Moshe Safdie’s Life in Architecture

A citizen of Israel, Canada, and the U.S. born into a Levantine Jewish family, Moshe Safdie is today one of the most distinguished living architects and urban planners. His works include the Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore, Ben-Gurion Airport’s Terminal 3, the Harvard University Hillel, and the National Gallery of Canada; he also helped to design Israel’s Merkavah tank. In a review of Safdie’s recently published memoir, Michael M. Rosen writes:

Born in 1938 in hilly Haifa in British Mandatory Palestine, Safdie came of age during Israel’s fight for independence. His earliest architectural experiences involved the contrast—still very much evident today—between the sleek, modernist downtown near the port, the vaulted, domed Arab villas of the lower city, and the Bauhaus-inflected buildings higher up the hill.

Adopting [a] modernist approach, Safdie unapologetically rejected both traditionalism and postmodernism. The modernists insisted that architecture “provide housing for masses of people, not just the affluent” and regard cities “as a holistic environment, not just a locus of a few grand public buildings,” in Safdie’s estimation.

Both [the Harvard Hillel] and Terminal 3 reflect Safdie’s profound commitment to merging function and form, to making public spaces accessible and useful while elevating and inspiring them, to unifying their distinct pieces.

Returning to his native Israel [after many years in North America], Safdie helped redesign the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem’s Old City, as well as the Mamilla neighborhood just outside its walls, a project that spanned more than three decades and has proved a smashing success. Mamilla has become a gorgeous gateway to the Old City, its terraces trickling down the biblical Valley of Hinnom, its combination of residences, hotels, and shopping representing, in Safdie’s words, “a rare example of a planned public space that performs as anticipated” and one of “the few places in Jerusalem where Arabs and Jews enjoy the city together.” Later, he would also redesign Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial and museum.

Read more at Arc Digital

More about: Architecture, Haifa, Jerusalem, Modernism


How America Sowed the Seeds of the Current Middle East Crisis in 2015

Analyzing the recent direct Iranian attack on Israel, and Israel’s security situation more generally, Michael Oren looks to the 2015 agreement to restrain Iran’s nuclear program. That, and President Biden’s efforts to resurrect the deal after Donald Trump left it, are in his view the source of the current crisis:

Of the original motivations for the deal—blocking Iran’s path to the bomb and transforming Iran into a peaceful nation—neither remained. All Biden was left with was the ability to kick the can down the road and to uphold Barack Obama’s singular foreign-policy achievement.

In order to achieve that result, the administration has repeatedly refused to punish Iran for its malign actions:

Historians will survey this inexplicable record and wonder how the United States not only allowed Iran repeatedly to assault its citizens, soldiers, and allies but consistently rewarded it for doing so. They may well conclude that in a desperate effort to avoid getting dragged into a regional Middle Eastern war, the U.S. might well have precipitated one.

While America’s friends in the Middle East, especially Israel, have every reason to feel grateful for the vital assistance they received in intercepting Iran’s missile and drone onslaught, they might also ask what the U.S. can now do differently to deter Iran from further aggression. . . . Tehran will see this weekend’s direct attack on Israel as a victory—their own—for their ability to continue threatening Israel and destabilizing the Middle East with impunity.

Israel, of course, must respond differently. Our target cannot simply be the Iranian proxies that surround our country and that have waged war on us since October 7, but, as the Saudis call it, “the head of the snake.”

Read more at Free Press

More about: Barack Obama, Gaza War 2023, Iran, Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy