Bernard Avishai

Bernard Avishai, the author of The Tragedy of Zionism, is a senior fellow at the Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University.

Recent Articles

Tribal Warfare

O n June 18, in broad daylight, Palestinian gunmen in a yellow taxi overtook Danny Yehuda--the father of three--as he drove on a highway near Homesh, a small Jewish settlement overlooking Nablus, the West Bank's largest city, and shot him to death at point-blank range. Taking responsibility for Yehuda's execution was a group calling itself "Battalions of the victim Thabet Thabet." The organization claimed to be avenging the death of Dr. Thabet Ahmed Thabet of Tul Karm, who until last December, when he was gunned down by undercover Israeli forces, had been a dentist and director-general of the Palestinian Authority's health ministry. In killing Thabet, the Israelis were apparently retaliating for a terrorist attack in the coastal town of Netanya just hours earlier, though nobody has established a connection between Thabet and the fatal explosion. A profile in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz later revealed that Thabet and his wife had been open advocates of peaceful negotiation with...

Clinton's Darkness At Noon

H e felt like the hero of Darkness at Noon , President Clinton confessed to a friend last January after the Lewinsky scandal broke. One can only surmise that he felt ground down, in the particular way of a political man—in this case, as one set up for a show trial, much like Nicolas Rubashov, the protagonist of Arthur Koestler's 1941 novel. There is something endearing about a president who will risk any literary reference to describe his state of mind, let alone one to a book that, although justly famous in its time—it was Koestler's homage to Stalin's purged—is now not much seen outside of core curriculum reading lists. In this case, however, the allusion may have been even more apt, and gently self-indicting, than Mr. Clinton intended. What is the book about? Rubashov, former commissar and still notorious dialectician, has been arrested for allegedly conspiring against Number One—something he has not done, though residual compassion for some of the people he's rubbed out has been...

Post-Zionist Israel

Benny Morris, a professor of history at Ben-Gurion University, and Avi Shlaim, a professor of history at Oxford, have come to be thought of as mainstays among Israel's New Historians, a term reminiscent of America's Revisionist school, which came into its own during the late 1960s. Back then, William Appleman Williams particularly captured the imagination of Vietnam-era peace intellectuals and historians. His book The Tragedy of American Diplomacy challenged the official view of the Southeast Asian war as a noble next step in containing communism. Rather, Williams witnessed American power tending to rescue landlords in the developing world, and took this to be evidence for the entrapment of American leaders in residual ideological and institutional forces after World War II, including a triumphal secular religion deriving from the prestige (and interests) of American business. What justified free enterprise at home presumably justified it everywhere; the appeal for complexity,...

Social Compact, Version 2.0

Responsible companies promise to uphold higher values. Yet the new economy makes it harder than ever for companies to take on a broader social role -- that's hwy we invented government.

A re companies custodians of social values? For those of us raised somewhere between the invention of steam power and The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit , "corporate values" suggests a forlorn hope. But times, apparently, are not what they were. In February, Upside magazine featured an emblematic statement by Paul Saffo, the widely admired analyst of business technology based at Menlo Park's Institute for the Future, a Silicon Valley fixture: The high-tech industry, Saffo told an interviewer, has been "too immature, too young, to realize it had social obligations. But that's changed. There's a lot of social consciousness coming up, and a lot of sense of responsibility spreading out." Responsibility for what? "Haves and have-nots is a big issue," Saffo continued. "Mitch Kapor [the founder of Lotus Development Corporation] frames it as 'knows' and 'know-nots.'" And how to distribute knowledge, including access to knowledge, so that everyone can be "enfranchised" members of society? Saffo...