Tag: cyprus

ISRAEL, FAR FROM ISOLATED, BOLSTERS TIES WITH GREECE, CYPRUS, INDIA, AZERBAIJAN & AUSTRALIA

 

Greece-Israel-Cyprus Relations: Ripe for Expansion?: Dr. George Voskopoulos, JCPA, Dec. 18, 2016— Inter-state relations consist of rational choices aimed at producing desired outcomes.

Israel and India: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 21, 2016 — President Reuven Rivlin’s eight-day trip to India is yet another sign of Israel’s warming ties with the Asian giant. Rivlin is in India with a delegation of Israeli businesses to mark a quarter of a century of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Netanyahu Pays Visit to Strategically Positioned Azerbaijan: Ari Lieberman, Frontpage, Dec. 16, 2016 — On Monday, Israel took delivery of its first two F-35I “Adir” multi-purpose fighters.

Australia and Israel: Good Guys Should Stick Together: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA, Nov. 22, 2016— Australia and Israel have a warm relationship.

 

On Topic Links

 

Israel’s Economy Defies BDS: Yoram Ettinger, Jewish Press, Dec. 12, 2016

For Israel, the Task is to Work Even Harder to Keep Old Friends and Reach Out to New Ones: Eran Lerman, Mosaic, Nov. 21, 2016

Meet The Coolest Israeli Companies On Wall Street: Einat Paz-Frankel, No Camels, Dec. 4, 2016

World’s Largest Desalination Plant Turns Mediterranean into Drinking Water (Video): Breaking Israel News, Oct. 26, 2016

 

 

GREECE-ISRAEL-CYPRUS RELATIONS: RIPE FOR EXPANSION?

Dr. George Voskopoulos                                                         

JCPA, Dec. 18, 2016

 

Inter-state relations consist of rational choices aimed at producing desired outcomes. For Greece, Cyprus, and Israel, this means a continuation of stability and security in the chaos that has erupted from the Arab Spring. In light of this upheaval in the Middle East, cooperation between Greece, Cyprus, and Israel is essential to produce a haven of stability.

 

First, for Israel, Greece and Cyprus represent a bridge of stability to Europe, a stable region close to home. This security dimension is important for a country surrounded by pockets of instability and sources of radicalism. Both countries provide Israel with an allied neighbor and bring Israel closer to Europe in terms of security, trade, and energy. Second, Israel is also a crucial security actor in a region affected by drastic domestic changes within states lacking a culture of peaceful co-existence. Currently, Greece is heavily saddled by the influx of refugees fleeing war. Cyprus, Greece, and Israel share similar significant interests such as security, energy security, and the need to deal with radicalism and terrorism. These three countries have a lot to gain by deepening multilevel cooperation.

 

Third, Israel, Greece, and Cyprus are the only working democracies in a region of undemocratic, semi-democratic, and failing states. This is a powerful motivation factor for cooperation since democratic values are a fundamental criterion for partnerships. This strategic partnership could set the groundwork for future cooperation among these states.

 

In the last few years, Greek-Israeli relations have intensified due to the intensity of threats, the urgency, and the need to solidify relations in a region tormented by multifaceted threats. Israeli-Greek relations have advanced to a degree where the militaries are conducting joint air force operations and joint maneuvers by Greek and Israeli navies. Greece permitted an overfly mission by Israeli military aircraft in Greek air space in 2014. An Israeli military attaché has been stationed in Athens since 2014. These are major choices on the part of Athens, whose foreign policy of the past had focused exclusively on building a one-way relationship with the Arab world, leaving Israel out of the picture. Israel expressed deep gratitude to both countries for sending fire-fighting aircraft when widespread fires hit Israel in November 2016.

 

Greece-Cyprus-Israel relations are setting clear ground rules of engagement for states to operate as regional stabilizers. Jerusalem, Athens, and Nicosia constitute a stable axis of power that should be expanded to fill the vacuum of leadership in the region. The tripartite cooperation between the three countries as well as the joint declarations that followed recent meetings were labeled “non-exclusive,” thus leaving the door open for others willing to participate. Yet, any potential candidates for joining this cooperation will have to be clear about its intentions, policy choices, and above all their support for peace and democracy. These trilateral understandings are a message to the region. Israel, Greece, and Cyprus are initiating an alliance of stable nations, who share common values, and are willing to fight (in different ways) terrorism.

 

The recent advances constitute just the security dimension of this new tripartite cooperation. Cyprus and Greece provide Israel with close proximity to Europe, a continent where, despite problems, democracy flourishes. The intensity of threats, as well as the deteriorating security in the Middle East, point to the need of further cooperation between the stable forces in the region. This is a historic moment for the future of this region and the time is ripe to produce more allied relationships amidst the chaos of the Middle East.

 

In a very promising development, Greece, Israel, and Cyprus have decided to formalize their proposal for the construction of a pipeline from gas fields off the coast of Israel. They are taking their case to the EU Climate Action and Energy Commissioner, thus making a formal step in materializing the project. The feasibility report of the proposal and its financial competitiveness are encouraging. The project possesses strategic advantages since it uses the safest route to Europe. The three democratic countries can guarantee in the long-term a secure means of delivery in the effort to minimize Europe’s dependence on Russian gas. 

 

                                                                       

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ISRAEL AND INDIA                                                                                                              

Editorial                                                                                                              

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 21, 2016

 

President Reuven Rivlin’s eight-day trip to India is yet another sign of Israel’s warming ties with the Asian giant. Rivlin is in India with a delegation of Israeli businesses to mark a quarter of a century of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The president is a guest speaker at the Confederation of Indian Industries Premier Biennial Agro Technology and Business Fair. He will also visit the sites of the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks that killed 195 people, including 162 Indians and nine Israelis. The two events – the agro convention and the eight-year anniversary of the Mumbai attack – underline the two fields in which Israel and India have fruitful cooperation: business and defense.

 

Israel’s innovative, dynamic and free economy has so much to contribute and teach India. And India’s huge market offers an important destination for Israeli products. Indian farmers can benefit from Israeli expertise in drip irrigation, water security, methods to increase milk production in cows and genetic advances that breed disease-free poultry among others. Hi-tech startups in Bangalore and Hyderabad see Israeli firms as role models of creativity.

 

Israel and India also have in common a need to defend themselves from radical Islam. Both are democracies with highly diverse populations that are struggling to maintain robust democracies. Both countries face threats from Islamist terrorists who are motivated to violent acts not by anything India or Israel has done, but by what the countries represent. The 2008 attack in Mumbai is illustrative of how both India and Israel embody all that is despised by fundamentalist Islamists: the two countries’ freedoms and tolerance, their democratic rule, and their proudly non-Muslim cultures.

 

One of the most public expressions of India’s warming relations with Israel was its decision in July 2015 to abstain from a vote against Israel in the United Nations Human Rights Council that blamed Israel for “war crimes” it supposedly perpetrated during Operation Protective Edge, while ignoring the war-mongering of Hamas. But the pro-Israel pivot goes back much farther, beginning with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, once upon a time India’s most important ally in its conflict with US-backed Pakistan.

 

Nevertheless, India has faced some constraints when it comes to improving ties with Israel. One factor is India’s large Muslim population – approximately 180 million – more than any other non-Muslim state. But India has profited little from its consistent pro-Palestinian position. Arab countries have failed to back India against Pakistan in its dispute over Kashmir. Even the Palestinians have consistently and overwhelmingly favored Muslim Pakistan over India. In contrast, Israel has supported India’s position vis-à-vis Kashmir, offering it critical counter-terror know-how and technologies at least since the 1999 Kargil War.

 

Another factor contributing to the warming ties between Israel and India was the rise to power of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party. If India’s leftists viewed Israel as a “neo-imperialist proxy of America,” BJP supporters – and Hindus in general – tend to see Israel as a plucky democracy with a strong, non-Muslim religious identity standing up to nihilistic Islamist terrorists – not unlike the Indians themselves. Many parallels can be drawn between BJP and our Likud-led government. Both seek to strengthen what they see as a more authentic national identity – Hindutva in India, Jewish in Israel – while maintaining a robust democracy.

 

Caving in to Muslim dictates is bad for India. Muslim countries have little of consequence to offer India. Good relations with India is an important Israeli asset. With its huge population, many of whom are well-educated, India provides a regional counterweight to Russia and China. India, like Israel, is an officially secular federal democracy that is based on ethnic and confessional pluralism that faces constant threats from jihadists. Rivlin’s visit to India as the two countries celebrate 25 years of cooperation is a reminder of how much Israel and India have in common and how the ties between the two countries can be mutually beneficial. India’s leaders should not allow intimidation from Muslim countries to dissuade them from reaping the benefits of cooperation with Israel.

 

                                                           

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NETANYAHU PAYS VISIT TO STRATEGICALLY POSITIONED AZERBAIJAN

Ari Lieberman

Frontpage, Dec. 16, 2016

 

On Monday, Israel took delivery of its first two F-35I “Adir” multi-purpose fighters. Barring any unexpected cost overruns, Israel is slated to take delivery of a further 48 of these machines, reckoned to be the most advanced in the world. The acquisition will add to Israel’s already formidable fleet of F-16I, F-15I and F-15C fighter bombers. The following day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, paid an official state visit to Azerbaijan to meet with his counterpart, President Ilham Aliyev, to sign various trade agreements and solidify understandings. Despite the fact that Azerbaijan is predominantly Shia, the Muslim nation maintains very good relations with Israel.

 

The two events are seemingly mutually exclusive but must be viewed within a wider geo-political context involving the Islamic Republic of Iran, its militarized nuclear program and the JCPOA, more commonly referred to as the Iran Deal. In any strike against Iran, the F-35, with its stealth capabilities, advanced avionics and large payload, will be the tip of the Israeli spear. These aircraft along with F-15 and F-16 fighter jets will be at the forefront of any operation targeting Iran’s nuclear facilities.

 

Israel also has an undisclosed number of Jericho III intercontinental ballistic missiles that can accurately deliver a payload of 1,000 kilograms of high explosives over a distance of 6,000 kilometers – well within range of every square inch of the Islamic Republic. The Jericho can also be fitted with an unconventional warhead. It is silo-based but there have been reports that Israel possesses a mobile tracked or wheeled version as well.

 

There will be a role for Israeli Navy as well. Its recent acquisition of the INS Rahav, its fifth submarine, will significantly enhance Israel’s offensive and defensive capabilities. The craft can accurately deliver the Israeli version of the American Tomhawk cruise missile called the Popeye Turbo, and do so virtually undetected. The Popeye Turbo can also be equipped with an unconventional warhead. Israel’s advanced submarine platforms will also be tasked with carrying out covert operations. But Iran is large and distant. Its nuclear facilities are well protected, fortified and scattered about the country. Israel will need to covertly partner with other nations bordering Iran to ensure maximum success.

 

Enter Azerbaijan, a relatively small nation that shares a border with its much larger neighbor, Iran. As a Muslim nation and a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Azerbaijan has paid lip service to anti-Israeli Muslim political initiatives. But despite this, Israel and Azerbaijan maintain excellent, if somewhat discreet relations. That is so because both nations share mutual concerns and strategic interests and both view Iran warily. President Aliyev once described Azeri-Israel relations as being like an iceberg, nine-tenths of it is below the surface. That analogy is quite accurate but with Netanyahu’s public visit, it seems as though Azerbaijan is no longer concerned about keeping its ties with the Jewish State secretive.

 

During Netanyahu’s visit, Aliyev spoke of the deepening defense ties between the two nations and noted that “so far the contracts between Azerbaijani and Israeli companies with respect to purchasing of defense equipment is close to 5 billion dollars.” He added that he was “very satisfied with the level of this cooperation [between Israel and Azerbaijan].” Israel in turn derives much of its energy requirements from Baku.

 

Naturally, Netanyahu’s visit irked the Iranians who were quick to issue hysterical public denunciations of it. The Iranians have good reason to worry. An Israeli military presence in the Caucasus represents a game changer and heavily tilts the military balance in Israel’s favor. Forward operating bases would naturally close the vast distances separating the two nations and would further enable Israel to circumvent flyovers and aerial refueling over hostile enemy airspaces while en route to targets in Iran. Israel would also be able to carry out logistical, rescue and covert operations with greater ease.

