Glenn Loury
The Glenn Show
Omer Bartov – Israel's Hard Right Turn

Omer Bartov – Israel's Hard Right Turn


My guest this week is the Israeli-American historian Omer Bartov, who is the Samuel Pisar Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Brown. Over 20,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the outbreak of the war, most of them civilians. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced. Food, water, and adequate medical services are in short supply. Still, grim as those facts are, Omer does not think they amount to genocide. At least not yet. He does worry that, with right-wing hardliners holding sway in Israel’s government, genocide is a distinct possibility.

In this conversation, Omer tells me about some of the history that led up to the current war before delving into the political pressures that he believes are driving the campaign forward. He believes that Benjamin Netanyahu has pieced together a hard right coalition that he protects because, among other reasons, it keeps him in power and out of court, where he is embroiled in an ongoing corruption trial that could lead to jail time. In the meantime, according to Omer, Netanyahu’s coalition functions as a “mirror image of Hamas” that encourages violence against Palestinians and threatens democracy in Israel. Omer believes that Israel’s current government is neither capable of nor interested in addressing humanitarian concerns in Gaza and finding a political solution to the conflict. That will require a US-led international effort.

Omer knows whereof he speaks—he’s a noted scholar in the field and a passionate public advocate. That's why I wanted to hear from him. You may disagree with his read on the situation, but he can’t simply be shrugged off.

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0:00 The long road leading to the Gaza War

9:14 Don’t Palestinians have some responsibility for the current state of affairs?

9:48 The precedent of the 1973 Yom Kippur War

11:26 Omer: Israel only negotiates under pressure

13:31 Netanyahu and the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin

15:27 The US’s military support for Israel

16:32 The origins of Hamas

20:20 Omer: Netanyahu’s coalition is “a mirror image of Hamas”

24:45 The threat to democracy in Israel

26:27 Omer: Netanyahu is driving the country to the right in order to avoid a corruption trial

30:07 How “Jewish supremacists” have gained control of Israel’s government

34:01 Why Omer’s Zionism does not commit him to defending Israel’s actions

36:46 The risk of genocide in Gaza

40:05 The IDF’s procedure in the Gaza invasion

43:09 What will happen to the Gazan refugees?

45:00 The international community’s role in finding a resolution to the Gaza War

48:17 Is the IDF “the most moral army in the world”?

54:39 The revenge motive

57:07 Omer: The campaign in Gaza is a fiasco

59:38 A US-led plan for “the day after”

1:04:37 Is peace in Israel a pollyannaish pipe dream?

Recorded January 2, 2023

Links and Readings

Benny Morris’s book, One State, Two States: Resolving the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Omer’s New Statesman piece, “Both Netanyahu and Hamas see this crisis as an opportunity”

Hamas’s 1988 charter

Omer’s NYT op-ed, “What I Believe as a Historian of Genocide”


Glenn Loury
The Glenn Show
Race, inequality, and economics in the US and throughout the world from Glenn Loury, Professor of Economics at Brown University and Paulson Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute