Tanya Reinhart

Israel's "New Middle East"

Israel is not sacrificing its soldiers and citizens only to please the Bush administration. The “new Middle East” has been a dream of the Israeli ruling military circles since at least 1982, when Sharon led the country to the first Lebanon war with precisely this declared goal. Hezbollah’s leaders have argued for years that its real long-term role is to protect Lebanon, whose army is too weak to do this. They have said that Israel has never given up its aspirations for Lebanon and that the only reason it pulled out of Southern Lebanon in 2000 is because Hezbollah’s resistance has made maintaining the occupation too costly. 

What are they fighting for?

Whatever may be the fate of the captive soldier Gilad Shalit, the Israeli army’s war in Gaza is not about him. As senior security analyst Alex Fishman widely reported, the army was preparing for an attack months earlier and was constantly pushing for it, with the goal of destroying the Hamas infrastructure and its government. The army initiated an escalation on 8 June when it assassinated Abu Samhadana, a senior appointee of the Hamas government, and intensified its shelling of civilians in the Gaza Strip. The capture of the soldier released the safety-catch, and the operation began on 28 June. 

A Week of Israeli Restraint

In Israeli discourse, Israel is always presented as the side exercising restraint in its conflict with the Palestinians. In the past week, it was “leaked” that the Israeli Minister of Defense had directed the army to show restraint. During the past week of Israeli restraint, the army killed a Palestinian family who went on a picnic on the Beit Lahya beach in the Gaza Strip; after that, the army killed nine people in order to liquidate a Katyusha rocket. 

The Hamas Government Should be Recognized

The U.S. and Europe decided, despite Israel’s opposition, to permit the Palestinian people to hold democratic elections. According to Jimmy Carter’s report in the “Herald Tribune”, the elections were “honest, fair, strongly contested, without violence and with the results accepted by winners and losers. Among the 62 elections that have been monitored by… the Carter Center, these are among the best in portraying the will of the people.” In a just and well-ordered world, it would be unthinkable for a government that was elected in this way to be disqualified because Israel does not like the choice of the electorate in question. 

Sharon's Legacy in Action

At the present, the Western world seems still under the spell of the legend of Ariel Sharon, who, so the story goes, has brought a gigantic change in Israeli policy - from expansion and occupation to moderation and concessions - a vision to be further implemented by his successor, Ehud Olmert. Since the evacuation of the Gaza Strip settlements, the dominant Western narrative has been that Israel has done its part towards ending the occupation and declared its readiness to take further steps, and that now it is the Palestinians’ turn to show that they are able to live in peace with their well-intending neighbor. 

"According to security sources": What remains of the Israeli media

In the 1960s, there were many jokes in Israel about the “Voice of the UAR (United Arab Republic) from Cairo”, which broadcasted news in broken Hebrew, written by spokesmen of the Egyptian regime. The absurdity of these broadcasts enhanced the credibility of the IDF spokesmen in our eyes. Today, we are not all that far from the “Voice of the UAR” ourselves, and in fluent IDF Hebrew. Tanya Reinhart reports. 

Why Us? On the academic boycott

A boycott decision — like that passed by Britain’s Association of University Teachers to boycott two Israeli universities — naturally raises a hue and cry among Israelis. Why us? And why now just when negotiations with the Palestinians might be renewed? In the eyes of the world, the question is what can be done when the relevant institutions do not succeed in enforcing international law? The boycott model is drawn from the past: South Africa also disregarded UN resolutions. At that time as well, the UN (under pressure from the United States), was reluctant to impose immediate sanctions. 

Behind the smoke screen of the Gaza pullout

Ariel Sharon travelled to the United States as a hero of peace, as if he had already evacuated Gaza and only the follow-up remained to be worked out. What has completely disappeared from the public agenda is what is happening, meanwhile, in the West Bank. Behind the smoke screen of disengagement, a process of slow and hidden transfer is being carried out in the West Bank today. Tel Aviv University professor Tanya Reinhart looks at recent developments. 

The Israeli Left is Opting for Suicide

To judge by the political discourse, being a leftist today means supporting Ariel Sharon. Even when his government decides yet again to postpone the evacuation of the illegal outposts to an unknown future date, the pundits explain that the mere fact that he even raised the matter for discussion in the government is indicative of the seriousness of his intentions. Sharon will evacuate Gaza first, they say, and afterwards the outposts, and in the end maybe even the West Bank. And those who believe the most that Sharon will dismantle settlements are the Leftist parties. 

From Aqaba to Sharm: Fake Peace Festivals

The Sharm El-Sheikh summit of Sharon and Abbas is hailed in the Western media as the opening of a new era. This is the climax of a wave of optimism that has been generated since the death of Arafat. In the last four years, the Israeli leadership singled Arafat out as the main obstacle for peace. Adopting the Israeli perspective, the media world believes that his departure would enable a renewal of the peace process. This, in the media world, is coupled with the faith that Israel is finally led by a man of peace. Sharon, who might have had some problems in the past, so the story goes, has changed his skin, and now he is leading Israel to painful concessions. Tanya Reinhart comments.