 

In 2012, it was reported that Israel was seriously considering carrying out a preventative strike against Iran and had been covertly working with Azeri officials to further that goal. But in what can only be described as an act of supreme perfidy, the Obama administration leaked damaging information that inexplicably sought to expose and sabotage the burgeoning strategic alliance between Israel and Azerbaijan. The administration’s reasons for doing so remain a mystery. Perhaps it was an attempt to derail Israel’s attack plans or perhaps, as some have suggested, it was an act of pure malevolence. Either way, the betrayal harmed Israel’s covert efforts and security interests.

 

Four years later, there’s a new sheriff in town, one who has openly expressed disdain for the JCPOA and one who, unlike Obama, has promised to hold Iran accountable to its international commitments. When Netanyahu meets Trump, it’s a sure bet that Iran will be at the top of the agenda and the two realist leaders see eye-to-eye on the nature of the Iranian menace and the pitfalls of the JCPOA. The military option, all but sidelined by Obama, is now very much alive and the mullahs should be afraid, very afraid.

 

                                   

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AUSTRALIA AND ISRAEL: GOOD GUYS SHOULD STICK TOGETHER                                                           

Prof. Efraim Inbar

BESA, Nov. 22, 2016

 

Australia and Israel have a warm relationship. In addition to the bond of their common values, both countries well remember the important Australian military contribution to the eviction of Turkish forces from the Land of Israel in 1917, and many Israelis have fond memories of the Aussies who passed through Mandatory Palestine during WWII. The two countries also share serious strategic concerns. They should work together more closely to tackle them.

 

In the Middle East, the Obama administration has projected weakness and encouraged Iran’s quest for hegemony. The vacuum created by the lower American profile has been partially filled by the Russians, a trend with worrying implications.

 

Asian as well as Middle Eastern states view the declining American role with concern. Despite the Obama administration’s rhetoric about pivoting to Asia, it did little to reassure its allies. Indeed, many of them now fear the rise of China, which is aggressively pursuing ambitious goals. The Philippines, under the colorful President Rodrigo Duterte, appears to wish to substitute its American orientation with a Chinese one. China has been more active of late in the greater Middle East, offering support to anti-American states like Iran and Syria. The Chinese Belt and Road initiative, while primarily motivated by economics, nevertheless has strategic significance in East and West Asia.

 

The spread of radical Islam, too, is a challenge for both Australia and Israel. In the Middle East, it is not only small radical Islamist states and groups that cause trouble. States with an Islamist agenda are contributing to the radicalization of the Muslim world. Saudi Arabia, for example, has spread its Wahhabi version of Islam for decades. Since 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran has disseminated its revolutionary understanding of Shia, gaining control of four Arab capitals in the process – Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus, and Sana. Since 2002, Turkey has been ruled by an Islamist leader who supports Sunni radical elements in Gaza, Syria, Libya, and Iraq.

 

Radical Islam is increasingly infiltrating South and East Asia, with the potential to destabilize countries like Malaysia and Indonesia. This prospect is of great concern to Australia, the Muslim minority of which is displaying signs of unrest. Finally, the specter of nearby nuclear proliferation is much feared by both Australia and Israel. Until recently, the Americans’ traditional position as security provider was a disincentive for nuclear proliferation. The 2015 nuclear deal with Iran changed that by legitimizing Tehran’s nuclear infrastructure.

 

Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia are unlikely to stand idly by as Iran, their regional competitor, makes nuclear progress. Unfortunately, the increased mistrust of Washington’s leadership has made American security guarantees less credible.

 

A similar development is underway in East Asia, where Chinese assertiveness and the growing North Korean nuclear threat are believed to be receiving an inadequate American response. The perception of American disengagement increases the likelihood that South Korea and Japan will adopt a nuclear posture, starting a chain of proliferation in other parts of Asia.

 

Australia’s and Israel’s common apprehensions about these global trends provide the strategic glue with which to build closer relations in defense and foreign affairs. With that in mind, Anthony Bergin of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and I co-authored a report, The Wattle and the Olive: A New Chapter in Australia and Israel Working Together, which suggests that the two countries move towards greater cooperation.

 

Up to now, there have been almost no high-level military exchanges between the two countries. Israel doesn’t have a uniformed military attaché in Canberra (although it has posted a civilian from the Ministry of Defense). The Australian military attaché to Israel is based in Ankara, Turkey. A regular and sustained dialogue of foreign and defense ministers is clearly in order. A strategic interchange involving senior uniformed and civilian defense personnel should look at strategic thinking, US alliance issues, military-to-military cooperation, and defense industry cooperation.

 

Australia should upgrade military and diplomatic relations with Israel to tap into its expertise in counter-terrorism, hi-tech weapons systems, and cyber-security. The Australian and Israeli militaries would benefit from enhanced cooperation: both operate American equipment, and both have invested heavily in world-class technology. The two militaries can share doctrinal insights and intelligence. Israel, whose military doctrine is based on self-reliance, can learn from Australia’s experience in military coalitions. Israel, in turn, has experience in urban warfare and in the development of unmanned aerial systems for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and combat, an area in which the Australian air force is developing its capability.

 

Israel also has expertise in countering improvised explosive devices (an area in which Australia also displays considerable proficiency) and is a global pacesetter in active measures for armored vehicle protection, defense against short-range rocket threats, and the use of robotics in the battlefield. Both countries are close to major choke-points along maritime oil and trade routes, making naval affairs an important component of their national strategies. Australia has a big navy and Israel plans to expand its own, in part to protect its offshore gas fields. Regarding air power, both countries have acquired the US-made F-35A, so there might be potential for collaboration. (In the technical domain, collaboration is most likely to occur in the broader community of international operators of the F-35A.)…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link

 

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On Topic Links

 

Israel’s Economy Defies BDS: Yoram Ettinger, Jewish Press, Dec. 12, 2016—1. In December, 2016, Israel is unprecedentedly integrated into the global economy, highlighting the successful battle against BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions), while rejecting pessimism and fatalism.

For Israel, the Task is to Work Even Harder to Keep Old Friends and Reach Out to New Ones: Eran Lerman, Mosaic, Nov. 21, 2016 —Arthur Herman’s essay, “Everybody Loves Israel,” comes as a breath of fresh air amid the pummelings being administered by the United Nations and the BDS movement and the dirge-like laments of friends about the Jewish state’s growing isolation as it courts a fate worse even than apartheid South Africa’s.

Meet The Coolest Israeli Companies On Wall Street: Einat Paz-Frankel, No Camels, Dec. 4, 2016—Israel is the largest foreign presence on Wall Street following China and Canada. Some 70 Israeli companies are currently traded on the New York Stock Exchange, with many technology firms listed on NASDAQ. “The level of Israeli equities listed on Wall Street is yet another example of Israeli innovation and the strong US-Israel relationship,” Daniella Rilov, executive director of the America-Israel Friendship League, said during a New York Stock Exchange event dedicated to Israel last month.

World’s Largest Desalination Plant Turns Mediterranean into Drinking Water (Video): Breaking Israel News, Oct. 26, 2016—Take a sneak peek into the largest desalination plant in the world using reverse osmosis – found in Israel, of course! How does one tiny desert nation provide water for all its citizens safely and ecologically? Check it out!

 

 

 

 

AS ISRAEL BECOMES MAJOR GAS EXPORTER, SECURITY ISSUES IMPOSE BURDENS ON IDF

Israel Faces Gas Export Challenge: Yakir Gillis, Forbes, Sept. 28, 2016— Israel has been looking to develop its huge offshore gas resources after a period of regulatory uncertainty, but the challenges surrounding the construction and security of export pipelines may put off all but the most forward-looking investors.

Israel Inks Historic Gas Deal with Jordan at Perilous Time: Ari Lieberman, Frontpage, Sept. 28, 2016 — Israel this week signed a historic agreement with Jordan to supply the energy-starved kingdom with natural gas from its Leviathan gas field.

IDF Battles to Keep its Finest From Defecting to Private Sector: Shoshanna Solomon, Times of Israel, Oct. 27, 2016 — The Israeli army is fighting a battle it knows it can only partially win: to preserve the best of its talent within its ranks, even as the likes of Google, Apple and Facebook entice them with salaries as much as five times what the army can offer.

Spies in Space: The Story of Israel's Ofek Satellite Program: Barbara Opall-Rome, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 25, 2016— If you’re looking for a story that captures Israeli innovation, cunning and can-do chutzpa, think spy satellites. Look to Ofek, the Hebrew word for horizon.

 

On Topic Links

 

World’s Largest Desalination Plant Turns Mediterranean into Drinking Water (Video): Breaking Israel News, Oct. 26, 2016

Israel Should Avoid Turkey, Include Cyprus in Gas Export Projects: Ariel Ben Solomon, BESA, Oct. 7, 2016

Israel's Plan to Supply the Arab World With Energy Is Under Threat in Jordan: Natanel Abramov, Newsweek, Oct. 11, 2016

Israel-China Ties Bloom with Free Trade Talks Imminent: Iacopo Luzi, Times of Israel, Sept. 29, 2016

 

 

 

ISRAEL FACES GAS EXPORT CHALLENGE

Yakir Gillis                                                          

Forbes, Sept. 28, 2016        

 

Israel has been looking to develop its huge offshore gas resources after a period of regulatory uncertainty, but the challenges surrounding the construction and security of export pipelines may put off all but the most forward-looking investors. Israel has one of the biggest gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean basin, the Leviathan field, which could in time turn it into a major regional energy player. However, getting the gas out of the ground has been dogged with problems. Chief among them was an antitrust ruling stemming from concerns that the two main exploration companies, Texas-based Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek, stood to monopolise the country’s natural resource sector.

 

The subject was addressed in protracted production agreement negotiations between the government and the investors. The process was held up by persistent claims that the latter were being offered too generous a deal. Eventually approved by the Supreme Court in May, the so-called “Gas Framework” offers exploration companies a friendly regulatory and tax environment, exempting them from royalties until they achieve a 150% return on their investment.

 

Early this month, the Israeli Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources held an event in London aimed at encouraging international oil and gas companies to submit bids for several new exploration blocks off Israel’s coast. The Minister, Yuval Steinitz, alongside the ministry’s Director General and its Chief Scientist, gave a presentation underlining both the high likelihood of a major natural gas discovery and the attractive production terms offered by the government. It was the second leg of a roadshow that has also taken in Houston and Singapore. But while there is no doubting the commercial potential of the 24 blocks up for auction, Israeli officials may find them a tough sell.

 

One of the main reasons is the slump in the price of natural gas, which many believe will be long term because of excess supply. There is intense competition between exporters over a limited number of major consumer markets. Since sale to Israeli consumers alone would not be sufficient to offset the costs of production, the commercial success of companies exploring Israel’s offshore reserves will rely on their ability to export to other countries in the Middle East and beyond.

 

This would require close cooperation between four major actors— Israel, Turkey, Egypt and Cyprus— to create a regional export network. The centrepiece of a plan being discussed in diplomatic and business circles throughout the region is an underwater pipeline running from Israel through Cyprus to Turkey. Turkey is one of the fastest growing energy markets in the world and, more importantly, a gateway to Europe, which has been heavily reliant on gas from Russia. An existing pipeline would connect Israeli offshore sites to Egypt, which is developing substantial LNG infrastructure, and could offer a shipping gateway for LNG exports. This pipeline runs through the volatile Sinai Peninsula and previously transported gas from Egypt to Israel. At that time, its reliability was questioned because of repeated sabotage by terrorists.

 

The diplomatic challenges involved in getting these countries to cooperate on a gas export project of this scale are formidable. Turkey has only just restored diplomatic relations with Israel after years of heightened tension, and still does not officially recognise the Cypriot government. Relations between Turkey and Egypt have also been strained ever since the July 2013 coup, which ousted former Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi, who was supported by Ankara. While Egypt and Israel have been on relatively good terms under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s administration, open cooperation with Israel would leave him facing accusations of ‘selling out’ the Palestinians. All of which undermines the business rationale for launching a major exploration operation in the eastern Mediterranean basin.

 

But while geopolitical conditions might be difficult, they have never been more favourable than now. The Israeli government is keen to promote regional stability, particularly to make the point that it can be achieved without major concessions to the Palestinians. Turkey’s adoption of a more pragmatic foreign policy and a desire to diversify its energy resources could see it building bridges with regional foes, which was certainly a factor in its rapprochement with Israel. As part of the reconciliation agreement between the two countries in June, Turkey committed to entering negotiations with Israel over the purchase of Israeli gas. The US, meanwhile, would be keen on cooperation between its Middle East allies on pipeline projects, and to see Turkey and Europe shift away from buying Russian gas. Indeed, many observers regard gas exploitation in the eastern Mediterranean as a possible driver of stability and cooperation in the region.

 

It is hard to predict whether many potential investors will look beyond the present geopolitical obstacles to the proposed pipeline projects, which is why the Israeli government is offering such a favourable regulatory and taxation framework. That should prove to be attractive, but only to those with a significant risk appetite. For exploration companies who believe that countries in the region could in time pull together to export gas to the Middle East and beyond, it might be a gamble worth taking.          

 

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ISRAEL INKS HISTORIC GAS DEAL WITH JORDAN AT PERILOUS TIME                                                        

Ari Lieberman                                                                                                      

Frontpage, Sept. 28, 2016

 

Israel this week signed a historic agreement with Jordan to supply the energy-starved kingdom with natural gas from its Leviathan gas field. The deal is worth a reported $10 billion and has instantly transformed the Jewish state into an energy exporter. In addition to the obvious pecuniary benefits to the Israeli economy, the agreement promotes regional stability by creating an energy and economic interdependence.

 

Israel is now looking to sign energy deals with two other regional players of import, Greece and Cyprus. Israel’s energy minister plans on traveling to Athens on Wednesday to cement agreements. The Israeli plan centers on laying a network of pipes so that natural gas can be shipped to these nations as well as other European countries. Currently, much of Europe relies on Russian gas and an alternative source would be welcome. Even Turkey, which recently exchanged ambassadors with Israel after a long hiatus, has expressed interest in cooperating with Israel in the energy sector.

 

Israel currently operates and lays claim to four gas fields off its coast. Two small ones are located off the shores of Ashkelon while the two larger ones – called Tamar and Leviathan – are located in the north, approximately 90 miles west of Haifa. Leviathan should be fully operational within a few years while the other fields are already supplying Israel with natural gas. Israel derives approximately 60 percent of its electricity needs through natural gas. Energy officials estimate that since the gas began flowing just over a decade ago, Israel has saved approximately 35.5 billion shekels which translates to $9.6 billion.

 

The welcome news however, comes with cost. Lebanon, which is controlled by Hezbollah, which in turn receives its marching orders from Iran, has laid claim to Israel’s energy finds. Lebanon’s maritime and territorial claims are wholly without merit and it is a virtual certainty that they were made at the behest of either Hezbollah or Iran or both. While Lebanon’s navy is negligible and poses no threat to Israel and its off-shore gas platforms, Hezbollah does pose a more significant threat. Hezbollah possesses a number of Chinese C-802 radar guided anti-ship missiles. A missile of this type damaged an Israeli corvette, the INS Hanit, during the 2006 Lebanon War (the ship was repaired and returned to service 3 weeks later) and sunk a civilian Egyptian ship cruising some 37 miles from shore.

 

The C-802 can be defeated through electronic counter measures (ECM) and point defense systems like the Barak-8 anti-missile, anti-aircraft system and the Phalanx. In the case of the Hanit, its captain had turned off the ship’s ECM systems because he did not believe that Hezbollah had such missiles. Of greater concern is the Russian Yakhont missile which is considered more accurate and less susceptible to ECM than the C-802. Israel considers these missiles game-changers because they significantly enhance Hezbollah’s anti-ship capabilities. They also quite naturally pose a threat to Israel’s offshore gas platforms and related infrastructure. In the past few years, Israel has launched several successful attacks on Syria aimed at interdicting the flow of sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah but it is believed that notwithstanding these efforts, Hezbollah has taken possession of a limited number of Yakhont missiles.

 

In addition to the missile threat, Israel must also prepare for other contingencies such as suicide speed boats and remotely piloted drones packed with explosives. Israel can also not discount the possibility that Hezbollah may attempt to seize an offshore platform with shock troops. While Hezbollah is fully engaged in Syria and the threat level remains relatively low for the moment, Israel is not resting on its laurels. It is significantly enhancing the Navy’s tactical and strategic capabilities.

 

The Israeli Navy had once been considered the orphan child of the armed forces. Priority went to the ground and air forces with the Navy getting the leftover hand-me-downs. That perception changed during the Yom Kippur War of 1973 when the Navy was the only branch of the armed forces not taken by surprise during the initial Arab onslaught. Its fleet of Israeli and French designed missile boats decimated the entire Syrian navy and severely mauled the Egyptian navy while keeping the shipping lanes free for maritime traffic. The Navy’s role in securing Israel’s defense has come to prominence ever since.

 

In the next war with Hezbollah, the Navy will be tasked with neutralizing the Hezbollah menace and securing the eastern Mediterranean. Israel’s naval capabilities are indeed formidable. Its large fleet of Sa’ar 4.5 missile boats and Sa’ar 5 corvettes pack powerful punches and are equipped with Harpoon and Gabriel anti-ship missiles, torpedoes, an array of cannon, point defense missile systems and state-of-the-art ECM. The Sa’ar 5 is also equipped with a helipad and hangar to accommodate the Atalef helicopter. Complementing the corvettes and missile boats are some 45 patrol and fast attack craft, some of which are equipped with missiles and the highly regarded Typhoon stabilized cannon system. Rounding out the surface fleet will be a pair of F124 Sachsen-class frigates from Germany and the Sa’ar 72, an 800 ton vessel currently under construction by Israel Shipyards.

 

The Navy has also taken possession of its fifth submarine, the INS Rahav. The craft can deliver Israeli designed nuclear tipped missiles called the Popeye Turbo and can remain submerged for significantly longer periods than conventional submarines. It will be tasked with carrying out covert operations and remains a powerful deterrent against those who seek to harm Israel.  Israel’s naval commandos are continuously training for scenarios in which they’re called upon to retake gas rigs seized by terrorists. The complex operation would be made more difficult by the fact that the terrorists could conceivably seize hostages and a firefight on the rig could set off an explosion or fire due to the presence of highly flammable materials.

 

The challenges involved in protecting Israel’s gas rigs and related infrastructure are daunting but it appears that Israel is more than ready for the task and the Navy will serve as the nation’s tip of the spear.                                                            

 

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IDF BATTLES TO KEEP ITS FINEST FROM

DEFECTING TO PRIVATE SECTOR                                                  

Shoshanna Solomon                                                                         

Times of Israel, Oct. 27, 2016

 

The Israeli army is fighting a battle it knows it can only partially win: to preserve the best of its talent within its ranks, even as the likes of Google, Apple and Facebook entice them with salaries as much as five times what the army can offer. With Israel’s startup scene flourishing and multinationals setting up research and development centers, a shortage of engineers is heating up the competition for skilled personnel, with companies offering fatter and fatter salaries to recruit talent.

 

A reliable pool of skills — and one that has been fueling the so called “startup nation,” has traditionally come from the army. The IDF recruits 18-year-old women and men for a compulsory two-to-three-year service imposed on most citizens and allocates them to combat or other units, including intelligence and tech units. After intensive training, these soldiers are put in highly sensitive, secret and responsible jobs, developing and using cutting edge technologies. After their service, many stay on to become career soldiers while others venture out into civilian life and are either snapped up by high-tech corporations or set up their own start-up.

 

“The army has a very real problem” because the salaries it offers cannot compete with those offered by the private sector, said Giora Eiland, a retired major general of the IDF and a former head of the Israeli National Security Council. A son of a friend, he related, who recently graduated from the elite 8200 technology intelligence unit received a number of offers to work for private companies for around NIS 30,000 a month (around $7,800), which was four times the salary the army was offering him to stay on. “If you love your job, salary won’t make much of a difference,” Eiland said. “But if the salary they offer is 100 percent higher or, as in this case, 300 percent higher, then for sure you will leave. There is no dilemma whatsoever.”

 

Demand for army graduates has been fueled by the surge in startups operating in Israel and multinationals that have set up R&D centers in the country — all of which are scouting for talent. The intensity of their need has been compounded by the shortage of skilled engineers the nation is facing. The number of active high tech companies operating in Israel has jumped from 3,781 in 2006 to 7,400 in mid-2016, according to figures compiled by Tel Aviv-based IVC Research Center, which tracks the industry. In addition, companies from Google to Apple, Deutsche Telecom to Bosch have all set up research and development centers in Israel, with 278 multinational companies operating a total of 327 R&D centers around the country today, compared with about 250 such centers three years ago, IVC data shows.

 

Meanwhile, Israel’s high-tech industry will suffer a shortfall of more than 10,000 engineers and programmers in the coming decade if the government doesn’t take immediate action to prepare students to enter these fields, the Ministry of Economy and Industry’s chief scientist Avi Hasson warned in a report in June. So there is more demand for these skilled workers than supply, leading to a salary rise of around 10 percent in the past five years with workers changing jobs on average every 20 months, according to data compiled by Workey, which has developed a job search engine for Israeli startups. Starting monthly salaries in high-tech for soldiers who have completed their army service are around NIS 20,000, Workey data shows.

 

Data released by the IDF shows that a career officer with the rank of lieutenant in a technological position can earn roughly NIS 5,800-9,100 per month, pre-tax, while a captain could earn roughly NIS 8,600-11,200 per month. Salaries are determined by several factors including training, educational background, location and risk level. IDF data also shows that in the years 2011-2015, the number of outstanding officers leaving the army rose from under 17 percent in 2011 to a peak of almost 27% in 2014 before dipping to just over 25% in 2015 . The army defines outstanding officers as those who served as officers for at least two years and rank in the top third of officers in their unit, following a peer evaluation over a period of two years or who have shown outstanding abilities.

 

So the army decided to fight back. Not with salaries, an area it knows it cannot compete in, but by emphasizing the contribution these soldiers make to the country, by giving them more interesting jobs and greater responsibility at a younger age, and by putting in place a set of perks, scholarships and bonuses that will make them feel more valued. “We saw a trend in which it was very difficult to maintain our soldiers in service and we checked the reasons why,” said Maj. Meirav Stoler, a spokesperson of the Human Resources Branch in the IDF. Those who stay in the army, she said, based on a survey the army conducted among 21- to 29-year-olds, stay not for the salary, but for the challenge their role offered and because the soldiers found it important to contribute to the state.

 

“We know that the army cannot compete on matching terms with the civilian world,” said Stoler. “But we do not work based on material considerations only. The army needs to provide its soldiers with much more than material things and salaries.” The army’s new plan — which it has been implementing in the past few months — is to make sure that the soldiers who choose to remain “feel they can do more, get more and be more influential,” Stoler said. “Our push to keep the best in the service allows us to give each of them more important and senior jobs, and we see that this is indeed helping people to stay.”…                                   

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]                       

 

Contents           

                                                              

SPIES IN SPACE: THE STORY OF ISRAEL'S                                                                            

OFEK SATELLITE PROGRAM                                                                               

Barbara Opall-Rome                                                                                            

Jerusalem Post, Sept. 25, 2016

 

If you’re looking for a story that captures Israeli innovation, cunning and can-do chutzpa, think spy satellites. Look to Ofek, the Hebrew word for horizon. It’s all there in Israel’s military satellite program, the newest of which – Ofek 11 – is struggling to stabilize itself in space after its launch earlier last week.

 

Inserted successfully into orbit by the country’s homemade Shavit launcher, the newest and most advanced satellite is likely to soldier on in space, but with limited lifespan and ability to perform its high-resolution spy duties. White-knuckled technicians and program managers toiling around the clock at Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) ground control station near Ben-Gurion Airport are still hoping for a favorable ending to the latest chapter still unfolding. But like the chapters that have gone before, Ofek 11 represents the highs and lows of a story driven by strategic need and enhanced by its share of diplomatic intrigue. Conceived in secret, it’s a story of battling the laws of physics; and struggling on a shoestring budget to build rockets strong enough to loft satellites small enough into retrograde orbit against Earth’s eastward spin.

 

It’s also a story of fortitude. How the euphoria of reaching space in 1988 was followed by bitter back-to-back failures that saw two satellites swallowed by the sea. And how the heroes of our story finagled their way back from the brink with the 1995 launch of Ofek-3, Israel’s first operational imaging satellite whose progeny continue to fuel the regional power status of the Jewish state. “Small countries can be great only if they dream big,” said former president Shimon Peres. “With Ofek, we penetrated space and skepticism.”

 

Interviewed before the stroke that befell the pioneer of Israel’s aerospace and defense industry, Peres said Israel’s small size makes it uniquely positioned as a “center of excellence” for advanced research and development. “Our advantage is creative, out-of-the-box thinkers who push the boundaries of what was deemed impossible.” But with all due respect to Israel’s senior statesman, this is where our tale takes a cautionary turn. Because the flip side of this story is one of untapped potential and failure to leverage billions of dollars invested in military space to assure commercial competitiveness on the global market.

 

The US Futron Corp. consistently ranks Israel eighth in an annual competitiveness survey based on myriad criteria, including government investment, national space policy, the ability to attract financing and annual sales. In its latest Space Competitive Index (SCI), we have dropped to number nine. “Israel continues to be a leader in space technology, but has limited commercial sales,” Futron reported in its first SCI survey from 2008. The same holds true today. “Although Israeli technology is high quality and generally cost-competitive, Israeli manufacturers have less global scale than their counterparts,” Futron senior analyst Jonathan Beland told the Jerusalem Post Magazine.

 

But let’s go back. Our story begins in the late 1970s. US President Jimmy Carter was proving relentless in prodding Israel and Egypt toward peace. In the run-up to Camp David, the era of Israeli Air Force reconnaissance flights over Sinai was about to end. Plan Treasure was a top-secret forum where US and Israeli officials hashed out compensation to come from the 1978 accord. Among Israel’s requests: access to imagery from US spy satellites. “The Americans didn’t even answer us; they ignored the request,” recalls David Ivry, a retired major general who commanded the Israel Air Force at the time. That’s when the indigenous Israeli satellite program started to gain traction. Ivry said. “We knew after the treaty was signed, we would be obliged not to violate Egyptian sovereignty by overflying their airspace as we used to do,” he added…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

Contents                       

           

On Topic Links

 

 

Israel Should Avoid Turkey, Include Cyprus in Gas Export Projects: Ariel Ben Solomon, BESA, Oct. 7, 2016 —As Israel begins closing deals for its natural gas, it should avoid linking itself to any expensive long-term pipeline deal with Turkey at the expense of allies Cyprus, Greece, or even Egypt. Notwithstanding the recent easing of tensions between the two countries, Israel cannot trust Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Islamist regime as a linchpin in its natural gas export strategy.

Israel's Plan to Supply the Arab World With Energy Is Under Threat in Jordan: Natanel Abramov, Newsweek, Oct. 11, 2016—Public protests and civil society campaigns have been gathering pace in Jordan in opposition to the $10 billion deal recently signed by the state-owned National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) and suppliers of Israeli gas, serving as a timely reminder of the limits of overt cooperation, economic or otherwise, between Israel and neighboring Arab states.

Israel-China Ties Bloom with Free Trade Talks Imminent: Iacopo Luzi, Times of Israel, Sept. 29, 2016—Israel and China relations are reaching new heights as investors and entrepreneurs throng conferences in China and Tel Aviv and the two countries gear up for talks on establishing a free trade zone.

India, the UN vote, the Temple Mount and Ayodhya: Souptik Mukherjee, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 25, 2016— Hindu-Jewish ties date back over 2,500 years. It is believed that Jews arrived in India after the destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians in 587 BCE. Jewish waves of migration to India took place after the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE.

 

 

 

 

ISRAEL, DESPITE HIGH COURT GAS RULING, EXPANDS REGIONAL ECONOMIC AND MILITARY PARTNERSHIPS

 

 

Natural Gas Follies: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Mar. 28, 2016— The unnecessary High Court of Justice decision on Sunday may visit upon Israel more damage than 10,000 possible BDS campaigns.

Israel's Alliance That Could Potentially Offset Enhanced Russian and Iranian Power: Leslie Susser, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 26, 2016— The past several weeks have seen a flurry of diplomatic activity reinforcing the tripartite alliance between Israel, Greece and Cyprus.

IDF Racing to Restructure for New Middle East Warfare: Yaakov Lappin, Algemeiner, Feb. 24, 2016— The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is in a race against time, and their race is also relevant to how other Western powers will deal with the rise of radical, armed, Islamic groups proliferating across the Middle East.

There’s Only One Country in the Middle East that Could Produce a Soldier Like Me: Major Alaa Waheeb, Jewish News, Mar. 3, 2016— In the last few weeks, students across the UK have been involved in Israeli Apartheid Week. 

 

On Topic Links

 

PC 2016 – Bob Cohen Remarks and Truman-Jacobson Video: AIPAC, Mar. 27, 2016

Israel’s Democratic Collapse: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 28 2016

Why Israeli Politicians are Turning Against the IDF: Ben Caspit, Al-Monitor, Feb. 24, 2016

Israeli Military Ranks 9th Most Powerful Globally on Defense Site List: David Daoud, Algemeiner, Mar. 27, 2016

 

                                                                        Contents

          NATURAL GAS FOLLIES

               David M. Weinberg

       Israel Hayom, Mar. 28, 2016

 

The unnecessary High Court of Justice decision on Sunday may visit upon Israel more damage than 10,000 possible BDS campaigns. If Noble Energy and its partners walk away from the gas deal now, Israel will not only lose the direct economic benefits of having natural gas, but also forfeit what might have been an exceedingly valuable tool of Israeli foreign and defense policy.

 

The 1,400 billion cubic meters of natural gas that lie offshore in the Tamar, Leviathan, Tanin and Karish fields constitute one of Israel's most important geopolitical assets for the future. The gas fields are of critical strategic value. They were about to revolutionize Israel's standing in the region and transform our relations with neighboring countries. Handled wisely, these exports were supposed to be an exceedingly valuable tool of Israeli foreign and defense policy. Handled shrewdly, Israel could have solidified its centrality in the region via stable regional partnerships for gas production and supply.

 

But the High Court's refusal to leave good-enough alone; its decision to cancel the 10-year price stability clause in the gas deal — is mangling the gas bonanza. In one fell swoop, the court gave substance to fears that Israel is not a stable regulatory system for big business. The court may scare away, once and for all, most potential investors. And without very big investors, the gas will remain buried uselessly underwater and underground, or it will be so expensive as to be unattractive and ineffectual.

 

Remember how we got here. Between 2003 and 2009, Noble Energy, alone among the major offshore drilling companies of the world, responded positively to an Israeli government invitation to search for natural gas in Israel's territorial waters and exclusive economic zone. It invested $200 million in discovering Tamar (taking a 70% chance of failure), and it has invested a whopping $4 billion so far to develop the larger and much farther-offshore Leviathan field. Today, 40% of Israel's electricity production is fueled by natural gas from Tamar.

 

The complications began with environmental groups that blocked construction of a main natural gas receiving facility near Furadis and forcing its relocation, delays that cost Noble $1.8 billion, and cost the State of Israel much more. Then the Israeli government changed the rules of the game in terms of taxation and profit-sharing on the gas sector, via a Finance Ministry committee headed by Eitan Sheshinsky. That is when the global gas giant Woodside of Australia withdrew its interest in partnering with Israel or with Noble to develop our gas deposits. Israel is an unstable regulatory environment, the company said.

 

Under growing public pressure to wrest an even better deal, the government then re-negotiated the terms of business again with Noble, for a 60% government, 40% company split of the profits. Noble would still have to pay the multi-billion-dollar development costs, and the heightened insurance costs (in a situation where Iranian hegemony is on the ascendancy alongside Iranian threats against Israel's gas facilities at sea). Yet even that iteration of the government-corporate partnership was unacceptable to critics on the left wing of the political spectrum. They sought to cap the amount of gas that can be exported to low levels, and cap the price of gas to Israelis at even more ridiculously low levels. That would have nearly nationalized the gas fields and made the venture far from viable.

 

Now the High Court has weighed in by striking down the "stability clause," a key part of the framework that commits the Israeli government not to impose any regulatory changes on the gas industry for at least 10 years. This was inserted because the gas companies contended that the cost-benefits calculations required to make the $6 billion or more needed to develop Leviathan would be too risky otherwise. A government in the future could opt to change tax policy and other regulations that would affect the return on their investment.

 

Seems logical, no? Well, the court says that the government can't do this without new legislation. My main concern here isn't the public-corporate-constitutional side of the dispute. Perhaps Noble and the government can yet work things out, again — although it won't be easy with an emboldened Knesset opposition nipping at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's heels. What is of even greater concern is international perceptions of Israel as a stable business environment. At stake is Israel's global reputation as a reliable place to make money. Without that, foreign direct investment in Israel will crash. Investors are scared away from places afflicted by extreme over-regulation, confused policymaking, constantly changing tax rules, splenetic politicians, and overly ambitious judges.

 

Furthermore, if this country continues to muck around in internal disputes over the gas sector, Israel will fritter way the diplomatic and strategic opportunities offered by the gas finds. Gas must be considered a fundamental security issue. Israel already has agreements to sell Jordan enough gas for almost all of its electricity production, a diplomatic coup that helps solidify a vital security partnership with the Hashemite Kingdom. Cyprus wants to partner with Israel in selling massive amounts of gas to the Egyptians, and that would help stabilize the Sissi regime. Greece, and even Turkey, want Israeli natural gas pipelines or liquid natural gas shipments to run through their countries. Russia's national giant, Gazprom, is also seeking partnership with Israel.

 

In other words, Israel's natural gas sector presents a unique opportunity for partnership between local and foreign companies, between government and the corporate sector, between Israel and its Arab and Mediterranean neighbors, between Israel and Europe, and even between Israel and Asia. Natural gas can be an Israeli strategic geopolitical tool of the highest order. But not if Israel acts with inconsistency, short-sightedness and never-ending legal wrangling.

Contents

ISRAEL'S ALLIANCE THAT COULD POTENTIALLY OFFSET

ENHANCED RUSSIAN AND IRANIAN POWER

                 Leslie Susser                           

    Jerusalem Post, Mar. 26, 2016

 

The past several weeks have seen a flurry of diplomatic activity reinforcing the tripartite alliance between Israel, Greece and Cyprus. On January 28, the three leaders, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a summit meeting in Nicosia; the day before Tsipras brought 10 of his cabinet colleagues to Jerusalem for a government to government session with their Israeli counterparts; and the day before that Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon held security talks in Athens and a month later in Cyprus.

 

The three countries share obvious economic interests in what they call the “energy triangle” in the Eastern Mediterranean, where both Israel and Cyprus have discovered huge natural gas deposits. One of the more ambitious joint projects is to build an undersea gas pipeline from Israel to Cyprus to Crete to mainland Greece to facilitate gas exports to Europe; in parallel there are plans for a 2000 megawatt undersea electricity cable, the “EuroAsia Interconnector,” which would follow much the same route, linking the Israeli electricity grid to those of Cyprus, Greece and mainland Europe, thereby providing Israel’s currently isolated power system with strategic backup.

 

There are common military interests too: primarily defending the “energy triangle,” but also joint military exercises and additional training space for the Israel Air Force after the loss of Turkish skies in 2010. The close ties are based on a confluence of strategic interests in a turbulent war-torn region. All three have a common interest in keeping the chaotic Syria situation from spilling over into their domain; in other words, keeping Islamic State (ISIS) and the newly dominant Russia-Iran-Hezbollah axis at bay. All three recognize the need for new local alliances given the decline of American influence in the region. Their tripartite partnership is also a counterweight to Turkey’s hegemonic regional ambitions.

 

But at the same time, all three declare willingness to widen the alliance to include other key players like Egypt and Italy and, in certain circumstances, perhaps even Turkey itself. The goal would be a wide moderate front made up of non-Arab Eastern Mediterranean/Middle Eastern countries and moderate Sunni states, backed by the US, despite its perceived regional pullback. The Israel, Greece, Cyprus alliance, therefore, has solid foundations and could form the basis for something bigger. But, in itself, it is hardly a substitute for relations with more powerful players.

 

The joint economic interests, however, are of potentially major significance. In August 2013, the three countries signed a tripartite energy memorandum providing for the laying of the EuroAsia Interconnector, set to be the longest undersea electricity cable in the world. It will run from Hadera in Israel 329 kilometers to Vasilikos in Cyprus, 879 kilometers from Cyprus to Crete and 310 kilometers from Crete to mainland Greece, a total of 1,518 kilometers or 950 miles. From Greece the cable will fork northwest to Italy and Switzerland and northeast to Serbia and Bulgaria.

