December 10, 2023

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” suggesting that sometimes it’s necessary to revise one’s thinking. Is there a better time to do so than after a global-historic massacre that has ignited a Middle East war?

Some readers may see me as single-minded in my opposition to a binational state courtesy of the Israeli Right, and to a Putinesque one courtesy of the current leader of the Right. This won’t change, but what will change is my willingness to tolerate some rather crazy things.

The main thing, of course, is that Hamas – whose entire raison d’etre is to perpetuate war – can no longer be in power anywhere on Israel’s borders. Hamas must be gone, along with its mini-me Islamic Jihad. Anyone who helps, funds, defends and protects these criminals must be confronted.

I’m not saying Israel should cut off relations with Turkey because of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s inanities about Hamas fighting for freedom, but some bad blood is in order, and leverage must be deployed.

If Qatar wants a seat at the world table, then enough games with Hamas.

But that cannot be the whole story. We have put up with too much lunacy. I propose here a list of chicaneries that I think the world must cease to tolerate, given that the status quo ante of Oct. 7 has been discredited to the degree that it has. Most of this is a shift on my part to the Right, which may please some – but not all of it is.

· Hamas as a political party, with Islamic Jihad, cannot be tolerated anymore. No more running in elections. No more “Hamas charities” – rebrand or disband them. No Arab or other nation or any third party that wishes any sort of good relations with Israel or its ally the United States can continue to hedge.

· The Palestinians paying stipends to families of murderers can no longer be tolerated. No one who killed civilians in an attack affiliated with Jihadist groups should receive payments.

· No more antisemitic textbooks in the Palestinian areas, of whatever provenance.

· Stop ignoring the property rights of the roughly one million Jews who were either kicked out of the Arab world or left of their own volition a half-century or so ago.

There are a number of conditions attached to my own self-revisionism, for it to conceivably apply.

First, no overreach, please. Don’t try to ban people saying “from the river to the sea” – or maps ignoring Israel. These are unfortunate things, but misfortune is part of life. The demands must be unassailable.

Second, there can also be no further tolerance of settlers terrorizing Palestinians in the West Bank, and of a light trigger finger by the military in that territory. And enough with the Shin Bet holding up permits for Palestinians to travel abroad; that’s just nonsense.

Last but not least, if Israel wants to have any leverage, and any moral standing to insist on any of the above, it must be willing to resume a process aimed at a two-state solution ending up with a demilitarized Palestinian state.

The writer is the former Cairo-based Middle East editor and London-based Europe/Africa editor of the Associated Press. Follow him at