Santa Clara University

Logo_REPW

Religion and Politics in Israel and Palestine

1. Brief Introduction
2. A Short Introductory Course
3. Other Resource Materials
4. Recent Articles

1. Brief Introduction to Religion and Politics in Israel and Palestine

Israel has a population of nearly 7.5 million, with a population growth rate of 1.6% (July 2011 est). It had a 2010 HDI ranking of #15 and a 2010 CPI ranking of 6.1. The 2011 CIA Factbook divides Palestine into Gaza Strip (1.66 million, with a 3.2% growth rate) and West Bank (2.57 million with a 2.1% growth rate) entries. Based on 2004 data, it lists Israel as 76.4% Jewish, 16% Muslim, 1.7% Arab Christian, .4% other Christian, 1.6% Druze, and 3.9% unspecified. It gives the following ethnic background: 76.4% Jewish (of which 67.1% are Israeli-born, 22.6% U.S. or European-born, 5.9% African-born, and 4.2% Asian-born); and 23.6% mostly Arab non-Jewish. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict retains a primary significance throughout the Jewish and Muslim worlds, from Jakarta to New York, so that this global symbolic importance supersedes any political calculus based on population, size of economy, armed forces, or other. The CIA Factbook lists the West Bank as 75% Muslim, 17% Jewish, 8% Christian and Other. 

After the British withdrew from their mandate for Palestine following World War II, the U.N. partitioned the region into Arab and Jewish states. The Arabs rejected the arrangement, but Israelis successfully defended the establishment of their state. In 1956 Israel joined with France and Britain in attacking Nasser’s Egypt, but the three withdrew under pressure from the Soviet Union and the United States. In 1967 Israel won a great victory in the Six-Day War which resulted in Israel occupying the West Bank, the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights. In 1969 Yasir Arafat, leader of the al-Fatah guerrillas, became head of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which had been founded five years earlier. In 1974 the Arab League recognized the PLO as the “sole and legitimate representative” of the Palestinian people, and Arafat gradually succeeded in building recognition of a Palestine national identity in world opinion. In 1973 Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Israel in the Sinai and Golan Heights. The fighting was inconclusive. In 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon and remained in southern Lebanon until withdrawing in May 2000.

In September 1993 Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Rabin shook hands on the White House lawn and signed the “Declaration of Principles” (aka “Oslo Accords”). This series of negotiations, which raised hopes worldwide, came very close to leading to peace, but ultimately failed in summer 2000-winter 2001. The victory of Ariel Sharon over Ehud Barak as Israeli prime minister in February 2001 finally ended the process. An indication of how much the world wanted Oslo Process to succeed can be seen in Pope John Paul II’s trip to Holy Land in March 2000 in which he visited both a Palestinian refugee camp and the Holocaust museum. Throughout the Oslo Process, both domestic politics and foreign policy considerations loomed large. Each time that a suicide bombing took place, it helped politically both the more militant Hamas among the Palestinians and the Israeli hardline Likud Party. The assassination of Rabin by a Jewish militant also hurt the process, as did the razor thin victory of Likud’s Netanyahu over Labor’s Peres after a February 1996 bombing.

How can we finally explain the failure of the Oslo Process? U.S. lead negotiator Dennis Ross said that his biggest realization was how closely the negotiations were tied to “the reality on the ground.” From 1992 to 2001, Israeli settlement population had increased by eighty thousand, the Palestinian standard of living had decreased by twenty percent, and the PLO had become more corrupt. And Hamas was always ready to oppose the Accords. After Camp David, negotiations continued until they met in Taba, Egypt, in January 2001. Negotiators stated that none of the three big outstanding issues (Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, and Jewish settlements and future borders) were “deal breakers” at Taba, but that they ran out of time. And the basic national and international environment had changed.

