DAILY ALERT
Thursday,
May 18, 2023
A project of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Israel's Global Embassy for National Security and Applied Diplomacy
Dan Diker, President - Yechiel Leiter, Director General

In-Depth Issues:

Israel's Operation Shield and Arrow Exposes Iran's Weakness and Strengthens Israel's Regional Ties - Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Though Iran portrayed Israel at the depth of its weakness and the Resistance Camp at the height of its strength, the latest round of fighting in Gaza actually exposed Iran in its weakness.
    Iran expected the other elements of the Resistance Camp (mainly Hamas) to join Palestinian Islamic Jihad in launching missiles at Israel.
    Moreover, Israel's impressive display of intelligence and potent operational capabilities during the operation bolstered its military reputation in the eyes of Arab countries, potentially paving the way for further future regional cooperation against Iran.



After Years of Air Campaigns, IDF Weighs Pinpoint Use of Ground Forces - Lazar Berman (Times of Israel)
    In 2013, IDF Brig.-Gen. Tamir Yadai and Lt.-Col. Eran Ortal wrote in an official IDF journal warning that Israel's military was following a predictable and worrying pattern of recurring "deterrence operations" in Gaza based on stand-off firepower.
    This month's five-day Operation Shield and Arrow ended with zero hopes that it would be the last round.
    Now, recognition is growing that reactive measures are insufficient to confront the contemporary challenges of rocket-based terror armies.
    The new concept recognizes the need for decisive victory through ground maneuver in Gaza or Lebanon by highly trained, active duty units to suppress rocket fire on Israel's home front.
    Yadai and Ortal, both now generals, wrote in October 2022, "We are more focused on the bank of targets [for the air force] than we are on the question of victory itself."
    "In order to confront the new challenge, we must wean ourselves off the habits we have become used to for more than three decades."



The Inconvenient Palestinians - Stephen Daisley (Spectator-UK)
    Abdullah Abu Jaba was an inconvenient Palestinian, one who cannot be held up as the latest victim of Zionist aggression.
    Abu Jaba, a father of six, was not killed by Israel, but by a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket. He was a laborer at an agricultural building site in Israel near the boundary with Gaza.
    He was one of the 18,000 Palestinians from Gaza who go to work in Israel every day. His brother, Hamad, was seriously injured in the same attack.
    Israel's defense ministry has recognized Abu Jaba as a terror victim, meaning his widow and children will receive the same compensation payments that go to Israeli families bereaved by terrorism.
    Among the civilian casualties recorded in the past week were other inconvenient Palestinians: Ahmed Muhammad a-Shabaki (51), Rami Shadi Hamdan (16), Yazan Jawdat Fathi Elayyan (16), and Layan Bilal Mohammad Abdullah Mdoukh (10).
    Each is believed to have perished after Islamic Jihad rockets fell short and dropped inside Gaza instead of Israel. Yet Palestinians killed by Palestinian terrorism and who lack symbolic value are of lesser interest.
    To Palestinian political leaders, the Palestinians are emblems of victimhood, their deaths peddled as martyrdom for the domestic audience and ethnic oppression for gullible CNN producers.



Israel Sees Sharp Rise in Natural Gas Exports to Egypt, Jordan (Xinhua-China)
    Israel's natural gas exports to Egypt and Jordan increased sharply in 2022, Israel's Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure said Wednesday.
    Israel exported 5.81 billion cubic meters (BCM) of natural gas to Egypt in 2022, reflecting a jump of 37% from 2021, and 3.4 BCM to Jordan, an increase of 16.8%.
    The main reason for the increases is the expansion of natural gas production from Israel's Leviathan field.
    To further expand gas exports to Egypt, Israel is building a 46 km. underwater gas pipeline.


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Photos: Israeli Swimmer Discovers Marble Cargo from 1,800-Year-Old Mediterranean Shipwreck - Amanda Borschel-Dan (Times of Israel)
    Israeli swimmer Gideon Harris was diving 200 meters offshore when he came upon a 1,800-year-old treasure trove of Roman-era marble columns.
    The Israel Antiquities Authority believes the cargo - exposed during winter storms that brushed away centuries of sand - is the oldest of its kind known in the Eastern Mediterranean.
    Preliminary underwater site explorations have found decorated Corinthian capitals, as well as a 6-meter marble door lintel.



