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Bold decisions: Three Israeli Prime Ministers who went against their grain

Israel’s short and turbulent political history is punctuated by critical decisions both taken and not taken by its leaders. In 1948, David Ben Gurion carried his associates with him to declare statehood and independence, disregarding the uncertain odds and Secretary Marshall’s dire admonition. In the aftermath of June 1967 war, Levy Eshkol’s government coping with a complex new reality failed to make a decision regarding the disposition of the territories captured in the Sinai, the Golan Heights, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Middle Eastern Studies: A Celebration

Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 50, no. 6 (2014), page 851.

The late Elie Kedourie and his wife Sylvia G. Haim (Kedourie) have had a profound dual impact on Middle Eastern studies: as authors and editors of the most significant books and essays in the field and as founders and editors of the premier journal in the field, Middle Eastern Studies.


Ethnic politics in the Levant: A fresh perspective on the political careers of Zaki al-Arsouzi, Suleiman al-Murshid, and Antun Sa'adeh

Article published in: Meir Litvak and Bruce Maddy-Weitzman (editors), Nationalism, Identity and Politics: Israel and the Middle East – Studies in Honor of Prof. Asher Susser. Tel Aviv University: The Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, 2014, pp. 13-28.

The Levant and the Fertile Crescent are in turmoil. These terms refer to two overlapping geographical entities. In its broadest sense, the term "Levant" refers to the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, but it is normally used in a narrower sense to designate the coastal area of Syria and Lebanon. The term "Fertile Crescent" refers to the relatively fertile area that surrounds the Arabian and Syrian deserts and comprises Iraq in addition to Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian territories. Iraq, Syria and Lebanon conform to the definition of a "failed state." Since the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the destruction of Saddam Hussein's regime, and certainly since its departure in December 2011, the country has in fact been divided into three. Syria, since the outbreak of the crisis there in March 2011, is in a state of civil war and the government's effective control is limited to less than half of the country's territory. In Lebanon, Hezbollah is more powerful than the state. It has demonstrated its ability to take over the country but prefers not to do so and instead to continue to operate under the umbrella of the Lebanese state.

A Jewish State in an Arab World

Israel is facing a new and changing regional order in the Middle East. How will it respond?

Editor’s note: The following article is an excerpt from The Great Unraveling: The Remaking of the Middle East(Hoover), a series of essays by several distinguished Middle Eastern experts.

Israel looks at the Arab turmoil through a fractured lens: that of a powerful but anxious state, an important actor in Middle Eastern politics not fully integrated in the region, at peace with some Arab states and in conflict with other parts of the Arab and Muslim world.

The Changing of the Tide in the Syrian Civil War

INSS Insight No. 499, December 17, 2013

The tide is changing in the Syrian civil war. Bashar al-Assad and his regime are gaining momentum, the opposition is weakening, and some of its major traditional supporters seem to be reconsidering their position. These new trends influence the options available to those advocating transition to a more democratic and moderate regime in Syria as well as those who are primarily interested in the stability of the country and the region. As matters stand now, there does not seem to be a military solution, certainly not a desirable one, to the crisis. The opposition, which in 2012 and early 2013 seemed able to defeat the regime, now seems unable to achieve this. The regime has momentum on its side, but its prospect of reestablishing itself effectively throughout Syria is dim. A political diplomatic solution is the best option but it is doubtful that given his recent momentum, as well as Russian and Iranian support, Assad would be willing to step down.


The Regional Ramifications of Morsi's Removal from Power

The Caravan, July 31, 2013

Morsi’s removal from power and the exacerbation of the conflict over Egypt’s identity and political future add yet another compounding element to the murky arena of Middle Eastern regional politics.

Religion, Nation, and State in the Middle East: An Overview

Itamar Rabinovich, “Religion, Nation, and State in the Middle East: An Overview.” In: Anita Shapira, Yedidia Z. Stern and Alexander Yakobson (editors), The Nation State and Religion: The Resurgence of Faith, Vol. II (Sussex Academic Press, 2013), pp. 74-84.

In 1961, the Harvard political scientist Nadav Safran published an influential book titled Egypt in Search of Political Community.[1] The book described and analyzed the conflict over Egypt’s identity between contending schools, primarily a liberal-secular territorial concept of the Egyptian state and Arab and Islamist ones. Safran’s terminology and analysis provide an excellent point of departure for an essay seeking to offer an overview of the relationship between nation, religion, and state in the Middle East.

The American Advantage


The American Advantage: How Diversity, Autonomy and Philanthropy Define the U.S. University Model

by Itamar Rabinovich and C Wright Mills, The American Interest 4. 5 (May/Jun 2009): 74-81.


Because the scope of competition has expanded much faster than have universities, it has become on balance more difficult to meet the quest for higher education in particularly lucrative fields in a way that harmonizes with national goals. [...] it is the autonomy, scope of private governance and widespread social devotion to both philanthropy and well-financed higher education in the United States that ensures the global superiority of its institutions of higher learning, and these are cultural characteristics that other countries will be hard-pressed to replicate.


Israel Steps Into Syria

Foreign Affairs, February 6, 2013

Last week, after two years of watching the Syria crisis unfold with quiet unease [1], Israel departed from its policy of restraint and staged an aerial raid near Damascus. The facts are still murky. Israel issued no statement and took no responsibility for the strike, although Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, speaking at a major security conference in Munich, came close to conceding involvement. The Syrian government, however, was swift to announce and condemn an Israeli raid on a "research center" in the vicinity of Damascus, as did the regime's allies, Iran and Hezbollah. The international and Israeli press speculated that Israel had attacked a convoy of game-changing ground-to-air missiles that were about to be transferred by Syria to Hezbollah and that may have been stationed in that "research center" on their way to Lebanon. 

Alawite Secessionism in Historical Perspective

Tel Aviv Notes, vol. 7, no. 1, January 10, 2013


Nearly two years after the outbreak of what has become the Syrian civil war, it is evident that Bashar al-Asad’s regime is doomed. It is still not certain when the regime will finally collapse or be toppled, how precisely this is going to happen and what future can be expected for the Syrian state. Is some form of agreement between elements of the regime and the opposition still feasible? Will the political opposition, most of whose members reside abroad, be able to form a new regime, or will power be taken by the militias inside Syria who bore the brunt of the rebellion? Several analysts wonder whether Syria will remain a unitary state, at least in the short run. Most scenarios envisaging a break-up of the Syrian state predict an Alawite withdrawal to the mountains along the coast in northwestern Syria and Kurdish autonomy in the northeast.