© Getty Images
The Weekend Read
The Radical As the Vanguard of the Status Quo

The middle ground in the tragic conflict between Israel and the Palestinians will never be found by insisting on either radically partial Zionist or anti-Zionist narratives that ignore the basic facts.

Published on: August 3, 2014
show comments
  • Breif2

    I’ll be as polite as I can:

    There are on the internet several sites I generally avoid which make it a point to take on the radically partial narrative regarding the homeland of Heidegger and Hannah Arendt.

    No, I don’t believe Berkowitz is malicious. But this weekend, he would be well served to re-read George Orwell’s No, Not One.

  • oogabooga

    A new low in Berkowitz’s endless parade of moral equivalence pieces. Netanyahu’s reservations about Palestinian statehood are security based. Hamas’ opposition is openly ideological, as is Abbas’ refusal to relinquish the right of return.

    And why does Berkowitz keep promoting the anti-Zionist one-stater Nusseibeh as someone worth reading?

    • Fat_Man

      He seems to be an early 60s commie like his goddess, Hannah Arendt. The good news is that like her, he will soon be forgotten.

    • Pete

      ‘And why does Berkowitz keep promoting the anti-Zionist one-stater Nusseibeh as someone worth reading?’

      It is either because Berkowitz is either as fool or a coward — or maybe he’s both.

  • Fat_Man

    Hamas wants to exterminate the Jews. And Israel wants to destroy Hamas. The compromise is obvious: let Hamas kill half of the Jews and let Israel wipe out half of Hamas. Right, Roger?

    • FriendlyGoat

      Wouldn’t it be more reasonable to move either the Palestinians or the Israelis away from each other. Part joking and part not, why aren’t world Jews, world Christians, world Muslims and others raising a few hundred billion dollars to purchase 3% of Texas (an equivalent land area) and move the whole of Israel into it?

      • Ernst Bloefeld

        I could make a case for Canada to give the Jews a new homeland in Prince Edward Island. Take it all, live in peace. Sell Israel to the Saudi’s and take the dough to buy up new, well priced homes all over the Island. Please bring your Universities etc.

        I would mount a play; Anne of Green Gables, what a Mensch. Maybe a musical.

      • Pete

        Transfer the Palestinians to Jordan.

  • Anthony

    Peoples and Nations have a habit of thoroughly hating everyone’s nationalism but their own. Not moral equivalence or rationalization, but some conveniently forget that Irgun Zvai Leumi and the Stern Gang (the Lehi) in pre-1948 Israel had been labeled terrorists and worse. Perhaps author implicitly understands that all people (nations/groups) strive for survival and identity; and perhaps, Jews and Palestinians must conclude that either cannot be allowed to survive at the expense of the other. Now getting there…

  • wigwag

    Perhaps we shouldn’t be too critical of Roger Berkowitz; maybe his hallucinations aren’t entirely his fault. When Rashid Khalidi describes Gaza as a ghetto, Professor Berkowitz says Khalidi is making a “strong point,” but we shouldn’t forget that the author of this delusional essay also lives in a ghetto; its a ghetto called Bard.

    Many of his readers may be unaware of it, but Professor Berkowitz certainly knows that Bard is a hotbed of anti-Israel animus and an accessory to Jew-hatred. It was only a few months ago, that the leadership of Bard averted its eyes from the most hostile and anti-Semitic behavior taking place at its sister institution, Al Quds University in Jerusalem.

    Several years ago Brandeis University and Bard each established joint programs with Al Quds, which is well-known for its support of Hamas and its glorification of suicide bombing. On November 5, 2013 a demonstration celebrating suicide bombing and advocating the murder of Jews took place at the University. Demonstrators wearing black military gear, armed with fake automatic weapons marched while waving flags and raising the traditional Nazi salute. The demonstration took place in the main square of the Al-Quds campus, which was surrounded by banners depicting images of “martyred” suicide bombers.

    After the demonstration, the President of Brandeis asked the then President of Al Quds, who Berkowitz has praised on his blog, for an explanation. Rather than apologizing, President Nusseibeh (a favorite of the American left) issued a defiant statement defending the demonstration and refusing to apologize for the hatred. In fact, Nusseibeh suggested that only “Jewish extremists” could object to a demonstration where the Nazi salute was ubiquitous. The vile statement from President Nusseibeh can be read in its entirety here,


    After President Nusseibeh applauded the hate filled rally, Brandeis University suspended its relationship with Al Quds University; Bard on the other hand did nothing. If the President, the Administrators or the faculty at Bard were troubled in the least by the student’s behavior or President Nisseibeh’s reaction, you couldn’t tell by anything that they did; they did absolutely nothing. If Professor Berkowitz disagreed with his employer’s acquiescence to Jew-hatred he’s kept it a secret, at least to his loyal readers at the American Interest.

    This is the milieu in which Professor Berkowitz works; he’s surrounded by people who hate Israel, many of whom remain silent in the face of anti-Semitism; under these circumstances perhaps his insipid and vapid essay is the best we have a right to expect.

    By the way, there is an irony in all of this; actually, come to think of it, there is more than one. The President of Bard, Leon Botstein, is Jewish himself and has spent a considerable amount of time in Israel. He’s a first class musician who has conducted the Jerusalem Philharmonic on many occasions. Botstein holds a chair at Bard endowed by a well-known Jewish philanthropist, (now deceased) Leon Levy. Leon Botstein’s brother, David Botstein, is a highly respected molecular biologist on the faculty at Princeton who has spent quite a bit of time in Israel himself.

    Of course, its not entirely surprising that Leon Botstein couldn’t find it in himself to condemn an anti-Semitic rally at Bard’s sister institution, Al Quds nor could he rally the courage to criticize President Nusseibeh who has become an icon of the left. Botstein and his ilk are terrified of crossing their politically correct brethren and it strikes them as courageous to refuse to criticize the most hate-filled rants directed to their co-religionists.
    As for Professor Berkowitz himself; he directs a Center at Bard named for a Jew who fell in love with a Nazi.

    Think about it long enough, and none of this is really surprising.

  • LarryD

    Apply game theory, Hama wants Israel extinct, Israel wants to survive.

    There is no middle ground.

    This will continue until one side dies.

    Sir Lanka demonstrated that wars are still winnable, you just have to ignore all the functionaries who are invested in maintaining the status quo. Including the press.

  • jburack

    After posting on this site Jeffrey Herf’s powerful and clarifying explanation of the fascist nature of Hamas, making crystal clear the impossibility of finding any common ground with it, the moral muddiness of this piece is deeply disappointing. For all its efforts at nuance and “understanding,” it amounts to the same old tale of moral equivalence we get much more bluntly from the media daily. Both sides are to blame is what this analysis boils down to. Hence Berkowitz concludes by telling us that what we need are “leaders to emerge in both Gaza and in Israel who are willing and able to risk abandoning the comfort of radically one-sided narratives and forge a middle ground.” Given that Israel has worked hard to reach a two-state solution in 1948, in 2000, and in several other negotiations since, only to have its proposals flung aside for new upticks of violence, it is little short of amazing to think someone can fail to see that a great many Israeli leaders have taken risks of an enormous sort to reach some middle ground. After all, what does Berkowitz call the Israeli decision to withdraw every last Jew from Gaza itself in 2005? Not only withdraw, but leave behind an infrastructure of productive assets such as the 3,000 greenhouses, all quickly demolished by the supposedly “imprisoned” denizens of this ghetto of their own fashioning. Israel stood ready at that point to see Gaza thrive on its own and would have loved nothing better than to have that happen. The “middle ground” it offered, however, was used instead to plant missile launchers, rain rockets down on the no longer occupying Israelis, and then use imported cement to build terror tunnels into Israel. Perhaps Berkowitz might care to specify what other new middle ground he thinks will work instead of ones already proposed and tried. In the meantime, Israel needs to do what survival demands and wait for history to turn a new page.

  • Arkeygeezer

    When you attack another country with rockets, the other country has the right to attack you back. The people of Gaza support Hamas. There are no innocents in this struggle. Let them fight it out to the end. and let nature take its corse.
    That is the only way to end this carnage.

  • Duperray

    1950: North Koreans attacked South Korea. 1953: Cease-fire. But still 61 years after, to Peace has yet be signed, let’s alone discussed. But ther is no rockets launched towards S.Korea.
    1948: Israël attacked by palestinian displaced population ordered by UN. 70 years later situation is worse than in Korean paninsula.
    But N.Korea is left alone as if they were another planet.
    While Palestinian receives hell of cash “to survive” indeed “maintain their terrorist capabilities” with (UN) West cash.
    The more money we inject, the more aggressivity they can sustain.
    There is one thing West cannot understand: The weight of Religion. West has splitted apart Religion from public rule and obliges Religion to an remain individual matter with totally forbidding to influence others. Good.
    Islam has not changed since the beginning, 14centuries ago and ruling trend wahabbite made this point fundamental.
    For muslim believers they ought to plow under muslim self nominated “priests”. Those arabs or inhabitants of muslim countries cannot disobey, otherwise their fellow believer are obliged to take drastic action against, sometimes death.
    With this tightly knitted top-down rule, no one can escape but follow the instructions.
    For Gaza, Israël must be destroyed. Period, there is nothing to negociate, even if each person internally would reject this target and be ready to accomodate. It’s not a quiet life to be palestinian.
    Most of territories boundaries have been set by wars. Constantiple has been overcome by turkish muslim forces in 1453. It was the former “Vatican” of East Chritianity. Who in West + Russian world is claiming to recover this territory and kill its population?
    Jews were already in Jerusalem 19 centuries before muslims. Ousted since, they returned in force last cenrtury.
    Why UN shouts against them when attacked? Are they wanting to re-write the entire human history since the last glaciation 140,000 years ago?

  • Dan

    I’m so sick of hearing about things being ‘disproportional’ what this means is there are not enough dead Jews

  • Joe Eagar

    “.But as justified as Israel may be in defending itself, the disproportional extent of its response has shocked the world.”

    Why? The Israelis are acting very much like us Americans. Our drone strikes certainly produce just as much collateral damage. Why does the world tolerate this, but not Israeli incursions? To put it simplistically, why does the world care so much more about Palestinians than Pashtuns?

  • Joe Eagar

    For that matter, the Israelis are reacting to actual, recent rocket attacks and terrorist activities. Our drone strikes are entirely preemptive. That doesn’t mean they are right or wrong (the morality of American drone strikes is a topic unto itself), but it does highlight the strange hypocrisy of international opinion.

  • Bobby Babak

    to compare Gazans who ELECTED Hamas to the tune of 67% and who brainwash their children with anti-Jewish propaganda and hate to the genuinely freedom-seeking Revolutionaries who established a country based on Liberty and Rule of Law is an outrage. the arab gaza culture can in no way be compared to our Founding Fathers. It is an insult to do so.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.