Anger at Hamas Growing after Tax Increases in Gaza - Rasha Abou Jalal (Al-Monitor)
    Last summer, Hamas, which controls Gaza, imposed a 10-shekel tax on some imported clothing items, including jeans and abayas for women. In February, clothing merchants across Gaza went on strike in protest.
    In March, Hamas increased the duties on fruits and vegetables coming from Israel by 120% to 230%. Merchants suspended imports in protest.
    In April, the Hamas government imposed a new tax of five shekels ($1.50) on every kilogram of Egyptian fish that arrives in Gaza and is then exported to the West Bank. A tax of three shekels ($0.90) was imposed on every kilogram of fish produced on local farms.
    On Feb. 2, the Hamas government imposed a 12.5% tax on imported cars. In July 2022, new taxes were imposed on 24 imported commodities such as mineral water, juices and biscuits. In May 2022, a 16% VAT was imposed on all products entering Gaza from the West Bank.
    Talal Okal, a political writer for the Palestinian al-Ayyam newspaper, asked: "Why are Gazans forced to pay higher taxes while their government does not meet their basic needs?" Residents are not seeing government services as a result of the taxes, he added.



An Inside Look into Israel's Elite Naval Commandos - Ziv Koren (Ynet News)
    Shayetet 13 (Flotilla 13) specializes in counter-terrorism amphibious warfare. Its operatives undergo intensive training that includes shooting, diving, vessel operations, physical and mental fortitude exercises, parachuting, attacking maneuvers and subterfuge.
    In the past 13 years, the unit has received five commendations for covert operations beyond Israel's borders which have contributed greatly to the security of the state.
    The unit specializes in commandeering hostile ships, often hundreds of miles from Israeli shores, such as the Karine A, loaded with 50 tons of weapons and explosives.
    For the past few months, the unit has also been involved in terrorist-apprehension raids across the West Bank.
    Its operators participate in many international exercises, some alongside U.S Navy SEALs.



New Israeli Cannon to Revolutionize Field Combat - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    A new Israeli cannon, Roem, is being integrated into the IDF. It offers robotic reloading and can fire at least eight rounds a minute.
    While tests demonstrated fire at targets at a distance of 20 km. (12 miles), it will be able to shoot targets that are 80 km. (50 miles) away.



Cancellation of British Singer's Israel Concert Wasn't Due to BDS - Zina Rakhamilova (Jerusalem Post)
    British singer Sam Smith was set to perform in Tel Aviv at the end of May, when suddenly the event producers canceled the show. Immediately, the anti-Israel BDS movement claimed victory.
    Creative Community for Peace (CCFP), a non-profit entertainment industry organization which promotes the arts as a bridge to peace, learned that neither Smith nor his management canceled the show.
    CCFP stated, "The BDS movement never misses an opportunity to cynically insert politics into regular business affairs."
    "Sam Smith's concert in Israel was recently canceled by the promoter due to technical and logistical issues, a common occurrence in the world of live entertainment. It's unrelated to any political movement."
    It is typical for BDS to take credit where none is warranted. Inventing success makes them seem legitimate and relevant.



The First Jerusalem Liberation Day in the Modern Era in 1917 - Lenny Ben-David (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    As we celebrate the anniversary of Jerusalem's unification in 1967, let us recall the British liberation of Jerusalem in 1917, which saved the Jewish community from destruction.


