Yossi's New Book:
Oraib Khader and Avi Bar-On are youngish Palestinian and Israeli bachelors with security experience, readiness to do business with one another, a shared fondness for women and money, and total cynicism about the lack of peace between their two peoples.
Oraib and Avi can never become true friends: the cultural and political gaps are too wide. But as they confront a failed peace process and a bleak peace future, they readily become business partners: shady business that exploits a lot of naïve international peace aspirations.
As Oraib sums up on a visit to Sarpsborg, Norway, where the ultimately-failed Oslo peace talks were held, “There is a lesson here for those who still doggedly and hopelessly pursue a two-state solution in the Middle East. Get smart. Get out of the Israeli-Palestinian peace business. Step back and let the Jews and Arabs screw one another while making money.”
Aug 1 2022
Q. Russia claims the Jewish Agency is breaking Russian laws. Moscow threatens to close down Agency activities there. The Lapid government initially reacted in panic. Crisis?
A. Israelis who have known and worked with Russian President Vladimir Putin for years--since well before he became president--will tell you that the key to working with Russia is precisely knowing and working with Putin. They will add that Putin is at heart an admirer of Israel and the Jewish people (alongside Germany). Yet the threat to close down the Jewish Agency in Russia is understood as a threat from Putin.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid reacted to the Russian threat by convening a special Cabinet meeting in late July and declaring that “closing the Jewish Agency offices will be seen as a serious incident that affects our [Israel-Russia] relations.”
Q. Israel threatening Russia?
A. As Lapid’s panicky reaction appeared to demonstrate, he has no clear grasp of the Israel-Russia relationship and no personal rapport with Putin. As soon as wiser heads prevailed in Jerusalem, the matter of the Jewish Agency was placed in the more practiced diplomatic hands of President Herzog, a former head of the Jewish Agency who for this purpose has better international contacts (e.g., Turkey’s Erdogan) than Lapid. A legal delegation was dispatched to Moscow to discuss Russia’s complaint, and Jerusalem’s bluster ceased.
Incidentally, unusual Russian criticism of Acting Prime Minister Lapid, who has never met Putin, was first reportedly voiced on July 21, before the Jewish Agency issue surfaced.
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"Anyone seeking to understand how Israelis and Palestinians traded the hopes of Oslo for something approaching hopelessness is well-advised to read this book. With penetrating analysis and elegant prose, Yossi Alpher has told the gripping story of three days nearly two decades ago that continue to haunt would-be peacemakers. Yossi’s faithful readers will not be disappointed with his latest effort."
Ambassador Frederic C. Hof, Bard College
"A riveting account of the crucial days in March 2002 when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was profoundly changed for the worse. The peace camp has never recovered from those wrenching days, and we live now without any hope of a just settlement. Alpher is a highly respected expert who has spent decades studying this conflict from both sides."
Bruce Riedel, Director of the Brookings Intelligence Project
"A critical assessment of a key period in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict never before presented in such detail. The best and most capable players at the executive and political levels proved unable to forge any resolution, final or partial, because both parties continued to maintain an insurmountable gulf between themselves. This is a MUST read for anyone daring to tackle the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and of Israel-Arab relations in general."
Efraim Halevy, former Head of the Mossad (1998-2002)