Col (Res.) Dr. Raphael G. Bouchnik-Chen

Col (Res.) Dr. Raphael G. Bouchnik-Chen

Col (Res.) Dr. Raphael G. Bouchnik-Chen

(Ph.D. Jinan University, China). Specializes in Middle Eastern and international affairs. Served for 26 years in IDF military intelligence in several senior assignments, including Head of the Review Department. Served for 3 years in the Prime Minister’s office and Ministry of Defense, and fulfilled a diplomatic mission in the Far East.

Revisiting the Principle of the “Legitimate Rights of the Palestinian People”

The US administration is reportedly considering the principle of autonomy for the Palestinians as the political goal of the “Deal of the Century.” This framework was initially introduced by Menachem Begin during the 1978 Camp David summit and appeared in the signed accords. Though the idea was never brought to fruition, it enabled the entrenchment of the mantra known as “the legitimate rights of the Palestinian People” – a formula that owes much to Israeli Chief Justice Aharon Barak, who served as Begin’s legal advisor at Camp David.

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The Bahrain Conference: Nothing New Under the Sun

“Peace to Prosperity” is certainly an ambitious title for the Bahrain Conference, which offers an “out of the box” plan to handle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The US vision essentially turns the “refugees” from liabilities into assets, thereby taking the refugee issue off the table. This concept has an historic precedent: the resettlement initiative presented by UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold on June 15, 1959.  Both plans received the same response from Palestinians: angry dismissal.

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Trump’s Foreign Policy Is Not Chaotic

Though politicians and scholars harshly criticize President Donald Trump’s foreign policy as chaotic, his policymaking seems to be based upon a sound and consistent political approach, contrary to that of his predecessor in the White House. Several decisions taken by Trump can fall under the rubric of the political science theory known as “Supersession,” which stipulates that changing circumstances and the passage of time are formative guidelines to the handling of international conflicts.

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The False “Nakba” Narrative

The term “Nakba,” originally coined to describe the magnitude of the self-inflicted Palestinian and Arab defeat in the 1948 war, has become in recent decades a synonym for Palestinian victimhood, with failed aggressors transformed into hapless victims and vice versa. Israel should do its utmost to uproot this false image by exposing its patently false historical basis.

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Lessons from the Failed “Gaza Initiative” of 1949

Seventy years ago, while the Arab-Israeli Lausanne peace talks were deadlocked, a pioneering and creative diplomatic initiative was aired to deal with the fate of Gaza and its Palestinian Arab refugees. This US initiative was a serious effort to bring about a settlement between Egypt and Israel while contributing to a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem. Though it ended in failure, it provided valuable lessons.

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Avoiding the Politicization of Intelligence and Policy-Making

If policy-making is to be honest and clean, intelligence must not be misused for political purposes. Intelligence input should be professional, independent, and courageous. Several cases in the US illustrate the complex interaction between leadership and the intelligence community and the temptation to manipulate intelligence to gain leverage in internal political disputes.

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Revisiting Walter Eytan’s “The First Ten Years”

The diplomatic history of Israel as related by Dr. Walter Eytan, the first director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the founding father of the Israeli diplomatic service, provides an intimate insight into Israel’s political and international struggle for survival. Sixty years after publication of Eytan’s book, his vision and legacy remain valid and warrant renewed attention.

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Can Hamas Disrupt Commercial Flights to Israel?

Hamas has repeatedly threatened to disrupt commercial flights to Israel, a threat intended to deter Israel whenever a violent round of hostilities erupts. This threat hearkens back to the flight ban that was imposed on Israel during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge following a Hamas rocket attack on Yahud. While the flight ban was more a reflection of the Obama administration’s desire to put political pressure on Israel than a reflection of genuine safety concerns, Israeli decision makers do seem to consider the Hamas threat to Ben-Gurion Airport to be viable. In fact, it is more a propaganda message than a concrete threat.

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Deterrence Is Not Everything

Israel’s decisions a) to contain Hamas’s continuous provocations rather than use them as a casus belli and b) to refrain from an immediate military response to the discovery of Hezbollah tunnels into Israeli sovereign territory in the northern Galilee highlight the issue of deterrence as a core factor affecting the Israeli image in the region. Assuming the current Israeli modus operandi is the product of rational and thoughtful staff work, it can be inferred that deterrence is no longer either a decisive factor or even a strategic goal in the asymmetric conflicts with Hamas and Hezbollah.

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The EU’s Utopian Approach to Iran

Europe’s attitude towards Iran, particularly with respect to the 2015 nuclear deal (the JCPOA) and related ballistic issues, is hard to understand. A collective desire to defy the US, which pulled out of the JCPOA in May and re-imposed tough sanctions on Tehran, can’t be the cardinal reason. It is more likely that the EU states are succumbing to a sophisticated blackmail campaign directed by the Iranian regime aimed at preserving the JCPOA and deepening existing cleavages among the transatlantic partners.

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