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Middle East

Libya’s Transition from Autocracy Has Been Rocky

Three years  after its authoritarian government fell in a violent popular uprising aided and abetted by foreign intervention, Libya has descended into a state of anarchy that bodes ill for its future as a united nation. Torn by tribal rivalries, infighting among competing armed militias and a spate of assassinations and kidnappings, and weakened by the […]

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Arts

House of Cards Explores Politics and Power in Washington

I admit it: I’m addicted to House of Cards, Netflix’s polished political drama. Now in its second season, this is American television as it should be rather than the dismal wasteland it so often tends to be. I came late to House of Cards, which is smart, literate and brimming with surprising and even shocking […]

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Guest Voices

The Jewish Professor Who Loathes Israel

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967” has issued his annual report, accusing Israel of “inhuman acts” and “apartheid,” and has called on the UN to support a “legitimacy war” against the country. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. First, because the 47-member council, which […]

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Middle East Travel

Discover Israel Through Fodor’s Guidebook

I‘ve visited Israel numerous times since the summer of 1967, both in a private and professional capacity. As a wag once quipped, Israel has too much history and not enough geography, which is precisely why it’s so interesting and accessible Even seasoned travellers who know what the Jewish state has to offer usually discover something […]

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Arts

TIFF’s Human Rights Film Festival Set to Open on Feb. 27

The Human Rights Watch Film Festival, an annual fixture of the Toronto International Film Festival, opens at the TIFF Lightbox on Feb. 27 with The Square and closes on March 6 with Highway of Tears. In all, eight movies will be screened. Jehane Noujaim’s The Square, which is available on Netflix, charts the zig-zag course of […]

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Jewish Affairs

Belatedly, Spain is Coming to Terms With its Painful Past

On Feb.7, the Spanish government announced it will offer citizenship to Sephardi Jews around the world whose ancestors were expelled from Spain during the Inquisition. Spain’s justice minister, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon, disclosed that legislation enshrining this historic decision will be passed within months, if not weeks. More than 500 years after tens of thousands of Jews […]

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Middle East

Jihadist Rebels in Syria Hijacking the Uprising

The embattled president of Syria, Bashar Assad, claims the uprising destroying his nation is really an existential battle between the forces of secular nationalism and global jihadism. He has a point. The rebellion, which broke out three years ago come March, began as a peaceful protest movement demanding an end to arbitrary one-party Baathist rule, […]

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Jewish Affairs

Laura Z. Hobson — A Novelist Ahead of Her Times

Laura Z. Hobson’s claim to fame is  Gentleman’s Agreement, a disturbing novel about antisemitism in postwar America. Serialized in Cosmopolitan in 1946 and published in 1947 in book form, it was a blockbuster, selling 1.6 million copies. Adapted for the screen by the playwright Moss Hart and directed by Elia Kazan, it starred Gregory Peck […]

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Arts

Omar: A Taut Political Thriller Set in the West Bank

Hany Abu-Assad’s taut thriller, Omar, gives a viewer a bird’s eye view of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, now in its 47th year, and the Palestinians’ resistance to it. An Academy Award nominee for best foreign picture, Omar unfolds in a Palestinian village that has been divided by a high, ugly concrete wall. Part […]

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Middle East

The Six Day War, Messianism and Settlements

The future status of the West Bank is a bone of contention in contemporary Israel, dividing friends and families along diametrically opposing lines. Some Israelis would give up all or parts of it in the interests of achieving a peace treaty with the Palestinians, who comprise the vast majority of its population. Still others, a […]