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Why Didn’t Chinese Investment Ease Ethnic Tensions in Xinjiang?

February 23, 2018,

The assumption that economic investment aimed at increasing modernization and raising standards of living will weaken ethnic identity and strengthen a minority’s sense of belonging has been disproven in the case of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region (XUAR) in western China. Uyghur nationalism is increasing despite significant economic investment by the Chinese government, raising questions about the effectiveness of economic development programs designed to close gaps and diminish polarization between different groups.more

DEBATE: What Is the Best Way to Transport Levantine Gas to Europe?

February 22, 2018,

Q:  Energy discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean are changing regional dynamics in the Basin. Key players – principally Cyprus, Egypt, and Israel – are taking steps to achieve energy independence and are exploring opportunities for exports. The EU, which is interested in reducing its energy dependency on Russia, could be a client in the future. BESA joins the debate by asking: How can natural gas from the Eastern Mediterranean be better transported to Europe?more

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Thinking Outside the Box

A creative solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must start with appreciating the advantages of the hybrid spatial model that has emerged in the West Bank, notably the governmental powers granted to the Palestinian Authority as far back as January 1996 in Areas A and B, and discarding the stillborn paradigm of total separation.more

Iran’s New Anti-Israel “Resistance Axis”

February 20, 2018,

The recent infiltration of the Israeli airspace by an Iranian drone, and the chain of events that followed, occurred in the context of a process of transition in the Iranian strategic approach: from covert intervention by proxy to direct pursuit of the anti-Israeli “resistance axis.” more

How the IDF Is Preparing for Multi-Front War

February 19, 2018,

The IDF is implementing a plan to improve its ability to operate on multiple battle fronts simultaneously. While there is no indication that any one of Israel's enemies is interested in initiating a full-scale war in the near future, the growing explosiveness of the region means that any tactical incident can snowball and turn into an unintended armed conflict very quickly – and one front can ignite others. more

Narendra Modi’s Visit to Ramallah

February 18, 2018,

During Indian PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel in July 2017, India finally ended its long practice that dignitaries who visit Israel must also travel to the Palestinian-controlled territories. On February 10, 2018, he conducted a landmark visit to Ramallah, the first such visit by an Indian PM – and did not visit Israel. This “de-hyphenation” of Israel-Palestine reflects Modi’s pragmatic and sensible approach to relations with the two entities.more

Jewish Organizations and Populist Right-Wing Parties in Europe: Engage or Ostracize?

February 16, 2018,

The Jewish world is divided on whether to engage or ostracize populist right-wing parties in Europe. The experience of Jews in the US and Poland suggests that a pragmatic approach would best serve the interests of both European Jews and Israel.more

Russia and the Israeli-Syrian-Iranian Confrontation

February 15, 2018,

On February 11, 2018, Israel conducted multiple airstrikes on Syrian-Iranian targets in Syria in response to the downing of an Israeli F-16 in Israeli territory following infiltration by an Iranian drone. Moscow’s mild reaction to these events reflects its desire to maintain cooperation with both Tehran and Jerusalem.more

How Israel Should Handle Gaza’s “Humanitarian Disaster”

February 14, 2018,

In all the years of murderous conflict in Syria and Iraq, neither has experienced a humanitarian disaster in the form of a widespread crisis involving mass hunger and the spread of hunger-related diseases. Yet officials warn that such a crisis could unfold in Gaza. How likely is that prognosis? And if it does occur, what should Israel’s policy be?more

Jerusalem, Israel’s Capital, Is a Peaceful City

February 14, 2018,

Mention the word “Jerusalem,” which is derived from the word “peace,” and anything but peace comes to mind. Yet the city of Jerusalem is safer by far than San Francisco, thanks to good policing and traditional life among both the Jewish and Arab populations. more

Turkey and Iran’s Skin-Deep Friendship

February 13, 2018,

Like most moments in the passionate Turkish-Persian relationship, incidents of Muslim-to-Muslim fraternity are misleading. For the mullahs in Tehran, Turkey remains too western, too treacherous, and too Sunni. For the neo-Ottomans in Ankara, Iran remains too discreetly hostile, too ambitious, too untrustworthy, and too Shiite.more

Mahmoud Abbas’s Speech: Who Was the Real Audience?

Mahmoud Abbas’s blatantly skewed account of the nature of Zionism and the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict should bring Israel’s policymakers and opinion shapers to enunciate anew the story they tell their own people and the world at large.more

The DOD’s Focus Is on World Order Strategy

February 11, 2018,

Scholars disagree as to whether there exists a liberalizing global political order that has been preserved through American hegemony since World War II (often referred to as the “liberal world order”). Still, it is generally agreed upon that the US has been the dominant power in global affairs since at least the fall of the Soviet Union. With the release of the Trump administration’s National Defense Strategy, the US Department of Defense is weighing in on this debate. Specifically, it has announced that American security policy is shifting from counterterrorism in the Middle East to strategizing against rising world powers like China. The reason for this pivot, according to the Pentagon, is the need to protect the current world order from states that seek to revise it.more

The 2018 Winter Olympics: Divided We Stand

February 9, 2018,

The PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea is a major political as well as sporting event. The Olympic spirit of peace will be on full display when the North and South Korean teams enter the stadium together and even play together. But the new euphoria on the Peninsula has reignited a political debate between Korean conservatives and liberals on policy towards North Korea. While liberals see the Olympics as an opportunity for negotiation, conservatives see Pyongyang’s agreement to attend as a tactic to gain benefits and not a genuine expression of warming relations.more

DEBATE: Should US Aid to the Palestinians Be Suspended?

February 8, 2018,

Q: On January 2, 2018, US President Donald Trump threatened to pull funding from the Palestinians with the tweet: “But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?” Two weeks later, the US said that it while it remains committed to a voluntary contribution of $60 million to sustain Palestinian schools and health services, it is holding back a further $65 million for reconsideration. BESA joins the debate by posing the question: Should US aid to the Palestinians be suspended?more

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New at BESA Center

In Memoriam

February 22, 2018

The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and its Director, Efraim Karsh, mourn the passing of the mother of Judith Levy, one of the BESA Center’s staff members.

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?

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.

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

DEBATE: Decertification of the Iran Deal – What Happens Next?

November 24, 2017

Q: Will the decertification of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) Iran nuclear agreement by US President Donald Trump pave the way to fixing it?

Respondents: Michael Rubin, Emily B. Landau, Barbara Slavin, Behnam Ben Taleblu, Paulina Izewicz, Raphael Ofek

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.

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.

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.