The Great Debate

What’s behind the effort to make Israel, the ‘Jewish State,’ more ‘Jewish’

By Matt Duss
December 2, 2014

Israel's PM Netanyahu delivers a statement to the media in Jerusalem

With the myriad challenges the Israeli government currently faces – regional turmoil, unrest in Jerusalem, and opposition to a highly contentious budget — this might seem like an interesting time for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to promulgate a new law defining Israel’s identity as “the nation state of the Jewish people.” The bill, which was supposed to have been voted on this Wednesday but has now been delayed, would recognize Jewish religious law as an inspiration for legislation, and affirm that, “The right to the fulfillment of national self-determination within the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.”

Can you live a moral life in the holy city of Jerusalem?

By Amy Wilentz
November 24, 2014

A man holds an Israeli flag during a mass prayer for soldiers and civilians at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City

While you are reading about violent attacks in Jerusalem on the home page of your newspaper, Jerusalemites are living their lives, most of the time, as if they dwelled in a happy little European nation, say Luxembourg or the Netherlands… or suburban New Jersey. That’s how you can feel there a lot of the time, if you live on the Israeli side. That is assuming you’re not a crazed extremist of some kind.

Peace may be the true threat to Hamas, Israel’s leaders

By Amy Wilentz
August 18, 2014

Relatives of a Palestinian woman, who medics said was killed in an Israeli air strike, mourn during her funeral in Khan Younis

It’s time to wonder whether Israel and Palestine will ever be able to move out of the moral abyss into which they’ve plunged themselves, and address the threat of peace.

Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system is an ironclad success

By Uzi Rubin
August 5, 2014

An interception of a rocket by the Iron Dome anti-missile system is seen above Sderot

While the troops of Israel’s Air Defense Command are blasting Grad and Fajr rockets shot from Gaza out of the sky with success, there are an obsessive few who try to blast Iron Dome’s evident achievements into oblivion. They insist on trivializing the missile-defense system’s rock-solid record because the facts don’t fit their theory that no missile defense system can ever work.RELATED COLUMNS David Axe: Israel's Iron Dome is more like an iron sieve EDITOR: Two views of Iron Dome's success in IsraelThe chief Iron Dome scold is Ted Postol of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a professor with academic standing but no experience in designing or managing the development of modern missile systems. He postulates that missile defense is innately belligerent and as quixotic as “the idea that a nuclear war can be won” but admits that the public would not  readily agree with his views. He casts missile defense as irretrievably faulty and wasteful, with Iron Dome — the product Israeli technical savvy and U.S. defense funds — squarely in his sights.

from Stories I’d like to see:

What we don’t know about Qatar and what we don’t know about key Senate races

By Steven Brill
August 5, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry walks with Qatari Crown Prince Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Doha

1. Inside Qatar:  the terrorists’ benefactor and America’s friend

As the war in Gaza continues, we keep hearing that one pipeline for negotiations with Hamas goes through Qatar, the tiny, oil-rich kingdom in the Gulf that has friendly relations with Hamas. In fact, Qatar hosts the leaders of Hamas and provides financial support.

Israel’s Iron Dome is more like an iron sieve

By David Axe
July 25, 2014

An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket in Ashdod

Israel’s vaunted Iron Dome defense system is more like an iron sieve. It fails to destroy all but a few of the rockets that Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups fire at Israeli communities. But Israel’s early-warning civil-defense systems have proved highly effective.RELATED COLUMNS Uzi Rubin: Iron Dome is an ironclad success

The war in Gaza threatens Egypt too

By Shibley Telhami
July 22, 2014

A Palestinian woman wearing clothes stained with the blood of other relatives, who medics said were wounded in Israeli shelling, cries at a hospital in Gaza City

Cairo’s efforts to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza, according to conventional wisdom, have largely been dictated by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s animosity toward Hamas. After all, Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Sisi’s government has declared a terrorist organization and regards as a serious threat.

from Stories I’d like to see:

The facts on Iron Dome, suing over Flight 17 and reviving the VA

By Steven Brill
July 22, 2014

An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod

1. Figuring out the Iron Dome:

As I kept reading and seeing television reports last week about how the Iron Dome missile defense system was doing such a good job protecting Israel from Hamas’ rockets, this intriguing story by the highly regarded veteran journalist James Fallows appeared on the Atlantic website.

from John Lloyd:

As Israel attacks Gaza, Jews elsewhere feel an impact

By John Lloyd
July 16, 2014

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As the death toll in Gaza rises, so does anger against Israel -- and sometimes, by extension, Jews -- in Europe and elsewhere.

Netanyahu hopes to avoid Gaza ground operation. Why he might order one anyway.

By Dan Ephron
July 10, 2014

An Israeli soldier rests atop a tank stationed on a field outside the central Gaza Strip

To understand whether Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends to send ground troops into Gaza, it might help to scrutinize one of his decisions from this week.