Martin Kramer

Martin Kramer is a historian at Tel Aviv University and the Walter P. Stern fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He served as founding president at Shalem College in Jerusalem.

Why the Israeli Declaration of Independence Is So Popular

In part it is because Israelis have a higher regard for the people who wrote it than for the politicians they now elect to office.

Nov. 29 2021 12:01AM

How Israel’s Declaration of Independence Became Its Constitution

Israel’s founders made little of the declaration at the time. It took decades of work by figures of widely different political stripes to make it the towering document it is today.

Nov. 1 2021 12:01AM

Whose Rights Did Israel Recognize in 1948?

In all but one of the instances in which “rights” appear in the Israeli declaration, they refer to a collective right, not an individual one.

Sept. 23 2021 12:01AM

The Tel Hai Paradox

The record of Jabotinsky’s practical decisions allows his disciples to reach contradictory conclusions about what he really believed, especially about religion and settlement.

Aug. 23 2021 12:01AM

Did the UN Create Israel?

On May 14, 1948, Israel’s founders wanted to emphasize to the world that while the Jewish people had been born in the Land of Israel, its state was the adopted child of the United Nations.

Aug. 10 2021 12:02AM

Was Menachem Begin a Founder of Israel?

Israel’s sixth prime minister was a leader of consequence and achievement. But how does he relate to Israel’s origins?

July 22 2021 12:05AM

Did Israel’s Founders Declare a Secular State?

Going by the usual telling of the founding, religious and secular Jews clashed over whether Israel’s declaration should evoke God’s covenantal promise. How accurate is that account?

July 20 2021 12:00AM

Why Israel Is Called Israel and Not Judea

The name Israel came by a process of elimination, because there wasn’t time to come up with anything better.

June 10 2021 12:17AM

Three Weeks in May: How the Israeli Declaration of Independence Came Together

The declaration came together so hurriedly that if the drafters had argued for even a few hours more it would have read much differently.

May 19 2021 12:08AM

The Most Significant Document Composed by Jews since Antiquity

The beginning of a new series investigating how the Israeli Declaration of Independence came about, and what the text reveals about the country it brought into being.

April 14 2021 12:20AM

David Friedman on How the Abraham Accords Came Together Behind the Scenes

The historian Martin Kramer interviews the former American ambassador to Israel in order to discover how the historic Middle East deals came together.

March 30 2021 12:01AM

The Significance of San Remo

Eugene Kontorovich thinks that the 1920 San Remo conference sits at the foundation of Israel’s legitimacy. Martin Kramer disagrees. Who’s right?

Feb. 15 2021 12:01AM

The Best Books of 2020, Chosen by Mosaic Authors (Part II)

Five more of our regular writers pick several favorites each, featuring what Jews are for, magicians, assassins, call signs, chaos, separated siblings, and more.

Dec. 17 2020 12:50AM

Did the San Remo Conference Advance or Undermine the Prospects for a Jewish State?

As a Jew, I wish that the resolution signed 100 years ago had been what today’s celebrants claim it was. As a historian of Israel, I must report that it was much less.

Dec. 1 2020 12:01AM

The Parallel Lives of David Ben-Gurion and Abdullah bin Hussein

Born within four years of each other, David Ben-Gurion and Abdullah bin Hussein emerged out of the same political womb to forge Israel and Jordan in battle. Both nations should be grateful.

Nov. 17 2020 12:01AM

Was the Balfour Declaration a Colonial Document?

So goes the accusation. But the public commitment Britain made to the Jews in Palestine is very different from the Sykes-Picot accord and other secret “treaties” carving up native lands.

Oct. 28 2020 12:01AM

The Most Expensive House in Israel

The American billionaire Sheldon Adelson just paid $87 million for the seaside residence of America’s ambassadors to Israel. The house has an interesting history.

Sept. 30 2020 12:01AM

The Misrepresentation of the Past in the Cinema

The dangers lurking in false portrayals of the Nazi official show why Holocaust films must be held to account.

June 29 2020 12:12AM

Kramer: The West Bank Was Annexed Once Before. It Ended in Regret.

A look at the ghost of annexation past.

June 25 2020 12:01AM

The Truth of the Capture of Adolf Eichmann

Sixty years ago, the infamous Nazi official was abducted in Argentina and brought to Israel. What really happened, what did Hollywood make up, and why?

June 1 2020 12:01AM

What "Bonaparte Visiting the Plague-Stricken in Jaffa" Teaches About Our Own Plague-Stricken Time

A famous and sorely misunderstood painting of Napoleon touching plague victims in Palestine illuminates the current moment.

April 21 2020 12:15AM

A Tribute to Mosaic’s Founding Editor

Some of Mosaic’s regular writers reflect on Neal Kozodoy and his accomplishments.

April 7 2020 12:01AM

Ben-Gurion at the Moment of Crisis

In 1948, he served as a stark counter-example to the view (which he mostly held) that history is driven by material factors and not by great leaders.

Feb. 24 2020 12:01AM

Ben-Gurion's Army: How the IDF Came into Being (and Almost Didn’t)

On the eve of Israel’s statehood in 1948, with the massed forces of five Arab nations threatening invasion, David Ben-Gurion picked a fight with his own army. Why?

Feb. 3 2020 12:01AM

The Best Books of 2019, Chosen by Mosaic Authors (Part II)

Six more Mosaic writers share their favorites, featuring shadow strikes, orchards, gleanings, constitutional evolutions and revolutions, serotonin, odd women, and more.

Dec. 19 2019 12:01AM

What Did (and Didn't) Happen in Room 16 of the American Colony Hotel

It’s said that the Oslo peace process was born in that room in Jerusalem in 1992. The truth is much different.