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We wish our readers a Happy Jerusalem Day!
Commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Officials Say Biden Is Pushing for Saudi-Israeli Peace Deal - Barak Ravid
    White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) last week in Jeddah and, among other issues, discussed the possibility of Saudi-Israeli normalization, two U.S. officials said. The Saudi crown prince said he doesn't want to take any more incremental steps toward warming relations with Israel, but instead, work toward one big package that will include stronger U.S. military cooperation, one U.S. official said.
        The U.S. officials said it's in Saudi Arabia's interest to get a normalization agreement with Israel while President Biden is in office because it would receive more bipartisan political support, especially when it is likely to include U.S. steps toward Saudi Arabia that would be unpopular. Many Democrats who are critical of the kingdom will only support such an agreement if done under a president of their own party, the U.S. officials said.
        A senior Israeli official compared this to Prime Minister Netanyahu's decision to get a security assistance deal with President Obama in 2016. "The fact we got the deal with Obama strengthened support by Democrats in Congress for U.S. military aid to Israel," the official said. (Axios)
        See also For Israel, Normalization with Saudi Arabia Not Impossible - Ben Caspit
    Israel is cautiously optimistic about rapprochement with Saudi Arabia. Netanyahu aides believe an agreement with Saudi Arabia would change the face of the Middle East, removing the final obstacles to Israel's full integration into the region.
        "The key to an Israeli-Saudi agreement lies in Washington, and contrary to what people presume, it is on President Biden's desk and not buried deep in a side drawer," said an Israeli diplomatic source. "The Americans fully understand that such an achievement would greatly improve the president's standing....It will also be perceived as a countermeasure to China's rapid expansion in the region." A senior Israeli political source explained, "The Saudis are demanding real input from the United States. They are willing to take the plunge, but only if it is very worthwhile for them."  (Al-Monitor)
        See also Saudi-Iran Rapprochement and Saudi-Israel Normalization: No Contradiction Intended - Dr. Yechiel M. Leiter (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • UN Commemorates Palestinian "Nakba" - Farnaz Fassihi
    The UN General Assembly for the first time on Monday officially commemorated the Palestinian Nakba, or "catastrophe" - the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the war surrounding the creation of Israel 75 years ago. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for the suspension of Israel's membership from the UN and received a standing ovation after his speech, which lasted over an hour. The U.S. and Britain did not attend.
        Israel's ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, condemned the event as "shameful" in a letter he sent to diplomats on Sunday. "Attending this despicable event means destroying any chance of peace by adopting the Palestinian narrative calling the establishment of the State of Israel a disaster," Erdan said.
        To Israelis, the 1948 conflict was a war of survival against invading Arab armies and hostile local militants who committed atrocities and who rejected a UN plan to divide the land between Jews and Arabs. For many Israelis, the Palestinian exodus was largely voluntary, encouraged by Arab leaders, and was accompanied by the persecution and expulsion of Jews from their homes. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Hamas Gave Sanctuary to Islamic Jihad Leaders during Gaza Fighting
    Hamas provided hiding places for Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders during the recent fighting, Israel's Channel 12 reported Sunday. Channel 12 also said Iran promised Islamic Jihad $5 million for every day of conflict with Israel. (Times of Israel)
  • First Visit by Israeli Foreign Minister to Sweden in 22 Years - Lahav Harkov
    Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen visited Sweden on Monday, the first Israeli foreign minister to do so in 22 years, following a thaw in relations between Jerusalem and Stockholm since 2021 after years of tension. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Wins University Elections in Nablus - Khaled Abu Toameh
    A Hamas-affiliated list on Tuesday won the student council election at An-Najah University in Nablus with 40 seats out of 81, while the Fatah-affiliated list won 38 seats, in what is seen as a major blow to the Fatah faction headed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas. In the last elections at An-Najah University in 2017, Fatah won 41 seats, while Hamas got 34.
        In May 2022, supporters of Hamas at Bir Zeit University, north of Ramallah, won 28 of the student council's 51 seats, while their Fatah rivals won 18. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    Iran