The PLO began the Al Aksa intifada [resistence] in September 2000. Hamas increased its suicide bombings and other violent acts. Prime Minister Sharon responded with multiple army incursions into Palestine Authority territory and for a while surrounded Arafat in his Ramallah headquarters. This second intifada had become a second nakba [catasphophe] for both Palestinians and Israelis. Sharon, building a separating wall throughout the region, then began a strategy of unilateral withdrawal to a defendable Jewish-majority state. Israel left the Gaza Strip in August 2005. To accomplish this plan, Sharon formed a new political party Kadima out of the old Likud and some centrist elements. When Sharon suffered a stroke in January 2006, Ehud Olmert took over the party and the strategy. Kadima won the plurality of seats (29 of 120) in the March parliamentary elections, but needed four parties to form a government. Arafat died in November 2004, and Mahmoud Abbas took over the PLO. Abbas was elected president in January 2005, but Hamas won the parliamentary elections in January 2006, thus splitting the government. Hamas refuses to recognize Israel and a two-state solution. Kadima received electoral support for unilateral withdrawals, but Olmert's policy seemed to fail in the Hezbollah and Israeli fighting of summer 2006. This second Lebanese war for Israel ended after 34 days in a U.N.-mandated cease fire with no clear victory. The next serious secret negotiation took place December 2006-September 2008 between Olmert and Abbas (see NYT Magazine article of February 11, 2011 in short introduction for content and result).

In February 2009, new parliamentary (120-seats) elections resulted in the following five parties with the largest representation: 28 Kadima, 27 Likud, 15 Yisrael Beiteinu, 13 Labor, and 11 Shas. Likud leader Netanyahu put together a hardline coalition of all these parties but Kadima, plus smaller parties, albeit with Labor divided. See recent articles for impact on international politics, including relations with Obama administration. In 2011, the Arab Spring influenced both sides, leading up to PLO decisions about whether or not to reconcile with Hamas, push for a United Nations recognition of Palestinian statehood, and/or reenter negotiations without Israeli suspension of settlements. Netanyahu's visit to Washington in May showed that he was reluctant to take any major initiatives and that he distrusted Obama. In July Israeli protests began over living standards and the concentration of wealth. See all recent articles below.

Hanson (2006) discusses “Judaism and the Diaspora” (pp. 95-98); "Israeli Politics: Jewish Identity and the Israeli State” (pp. 228-31); and “Palestinian Politics: PLO Versus Hamas” (pp. 231-35).

2. A Short Introductory Course to Religion and Politics in Israel and Palestine

Halpern and Reinharz discuss the various Zionist currents than led to the foundation of Israel under the largely secular and Ashkenazi Labor Party. Friedman sets up the background for Israeli-Palestinian relations in his very readable book. Gopin is a Jewish conflict resolution specialist who explains the religious and local popular reasons that the Oslo Process did not succeed. Wald summarizes the impact of religious ideology and organization on the two great divisions within the Israeli political process: the “culture war” over Jewish political-religious identity; and the debate about whether in what manner Israel should trade land for peace. For the Olmert-Abbas negotiations, please read the Avishai article. Then read the most recent articles to bring everything up to date.

Halpern, Ben, and Reinharz, Jehuda. Zionism and the Creation of a New Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Friedman, Thomas L. From Beirut to Jerusalem, updated with a new chapter. New York: Anchor Books, 1995. 
  
Gopin, Marc. Holy War, Holy Peace: How Religion Can Bring Peace to the Middle East. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Wald, Kenneth D. “The Religious Dimensions of Israeli Political Life,” in Jelen and Wilcox, Comparative Politics (2002).

Avishai, Bernard, "A Separate Peace," New York Times Magazine, February 11, 2011. The security negotiatios were largely successful ("the file was closed"), and discussions on the borders and refugees reached agreement on principle, but not on numbers. By the end Olmert had been weakened by corruption charges, Hamas-led Gaza was heating up, and both sides needed "bridging proposals" from the United States. The talks were suspended in January 2009, and Al Jazeera later leaked some of the documents.

3. Other Key Resource Materials for Religion and Politics in Israel and Palestine

America (August 13-20, 2007). Entire issue devoted to Jerusalem, 1967-2007.

Faith and International Affairs (Winter 2007). Entire issue devoted to "Evangelicals and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict."

Gilsenan, Michael. Recognizing Islam: Religion and Society in the Modern Middle East. London: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd, 1992.

Gopin, Marc, “Judaism and Peacebuilding in the Context of Middle Eastern Conflict,” in Johnston, Douglas, Faith-Based Diplomacy: Trumping Realpolitik (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 91-121. Appendix: “Peacemaking Qualities of Judaism as Revealed in Sacred Scripture.”

Johnson, Paul. A History of the Jews. London: Weidenfield and Nicolson, 1987.

Morris, Benny. Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001, with a new final chapter. New York: Vintage, 2001.

Schneer, Jonathan. The Balfour Declaration: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. New York: Random House, 2010.

