Henry Siegman

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Henry Siegman
Born 1930
Frankfurt, Germany
Occupation Writer and journalist
Nationality American

Henry Siegman (born 1930) is a German-born American. He is a non-resident research professor at the Sir Joseph Hotung Middle East Program, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, a former Senior Fellow on the Middle East at the Council on Foreign Relations, and a former National Director of the American Jewish Congress.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Siegman, a Jewish American, was born in 1930 in Frankfurt, Germany.[2] Moving to the United States, Siegman studied and was ordained as an Orthodox Rabbi by Yeshiva Torah Vodaas. He served as a chaplain in the Korean War, where he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.[3][4]


He is a former Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Prior to that, he was the Executive Director of the American Jewish Congress (1978–1994).[5]

Political views[edit]

Siegman is a critic of Israeli policies in the West Bank.

He refers to Israel as a "de-facto apartheid" state and said, in 2012, that the "two-state solution is dead."[6]

Siegman supports the idea of moral equivalence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.[7] He advocates engagement with Hamas[8] and believes that Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas is able to form a unity government between Hamas and his own Fatah and make peace with Israel.[9] Siegman met with Khaled Mashal, Hamas leader in Syria.[10]

He says that Yasser Arafat made a "disastrous mistake" in rejecting the peace offer, but that "based on my 14 years of dealings with Arafat, I reject the notion that he was bent on Israel's destruction."[11] Siegman is critical of Ariel Sharon, about whom he wrote: "The war Sharon is waging is not aimed at the defeat of Palestinian terrorism but at the defeat of the Palestinian people and their aspirations for national self-determination."[12]

He strongly defended former president Jimmy Carter's book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid.[13] He has also criticized the peace efforts by Ehud Olmert and George W. Bush.[14] Siegman has described the process as a "scam" because of a "consensus reached long ago by Israel's decision-making elites that Israel will never allow the emergence of a Palestinian state".[15]


Jeffrey Donovan, writing in Radio Free Europe calls him "a leading U.S. expert on the Middle East."[16]

Nathan Guttman, writing in The Forward said that Siegman helped to publicize the "Saudi plan", after it was revealed publicly for the first time in the New York Times.[17] In addition, Guttman writes that Siegman is in the "far-left corner of the Middle East worldview."[18]

Journalist David Rieff said, in 2004, that Siegman is "perhaps the most perceptive American observer-participant in the last two decades of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations."[19]

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said that Siegman was known as holding left-of-center views that fit with the American Jewish Congress's liberal approach, and that "when he left the organization, it became clearer he was no longer a critic of Israel, that his criticism borders being anti-Israel."[20]


  1. ^ Henry Siegman Bio
  2. ^ Brief biography at the Euro|topics magazine.
  3. ^ Separating Spiritual and Political, He Pays a Price, by Chris Hedges, The New York Times, June 13, 2002.
  4. ^ Behind Henry Siegman's Turn on Israel
  5. ^ Separating Spiritual and Political, He Pays a Price
  6. ^ Behind Henry Siegman's Turn on Israel
  7. ^ Is 'moral equivalency' really so wrong?
  8. ^ Hamas: The Last Chance for Peace? by Henry Siegman, The New York Review of Books, April 27, 2006.
  9. ^ The Hamas factor by Robert Malley and Henry Siegman, The International Herald Tribune, December 27, 2006.
  10. ^ Hamas and Gaza Emerge Reshaped After Takeover by Ethan Bronner, June 15, 2008.
  11. ^ Yasir Arafat, Father and Leader of Palestinian Nationalism, Dies at 75 by Judith Miller, The New York Times, November 11, 2004.
  12. ^ Sharon's Phony War by Henry Siegman, The New York Review of Books, December 18, 2003.
  13. ^ Hurricane Carter by Henry Siegman, The Nation, January 4, 2007.
  14. ^ The Great Middle East Peace Process Scam by Henry Siegman, The London Review of Books, August 16, 2007.
  15. ^ The Great Middle East Peace Process Scam Henry Siegman, London Review of Books, August 16, 2007
  16. ^ Middle East: Will Israel's Killing Of Hamas Leader Affect U.S. Policy? by Jeffrey Donovan, Radio Free Europe, March 23, 2004.
  17. ^ Saudis Push Bush Team On Peace Plan by Nathan Guttman, The Forward, January 19, 2007.
  18. ^ Behind Henry Siegman's Turn on Israel
  19. ^ Arafat Among the Ruins by David Rieff, The New York Times, April 25, 2004.
  20. ^ Behind Henry Siegman's Turn on Israel
  21. ^ A Slaughter Of Innocents, interview with Democracy Now!, July 2014