 

The project, which will cost an estimated 1.5 billion euros, has EU backing as part of its Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) program. The work will be carried out by a Cypriot-led consortium including Cyprus’s DEH-Quantum Energy Group and Greece’s state-controlled Public Power Corporation, with the target date for the Israel-Cyprus leg, 2019, and completion of the project as a whole set for 2022. Electricity will flow in both directions, enabling significant energy savings. Importantly for war-threatened Israel: it will provide the local electricity grid with crucial backup if its own production facilities are damaged…

 

It was the rupture of the close ties between Israel and Turkey in the wake of the Mavi Marmara incident in May 2010 (in which Israeli commandos stormed a Turkish-operated vessel threatening to run the naval blockade of Gaza) that spurred Israel’s burgeoning military cooperation with Greece and Cyprus. In July, less than two months after the incident, then Greek prime minister George Papandreou flew to Israel to discuss alternative military cooperation. In August, Netanyahu became the first Israeli prime minister to visit Athens. And by October, the Israeli and Greek air forces were conducting joint exercises in Greece.

 

A year later the IAF hosted Greece’s Hellenic Air Force at the Ovda base in the Negev, carrying out simulated dogfights and ground attacks as well as mid-air refueling. Similar exercises took place the following year over the Peloponnese. In November 2013, Israel significantly upgraded the joint air force training with operation “Blue Flag,” the IAFs biggest ever air maneuver, including seven Israeli squadrons and one each from the air forces of the US, Greece, Italy and Poland. The large-scale exercises, which included simulated attacks on enemy bases while avoiding anti-aircraft missiles and detection by enemy radar systems, were repeated in late October-early November 2015.

 

The two countries have also conducted significant joint naval exercises. In 2011 Turkey, in a calculated snipe at Jerusalem, pulled out of the annual “Reliant Mermaid” maritime maneuvers with Israel and the US. The following year Greece was invited to replace Turkey, the name of the annual exercise was changed to “Noble Dina” and the focus switched from search-and-rescue to attack-and-defend scenarios, including anti-submarine warfare and repelling attacks on offshore natural gas rigs.

 

Israel and Greece signed a Defense Cooperation Agreement in January 2012; Cyprus followed suit in February. The Cypriot agreement allows the IDF use of Cypriot air space and territorial waters around the island for training purposes and to protect vital energy resources. Dubbed “Onisilos-Gideon,” the ensuing joint exercises were upgraded in 2014, with dozens of IAF fighters and support aircraft participating in training over Cyprus, simulating firing at targets on land and sea from Limassol to Paphos. The two countries have also conducted a series of joint naval exercises focusing on protection of offshore gas installations. So far there has been only one known genuine incident testing the Israel-Cypriot alliance: In September 2011, IAF planes overflew Turkish Northern Cyprus as a warning to a Turkish seismic research ship that had entered Cypriot waters in what was seen as a deliberate provocation over Turkey’s offshore gas exploration dispute with Cyprus…                                                                                                         [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents

                    IDF RACING TO RESTRUCTURE FOR NEW MIDDLE EAST WARFARE                        

                                                                Yaakov Lappin                                                                       

Arutz Sheva, Mar. 4, 2016

 

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is in a race against time, and their race is also relevant to how other Western powers will deal with the rise of radical, armed, Islamic groups proliferating across the Middle East. As the IDF’s commanders look around the region, they see heavily armed, hybrid, Islamic sub-state foes that are replacing states. The traditional threat of hierarchical armies is fading quickly away, into obscurity.

 

The Sunni and Shiite jihadist entities on Israel’s borders — Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS-affiliated groups in Syria, Jabhat Al-Nusra, as well as elements of Iran’s IRGC forces — are all building their power and preparing for a future unknown point in time when they will clash with Israel. The IDF is preparing, too, but it is not only counting how many soldiers, tanks, fighter planes, and artillery cannons it can call up in the next round. The IDF is in a race to adapt to 21st century Middle Eastern warfare, which bears no resemblance to how wars were fought in the 20th century.

 

In this new type of conflict, enemies appear and vanish quickly, use their own civilians as cover, bombard Israeli cities with projectiles, seek out the weakest link in Israel’s chain, and send killing squads through tunnels to attack Israeli border villages. In this type of clash, the enemy looks for a ‘winning picture’ at the start of any escalation. This means landing a surprise blow that will knock Israeli society off balance, at least for a short while. To be clear, all of the hostile sub-state actors currently are deterred by Israel’s considerable firepower and are unlikely to initiate a direct, all-out attack. The price they would pay for such action is deemed too high, for now. Yet, opportunities and circumstances can suddenly arise that would alter these calculations, and put these terrorist organizations on a direct collision course with the IDF. Israel has fought four conflicts against Hamas and Hezbollah in the past 10 years, and emerged with the conclusion that the era of state military versus state military warfare is over.

 

Acknowledging this development is one thing; the organizational transformation that must follow is quite another. Israel did not want to enter any of the past four conflicts that were forced upon it, but since they occurred, they have aided in the IDF’s adaptation process, which has been as complex as it has been painful, and is far from over. “What you have to do against an enemy like this, and it is a great difficulty for militaries, including the IDF, is to operate in a combined, cross-branch [air force, ground forces, navy] manner, and to keep it [operations] focused. Focus the ground maneuver and firepower, on the basis of the intelligence you get,” a senior IDF source said earlier this month in Tel Aviv, while addressing the challenges of adaptation.

Take southern Lebanon, the home base of Hezbollah, as an example — the area has well over 100 Shiite villages that have been converted into mass rocket launching zones. With one out of every 10 Lebanese homes doubling up as a Hezbollah rocket launching site (complete with roofs that open and close to allow the rocket to launch), Hezbollah has amassed more than 120,000 projectiles — some of them GPS guided — with Iran’s help. This arsenal, pointed at Israel, forms one of the largest surface to surface rocket arsenals on Earth…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

Contents

THERE’S ONLY ONE COUNTRY IN THE MIDDLE EAST THAT

COULD PRODUCE A SOLDIER LIKE ME

           Major Alaa Waheeb                                                                       

       Jewish News, Mar. 3, 2016

 

In the last few weeks, students across the UK have been involved in Israeli Apartheid Week.  Some have supported it. Others have opposed it. Invited by the Zionist Federation UK, last week I was able to attend campuses up and down the country specifically to address and counter some of the claims involved. These fall into roughly three categories. First, that Israel is an inherently racist, and therefore unacceptable country, comparable to Apartheid South Africa. Second, that its army defends this racist status with acts of illegal and immoral violence. And third, that the only solution to this problem is through the isolation tactics of boycotts.

 

Like many I met during my visit, I oppose these views. But perhaps more than most people on either side of the debate, I am better placed to argue against them. Because I am an Israeli, an Arab, and the highest ranked Muslim in the IDF. Is Israel inherently racist, an apartheid state? Well, do you think that such a country would tolerate a person like myself getting to the position I am today? Forget for a second (BDS supporters would like you to forget permanently!) that 20 percent of Israelis are non-Jewish, have full rights, and are represented throughout society. It’s one thing, after all, to have Arab politicians, Christian voters, and Muslim doctors – although we do have them, and quite a few at that.

 

But a non-Jewish army Major? Someone who has not only fought alongside Jewish soldiers, but now trains them too? Would a truly racist state allow me to play such an integral role in our nation’s defences? And while we’re on the subject of those defences, let me tackle accusation two: that the Israel army is a particularly immoral one. I am not particularly religious, but as the Holy Quran says, “if anyone killed a person, it would be as if he killed the whole of mankind; and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole of mankind.”

 

I do not serve in the army to kill people – I serve in it to save people. When Hamas fires rockets, or Fatah encourages stabbings, we are here to protect the lives of all Israeli citizens, Jewish and non-Jewish. And so on to the last point – that the best way to resolve violence and conflict is through the kind of tactics advocated by the Boycotts movement. Namely, isolation and intimidation. For me, this is the most important issue, and the one which makes me shake my head with anger and sadness the most.

 

Like I said, I visited the UK to combat Israeli Apartheid Week, to challenge the lies and mistruths hurled at the country I am proud to call home. But what hurts me the most is not how unbelievable they are. The opposite, in fact. They are all too believable, and I should know – because I once believed them too. The reality is that the town I grew up in did not recognise the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. While Arabic is an official language, I did not learn Hebrew until I was 17. I was raised to believe the worst things about Jews, and, had I not eventually met and worked alongside them, I might still believe those things today.

 

In my role as a soldier, I have met all kinds of people both in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Jews, Arabs, Religious, Secular, Left-wing and Right-wing. I have met Israelis who were prejudiced against me. But I have also met Palestinians who appreciate the work that I do to maintain some sort of peace and stability in the most dangerous part of the world. Forget slogans and shouting. Peace – real peace – will only come when people talk to each other. Not necessarily agree – just agree to listen. But the irony of Israeli Apartheid Week is that it wants individuals to focus on differences, not similarities. Instead of building bridges between communities, it wants to build walls.

 

During my time in the UK, I spoke alongside a fellow soldier, a medic who has treated both Israeli soldiers and Palestinian terrorists without distinction. We were the Muslim who protects Jewish lives, and the Jew who saves Muslim lives. There’s only one country in the Middle East that could produce a couple like that – and it sure as hell isn’t an apartheid state.

 

On Topic

 

PC 2016 – Bob Cohen Remarks and Truman-Jacobson Video: AIPAC, Mar. 27, 2016—Before there was AIPAC, before there was Israel, one man’s friendship with President Truman helped change history.

Israel’s Democratic Collapse: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 28 2016—Israeli democracy is in critical condition. Sunday, the High Court of Justice ruled that the government’s natural gas policy is unlawful.

Why Israeli Politicians are Turning Against the IDF: Ben Caspit, Al-Monitor, Feb. 24, 2016—Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot is an experienced officer with a long list of achievements under his belt. Nevertheless, on Feb. 17, he found himself caught in a political crossfire.

Israeli Military Ranks 9th Most Powerful Globally on Defense Site List: David Daoud, Algemeiner, Mar. 27, 2016—Israel’s military is the 9th strongest in the world, according to the international defense site Global Firepower (GFP), which released its annual list on Friday.

 

 

                        

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

‘SILENT MAN’ PROTESTS VOICE LONG-SIMMERING TURKISH SECULAR/ISLAMIST DIVIDE; ERDOGAN BLAMES ISRAEL

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail:  ber@isranet.org

 

 

 Download a pdf version of today's Daily Briefing.

 

Understanding the Turkish Demonstrations: Harold Rhode, Gatestone Institute, June 10, 2013—Turkey, although nominally part of the West, is in most ways culturally closer to the Middle East. Turks live with pent-up grievances — as do we all — but with virtually no way to resolve them.

 

Erdogan's War on Ataturk's Legacy: Hillel Fradkin & Lewis Libby, Real Clear World, June 25, 2013—Recently, a single man stepped into the mass demonstrations and counter-demonstrations that have roiled Turkey for weeks. The man stood still and silent, staring at an image on a wall.

Is Turkey's Government Seeking Israeli Scapegoat for Protests?: Arad Nir, Al-Monitor Israel Pulse, June 24, 2013—Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan apparently finds it difficult to put the Marmara flotilla affair behind him and overcome his aversion to the government of Israel.

 

On Topic Links

 

Tayyip Erdoğan, "God's Gift to Turkey": Robert Ellis, Gatestone Institute, June 19, 2013

EU Agrees to Open New Chapter With Turkey:  Hurriet Daily News, June 25, 2013

A Country Divided: Where Is Turkey Headed?: Daniel Steinvorth and Bernhard Zand, Spiegel, June 25, 2013

Greek Cyprus Signs Energy Deal With Israel in Defiance of Turkey: Zach Pontz, Algemeiner, June 21, 2013

 

 

UNDERSTANDING THE TURKISH DEMONSTRATIONS

Harold Rhode

Gatestone Institute, June 10, 2013

 

Turkey, although nominally part of the West, is in most ways culturally closer to the Middle East. Turks live with pent-up grievances — as do we all — but with virtually no way to resolve them. People in a supposedly democratic Turkey are reluctant to air their grievances even in public surveys out of fear their government might take revenge on them. During the past few years, people in Turkey have been saying that they are petrified to speak to others, write things, or talk freely on the telephone for fear they will be arrested. At present, Turkey has more journalists in jail than any other country.

