Welcome to Matzav, a collaborative blog hosted by the Israel Policy Forum. Matzav – which means “situation” in Hebrew and is often used as a shorthand to describe the simultaneous hope and despair, quiet and violence, and other contradictory forces that shape Israel – aims to be the most comprehensive discussion out there on Israeli politics and society, the regional politics of the Middle East, Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy and the two-state solution, U.S.-Israel relations, and issues affecting the American Jewish community. Our ambition for Matzav is that every post should either teach you something new, make you think, or challenge your basic assumptions about Israel and two states. Matzav is going to be thoughtful rather than inflammatorily controversial, and will feature a wide spectrum of analysts and viewpoints.

For the amount of interest and ink that gets spilled on a daily basis about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there is not nearly as much level-headed analysis of that issue or other issues important to understanding Israel and the forces that shape it. The conversation also tends to be dominated by the same figures and voices, and those who want to hear new perspectives often must go digging through the blogosphere. Matzav is going to particularly highlight younger voices, Israeli voices, and academic voices, with the aim of giving a platform to the next generation of thought leaders and bringing more Israelis into the conversation in the U.S. Much like recently successful blogs such as The Monkey Cage or War On The Rocks, Matzav is going to be a place for academic analysis and intellectual discussion rather than passionate punditry. Strong opinions will be welcome and the norm, but they will always be backed by logic and evidence. It is one of my core beliefs that the higher level the conversation on Israel becomes, the more support there will be for pragmatic and common-sense solutions to guaranteeing Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders. As IPF is dedicated to a two-state solution in order to fulfill this goal, we want to do anything we can to provide first-rate analysis and spark a more informed and educated debate about where Israel is and where it is going.

I do not expect anyone to agree with everything they read on Matzav; I know that I certainly won’t. I do expect that it will keep you interested and wanting to read more, and my hope is that you will find Matzav to be a gateway toward greater engagement with Israel and Israel-related issues. Matzav will provide a steady diet of thoughtful content for those who spend much of their time thinking about the world’s only Jewish state, those who find Israel to be a fascinating case study for all sorts of topics in history, political science, and sociology, and those who wish they knew more about Israel and are looking for a good place to start. Please bookmark Matzav, sign up for the blog updates in the box on the right side of the homepage, and keep coming back to be part of what we hope will be the best conversation on Israel that is out there.