In Our Orbit
"Ifavor unconditional withdrawal from the territories," says a former head of Israel's security service, rather starkly, given his background. It's from an interview in this edited collection of short opinion pieces from Israel and the occupied territories. "Israeli society, top to bottom, is sinking into confusion," says the official, Ami Ayalon. "There are no reference points." It might be said instead that the standard reference points don't tell the whole story, which is the corrective purpose of this reader, edited by Nation copy chief Roane Carey and former intern Jonathan Shainin. The editors have recruited a diverse assemblage of correspondents on various aspects of politics, culture and the dirty war being conducted on both sides. Most, unsurprisingly, score Ariel Sharon heavily--Tanya Reinhart, a professor and columnist for Yediot Ahronot, says Sharon's plans are for "the second half of 1948," i.e., expulsion; Michael Ben-Yair, attorney general in several governments in the 1990s, observes that "the Six-Day War was forced upon us; however, the war's seventh day, which began on June 12, 1967 and has continued to this day, is the product of our choice. We enthusiastically chose to become a colonial society." Philosopher Adi Ophir says of the intifada, "The occupied party's resistance to the occupier is its moral right. Its violent resistance to the occupation is a direct result of the violence of the occupation.... The Palestinians have no choice but to resist." We hear from an activist about lying in front of tanks ("We don't bother to argue with [the soldiers] or explain") and from former soldiers themselves ("All the IDF's operations in the territories are approaching the red line.... I cannot judge what is legal and what constitutes a war crime," says a onetime air force pilot). And Amira Hass's "What Kind of War Is This?", a report from Jenin, lucidly answers its own question.