Avishai Margalit is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and currently a visiting professor of law and philosophy at Stanford.
 (January 2016)

IN THE REVIEW

‘A Knack for Handling Power’

David Ben-­Gurion, 1971

Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel

by Anita Shapira
Clarissa Eden, the widow of Anthony Eden and Winston Churchill’s niece, once asked my late wife, Edna, and me if we had an idea for someone capable of writing her husband’s biography. “What kind of biography do you have in mind?” Edna asked. “I want a big fat book that …

The Spell of Jabotinsky

Vladimir Jabotinsky, 1935

Jabotinsky: A Life

by Hillel Halkin
One shouldn’t be judged by one’s friends but by the quality of one’s enemies. On this view, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the founder of right-wing Revisionist Zionism, was lucky. He had formidable enemies, including Chaim Weizmann, David Ben-Gurion, and Berl Katznelson, the leading ideologue of Labor Zionism and the founder and editor …

In the Shadow of Sharon

Ariel Sharon discussing the 1982 invasion of Lebanon at Tel Aviv University, 1987
By all accounts, Ariel Sharon had an astoundingly quick mind. But he was either untrained for, or simply distrusted, any form of abstract thinking. Once, when he was prime minister, he heard a highly theoretical presentation given by a high commander of the military’s Southern Command. At the end of the presentation, I was told, he asked the general, “But where in all of this is the killing of Arabs?”

Palestine: How Bad, & Good, Was British Rule?

The King David Hotel in Jerusalem, headquarters of the British Mandate Administration, after it was bombed by the Irgun paramilitary group, July 22, 1946

Out of Palestine: The Making of Modern Israel

by Hadara Lazar
The British rule over Palestine lasted roughly thirty years, from 1917 until 1948. In a country that has three thousand years of recorded history, thirty years is a tiny fraction. If we conceive of three thousand years on a scale of one day, the period of British rule takes barely eight minutes. In comparison, Turkish Ottoman rule over Palestine, which lasted four hundred years, takes an hour and forty minutes. Yet the influence of these thirty years was deep and wide-ranging.

NYR DAILY

Obama and the Rotten Compromise

In reading the reports on President Obama’s Nobel speech in Oslo, one gets the impression that the President was offering a dose of realism to a gathering of fjord-loving well-meaning village idiots. He reminded them that an imperfect world should be governed not only by a pacifist vision of non-violence, but also by a theory of just war that tells us under what conditions a war is morally justified. This invocation of just wars was praised by both conservatives and liberals, who have applauded what they call Obama’s “Niebuhrian realism” and his drawing on a “venerable moral tradition” to give legitimacy to military engagement with “hostile regimes and networks in the world.” But having a realistic view of what a war can accomplish is part and parcel of just war doctrine, and it is precisely Obama’s realism about the war in Afghanistan that we should question.