does this suggest that the deeper division is ideological? Or is ideology merely an expression of a certain type of Jewish religion?

In the 2023 controversy over judicial “reform”, it is well to remember that in a state where there is no significant separation of church and state, it is the Supreme Court that has protected religious freedom and pluralism and enlarged the small separation of church and state. It should then be no surprise that Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox politicians have lined up on the side attacking the Supreme Court.  

In March 2021, the Supreme Court recognized non-Orthodox conversions for purposes of citizenship; this was viewed as a calamity for the Orthodox religious monopoly on conversion. The previous Bennett government instituted a radical overhaul of the rules governing kashrut certification. Previous court decisions allowed the state to pay part of the salaries of non-Orthodox rabbis. The court has ruled against gender segregation on public transportation. It is the Court that decided that any individual with at least one Jewish grandparent would be eligible to immigrate to Israel with a spouse and dependent children even if the spouse had no Jewish grandparent. Will the new government allow the new Tel Aviv light rail to operate on Shabbat? Will it “override” (if an override provision is passed) so-called “Utah” on-line civil marriages?

These are but a few of the legal and legislative issues that have aroused the ire of the Orthodox and especially ultra-Orthodox in Israel and pushed them to advocate an override provision with respect to Supreme Court rulings. Even these parties never expected the new government to propose the radical vast array of proposed changes beyond the override proposal to challenge the independence of the judiciary. Netanyahu has even committed his government to increased funding for Haredi schools and promised that funding would not be contingent on teaching core subjects that would enhance the ability of the ultra-Orthodox to gain employment in a modern economy.

But there is also a geographical divide in Israel between the orthodox Jewish community versus the progressive religious and secular Jewish communities. If one believes that the outpouring of strong and repeated protests against judicial “reform” is unprecedented, wait to see what happens if the Knesset passes a law preventing the new Tel Aviv light rail from operating on Friday evening and Saturday until sundown. Protests will immobilize government and become an initial clue that the religious divide between coastal Israel, Tel Aviv and Haifa (progressive and secular), and the interior of Israel, including Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem, might threaten to become a political one.

Ironically, this divide has an almost mirror reflection in the United States between red and blue states, but the opposite relationship between the majority progressive Jewish population of the United States. Netanyahu seems to have always been willing to sacrifice the relationship between Israel and diaspora Jews, mostly American, to his close relationship with the Republican Party in the US. In Israel, stats reveal the alignment of religious convictions with political ideology.

Issue                                                   Right                                   Centre                             Secular

Religious Beliefs                        51%                                     34%                                     15%

Kosher                                45%                                      17%                           No

There is another issue which overlaps the above divide – economic status. The majority of Israelis (54%) are Jews who escaped from Arab lands (Sephardic or Mizrachi), Iran, and Ethiopia. They parallel Blacks in the US, though Blacks have never achieved political control. But the most important overlap is that the greatest proportion of lower middle- and lower-class member of the Israeli polity belong to this cluster of “coloured” Israelis.

This is the mirror opposite of the U.S.  The darker skinned “minority” is the core base of support for Israel’s right-wing government but the key supporters of the Democratic Party in the US. However, in both Israel, this religious minority is deeply rooted in traditional values, but in Israel they align with the right and in the US with the left. This group in both countries belong largely to the lower and lower middle-income group. Thus, most the one-third of religious Jews and most of the one-third of traditional Jews support the political right. There is large overlap between colour, country of origin and landed status of one converging side versus the other large group of secular and middle and upper-class Ashkenazi Jews.

But the proof that there is no fracture let alone a fault line between the two groups is the rate of inter-marriage between the two groups – over 35% of infants are children of inter-married couples from both groups. This is a major difference with the US. However, there is very deep fissure and polarization between the two groups that is reflected in the difference between the protesters and government supporters.

As we shall see, this is a sharp contrast with the relationship of Jews and Palestinians.

F is for Fissures, Fractures and Fault Lines

  1. Fault Lines versus Fissures and Fractures

It is time for a segue, from the Italian segue, “follows.” A segue transitions from one topic or section to the next. This segue transitions from the first three sections on Communications, Divisiveness and Economics to the sections on Governance, War, and the Judicial system. The earlier sections that preceded this were about tears, were about rifts in the nation and the body politic. My argument is that, as terrible as these were, they were only flesh wounds. They heal over time. Or, at least, if they do not mend but separate groups into isolated silos, in themselves these silos do not seek to damage one another.

Faults, in this case, are cracks in the demosphere parallel to cracks in the earth itself in the lithosphere. The movement of the population tectonic plates result in stress and a brittle response as a minimum. In the case of the Palestinian-Jewish Israeli fault line, it is not just brittle. War after war, earthquake after earthquake has followed.

There are three forms of stress, from tension, from compression and from shear. In the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, the two tectonic plates are neither moving away from each other, resulting in tension, nor moving towards each other, compression; rather, the Jewish demographic plate has passed on top of the Palestinian one transforming the boundaries at which the two plates slide past one another.

This is not just a metaphor or analogy. Rather, the demographic and ideological conflict lies at a much deeper level than the military (or governance tensions dealt with in a separate section) and violent one for it is NOT resolvable by any peace agreement. A peace agreement cannot stop these demographic tensions. At best, they can mitigate the force and violence of the clashes. And that is the main message of this segue.

Finally, the division between most Jews in Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are expressions of an extremely dangerous fault line with the stress on the shear threatening to explode in a way that will make the first and second intifadas look like minor test runs and warning earthquakes of a much stronger one to come.

Any survey of social and class differences in Israel will reveal cleavages, multiple cleavages. But the groups and sub-groups that form are fluid. They shift over time. They grow or shrink as we move on. Thus, if we posit a gap between the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox in Israel versus the progressive elements in the Jewish religious population, where do we place the egalitarian Orthodox groups? These have been growing. In 2018, they performed approximately one thousand marriages. The next year it was 1800.[i]  

But in other areas we find both growth and shrinkage. There are now over 125 Reform or Conservative (Masorti) congregations in Israel. 8-10 Reform rabbis are ordained each year. There is a Reform rabbi as a member of the Knesset and the Environmental Minister is a Conservative who lives on a Conservative religious kibbutz. Progressive Orthodox rabbis conduct 400 conversions a year. More spectacularly, 12-13% of Jews in Israel (800,000) identify as Reform or Conservative. Those rabbis perform marriages, some even same-sex marriages, but those marriages are neither legal nor recognized by the state.[ii] The numbers who identify may be growing, but the percentage affiliated have been shrinking. This is a global pattern.

These figures are telling in another way. The vast majority have nothing or little to do with organized religion. Conservative and Reform Judaism are both in general decline. Larger shifts lie ahead. The younger generation is turning less and less to the sort of institutions and the forms of Judaism that were strong in the second half of the 20th century. As for Orthodoxy, as indicated above, in the words of Schiff, “There is no one thing called ‘Orthodoxy.’ Orthodoxy comprises a range of different types of observance. There are those who call themselves modern Orthodox; there are those who call themselves Hasidic; there are those who have more of a Yeshiva-type orientation. All these forms of Judaism, which are lumped together under the heading of Orthodoxy, are really quite distinct one from the other.”[iii]

Tears in the flesh of the body politic of the nation do not a crisis make. Instead, it is the very structural elements that lead to fractures and not just tears. And some are compound fractures that break through the flesh. Then, conflict becomes pervasive and society fractures; the result may be a failed state.

However, fractures are the result of falls. Fractures are the result of external blows. And these alone are insufficient to result in a failed state. Look at Ukraine as it fights its war with Putin. Its sense of identity and mission have both grown as the infrastructure is being blown to smithereens. In the case of Israel, there are even deeper problems than fissures or fractures. Israel has been constructed on two very fundamentally different fault lines. There are deeper divides than rifts or fissures in the flesh of the body politic.

There are even deeper divides than the different sides in intra-state and inter-state wars and between political coalitions that make governance work by engaging in compromise. These divisions are the results of history and the formation of nation states. Some countries, Norway is an example, are not built on areas of the globe where tectonic plates meet and where the boundaries between them shift to make up a system of faults. In the case of Israel, it is doubly handicapped built on two vastly different fault lines. As much as they may intersect, they are radically dissimilar.

One fault can be referred to as the east-west fault line. The two clashing tectonic plates consist of the Palestinians and Jewish Zionists. The Palestinians believe that they, and their Arab brothers who joined and moved in with them, deserved to have a state of their own when the modern world was evolving and independent nation states were emerging, especially after the end of WWI. After all, at their core, they constituted the majoritarian indigenous population.

But there never was a fixed dominant ethnic population in Palestine and what became Israel. Jews may have been the dominant majority of the first four centuries of the common era with a Christian minority living among them. But by the fifth century they had become the minority and the Christians the majority. However, by the end of the 12th century, the Christians in turn were reduced to a minority and the Muslims became the majority which they maintained until the twentieth century. And when that majority was threatened by an influx of Zionist Jews intent on re-establishing their ancient nation-state in Palestine, the religious differences between Muslims and Christians became subsumed under the common Arabic ethnicity and culture of both groups as they resisted the influx of these newcomers who threatened their own emerging nationalism.

In 1890, the total population of Palestine was just over half a million. 20% were Christians and Jews and Christians made up a slightly larger proportion of the population than Jews. But by 1914, those proportions had shifted; Jews outnumbered Christians. By the 1920s, when the Balfour Declaration was in effect and the international community had agreed to support the recreation of a national homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine, the total population of Palestine had grown to three-quarters of million, the vast majority Muslim Arabs. Jews then constituted 12% of the population. By 1947, the total population had reached almost two million as both Arabs and Jews moved into Palestine, but Jews now made up about one-third of the population. The Arab increase mostly came from a “natural” increase in the population rather than migration.

These were the tectonic plates rubbing against one another – an Arab population expecting and desiring its own national self-determination and a Jewish population with the same goals for itself. They rubbed against each another and, despite all the efforts of the international community, or perhaps because of them, war broke out. The Jewish tectonic plate now floated on top of the Arab Muslim one. The two populations had shifted positions radically in their ratios and total numbers as Jewish refugees from Europe and Arab lands flowed in and 720,000 Arab Palestinians fled or were forced to flee. In Israel proper, out of a population of almost 900,000 Palestinian Arabs, only 156,000 remained. But the rest of Palestine remained almost entirely Arab Palestinian.

In the last seventy-five years, the numbers of Jews have continued to increase as did the territory they controlled, discounting Gaza and the occupied territories of the West Bank that they did not control. As of 2014, Israeli and Palestinian statistics for the overall numbers of Jews and Arabs in the area west of the Jordan, inclusive of Israel and the Palestinian territories, are similar and suggest a rough parity in the two populations. Palestinian statistics estimate 6.1 million Palestinians for that area, while Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics estimates 6.2 million Jews living in sovereign Israel. Gaza has 1.7 million and the West Bank 2.8 million Palestinians, while Israel proper has 1.7 million Arab citizens.

