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Pakistan and Its Militants: Who Is Mainstreaming Whom?

November 18, 2018,

Pakistani militants of various stripes collectively won just under 10% of the vote in the July 2018 parliamentary elections. Some represented longstanding legal Islamist parties, others newly established groups or fronts for  organizations that have been banned as terrorists by Pakistan and/or the United Nations and the United States. The militants failed to secure a single seat in the national assembly but have maintained, if not increased, their ability to shape national debate, mainstream politics, and societal attitudes. Their ability to field candidates in almost all constituencies, and, in many cases, their performance as debutants enhanced their legitimacy.more

DEBATE: What Happened to Arab Support for the Palestinians?

November 16, 2018,

While the continuing influence of the Palestinians on the Arab world should not be underestimated, the current landscape in the Middle East is bringing new policy priorities to the fore. As Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, recently observed, “The Arab states are no longer dancing to the Palestinians’ tune.” BESA joins the debate by posing the question: What has happened to Arab support for the Palestinians?more

The Israeli Security Concept: Wandering Through a Maze

The recent round of fighting between Israel and Hamas was seemingly sparked by the exposure of an Israeli special forces team during a covert operation in Khan Yunis. The Hamas leadership, which apparently is not interested in war, nevertheless chose to respond by escalating to the very brink. Why has the Israeli government refrained (yet again) from instructing the IDF to settle the Hamas threat?more

Turkey vs. the Southern Caucasus Republics

On October 13, 1921, the Kars Agreement was signed in the town of Kars in eastern Anatolia (Western Armenia). This agreement redrew, in Turkey’s favor, the Kars-Ardahan-Artvin border between Turkey and the Caucasus republics of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, an area that had been stripped from Turkey by the post-WWI Sèvres peace treaty. While there are irredentist trends in the now independent Caucasian republics that wish to invalidate the Turkish claim, they are being restrained by present day realities.more

An International Jewish View on the Pittsburgh Murders

November 13, 2018,

The killing of 11 Jews in Pittsburgh is the next in a series of lethal attacks targeting Jews and their institutions for decades around the world. In killings outside the US, the murderers of Jews are often Muslim, while in Pittsburgh the murderer was a white supremacist. The First Amendment of the American Constitution enables hate speech, which is a deficiency in any society. The Pittsburgh killings demonstrate that Jews are subject to threat all over the world, including in the US.more

The Fragility of Middle East Alliances

November 12, 2018,

Competition among Middle Eastern rivals and ultimate power within the region’s various alliances is increasingly as much economic and commercial as it is military and geopolitical. Battles are fought as much on geopolitical fronts as they are on economic and cultural battlefields such as soccer.more

Russia Responds to Military Pressure, not Economic

November 11, 2018,

Russia has been subjected to numerous economic sanctions from Western countries that have tried to compel it to abandon its interventions across the former Soviet space. Although sanctions harm Russia’s economy and raise discontent among the population, they are unlikely to change Moscow’s behavior. Russia’s history shows that it is only military pressure that influences it to change.more

Israel Must Make a Decision on Gaza

November 9, 2018,

For over a decade, Israel has avoided deciding whether its interests are better served by maintaining the current “two Palestinian states” status quo, or by seeing Gaza rejoin the Palestinian Authority. The result is an untenable, chronic-crisis situation that empowers Mahmoud Abbas and is a lose-lose situation for Israel.more

The 1981 AWACS Deal: AIPAC and Israel Challenge Reagan

November 8, 2018,

In 1981, US President Ronald Reagan's decision to implement a large arms deal with Saudi Arabia involving aircraft, tanks, and Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) prompted a determined campaign against it spearheaded by the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). AIPAC and the Israeli government found the inclusion of the AWACS in the deal particularly troubling, as they threatened to speed up the regional arms race and erode Israel's technological edge. President Reagan was equally determined to see the deal go through, as failure to do so would have had a detrimental effect on his authority and international standing. In his first major policy challenge in the White House, Reagan led a no-holds-barred effort to convince Congress to approve the deal. This conflict between a US president and Israel illustrates the peril into which a small state wades when it asserts its own perceived national interest at the expense of that of a far more powerful ally. This dynamic would come to the fore once again decades later, when Benjamin Netanyahu would openly resist the efforts of President Barack Obama to reach a nuclear accord with Iran.more

There Is No Political Solution for Gaza

November 7, 2018,

The claim that an agreement among the US administration, the Palestinian Authority, and the Egyptians to allow the PA to turn the financial screws on Hamas would culminate in the PA’s reassertion of control over the Gaza Strip could not be further from reality. In the Middle East, only armed force prevails.more

Can Organized Jewry in Germany Behave “Normally?”

