All posts tagged: Israel Defense Forces

My Hope for a Better Future in Gaza

My Hope for a Better Future in Gaza

On July 1, 2005, as I was getting into a taxi leaving my family’s home in Gaza City and heading to the United States as a 15-year-old exchange student, I poked my head out of the car’s window and told my dad to keep my room nice for when I came back. He replied, “Inshallah, it’ll be better than when you left it.” I’ve never been back to Gaza. My dad, a former United Nations physician in the Jabalia refugee camp, died in 2020; the medical care that might have saved his life was not available in Gaza. In October, an Israeli air strike destroyed my family’s home. Last month, a different air strike destroyed the building in Rafah that housed much of my mother’s family, killing dozens, and wiping out what was effectively my second home. The Israeli military operation launched in response to Hamas’s horrific October 7 attacks has done far more than degrade the group’s fighting capability. It has killed thousands of people, leveled entire neighborhoods, destroyed cities, decimated civilian infrastructure, and …

Israel’s Two Other Fronts – The Atlantic

Israel’s Two Other Fronts – The Atlantic

Recently, I drove along Israel’s northern border, west to east. To my American sensibility, it is the best road trip in Israel—a 90-minute version of a trip that would take many hours on California back roads—from the ocean through scrubby hills and finally to the Golan Heights. These days there is no illusion of peace, and every few miles I was reminded that across the border in Lebanon is Hezbollah, a threat that would make Hamas look like a nasty but minor nuisance by comparison. At checkpoints, I was forbidden from turning left, toward the border, because the Israel Defense Forces had evacuated the area out of concern over Hezbollah rockets and raids. I was stuck behind military transport trucks in low gear as I gained altitude. When I stopped near Mitzpe Hila, I heard, or rather felt, a ka-chunk, as the IDF fired artillery at Lebanon. The residents of that village told me these booms were a regular occurrence, and I could tell they were not kidding, because only I startled when the next …

Israel’s Two Other Fronts – The Atlantic

Hamas Doesn’t Want a Cease-Fire

Recently, I drove along Israel’s northern border, west to east. To my American sensibility, it is the best road trip in Israel—a 90-minute version of a trip that would take many hours on California back roads—from the ocean through scrubby hills and finally to the Golan Heights. These days there is no illusion of peace, and every few miles I was reminded that across the border in Lebanon is Hezbollah, a threat that would make Hamas look like a nasty but minor nuisance by comparison. At checkpoints, I was forbidden from turning left, toward the border, because the Israel Defense Forces had evacuated the area out of concern over Hezbollah rockets and raids. I was stuck behind military transport trucks in low gear as I gained altitude. When I stopped near Mitzpe Hila, I heard, or rather felt, a ka-chunk, as the IDF fired artillery at Lebanon. The residents of that village told me these booms were a regular occurrence, and I could tell they were not kidding, because only I startled when the next …

The Right-Wing Israeli Campaign to Resettle Gaza

The Right-Wing Israeli Campaign to Resettle Gaza

In 2005, Israel forcibly removed more than 8,000 Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip and ceded the territory to Palestinian control. But far from ushering in an era of peace, the Israeli exodus kicked off a new stage of the region’s conflict. Hamas took over the strip and turned it into a launching pad for rocket attacks on Israeli population centers, while Gaza’s evicted settlers began advocating for Israel to retake and resettle the territory. Today, for the first time in nearly two decades, this aspiration is no longer a fantasy. That’s not to say the Israeli public would welcome such a move. This week, a Hebrew University poll found that Israelis oppose efforts to resettle Gaza after the current war, by a commanding margin of 56 to 33 percent. This consensus accords with both U.S. policy and the official stance of the Israeli government. Turning back the clock and rebuilding Gaza’s Israeli communities, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently said, is “not a realistic goal.” Most Israelis know that constructing and protecting small Jewish enclaves …

The Poets of Palestine – The Atlantic

The Poets of Palestine – The Atlantic

Recently reading through the cookbook Jerusalem, I was struck by an observation made by its co-authors, an Israeli chef and a Palestinian chef, in their introduction. Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi write that food “seems to be the only unifying force” in Jerusalem, a city claimed as the capital of both Israel and Palestine. Despite their cuisine’s fraught history, the chefs consider preparing meals to be a uniquely human act—an unspoken language shared between two people who might otherwise be enemies. I was flipping through Jerusalem rather than scrolling through news updates about the Middle East. I found comfort in the co-authors’ attitude of community, especially when many conversations on social media, in mainstream U.S. coverage, and in real life threaten to turn the lost lives of the Israel-Hamas war into abstractions. I quietly leave the room whenever the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is casually discussed at work or among friends, because I do not want to treat death as a watercooler topic of conversation. I am the son of Palestinian immigrants, and I have …