According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, as of May 2006, of Israel’s 7 million people, 77% were Jews, 18.5% Arabs, and 4.3% “others”.[v] Among Jews, 68% were Sabras (Israeli-born), mostly second or third-generation Israelis, and the rest are olim – 22% from Europe and the Americas, and 10% from Asia and Africa, including the Arab countries.

The reality is that the population tectonic plates have shifted in weight and position as the fault lines between them have also shifted. Faults, in this case, are cracks in the demosphere parallel to cracks in the earth itself in the lithosphere. The movement of the population tectonic plates result in stress and a brittle response as a minimum. In the case of the Palestinian-Jewish Israeli fault line, it is not just brittle. War after war, earthquake after earthquake has followed.

There are three forms of stress, from tension, from compression and from shear. In the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, the two tectonic plates are neither moving away from each other, resulting in tension, nor moving towards each other, compression; rather, the Jewish demographic plate has passed on top of the Palestinian one transforming the boundaries at which the two plates slide past one another.

This is not just a metaphor or analogy. Rather, the demographic and ideological conflict lies at a much deeper level that the military (or governance tensions – more on this when the second fault line is discussed) and violent one for it is NOT resolvable by any peace agreement. A peace agreement cannot stop these demographic tensions. At best, they can mitigate the force and violence of the clashes. And that is the main message of this segue.

Finally, the division between most Jews in Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are expressions of an extremely dangerous fault line with the stress on the shear threatening to explode in a way that will make the first and second intifadas look like minor test runs and warning earthquakes of a much stronger one to come.

Recall that the fault lone in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is nether one of tension resulting from the two sides pulling apart nor of compression when both sides are forced to occupy the same political space. The fault line is a shear with the Israeli tectonic plate overrunning the Palestinian one. A shear is one of opposing political structural forces resulting inherently in slippage on a plane and inevitable failure. If it is a single entity, but with the force moving downwards from the polis above with the force coming upward from the polis below, the entity will fracture. It will not lead to a single state solution but to an enormous explosion and disintegration of both that part of the plate on top and that on the bottom. For the lateral movement of the plate on top when it meets an immovable object – the Palestinians in the West Bank are not going anywhere – disaster is the ultimate result. The Palestinians may be forced to occupy a smaller and smaller area, but the compression within may explode first and produce a reactionary explosion on the upper shear plate.

Unless, of course, the situation is stabilized and is no longer moving. But if it is, and the compression underneath increases, as I have said, an explosion is inevitable. When Palestinians are unable to resist the shear force to withstand the push, then disaster cannot be prevented. The compression underneath increases, and then BOOM! Most Israeli liberals have turned their backs on the clash of forces in the hope that it will stabilize, but the creeping annexation has ensured that it will not stabilize. Shear loads must be balanced and distributed. Compression through a superficial unity or through the top force continuing to move forward in its clash with the weaker force beneath are both doomed strategies that lead to catastrophic failures on all sides.

[i] A 2019 Panim study found that at least 2,610 private Jewish wedding ceremonies were held outside the auspices of the OrthodoxRabbinate in 2018, an increase of 7% from the previous year. (https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/2019-12-04/ty-a…)

[ii] Even same sex marriages have been performed, though they are neither recognized nor legal. Within Israel, only Orthodox marriages certified by the Chief Rabbinate are recognized. On Aug 19, 2018, Pola Barkan, 28, director of the Cultural Brigade that promotes Russian culture in Israel, married Mark Barkan, 29. (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/19/world/middleeast)

[iii] Cf. Danny Schiff, Judaism in a Digital Age: An Ancient Tradition Confronts a Transformative Era.  

[iv] Central Bureau of Statistics, Government of Israel. “Population, by religion and population group” (PDF). See also Central Bureau of Statistics, Government of Israel. “Jews and others, by origin, continent of birth and period of immigration” (PDF).

Blog 9: Israel as a Failing State

E is for Economics Part III: Slipping Backwards

Since the Netanyahu government started pushing for judicial “reform” with an enormous number of changes that would turn the judicial system upside down, the domestic and foreign political situation has deteriorated and that has had an enormous impact on the Israeli economic outlook. The most significant indicator of the downward trend has been the downgrading of Israel’s rating by Moody’s in mid-April 2023, just a little over three months into the life of the Netanyahu government. Moody’s Investors Service published an annual rating update on the state of Israel’s economy. In its April 2023 report, it described the effort to overturn the existing judicial system, without the concurrence of a significant part of the opposition, and even without majority domestic public support. President Isaac Herzog’s attempt to get Moody’s to moderate its report was unsuccessful.

In assigning scores and default probabilities to state issued bonds with a detached perspective, it described the weakness of the Netanyahu government. There has also been a significant loss of trust in Netanyahu by Americans. Only 8% retained a lot of confidence in him.  An April Pew survey indicated that though one quarter of Americans had never heard of Netanyahu (not surprising), the remaining two-thirds were divided between those who had some confidence in him (24%), not too much (25%) and none (17%). The Moody report seemed unaffected by the government’s call for a pause in pushing the legislation, for in its assessment, Netanyahu seemed determined to complete the legislation largely intact. He has said as much, arguing, ironically, that the legislation will strengthen Israel’s democracy. Obviously, Moody’s did not take him at his word. But others did. “On the eve of Israel’s 75th birthday, when the country should be celebrating Israeli innovation, inspiration and impact, (Yossi) Vardi said he is concerned. Following weeks of countrywide protests against a government-proposed judicial overhaul that brought the country to the brink of civil war and threatened to downgrade Israel’s credit rating, the hi-tech community remains on edge.”[i]

The state of the economy was deemed uncertain.  Investors around the world had been spooked with the view that harming the independence of the judiciary would be a severe blow to Israel’s democracy and the stability of its institutions. At first glance, there seemed to be no decline in the rating since the country still received an A1, but the downgrade came in replacing “positive” with “stable”.  “[T]he change of outlook to stable from positive reflects a deterioration of Israel’s governance, as illustrated by the recent events around the government’s proposal for overhauling the country’s judiciary… The manner in which the government has attempted to implement a wide-ranging reform without seeking broad consensus points to a weakening of institutional strength and policy predictability. As a result, the risks on Israel’s rating are now balanced, leading to a stable outlook.”

But not a positive one. And a negative one seemed to be on the horizon. Prospects looked like it might become much worse, especially since Netanyahu has been connected and compared to the Polish and Hungarian leaders of right-wing governments. As Polish minister Paweł Jabłoński said in a Warsaw radio interview, “Of course, we are talking with Israel, and to some extent we shared our experiences in this regard. I’m telling the honest truth. Israel was interested in what was happening in Poland.”[ii]

If the larger domestic and foreign situation had been assessed, there is a strong possibility that the report would have been worse. Government ministers repeatedly and blatantly lie. For example, one minister accused Aharon Barak of directing police to arrest 14-year-old children. Members of the government accused pilots, who protested against the proposed judicial coup by not showing up for weekly practice runs, of fomenting anarchy. On social media, the Efrat Local Council head ​​​​​​​Oded Revivi had to deny the false report that the organs of Lucy Dee were donated to a Palestinian Arab terrorist by order of the Supreme Court. However, when the Pentagon documents were leaked in the US that alleged that the Mossad in Israel was backing the protestors, Netanyahu vehemently denied the claim. It is very ironic that the treasonous activity of an American teenager seeking to impress like-minded gamers would, like the butterfly effect, lead to enhanced divisiveness both within Israel and between Israel and the United States. 

If verbal exchanges were not bad enough, the situation of the march on Evyatar in the West Bank by Jewish settlers during Ramadan (that I documented in an earlier dispatch) led to IDF and other forces guarding the march to fire rubber bullets and throw tear gas cannisters at Palestinians who had been throwing rocks at the marchers. Chaos, clashes, and more conflict hardly seemed even to support a Moody appraisal of “stable”. If these actions were not enough, the Haredi from his cabinet threatened to withdraw their support of Netanyahu if he did not ensure that the IDF Draft Bill to reduce the exemption of ultra-Orthodox youth from national military serviced from 26 to 21, was withdrawn or significantly altered to their satisfaction. Passing that legislation would cancel their ability to gain exemption even though they had been attending a Yeshiva before they turned 26. Currently, by studying at a yeshiva until the age of 26, Haredi men avoided serving in the Israel Defense Forces for three years. Since they had a practice of marrying young and having children – many of them – that allowed them to be exempt from army service altogether. Lowering the exemption age to 21 would cancel that exit route.

In the Arab sector in Israel, violence was still increasing, not so much against Israeli Jews but against other Palestinians, including many cases of honour killings of Arab girls who were accused of going astray by kinsmen, especially brothers. The mafia within the Arab sector seems to have grown, contrary to the promise to increase policing in Arab towns and villages. As one Arab young man said, there is no rule of law in the Israeli Arab sector.

Further, although tens of thousands turned out on Saturdays to protest against the assault on the judicial system, the Arab sector has by and large remained aloof, insisting that unless the protesters also insisted on equality for all Israeli citizens, the only appropriate Arab response was a pox on both sides of the dispute.  But the independence of the judiciary is crucial to the protection and move towards equality of Palestinian Israelis. They should be delighted that the most extreme right-wing government in Israel is increasingly losing support. A mid-April 2023 poll showed that Netanyahu‘s Likud party would lose one-third of its seats and only elect 24 members of the Knesset if the election were held then. Benny Gantz’s National Unity Party would become the largest party in the Knesset with 28 seats. Religious Zionism, led by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, and Otzma Yehudit, led by National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, would only get 11 seats compared to their 13 at the time of the poll. Aryeh’s Deri’s Shas would decline from 10 to 9, but United Torah Judaism, led by Housing Minister Yitzhak Goldknopf, would stay steady at 7 seats. Clearly, the religious parties by and large held their support, but neither Likud nor, to a much lesser extent, the more extreme right wing.

But most of the opposition, other than the National Unity Party, has nothing to gloat over. Lapid’s Yesh Atid would drop to 20 seats. Yisrael Beytenu, led by MK Avigdor Lieberman, Hadash-Ta’al, led by MK Ayman Odeh, and Ra’am, led by MK Mansor Abbas, all would barely pass the threshold; each would only win 5 seats. Meretz and Labour would change places, with the former passing the threshold and Merav Michaeli Labour’s vote, would decline to 2.8% of the total vote. It seems that voters wanted to punish the Labour Party for making the mistake of not pooling its votes with Meretz to ensure that Netanyahu only won a bare majority for his coalition.[iii]

As a reminder, internal divisions within Palestine are even more divisive than in Israel, not only between Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority (PA), but within the West bank as faith in the PA continues to decline. Independent new rebel groups have emerged and exert their authority independent of the PA. For example, the Lion’s Den in the West Bank executed a young Palestinian charged with collaborating with Israel. PA Security Forces did not intervene.

