A Masterful , and Unsettling, Spy Novel

In The Black Widow, Daniel Silva brings back the hero of several previous thrillers—the Israeli superspy-cum-art restorer Gabriel Allon, who vanquishes enemies and wins women with equal ease—to do battle against Islamic State, which, at the novel’s beginning, bombs a French conference on anti-Semitism. While Adam Kirsch deems the book satisfyingly thrilling, with plot twists, excitement, and suspense, he finds unsettling its perceptiveness about present-day reality:

The Black Widow . . . converge[s] with reality in ways that threaten the escapist pleasures it is supposed to offer. In an author’s note, Silva indicates that he finished The Black Widow after the Charlie Hebdo and Hypercacher massacres of January 2015. But the book must have been written before the even deadlier attacks in Paris last November, and in Brussels in March of this year, and the Orlando nightclub shooting this summer. In other words, Silva’s fictional IS bombing was preceded and followed by a string of real-life IS atrocities, some directed against Jews, others against gays, still others against random Europeans and Americans

The intensely present reality of IS terrorism means that Silva’s fictional treatment of it has a difficult choice to make. The thriller form strongly pushes for a happy ending: somehow, we want and expect Gabriel Allon to track down [the perpetrator], thwart the next bombing, and put an end to the IS threat. As readers, we want to suspend our disbelief. But how can we, in the face of daily headlines that bring more and more violence? . . . How can a fictional hero conquer an actual threat?

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Arts & Culture, Fiction, Islamic State, Israel & Zionism, Mossad, Terrorism

The Palestinian Authority Is Part of the Problem, Not the Solution

Jan. 31 2023

On Thursday, Palestinian Authority (PA) officials announced that they had ceased all security cooperation with Israel; the next two days saw two deadly terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. But the PA has in the past made numerous threats that it will sever its ties with the Israeli government, and has so far never made good on them. Efraim Inbar poses a different set of questions: does cooperation with Palestinian leaders who actively encourage—and provide financial incentives for—the murder of Jews really help Israel protect its citizens? And might there be a better alternative?

The PA leader Mahmoud Abbas seems unable to rule effectively, i.e., to maintain a modicum of law and order in the territories under his control. He lost Gaza to Hamas in 2007, and we now see the “Lebanonization” of the PA taking place in the West Bank: the emergence of myriad armed groups, with some displaying only limited loyalty to the PA, and others, especially the Islamists, trying to undermine the current regime.

[The PA’s] education system and media continue propagating tremendous hostility toward Jews while blaming Israel for all Palestinian problems. Security cooperation with Israel primarily concerns apprehending armed activists of the Islamist opposition, as the PA often turns a blind eye to terrorist activities against Israel. In short, Abbas and his coterie are part of the problem, not of the solution. Jerusalem should thus think twice about promoting efforts to preserve PA rule and prevent a descent into chaos while rejecting the reoccupation of the West Bank.

Chaos is indeed not a pleasant prospect. Chaos in the territories poses a security problem to Israel, but one that will be mitigated if the various Palestinian militias vying for influence compete with each other. A succession struggle following the death of Abbas could divert attention from fighting hated Israel and prevent coordination in the low-intensity conflict against it. In addition, anarchy in the territories may give Israel a freer hand in dealing with the terrorists.

Furthermore, chaos might ultimately yield positive results. The collapse of the PA will weaken the Palestinian national movement, which heretofore has been a source of endemic violence and is a recipe for regional instability in the future.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror