1. This is the dubious situation that Israel finds itself in: signalling to the military that a dead soldier is preferable to a captive one, while at the same time signalling to the Israeli public that no cost will be spared to secure a captured soldier’s release.

    — I wrote a piece about  Israel’s use of a military procedure known as the Hannibal Directive. (Oh you know, just some fun read for the weekend. Hmm.)

  2. School is out for the summer. The sun is beating down on Israel and Gaza. Kids are growing restless. So that they don’t have to pay with their lives for a game of hide-and-seek on a beach, so that they don’t have to duck for cover every time a siren sounds, all eyes should turn to Gaza in hopes that this conflict finally comes to an end.

    — 

    Ruth Margalit on the children of Gaza and Israel: http://nyr.kr/1u0xika (via newyorker)

    My post in The New Yorker.

  3. The relationship between the two peoples was hardly that of equals. It had a colonial quality not unlike that along much of the American border with Mexico. But when the guy repairing your balcony did not show up for work because of a closure of the West Bank and could not earn his pay, his deprivation meant something to you, as an Israeli. You knew him; you trusted him; you knew about his family. And when you, a Palestinian worker, saw your Israeli employer’s mother growing ill, you understood his anguish. You knew the woman; you liked her. 

    […]

    Israelis — especially in the heartland around Tel Aviv, where two-thirds of the country lives — can now go weeks without laying eyes on a Palestinian or ever having to think about one. In Gaza, Israelis do not exist except in a kind of collective nightmare. In the West Bank, the Israelis are mostly settlers and soldiers. Apart from a few pockets of industry and shopping where Palestinians are employed, interaction is highly limited.

    Ethan Bronner on the growing separation between Israelis and Palestinians, and its role in the current escalation.

  4. I wrote about the real jail behind “Orange Is the New Black.” (Spoiler alert: overflowing sewage, “ping pong toilets,” brown drinking water, black mold, rodent infestations.)

  5. From Tabloid Headlines Without the Sexism.

    From Tabloid Headlines Without the Sexism.

  6. As the dearth of female bylines in 2013 continues to be dissected, this is a screenshot of Haaretz’s op-ed contributors… 

    As the dearth of female bylines in 2013 continues to be dissected, this is a screenshot of Haaretz’s op-ed contributors… 

  7. Meet Isaac Herzog, the Israeli Politician Who Speaks English With a Democratic Accent →

     I profiled Israel’s new leader of the opposition, and you can read it by clicking on this thing.

  8. The truth behind Israel’s brain drain

    image

    On a visit to Eastern Europe last week, Yair Lapid, Israel’s telegenic finance minister, wrote a defiant yet innocent-seeming Facebook post: “A word to all of those who are ‘fed up’ and ‘leaving for Europe,’,” he began,

    I happen to be in Budapest at the moment. I came to give a speech in parliament against anti-Semitism and to remind them how my father was almost murdered here because the Jews had no state of their own; how my grandfather was killed in a concentration camp; how my uncles were starved; how my grandmother was saved from a death march at the last moment. So forgive me if I’m a little impatient with those who are willing to throw away the only country the Jews have because it’s easier to live in Berlin.

    Lapid’s harsh words appeared to be directed at the subjects of a highly rated new documentary show, which examines the lives of Israelis living abroad. The show is called “The New Yordim,” the last word being a semi-derogatory term in Hebrew used to describe expatriates. Yordim means “those who descend,” as opposed to olim, people who immigrated to Israel, or, literally, “those who ascend.” The charged terminology provides a clue into how divisive the phenomenon of uprootedness is—and has always been—in Israeli society. (Yitzhak Rabin once called Israeli expatriates “a debris of weaklings.”)

    At first glance, the numbers seem to justify the alarm: more than half a million Israelis, or about seven per cent of the population, live abroad, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. The majority resides in the U.S. or in Canada, but recent years have also seen a booming Israeli community take root in Europe, especially in Berlin. The expatriates tend to be young and educated, in search of graduate degrees or better-paying jobs—part of the famous “brain drain” that is changing the entire developed world and against which many politicians have railed.

    The truth behind these numbers paints a different picture, however: the statistics define as an expatriate anyone living overseas for at least a year. (I am one of them, and so, by the way, is Lapid, who spent several years in the U.S.) Yet, ask these people where they see themselves in five or ten years, and many of them would not flinch before answering: in Israel. Their reasons for leaving are largely financial or educational. Yes, some settle down in their adopted countries, but a surprising number of them come back. In 2010, for example, fifteen thousand Israelis left the country, but ten thousand returned. These extended trips abroad, therefore, represent a stepping stone for many Israelis, a prolonged layover on a journey whose final destination is Israel. (Some fields of work, admittedly, make it easier to return than others. In academia, the situation in Israel is dire. Two of this year’s Nobel Laureates in chemistry, which was announced yesterday, are Israeli citizens who had left the country; one of them complained that he couldn’t find tenure.)

    Yet Lapid chose to ignore the financial squeeze that was driving Israelis away. If, in writing his diatribe, he was hoping to ride a wave of shared indignation, he could not have predicted that the tide would swiftly shift and come crashing over him. [… Read more]

  9. Suleimani is the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today—and no one’s ever heard of him.

    —  Dexter Fillkins profiles the mysterious commander of Iran’s Quds Force in this week’s New Yorker. An outstanding piece I was lucky enough to work on. 

  10. Me, being interviewed on Al Jazeera about this piece I wrote. Note to self: wool jacket is a no-no for those warm bright lights.

    Me, being interviewed on Al Jazeera about this piece I wrote. Note to self: wool jacket is a no-no for those warm bright lights.