A stubborn workplace holiday tradition

A stubborn workplace holiday tradition

This is an edition of The Atlantic Daily, a newsletter that guides you through the biggest stories of the day, helps you discover new ideas, and recommends the best in culture. Sign up for it here. So much can go wrong at an office holiday party. And yet … see you in the break room at 5:30. First, here are three new stories from The Atlantic: A Baked-In Norm Many Americans have reconsidered the role of work in their lives in recent years. Is your office your family? No. Are your co-workers your friends? Not necessarily. Are you all still expected at the holiday party in the break room at 5:30? Yes. For some, sipping complimentary eggnog and listening to Mariah Carey with co-workers is a delight. For others, the office holiday party is a form of personal purgatory. These gatherings can be polarizing, but even through the profound cultural shifts of the past few years, the tradition of the white-collar holiday party endures. The office holiday party is a vestige of a time when …

A Plan for the Day After in Gaza

A Plan for the Day After in Gaza

On the day after Israel’s stunning victory in the June 1967 war, Yitzhak Rabin reportedly wrote about the need to “turn the fruits of this war into peace.” Rabin, who as chief of staff had masterminded the strategy and tactics that made the Israel Defense Forces so remarkably successful, understood that a conflict that ends without peace is merely an interregnum until the next war breaks out. Israeli and American policy makers should heed this lesson as they think about the day after the war against Hamas in Gaza. Significant differences already exist among the key parties. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talks of taking on a long-term security responsibility in Gaza, and has seemingly ruled out the return of the Palestinian Authority to govern the territory. American President Joe Biden rejects any extended Israeli presence and argues for resuming efforts to create a two-state peace settlement. The U.S. secretary of state, Antony Blinken, wants a revitalized Palestinian Authority to resume control over Gaza. The PA’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, agrees with Blinken but argues that …

Harvard’s President Should Resign – The Atlantic

Harvard’s President Should Resign – The Atlantic

Maresuke Nogi was always his own toughest critic. Emperor Meiji trusted him and appointed him to high military posts in Japan: general in the imperial army, governor-general of Taiwan. But we all make mistakes, and Nogi’s lapses gnawed at him. Twice he requested the emperor’s leave to commit ritual suicide. Each time, the emperor refused. In Nogi’s home, now a quiet shrine in a Tokyo meadow, you can see pictures of Nogi reading the newspaper on September 13, 1912, the morning of his boss’s funeral. No one was left to stop him. Near the photo you can see the sword he used later that day to disembowel himself. I raise the example of General Nogi to encourage present-day leaders (military, political, educational) to take a much more modest step. They should offer to resign—often, and both in times of trouble and in times of calm. This weekend, the president of the University of Pennsylvania, Liz Magill, did the honorable thing, and the chair of Penn’s board, Scott Bok, followed his kōhai’s example shortly after. Magill …

Three Lessons Israel Should Have Learned in Lebanon

Three Lessons Israel Should Have Learned in Lebanon

We are a month into Israel’s war on Hamas in Gaza. The ferocity of Israel’s response to the murder of more than 1,400 Israeli citizens has been such that international concern for the Palestinians of Gaza—half of whom, or more than 1 million, are children under the age of 15—has now largely eclipsed any sympathy that might have been felt for the victims of the crimes that precipitated the war in the first place. Israel has a right to defend itself, and it has a right to seek to destroy, or at least severely degrade, the primary perpetrator of the attacks of October 7, Hamas. I am unconvinced, however, that Israel’s strategy is sound. Specifically, I am worried that Israel has staked out maximalist objectives, not for the first time, and will, as it did in 2006 against Hezbollah in Lebanon, fall far short of those objectives, allowing the enemy to claim a victory—a Pyrrhic victory, to be sure, but a victory nonetheless. I spent a lot of time with the Israel Defense Forces while …

The Hostages of Kibbutz Nir Oz

The Hostages of Kibbutz Nir Oz

Earlier this week, while walking through central Jerusalem, I heard a chant in the distance. War has driven away tourists, and in a tourist city without tourists, sounds carry far. The discernible portion of the chant was a single word in Hebrew, akshav—“now.” I followed the sound to Safra Square, where a crowd had gathered, yelling in sorrow and fury, to protest the kidnapping of more than 240 people, most of them Israelis, by Hamas. Survivors from Kibbutz Nir Oz (which lost a quarter of its population in the October 7 pogrom) had taken over Safra Square and installed an exhibit consisting of beds, neatly made, for each of the hostages currently in Gaza. They were arranged in a grid. Some were queen beds. Others were singles. Some had books on nightstands nearby. Several were IKEA cribs, for the dozens of children among the captives. One didn’t need to know even that one word of Hebrew to figure out what the crowd was demanding—the return of the hostages, without delay—and what it was promising: the …