On the external affairs front, relations with Jordan had deteriorated, largely in response to how Israel had handled the Al-Quds situation. Jordan even accused Israel of blocking Christian holy sites, such as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It so happened that there was also a spike in Jewish attacks on Christians, which instigated a Roman Catholic denunciation. Israel, in return, accused Jordan of fanning the flames and fomenting violence and not carrying out its responsibilities on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif compound. These and other incidents triggered widespread condemnation in the Arab world.

And the attempt to include Saudi Arabia in the Abraham Accords seemed to have been set back so much that Saudi Arabia was once again exchanging ambassadors and resolving issues with Iran under the ostensible mediation of China. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a meeting in Jerusalem with U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, still insisted that, “We want normalization and peace with Saudi Arabia…a giant leap towards ending the Arab-Israeli conflict.” While Reza Pahlavi, the son of the last Shah of Iran, was visiting Israel, for the first time in years, Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh was about to meet with officials in Saudi Arabia. Under the tutelage of the Iranians, Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, resumed their rocket attacks on Israel in a clearly coordinated operation. This was the most serious escalation between Lebanon and Israel since the 2006 war.  Even forces in Syria joined in by using drones to try to attack Israel. This was a new state of affairs: the Palestinian and Shiite axes of resistance had converged.

In one week in mid-April, there were three terrorist attacks by Palestinians against Israelis:

  • two ultra-Orthodox driving back from morning prayers at the Tomb of Simon in the Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem were shot at close range, but only moderately wounded; the assailant, a 15-year-old Palestinian boy, was identified and captured.
  • an Israeli male was stabbed and wounded by a female Palestinian at the Gush Etzion Junction; the terrorist was shot by the IDF.
  • a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), planning to imminently launch a terror attack, was disrupted; three, two of them explosive experts, were arrested, but in the firefight, five people were wounded, one in serious condition.

According to the Shin Bet Security Service, Ronen Bar, more than 200 ‘significant’ terrorist attacks thus far in 2023 were thwarted, including “about 150 shooting attacks, 20 bomb attacks, car-rammings, suicide bombings, kidnappings and more.” But some were not, most notably, the shooting of three members of the British-Israeli Dee family.

However, the biggest story is probably the new role that China has adopted in the Middle East as mediator extraordinaire as indicated above. China is not satisfied with positioning itself as a regional mediator after getting the credit for brokering the restoration of ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia. China is now on board with an offer to broker peace between Israel and Palestine. Chinese foreign minister, Qin Gang, contacted Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and Palestinian foreign minister Riyad Al-Maliki to offer Chinese services in reconvening peace talks. 

The Chinese initiative was but another indicator of the most dangerous situation, the deterioration in relations with Western countries. Joe Biden, probably the most pro-Israel American president in decades, gave Netanyahu the cold shoulder. When even Canada raised its voice to reprimand the Israeli government both for the way it was pushing judicial change and the radical character of the proposed laws, then you know that Israel is in deep trouble with its Western allies. Though not nearly as important, a majority of American Jews had also become very critical of the Israeli government.

Inflation! Stagflation! Recession! Depression! Israel is one of a very few developed countries where politics is probably significantly more important than purely economic indicators in determining the state of the economy.

[i]  The Jerusalem Post, April 17, 2023.

[ii] BICOM Morning Brief, April 17, 2023.

[iii] Maarive Online, Jerusalem Post, “Gantz widens lead on Netanyahu in latest election polls,” April 17.

Israel as a Failing State: The Consequences of Not Making Peace – E is for Economics Part I: The Economic Indicators

How do we rate the ability of the Israeli state to deliver basic goods and services to its population? Has there been economic decline? Has poverty increased? Has there been an uneven economic development? Has there been a flight of economic and human capital – a brain drain?[i]

My concern in the last section was with internal social divisions. But Israel is a social democracy with an extensive range of health and pension provisions for its citizens. However, it is not a healthy social democracy. The divisions between rich and poor are enormous. The numbers below the poverty line are staggering – one-third of Israel’s children. (See later.) “Social democracy is a system geared to secure for all its members a decent standard of living, to protect them against the harms of the free market, globalization and plutocracy, and to reduce socioeconomic inequality.”[ii] However, Israel is now predominantly a neo-liberal economy under which social and economic rights and services have suffered. So has access to housing and job protection.

As a post-industrial society, three quarters of Israel’s labor force is employed in services. Israel is a high-tech state. However, efforts to ensure its citizens good healthcare and social security benefits have not kept pace with its increased wealth.[iii] However, within the economic realm and the ability of the state to deliver basic goods and services to its population, look at all the ways in which Israel can be characterized as a successful state rather than a state headed towards failure.

Israel’s per capita income for 2023 is projected to be 58,273USD, an annual growth rate of over 5% per annum during two years of a general global downturn in the international economy. By 2027, it is projected that the per capita GDP of Israel will reach almost 70,000USD, America’s current per capita measure of productivity. When the very low productivity of the Jewish Haredim, the ultra-Orthodox population in Israel[iv], and the not significantly higher productivity of the Arab Israeli sector are subtracted[v], the GDP per capita would probably be much higher.

From a very different angle, the gap between rich and poor and the poverty rate suggest a different side to the same economic story. According to Israel’s National Insurance Institute, in 2021, 21% of the Israeli population lived in poverty while children living in poverty amounted to 28% – 1 in every 3 children. The poverty rate, though concentrated among the elderly, single mothers, Orthodox Jewish communities[vi] and Arab communities, also includes families that have fallen from the middle class. The situation has become significantly worse since the covid pandemic. Over 2.5 million Israelis, including 1.1 million children, currently live in poverty in Israel. For such a rich country, these statistics are appalling.[vii]

What is worse, the gap between rich and poor has been growing. Wealth inequality, the wealth gap, measures the distribution of wealth—essentially the difference between the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor. The income of an Israeli in the 75th percentile is 2.81 times that of an Israeli in the 25th percentile.

Even among the top 10%, the gap is growing between the top 1% and the remaining 9%. Between 2015 and 2018, the income of Israel’s top 1%’ grew by 20% compared to 10% for the rest of the top decile. Israel’s top 1% make eight times more than the next 19%.

However, the best indicator of economic success may not be economic per capita GDP or disparities in wealth and income but in new opportunities for growth and economic improvement. If that is the measure, then Israel occupies a place on its own at the top. Israel has long been characterized as the “Startup Nation” since it is a country with the most new tech companies per capita. Relatively, Israel is a small country. Innovation and entrepreneurship have been its bywords. Israel has a highly technical and very mobile workforce in which the military not only plays a major role in stimulating the development of software, leadership, and communications skills, but in creating small communities of individuals who learn to work closely together and trust one another.  

However, the best indicator of economic success may not be economic per capita GDP or disparities in wealth and income but in new opportunities for growth and economic improvement. If that is the measure, then Israel occupies a place on its own at the top. Israel has long been characterized as the “Startup Nation” since it is a country with the most new tech companies per capita. Relatively, Israel is a small country. Innovation and entrepreneurship have been its bywords. Israel has a highly technical and very mobile workforce in which the military not only plays a major role in stimulating the development of software, leadership, and communications skills, but in creating small communities of individuals who learn to work closely together and trust one another.

Two seismic shifts are underway but in opposite directions. In one direction, “Israel has been transformed into the ‘Scale-Up Nation’. Israeli entrepreneurs are starting their second or third startups. Engineers, operators, and executives who spent the last decade working at global tech companies are leaving the corporate fold to become founders themselves. Venture capitalists from around the world are opening Tel Aviv offices or raising funds dedicated to Israel. The first half of 2021 registered a record capital amount raised by Israeli high-tech companies – $11.9 billion which exceeded the total capital raised in 2020 of $10.3 billion.  Thirty eight deals of over $100 million each accounted for 50% of the total capital raised during this period…Israeli tech companies are becoming massive global companies in record numbers; today there are 71 Israeli-founded unicorns, including private companies Gong, Orca Security, Rapyd and Snyk, while other Israel-born tech companies have gone public at multibillion-dollar valuations, including Hippo, JFrog, Lemonade and Monday.com. Israel is no longer just the birthplace of tech companies that open US headquarters and seek to quickly be acquired but  has become a crucible where multibillion-dollar global companies are created and grown.”[i] 

The other seismic trend is more recent and has followed the installation of Israel’s most right-wing government in 2023 which immediately set out to implement an ideological agenda, not only to foster creeping annexation in the West Bank at an accelerated pace, but radical judicial reform. The result has been calamitous in terms of capital investment in Israel. As described above, Israel had become a magnet for attracting investment capital. However, capital has begun to move in the opposite direction, largely in reaction to the proposed judicial reforms.

Thus, because the market remains strong and the Israeli economy is in excellent shape, most institutional investments had remained in place. But institutional investors based this on a belief that a compromise will be worked out. And it may be. Or it may not. In mid-February 2023, according to Haggai Schreiber, Executive VP of Phoenix Holdings Ltd., “Although the media has really been highlighting the removal of funds and dollars from Israel, so far the numbers do not show a flight of foreign investors from here. On the margins, we can see that it might become harder to bring in money from abroad, from Silicon Valley and other places.”[viii]

Schreiber continued: “What we are seeing meanwhile is local people thinking that they’ll get ahead of the looming trend and are transferring funds from mutual funds and local exchange-traded notes abroad – but the institutional bodies are not part of this.” Indicators have quickly shifted. The withdrawal of capital may become part of this threatened stampede. A recent poll shows 17 percent of Israelis are considering moving funds abroad as a result of the proposed judicial overhaul. “According to one of the pollsters behind the survey, ‘if even a fifth of this will happen, it means total collapse’”[iii] even without the withdrawal of corporate investment capital.[ix]

[i] Israel would then be following the path of the other Middle East countries where the brain drain is very high in comparison to the rest of the world because of lack of employment opportunities for graduates, high unemployment, low level of investment in research, and is especially high in countries riddled with violence and conflict. (Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, Atlantic Council, February 28, 2023.) Faltering economies always incentivize the emigration of the young and skilled.

[ii] Op. cit.

[iii] “The most disadvantaged Israelis depend on the traditional, low-tech branches of the economy. Less than a third of hired employees are unionized…Poverty rates are staggering: 20% of families, 25% of individuals and 33% of children are officially below the poverty line. Half of the Arabs and half of the ultra-Orthodox are poor…State services are also in decline because of the right-wing government policies of privatization and deregulation, and the rejection of reduction of income inequality as a national goal.” Op. cit.

