Today, we have lost one of the bravest public intellectuals engaged in the Israeli-Arab conflict. I just noticed in his NY Times obituary that he was born in that seminal year, 1948, an irony that undoubtedly would not have been lost on him.
During Operation Cast Lead, he was one of the first of the “celebrity intellectuals” Jerry Haber and I approached to sign a petition we organized. He signed willingly.
I remember his famous (or notorious depending on one’s point of view) op-ed in the Times in which he advocated a one-state solution. I thought his essay at the time a bit Pollyannish, and I still maintain profound skepticism of the notion. But it reminds me of the old saying about democracy: it’s the worst form of government–except for everything else. Unfortunately, the bankruptcy of the present political situation renders the two state solution ever less credible. And Tony Judt looks smarter every day.
I first learned he was ill when I invited him to speak at an event I planned about Israel-Iran relations last December. The news came as a deep shock. I can only articulate my profound respect via the Jewish form of honoring the dead: zichrono livracha (“may his memory be for a blessing”).