Gal Beckerman

  • Unsettled Questions

    There’s a shorthand phrase in Israel for describing the politics of war and peace that permeates everything: ha matzav, “the situation.” You might come upon a conversation between two people and ask, “What are you talking about?” And the response would simply be “the situation.”

    This can mean whatever happened that morning—a café blown up, olive trees vandalized in the occupied territories, or the latest proclamation of “Death to Israel” from Tehran. But it can also capture the particular flavor of a collective existence that finds itself, on a regular basis, trounced by History—an unrelenting,

  • The Jihad Factory

    “I consider only the Mohammedans to be safe. All the others I consider unsafe,” Adolf Hitler proclaimed at his headquarters one day in 1942. “I don’t see any risk if one actually sets up pure Mohammedan units.” The Soviet Union, Hitler’s enemy, had a population of millions of Muslims who felt their religious and nationalist aspirations were being quashed by the Communist state. The führer’s idea was simple: exploit this anger for military and propaganda gain. Like much else about the Nazis’ expansion eastward, these plans would crumble. However, once the United States emerged from World War II

  • Continental Rift

    Christopher Caldwell claims Reflections on the Revolution in Europe is not a lecture to Europeans about how to handle their Islam problem. But his analysis leaves room for only one conclusion. White Europeans need to start fighting fire with fire, shed their exalted notions of multiculturalism and human rights, find religion and civilizational purpose, and, for good measure, dig back a few centuries to rediscover arranged marriage so they can start matching immigrants baby for baby. They might also consider sending all those Muslims—referred to occasionally as “invaders” and colonizers—back

  • Arrested Development

    Early in Nadezhda Mandelstam’s astonishing memoir, Hope Against Hope, she remembers the moment when she registered, for the first time, the full horror of life under Stalin. It was not, as one might assume, when she learned that her husband, the much-persecuted poet Osip, had died in a labor camp during the Great Terror of 1937. It was earlier, in 1934, a less murderous time, when she and Osip were taken to a train station in Moscow and sent into their first exile, to the intellectual wilderness of a small town in the Urals. His crime was a poem, “Stalin Epigram,” that so brutally describes

  • Oil and Water

    It’s still too early to tell what part of America died in Iraq. Our grandchildren, it’s safe to assume, will still be debating this point. But one loss seems already quite obvious: Can one imagine an American leader using the rhetoric of American values—the pursuit of freedom and democracy—to rally the country to a war of choice, to a battle that is not existential? We’re much less likely to buy it. Not after the lesson in utter humility that is Baghdad. If the “transformational power of democracy” was the lesson the administration hoped to teach us in Iraq, we have learned instead that democracy