quotes and sayings
3 min readNov 14, 2022

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  1. When people today say ‘racism,’ they mean it’s a nationalism they don’t like. Racialism used to be a good thing, a looking-out for what was best for one group… Israel comes out of that 19th-century idea of nationalism. Many Arab states also have preferences. It’s fundamentally unfair to decide that one is racism and the others aren’t.
  2. International peace and security depend on certain taboos that are easily recognized when they are broken. It can be more important for an intervention to take place because nuclear or chemical or biological weapons are used as opposed to just measuring how many people are killed.
  3. My academic specialization is Arab-Israel relations.
  4. The fact is that democracy anywhere in the world, including in the United States, is not something that comes easy. And yet, we are committed to it, and equality and democracy are the only ways in the long run that Jews will be safe in the Middle East.
  5. From a social networking point of view, Pakistan is not very far away.
  6. The leadership of the Palestinian Authority is not held in high regard by most of the population of the West Bank. They’re seen as living relatively high off the hog and certainly not accomplishing anything vis-a-vis the Israelis.
  7. Do I trust Yasser Arafat? Of course not. Why should I? Why should anyone trust a politician, whether Shimon Peres, Ariel Sharon, Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, Benjamin Netanyahu, George W. Bush, or Yasser Arafat?
  8. Peacemaking and democratic state-building require blood and magic.
  9. There’s still a role for the Association for Israel Studies. But not as the endpoint of scholarship and not as a fortress to defend Israel.
  10. Just as a balloon filled gradually with air bursts when the limit of its tensile strength is passed, there are thresholds of radical, disruptive change in politics. When those thresholds are crossed, the impossible suddenly becomes probable, with revolutionary implications for governments and nations.
  11. If you put too much pressure on the Palestinian Authority, it will collapse — it will disappear — and Israel will have to formally re-occupy the West Bank and assume responsibility for the Palestinians there. The United States doesn’t want that. Israel doesn’t really want that.
  12. The ability to calibrate risk doesn’t happen rationally.
  13. I think about terrorism in terms of popcorn. You can’t tell which kernels are popcorn and which are not, but you assume you’ll always have some kernels that are going to pop.
  14. What we have really now is a one-state outcome in which Israel is the one and only state between the Jordan River and the sea. It can do whatever it wants virtually throughout the area. But that’s not the kind of a state that’s going to be a basis for peace and stability in the region.
  15. Strong Islamist trends make a fundamentalist Palestine more likely than a small state under a secular government.
  16. The disappearance of Israel as a Zionist project, through war, cultural exhaustion or demographic momentum, is… plausible… Many Israelis see the demise of the country as not just possible, but probable.
  17. Whether we agree with them or not, politicians aren’t for trusting. They are for getting done what can be done to make really horrible problems into plain old lousy problems.
  18. Americans should be wary of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt but not scared of them.
  19. Democracies domesticate religious groups to become political players. That’s how it works.
  20. Most Israelis have a sense, ‘We just don’t want to live in the Middle East anymore. We don’t want it to be the Middle East. Were going to just build a wall or operate unilaterally’ — not try to even use force as used to be the case to convince Arabs to accept Israel by convincing them that Israel is here to stay and then negotiating.