  • The Netanyahu Doctrine: Total War Only Against an Iranian Nuclear Breakout - Prof. Hillel Frisch
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is all consumed by the worry of Jewish survival. The key singular feature of the Netanyahu Doctrine is avoidance of war at all costs, save for the direct and all-out confrontation with Iran and its proxies should Iran achieve a nuclear breakout. Iran's possession of nuclear weapons and the ballistic means to launch them serve to achieve Israel's destruction, and the rhetoric of its leaders is absolute proof of Iran's intentions. Netanyahu tries at all costs to avoid being waylaid by the lesser threats facing Israel to maintain the singular focus on Iran.
        Oddly, Iran is in complete agreement with Netanyahu's doctrine. It also wants to avoid confrontation except when it achieves nuclear strike capability and is ready to strike or retaliate against an Israeli preemptive strike. For the very reason of avoiding a total war, Iran is increasing its coordination with Hamas and Islamic Jihad and enhancing their capabilities.
        The long-term danger is that the doctrine enables the military buildup of Iran and its proxies in creating a missile siege around Israel. At some point, the danger of such a siege may become more significant than the threat of a nuclear Iran.
        The writer is professor emeritus at Bar-Ilan University and former senior researcher at its Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies. (Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security)
  • "Iran Does Not Fear Us the Way They Need to Fear Us" - Dennis Ross interviewed by Ariel Kahana
    Dennis Ross, who served as a senior advisor to three U.S. presidents and took part in the Middle East peace process for decades, told Israel Hayom: "I'm very worried about where things are heading with Iran.... Iran doesn't fear us the way they need to fear us. They have to understand that the nuclear path they're on is one that is extremely risky for them."
        "Rather than saying all options are on the table, we should be saying we prefer diplomacy as a way to resolve this issue, but apparently, the Iranians do not. And they need to understand they have invested 40 years in a nuclear infrastructure, and they are putting that entire investment at risk."
        Ross added that the U.S. should provide Israel with aerial refueling capability that would send the message that America will not stand in Israel's way. "Israel has bought four KC-46s. This will allow them [Israel] to be much more effective....The Iranians believe not only that we won't act militarily but that we will stop you [Israel] from acting militarily....We should push Israel to the front of the line [for KC-46s] to immediately send a message to the Iranians that not only are we not going to stop the Israelis - we will support them."
        U.S. forces in the region "have been hit 83 times now by Iranian proxies in Syria and Iraq; we responded three times....We need to hit them in a way they don't expect. If you begin to do that, they'll also get the message, even in the region, that some of what they're doing is more dangerous than they thought. We have to convince them by our words and our actions that they have miscalculated about us and they're running a risk."  (Israel Hayom)
  • Europe Presses White House to Address Iran's Growing Nuclear Program - Laurence Norman
    Alarmed by Iran's progress in enriching uranium at close to weapons-grade levels, European countries are pressing the Biden administration to revive a diplomatic track with Tehran. Talks on reviving the 2015 nuclear accord collapsed in August when Tehran rejected a deal that would have largely restored the original pact's terms. However, Congressional support for an Iran deal was already faltering last year before Iran effectively sided with Russia over Ukraine and cracked down brutally on protesters at home.
        While a return to attempts to revive the 2015 pact appears to be off the table in the U.S. and Europe, there are a range of other possibilities, diplomats say, including some form of temporary, interim agreement. Israeli officials have long opposed an interim deal as the worst of all options - rewarding Iran for becoming a nuclear-weapon threshold state. (Wall Street Journal)


  • Palestinian Arabs

  • Abbas' Hate Speech at the UN Shows He Is Not Interested in Peace with Israel - Editorial
    Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' speech on Monday at the UN commemorating the "catastrophe" of Israel's creation was a text full of hate and lies. There is no proof of Jewish ties to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, Abbas claimed, referring to the ancient Temple Mount, where overwhelming archaeological and textual evidence proves that the First and Second Jewish Temples once stood there. He accused the U.S. and UK of being responsible for the displacement of Palestinians during the 1948 War of Independence for "their own colonial goals and objectives."
        Abbas also repeated his claim that the Palestinians were descendants of the biblical Canaanites, who lived centuries before the birth of Islam. But they certainly didn't make Jerusalem their capital. Only the Jews have ever made Jerusalem their capital.
        "The biggest lie is the claim that Israel is the only democratic state in the Middle East," said Abbas, who has just completed the 18th year of his four-year term. Abbas' reiteration of old lies and libels against Israel and the Jewish people is proof that the head of the PA is simply not interested in peace with Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Real Origin of the Palestinians' Catastrophe - Jeff Jacoby
    May 15 is the anniversary of Israel's birth in 1948. It is also the date on which Palestinians in recent years have commemorated their nakba or "catastrophe." But the nakba was self-inflicted. Contrary to the mythology promoted in many quarters today, the war that created the refugees was not launched by the infant Jewish state in order to drive the Arabs out. It was launched by the Arabs to smother that infant in its crib.
        The contemporary nakba narrative is a masterpiece of ahistorical distortion and antisemitic propaganda. It casts the events of 75 years ago as a monstrous crime successfully committed by Jews against Palestinians. The opposite is closer to the truth. In November 1947, the UN General Assembly voted to partition the land - which had been under British rule since 1917 - into "independent Arab and Jewish states." The Jews agreed to this two-state solution. The Arabs, as they had in the past and would in the future, refused. They immediately commenced a campaign of murderous aggression to prevent a Jewish state from becoming a reality.
        After the Zionist leaders, in accordance with the UN resolution, proclaimed Israel's independence, within hours bombs were falling on Tel Aviv. Arab armies from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Transjordan, and Egypt crossed Israel's borders. "This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre," promised Azzam Pasha, secretary-general of the Arab League. "We will sweep them into the sea."
        The Zionist leaders pleaded with the Palestinian Arabs to "participate in the building up of the state on the basis of full and equal citizenship and representation in all its institutions." But the Arabs spurned the Jews' plea. The nakba was the result. For 75 years, Palestinians have paid a painful price for their refusal to grasp the hand of friendship that was offered to them. (Boston Globe)
  • The Tragedy of the Palestinians - Daniel Ben-Ami
    Few seem to realize the disastrous consequences for the Palestinians of presenting Israel not just as a sometimes flawed state, like any other, but as a universal oppressor. The corollary of casting Israel as the universal oppressor is that Palestinians are expected to act as universal victims, pushed into the role of global objects of pity. This status undermines Palestinians' freedom by making them more vulnerable to manipulation by external forces.
        Recently, Iran has come to play more of a role in the Palestinian tragedy as it aims to bolster its regional presence at the expense of Israel through its support of Palestinian Islamist groups. Yet these groups do not support Palestinian self-determination. On the contrary, they share the Islamist goal of creating a transnational Islamic order. The Palestinians are being used to lead a fight for an Islamist order that transcends national borders.
        While the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has proven to be extremely intractable, a precondition for its resolution is for numerous outside forces to stop interfering. (Spiked-UK)