Shlaim, Avi. The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. New York: W.W. Norton, 2001.

4. Recent Articles on Israel and Palestine (a. Politics; b. Religion; c. Religion and Politics; d. Economy and Society; e. Foreign Policy):

a. Politics

“Isreali Ready for Peace Talks if Palestinians Disarm Hamas,” New York Times, January 18, 2006. Sharon had stroke on January 4, so Ehud Olmert, new acting prime minister, says he is ready for negotiations if Hamas disarmed.  Earlier in week Palestinian President Abbas had said he is ready “without preconditions.” Palestinian elections later in January and Israeli elections in March.

“Acting Israeli Leader Backs a Palestinian State and Giving Up Parts of West Bank,” New York Times, January 25, 2006. Olmert says Israel must choose Jewish-majority state and to follow the road map.

“Palestinians Set for Vote And Big Shift,” New York Times, January 25, 2006. Good description of strengths and weaknesses of Mahmoud Abbas on election eve. Hamas won 74 of 132 seats in a stunning upset, meaning Abbas lost political gamble.

“Hamas and Abbas Clash Over Path for Palestinians,” New York Times, February 19, 2006. Abbas addresses first meeting of parliament.

“Long on Outskirts of Power, Olmert Looks to Lead Israel,” New York Times, March 27, 2006. Background of acting prime minister.

“Palestinian parliament endorses Hamas-led Cabinet,” San Jose Mercury News, March 29, 2006. Cabinet formed by Hamas and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, plus independents, takes control. Secular-nationalist Fatah would not participate, since Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh would not recognize Israel or commit to two-state solution. Also opposes unilateral Israeli demarcation of border.

“Not With a Bang but a Pop,” New York Times, March 30, 2006. Kadima wins, but not with a mandate for Olmert. Election results for 120 seats in parliament: Kadima 29, Labor 19, Shas 12, Israael Beitenu 12, Likud 11, Arab Parties 10, National Union/Religious 9, Pensioners 7, Torah Judaism 6, Meretz 4.

"His Coalition in Place, Olmert Turns to Setting Israeli Borders,” New York Times, May 5, 2006. Coalition of Kadima, Labor, Shas, Pensioners. What to leave in and out of new borders. Iran as concern.

“Abbas Says Hamas Must Accept Peace Plan or Face Referendum,” New York Times, May 26, 2006. President says he will call a referendum within ten days on Palestinian state that would recognize Israel if Hamas will not accept.

“Is Hamas Ready to Deal?” New York Times op-ed by Scott Atran, August 17, 2006. Analysis of political situation following Israeli-Hezbollah conflict. Unilaterial solution dead. Prime Minister Haniya vs. Meshal (militia, Iran, Hezbollah connections) for control of Hamas. Impact of continued fighting on radicalization of global Islam.

“Israeli Premier Reaches Out To Far Right,” New York Times, October 24, 2006. Prime Minister Olmert brings in Israel Beiteinu [“Israel is Our Home”] with its eleven seats, raising coalition to 78 of 120 seats in Knesset. Israel Beiteinu, led by Soviet immigrant Avigdor Lieberman, calls for annexing Jewish settlements in West Bank and transferring most of Arab Israeli citizens to Palestinian state.

“After Deadly Clashes in Gaza, Leaders Appeal for Calm,” New York Times, December 18, 2006. After long negotiations with Hamas, President Abbas calls for new parliamentary elections. Armed clashes between Fatah and Hamas controlled security forces.

“Preacher criticizes Hamas and is slain moments later,” San Jose Mercury News, January 6, 2007. Mosque preacher Adel Nassar is slain in Gaza after he criticized the killing of top Fatah security official, Col. Mohammed Ghayeb, and six bodyguards. Wife and children wounded.

“In a Divided Israel, Angry Words or No Words at All,” and “Palestinian Asks Dissolution of Hamas’s Military Police,” New York Times, January 7, 2007. Side-by-side articles demonstrate dysfunctional fragmentation of both political systems. For Israel, it is Prime Minister Ehud Olmert versus Defense Minister Peretz, with an independent military and security apparatus, plus fights within their respective Kadima and Labor parties. For Palestine, it is President Abbas of Fatah versus Prime Minister Haniya, with security forces on both sides battling at intervals.

"Ex-Premier of Israel Takes Helm of Labor Party, New York Times, June 14, 2007. Ehud Barak's comeback.

