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 Failure of Palestinian Nationalism

No. 1107
| March 10, 2019

The Warsaw Conference demonstrated that the popularity of the Palestinian cause continues to decline, suggesting that Palestinian nationalism has failed. Historically, the positive elements of Palestinian nationalism have been offset by its negative features, including reliance on antisemitism and negation of the Other. Pressures from above, in the form of Arab and Islamic identities, and tribal and clan pressures from below have impeded the development of a stable national identity. At the same time, strong state security institutions protect elites while weak social welfare institutions create dependence, mostly on foreign aid. While continued development of the Palestinian economy is encouraging, the contradictions of Palestinian nationalism are not easily resolved.

The End of “Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok”

No. 1106
| March 8, 2019

The geopolitical divorce of Russia and Europe is not confined to the military or economic realms. Over the past several years, the differences have been ideological as well. A good example is the death of a once major political project, the “Economic Space from Lisbon to Vladivostok.”

American National Security and the Imperative Primacy of “Mind”

No. 1105
| March 7, 2019

While President Trump intends to bolster US power through enhanced weapons systems and a rededication to belligerent nationalist foreign policies, authentic national security will require new emphases on intellect, or “mind.” This means focusing on new ways of thinking about world politics, especially much-needed escape plans from lethal cycles of competitive geopolitics. Washington must slow its still-growing inclination toward renewed arms racing and to other kinds of military escalation and shift its policy emphases to the greater utilities of intellect.

Iran’s Unwavering Israel-Hatred

No. 1104
| March 6, 2019

Four decades ago, the revolutionary movement led by Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Pahlavi dynasty and established the Islamic Republic of Iran on its ruins. Since then, significant changes have taken place in the discourse and concepts of its leaders. However, the Iranian political establishment has never wavered in its relentless hostility towards Israel. Once a friend to Israel, Tehran overnight became an archenemy dedicated to its destruction.

Iranian Kurds: Between the Hammer and the Anvil

No. 1103
| March 5, 2019

The new strategy toward Iran taken by Donald Trump, which includes withdrawing from the nuclear deal, imposing sanctions on Tehran, and isolating it internationally, created expectations among the Kurdish national movement in Iran that its common interests with the US would help it gain American support in fighting the regime in Tehran. To the movement’s dismay, this commonality of interests has not been translated into practical terms – unlike US policy toward the Kurds in Iraq and Syria. Compared to the other Kurdish populations, the Iranian Kurds have remained isolated and silenced.

Avoiding the Politicization of Intelligence and Policy-Making

No. 1102

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.

Germany Promotes Antisemitism and Anti-Israelism

No. 1101
| March 3, 2019

The German government’s official policy is that it makes efforts to fight antisemitism and is friendly toward Israel. At the same time, it actively promotes antisemitism and anti-Israelism. It allows massive migration of antisemites from Muslim countries, supports discriminatory anti-Israel motions at the UN General Assembly, generously finances the antisemitism-supporting UNRWA, and congratulates the genocide-promoting regime of Iran.

Arab Religiosity and Support for the Palestinians

No. 1100
| March 1, 2019

There are more webpages in Arabic for the al-Aqsa mosque than webpages on Palestinian resistance. In English, there are triple the number of webpages on Palestinian resistance than on the al-Asa mosque, reflecting a more secular public than in the Arab world. To understand the Middle East, you have to think in Arabic and take religion much more seriously.

The “Yellow Vests” in France: Social Protest, Violence, and Antisemitism

No. 1099
| February 28, 2019

The “yellow vest” (gilets jaunes) demonstrations pose a difficult challenge to the French government and nation. They have revealed great public anger and frustration and have spread throughout the country with no sign of abating any time soon. They have also been marked by widespread acts of violence, including severe cases of antisemitism. The escalation of the demonstrations, despite President Macron’s efforts, raises a fear of anarchy that could deteriorate into civil war. For French Jewry, the mounting antisemitism is reminiscent of dark processes in Europe on the eve of WWII. 

The Second Trump-Kim Summit

No. 1098
| February 27, 2019

The Donald Trump-Kim Jong-un summit coming up in Hanoi at the end of this month will focus on finding ways to implement the process that began at the first summit in Singapore. Trump and Kim will try to find a win-win compromise that does not require a complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement (CVID) in the short run. The success or failure of the second summit will influence the South Korean political arena as well.