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Sanders, AIPAC, and Israel

February 26, 2020,

Unpacking Senator Bernie Sanders’ announcement that he will not attend the annual AIPAC Policy Conference because the organization provides a “platform” for “leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights” reveals a gambit to split American Jews not only from AIPAC but from Israel. Accusing Israeli leaders and voters of being “right wing” and “racist” sets the stage for other Democratic candidates and American Jews to chance being labeled as the same.more

The Inherent Threat of the Nuclear Launch Button

Though the Cold War ended long ago, there remains a danger that a nuclear launch might be initiated. This could occur as a result of human decision-making, artificial intelligence decision-making, or a combination of the two, whether by intent or in error. The only real way to remove the threat of a nuclear weapons launch is to cleanse the world of nuclear weapons, starting with the superpowers.more

Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” Plan

February 25, 2020, and

For the past century, Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs have lived through an unceasing conflict, with the disputed issues remaining largely the same throughout. The realities on the ground mean no plan will ever be perfect, but President Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan is the most realistic and achievable yet proposed.more

How Hamas Spends Qatari Money

February 25, 2020,

Hamas is probably getting the lion’s share of the 268 million shekels provided by Qatar to Gaza, according to a senior Hamas official. Israel allows the transfer of this “protection” money—but instead of giving Israel “protection”, the devastating trickle of missiles from the pre-2014 period is back augmented by daily batches of incendiary balloons. Only another massive round of fighting will bring quiet to Israel’s southern front.more

The Renewed Importance of Territorial Defense of the Border Communities

In light of the new defensive challenges along the confrontation lines, and particularly the growing threat of the surprise infiltration of Israeli territory by Hezbollah and Hamas forces, it is once again vital to involve the border communities in territorial defense. Defensive preparedness in these communities can provide a safety net in the event of a surprise attack and enable more appropriate and effective use of regular IDF forces in a state of emergency.more

The History of the Land Is Jewish, Not Palestinian

February 23, 2020,

The claim by the elected representatives of the Israeli Arab public that they are the original owners of the land while the Jewish citizens of Israel (and, by implication, the State of Israel itself) are “colonialist invaders” is a complete inversion of historical reality. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s declaration about the legality of the West Bank’s Jewish communities, along with President Trump’s peace plan based on that principle, offers a unique opportunity to correct that mistaken notion by applying sovereignty to all Israeli West Bank communities.more

The Chinese Penetration of Israeli Media

February 21, 2020,

In 2009, China Radio International (CRI) began broadcasting in Hebrew. This venture has proven a success for the Chinese and a failure for the Israeli media, which uncritically swallow the messages sent out by CRI’s Hebrew team.more

George Steiner’s Misconceived Thinking About Jews and Judaism

February 20, 2020,

George Steiner, who passed away in early February at the age of 90, was Jewish, a leading public intellectual, and a literary critic. For all his gifts and accomplishments, he was often radically wrong about Judaism and Jewish history.more

How to Save the Failing World Order?

February 19, 2020,

As China rises and the West grows increasingly troubled, the existing world order is in flux. To adjust it, the US would need to strengthen its alliances across Eurasia, initiate economic plans, and work closely with the Chinese. Casting Beijing out would be detrimental, but giving it large concessions is too risky. Western and Chinese diplomats will need to find a middle ground if they are to be more successful than were their predecessors from other periods of history.more

Judicial Challenges to the Dominance of Pakistan’s Army

February 18, 2020,

The government of Pakistan, led by the PTI party, has filed a review petition before the Pakistani Supreme Court against the Court’s decision that the term of Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa continue for another six months, during which time the parliament should legislate on the position’s extension or reappointment. The government argues that Bajwa’s term should be extended not for six months but for three years, and that the position’s term is none of the parliament’s business. This leaves no doubt that a civilian politician wishing to enjoy his stay at the prime minister’s residence has essentially no option but to bend to the will of the Army Chief, who is the most powerful person in Pakistan.more

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What’s New

In Memoriam: Max Singer

January 26, 2020

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dr. Max Singer, co-founder of the Washington-based Hudson Institute and research associate of long standing at the BESA Center. Max was an expert on American defense policy, US-Israel relations, and long-term strategic planning. He will be greatly missed.

The Soleimani Killing: An Initial Assessment

The targeted killing by the US of Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force and close confidant of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has unsettled the region and the world. We have assembled initial takes on this event by five BESA researchers: Prof. Hillel Frisch, Prof. Eytan Gilboa, Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, Dr. Doron Itzchakov, and Alex Joffe. 

Conference: Is Israel Prepared for War?

December 4, 2019

Video: Lectures from the December 4, 2019 conference on “Is Israel Prepared for War?”

Hezbollah’s Demographic Problem Explains Its Restraint

September 8, 2019

Hezbollah responded with restraint to Israel’s three-pronged attacks over the past two weeks in Syria, Iraq, and, above all, a neighborhood in Dahiya, the vast Shiite area in Beirut where Hezbollah is headquartered. The organization’s effort to avoid escalation reflects its demographic problem in Lebanon.

The EU Is Battling Israel in Area C

September 2, 2019

Ever since a decision in January 2012, the EU has been expressly committed to the expansion of illegal Palestinian settlement in Area C in conjunction with the PA. This is in blatant disregard of the Oslo accords, which the EU purports to uphold. The object is to create continuous Palestinian settlement throughout the West Bank and thereby isolate and strangle Israeli communities.

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.

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.

Israel’s Possible Paths to Nuclear War

July 22, 2017

North Korea’s nuclearization has implications for Israel’s nuclear deterrence posture. There are several plausible means by which a nuclear conflict could arise in the Middle East. It may be time to consider a phase-out of Israel’s “deliberate nuclear ambiguity” and to focus Israeli planning around evaluations of enemy rationality.

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.