 

The ruling AKP government has set up countless apparatuses to monitor dissent; these cause those who disagree with the government to fear not just arrest but interrogation. People and groups have therefore chosen largely to suffer in silence. Moreover, in the culture of the Middle East, there is no such thing as a win-win compromise. Turks, like their neighbours, consider backing down or apologizing dishonourable. Consequently, they spend much time blaming each other and looking for scapegoats — but almost never admitting responsibility for problems. As a result, tensions — with no means of being put to rest — constantly seethe below the surface.

 

This is the context through which to understand the riots and demonstrations against the government which have spread across Turkey.

 

Before Erdoğan came to power in 2002, with his unspoken promise to reinstate Islam as a central part of the state, many observant Muslims complained that the state discriminated against them. Under Islam, there can be no separation of religion and state. The state must be ruled by Muslims, and must be guided by Islamic law and culture. Observant Muslims felt oppressed by the secular Kemalist government in place since the 1920s, after the Ottoman Empire had been disbanded and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk had come to power. Atatürk established policies condemned by Islamic fundamentalists such as education for women, separation of religion and state, and Western dress.

 

His supporters and he said they wanted to relegate Islam to the realm of the private, and teach individuals to make decisions for themselves instead of blindly following religious leaders. Those who wanted the state to remain Islamic said they felt under constant pressure to keep their views to themselves; doing otherwise, they feared, might bring down on them the wrath of the secular state. Some of Atatürk's people were personally religious, but kept their religion separate from activities related to the state. Atatürk did not invade the realm of the private — unlike what Erdoğan has been trying to do.

 

Since Erdoğan and his AKP ["Truth and Reconciliation Party"] came to power, they have slowly but resolutely done their best to dismantle the secular apparatus of the state and have been trying to impose their version of Sunni fundamentalist Islam on everyone, especially the non-Sunni Alevis who make up approximately 30% of Turkey's population.

 

As soon as Erdoğan came to power, he started systematically dismantling Atatürkist institutions. These included recognizing religious elementary schools as equal to regular Turkish government secular schools, massive building of new Sunni mosques, even in areas where there are no Sunnis, a huge attempt to indoctrinate the young people in Sunni Islam, weakening the secular military though fraudulent accusations followed by show trials, and creating a media that followed his orders without questioning. The Turkish state secretly videotaped people it regarded as opponents in compromising situations or arrested them for fabricated crimes, including accusations that they were members of conspiratorial groups planning to overthrow the government.

 

Erdoğan's re-Islamification program entailed removing Atatürk and secularism from as many aspects of Turkish life as possible. Now the secularists and non-Sunnis felt oppressed. The Alevis, for example, have undergone an aggressive, imperialistic attempt to coerce them into abandoning their religion and become Sunnis. Even though, for example, the Alevis do not attend mosques, the regime ordered them to be built in Alevi towns and villages and then began forcing Alevi children to undergo Sunni religious instruction, which became mandatory in schools….

 

Unlike some other Middle Eastern societies, Turkey is, by and large, orderly. People line up for the bus and usually patiently wait their turn to board. The moment, however, someone pushes and tries to break into the line, what one moment looks completely orderly can instantly descend into unrest — like one lit match igniting all the others. As with the fruit seller in Tunisia, who set himself on fire out of frustration at not being able to obtain a license to sell fruit, an outside observer might get the impression that actions often seem disproportionate to the provocation and that people are avenging deeply held grievances that have little to do with the subject at hand. Turkish governments have historically known this to be a possibility, and have therefore created strong security apparatuses to handle these situations.

 

To understand whether or not a revolt has staying power, one might ask if a regime has the will and ability to do what is necessary to restore calm. In the past, this was relatively easy. There was no easy access to the international media. Tyrants, dictators, and other strongmen such as Erdoğan could get away with violently suppressing riots and demonstrations, while the outside world had no way of knowing what was happening. Leaders had a free hand to act as they wished.

 

Where Turkey's demonstrations will lead depends much on the reaction of Erdoğan's friends and allies, most notably U.S. President Barack Obama's Administration. Secretary of State Kerry publicly chastised the Turks for using too much force against "the demonstrators, most of whom are law-abiding citizens," although it is not apparent how the American administration could judge whether or not this was true. In response, the Turkish Foreign Minister publicly criticized his American counterpart Kerry for interfering in Turkish internal affairs.

 

What one can know is that the U.S. Administration's reaction seems to have emboldened the demonstrators; they know that the outside world is watching Erdoğan, and that even his closest ally, the current U.S. administration, has criticized him.

 

Will Turkey descend into chaos like most of its Arab neighbours? In terms of security forces, Turkey is better organized than its Arab neighbours — even Egypt — so it is difficult to see Turkey in a similar chaotic situation. Nevertheless, there are sectors inside Turkey who are fed up with Erdoğan; demonstrators keep chanting, "Erdoğan resign! Government – resign!" Erdoğan responded by labelling the demonstrators Çapulcus [pronounced Chapulju] meaning "lowlifes," vandals, looters. The demonstrators have now turned this epithet into a badge of honour.

 

In short, the events of the past few weeks have forced onto the Turkish agenda all sorts of issues the government had pushed underground. Whatever happens, Turkey has shown that it is not the stable island of calm and democracy its allies had hoped it to be. Iran and Russia will certainly benefit here, as will Assad of Syria: all three have become adversaries of Turkey.

 

The Kurds could also benefit: if the Turkish state proves weak, its weakness could help Turkey's Kurds on the their way to establishing a more autonomous region within Turkey, possibly to join in the future an independent Kurdish entity.

 

The Turkish people could be the biggest beneficiaries: they might even once again have the chance to make decisions for themselves instead of being forced to follow Islamist leaders and Shari'a-oriented laws that many do not want.

 

Contents

 

 

ERDOGAN'S WAR ON ATATURK'S LEGACY

Hillel Fradkin & Lewis Libby

Real clear World, June 25, 2013

 

Recently, a single man stepped into the mass demonstrations and counter-demonstrations that have roiled Turkey for weeks. The man stood still and silent, staring at an image on a wall. Soon scores of his countrymen, concerned about their freedoms, stood silently beside him, not just in Gezi Park, but in parks and squares across Turkey. It was a potent symbol in a war of symbols. In the Middle East, it may one day rank beside another standing man — the man who stood before the tanks of Tiananmen. Time will tell if it will prove equally futile.

 

The protest in Istanbul's Gezi Park marks another round in a battle for Turkey's future. Among the silent stand those who seek a return to the moderate, secular path set by modern Turkey's founder, Kemal Ataturk. They face down not the tanks, but the bulldozers of Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In the narrowest sense, Erdogan plans to bulldoze the last remaining green square in Istanbul (another weighty metaphor) to rebuild an Ottoman barracks. In the larger sense, he hopes to bulldoze the modern legacy of Ataturk, amend Turkey's constitution to create a presidency more powerful than even Ataturk ever held and then restore the glory of Ottoman Turkey and the caliphate that once bound the Sunni Islamic world together….

 

The protesters, Erdogan's allies claim, conspire with Turkey's external enemies and other nefarious forces to undermine the high estate that is Turkey's regional birthright. So Erdogan sponsored a counter-demonstration to answer the crowds in Gezi Park. Where? At Kazlicesme, just outside the ancient walls of Constantinople, the site from which the 15th century Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror launched the attack that captured Constantinople and drove the last western influence from Turkey. (How like Erdogan's recent call that Turkey's youth embrace the 11th century battle in which the Seljuk Turks first fought their way into then-Christian Anatolia.)   At Kazlicesme and other rallies, Erdogan's supporters sing the Ottoman Army's marching song.

 

Erdogan's bulldozers seek to remake not just Gezi Park, but the face of Ataturk's Turkey. Erdogan has just broken ground on a massive new bridge across the Bosporus to be named for Ottoman Sultan Selim I, often known as Selim the Grim. As all Turkish school children know, Selim's conquests in 1517 first won Ottoman sultans the title of Caliph. Ottoman rulers bore this title for the next 400 years, until Ataturk abolished it.

 

On an elevated headland on the Asian side of Istanbul, facing Europe, Erdogan now undertakes to build the largest mosque in the world. Highly visible almost everywhere in Istanbul, it will resemble and surpass the great, celebratory mosques built over centuries by the Ottoman sultans. No such mosque has been built since Ataturk ended the caliphate. Thus, the square, the bridge, the mosque, the marching song are each a repudiation of Ataturk's legacy. They herald the caliphate over the republic, Erdogan's vision over Ataturk's.

 

No surprise, then, that the image on the wall at which the Gezi Park protesters silently stare is Ataturk's. Moderates across Turkey have brought out images of Ataturk. In the prior, nosier demonstrations, the protesters sang the Republic's unofficial anthem, the "Tenth Year March," honoring the first decade of Ataturk's rule. Indeed, in the 1990s, when an earlier Islamist Party, the forebear of Erdogan's AKP, first came to power, moderate Turks sang this song then as well. They even made disco versions and danced to it, to hold at bay a conservative vision of Islam that challenged Turkey's modern course. A verse in the song hails the youth of Turkey, "15 million strong," and Ataturk: "Our leader and commander in chief is respected throughout the world."

 

The Gezi protesters know that Erdogan, at the end of his first decade in power, has accomplishments as well. He remains the dominant figure in Turkish politics. But while Ataturk's first decade pointed ever upward, Erdogan now faces greater challenges than he has before.

 

Erdogan's inevitability is increasingly in question. He blames the slowing of Turkey's once robust economy on nefarious interest rate lobbies. His attacks on the rule of law have undermined his image abroad. A year ago, a Council on Foreign Relations report labeled Turkey more democratic than ever before; suspect then, the Council would likely avoid such formulations today. His foreign policy has tacked one way and then the other, and both are now in shambles. His appeals to Iran have been rewarded with defiance. His efforts to intervene in Syria have been ineffective and unpopular. By attacking peaceful protests in his own capital, many Turks believe he has forfeited whatever weight his moral arguments about Assad may have held.

 

Most importantly to him, Erdogan's hopes to create and win a powerful new Turkish presidency are no longer foreordained. His hopes to woo Turkish Kurds — a substantial voting group — into a grand coalition may lay victim to Gezi Park, as Kurds were among the protesters, and Kurdish leadership has criticized Erdogan's heavy hand. The protests have shaken as well his government's most important support: the Gulen movement that determines many parliamentary seats and places its hopes in ongoing growth and stability. So far, Erdogan has shown no sign of shifting course, as he continues to polarize. If, as expected, he responds to these challenges, as other politicians before him, by solidifying his base, he will lean even more toward Islamist and neo-Ottoman interests.

 

The protests have shaken Erdogan's image of stability, and it was stability and progress on which Erdogan had staked his image. Erdogan's tight grip has loosened, and so the battle of images will continue. Given Turkey's prominence, past success and prior secular path, this may be the most telling, if least noted, battle underway today for the soul of modern Islam. So far, Erdogan's Ottoman Army marching song still swells above Ataturk's Tenth Year March. It remains to be seen which tune will in time prevail.

 

Hillel Fradkin is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. Lewis Libby is a senior vice president at the Hudson Institute.

Contents

 

 

IS TURKEY'S GOVERNMENT SEEKING
ISRAELI SCAPEGOAT FOR
PROTESTS?

Arad Nir

Al-Monitor Israel Pulse, June 24, 2013

                       

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan apparently finds it difficult to put the Marmara flotilla affair behind him and overcome his aversion to the government of Israel. This was evident even in the violent demonstrations that broke out this month (June 2013) in Istanbul. And even though Israel was not explicitly mentioned by name in the rallies that took place in Gezi Park and Taksim Square against the heads of the Turkish regime, the media outlets closely associated with the latter insist on accusing Israel of “fanning the riot flames.”

 

Following years of overt anti-Israeli sentiment in mass demonstration where the slogan “Israel is a murderer” — Katil Israil — had been commonly used in Turkey, it was strange to encounter on the very same streets and squares demonstrators calling, and banners proclaiming, “Erdogan is a murderer” — Katil Erdoğan. As a rule, the protest movement recently sparked in Turkey has refrained from making use of Israel to further its goals.