November 6, 2018,

Recently, about 20 Jews created a Jewish section in Germany’s right-wing populist and anti-Islam AfD party, prompting a dramatic reaction among the German Jewish community. Seventeen Jewish organizations came out against the Jewish AfD group. Yet the greatest threat to the Jewish community’s future in the country resides not with AfD but with the mainstream parties, the CDU and the SPD. Their joint governments have let in millions of immigrants, many of whom are anti-Semitic Muslims.more

Pragmatism Drives the Sino-Israeli Partnership

November 5, 2018,

The relationship between China and Israel is based largely on harmonious economic cooperation, although security implications cannot be ignored as the Belt and Road Initiative is implemented. It can be argued that China is interested in playing a risky game in the region that goes beyond economics. Still, the two countries can look for new, original fields in which to collaborate. Jerusalem’s experience of remembering the Holocaust and combating deniers might be useful with respect to Beijing’s remembrance of the Nanjing Massacre.more

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New at BESA Center

There Is No Political Solution for Gaza

November 7, 2018

The claim that an agreement among the US administration, the Palestinian Authority, and the Egyptians to allow the PA to turn the financial screws on Hamas would culminate in the PA’s reassertion of control over the Gaza Strip could not be further from reality. In the Middle East, only armed force prevails.

Conference: The Oslo Process 25 Years On

September 3, 2018

On September 3, 2018, the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies convened a conference on “The Oslo Process 25 Years On”.

The Privileged Palestinian “Refugees”

May 15, 2018

The “Palestine refugees” have been exceptionally indulged by the international community for seventy long years. This ranged from their very recognition as refugees though most of them fail to satisfy the basic criteria for such status, to the unprecedented benefit of a relief agency created exclusively for their welfare (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA), to the unique privilege of passing on “refugee” status to future generations.

Conference: Reforming UNRWA

March 18, 2018

“Palestine refugees” have been exceptionally indulged by the international community for 70 long years. Consider the ways: They should not even have been classified as refugees, they had the unprecedented benefit of a relief agency created exclusively for their welfare (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA), and they uniquely can pass on the “refugee” status to future generations.

Reframing the Middle Eastern and Palestinian Refugee Crises

March 13, 2018 and

There are two Middle Eastern refugee crises currently vying for resources and attention. One is nominally focused on Syria but in fact extends from Libya to Afghanistan. The other crisis is Palestinian and has supposedly been going on since 1948. A closer look at the causes of these crises shows the former to be primarily the result of the collapsing Arab state system and the rise of militant Islam, while the latter cannot be considered a crisis at all.

Conference: Strategic Challenges in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Gulf

February 22, 2018

Videos from the February 22 international conference on Strategic Challenges in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Gulf, convened by the BESA Center and B’nai B’rith International.

Surviving Donald Trump: Israel’s Strategic Options

February 2, 2018

While Israel has always been determinedly self-reliant on core matters of national security, this posture needs to become even more explicit in the disjointed “Trump Era.” In correctly acknowledging the unpredictability and possible incoherence of Trump’s developing policies towards the Middle East, Jerusalem will need to direct special attention towards growing prospects for “Cold War II,” and certain incrementally needed revisions of Israeli nuclear strategy.

DEBATE: What Is the Best Way to Deal with North Korea?

December 31, 2017

Q: A few weeks after the visit of US President Donald Trump to Asia, North Korea is continuing with its missile launches. While the military option is openly on Washington’s agenda, a potential diplomatic solution cannot be excluded. BESA is joining the debate by asking experts: What is the best way to deal with North Korea?

Recent Conferences

Australia-Israel Dialogue

November 1, 2017

On November 1, 2017, the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and Bar-Ilan Univeristy co-hosted the “Be’er Sheva Dialogue” at the Renaissance Tel Aviv Hotel. The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister of Australia, was in attendance.

Strategic Challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean

February 21, 2017

On February 21, 2017, for the second consecutive year, the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and B’nai B’rith International jointly held an international conference on Strategic Challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean. The event, which took place at the Begin-Sadat Center, involved the participation of experts from Greece, Russia, Britain, Turkey, Albania, the US, and Israel.