[iv] The ultra-Orthodox make up 12% of the Population of Israel and are projected to grow to 16% by 2030 and constitute 1/3rd of the population by 2065 (40% of the Jewish population). Though the participation rate of ultra-Orthodox women in the workforce is reasonably high – 70% – the participation rate of males from the ultra-Orthodox community is less than 50%. Further, because the education they receive does not prepare them for high roles in the current economy, even when they participate, their earnings are significantly lower.

[v] The Arab Israeli sector, making up 18% of the Israeli population, suffers from an opposite problem to the ultra-Orthodox – a low participation of Arab women in the workforce. Female labour-force participation rate among Arabs may have more than doubled from approximately 6 per cent in the early 1970s, but it is still slightly less than 15 per cent compared to an overall Israeli rate of 65%.

[vi] The average monthly income of ultra-Orthodox households is 35% lower than the average income of other Jewish households. Because ultra-Orthodox families are much larger – almost 7 children per female versus 2.4 in the non-Orthodox community – in a comparison of per capita income, the comparative difference jumps to 171%. Further, income from work represents just 65% of ultra-Orthodox household income compared with 78% among other Jewish households. Benefit payments make up 24% of the income of ultra-Orthodox families. However, as a result of increased ultra-Orthodox integration into the workforce as well as increased government support, since 2002, ultra-Orthodox employment rates have increased from 35% of men and 50% of women to 52% and 73%, respectively. Currently, the number of Haredi below the poverty line now matches that of the Arab sector. But this trend stagnated in 2015 and 2016 likely a result of government reduced incentives to enter the workforce and increased support for full-time yeshiva students. (Dr. Lee Cahaner, Dr. Gilad Malch and Dr. Maya Chosen, “Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel,” December 31, 2017)

[vii] Cf. the Bank of Israel, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) and the National Insurance Institute (NII).

[viii] When the Israeli branch of the Silicon Valley Bank closed following the bank’s collapse in California on March 10, 2023, Israeli start-ups faced decreased valuation, increased competition for funding and logistical challenges.  The bank had declared several billions of dollars in losses. The result: its shares immediately lost 60% with a by a further 20% in after market trading. Companies whose assets were frozen found themselves in a liquidity crunch. A decline in valuation of the hundreds of Israeli clients, start-ups and venture capital firms served by SVB is expected. But what followed immediately in the face of threatening immanent economic disaster was the usual reassurances and bleating of the leader of the country, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “the Israeli economy that we have built here in the last 20 years is one of the most secure and stable economies in the world.” Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich sounded more panickyespecially in the face of the threats to the economy from the proposed judicial reforms. “The collapse of the bank is a significant event for both the American economy and the Israeli economy…We promised to act so that the Israeli economy would be an island of stability and certainty in the turbulent economic waters of the world, and with God’s help, we will do so.” Many believe he will need God’s help.”

[ix] There have also been capital movements in the opposite direction. In reaction to the protests over the judicial reform proposals, Australian entrepreneur, Kevin Bermeister, increased his investments in Israel.

Names: Two Brothers

Names: Two Brothers


Howard Adelman

What a coincidence! Or was it? Yesterday, one of my sons and I got into a discussion about names, largely on the context of using a name to impose one culture – usually that of an imperial power – on another culture. I, in part, defended the practice. For statistical collection of information, for identification on passports, the practice of everyone conforming to a common system seems imperative. But this does not mean that Western names should be “imposed” on others, only a Western system or any system of naming.

I also said that it was easier to remember more familiar names. Therefore, I was comfortable with the practice without endorsing coercion. I offered an example of my close friend and doctor, Joseph Wong. His full legal name is Joseph Yu Kai Wong. I only remember the Chinese names – Yu Kwai – when I check his email address, and then, because I am not sure I am correct, I double check on google. I do remember that it means “cheerful,” and that is very apt given his disposition. But his English name, Joseph, or Yosef in Hebrew, means YWHV, or Jehovah in Christian texts, shall add. And through Joseph, he certainly has. Joseph was the second chair of Operation Lifeline started in 1979 to promote private sponsorship of Indochinese refugees. Joseph  founded the Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care in 1987. He served as the chairman for the United Way from 1990 to 1992. He was named Man of the Year by the Toronto Star in 1986. He was awarded the Order of Canada in 1993. Former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev presented him with the Power of Humanity award in 2005. The recognition for his accomplishments could be multiplied many times.

Thus, contrary to my son’s memory, I was not unhappy when Polish authorities or Napoleon imposed a common system of last (family) and first names (personal), reifying a practice that developed between the 11th and 16th centuries in the West. I have always liked my last name – Adelman means “noble in spirit”. I though it was a glorious aspiration for myself and my brothers. However, I have always disliked my first name. “Howard” means castle guard. That is not a role I would like to play, even in the many metaphorical meanings that could be referenced. I would have preferred my Hebrew name, Chaim, which means life.

Names can and do have meaning. We read of what happened to the two sons of Aaron the High Priest and brother of Moses in three verses of the Torah portion read this past shabbat. After (or at the same time as, according to my daughter), 70 elders led by Moses, the High Priest Aaron and his two eldest sons who were also priests, saw God and shared a feast with Him as the Mishkan was being dedicated, opened and the initial sacrifices made in accord with God’s instructions, we read the following verses:

Lev 10:1 They took, sons of Aaron, Nadav and Avihu, did, each man his firepan; they put in them fire; they placed on it incense; they brought near before the Presence of God, strange fire [esh zarah] that He did not command them. 1

0:2 And out came fire from the Presence of God [va-tetzei ‘esh mi-lifnei Adonai]; it consumed them [va-tokhal otam]; they died in the Presence of Adonai. (Lev. 10:1-2).

What was their sin: they were drunk; they brought their own profane fire; they were dishevelled – there are more interpretations. I think these three were all in effect. Nadab and Abihu brought their own alien unholy source of fire, esh zara, into the sanctuary. Instead of using fire in the way they were told, they introduced both creativity and imprudence. They played with fire and were consumed by it. They used the inner sanctum reserved for God to have a bacchanalian feast, at the time, interpreted as a feast to Baal rather than God.

The third verse follows:

The third verse follows. (ג) וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל אַהֲרֹן הוּא אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר יְקֹוָק לֵאמֹר בִּקְרֹבַי אֶקָּדֵשׁ וְעַל פְּנֵי כָל הָעָם אֶכָּבֵד וַיִּדֹּם אַהֲרֹן:Did

…. “This is what the LORD meant when He said: Through those near to Me I show Myself holy, And gain glory before all the people.” And Aaron was silent. (Lev. 10:3)

Did God punish them for profaning God’s home and trespassing on God’s holy place contrary to an area in which God absolutely commanded everything; had they trespassed into the Holy of Holies where only the High Priest could go and then only on Yom Kippur? After all, they performed the incense service without authorization. Secondly, and very significantly, they acted together in a ritual that was reserved for only one priest. Was the punishment proportionate or was it just an untimely coincidence of heavenly fire consuming the unholy non-sacred earthly fire that they had introduced as perhaps their greatest sin? God had said in Leviticus 9:24 that, “I will not accept your man-based, fleshly attempt to imitate My fire; I will bring judgment.”

Did Moses mourn for his two nephews who had died, or did he, as the text seems to make clear, really coldly imply, “It served them right”? And why was Aaron silent; his two eldest of his four sons had just died. Or is it the case, as my daughter suggests in her Dvar Torah, “In the face of such an accident, there is only muteness.”

But what followed? Moses ordered that the bodies be shrouded in their tunics but remain untouched. But I thought and read that they had been consumed by fire. How then could the bodies still have tunics on them? But the meaning was clear: what was holy was not to be defiled again. The bodies were to be dispatched immediately to cleanse the sanctuary as soon as possible, and not by any priests, but by relatives of the deceased. There was to be no shiva, no mourning by the family or elders, no rending of clothes. Punishment was to continue after their death. There was to be an absolute separation between what was holy and what was unholy, what was clean and what was unclean, what was good and what was evil. No midground was to be permitted, certainly not on God’s turf.

I suggest the meaning of the names of Aaron’s two oldest sons who were consumed by fire, Nadab and Abihu, may provide clues to the underlying theme of this horrendous tale. Did God punish them for demonstrating independence of God’s divine commands? Nadab (נָדָב) means generous, and, also, free or voluntary. As discussed in Torah study, the core verb נהה  (naha) means to wail or lament and is an onomatopoeic word. Did Nadab cry out against the tight regime and restrictions that ruled his life? Abihu (אֲבִיהוּא), means father (אֲבִי) who he is (הוּא) or he is my father. How do these names connect with an action considered so egregious, so thoughtless, careless, so marked by presumptuousness and irreverence, and an action determined to be a great sin for which the wager was death?

What was the sin of the two brothers – arrogance. ambition, impatience, thrill seeking? Or was their failure one of breaking away from a regime that required a total abiding relationship with God? They were both rebels against the demands of purity and not merely ceremonial impropriety. Glory to God on high! One was generous and a free spirit who likely protested against his confined role and groaned and growled in opposition. However, the other was reverent for he respected both Aaron and God as his father, but on this occasion joined with his brother in committing an unholy act. How did one respectful of tradition act in concert with his free-spirited brother? How did the second reverent son get caught up in the actions of an alpha male determined to demonstrate his own independence? Cain and Abel were opposites. So were Esau and Jacob. But they never acted in concert. Moses and Aaron did, Nadab and Abihu also did, but with a radically different intent.

I suggest that is the underlying theme. When two brothers who are radically different in their personalities act together in rebellion against an authoritarian puritanical command system, this is the greatest danger to the system. After all, absolute power operates by sewing or magnifying differences. When these two brothers stood together in irreverence towards both their father and their uncle, also two very different men, who had also partnered but for the purpose of serving God, they posed the greatest danger to that authoritarian system. To maintain that system meant sacrificing even your own children – who most believe took the rebellion too far. They played with fire and were consumed by it. But if they had not taken the risk – and the consequences – would we still be living under an intolerant authoritarian system?

Israel as a Failing State: The Consequences of Not Making Peace – C2 is for Communications – False News

According to Frances McDonagh, some media in Arab states in the region, covering the weeklong strife in Israel during Passover, Ramadan and Easter week and the preceding three months of protests, may have been slightly biased, but by and large, “some have genuinely sought to analyze and explain the ongoing events.”[i]  However, “Many commentators have capitalized on the strife to advance negative portrayals of Israel, particularly after its forces conducted raids on Temple Mount/al-Haram al-Sharif and the al-Aqsa Mosque.” But even the Tasnim News Agency and Tehran Times in Iran published biased stories that simply claimed, perhaps justly, that Israel’s social unity was eroding, its security services were vulnerable, and its relations with the United States were deteriorating. All these claims had validity even if the context and tone were distorted. But Israel was about to disintegrate in other Arab media outlets, In other words, some of the media may have been biased but tried to be objective, some were distorted while other outlets provided mainly false news to rally anti-Israel sentiment and stimulate violence against Israel.