  • Other Issues

  • We Will Not Forget the Importance of Jerusalem - David Jablinowitz
    There is much misunderstanding about the centrality of Jerusalem to Judaism. At Jewish weddings, the common practice is for the groom to state: "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy" (Psalms 137).
        Many years ago I interviewed MK Yossi Beilin, an architect of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians who later became chairman of the Meretz party, on Jerusalem Day. He told me, "Jerusalem is historically the center of the Jewish world. There is no denying that. Promoting a peace accord with the Palestinians...does not contradict that."
        In the aftermath of the Six-Day War, there was a surge in Jewish identity and in the feeling that Israel was the place to be. It didn't mean you were an extremist. It meant that you knew you were witnessing a modern-day miracle. You knew that your ancestors could only pray in the direction of Jerusalem and could only put up a picture of the Western Wall on their living room wall to remind them that Jerusalem was in that direction. You, on the other hand, could now put your hands on the stones of the Western Wall. This is Jerusalem Day.
        The writer is the op-ed editor of the Jerusalem Post. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Crisis of Arab Intellectuals - Hussein Abdul Hussein
    The deep intellectual culture still prevalent among today's Arabs, including Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, Copts, and Druze, requires adopting the beliefs of the sect as it is, without any modification or alteration. Whoever contradicts any idea departs from the consensus, and consequently is expelled from the group and acquires the characteristics of an outsider, an apostate, or a defector.
        The intellectuals often rewrite history. In Iraq, for example, it is rare to find a Shiite intellectual who says that the U.S. was the one that overthrew Saddam Hussein, and that America led a coalition and launched thousands of airstrikes to defeat ISIS. Iraqi Shiite intellectuals avoid mentioning America, and repeat that the Popular Mobilization militias were the ones that defeated ISIS.
        The freedom that America granted to the Iraqis by uprooting Saddam did not change the Iraqi general culture, nor the Arab one, as there is no distinction between identity and opinion. The opinion follows the identity, and the identity emerges from the group, so the individual's opinion becomes identical to the group's opinion, and departure from the group's opinion becomes a departure from the group itself and betrayal.
        Because the majority of Iraqis, Syrians, Palestinians and Lebanese do not understand the meaning of freedom and opinion independent of identity and group, freedom will not spread among these peoples. In the absence of freedom, democracy is impossible to establish, and the voting process in periodic elections becomes a means of measuring the size of each group in order to determine its shares in the state.
        The writer is a researcher at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.  (An-Nahar-Lebanon)
  • Debunking the Claim that Israel Is a "Settler-Colonial Project" - Paul Schneider
    Anti-Zionists often try to delegitimize Israel by calling it a white supremacist, European-style, settler-colonial project. Yet there are several problems with that argument. The European Jews who populated Palestine were refugees, not colonizers. They came to escape oppression, not to further the interests of a mother country. They also came to reclaim their homeland, not to widen the boundaries of European influence.
        The Zionist immigrants were not British and not economically tied to Britain. Indeed, over time, Britain became the main opponent of Zionist immigration. Moreover, the Jewish return predated the British mandate, with the arrival of the first Zionists in 1882.
        A report by Moshe Aumann, Land Ownership in Palestine, 1880-1948, shows that Palestinian Arabs are not as indigenous to the land as many believe. Aumann shows that most Palestinian Arabs are the descendants of immigrants from other countries who arrived after 1882. The main cause of that immigration was "Jewish development, which created new and attractive work opportunities and, in general, a standard of living previously unknown in the Middle East."
        In addition, at least half the Jewish population of Israel is made up of people whose families were expelled from Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen. They are non-European and just as indigenous to the Middle East as any Arab.
        The writer, an attorney, is a member of the board of directors of the American Jewish International Relations Institute (AJIRI), an affiliate of B'nai B'rith International. (JNS)
  • UK Is Right to Stop Local Councils Boycotting Israel - Editorial
    Some local councils suffer from the delusion that residents are crying out for a local foreign policy. Michael Gove, the communities secretary, will soon bring forward legislation to prevent local authorities and other public bodies introducing "boycott, divestment and sanctions" (BDS) policies against foreign governments. Mr. Gove put it well last year: "The BDS campaign is designed for only one purpose: to attack and delegitimize the State of Israel and the idea that there should be a Jewish state at all."
        That councils should waste time and increasingly scarce resources endorsing a campaign whose purpose is so divisive is troubling. Local authorities have a legal duty to serve all members of the public, whatever their religion or ethnicity. Moreover, it ought not to need restating that foreign policy is the responsibility of Westminster alone. To indulge councillors who believe their grandstanding will deliver salvation to the Palestinian people is not only absurd but irresponsible.
        Those on councils who disagree with the foreign policy of His Majesty's Government should stand in a general election and win the argument nationally. They should not be creating their own micro foreign policy. (The Times-UK)
  • Israel Is Not Going Wobbly on China - Alex Nulman
    In a speech to Israel's Knesset on May 1, 2023, U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy warned of the threats of cyberespionage and intellectual property theft from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and urged Israel to increase its oversight of foreign investments, given its extensive economic cooperation with China. Yet Israel shares concerns about China's role and has made efforts to show that skepticism about its economic relations with Beijing is misplaced.
        The U.S. and Israel maintain a solid economic partnership, with trade between the countries reaching $31.7 billion in 2021. China is Israel's largest trading partner in Asia, with annual trade reaching $20 billion in 2021, up from just $250 million in the 1990s.
        Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear to the Chinese that many vital technologies, such as semiconductor-chip design and manufacturing, as well as defense and military technologies, are off-limits to them, as Washington has been and will continue to be its main partner. But the civil benefits that Israeli innovation in pharmaceuticals, energy, agriculture, water, and food technology can provide the 1.4 billion Chinese should be no threat to Washington as long as Jerusalem does its due diligence. From Israel's point of view, establishing friendly relations with nations big and small has immense value, but Israel knows this goal cannot come at the price of its closeness with the U.S.
        Jerusalem vowed in 2021 to inform Washington in advance of any significant investment deals it might make with Beijing and signaled its willingness to reconsider if necessary. Israel is also taking a more deliberate role in overseeing projects by Chinese companies such as the Tel Aviv light rail and critical infrastructure projects in the water and energy sectors.
        Israel's foreign-investments advisory committee had its powers expanded in 2022, requiring further scrutiny of and sensitivity to Israel's national-security needs when deciding whether to accept foreign investment. The signal that Jerusalem is sending could hardly be clearer. (National Review)


