Shlomo Avineri is a former Director of Israel’s Foreign Affairs ministry, a long-time professor at Hebrew University, and perhaps Israel’s most acclaimed political scientist—certainly the one who is most likely to be quoted in the New York Times. In the Israeli political spectrum, Avineri is usually described as a “centrist,” maybe even “center left.”
Given the state of Israeli political culture and discourse, that means he often can be found occupying a position half-way between obtuseness and rationality on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict-- on the one hand he favors a two-state settlement but on the other he has sometimes blamed the Palestinians, include Mahmoud Abbas, for the failure to reach such a settlement.
But the attack two days ago by six Israelis, who burned alive a sixteen year old Palestinian boy, evidently is another matter. “This is a wake-up call,” this morning’s Haaretz quoted Avineri: “a line has been crossed.” To be fair, lest this be considered a somehow inadequate response, or to suggest that until now Israel’s violence against Palestinians had fallen short of crossing the line, Avineri did add: “This is absolute evil.”