What Comes Next in Gaza and Israel?

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Written By Pinang Driod

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Nearly three months into the Israel-Hamas war, our writers think through the possible futures that await the region.

First, here are three new stories from The Atlantic:

  • 81 things that blew our minds in 2023
  • Political accountability isn’t dead yet.
  • The woman who didn’t see stuttering as a flaw

How This Ends

Weeks after Hamas’s attacks on Israel, amid the ensuing war in Gaza, my colleague Franklin Foer published an article titled “Tell Me How This Ends.” “The Israeli operation faces the same question that ultimately vexed the American project in Iraq,” he wrote: “What comes next?”

Two months later, the questions that Frank raised about the future of the region are no easier to answer, and the civilian death toll in Gaza continues to rise. I’ve come back to the guiding inquiry of Frank’s article many times in recent months: How does this end? The reading list below offers a range of perspectives from our writers about what could, or ought to, come next.

  • Israel’s impossible dilemma: “Israel’s larger stated aim—of utterly eradicating Hamas—is impossible,” the scholar Hussein Ibish argued earlier this month. “If the Israelis stay in Gaza out of determination to deny Hamas a hollow win, they will instead ensure that Hamas gets a political victory that is actually worth something—one that will play out over months and years of further warfare.”
  • The one-state delusion: “Neither Israelis nor Palestinians are going anywhere, and neither will give up their national identity,” the political scientist Arash Azizi argued last month. “Those who truly want peace and justice in the Holy Land should start by recognizing this reality.”
  • A phased diplomatic strategy: Joe Biden “has exercised bold diplomacy in other parts of the world, and it can work here too—advancing the prospects of peace, ensuring Israeli security, and addressing Palestinian grievances,” Daniel Kurtzer, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and Egypt, wrote this month.
  • The day after Netanyahu: “Israel has long succeeded in spite of its leaders, not because of them,” Atlantic staff writer Yair Rosenberg wrote last month. “As Israel’s population steps up where its prime minister and his hard-right allies have failed, the real source of the state’s strength has never been more obvious.”
  • “All my life, I’ve watched violence fail the Palestinian cause”: “In spite of the horrors of recent weeks—or perhaps because of them—many Jews and Palestinians want peace more than ever,” the British Palestinian writer John Aziz wrote last month. “But Palestinians need more than peace. They need leaders who will serve their interests instead of persecuting those—including the LGBTQ and non-Muslim communities—who exist on the margins of society.”
  • A message of peace: “There never has been, nor will there be, a military solution to the Israeli-Palestinian situation,” Ziad Asali, founder of the American Task Force on Palestine, wrote last month. “Israel obviously can, in its campaign against Hamas, flatten Gaza. It has the machines and bombs to do so. But it can’t destroy the Palestinian desire to be free.”

Evening Read

The LIFE Picture Collection / Getty / The Atlantic

How McKinsey Destroyed the Middle Class (From 2020)

By Daniel Markovits

When Pete Buttigieg accepted a position at the management consultancy McKinsey & Company, he already had sterling credentials: high-school valedictorian, a bachelor’s degree from Harvard, a Rhodes Scholarship. He could have taken any number of jobs and, moreover, had no obvious interest in business. Nevertheless, he joined the firm.

This move was predictable, not eccentric: The top graduates of elite colleges typically pass through McKinsey or a similar firm before settling into their adult career. But the conventional nature of the career path makes it more, not less, worthy of examination. How did this come to pass? And what consequences has the rise of management consulting had for the organization of American business and the lives of American workers?

Read the full article.


Culture Break

A woman speaks into a microphone in a colorful gif
Dusty Deen for The Atlantic

Listen. The 25 best podcasts of 2023 kept listeners hooked on stories about female adultery, espionage, scamming, and wanderlust.

Read. “Midwinter,” a new poem by Grady Chambers:

“After, with their underwear still tangled / in the top sheet, or just waking / in winter, the stunned trees / thrusting up their arms, / he was always the first to leave the bed.”

Play our daily crossword.


Katherine Hu contributed to this newsletter.

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