 

On two occasions alone I noticed, in Gezi Park, posters alluding to Israel — the one, drawing an analogy between Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, punning, in Turkish, on the names of the two; the other featuring a picture of Israeli President Shimon Peres as a football player standing guard alongside President Barack Obama and Fethullah Gulen (the moderate Turkish Islamic leader living in a self-imposed exile in the United States, who advocates a dialogue between religions and who has become in recent years a political rival of Erdogan), while Erdogan scores a goal.

 

Israeli officials closely following the events in Turkey assessed that those posters were inspired by none other than the ruling party, the AKP, which sought to drag Israel into the dispute — in an attempt to both delegitimize the protest and strengthen the traditional political power base of Erdogan.

 

This assessment was reinforced toward the end of the second week of the protest, when Prime Minister Erdogan was cited as saying, after watching documentation of the massive destruction caused to shops and businesses in Istanbul: “Those whom we told ‘one minute’ are happy now.” The phrase “one minute” is the one Erdogan used in Davos on January 2009, when bursting out at Shimon Peres. Every child in Turkey understands the meaning of the phrase and knows who are “Those whom we told ‘one minute’” — and to put it explicitly, it is Israel.

 

It seems that Erdogan took his cue from the banner headline published that morning by the Turkish pro-ruling party daily Yeni Şafak, which read as follows: “Israel wishes that the Gezi Park events will bring about the fall of Erdogan.”

 

Underneath, a large picture of Knesset member Reuven Rivlin was featured. Rivlin, whose name was erroneously spelled “Livnin,” was presented as speaker of the Knesset — a position he had to give up several months ago with great regret, following the establishment of the new government in Jerusalem. The “plea for the fall of Erdogan” was attributed to Rivlin, while the same news item went on to quote former Foreign Minister and current Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Avigdor Liberman — who had strongly objected at the time to an Israeli apology for the killing during the takeover of the Mavi Marmara flotilla — as having stated that he “did not lose sleep over the developments in Turkey.”

 

When I checked with Knesset member Rivlin, as well as with Liberman's bureau, both emphatically denied the allegation! Rivlin stressed the importance he attached to the relations between Israel and Turkey, under any circumstances whatsoever, while Liberman reiterated his position that Netanyahu's apology to Erdogan was a mistake, but denied any association with the statement attributed to him.

 

Later on in the week, similar allegations were made by other Turkish media outlets close to Erdogan. That time around, the “plea for the fall of Erdogan” was attributed to Knesset member Moshe Feiglin, the far-right Likud party member who is serving as the Knesset deputy speaker. I asked  Feiglin whether he had made any such statement, and he, too, denied having ever said anything of the sort. (In fact, no allusion to such statements may be found in Hebrew search engines.)

 

The leak concerning the visit to Ankara of Mossad chief Tamir Pardo on June 10, at the height of the protest wave, is another instance of this discourse, which seeks to attribute responsibility to Israel for fanning the flames of protest in Turkey. Pardo's visit to Ankara was supposed to be secret. However, there apparently were elements interested in tying him to the protest demonstrations. According to reports on the visit, the Israeli Mossad head and Hakan Fidan, chief of the Turkish Intelligence agency (known also as the “secret police”), discussed the goings-on in Syria and Iran, and even … the Gezi Park events.

 

One may wonder what Pardo had to do with the Gezi Park protest. Well, the answer is quite simple: Erdogan wants to disassociate himself from the riots and lay the responsibility for the unrest on “foreign elements.” To achieve this aim, he goes as far as to use the familiar anti-Semitic rhetoric and, for instance, points the finger at “interest groups that stand to benefit from the increase in interest rates.”

 

Israelis are closely following the developments in Turkey. And many yearn for the success of the thousands that are calling for the resignation of Erdogan and his government. It seems, however that the decision to send Tamir Pardo to meet with Fidan — who is a close confidant of Erdogan — in the midst of the protest wave shows that the Israeli government does not expect any deterioration in the standing of the incumbent Turkish prime minister…..

 

Arad Nir Is the head of the foreign news desk and international commentator for Channel 2 News, the largest news provider in Israel.

 

Contents

 

On Topic
 

Tayyip Erdoğan, "God's Gift to Turkey": Robert Ellis, Gatestone Institute, June 19, 2013—The Turkish Minister for EU Affairs, Egemen Bağış, has declared that Prime Minister Erdoğan is a gift sent by God to Turkey and to humanity. But what do half the Turkish electorate do – as well as the rest of humanity – when the gift is unwanted?

 

EU Agrees to Open New Chapter With Turkey:  Hurriet Daily News, June 25, 2013—The European Union has agreed to open a new chapter with Turkey but postponed negotiations until after the presentation of the Commission’s Annual Progress Report and a discussion of the General Affairs Council (GAC) in October.

 

A Country Divided: Where Is Turkey Headed?: Daniel Steinvorth and Bernhard Zand, Spiegel, June 25, 2013—The uprising against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan clearly shows the deep divide between modernity and tradition in Turkey. Economic growth had long disguised the cleft. But now, the country must decide what its future will hold.

 

Greek Cyprus Signs Energy Deal With Israel in Defiance of Turkey: Zach Pontz, Algemeiner, June 21, 2013

The Greek Cypriot cabinet defied Turkey earlier this week, approving plans to sign a deal with a US-Israeli partnership to build a liquefied natural gas plant on the island to exploit untapped energy riches, AFP reported Friday. Turkey has objected to the plan, saying the resources should be divided between two sides of the separated island.

 

 

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ISRAEL OIL & GAZ FINDS PORTEND MAJOR GEO-POLITICAL SHIFT AS ARABISM DECLINES & ISLAMISTS TAKE THE MIDDLE EAST

Download Today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf 

 

Contents:                          

 

 

 

Looking Beyond Jan. 22: Gerald M. Steinberg, Jerusalem Report, Dec. 26, 2012—Israel is always seemingly on the verge or in the middle of a crisis and, usually, more than one. In 2012, we focused on the life-and-death questions related to a possible military attack to halt Iran’s illegal efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.

 

Israel Has No Other Alternative But the Alternative it Has is a Good One: Barry Rubin, Rubin Report, Dec. 10, 2012—The Palestinian leadership, abetted by many Western governments, has now torn up every agreement it made with Israel. Once the efforts of two decades of negotiations were destroyed, the world has decided to focus the blame on Israel approving the construction of 3000 apartments.

 

Israel’s Emergence As Energy Superpower Making Waves: Walter Russell Mead, American Interest, July 2, 2012—The ability of the Arab governments to influence political opinion in Europe and the rest of the world is likely to decline as more oil and gas resources appear — and as Israel emerges as an important supplier. We could be heading toward a time when the world just doesn’t care all that much what happens around the Persian Gulf. The emerging new energy picture in Israel has the potential to be one of the biggest news developments of the next ten years. Potentially, the energy revolution and the change in Israel’s outlook has more geopolitical implications than the Arab Spring.

 

On Topic Links

 

 

Arabism Is Dead! Long Live…?: Barry Rubin, Rubin Report, Jan. 20, 2012

Why Sunni Islamism is The World’s Greatest Threat: Barry Rubin, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 26, 2012

The Promise of the Arab Spring: Sheri Berman, Foreign Affairs, January, 2013

The Israeli Public on Security and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Dec. 2012

Israel Should Annex the Jordan Valley: Michael Harris, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 2, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

LOOKING BEYOND JAN. 22

Gerald M. Steinberg

Jerusalem Report, Dec. 26, 2012

 

Israel is always seemingly on the verge or in the middle of a crisis and, usually, more than one. In 2012 (and much of 2011), we focused on the life-and-death questions related to a possible military attack to halt Iran’s illegal efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.

 

The debate brought out visible (and probably exaggerated) differences between Jerusalem and Washington, as highlighted in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s UN speech in September and in the US election campaign. Of late, the dispute has been narrowed and the heat on this issue has been lowered, at least temporarily, but it will return very soon.

As Iran receded temporarily, the perpetual Gaza/Hamas crisis resumed, with escalating rocket attacks on southern Israel, triggering another IDF operation. In this case, there was total harmony between Netanyahu, US President Barack Obama and even most of Europe’s fickle political leadership.

 

But this harmony was very short-lived, and the diplomatic isolation resumed as the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the unilateral Palestinian statehood strategy. The Netanyahu government, in the midst of an election campaign, responded with its own unilateralism, through noisy announcements of plans to increase building around Jerusalem – most notably an area known as E1. This brought the predictable condemnations, including blunt attacks from the Obama Administration and its surrogates in the editorial pages of The New York Times. Even Canada, whose government takes a consistent moral and principled position on Israeli issues, felt obliged to criticize this move.

 

These events reinforced the political isolation of Israel, particularly in Europe, where much of the media, academic community, charities, church groups and others promote the delegitimization of Israel and Jewish national sovereignty….Although European governments officially oppose delegitimization, the campaigns are led by NGOs…and charities receiving taxpayer funds (estimated at 100 million euros annually) via top-secret processes.

 

The funding frameworks were established to promote human rights, peace, democracy, and humanitarian aid, but have been widely abused, and lack parliamentary and other oversight. All of this activity took place against a backdrop of renewed political turmoil in Egypt, a vicious civil war in Syria, instability in Jordan, and other changes that have altered the regional context in an unrecognizable and unprecedented manner.

 

The era of hostile but predictable behaviour from the closed and corrupt totalitarian regimes was abruptly ended by what was euphemistically called “the Arab Spring.” Instead, Israel is now faced with an entirely unpredictable and chaotic regional environment, including along its immediate borders. Taken together, the potential foreign policy challenges might appear to be overwhelming. At the same time, there are also some new opportunities that might allow the post-election government to navigate through the earthquake zone, and come out on the other side with some distinct improvements in the political and diplomatic environment.…

 

The management of relations between Israel and the United States remains the key to almost everything else, and here, the pundits who have predicted continued and unprecedented friction due to the personal differences between Obama and Netanyahu should be taken with many grains of salt. With so much at stake for both nations, personalities are largely irrelevant. There is good evidence that close cooperation in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons will increase, despite legitimate differences over details….

 

Maintaining this coordination is very important, but may be complicated by internal instability in Egypt. As developments unfold, Israel will need to emphasize flexibility and be prepared for many scenarios. As long as Morsi, or subsequent Egyptian leaders, recognize the country’s dependence on massive American economic aid, and on stability and tacit cooperation with Israel, Israel should be able to manage this relationship successfully….

 

Turning to Syria, the end of the Assad regime will be a crushing defeat for Iran, and will also greatly weaken Hezbollah’s position in Lebanon. However,…the aftermath is likely to pose numerous threats to vital interests. Syria might disintegrate into fortified cantons, with the largest led by radical Sunni jihadists. This could lead to increased instability along the Golan Heights, including terror attacks….

 

Amidst this demanding agenda, immediately after the election and coalition formation, massive pressure will be exerted for resuming the “peace process” (in which the emphasis is often more on process than on peace) with what remains of President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (or pseudo-state). At least in theory, a more pro-active approach would diminish friction with Europe, the US, and much of the world.

 

Critics will argue that the sources of the conflict have not changed since November 29, 1947, and any Israeli concessions and “risks for peace” will be the springboard for the next effort to “wipe Israel off the map.” Instead of Gamal Nasser and Yasser Arafat, these objectives are being pursued by Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah, backed by Iran. Israelis remember the high costs of failure in the Oslo process and the 2005 unilateral withdrawal from Gaza.

 

Nevertheless, the pressure from the US, echoed by Europe, is very likely to lead to negotiations focusing on a partial construction freeze, and, if the process continues, transfer of some land and removal of settlements. This will require a government with sufficient support necessary to overcome fierce internal opposition.

 

To justify such moves, Israel will demand that Palestinians really end incitement, and not only pay lip service; halt the political war, including BDS and lawfare campaigns; acknowledge the legitimacy of Israel as the Jewish nation-state and Jerusalem as its capital; and agree that resolution of refugee claims will take place in the negotiated boundaries of any Palestinian state. From the US and Europe, Israel will seek official recognition of the Sharon-Bush parameters, with the “consensus blocs,” including those in and near Jerusalem, and secure borders….

 

With so many dimensions, Israel’s foreign policy agenda will be taxed to the limit and beyond. Coping with developments on Iran, the complexities of relations with the United States, regional revolutions and counter-revolutions, preventing the rearmament of Hamas, political warfare from Europe, and Palestinian negotiations will result in inevitable crises, each with its own magnitude and complexities. At least, in this sense, some things never change.

