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Conflicting Interests: Tehran and the National Aspirations of the Iraqi Kurds

December 14, 2017,

The national aspirations of the Kurdish minority in Iraq pose a challenge to the four countries that have a large Kurdish population. It is not by chance that the decision to hold a referendum provoked furious reactions among the leaders of Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria. According to the received wisdom, the success of Iraq’s Kurdish minority in realizing its national self-determination will serve as a catalyst for separatist tendencies among the Iranian Kurds. However, Tehran’s firm opposition to the move stems not only from the fear of a "chain reaction" but also from strategic and geopolitical consideration. In other words, the controversy between Shiite Iran and the Kurdish minority in Iraq is not the result of an historical memory of an uprising that led to the establishment of the "Republic of Mahabad" in the 1940s, but consists of other levels that express opposing aspirations in a changing geopolitical space.more

Syria’s Sunni Arabs and Israel: The War’s Silver Lining?

December 13, 2017,

The war in Syria has resulted in many changes to its society, including a perceptible shift in the Sunni Arab majority's attitude towards Israel. However, that shift remains very limited in scope. Much still needs to be done on both sides of the border to root out the Syrian culture of anti-Semitism.more

Transition in the Middle East: Transition to What?

December 13, 2017,

Transition is the name of the game in the Middle East and North Africa. The question is, transition to what? The answer to that question lies in an Arab autocratic push for a Saudi-led regional order that would be based on an upgraded, 21st century version of autocracy designed to fortify absolute rule. To achieve this, autocrats have embraced economic reform accompanied by social change that would allow them to efficiently deliver public goods and services. It is an approach that rejects recognition of basic freedoms and political rights, but is likely – eventually – to produce more open and inclusive political systems that ensure that all segments of society have a stake.more

Trump’s Recognition of Jerusalem: Enough with Dread and Circuses

December 12, 2017,

The Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” is strictly a two-party affair. It cannot and will not succeed if the OIC-57 and the G-77 continue to collude towards pitting the UN perpetually against Israel. Reminding the world in no uncertain terms of the fact that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital invites doubters and deniers to come to their senses at last and start negotiating in realistic terms – if “a just and durable peace for all” is, in fact, what the Islamic countries and their allies are after.more

Macron’s Presidency Heralds Nothing New in Israel-France Relations

December 12, 2017,

Emmanuel Macron’s presidency heralds no new era in Israel-France relations, particularly on issues relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Like other French presidents before him, he condemns Palestinian terrorism and Israeli settlements in the West Bank as if they are moral equivalents. His response to US President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was to reassert the traditional French subscription to the two-state solution and to stress that Paris does not approve of the American move.more

DEBATE: Trump’s Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital – What Does It Mean?

December 11, 2017,

Q: On December 6, 2017, US President Donald Trump made a statement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and declaring that his administration will immediately begin the process of building an embassy in Jerusalem. What does Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital mean? Respondents: Elliott Abrams, Daniel Pipes, Max Singer, Eytan Gilboa, Jonathan Rynhold, Hillel Frischmore

North Korea’s Missile Program

December 10, 2017,

North Korea's missile program demonstrates Pyongyang's ability to build a reliable deterrence capability against the US – but the program requires a huge budget. Pyongyang should be able to fund the industry in the short term, but sanctions and costs might eventually force it either to look for new income sources or to offer tactical concessions.more

Why Does the Average Turk Love Erdoğan?

December 10, 2017,

A quick glance at Turkey’s facts and figures helps to explain why the Turks love their leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. There are striking parallels between the political sociology of the average Turkish voter and Erdoğan’s Islamist worldview. In a way, Erdoğan is what the average Turk sees when he looks in the mirror.more

Reading Palestinian Responses to Trump’s Jerusalem Declaration

December 8, 2017,

The PA and Hamas are hopeful that unorganized Palestinian youth will mobilize against President Trump’s declaration acknowledging that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. A groundswell from the streets would preclude the necessity for the two organizations to actively take the lead. However, the readers of al-Quds, the Palestinian silent majority, are loath to sacrifice their sons on behalf of the warring factions.more

The Chaotic Arab World Has Nothing to Offer Israel

Israel should not do the bidding of the divided and bankrupt Arab world and strive to contain Tehran’s hegemonic ambitions at an exorbitant human and material cost. Nor should it trust its Arab neighbors to offer genuine peace once the Iranian threat is eliminated. more

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New at BESA Center

DEBATE: Trump’s Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital – What Does It Mean?

December 11, 2017

Q: On December 6, 2017, US President Donald Trump made a statement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and declaring that his administration will immediately begin the process of building an embassy in Jerusalem. What does Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital mean?

Respondents: Elliott Abrams, Daniel Pipes, Max Singer, Eytan Gilboa, Jonathan Rynhold, Hillel Frisch

Arabs and Turks Welcomed the Balfour Declaration

November 8, 2017

It was not the Balfour Declaration that paved the road to the “Nakba” but its rejection by the extremist Palestinian Arab leadership headed by the Jerusalem Mufti Hajj Amin Husseini – against the wishes of ordinary Palestinian Arabs who would rather coexist with their Jewish neighbors and take advantage of opportunities created by the evolving Jewish national enterprise. Had this leadership not ignored the wishes of its subjects, and the will of the international community for that matter, there would have been no Nakba.

Greece, Israel, and China’s “Belt and Road” Initiative

October 31, 2017

China’s “Belt and Road” initiative signals the continuation and expansion of a pre-existing incremental policy that aims to strengthen China’s economic and geopolitical roles, though Beijing’s long-term approach remains unclear. The initiative does not immediately bring Greece and Israel closer. But it gives the two countries an opportunity to discuss China’s new role in the Mediterranean and to maximize bilateral relationships with Beijing without challenging their pro-West orientation.

In Memoriam: Irwin Hochberg

October 15, 2017

The BESA Center for Strategic Studies was saddened to learn of the passing of Irwin Hochberg, a longtime friend of the Center and a tireless supporter of the State of Israel.

The Low-Profile War Between Israel and Hezbollah

August 31, 2017

In defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 that ended the 2006 Second Lebanon war, Hezbollah and its Iranian patron, with the assistance of the Bashar Assad regime, are filling Lebanon with surface-to-surface projectiles, and aiming them at population centers and strategic sites in Israel. To forestall this threat, the Israeli defense establishment has, according to media reports, been waging a low-profile military and intelligence campaign, dubbed “The War Between Wars,” which monitors and occasionally disrupts the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah.

Foreign Investment in Israel’s Strategic Industries

July 27, 2017

The changing map of foreign investment in Israel demands a new balance between market access and investment review. The Israeli government has not yet communicated to the global investment community its vision for foreign investment in Israel, especially in the banking, insurance, commodities and defense markets. This vision is crucial so that multinational companies can make informed investment decisions. Current ambiguities in this regard leads to policy inconsistency, resulting in the fact that many potential foreign buyers avoid penetrating the Israeli market altogether.

The BESA Center Bulletin, July 2017

July 1, 2017

BESA Center associates participated in numerous public forums and international media discussions surrounding the fiftieth anniversary in June of the Six Day War. They also penned a dozen critical examinations of the war and its legacy. They see the jubilee as an opportunity for strategic retrospection and truth-telling, not hand-wringing and self-flagellation.

Washington and Moscow: Confrontation or Cooperation?

Behind the ongoing media frenzy, America seems deeply divided over whether to pursue a hard line with Russia or to cooperate with it. With Donald Trump favoring the latter course, Moscow “voted” for him in the 2016 elections. But the Kremlin’s cybernetic interference in the election has led to ongoing Russo-gate and efforts by President Trump’s foes to paint him as a Manchurian candidate.

Rethinking the Six-Day War

It has long been conventional wisdom to view the June 1967 war as an accidental conflagration that neither Arabs nor Israelis desired, yet none were able to prevent. This could not be further from the truth. Its specific timing resulted of course from the convergence of a number of particular causes at a particular juncture. But its general cause—the total Arab rejection of Jewish statehood—made another all-out Arab-Israeli war a foregone conclusion.

Israel’s Inelegant Options in Judea and Samaria: Withdrawal, Annexation, and Conflict Management

In advance of the fiftieth anniversary of the Six Day War, Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror examines the two basic approaches to resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, and application of Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and the creation of a bi-national state (in practice).

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.