"Abbas Swears In Emergency Palestinian Government," New York Times, June 18, 2007. Growing rift between Fatah and Hamas leads to separate governments.

"Gaza Under Hamas: Quiet, Cut Off and Digging In," New York Times, September 8, 2007. Political control and economic isolation. Hamas forbids outdoors Friday prayer protests from Fatah supporters.

"For Ultra-Orthodox of Israel, A Modern Marketplace Grows," New York Times, November 2, 2007. 800,000 Ultra-Orthodox of 5.4 million Jews in 7.1 million Israelis, large enough population to create a separate market, e.g., kosher cell phones which do not connect to Internet, take pictures, or send text messages. More than 50 percent of Ultra-Orthodox live below the poverty line and get state allowances. They live in tight communities, have large families, and do not watch television, so advertising relies much more on personal connections. Illustrations of how large Israeli companies approach the market.

"Israeli-Arab Land Fight Is a Cat-and-Mouse Game," New York Times, December 8, 2007. Story of attempts by settlers to expand settlements in the West Bank.

"Cynicism and a Grain of Hope for Olmert's Peace Effort," New York Times, May 23, 2008. Contrast between recent Israeli peace efforts with Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Palestinians and Olmert's continuing troubles with corruption probe.

"Palestinian President Seeks Renewed Talks With Hamas," New York Times, June 5, 2008. Abbas calls for renewed talks with Hamas, as Palestinians express disappointment over continued building of Israeli settlements.

"A Year Reshaptes Hamas and Gaza," New York Times, June 15, 2008. Analysis of changes in Gaza, e.g., Shariah law (always more "poor and pious" than West Bank) and more order ("strong and brutal, but good at governing"), after one year of Hamas control following taking power from Fatah.

"Olmert To Resign After Party Vote This September," New York Times, July 31, 2008. Due to corruption investigation, Olmert announced he would resign after the Kadima Party chooses a new leader in September. The ballot is set for September 17, with a possible run-off on the 24th. Kadima and its coalition partners hope to avoid a general election until it must take place in 2010.

"Israel's Foreign Minister Claims a Party Victory," New York Times, September 18, 2008. Tzipi Livni narrowly defeats hawkish former general Shaul Mofaz to succeed Olmert. Olmert resigned three days later while remaining the caretaker.

"Radical Settlers Take On Israel to Thwart Possible Ouster From West Bank," New York Times, September 26, 2008. The radicalization of the settlers movements, leading to clashes with police and army. See New York Times, October 24, 2008, for settlers movement to restore Joseph's tomb in the middle of Palestinian Nablus.

"Israeli Party Leader Asks for Early Elections, Predicting Victory," New York Times, October 27, 2008. Analysis of failure of negotiations to establish new coalition government. Livni would not give the Shas Party everything it wanted.  Old coalition was Kadima, Labor, Pensioners Party, and Shas. See also New York Times, October 25, 2008.

"Crisis Imperils 2-State Plan," New York Times, January 12, 2009. Images of Gaza conflict inflaming Arab world and making difficult two-state solution. Impact on Egypt and Jordan.

"Israel's Elder Statesman, Now With Renewed Clout," New York Times, June 27, 2009. Shimon Peres and recent influence.

"Security and Economic Revival Raises Hopes in the West Bank," New York Times, July 17, 2009. Recent security and economic progress.

"The New Israeli Lobby," New York Times Magazine (September 13, 2009): 38-57. Article by James Traub on J Street, the new Israeli lobby.

"Mideast Realities Defy Obama's Hopes," New York Times, September 19, 2009. After a week of shuttle diplomacy by George Mitchell, no agreement on freezing construction of Jewish settlements and fresh signs of differences on the basis of peace negotiations.

"Furor Sends Palestinians Into Shift on U.N. Report," New York Times, October 8, 2009. Palestinian anger forces leadership to endorse a Security Council debate on a U.N. report accusing Israel of possible war crimes in Gaza. Leadership had responded to American pressure by dropping issue for six months in hope to revive peace talks.

"The Painful Truth in Mideast Talks: Force Has Trumped Diplomacy," New York Times, October 20, 2009. Comparison of the efficacy of force versus diplomacy at present time.

"Palestinians Now Have Voting Date, But No Unity," New York Times, October 24, 2009. Citing failure of Egyptian-mediated talkes between Fatah and Hamas, Abbas calls presidential and parliamentary elections for January 24. Hamas objects strongly.

