Jonathan Freedland is an editorial-page columnist for The Guardian. His latest novel is To Kill a Man, published under the pseudonym Sam Bourne.

 (August 2020)

Follow Jonathan Freedland on Twitter: @Freedland.

IN THE REVIEW

Disinformed to Death

Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare

by Thomas Rid

The Hacker and the State: Cyber Attacks and the New Normal of Geopolitics

by Ben Buchanan
When a pandemic is raging, it becomes harder to deny that rigorous, truthful information is a mortal necessity. No one need explain the risks of false information when one can point to, say, the likely consequences of Americans’ coming to believe they can deflect the virus by injecting themselves with bleach.

Fools Rush Out

An easy way to measure how much and how swiftly Britain has changed in the age of Brexit is to compare the Britain of 2019 with the image the country projected of itself seven years ago. The last time that pre-Brexit Britain showed itself to the world, the last time it thought hard about its identity, even its own meaning as a country, was on a warm summer’s evening in 2012 when London staged the opening ceremony of that year’s Olympic Games.

Trump’s Chaver in Jerusalem

Benjamin Netanyahu

Bibi: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu

by Anshel Pfeffer
Perhaps it’s now impossible to read any political biography without thinking of Donald Trump. The forty-fifth president of the United States looms so large in the global imagination that the impulse to measure all other politicians against him has become almost involuntary. But in the case of Benjamin Netanyahu, the …

Ultra-Orthodox ‘Friends’

Doval’e Glickman as Shulem Shtisel (left) in a scene from the Israeli TV show Shtisel

Shtisel

a television series created by Yehonatan Indursky and Ori Elon
As a pitch, it would have sounded unpromising. A TV drama set entirely among the ultra-Orthodox Jews of Jerusalem, the men black-hatted, bearded with side curls, most of the women bewigged, their sleeves long and their skin covered up; the action centered on one family, specifically a widowed father and …

NYR DAILY

The Radical Empathy of Amos Oz

Amos Oz

Although I had come of age in Habonim, a Jewish youth movement dedicated to the ideals of the kibbutz and steeped in Labor Zionism, I could have decided that the whole thing was a sham, that the Zionist enterprise was rotten from the start and that everything I’d been taught was myth and propaganda. Plenty of my Jewish contemporaries made precisely that move. But then, at that very moment, along came Amos Oz and In the Land of Israel.

Say Goodbye, It’s Independence Day

An Americana house marking Independence Day, Ojai, California, July 4, 2016

In the Obama era, discrimination and prejudice persisted, of course, not least in the criminal justice system. Still, Supreme Court rulings in favor of affirmative action and equal marriage suggested that my faith in the Constitution’s ability to protect minorities remained sound. Now, though, it is being shaken to its foundations. We’ve seen hideous US presidencies before, but what is happening under Trump goes further. What the Trump presidency has confirmed is something I overlooked in 1998: that the Constitution may boast endlessly ingenious powers, but they count for nothing if the men and women charged with deploying those powers refuse to do their duty. 

Year One: Trump’s Foreign Affairs

Saudi King Salman presenting President Donald Trump with the highest civilian honor, the Collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud, at the Royal Court Palace, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 20, 2017

Until a year ago, the US was setting a lead of a very different sort. America’s first black president seemed about to make way for the first woman president. Once again, the US was offering an example to the world, affording a glimpse of what twenty-first century democracy might look like. Instead, Trump has provided a glimpse into a gloomier future, one of lies, ethnic division, authoritarianism, and the ever-looming prospect of war. It’s fair to say that most outside the US are counting down the days, like a prisoner scratching marks onto the wall, waiting for Trump to be gone, so that the world might feel steadier, and safer, again.