  • Weekend Features

  • Israel's Mosaic - Fiamma Nirenstein
    The image of Israel as a land of chaos is belied by what one sees on the ground: A country that is wealthy, orderly and clean despite immense hardships, terrorism and political conflicts. It is hyperactive, crowded, ever searching for more industries, startups, hospitals, cars, flowerbeds... more and more, all new and exciting.
        Any Jew can become an Israeli citizen if he or she wishes to do so, because Israel believes that every Jew is part of the Jewish people. The indissoluble link between nation and religion is not just ancient but fundamental to Israel's existence. David Ben-Gurion, a socialist, was a secular man who founded a secular state, but his knowledge of the Bible was immense and he believed that the visions of the prophets were the cornerstone of the nation.
        In Israel, the various sects and communities contend and coexist, but such is the case in any diverse and democratic country. It is a beautiful mosaic. On the eve of every war, Israel's enemies have declared that Israel was already falling apart, collapsing from internal divisions. And yet, it was Israel that emerged victorious.
        The writer, a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, served as vice president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Italian Chamber of Deputies. (JNS)
  • At 75, Israel Has Plenty to Celebrate - Bret Stephens
    For all its challenges, Israel is doing remarkably well. It started its national life dirt-poor. Its peer group of countries includes Syria, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and North and South Korea. These states came into being with many of the same core problems: hostile neighbors, unsettled borders, deep poverty, restive ethnic and religious minorities and other unresolved dilemmas from their independence struggles. As with Israel, many of those problems still dog most of those states.
        Those who think the Palestinian issue is unique should consider the situation of Kashmiris in India, Tamils in Sri Lanka, or Kurds in Syria. If Israelis haven't settled the conflict with the Palestinians, neither have they allowed themselves to be consumed by it. Israel is not a country that defines itself in terms of what it's against, what it's not, or who has done what to it. There is also an affirmative vision of Israeli identity, centered on the ideal of a renovated and renewed Jewish civilization within which its citizens can find prosperity, a sense of purpose and relative security. (New York Times)
  • Israel at 75 Is Threatened but Strong - Walter Russell Mead
    For the first 25 years of Israel's independence, American presidents were more interested in cultivating Arab leaders than in aligning with Jerusalem. Only after Richard Nixon concluded that an Israeli defeat in the 1973 Yom Kippur War would empower the Soviet Union across the Middle East did Washington move toward a strategic relationship. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Washington saw Jerusalem as a necessary partner in containing Iran and, after 9/11, the war on terror.
        American policy toward Israel depends on how a given U.S. president sees American interests world-wide. For the past half-century, American presidents generally believed that the Middle East, thanks to its oil reserves, was a high priority in America's strategy of global engagement and that a close relationship with Israel on balance strengthened America's position in the region and beyond.
        The likelihood of a wholesale American withdrawal from the Middle East is likely overestimated. The energy transition will probably take longer and be less total than greens hope. And global geopolitical competition is more likely to buttress American support for limiting Chinese influence in the Middle East. In any case, Israel today is orders of magnitude stronger, wealthier and more influential than it was in 1948.
        The writer, a fellow at the Hudson Institute, is Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College. (Wall Street Journal)
Observations:

  • In his new book Two States for Two Peoples: The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, International Law and European Union Policy, Prof. Andrew Tucker, director of Thinc., the Hague Initiative for International Cooperation, examines the EU assumption that the much-invoked two-state solution will provide relief for the ills of the Middle East by establishing a fully sovereign Palestinian state along the 1967 Green Line.
  • Tucker and co-authors Profs. Wolfgang Bock and Gregory Rose assert that the Europeans propose a "utopian" solution disconnected from international legal norms, history, and the region's political realities.
  • "Despite decades of strenuous EU efforts, expending tens of billions of euros, the reality is that we are still light years away from either a negotiated settlement of the conflict or an independent, democratic and peaceful Palestinian state," Tucker told the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on May 14.
  • Tucker said that Europeans feel they have invested a great deal of effort and money in a resolution of the conflict, while enjoying very little transparency regarding the funds they funnel to blatantly anti-Israel Palestinian NGOs.
  • The book raises the question of whether a Palestinian state is required by international law, whether such a state is practically achievable, and what can be done to solve the conflict. Former Israel Foreign Ministry legal adviser Amb. Alan Baker emphasized that the very concept of "occupied Palestinian territory" is a legal fiction, as are "1967 borders." "No binding document has agreed upon" the two-state solution, and though the Quartet's 2003 recommendations called for negotiations, they did not require a two-state solution.
  • Tucker pointed out that the EU has ignored the fundamentally religious and cultural nature of the Arab rejection of the Jewish state - which began decades before Israel's establishment - and the continued rejection of peace and land-sharing by the Palestinians over the past century.

    The writer is a senior researcher and program coordinator at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

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