"In Gaza, Opportunities Fade As Feeling of Isolation Grows," New York Times, October 27, 2009. Near universal literacy, but no economy, except smuggling, with embargo. Professionals dislike Hamas government, but voted for it because of Fatah's corruption. Now would not.

"Cheer, Then Gloom, on Mideast Talks," New York Times, July 15, 2010. Netanyahu and Obama express hopes for private proximity talks, but Palestinian pessimistic. Saeb Erekat says that no response to full position. Direct talks would probably follow Hilary Clinton's formula: "the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state, based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli gloal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements." Olmert made a far-reaching proposal in late 2008, but came up against Israel's military campaign in Gaza. Argument over whether Abbas responded.

"Palestinian Negotiator Says Agreement Is 'Doable,'" New York Times, August 24, 2010. Saeb Erekat describes new talks, sponsored by the Obama Administration, as difficult, but possible, as had Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Background on the coming to the Palestinians to direct talks through statement of the "quartet" of Middle East peacemakers (U.S., U.N., E.U., and Russia). See also August 27th op-ed by Martin Indyk on four reasons for optimism: violence is down, settlement activity has slowed, publics support two-state solution, and almost all of the issues have been negotiated before. Now is time for political will. See also August 30 in Religion and Politics.

"Israeli Defense Minister Forms New Faction Within Coalition," New York Times, January 18, 2011. Barak and four others break off from Labor, leaving eight members.

"Rival Leaders Agree to Hold Gaza Meeting," New York Times, March 17, 2011. Abbas of Fatah and Haniya of Hamas agree to consider reconcilation, although the content is different for each. Response to public pressure for unity.

"East Jerusalem Is Approved For Building Of New Homes," New York Times, August 12, 2011. Approval of 1600-apartment Ramat Shlomo complex. Israeli Peace Now calls it a "cynical use" of housing crisis. Government also says it will soon approve 2700 more housing units.

b. Religion

"Unusual Partners Study Divisive Jerusalem Site," New York Times, November 15, 2009. Article on rare joint Jewish-Palestinian book on history of Jerusalem's holy places.

c. Religion and Politics

“For Evangelicals, Supporting Israel Is ‘God’s Foreign Policy,’” New York Times, November 14, 2006. Christians United For Israel and other rightist organizations. Importance of Iranian situation to these groups.

"Find of Ancient city Could Alter Notions of Biblical David," New York Times, October 30, 2008. New site supports importance of David's kingdom, and the various contemporary political uses of the find.

"From an Israeli Settlement, a Rabbi's Unorthodox Plan for Peace," New York Times, December 6, 2008. Menachem Froman, chief rabbi of the Takoa settlement and a founding member of Gush Emunim, has engaged in many dialogues with Arafat, Muslim sheiks, and even Sheik Ahmed Yassin of Hamas.

"In Pope's Journey Across Middle East, Modest Successes and Missed Chances," New York Times, May 17, 2009. See May 9 (visit to Jordan's royal family), 12, 14, 16 for politics of individual events. Also see John Allen in May 6 National Catholic Reporter for possible themes. Compare with visit of John Paul II in 2000. See also America, May 25-June 1.

"Israeli Court Spuirs Protest With Ruling About School," New York Times, June 18, 2010. Supreme Court rules against segregating Ashkenazi and Sephardic children, both from ultra-Orthodox traditions. Hasidic Ashkenazi rally in support of those jailed for refusing integration, claiming that their religious understanding is more strict than the Sephardi.

"Israel Tries to Defuse Crisis Over Conversions," New York Times, July 24, 2010. Netanyahu delays action on conversion law that "could tear apart the Jewish people" by alienating American Jews. Dispute reflects three factors: 1. arrival of hundreds of thousands of Russian-speaking immigrants who are not yet considered Jews; 2. the chief rabbinate has passed from Orthodox Zionist parties to non-Zionist ultra-Orthodox; and 3. increasing discomfort of American Jews for current Israeli policy.

"Actors' Protest and Rabbi's Sermon Stoke Tensions in Israel Ahead of Peace Talks," New York Times, August 30, 2010. Israeli actors refuse to perform in West Bank, thus reigniting debate over legitimacy of Israeli settlements. Ovadia Yosef, 89, spiritual head of Shas, calls Abbas "evil" and prays that God will strike "these Ishmaelites and Palestinians with a plague." Political leader of Shas, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, has no comment, but Netanyahu states that statements do not reflect his views. Palestinian leaders like negotiator Erekat record one-minute video clips, paid for by U.S. government, for Jewish audiences.

