When the PLO Research Center Defended the Talmud

In 1965, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) created a research center in Beirut, and among its tasks was trying to understand Jews, Zionism, and Israel (a far cry from the current situation, in which it is almost impossible to study Hebrew at an Arab university). The center’s publications included a translation into Arabic of an English-language anthology of key Zionist writings and a book called The Talmud and Zionism, whose author—after reading an English translation of the Talmud—provided a tractate-by-tractate summary and argued that it was not the nefarious text Arabs imagined it to be. With Dovid Bashevkin, Jonathan Gribetz discusses these and other surprising findings from his research into Palestinian perceptions of Israel.

Near the end of their conversation, Gribetz talks about his experience teaching Israeli and Palestinian history at Princeton. (Audio, 78 minutes. A transcript is available at the link below.)

Read more at 18Forty

More about: Israel on campus, Israeli history, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Talmud


Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict