Daniel Levy

Daniel Levy is a senior fellow and director of the Middle East Task Force at the New America Foundation and is an editor of ForeignPolicy.com's Middle East Channel.

Recent Articles

Obama Gets Real on Israel

President Obama gave the United States some credibility on the Middle East yesterday, but that doesn't mean his speech was perfect.

Barack Obama President Barack Obama Delivers Speech On Mideast And North Africa Policy. (Rex Features via AP Images)
The Israel-Palestine issue was probably not intended to be the headline item from President Barack Obama's long-awaited speech on the Middle East yesterday, yet it is in danger of becoming so following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's aggressive push-back. The section of the speech Obama devoted to Israeli-Palestinian peace adopted a position for which some advocacy groups and commentators, including in the Israeli press, have been advocating for the past year. First, Obama focused on setting parameters for borders and security, and he spoke in specific language he had not used before: "The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states." Providing clarity on the 1967 lines hardly falls into the category of eyebrow-raising breakthroughs, but in the world of almost Talmudic analysis of presidential texts on Israel-Palestine, Obama's speech did offer something new...

A Path to Peace

It's time to take America's Middle East policy off autopilot and change our approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

President Barack Obama tours the Sultan Hassan Mosque with Iman Abdel Fateh and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Cairo, Egypt, June 4, 2009. (White House/Pete Souza)
About three years ago, it looked like the United States might be emerging from its long neoconservative night to play a constructive role in ending the Israeli-Palestinian and broader Israeli-Arab conflicts. In December 2006, the Iraq Study Group, a congressionally commissioned panel of elder statesmen led by James Baker and Lee Hamilton, issued a pointed rebuke of Bush administration policy in the region. The significance of their report, however, lay not in the minutiae of strategy and tactics discussed but rather in its endorsement of a long-denied truth: American efforts to stabilize Iraq would require support from allies in the region, which in turn would be decisively influenced by America's ability to seriously address the Palestinian and Israeli-Arab conflicts. The Bush administration had long resisted that equation, influenced as it was by the neoconservatives and their often Likudist-inspired Middle East worldview. The conflict and the accumulating grievances that it has...

Political Islam 101

Three books administration officials should read as they attempt to deal with the Middle East in all its messy nuance.

Engaging the Muslim World by Juan Cole Palgrave MacMillan, 282 pages, $26.95 Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East by Rashid Khalidi, Beacon Press, 308 pages, $25.95 Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East by Robin Wright, Penguin Press, 464 pages, $26.95 Few if any foreign-policy challenges will command the attention of the Obama administration more than those emanating from the broader Middle East. The scars of the Bush years are deepest there, adding to a long history of mutual suspicion between America and the Muslim world. As a step toward overcoming that distrust, President Obama has said he would deliver a keynote address to the Muslim world in a Muslim capital during his first 100 days in office (though we shouldn't be surprised if that deadline slips). Among the people of the region there is a fragile sense of hope for a changed relationship because of who Barack Hussein Obama is and, perhaps even more, because of who he is not--...

Israel at 60

To understand the co-existence of modern, cosmopolitan Israel with the Israel of permanent violent occupation, it's important to understand that Israel has locked itself into a box of fear. And that fear has become a danger in itself.

I don't often, or ever really, write about my own relationship to Israel or how I ended up there, but I'll make an exception for its 60th anniversary. My relationship with Israel started at the time of the ‘good' Iraq war. You remember, the Iraq war whose ambitions were limited to ensuring continued access to Kuwaiti oil -- not the contemporary trifecta effort to own the oil, change the regime, and transform the region. In January of 1991 I was working in London as the political officer of the Union of Jewish Students, arguing Israel's case on campus (and attempting to do so from within as liberal a discourse as could be summoned for the occasion). When Tel Aviv came under scud missile attack from Iraq, I signed up for one of the Jewish community's solidarity missions and went off to Israel to receive my obligatory gas mask and, well, kill time in between the curfews and sirens. The Tel Aviv that I came to love -- and that I now consider to be my home -- was displaying its customary...

A Middle East Report Card

With the clock running out on the Bush administration, can late efforts amount to actual progress in the Middle East? Is the Annapolis process doomed, or can Sec. Rice finally make some progress?

Condoleezza Rice has just completed her 14th Middle East visit in 15 months and her third since the Annapolis Conference. The Annapolis effort is scheduled to last one year, wrapping up at the end of the Bush term, but with four months gone, the scorecard makes for predictably depressing reading. Economic conditions and freedom of movement in the West Bank have, if anything, deteriorated -- settlements are expanding, not a single outpost has been dismantled, and Israelis and Palestinians are less secure. Leaders on both sides -- Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas -- have been kept alive politically (and that admittedly was not a given), but they are still in a precariously fragile state. The Israeli or Palestinian public barely believe in the process, but still, the Bush administration continues to tout its goal of a breakthrough agreement by year-end. President Bush will visit the Middle East in May, and Rice even notched up some minor progress on this trip. So where do things stand, and...

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