Avishai Margalit is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His most recent book is On Betrayal.
 (May 2019)


The Exemplary Pogrom

Pogrom victims in front of a vandalized house in the Bessarabian city of Kishinev, on the southwestern edge of the Russian Empire, April 1903

Pogrom: Kishinev and the Tilt of History

by Steven J. Zipperstein
Wittgenstein posed the question: Why did one crucifixion captivate the world for two thousand years, while tens of thousands of other people crucified by the Romans remain utterly forgotten? One obvious answer is that we react to stories, not statistics: a haunting story exists for one crucifixion; statistics barely account …

Monday Morning Philosophers

Diego Maradona of Argentina scoring his ‘hand of God’ goal past Peter Shilton of England in the World Cup quarter-finals, Mexico City, June 1986

Knowing the Score: What Sports Can Teach Us About Philosophy (And What Philosophy Can Teach Us About Sports)

by David Papineau

What We Think About When We Think About Soccer

by Simon Critchley
In the 1960s, when I was studying philosophy at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, we had a regular visiting professor from Yale: an energetic little man who was warm to students. There wasn’t a subject in philosophy on which he hadn’t written a tome. He was a metaphysician; Reality—capitalized—was his …

Betrayal in Jerusalem


by Amos Oz, translated from the Hebrew by Nicholas de Lange
On a wintry day in Jerusalem in late 1959, Shmuel Ash spots an enigmatic job posting on a university campus board: Offered to a single humanities student with conversational skills and an interest in history, free accommodation and a modest monthly sum in return for spending five hours per evening …

‘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?”


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.