 

 

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ISRAEL HAS NO OTHER ALTERNATIVE BUT
THE ALTERNATIVE IT HAS IS A GOOD ONE

Barry Rubin

Rubin Reports, December 10, 2012

 

The Palestinian leadership, abetted by many Western governments, has now torn up every agreement it made with Israel. Once the efforts of two decades of negotiations—including irrevocable Israeli compromises in giving the Palestinian Authority control over territory, its own armed forces, dismantling settlements, and permitting billions of dollars of foreign aid to the Palestinians—were destroyed, the world has decided to focus the blame on Israel approving the construction of 3000 apartments….

 

What is shocking is not just that this has happened but there has been no discussion much less hesitation by dozens of countries to destroy an agreement that they hitherto supported. Indeed, a study of the history of this agreement shows clearly that the Palestinian side prevented the accord from succeeding, most obviously by permitting and carrying out continuing terrorism and rejecting Israeli offers for a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem both in the 2000 Camp David summit and in the ensuing offer conveyed by President Bill Clinton at the end of that year….

 

They have rewarded the party that refused to make peace. They have rewarded the side that rejected the offer of a state and pursued violence instead, cheering the murder of Israeli civilians. They have removed the framework on the basis of which Israel made numerous risky concessions including letting hundreds of thousands of Palestinians enter the West Bank and Gaza Strip; establish a government; obtain billions of dollars of money; created military organizations that have been used to attack Israel; establish schools and other institutions which call and teach for Israel’s destruction; and a long list of other things.

 

As a result of these concessions, terrorists were able to strike into Israel. Today, Hamas and its allies can fire thousands of rockets into Israel. Israel has paid for the 1993 deal; the Palestinian Authority has only taken what it has wanted. Abbas Zaki, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, was one of many who stated that the Oslo Accords have now ceased to exist. What then governs the situation and Israel-Palestinian (Palestine?) relations? Nothing.  There is, for example, no standing for any claim that the Palestinian side has recognized—much less accepted—Israel’s existence. Indeed, a “one-state solution” is daily advocated by Palestinian leaders.

 

Yet the world’s outrage is reserved for Israel’s announcement that 3000 apartments will be constructed on land claimed by Israel on the West Bank, all built on settlements whose existence until a bilateral agreement was reached was accepted by the PLO and the Palestinian Authority.…

 

Again, what’s important here is not to complain about the unfairness of international life, the hypocrisy of those involved, and the double standards applied against Israel. This is the reality of the situation and must be the starting point for considering what to do….[W]hat’s important is to do that which is necessary to preserve Israel’s national security and to ignore to the greatest possible extent anything that subverts it.

 

What has experience taught us? Very simply this: The Palestinian leadership's priority is not on getting a state of their own–they have missed many opportunities to do so–but to gain total victory. No matter how much you might think it is rational for them to seek to have a country living peacefully alongside Israel forever as it develops its economy and culture and resettles refugees out of the camps they do not think so. And that's all that's important….

 

What has the world's behavior taught us? Very simply this: Nothing we can do will suffice. If Israel were to accept unconditionally a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders with its capital in east Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority would then demand that all Palestinians who so wished and had an ancestor living there before 1948 must be admitted to Israel with full voting and all other rights. And then what would the UN do?

 

What has diplomacy taught us? That the other side will not keep commitments and those guaranteeing those commitments will not keep their word to do so. And then they will complain that Israel doesn't take more risks, give more concessions, and defend itself too vigorously. Well, that's the way things are and in some ways they've been like that for decades; from a Jewish standpoint, for centuries. So what else is new?

 

Of course, all the proper statements will be made and the diplomatic options pursued by Israel. They will not make any difference on the rhetorical dynamics but their point is to limit the material effects. That is not a pessimistic assessment at all. Basically, this process has now been going on for about 40 years. It will continue to go on, partly because the West has been and will continue to be content with purely symbolic anti-Israel measures so it can reap some public relations’ benefits without any costs. The quality of existence is more important than the quality of the ability to justify one's existence….

 

In the World Happiness Report, Israel rated 14th and in health it was in the 6th position, ahead of the United States, Germany, Britain, and France. Living well, as the saying goes, is the best revenge. Meanwhile, Israel’s neighbours don’t get criticized by the UN—many of them get elected to the Human Rights Council despite their records—but are sinking into violence, disaster, and new dictatorships.

 

So which fate is preferable? To win the wars forced on you, to develop high living standards, to enjoy real democratic life, or to writhe under the torture of dictators, terrorists, and totalitarian ideologies? Israel's fate includes to be slandered, its actions and society so often distorted by those responsible for conveying accurate information to their own societies. And that also means to be attacked violently by its neighbours, though it can minimize the effectiveness of that violence.  Like our ancestors we have to deal with this bizarre situation, this mistreatment that others don't even understand still exists….

 

Truly, as the Israeli saying puts it and as the story of the Oslo agreement so vividly proves, ein breira, there’s no choice. Fortunately, the real-life alternative available is a good one. Go ahead; do what's necessary; reconcile everyone possible; but don't let that stand in the way of survival.  And, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, Time will tell just who fell and who's been left behind. When you go your way and I go mine.

 

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ISRAEL’S EMERGENCE AS ENERGY SUPERPOWER MAKING WAVES

Walter Russell Mead

American Interest, July 2, 2012

 

Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir famously lamented that Moses led the children of Israel for forty years of wandering in the desert until he found the only place in the Middle East where there wasn’t any oil. But could Moses have been smarter than believed?

 

Apparently the Canadians and the Russians think so, as both countries are moving to step up energy relations with a tiny nation whose total energy reserves some experts now think could rival or even surpass the fabled oil wealth of Saudi Arabia.  Actual production is still minuscule, but evidence is accumulating that the Promised Land, from a natural resource point of view, could be an El Dorado: inch for inch the most valuable and energy rich country anywhere in the world. If this turns out to be true, a lot of things are going to change, and some of those changes are already underway. Israel and Canada have just signed an agreement to cooperate on the exploration and development of what, apparently, could be vast shale oil reserves beneath the Jewish state.

 

The prospect of huge oil reserves in Israel comes on top of the recent news about large natural gas discoveries off the coast that have been increasingly attracting attention and investor interest. The apparent gas riches have also been attracting international trouble. Lebanon disputes the undersea boundary with Israel (an act somewhat complicated by the fact that Lebanon has never actually recognized Israel’s existence), and overlapping claims from Turkey and Greece themselves plus both Greek and Turkish authorities on Cyprus further complicate matters. Yet despite these tensions, following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s surprisingly cordial visit…, Gazprom and Israel have announced plans to cooperate on gas extraction….

 

The stakes are not small: the offshore Levantine Basin (which Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Israel and even Gaza will all have some claim to) is believed to have 120 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and “considerable” oil.  Drillers working in Israeli waters have already identified what look to be 5 billion barrels of recoverable oil in addition to over a trillion cubic feet of gas. Israel’s undersea gas reserves are currently estimated at about 16 trillion cubic feet and new fields continue to be rapidly found.

 

The new Israeli-Russian agreement is part of a conscious strategy by the Israeli government to use its nascent energy wealth to improve its embattled political position. With Italy reeling under the impact of big wrong-way bets on Iran, Rome may also begin to appreciate the value of good ties with a closer and more dependable neighbour. Another sensible target for Israeli energy diplomacy would be India: the two countries are already close in a number of ways, including trade and military technology, and India is eager to diversify its energy sources.

 

Gas is one thing, but potential for huge shale oil reserves under Israel itself, however, is a new twist. According to the World Energy Council, a leading global energy forum with organizations and affiliates in some 93 countries, Israel may have the third largest shale oil reserves in the world: something like 250 billion barrels….If the estimates of Israeli shale oil are correct, Israel’s gas and shale reserves put its total energy reserves in the Saudi class, though Israel’s energy costs more to extract.

 

Many obstacles exist and in a best case scenario some time must pass before the full consequences of the world’s new energy geography make themselves felt, but if production from the new sources in Israel and elsewhere develops, world politics will change….OPEC’s power to dictate world prices is likely to decline as Canadian, US, Israeli and Chinese resources come on line. In fact, the Gulf’s most powerful oil weapon going forward may be the ability of those countries to under-price rivals; expensive shale oil isn’t going to be very profitable if OPEC steps up production of its cheap stuff.

 

Nonetheless, the ability of the Arab governments to influence political opinion in Europe and the rest of the world is likely to decline as more oil and gas resources appear — and as Israel emerges as an important supplier. We could be heading toward a time when the world just doesn’t care all that much what happens around the Persian Gulf — as long as nobody gets frisky with the nukes.

 

Another big loser could be Turkey. For years the Kemalist, secular rulers of Turkey worked closely with Israel, and the relationship benefited both sides. Under the Islamist AK party, that relationship gradually deteriorated. Both sides were at fault: Turkish politicians were all too ready to demagogue the issue to score domestic political points, and Israelis did not respond with all possible tact. But if Israel really does emerge as a great energy power, and a Russia-Greece-Cyprus-Israel energy consortium does in fact emerge, Turkey will feel like someone who jilted a faithful longtime girlfriend the week before she won a huge lottery jackpot. More, Turkey’s ambitions to play a larger role in the old Ottoman stomping ground of the eastern Mediterranean basin will have suffered a significant check.

 

If the possibility of huge Israeli energy discoveries really pans out, and if the technical and resource problems connected with them can actually be solved, the US-Israeli relationship will also change. Some of this may already be happening. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s evident lack of worry when it comes to crossing President Obama may reflect his belief that Israel has some new cards to play. An energy-rich Israel with a lot of friends and suitors is going to be less dependent on the US than it has been — and it is also going to be a more valuable ally.

 

The emerging new energy picture in Israel has the potential to be one of the biggest news developments of the next ten years. Potentially, the energy revolution and the change in Israel’s outlook has more geopolitical implications than the Arab Spring….Even at this very early stage, the impact of Israel’s energy wealth is dramatic. On President Putin’s visit to Jerusalem, he donned a kippah and went to pray at the Western Wall of the ancient Temple….

 

Putin had more honeyed words for his Israeli hosts. Touring the Wall, he said “Here, we see how the Jewish past is etched into the stones of Jerusalem.” This is not quite a formal recognition of Israeli claims to the Old City, but it is much more than Israelis usually hear….If the oil and the gas start to flow in anything like the quantities experts think now may be possible, expect many more visitors to Jerusalem to say similar things to Israelis…. An Israel with vast energy endowments may be less coolly received in certain circles than it is today.

 

In the meantime, we wonder if there was an 11th, hitherto undiscovered commandment on those tablets at Sinai: Thou shalt drill, baby, thou shalt drill.

 

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Arabism Is Dead! Long Live…?: Barry Rubin, Rubin Report, January 20, 2012—The biggest change has been the collapse of Arab nationalism, the ideology and system that governed many countries, controlled the regional debate, and intimidated everyone else into line for six decades.

 

Why Sunni Islamism is The World’s Greatest Threat: Barry Rubin, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 26, 2012 —No, it sure isn’t the Age of Aquarius or of multicultural, politically correct love-ins. It’s the age of revolutionary Islamism, especially Sunni Islamism. And you better learn to understand what this is all about, real fast.

 

The Promise of the Arab Spring: Sheri Berman, Foreign Affairs, Jan. 2013—It’s easy to be pessimistic about the Arab Spring, given the post-revolutionary turmoil the Middle East is now experiencing. But critics forget that it takes time for new democracies to transcend their authoritarian pasts. As the history of political development elsewhere shows, things gets better. In Political Development, No Gain Without Pain

 

Views of the Israeli Public on Israeli Security and Resolution of the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Dec. 2012— 76% of Israelis (83% of Jews) believe that a withdrawal to the 1967 lines and a division of Jerusalem would not bring about an end of the conflict. 61% of the Jewish population believes that defensible borders are more important than peace for assuring Israel’s security (up from 49% in 2005). 78% of Jews indicated they would change their vote if the party they intended to support indicated that it was prepared to relinquish sovereignty in east Jerusalem. 59% of Jews said the same about the Jordan Valley.

 

Israel should annex the Jordan Valley: Michael Harris, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 2, 2013—There is nothing that should prevent Israel from annexing the Jordan Valley, a territory that encompasses 25 percent of the West Bank.  Israel has not annexed the West Bank because it is undesirable to give citizenship to 2.5 million Palestinians, but the demography of the Jordan Valley is different. 

 

 

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