"Israel's Support of Torah Study Ruptures Anew," New York Times, December 29, 2010. Societal discussion of the fact that more than 60 percent of ultra-Orthodox men do not work. Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi Chaim Amsellem suggests subsidies and military exemptions should be reserved to those who have promise of becoming Torah scholars.

d. Economy and Society

“Warm and Fuzzy TV, Brought to You by Hamas,” New York Times, January 18, 2006. Hamas’s Gaza TV station, Al Aksa TV, modeled on Hezbollah’s Al Manar TV. Children’s show to broadcast Palestinian rights to Al Aksa Mosque, etc., with plush animals.

"The Kibbutz Sheds Socialism And Regains Lost Popularity," New York Times, August 27, 2007. The third period in the history of Kibbutz in which most seek a "subtler balance between collective responsibility and individual freedom, with an emphasis on community and values." About 30 percent have stuck to their socialist values, and they too are flourishing.

"For Ultra-Orthodox of Israel, A Modern Marketplace Grows," New York Times, November 2, 2007. 800,000 Ultra-Orthodox of 5.4 million Jews in 7.1 million Israelis, large enough population to create a separate market, e.g., kosher cell phones which do not connect to Internet, take pictures, or send text messages. More than 50 percent of Ultra-Orthodox live below the poverty line and get state allowances. They live in tight communities, have large families, and do not watch television, so advertising relies much more on personal connections. Illustrations of how large Israeli companies approach the market.

"Before a Diplomatic Showdown, a Budget Crisis Saps Palestinians' Confidence," New York Times, July 28, 2011. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad faces crisis, halves some salaries. Arab and Western government use aid as bargaining chip.

"Israelis Feel Tug of Protests, Reviving the Left's Spirits," New York Times, August 1, 2011.

"Protests Force Israel to Confront Wealth Gap," New York Times, August 12, 2011. 1980s and 1990s privitization concentrated wealth.

 e. Foreign Policy

“U.N. Is Gradually Becoming More Hospitable to Israel,” New York Times, October 11, 2005. Kofi Annan has reduced marginalization in last eighteen months.

“Lebanese Army Sets Up in Hezbollah’s Territory,” and “With Guns Silent, Wartime Unity Unravels in Israel Amid Fierce Criticism of War Effort,” New York Times, August 18, 2006. Elaborate dance in relationship of Lebanese Army and Hezbollah. Fierce criticism of war leadership of Prime Minister Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Chief of Staff Let.Gen Dan Halutz. Israelis overwhelmingly supported response after July 12 raid that killed three soldiers and captured two.

"Poland and Israel share more than just a painful history," San Jose Mercury News, March 5, 2007. Despite long history of painful Polish-Jewish relations, current Polish-Israeli relations very good. Koret Foundation sponsors exchanges.

"Cynicism and a Grain of Hope for Olmert's Peace Effort," New York Times, May 23, 2008. Contrast between recent Israeli peace efforts with Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Palestinians and Olmert's continuing troubles with corruption probe.

"Israel Seems to Make Progress in Talks," New York Times, June 17, 2008. Progress possible in all three negotiations: Hezbollah, Syria, Hamas. Iran is principal enemy.

"Prisoner Deal Reopens an Israeli Wound," New York Times, July 16, 2008. Repatriation of most notorious prisoner, Lebanese Druse Samir Kuntar, reminds Israelis and Lebanese of 1979 attack, stirs old wounds.

"In Israel, Time For Peace Offer May Run Out," New York Times, April 3, 2011. Growing UN support for Palestinian state.

"Turning Point For Two Leaders With Mistrust," New York Times, May 20 and 21, 2011. Six articles on Netanyahu's visit to Washington and Obama's speech of U.S. policy.

"As U.S. Steps Back, Europe Takes a Bigger Role in Mideast Peace Push," New York Times, July 21, 2011. Role of Quartet and coming UN vote.

"Israel's Lost Chance," New York Times, July 30, 2011, op-ed by Aluf Benn (Haaretz).

"Aid to Gaza Is Imperiled By Hamas, U.S. Warns," New York Times, August 12, 2011. Hamas threat to audit Gaza NGOs raises American and Norwegian protests.

 List of all Countries

August 18, 2011.