Who is the real man?

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 9, 2009

Defence Minister Ehud Barak’s trip to London this week to meet American negotiator George Mitchell was unremarkable for any breakthrough on the thorny issue of settlement building. It was, however, a useful illustration of the real mindset of both sides in this uneasy relationship.

On the Israeli side, the fact that Mr Barak is the main representative in the country’s most vital strategic alliance is a sign of the dysfunctionality of Binyamin Netanyahu’s government — only 100 days after it was sworn in.


Let’s hope Israelis will start visiting

By Miriam Shaviv, July 2, 2009

A rethink of Beth Hatefutsot has been long overdue.

Although it was considered highly innovative when it opened in 1978 — because of the level of interactivity in its exhibits and its didactic approach — it had long become outmoded and outdated, and to most Israelis, irrelevant.

In 2003, after running into severe financial trouble, and temporarily closing, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was forced to declare it a “national asset”.


Jerusalem’s Shabbat wars fuelled by rabbis’ fear

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 2, 2009

This month’s “Shabbat wars” in central Jerusalem inspired in many a weary feeling of déjà vu.

Since the 1920s, when the first violent demonstrations took place against football matches organised by the British authorities, every commercial, cultural and sporting activity on Shabbat has proved a flashpoint.

For the past three weeks, the issue has been the opening of a municipal car park near Meah Shearim on Shabbat, sparking mass protests by the Charedi community.


Analysis: Bad timing for an economic upgrade

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 25, 2009

The decision last week by Morgan Stanley Capital Index (MSCI) to reclassify Israel’s economy from “emerging” to “developed” was greeted by Israeli economists with mixed feelings.

Everyone agreed that it was evidence of the improved regulation of local money markets and the robustness shown by the Israeli economy in the face of the global downturn. The Bank of Israel and other establishment sources saw it as an affirmation of their policies and a “coming of age” of the Israeli market.

Private-sector analysts were less certain.


Analysis: Livni’s time will come again soon

By Jenni Frazer, June 25, 2009

Once, in the days after Ehud Olmert took over from the unconscious Ariel Sharon, Tzipi Livni was Israel’s Acting Prime Minister, replacing Mr Olmert when necessary and designated to take over from him should the worst happen a second time.


Analysis: A Hamas-Fatah deal is not all bad news for Israel

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 25, 2009

Palestinian unity talks are to begin this weekend in Cairo with a view to reaching an agreement before the Egyptian-imposed deadline of 7th July.

Israel is watching closely, knowing that it has a lot to gain, but also a great deal to lose, from any Fatah-Hamas rapprochement.

In the basic framework of the plan, members from both Palestinian movements will sent up a temporary government in the Gaza Strip, which will be in charge of administering the Strip until Palestinian elections next year.


Now Iran will get more aggressive abroad

By Emanuele Ottolenghi, June 25, 2009

Iran’s regime has chosen to shamelessly fix the elections. One can only wish Iran’s protesters well, but a regime that went out of its way to rig an election will be ruthless in the way it defends its result. So what comes after the crackdown?

Iran will not be the same — and neither will those in the West who try to decode its intentions and actions.


Analysis: We are bolstering the delusions of terrorists

By Oliver Kamm, June 25, 2009

Terrorist groups sometimes abandon violence and sublimate their aims in constitutional politics. The old Official IRA renounced the armed struggle and transformed itself into the small, left-wing Workers’ Party.

Similarly, the meeting between Britain’s ambassador to Lebanon and a Hizbollah MP will have been intended by the Foreign Office to strengthen the political process.


Analysis: What David can learn from us

By Daniel Finkelstein, June 25, 2009

Here’s why most politicians accept speaking invitations: they are asked by someone they know and they don’t think quickly enough of a reason why not.

But when you are Leader of the Opposition, accepting a speaking invitation is a big deal. Not just for you; there is also your speech writing team, your press office and your physical advance team who check that you are not about to walk past a shop sign saying F Raud and Sons, and aren’t sharing a platform with someone who gives money to the BNP.


Getting over my fear of flying… to Israel

June 18, 2009

I had always been fearful of visiting Israel. I had the opportunity to go three years ago on an interfaith trip and turned it down. I was scared of being caught in a terrorist attack, I was unnerved by what I imagined to be a constant and menacing military presence. And more than that, I was ignorant of what Israel had to offer.

I was still anxious when I landed at Ben Gurion airport recently with my group of teachers, arts educators and lecturers, excitedly discussing the nine-day programme ahead of us.