Dec. 16 2019 1:08AM

The Balfour Declaration and the Jewish Threat that Made Britain Honor It

How Zionist leaders held Britain to its promise of a Jewish national home.

Oct. 31 2019 12:01AM

Seven Black Swans in the Middle East

From the Yom Kippur War to the Arab Spring, events considered impossible happen in the Middle East with unusual frequency. Here are seven; when will the eighth appear?

Sept. 24 2019 12:57AM

Three Turning Points that Led to the Birth of the State of Israel

At each point—1897, 1917, and 1947—one Jewish leader appeared, and showed greatness.

May 7 2019 12:01AM

Where MLK Really Stood on Israel and the Palestinians

On Martin Luther King Day, the ghost of the great civil-rights leader was summoned to condemn Israel. The problem? While alive, King had plenty of opportunities to do so—and never did.

March 13 2019 12:01AM

Is the American Withdrawal from Syria a Disaster, or an Opportunity, or Something Else?

The inconstancy of America’s role in the Middle East is really no secret, either to its allies or to its enemies.

Jan. 21 2019 12:01AM

Israel's Situation Today Looks Much as Ben-Gurion Envisioned It

He wasn’t a prophet, but his strategies for Israel’s survival had a profound influence on leaders who came after him, left and right.

April 30 2018 12:01AM

The May 1948 Vote that Made the State of Israel

A long-accepted wisdom has it that just days before the state’s birth, its founders settled two burning issues in a pair of closely decided votes. The wisdom is half-wrong.

April 2 2018 12:01AM

How True is "The Crown" on the Suez Cover-Up?

In the hit showQueen Elizabeth II puts the British prime minister in check for his secret plan to attack Egypt. In real life, he was checkmated by David Ben-Gurion.

March 1 2018 12:01AM

A Defense Treaty between the United States and Israel? Just Say No

Israel’s independence has indeed eroded, and it must work to regain its freedom of maneuver. A defense treaty is the last thing it should want.

Feb. 22 2018 12:01AM

The Fantasy of an International Jerusalem

One-hundred years ago, over a lunch, the internationalization of Jerusalem became irrelevant—and it remains so.

Dec. 28 2017 12:01AM

Why the 1947 UN Partition Resolution Must Be Celebrated

As compared with the festivities surrounding the Balfour Declaration centenary, little attention has been paid to the 70th anniversary of the UN vote. This is a missed opportunity.


Nov. 27 2017 12:01AM

Who Saved Israel in 1947?

The usual answer is Truman—but it could just as easily be Stalin. In fact, thanks to Zionist diplomacy, it was both; and therein lies a lesson for the Jewish state today.

Nov. 6 2017 12:01AM

The Balfour Declaration Was More than the Promise of One Nation

By affirming the right of any Jew to call Palestine home, it also changed the international status of the Jewish people.

June 28 2017 12:01AM

The Forgotten Truth about the Balfour Declaration

For 100 years the British statement, which inaugurated Zionism’s legitimation in the eyes of the world, has been seen as the isolated act of a single nation. The truth is much different.

June 5 2017 12:01AM

Revenge of the Sunnis

Sunni Arabs have been losing their grip on the Arab heartland since the fall of the Ottoman empire; the moment of their revival is now.

July 18 2016 12:01AM

The Master Historian of the Middle East

An entire syllabus on the history of the Middle East could be compiled from the writings of Bernard Lewis. It will be a long time before the field will see another genius of his caliber.

June 27 2016 12:01AM

The Return of Bernard Lewis

Forty years ago, nobody foresaw the rise of radical Islam—except for the preeminent historian who both predicted and explained it, and much else besides. 

June 1 2016 12:01AM

How Independent Is Israel?

The Jewish state has grown dramatically over the last seven decades. But it enjoyed greater freedom of action in its earliest years, when it wasn’t so closely tied to the United States.

May 18 2016 12:01AM

Unspoken Reasons for the American Jewish Distancing from Israel

There are more Israeli Jews than ever, so they need American Jews less. And they don’t all look European, so American Jews might have trouble seeing them as “my people.”

April 14 2016 12:01AM

Falsifying the Six-Day War

As Censored Voices makes its American debut, my advice to American Jews is this: save your tears—the Six-Day War was decently waged and morally just.

July 27 2015 12:01AM

Who Censored the Six-Day War?

A splashy new documentary promises to expose the Israeli military’s censorship of atrocities committed in the 1967 war. What it exposes is its creators’ agenda.

July 6 2015 12:01AM

Fouad Ajami Goes to Israel

The Lebanese-born scholar knew more about the Jewish state than any Arab intellectual of his generation.

Jan. 8 2015 12:01AM

"Gaza = Auschwitz"

Holocaust inversion—the claim that Israelis are the new Nazis and Palestinians the new Jews—has come to the American university campus.

Aug. 26 2014 5:00PM

The Meaning of "Massacre"

The debate between Benny Morris and Martin Kramer over Israel's wartime conduct enters its second round.

July 28 2014 7:20PM

Distortion and Defamation

The treatment of Lydda by Ari Shavit and my respondent Benny Morris has consequences even they didn’t intend.

July 20 2014 10:00PM

What Happened at Lydda

In his celebrated new book, Ari Shavit claims that “Zionism” committed a massacre in July 1948. Can the claim withstand scrutiny?
July 1 2014 12:01AM

Beware an Alliance of the Weak

Even in a region that is unfree, Israel has shown that it can maintain liberty. There is no substitute for independent power.

Jan. 19 2014 8:06PM