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 Second Lebanon War

No. 22
| September 28, 2006

There were five central problems in Israel’s management of the summer 2006 war in Lebanon: adherence to the rules of “post-heroic” warfare despite its limitations; playing into the enemy’s hands; operation on the basis of false assumptions and beliefs; violation of basic military principles; and hesitancy on the part of Israel’s leadership. The outcomes of the war can be seen on the battlefield, on the grand-strategic level, in terms of victory, and in longer-term perspective.

Strategic Follies: Israel’s Mistakes in the Second Lebanese War

No. 21
| September 10, 2006

Israel’s political and military leadership was ill-prepared for the war against the Hizballah in the summer of 2006. A series of strategic mistakes on the part of Israeli leaders denied Israel a military victory and squandered an important opportunity to destroy the majority of Hizballah’’s military presence in Southern Lebanon, settle scores and enhance Israel’s deterrence. Hopefully, Israeli leadership will be better strategically prepared so as to attain a clearly-defined victory in the next round.

Proportionality in the Modern Law of War: An Unenforceable Norm, or the Answer to Our Dilemma?

No. 20
| August 15, 2006

“Proportionality” has become a common term, widely used by human rights organizations, politicians, soldiers and laypersons, but its precise legal meaning is little understood. The goal of this paper is to clarify the parameters of the use of the term and identify the problems confronting attempts to apply it. The final section of the paper mentions various solutions to these problems and alludes to the concept’s application in the context of the present war between Israel and Hizballah.

Time to Tame Syria

No. 19
| July 24, 2006

The current Israeli operation in Lebanon focuses on removing the threat posed to Israel by Hizballah missiles and on destroying Hizballah’’s military infrastructure. Israel’s use of force is fully justified and proportionate, considering the magnitude of the threat. However, Israel should be targeting Damascus, as subduing Syria is the key to rolling back Hizballah and weakening Iran and its radical Islamist influence in the Middle East.

Confronting the New Nasser in Iran

No. 18
| June 19, 2006

The President of Iran presents more than a nuclear threat to the world; his defiance of the international community is galvanizing Muslims throughout the world behind a radical vision of puritanical Islam that rejects the liberal democratic model. In responding to this new Nasser, the international community might recall the original’s ability to turn military defeat into political victory.

Centrism in Israeli Politics and the Olmert Government

No. 17
| June 7, 2006

Israeli society is often conceived of as deeply divided, characterized by profound chasms separating many sectors of society. The victory of the centrist Kadima Party in the 2006 Israeli elections suggests that Israel is far less divided than presumed. Kadima’’s victory indicates the existence of a strong political center in Israel. The success of Israel’’s new government may depend on the prime minister’s comprehension of this fact and his ability to build upon it.

Defining a New International System in a World Threatened by Jihad: The Danger of a Transatlantic Divide

No. 16
| May 16, 2006

The great transatlantic debate over Iraq was rooted in deep disagreement over the nature of world order, in different visions of the world as perceived by Europe and America. Europe is reluctant to face the threat posed to the survival of Western civilization by jihadism or rogue states with nuclear ambitions, and has come to doubt the legitimacy of the use of US power and American global leadership.

The Million Person Gap: A Critical Look at Palestinian Demography

No. 15

Population statistics and predictions of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) are unreliable; a BESA study that subjects Palestinian demography to rigorous analysis shows that the 2004 Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza stood at 2.5 million, not the 3.8 million claimed by the Palestinians.Further demographic research indicates that Israeli concerns about demographic pressure from the West Bank and Gaza have been exaggerated.

Iran and the West: Who Needs Whom? A Look at the Consequences of Ahmadinejad’’s Economic and Foreign Policies

No. 14
| March 7, 2006

Ahmadinejad has repeatedly asserted that the West needs Iran more than Iran needs the West. While Iran has the economic influence to inflict significant damage on the world economy, Ahmadinejad’’s flippant remarks have little basis in reality and his policies are likely to incur significant damage to his country.

The Hamas Takeover Serves Israel’s Interests

No. 13
| January 29, 2006

The decisive victory by Hamas in this week’s Palestinian elections, paradoxically, serves Israel’s interests. Hamas’’ win provides Israel and the international community with an opportunity to fashion a tough line against Palestinian Islamic terrorism and to bring the aid-dependent PA into line. Moreover, Hamas is bound to fail in running the PA, leaving open the possibility in the long term for the emergence of a more mature Palestinian leadership.