However, some information reported in the media are very difficult to say whether or not it is false. Media avidly fed on the news and releases of parts of the US intelligence leak, probably the most serious and significant one in this century, to make claims that were adamantly denied by those accused. For one, As another example, a CIA update marked “Top Secret” was leaked that said that Mossad officials had participated in the protests against the Netanyahu government proposed judicial “reforms”.  But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office insisted that the allegation were “mendacious and without any foundation whatsoever. The Mossad and its senior officials did not — and do not — encourage agency personnel to join the demonstrations against the government.”[ii] Is this a case of the pot calling the kettle black?

False news included the poison pen writings that Netanyahu managed to get inserted in the press, not merely to misrepresent the opposition or his own position[1][iii], but, rather, to blaspheme and denigrate members of his own party who gradually became dissenters. He used this form of false news to drive them out of the Likud and consolidate his control.[iv] It was a necessary step in transforming the state regime, as flawed as it was, on the way to one governed by vigilantes.

Donald Trump never managed to get that far. Trump relied on his supporters to reinforce his own self-serving fabulism. He never made any effective efforts to control the media. He merely tried, and to some degree succeeded, in influencing it from his bully pulpit. For a Western democracy, Netanyahu pioneered in pressuring and attempting to control the media. “In a barren corner of the Golan Heights, some forty miles southwest of Damascus, stands a massive, gold-lettered sign. This is Trump Heights, an Israeli township named to commemorate Donald Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the area, which was seized from Syria in 1967.” So began a story by Ruth Margolit in The New Yorker.[v] Years later, this empty site and its gold-lettered sign was the legacy, not only for recognizing the annexation of The Golan Heights, but for moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

A clear example of false news and the mass media is the role that Fox News played in the aftermath of the election of Joe Biden as President of the United States and the defeat of Donald Trump, the former president. Fox News publicized and reinforced the perception, spread by Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and others, that the presidential election process had been corrupted by a conspiratorial effort.

The reality was that it had not been, but rather that Fox News itself had been corrupt. Fox News executives and personalities spread and elaborated on those election conspiracies. Why? To keep its right-wing audience from switching channels and possibly moving to a new network or to one which Donald Trump threatened to start. At the same time, in private messages and emails,[vi] they disparaged these same conspiracy theories and, in fact, did not believe that the election had been corrupt. They not only lied deliberately, but knew they were lying and communicated that knowledge to one another. These media personalities included an owner of Fox, Robert Murdoch, and one of its leading on-air stars, Tucker Carlson. In a deposition in a defamation suit brought by Dominion Inc., Murdoch acknowledged that hosts Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo promoted the false narrative that the election in 2020 was stolen from former President Donald J. Trump.[vii]

Murdoch, who thought Trump was “increasingly mad,” and his star hosts did not want to alienate Trump; their ratings were too dependent on ensuring his worshippers remained viewers. Tucker Carlson characterized Trump as good at “destroying things” and worried that the “golden goose” for ratings “could easily destroy us if we played it wrong.” So they engaged in pretence and would not admit, what they definitively knew, that Trump’s presidency had been a disaster “too tough to digest.”[viii] In contrast to these beliefs, the statements made on air were not only flagrantly false, not only known to be flagrantly false, but were repeated with intended “malice”.  To make up for their fake adoration, after the election, they gradually played up a new right-wing saviour and Trump riva, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis while covering Trump’s rallies, if at all, with very little air time.

“What we’re seeing at Fox, however, is lying on a grand scale, done with a snide loathing for the audience and a cool indifference to the damage being done to the nation. Fox, and the Republican Party it serves, for years has relentlessly patronized its audience, cooing to viewers about how right they are not to trust anyone else, banging the desk about the corruption of American institutions, and shouting into the camera about how the liars and betrayers must pay.”[ix]

But Trump never recognized the legacy he owed Netanyahu who pioneered trying to manipulate and control the media in a strong democracy.[x] In 2014, as Prime Minister, an adumbration of his much more ambitious effort in 2023 to undermine the independence of the judicial system, he introduced and got passed the infamous “Jewish nation” bill intended to limit the ability of the Supreme Court to protect Arab citizens of Israel. In the same session, Bibi undermined the passage of a bill to prohibit any major newspaper from being distributed free by firing Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni as ministers in his government because they had sponsored the bill targeting Sheldon Adelson’s Israel Hayom. That American right-wing billionaire was spending an estimated $3 million USD per month publishing a newspaper and distributing it for free to serve as a mouthpiece for Netanyahu and his Likud Party. Netanyahu called for new elections.

In the election campaign, he suggested that he would retain the post of Communications Minister as well as being Prime Minister – which he did upon re-election. He had already extracted pledges from his potential coalition partners that they would not vote against any legislative or regulatory initiative that the Minister of Communications might introduce. Take actions and introduce bills he did:

  • Fired Avi Berger, the ministry’s director-general, who had planned to reform the broadband market to expand competition, and announced that he would be replaced by Shlomo Filber, a close ally and a former chairman of the settlers’ council in the occupied territories;
  • Introduced a bill to regulate cellular service and internet providers;
  • Introduced a bill to license private broadcast channels;
  • Took steps to enable the government to influence the management of public television and radio.

Was Bezeq, the privatized communications company, expected to act favourably towards Likud and Netanyahu for the significant financial benefits these changes would bring the company? And then what about the plan to split Reshet and Keshet, two competing broadcasters sharing Channel Two, into two completely separate entities each with much smaller news divisions? The news media could not be helped but be chilled, and even perhaps frozen into inertia, by the Sword of Damocles that Netanyahu seemed willing to wave across their heads.[xi]

The proven effects according to media critics:

  • Routine ministerial statements are reported as news
  • News reporters uncritically echo and expand on IDF announcements
  • Arab citizens are lumped together as the “Arab sector”
  • The West Bank becomes commonly depicted as Judea and Samaria
  • Insurgents are always terrorists.

By 2023, the efforts to intimidate the media have become much more blatant. Yair Netanyahu, Bibi’s son[xii], echoing his Hungarian host, the quasi-authoritarian, Viktor Orban[xiii], excoriated Soros for his “Sorosization” and support of leftists and undermining not only legitimate governments but Israeli society itself. He insisted that Orban’s claims were not antisemitic. But did not Orban’s political director opine that, “Whoever controls the media, controls that country’s mindset and through that, the country itself.”[xiv] For Yair, those controllers were not Jews, but leftists and anti-Zionists, self-evidently false news when the only leftist significant outlet remaining was the money-losing Haaretz.

In 2016, Freedom House downgraded Israel’s freedom of the press ranking from “free” to “partly free.” In a more recent report in 2022, the organization scored 195 countries and 15 territories by 25 indicators to assess whether they were “Free,” “Partly Free,” or “Not Free.” 35 countries’ grades dropped; 34 countries improved, at least compared to 2016, including, surprising to me, Israel’s.[xv]

The attacks on the fourth pillar of a democracy in Israel foreshadowed the 2023 frontal attack on the independence of the judiciary. As an editorial in Haaretz on January 16, 2023 (“Silencing the Media to Destroy the Fourth Pillar of Israel’s Democracy”) wrote, “The efforts to upset the balance of powers and grant unlimited power to the executive branch aren’t about to end with the neutering of the judicial branch. The war of the branches begun by the new government of Benjamin Netanyahu and his extremist partners is a multi-front conflict. While weakening the judiciary, they also aim to strike out at what is often called the ‘fourth branch’ – the media.”

If a critical function of the media is to hold the government accountable, government efforts to weaken the media and gain control over public opinion undercuts that accountability. But there are worse things than media bias, worse things than false news and efforts to control the media. There is fake news that appears most powerfully on social media.


[i] Cf. Frances McDonagh (2023) “Regional Reactions to Israel’s Protests,” Policy Watch, April 12.

[ii] Cf. Elizabeth Hagedorn

[iii] Benjamin Netanyahu is a serial liar. On just two occasions in February 2023 – a six-minute interview with Jake Tapper on CNN and an address to the Knesset – he told at least 10 blatant lies:

  1. The money in the 5-year plan for Arab development in Israel was for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

The money was allocated to boost the Arab-Israeli community in Israel to bring expenditures for that community closer to the amounts allocated to Jews.

  • In the Abraham Accords, I made “peace for peace” without any other concessions.

There were conditions – mainly that there would be no efforts to annex the West Bank, a promise he kept, if only in name, up until 2023. He promised to lobby Washington to enable UAE to purchase F-35 fighter jets. And more!

  • The US transferred a “huge chunk” of Israel’s military to Ukraine, implying Israel provided military assistance to Ukraine.

Israel did not; the stocks belonged to the US military and had been stockpiled in Israel.

  • I permitted the Palestinians to govern themselves.

He was obligated to do this under the 1993 Oslo Accords signed by Yitzhak Rabin.

  • Palestinians have never accepted Israel as a state.

They did; the PLO accepted Israel’s right to exist as a state in 1993.

  • My proposed judicial reforms will align Israel with other democracies in the world.

They will not. Even the override clause, according to Irwin Cotler, a former Attorney-General in Canada, will allow the Knesset to re-legislate any law, regardless of what right it infracted” Canada’s Notwithstanding Clause was introduced as part of the country’s Bill of Rights and Freedoms, and was subject to Canada’s civil rights regime. Canada’s notwithstanding clause was subject to both a five-year limit as well as judicial review. There were many other differences with the proposed judicial changes in Israel from other prominent democracies – such as the independence of the judiciary.

  • “Arab culture celebrates death while Jewish culture celebrates life.”

Need anything be said about such a racist and blatantly false claim?

  • The protesters on the streets of Israel against the proposed judicial reforms are the same as the settlers who ran amuck in Harawa.

Comparing a peaceful and legal protest to a vigilante lawless mob’s pogrom which murdered one Palestinian, destroyed 30 properties and burned dozens of cars, is not only a lie; it is obscene.

  • I opposed the disengagement from Gaza.

Bibi voted in support of the legislation to remove the 8,000 settlers in the Knesset three times and supported the initiative in the cabinet.

  1. In 2005, no one blocked highways in protest or disobeyed the law.

Bezalel Smotrich, the current Finance Minister, and his friends were stopped on the Ayalon Highway with spikes; authorities found 700 liters of gasoline in his home. 

