How Americans Misunderstand the Middle East, and Israel

Discussing the current state of Middle East scholarship, Martin Kramer explains what he believes to be the biggest source of American misunderstanding of the region, and of the Jewish state. (Interview by Lee Smith.)

Americans tend to assume that everyone wants democracy, and that more democracy is the solution for dysfunctional parts of the world. That’s no surprise: America has an admirable record in spreading it around the globe. But parts of the Middle East resist, and for good reason: democracy and its freedoms undercut the entire political, social, and moral order. So if you bring down a dictator, it’s not “mission accomplished.” It’s “mission complicated,” because you’ve unshackled all the genies that the dictator locked up, such as Islamism and sectarianism. . . .

[But] here’s the paradox. Americans sometimes forget that Israel really is a democracy, a vibrant one. Israel’s top leaders are sometimes faulted in America for not making “tough decisions” or taking “risks for peace.” But they’re politicians in a democracy; they answer to voters, and Israelis aren’t putty in anyone’s hands. There’s a lot of wisdom in the Israeli “crowd,” the common people. In almost every household, there are soldiers and reservists who know the realities surrounding Israel through first-hand experience. They’ve not just been brainwashed by a newspaper or a politician. The idea that someone can blindfold them and lead them to peace or war, or lure them away from democracy, is fundamentally misinformed.

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More about: Democracy, Israel & Zionism, Middle East, Politics & Current Affairs

Is There a Way Out of Israel’s Political Deadlock?

On Tuesday, leaders of the Jewish state’s largest political parties, Blue and White and Likud, met to negotiate the terms of a coalition agreement—and failed to come to an agreement. If none of the parties in the Knesset succeeds in forming a governing coalition, there will be a third election, with no guarantee that it will be more conclusive than those that preceded it. Identifying six moves by key politicians that have created the deadlock, Shmuel Rosner speculates as to whether they can be circumvented or undone:

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Election 2019, Israeli politics