Perspectives Papers

Perspectives Papers provide analysis from BESA Center research associates and other outside experts on the most important issues pertaining to Israel and the Middle East.

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The False “Crisis” in Military Recruitment: An IDF Red Herring

No. 33
| July 23, 2007

According to figures released by the IDF, 25% of Israeli male youth are shirking military duty. However, the statistics simply do not support this: Israeli enlistment remains at extraordinarily high levels. Why then the hysteria? The IDF is cynically seeking to legitimize its budget demands
by creating the aura of crisis.

Bush Cannot Succeed in the Holy Land

No. 32
| July 23, 2007

Bush’s new plan for Middle East peace is inadequate and rests on several faulty assumptions, including the beliefs that outside influences can change Palestinian society, Abu Mazen is the leader to bring about change, and the Palestinians will be “good” neighbors towards Israel. However, the realities of Palestinian society reflect a different picture. Israel’s best bet is to wait for a better opportunity to attain stability.

Strategic Folly and Shame: Personal Reflections on a Visit to Beleaguered Sderot

No. 30
| June 24, 2007

Close to six months of Israeli “restraint” in the face of Hamas rocket attacks is both strategic folly of the highest order and a deep source of shame. Folly – because Israel has allowed a city of twenty-four thousand people to wither away and empty out under enemy fire. Shame – because Israel has left the forlorn people of Sderot, the most destitute, downtrodden, and drained citizens of Israel in normal times, to take the hit.

The French Presidential Elections of May 2007: Implications for French-Israeli Relations

No. 29
| May 14, 2007

The election this week of Nicolas Sarkozy as President of France is unlikely to lead to a substantial shift in French policy towards Israel, although the tone of French-Israeli relations can be expected to improve. Even the most favorable French administration will continue to take into account France’s traditional ties with the Arab world, France’s significant Muslim population, and public opinion in France – which is not at all favorable to Israel. It is equally possible that tightened French-US coordination regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may lead to enhanced diplomatic pressure on Israel. However, in spite of political disagreements, the existing dialogue and gradual process of improving bilateral relations will most likely prevail.

The Iran-Hamas Alliance: Threat and Folly

No. 28
| May 1, 2007

Since the US invasion of Iraq, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Iran has taken on the behavior of a regional hegemon. Indeed, Ahmadinejad speaks and acts as if he is the new leader of the Third World. Iran is setting itself up as the leader of a Mideast “axis of evil” with radical proxies and allies. An important aspect of the new Iranian reach is Tehran’s growing alliance with Hamas, which dates back to January 2006. Under Ahmadinejad, Iran has become an active revisionist state guided by radical religious conviction, while Hamas has captured almost complete control of the PA.

The Iranian Dilemma: Preventing Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Capabilities

No. 27

Many realize that the most important task confronting the international community today is the prevention of Iran’’s nuclearization. Opinions are divided on the question of how to stop Iran without causing too much damage to other countries, including the Gulf States, Israel, and the US.

The Saudi Initiative: A Starting Point for an Israeli-Saudi Dialogue?

No. 26
| March 27, 2007

The recently revived Saudi Initiative is premised on terms permanently unacceptable to Israel. Nevertheless, given current realities, Israel should not reject the initiative out of hand. Israel should take advantage of the initiative in order to transform it into a real opening for direct yet secret negotiations with Saudi Arabia.

The Illusion of “Peace in Exchange for Territories”

No. 25

Since the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference, Arab leaders have repeated the mantra that peace with Israel hinges upon a withdrawal to the pre-1967 border. However, it is the Arab demand for a return of all Palestinian refugees to pre-1967 Israel that remains at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and this demand disguises Arab intentions to destroy Israel.

The Palestinians and the Second Lebanese War

No. 24
| January 4, 2007

Many have suggested that Israel’s questionable military performance in the Second Lebanon War have impacted negatively on Israel’s ability to deal with the Palestinians. However, in reality the recent war revealed that the tendency to see the conflict in broader terms, such as a clash of civilizations, is very much exaggerated.

US Strategy in the Middle East: Effects of the 2006 Congressional Elections and the Baker-Hamilton Report

No. 23
| November 19, 2006

The Bush Administration is under enormous pressure to dramatically alter US strategy in the Middle East during its remaining two years. This pressure stems from the repeated failures to achieve US goals in Iraq; the role that Iraq played in the Democratic victory in recent Congressional elections; the overwhelming public criticism and opposition to the war; and the party politics related to the 2008 Presidential and Congressional elections. A drastic shift in policy will be difficult, as it would contradict Bush’s concern for his place in history.