[iv] Look at all the senior members of Likud who have fallen by the wayside lest they pose a threat to Netanyahu’s leadership: Israel Katz, Yuli Edelstein, Gideon Sa’ar, Gilad Erdan, David Levy, Moshe Katzav, David Magen, Benny Begin, Silvan Shalom, Roni Milo, Dan Meridor and Moshe Kahlon. Others served as deflections from his own legal troubles. For example, in August 2019, Haim Katz resigned from his position as Welfare Minister after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced that he planned to indict him on fraud and breach of trust charges for allegedly advancing legislation which stipulated that companies must repay bond debt to small bond holders before it repays controlling owners. The legislation would allegedly benefit Ben Ari, a personal friend and financial consultant to major Israeli firms who are bondholders. But when Netanyahu was charged with precisely the same offence, “breach of trust,” he did not resign. Nor did he complain about the terrible media coverage Katz had received prior to his indictment. Yet Bibi criticized journalists, media channels and media owners for reporting on the allegations targeting himself.  Bibi and his son, Yair, specifically attacked Channel 12 New’s legal correspondent, Guy Peleg, who became the target of threats. Netanyahu called not only for a boycott of Channel 12 but threatened to create more channels to “increase competition.” (“Report on Israel Human Rights Practices for 2019,” Israel Virtual Library) Netanyahu was rumoured to be the indirect source of the negative press coverage of Katz prior to the latter’s indictment.  Also cited was the stimulation of media coverage which led protesters against the judicial “reforms” to heckle and harass Environmental Protection Minister, Idit Silman, at the Environment 2050 conference in Tel Aviv, January 17, 2023. There are numerous other examples of using senior Likudniks to deflect, take a fall or otherwise be undermined in the public. In a preview of the 2023 judicial crisis, in 2020, who put up and pushed Yudi Edelstein,the acting speaker of the Israeli Knesset, in an unprecedented move, to decline to convene the Knesset plenum to hold a vote to elect a permanent speaker and resigned from the speakership, thereby defying a specific judicial order from the Supreme Court? Edelstein insisted that the court’s decision constituted “crude and arrogant intervention of the judicial branch in the matters of the legislature, the elected branch!” violating the sovereignty of the people and the Knesset and undermining the foundations of Israeli democracy. One more example – the most senior member of Likud who challenged Netanyahu. At the end of 2020, just as the new Pfizer vaccines first arrived in Israel, former Likud No. 2 Gideon Sa’ar, vowed not to serve with Netanyahu again. Netanyahu was charged with converting Likud into a “personality cult.”  A flash poll indicated that Sa’ar could win a stunning 17 seats in the coming election. And Sa’ar had been more “right” than Netanyahu – consistently opposing the creation of a Palestinian state, remaining close to the settlers and to the Orthodox even though he was himself secular As Sa’ar’s star rose in the party, beginning in 2014, Netanyahu began to spar with his every loyal lieutenant, Gideon Sa’ar. The conflict turned into a civil and media war against Sa’ar. Sa’ar ran against Netanyahu for the leadership but suffered a humiliating loss. Netanyahu did not forget nor forgive; he left Saar out of the government and handled senior positions to relatively new Knesset members. Sa’ar was pushed to the margins and left out in the cold.

[v] January 12, 2021 “Trump’s Legacy in Israel.”

[vii] Cf. The Superior Court in the State of Delaware, U.S. Dominion, Inc. et al v Fox News Network, February 27, 2023.

[viii] The Washington Post March 8, 2023.

[ix] Tom Nichols, The Atlantic, 2023-03-09. See also his 2018 book indicting the Republican patronizing elitists, The Death of Expertise: “What the Dominion filings show is a staggering, dehumanizing version of elitism among people who have made a living by presenting themselves as the only truth-tellers who can be trusted by ordinary Americans…This, elitism is the opposite of populism, whose adherents believe that virtue and competence reside in the common wisdom of a nebulous coalition called “the people.” This pernicious and romantic myth is often a danger to liberal democracies and constitutional orders that are founded, first and foremost, on the inherent rights of individuals rather than whatever raw majorities think is right at any given time.”

[x] Cf. my friendBernard Avishai, who wrote, “Benjamin Netanyahu: Media Manipulator,” in The New Yorker, June 4, 2015.

[xii] It was Yair who called for prosecutors and police who investigated his father to be tried for treason; even his father repudiated those remarks.

[xiii] The remarks were made in January 2023 at conservative media 3-day conference at Mathias Corvinus Collegium in Hungary on “The Future of Publishing.”

[xiv] Haaretz https://www.haaretz.com › Israel News January 26, 2023.

[xv] Freedom House: “Israel: Freedom in the World – Country Report.” Israel received a net score of 76, 34 out of 40 for political rights, and 42 out of 60 for civil liberties.

Israel as a Failing State: The Consequences of Not Making Peace – C1 is for Communications – Bias

It will be surprising to most analysts to include “communications” as one of a very few areas in which to examine Israel as a failing state. However, if one is a Canadian and heir to the intellectual work of Harold Innis, Northrop Frye and Marshall McLuhan, the modes of communication, whether geographical and external (Innis), fictional and internal to the imagination (Frye) or in the link between the two in the role media plays in taking external forces and, by its very nature as well as role, shaping and framing the way we see and understand the world (McLuhan), are critical in comprehending the way in which we understand the world. This paper will focus only on the third and not on Israel’s geographical position in the Middle East nor the role that the Torah as well as Jewish writings of the nineteenth and twentieth century have shaped Jewish consciousness.

I will deal with the communications media on four levels: a) mainstream media and bias; b) mass media and false news; c) social media and fake news (different than false news); and d) intelligence. Believe it or not, even the last level can play a subversive role and undermine the prospect of good governance if it is seized and controlled by a party that desires to make intellectual work subservient to power.

  1. Mainstream media and bias

News need not be false to be slanted and biased. This is evident in the news coverage of the February 2023 murders in Harara near Nablus.[i] The February 27, 2023 Jerusalem Post made the story the headline after two Jewish brothers, Hillel Menachem (22) and Yagel Yaakov (20) Yaniv, from the nearby Har Bracha settlement, were killed by a terrorist on February 26th in Huwara south of Nablus when the gunman opened fire at a traffic junction.[ii] The terrorist attack may have been in retaliation for the Israeli raid on Nablus the previous week that killed 11 Palestinians, both militants and civilians, including 21-year-old Mohamad Hallaq and 43-year-old Mohammad Al-Juneidi Abu Bakr. The IDF had targeted the Makhfiyah neighbourhood, where they were confronted by Palestinian fighters from the local militant groups, “The Lions’ Den” and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Between January 1, 2023 and the end of March, at least 95 Palestinians, both terrorists and civilians, have been killed by the IDF and settlers. These included 17 minors and two elders.

Though covered in another back page report, there was no mention in the frontpage headline story that, in a price-tag reprisal attack, settlers torched 30 Palestinian homes in Huwara and set many cars on fire. When 60 settlers attacked Zatara, a village near Huwara, they shot Sameh al-Aqtash, 37, in the abdomen; the father of five died in an ambulance held up by the IDF when his family tried to get him to a hospital – the Israeli military had blocked the road. Sameh had just returned from Turkey where he had been a relief volunteer in Turkey’s devastating earthquake. Almost 100 others were wounded in the attacks, many of them stabbed and beaten with iron rods in the “pogrom” against the Palestinians. The Washington Post made the latter the lead story and included the former in a paragraph.

Israeli journalists, Shahar Glick and Josh Breiner, did report that on Sunday afternoon before the evening riot, “a Jewish gunman dressed in black clothes and a military vest and helmet fired at them and threw stun grenades at them.” Why did the IDF not take up positions in anticipation to prevent the settler rampage and murder? After all, Highway 60 is controlled by the IDF and the settlers in four settlements and Palestinians in Huwara and surrounding villages all use the same road. Instead, though one house had been torched on Sunday afternoon, settlers returned in the evening to set fire to thirty others and to attack Palestinians. Only later was it established that the gunman who murdered the Yaniv brothers was from Jenin and not Hawara.

Different stories. Different emphasis. Different angles on the same event. Each reinforces a different stance. But not one of them is false news. They have a bias, which distorts, but the truth was not compromised. But it also was not fully elaborated.

Huwara has always been a flashpoint, especially since one-third of its land is in Area B and two-thirds in Area C of the West Bank. Price-tag attacks have always been used as excuses or covers for establishing new settlements – Yitzhar was established this way. From 2010 to 2014. there were attacks every year on Huwara by vigilante settlers. Jews from Yitzhar in 2014 burned over 100 olive trees in one attack. Tzvika Foghel from the far-right Jewish Power party declared, “A Huwara that is burning — that’s the only way we’ll achieve deterrence.”[iii]

While  Israel’s National Security Minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, and Bezalel Smotrich, the Finance Minister and leader of the Religious Zionist Party, Otzma Yehudit, were chiding the settlers as an afterthought for taking the law into their own hands when, in fact, they were behaving as a lawless mob, the two ministers in the government should have threatened to bring the long arm of Israeli justice down on the rioting settlers’ shoulders. Instead, on Sunday, the Knesset pushed forward legislation to apply the death penalty to terrorists. But the Jewish vigilantes were not called terrorists, only the murderer of the Yaniv brothers. Despite arguments by both the attorney general and officials in the Shin Bet that a threat of a death penalty would not deter terrorists, Israeli legislators were so focused on revenge that they set aside considerations of justice or prudence.

Two English-Israeli settlers, Rina Dee15 and Maia Dee 20, were killed in a terrorist attack on the car in which they were driving in the Jordan Valley of the West Bank. Their mother, Lucy, who was critically wounded in the attack, died on Monday, one day after the girls’ funeral on Sunday in Kfar Etzion on April 2, 2023. They had died two days earlier on Friday and could not be buried on Shabbat. At Lucy’s funeral on Tuesday, hundreds of Israelis holding Israeli flags lined the roads leading to the funeral. Subsequently, a week after, Lucy’s death, and in spite of an agreement made that the illegal settlement of Evyatar would never be rebuilt, thousands of Israelis, led by seven Cabinet ministers in Netanyahu’s government, marched to that evacuated West Bank settlement even though the Israeli security forces had to divert thousands away from the search for the terrorist(s) who killed the three women in order to protect the marchers.

The Evyatar march was a reminder that another event had taken place while two Israeli settlers and an innocent Palestinian were being murdered. In Aqaba in Jordan, American, Egyptian, Jordanian and Palestinian officials were meeting to try to stop the rising tide of violence. They issued a joint statement: Israel would halt building plans for settlement units for four months and stop the authorization of outposts considered illegal under Israeli law for six months. “The Government of Israel and the Palestinian National Authority confirmed their joint readiness and commitment to immediately work to end unilateral measures… [including] an Israeli commitment to stop discussion of any new settlement units for 4 months and to stop authorization of any outposts for 6 months.”[iv]

Smotrich, who claimed to have had “no idea” that the conference was underway, and declared that it had been “unnecessary,” insisted that Israel would not agree to a settlement freeze, “even for one day.” Ben Gvir went further; he vowed to “crush the enemies” in “the war for our lives.” “Our enemies need to hear a message of settlement, but also one of crushing them one by one.”[v] He insisted that Bibi stop the eviction of the outpost of Evyatar since Netanyahu had agreed that the status of Evyatar would be legalized. Smotrich had already tweeted that he had liked the tweet by deputy head of Samaria Regional Council, Davidi Ben Zion, that “the village of Hawara should be wiped out today.” For Smotrich, there had been “Enough with talk about building and strengthening the settlement; the deterrence needs to happen immediately and there is no room for mercy.”[vi] Visits to Eviatar had been officially banned by the military since its evacuation, but that prohibition has been loosely enforced since January when the new government was installed. The IDF approved Monday’s march, saying it would be “highly monitored and highly protected.”

