Josef Olmert

Josef Olmert is a Middle East scholar, former Israeli peace negotiator, political insider, published journalist and author, as well as a seasoned public speaker. He is an Adjunct Professor at USC-University of South Carolina. Olmert was a member of the Israeli delegation for talks with Syria in the Madrid Peace Conference and subsequent Washington, DC negotiations. In 1999, he served as policy advisor to then-Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens. Olmert holds a PhD from the London School of Economics in Middle East History. He is a son of former Knesset member Mordechai Olmert and a brother of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Kerry and UN Resolution Are Irrelevant

Secretary Kerry’s speech was pointless at a time when it is simply too little too late. Timing is perhaps the most crucial part of diplomacy and international relations. It is in this context that we must view the latest flurry of anti-Israel activity, as shown by United Nations Security Council resolution and the speech by US Secretary of State John Kerry. Although, the word speech may... Continue Reading

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Is President Sisi the Next Egyptian Reformer?

The international community should support Sisi if they want to see a more stable Middle East, says Josef Olmert. Since the 1952 coup d’état by the Free Officers Movement, Egypt has had six presidents. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the incumbent president, is in the same league with at least two seminal names in modern Egyptian and Arab history: Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat. Although Sisi... Continue Reading

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Israel’s Challenge is Becoming An Active Actor in Middle East Politics

Can Israel take advantage of new political openings in the Middle East? At best, politics in the Middle East is shifty to the point of anarchy, but since the events of 2011, erroneously called the “Arab Spring,” the region has become completely chaotic. Whatever the basic causes of this volcanic eruption are somewhat dwarfed by the obvious consequences, chief among them the partial... Continue Reading

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Religious Warfare in Jerusalem… and It’s Getting Dangerous

With yet more unrest between Palestinians and Israelis, both sides are stuck in limbo, says Josef Olmert. Alphonse de Lamartine, a 19th century intellectual, politician and a noted scholar of the Middle East, said the French Revolution of 1848 occurred because his countrymen “were bored.” Well, Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), may not have been bored... Continue Reading

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Negotiating With Terrorists: Pros and Cons

Despite the slogan “never negotiate with terrorists,” sometimes it is clever to negotiate. From Nigeria via China and Afghanistan to Israel, the world is preoccupied with the question of whether or not it is useful and justified to negotiate with those who are responsible for some of the most heinous crimes of all: terrorism directed against unarmed civilians in the name of whatever... Continue Reading

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The UN, War Crimes and Israel’s “Right to Defend Itself”

Every country would have done what Israel is doing now; it is called self-defense, according to Josef Olmert. Violence in Gaza has escalated. Operation Protective Edge, which began on July 8, has transformed into an Israeli ground invasion in one of the most densely populated areas in the world. At the time of writing, over 650 Palestinians, including women and children, and 31 Israelis — 29... Continue Reading

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Jewish Settlements and the Peace Talks (Part 2/2)

In order to solve the issue of Jewish settlements, the primacy of the narrative has to be overcome. It is a central Palestinian argument that settlements are the main obstacle for peace. However, the factual record does not prove this point. Israel, by its own decision, forcibly removed all Jewish settlements and settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005, and yet there were... Continue Reading

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Jewish Settlements and the Peace Talks (Part 1/2)

In order to solve the issue of Jewish settlements, the primacy of the narrative has to be overcome. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a multi-faceted and historically protracted conflict, the origins of which can be traced back to the late 19th century. It can be argued that such a complicated conflict cannot be explained and resolved by just one of its features. So, it is important to... Continue Reading

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Ariel Sharon: A Complicated Career and Legacy

Josef Olmert looks back at the life of one of Israel’s most important leaders. A famous Zionist poet, Saul Tschernichovsky (1875-1943), wrote in one of his songs that "the human being is a reflection of his childhood landscape." If there was one Israeli leader of recent time whose life story fits this observation, it was Ariel Sharon. Sharon was the last Israeli leader whose childhood was... Continue Reading

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The Yom Kippur War: 40 Years Later

The Yom Kippur War ended the Israeli attitude of disrespect towards Arab capabilities. Mark Twain, ever a source of infinite wisdom, once remarked that "God created war, so that Americans will learn geography" — whereas wars for Israel were about survival, saving the home, and preventing collective extinction. At least three of Israel’s wars clearly fall into this... Continue Reading

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