When you read much of the Arab press (Al Jajeera, for example, is an exception), the murders of Israeli civilians are either not mentioned at all or underplayed. In Israel, the liberal press, such as Haaretz, tends to report the casualties on both sides, but not the right-wing press. Is the difference between the bias that initially appeared in the mainstream media and summarized above versus observing and responding by paying attention only to one side of what happened? In the latter, ideology, not perspective, deforms what is seen and that which is reported. Further, the ideological bias is intended to stir a response.  But whatever the serious shortcomings of this much more extreme bias, it is not false news. Ideological bias is also not simply bias; it is much more insidious.

[i] Al Jazeera on March 7th reported that, “Israeli soldiers have been filmed dancing with Jewish settlers on the streets of a Palestinian village where settlers attacked five members of the same family. The five Palestinians were hospitalised after the attack on Monday night in Huwara, in the northern occupied West Bank, only a week after a settler rampage through the village that has been described as a “pogrom”…The Idris family were in their parked car outside a supermarket when at least three settlers ambushed them in an incident caught on surveillance camera footage. “The settler broke the car window and beat me with a hatchet. They sprayed tear gas on us all, we couldn’t open our eyes,” Omar Idris told local media. “When I got out of the car, I saw bullet holes on the car but I was too frazzled to notice in the moment,” he said. Omar said that settlers beat Idris’s father with a rock, cutting his head open. The Israeli human rights group Yesh Din said that Israeli soldiers were present at the incident but did not stop the attack.” The news outlet also reported that during the pogrom, the Palestinian Authority, responsible for security in the area, “was nowhere to be seen.”

[ii] The gunman was later identified as Abdel Fattah Hussein Kharousha, a Hamas terrorist, and he was killed in an IDF raid on Jenin along with 6 other terrorists who were members of either Hamas, Islamic Jihad or the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades when they got into a firefight with the IDF. Honest Reporting noted that Canadian news outlets “failed to mention that the 6 Palestinians who were killed were all confirmed members of terrorist organizations, but also misled their readers by portraying this counter-terror raid as an act of aggression by Israel against innocent Palestinian civilians.” The Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) led by Lara Friedman in its report and news quotations on the Huwara incident were virtually all anti-Israel.

[iii] https://fmep.org/resource/settlement-annexation-report-march-3-2023/

[iv] Haaretz https://www.haaretz.com › Israel News

[v] Middle East Monitor https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20230227-ben-gvir-wants-to-crush-palestinians-one-by-one/

[vi] Haaretz https://www.haaretz.com › Israel News. The American milquetoast response called the events in Hawara “especially disturbing”, but, as US defense chief Lloyd Austin vowed, “nothing would get in the way of Washington’s support for Israel’s security as it faces threats from Iran.”

Israel as a Failing State: The Consequences of Not Making Peace – On Blogging

B is for Blog

I used to write a blog. Almost daily. It mostly dealt with political issues. But sometimes I wrote film reviews and once a week wrote a biblical commentary. I had almost 2,000 subscribers in the end.

Then I got sick. Very sick. In several different goes. Last February, I smashed my femur in a fall and spent 3 ½ months in the hospital. Afterwards, I had to learn to walk again. Which I have. Not perfect. Slow. Sometimes I stumble. But not bad. But initially I could not write. Or even think coherently. That capacity too has recovered. I am not sure to what degree. Several weeks ago I wrote a blog and distributed it only to family members and close friends. It took much longer than I had been used to, but the response was positive.

Blogs are wonderful devices. A blog is akin to a journal. The entries can be brief. In my case, that is difficult. Mine averaged six pages. As a retired philosopher, they were filled with thoughts and reflections rather than any record of my activities. Nor were they snippets of news, perhaps with my comments on the side. They were not primarily expressions of my beliefs, though some readers would beg to differ. Though I certainly opined, they were not opinion pieces. They were strongly analytical. The Globe and Mail has a slogan that you have a duty to publish your opinions. I have never felt that obligation. But I am impelled to analyze and record the results of my analysis. And then inflict the results on anyone who would read them. At least, the only cost was the reader’s time.

Though readers were welcomed to offer feedback, they were not encouraged to do so. That was a shortcoming. Those blogs could have developed into a forum. But the format did not encourage readers to interact with what I wrote. I am not sure I can correct that failing, but I intend to try.  But I will not be so adventurous as to include pictures or videos. But I do intend to rejoin the blogosphere.


For one, my paper was growing much too long. My notes would have to be turned into a short book-length manuscript. Second, I wanted feedback. I needed feedback. I wanted to present and share a work in progress. But it would be too long and too dense to just present it as a paper. Why not reverse the process and present the paper as a digest of my blogs? Perhaps the world of academe and thirty years of blogs can be merged and re-ordered. As “the paper,” it could include much more information. And it could invite readers to provide more – as well as their comments. After all, as much as I read, I bet I refer at most to 1% of the material that is both relevant and available.

I am retired. I have a pension. I do not have to make a living from my blog. Besides, I never got paid for the many academic articles I wrote. And my book royalties were always a pittance – which may say something about my ability to write for a broad audience. But blogs have a large advantage over academic papers. They are not reserved for specialists. They can easily be forwarded for wider distribution. What is not so easy for me is maintaining my blogging and distribution system and keeping it up to date. I know there are systems that are supposed to be easy to help me. But I am a techie dunce. I have tried three and each takes too much work on my part. Perhaps this time I will learn how to be proficient and efficient in that area. Thus far I have tried, but with little success. Managing the system still takes too much time.

I do have a new advantage. My subject matter is very topical. Hopefully, the blog can be a meeting ground for diametrically opposed groups to engage in a dialogue. Debate! Conversation. This is what I want and not just a forum for rapidly publishing my own analysis. And I am not building a base. I have absolutely no political ambitions. I do not need or want cheerleaders. But the blog will not offer “breaking news” nor investigative journalism. Quite the reverse. I will often rely on those journalists as well as academics to compose my pieces. But I do not intend the blog to become a complement to that journalism. Rather, hopefully, it will stretch the academic field and allow a much wider audience to be reached without sacrificing academic standards. I want to make analysis, criticism, debate an intimate part of dialogue and discourse. I want to counteract the silo effect of social media and offer a portal to reach someone with a different perspective. 

Why not a podcast? I have a very low voice. I often mumble and am hard to understand even when not undertaking analysis. Though I hosted and produced a television show called Israel Today for twelve years and was applauded for my relaxed style, I assure you that I was very far from an ideal host. My hope was that my skill in asking substantive and penetrating questions made up for my communication handicaps.

These blogs will be distilled down to a paper to be delivered in Norway in June. Feedback is invited. Note that the substantive material will start with the third blog on Communications. To that end, I will try to create a forum for readers to post comments to which I might respond. Dissent will be welcome. But not insults. No defamatory language. The blog is intended to be the centrepiece of a conversational activity that will create an “intellectual” community, but without all the negative and detracting features of much intellectual discussion.

Following the guidelines of state failure indices and of general strategic analysis, as well as other category systems for dealing with an issue, including measures of democratic progress, I have divided the series of blogs into a number of categories that will be both easy to remember as well a reasonably comprehensive in covering the material and, hopefully and fortuitously, in a meaningful order. They cover the areas of challenge that Israel faces in attempting to improve the functioning of the state. Only at the end, after a great deal of effort in establishing a base, will I probe how the failure in peacebuilding has affected Israel’s maturation as a state when I get to Part II and discuss the current imbroglio over reforms to the judicial system.

It is no exaggeration to claim that Israel currently faces an abyss, an inflection point at which it can sink into conflict with the Palestinians and be torn apart by very deep divisions within OR it can once again prove its resilience, compromise if not resolve its tensions between the political right, the liberal centre and the left and shift from the path of indifference towards the Palestinians of the West Bank towards positive engagement. Acknowledging the historic breakthrough of the Abraham Accords[i] and excluding the climate crisis, which may be the most important strategic challenge for Israel, Israel faces a number of strategic challenges that I will analyze in future blogs.

The imbroglio over the proposed “reforms” to the judicial system is hived off into a separate Part II. The analysis of the very serious current brouhaha over judicial reform seriously threatens to push Israel onto the path of a failing state. In is in that section that will bring together the results of my analyses in the previous blogs. I hope you will be patient enough to get there. I believe it will be worth it.

Enough of introductions. Onto the substantive material. I look forward to our conversations.


Israel as a Failing State: The Consequences of Not Making Peace

April 10, 2023


Howard Adelman

A is for Astri

This series of blogs under the above title began as a draft paper for a symposium to be held in June 2023 in Bergen, Norway in honour of an exceptional colleague with whom I had worked over a number of years. Three points about the paper’s title. First, it is about Israel as a “failing” state, not about Israel as a “failed” state. Secondly, although, of necessity, the paper intended to deal with Israel as a failing state more broadly, the aim of the paper was to focus on the role peacemaking plays in the dynamic factors moving towards state failure in keeping with a major interest of Astri Suhrke. Thirdly, the essay accepted the broad consensus that efforts at peacebuilding with the Palestinians, but not with many of the Arab states, had failed.

These blogs, however, do not deal with the narrative or the causes of that failure, but only with the consequences, and, most centrally, the consequence of failure to make peace contributing to Israel as a failing state. More importantly, in Part II, the paper shifts its lens from the role of peacebuilding in contributing to Israel as a failing state to a new precondition for the resumption of the war against Palestinians via creeping annexation – namely the current Israeli government’s attempts to neuter the Supreme Court and prevent it blocking that primary goal of annexing the West Bank.

However, Israel is NOT a Failed State. Let me reiterate: Israel is NOT a failed state. Nor are these blogs about failed states. It is about failing. It is about a process, not a status. Israel is not Somalia, Myanmar, Yemen, Syria, the Congo or Chad, and certainly not like Afghanistan about which Astri has written so much. Ever since 1996, when I and Astri co-authored Volume 2, Early Warning and Conflict Management of the four-volume study of the Rwandan genocide[i], tracing the role of the international community from the Rwandan refugee problem prior to 1990 to the genocide of 800,000, mainly Tutsi, our concern had been with identifying the factors, the early warning signals, and the failures in identifying those factors, that could possibly allow the international community to intervene and prevent violence, state failure and, its worst possible outcome, genocide.

As Astri shifted her attention to focus on Afghanistan, in the report, Peacebuilding Lessons for Afghanistan (2002) that she co-authored with other members of her team from the Christen Michelsen Institute in Norway[ii], the focus was on post-conflict efforts to engage in peacebuilding and prevent the recurrence of violence and civil war. Those efforts obviously failed. Astri’s articles documented the process. In 2005, while she continued to engage in the discussion of using peacebuilding to rebuild a failed state,[iii] by her 2007 article in the Third World Quarterly, she warned that, as she had written in 2002, peacebuilding was complicated. Efforts in social engineering with an over-emphasis on development and modernization would not be sufficient to produce peace.[iv]  In fact, political engineering re economic development and modernization can undermine efforts at state building.[v] Those lessons are relevant to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as successive Israeli governments, in the face of failures at peacebuilding, shifted their attention to improving the economic conditions of Palestinians in the West Bank as a substitute for a political peace agreement.

What then are the factors that facilitate peacebuilding is one question. However, more pertinent to this inquiry, is a different but complementary question. What are the factors in failed efforts at peacebuilding that contribute to the internal dynamics of states that push them in the direction of failure? More particularly, why is the domestic legal system the focus of attention for an Israeli government more concerned with an ultimate defeat of Palestinian political aims than even its battle against its liberal competitors in defining the foundations of the rule of law within Israel?  

One could argue that Astri’s major obsession in the last two decades of an impressive life’s work has been on the linkage between peacebuilding and rebuilding failed states. However, Astri has also challenged the very concept of a failed state as fallacious.[vi] And certainly there has been a great deal of ink spilled on that debate and proposals for substituting fragility instead of failure as characterizing such states. While concerned with that debate, Astri was more focused on the growth of violence and terrorism in undermining the process of state building.[vii]

However, my focus in these blogs is not on post-conflict peacebuilding so much as the failures in that effort and the contribution of those failures to the creation or the undermining of a successful state. The focus is directed in the opposite direction. How do failures in peacebuilding contribute to undermining state institutions? Peacebuilding may or may not be a prerequisite for rebuilding a failed state. But does the failure in peacebuilding ensure that a state will be thrust on the path of failure and even, possibly ultimately, ensuring that it becomes a failed state?

ALL states are fragile. Some much more than others. On the other hand, very few states are failed states – perhaps 5% of the total number. The problem is that fragility and failure characterize a status, not a process. And my concern is with failures in peacebuilding contributing to the process of undermining state institutions, undermining the integrity and efficiency of a civil service, undermining the solidity of the banking system, undermining the creativity of its entrepreneurial class, destroying the underpinning of its human capital,[viii] and, most importantly for the final focus of this paper, undermining the independence and quality of the judiciary.  

However, Israel does not appear to be a failing state let alone a failed state. By most criteria, Israel appears to be an enormous success. If a failed state is a nation that has lost its effective ability to provide security for and govern its populace, is unable to tax and police its populace, control its territory and maintain its infrastructure, Israel would, on appearances, not only be far from that mark of failure, but would seem to be travelling in the opposite direction. Israel projects authority over its territory and population and is very effective at defending its national boundaries – and even expanding them if that is added, as it once was eons ago, as an additional criterion of a successful state. In general, Israel appears to be very effective in organizing and administering its resources and provision of infrastructure and public services. The majority of its citizens believe in the legitimacy of the state, but many citizens do not. And more and more have become suspicious. Further, many other nations also question Israel’s legitimacy.

It is important to recognize all the landmines that litter the efforts to document state failure or fragile states or failing states. Risk of conflict is not equivalent to an outbreak of inter-state or intra-state violence. Further, inter-state and intra-state violence may not be an indicator of a failing state. State weakness may be chronic but not correlated with violence, while state security strength may not be correlated with being a successful state.

Even when the borders that a state must defend remain unsettled and in contention, even when the societies may be far more diverse than the simplistic divisions of Arabs and Jews, even as the political leadership develops the experience and customs, or fails to use that experience to create the customs necessary to build an inclusive civic and democratic culture, there still may be no correlation between any of these factors and being or not being a failing state.

Astri Suhrke is a scholar and political scientist who has spent most of her long academic life dealing with the social, political and humanitarian consequences of violent conflict, of civil wars and inter-state wars. Her concern was with developing appropriate strategies to mitigate that violence and strategies of response to resolve the conflict and even prevent new wars from breaking out. These blogs are not about that topic but a related and overlapping one.

I am not concerned herein with strategies for mitigation or prevention. I am not concerned with the consequences of violent conflict – except for one. When peacemaking fails, how does that failure contribute to enhancing the factors that facilitate state failure, in particular, the rule of law in that process of failing?

How can we tell? If we just focus on the direct consequences of that failure in peacemaking, and only on those consequences, how do we know that they cause or are a significant causal factor in putting a state on the path to failure? There could be so many other forces at work. Further, how do we assess that impact without a base line to measure that failure. Bracketing the failure at making peace, to what extent is a state successful and to what extent is it failing anyway?

That means that we need a fuller understanding of a state in order to assess to what degree it is already failing and to what degree it is evolving in the opposite direction. We have to look at much more than just peacebuilding and the failures in that effort. This is particularly true since Israel has repeatedly failed to make peace with the main contenders challenging Israel. But, to repeat, on appearance, it also seems to be a very successful state.

I first encountered Astri as a scholar on refugees rather than peacebuilding when I began to build the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University as well as the journal Refuge. Ford Foundation invited me to comment on the work of she and two colleagues that became what is now a classic in the field of refugee studies, the book, Escape from Violence: Conflict and the refugee crisis in the developing world (Oxford University Press, 1989) that she wrote with the late Ari Zolberg and Sergio Aguayo.[ix]

Refugees had become an unprecedented crisis since the end of WWII. That crisis has since become much worse. The international community responds with heartfelt compassion, but also expresses a diffuse fear that refugees will pour into the various member states. The prime concern of the authors was enhancing and improving the humanitarian response in the face of various states responding to those refugees in very partisan ways to serve broader political purposes.

It seems appropriate to come full circle – to Israel as a state that came into being after WWII (1948) with the support of the international community and the United Nations primarily because Western states did not want to take in the remnant of 300,000 Jewish refugees wallowing in refugee camps several years after the end of the war.[x] Israel would provide a suitable dumping place. One result: war with local Arabs and with five surrounding Arab states. Another result: 720,000 Palestinians fled or were forced to flee; they became refugees and their numbers have multiplied many times over. 

Peacemaking failed then. But Israel grew stronger, more confidant and wealthier. The Palestinian refugee Nakba remains a festering sore on the body politic of the world. These blogs do not address that humanitarian issue, the reasons it remains unresolved or the causes of successive failures to make peace. Instead, the focus is on the extent to which this unresolved and apparently intractable conflict has contributed to Israel as a failing state. The focus, in the end, is even narrower – the role that attempting to resolve that conflict as a substitute for peace first through economic and technical means, and then through the current government’s preparation for an ultimate victory via conflict rather than peacebuilding and, as a precondition, preparing the ground by changing the system for the rule of law within Israel.


[i] Cf. The International Response to Conflict and Genocide: Lessons from the Rwanda Experience March 1996 published by the Steering Committee of the Joint Evaluation of Emergency I Assistance to Rwanda.,” Third World Quarterly, 23:5, 875-891. Cf. Robert Kaplan’s seminal article in the Atlantic Monthly, “The Coming Anarchy.”

[ii] K. B. Harpviken, A. Knudsen and A. Olfstad for the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. See also Astri Suhrke, Kristian Berg Harpviken & Arne Strand (2002) “After Bonn: conflictual peacebuilding in which the authors focused on rebuilding the coercive capacity of the state in concert with legitimatizing political authority while neutralizing “spoilers”.

[iii] Cf. Astri Suhrke and Julia Buckmaster (2005) “Rebuilding a failed stateLiberia,” a discussion of Mike McGovern’s book in Development in Practice (15:6, 760-766). See also their article, “Post-War Aid: Patterns and Purposes.” (pp. 737-746)

[iv] Astri Suhrke (2007) “Reconstruction as Modernisation: The ‘Post-Conflict’ Project in Afghanistan,” Third World Quarterly 28:7, 1291-1308.

[v] A good example of this was John F. Kennedy’s adoption of the strategic hamlet approach to fighting the war in South Vietnam. The attempt to move South Vietnamese peasants forcefully off their land into strategically protected villages protected by the army was a disaster, not only because the person put in charge of the program in South Vietnam was a sleeper agent of the north who ensured that the hamlets were not strategically located to ensure protection on non-infiltration by the Viet Cong, but mainly because the whole effort failed totally to take into consideration South Vietnamese cultural norms and their attachment to their ancestral lands. Cf. Seymour Hersh, “DOES IT TAKE A WAR?”, March 1, 2023.

[vi] Astri Suhrke and Julia Buckmaster (2006) “The Fallacy of the ‘Failed State’,” Third World Quarterly, 29(8), 1491-1507. The core to the alleged fallacy by many was the creation of a false dichotomy between states that were salvageable and those that were unredeemable.

[vii] Cf. Astri Suhrke (2006) When More is Less: Aiding Statebuilding in Afghanistan.

[viii] As Stephen Kotkin, the historian and expert on Stalin and Russia, in an interview with David Remnick of The New Yorker on 17 February 2023 (“How the War in Ukraine Ends”) said of Putin, he “is not a strategic figure. People kept saying he was a tactical genius, that he was playing a weak hand well. I kept telling people, “Seriously?” He intervened in Syria, and he made President Obama look like a fool when President Obama said that there would be a red line about chemical weapons. But what does that mean? It means that Putin became the part owner of a civil war. He became the owner of atrocities and a wrecked country, Syria. He didn’t increase the talent in his own country, his human capital. He didn’t build new infrastructure. He didn’t increase his wealth production. And so if you look at the ingredients of what makes strategy, how you build a country’s prosperity, how you build its human capital, its infrastructure, its governance—all the things that make a country successful—there was no evidence that any of the things that were attributed to his tactical genius, or tactical agility, were contributing in a positive way to Russia’s long-term power.” Putin’s war against Ukraine has been the main factor in accelerating the failing process in Russia.

[ix] I am currently in Mexico. As I write this, Sergio is currently in a verbal slinging match with the President of the Republic, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, after Obrador attacked Sergio for marching in favour of INE (the independent National Electoral Institute which Obrador seems hell bent on politicizing). Sergio reminded Obrador that in 2006, Obrador had invited Sergio to join his cabinet. He also added: “I haven’t changed, you have. I am satisfied with my life; you live in grievance.” (February 26, 2023)

[x] The interpretation that the support came because of guilt over the Holocaust is a myth. But that is a subject for a different paper.