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Hear what Israel's top experts in the fields of intelligence, security, international relations and diplomacy have to say about Israel and the complexities of the Middle East in the 21st century.

Hear what Israel's top experts in the fields of intelligence, security, international relations and diplomacy have to say abo Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

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Hear what Israel's top experts in the fields of intelligence, security, international relations and diplomacy have to say about Israel and the complexities of the Middle East in the 21st century.

    Jeremy Corbyn and the Resurgence of European Anti-Semitism

    Jeremy Corbyn and the Resurgence of European Anti-Semitism

    Anti-Semitism is back - though it can be argued that it never went away. The real focus of our attention should be in the United Kingdom with the rise of Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of the British Labour party and in effect the head of the Opposition.
    If you're not following how this story is unfolding, the details are extremely important. Look at what British leaders themselves are saying. This month, the deputy head of the British Labour party, Tom Watson, in fact declared that the British Labour party is in danger of disappearing “into a vortex of eternal shame” over the issue of anti-Semitism. So this is not just an observation made by parts of the Jewish community. It's an observation, in fact, made by the most central parts of Britain's political establishment, and the British press is not at all reluctant to report.
    In the Jewish community, the three main Jewish newspapers in the UK published a joint editorial that, should Jeremy Corbyn form the next government, that would pose an existential threat to British Jewry.
    Much of the concern about Corbyn emanates from fresh revelations of Mr. Corbin himself and his past activities. In 2009, for example, he called Hamas and Hizbullah friends. Hamas was using suicide bombers to blow up buses in the heart of Israel cities in Haifa, Tel Aviv, and of course in Jerusalem. Yet Corbyn advocated removing these organizations - Hamas and Hizbullah - from the UK's terrorism list.
    In 2014 Corbyn visited the cemetery in Tunisia where the leaders of Black September were buried. Remember, they were responsible for the attack on the Israeli Olympic team at the 1972 Munich Olympics, where eleven Israeli athletes were brutally butchered.
    Corbyn continuously campaigned to free Samar Alami and Jawad Botmeh, jailed for their role in the 1994 London bombing attacks against the Israeli Embassy in Great Britain and Jewish charity buildings. Recall both of these attacks were perpetrated on British soil and both individuals were prosecuted and found guilty in British courts. So why is Jeremy Corbyn calling this a mistrial and trying to get these two terrorists out of British prison?
    Corbyn is also at the heart of the debate in Britain over the definition of anti-Semitism. He's refused to accept the definition advanced by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance - the IHRA - which is, by the way, accepted by 31 countries, 24 of which are members of the European Union. Corbyn and the British Labour party reject four out of eleven examples the definition uses.
    He denies that accusing Jews automatically of dual loyalty is anti-Semitic. He denies that questioning the right of the Jewish people to self-determination is a form of anti-Semitism. Finally, he rejects that it is anti-Semitic to compare Israeli policy to that of the Nazis. These caveats that he and his party are advancing allow him to dilute the meaning of anti-Semitism.
    This kind of demonization of the Jewish people is classic anti-Semitism. If these doctrines about Israel and Jewish rights become legitimized in Great Britain, which was the fountainhead of so many democracies and states in the world, then there is a real danger that they become legitimized worldwide. And this is something that the State of Israel must firmly oppose and that Britain must not allow to happen.

    • 5 min
    Recognizing Israeli Sovereignty on the Golan Heights

    Recognizing Israeli Sovereignty on the Golan Heights

    Amb. Dore Gold testified in Washington before the House Subcommittee on National Security on July 17, 2018

    Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Ron DeSantis: Ambassador Gold, would this be in Israel's national security interest to have U.S. recognition of the Golan?

    Gold: I believe that U.S. recognition of Israel's sovereignty on the Golan would unquestionably be in Israel's security interest. Look, everyone talks about Israeli forces staying on the Golan Heights. That's in the famous Ford letter from 1975, repeated again by James Baker's letter before Madrid, repeated again by Warren Christopher's letter to Israel. So that concept is a bipartisan concept.

    Now let's use our minds for a minute. How do you keep Israeli forces on the Golan Heights if people think it's Syrian sovereign territory? I don't think a seminar at Harvard Law School could figure this one out.

    De Santis: I think that actually may be the last place you'd want to figure it out.

    Gold: What I am saying is the best way to assure that is to do the logical thing and assure Israeli sovereignty and that will protect the Israeli military presence that almost everybody agrees must be continued, particularly when you're at the end of a war in Syria where a number of countries are now going to come and say, “Okay, how do we create a new order in Syria? We get rid of the Israelis in the Golan.” Prevent it; establish Israeli sovereignty.

    Hice: Now we have Assad’s regime, a campaign in southern Syria obviously threatening Israel's sovereignty. What are the implications of that?

    Gold: The current campaign, which Assad's people say is to recover Syrian territory from ISIS, is really part of a much wider effort of the Iranian axis - which they call themselves the “axis of resistance” - to establish this land bridge across the Middle East which will enshrine Iranian hegemony in the region. That should be our point of departure. If some Arab states are not willing to come to this committee and extol the idea of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, it's because our diplomatic work - and I was involved in Golan negotiations for the State of Israel. I was involved in contacts with the Arab states. You can reach agreements quietly, but not publicly on a lot of sensitive issues. I don't believe that suddenly Bahrain or Saudi Arabia or Kuwait or the UAE would downgrade their relations with the United States because the United States recognized the Golan Heights as Israeli sovereign territory. To the contrary, you would be serving the interest of the anti-Iranian group among the Middle Eastern states.

    Rep. Doug Lamborn: I do want to focus in more than we have so far on Iran and Iran's designs.

    Gold: The fact of the matter is that the Iranians are planning on building a very large army. Now these Shiite militias are trained and equipped by Iran and deployed in Syria. The goal, according to General Soleimani himself, is to get to 150,000 men. Now remember, Israel does not keep the whole Israeli army on the Golan Heights. It has a small blocking force. The number of soldiers it puts there is classified. But after 48 hours we get to full mobilization and then we can withstand an attack. Now if there is a massive Iranian force in the next five to six years that develops in Syria, that plans to attack Israel, Israel's dependence on the Golan Heights and the initial terrain conditions that the Golan presents to Israel will become more vital. There's no alternative to Israeli military presence on the Golan Heights, enshrined, protected diplomatically by Israeli sovereignty.

    • 6 min
    Will the Trump-Putin Summit Lead to Some Pushback Against Iran in Syria?

    Will the Trump-Putin Summit Lead to Some Pushback Against Iran in Syria?

    See Diplomatic Dispatch videos: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1uUSrjSnB01cffzLv7A9tLLKcACZMS_c

    Amir Taheri is an Iranian commentator, living in exile in London, who is a harsh critic of the Iranian regime. He used to be editor of the Iranian daily newspaper Kayhan and has written multiple books on Iran, including a biography of Ayatollah Khomeini.
    This week, Amir Taheri wrote a tweet that was very harsh, but very insightful at the same time. He tweeted:

    President Rouhani exposes as a lie Obama's claim that there is a moderate faction in Khamenei's regime. Rouhani now threatens to close the Strait of Hormuz and endorses Khamenei's call for the elimination of Israel. The wolf sheds the lamb coat given to him by Obama.

    Why did Taheri give such an animated response?

    * * *
    Ambassador Dore Gold has served as President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs since 2000. From June 2015 until October 2016 he served as Director-General of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Previously he served as Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN (1997-1999), and as an advisor to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

    * * *
    “Diplomatic Dispatch” is a new series of video briefings on strategic issues that Israel faces today by Jerusalem Center President Dore Gold, produced by the Center’s Institute for Contemporary Affairs, founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation.

    • 6 min
    Verses and Interpretations: Quranic Attitudes towards Jews and Their Relevance to Our Times

    Verses and Interpretations: Quranic Attitudes towards Jews and Their Relevance to Our Times

    The lecture focuses on the relationship between Muhammad and the emerging Muslim community and the major Jewish tribes in Arabia. We shall see how the animosity between the two parties is reflected in the Quran, in its various interpretations, and in the Muslim traditions in general. We shall try to understand the historical reality hidden behind the verses and the traditions. Nevertheless, some classical and mainly modern interpretations try to read the relevant verses in a more cordial manner towards the "People of the Book."

    Israel Shrenzel is a former chief analyst in the Arabic section in the research division of the Israel Security Agency. He currently teaches at Tel Aviv University in the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies. His research covers modern Islamic thought (especially Islamic modernism and the Muslim Brotherhood), ancient Islam, and Jewish-Muslim relations in the Middle Ages. Shrenzel also researched the concept of global jihad and its manifestations in recent decades.

    • 1 hr 17 min
    Hamas, Gaza, and the Rush to Judgment - Amb. Dore Gold

    Hamas, Gaza, and the Rush to Judgment - Amb. Dore Gold

    Accusations made against Israel over the last month that the Israeli army used “excessive force” against Palestinians along the fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel provided me with a strong sense of déjà vu. Back in 2009, Israel was bombarded with criticism that it had used disproportionate amounts of force as it tried to suppress Hamas rocket fire aimed at Israeli cities. The high point of that criticism back then was the release of the famous, or I should say infamous, Goldstone Report that was commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council.

    The Goldstone Report had the audacity to assert that Israel had used its military forces to deliberately kill Palestinian civilians. I’ll repeat that: “deliberately kill Palestinian civilians.” The report was adopted by a large number of countries. At the time, I actually was asked by Brandeis University to debate Goldstone, to bring the evidence I could obtain from the Israeli army to show the truth of what really happened.

    Actually, in 2011, the truth finally came out about the Goldstone Report, just as Goldstone actually retracted his conclusions in an op-ed that he wrote for The Washington Post. Unfortunately, the damage had been done to Israel in those years. Charles Krauthammer in fact called the Goldstone Report a “blood libel against the Jewish state.”

    Now in 2018, Israel was bombarded again with a whole series of false accusations about how it handled the situation along the Gaza-Israel fence. The facts that have come out since that time show a completely different reality from what Israel’s accusers have been saying.

    First, we saw in an area called Kerem Shalom – that’s the international crossing from Israel into the Gaza Strip – that Hamas ordered an attack on this passageway that supplies food, pharmaceuticals, clothing, and everything that the people of Gaza need for a normal life. The Kerem Shalom passageway was set on fire by the Palestinians themselves.

    Second: Mahmoud al-Zahar, one of the most prominent Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip, who used to be foreign minister of the Gaza statelet, Mahmoud al-Zahar reminded his Arabic-speaking audience that, as he said, “This is not peaceful resistance.” I’m talking about the demonstrations along the fence. “It is supported by our weapons.”

    Third: a day afterwards, Hamas released a press release with an astounding claim. It said that the Great Return March, which was leading Palestinians to charge the border fence, was actually part of the heroic armed struggle.

    Fourth: in another statement made by Hamas it was stated that the goal of the march was to breach the fence. “To breach the fence” means to break open the fence and allow thousands to pour into Israel. Now they weren’t going there to have a picnic. On that occasion, Hamas also provided the demonstrators with maps of how to get to Jewish towns and villages.

    And fifth: it became clear when a senior Hamas member gave an interview on television and he admitted that of the 62 Palestinians who had been killed, 50 were Hamas operatives. Suddenly, the picture of what went on in this struggle over Israel’s fence with the Gaza Strip became clearer as this information came out and the situation became clear about what happened along Israel’s southern fence. I wondered whether the people who had attacked Israel, who had made comments and questioned the intentions of the Israeli army, I wondered whether they would come out and express some kind of remorse and perhaps a different view.

    Among all the critics of Israel, it’s this rush to judgment that shows a basic lack of faith in the Israeli legal system, in the morality of the Israeli army, and it’s this rush to judgment that encourages Hamas to keep its war against the State of Israel going.

    • 7 min
    The Brewing Conflict along the Red Sea - Amb. Dore Gold

    The Brewing Conflict along the Red Sea - Amb. Dore Gold

    While international observers are rightfully looking at serious questions in the Middle East like the future of Syria and Iran’s interests in taking over that country, there is a crisis brewing to Israel’s south that has not gotten sufficient attention. I’m speaking about the Red Sea where at least a half a dozen countries are scrambling for influence, seeking bases throughout the area, and positioning themselves for perhaps even a future conflict.

    There are four flash points that should be the focus of our attention in the area of the Red Sea. First, the struggle between Egypt and its neighbors over the sources of the Nile River, particularly the sources of the Blue Nile, which runs through Ethiopia.

    Second, we have a consistent Iranian effort to gain entry to the Red Sea after having dominated the Persian Gulf.

    The third flashpoint which we should look at is what does it mean to have a Turkish entry into the entire area? The Turks have been busy in Somalia and in obtaining access to an island off of Sudan.

    And finally, the whole area is part of a great power rivalry we are now seeing in Djibouti virtually every major naval power with a base, all posed to be involved in the Red Sea including China with its first major overseas port.

    The first development that is causing a vast increase in tensions throughout this area is the struggle over the sources of the Nile River. For most of recent history, Egypt was the dominant actor over the Nile and, through various treaties negotiated by the British, the Egyptians also dominated the tributaries of the Nile. There, Ethiopia is planning what is called the “Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam, and by damming the Blue Nile, despite all the guarantees that Ethiopia can offer, Egypt is very concerned that its principal source of water for the Nile River may be denied.

    While the struggle over the sources of the Nile is transpiring, Iran is seeking positions of strength along the entire Red Sea, from the Suez Canal in the north down to Bab-el-Mandeb, the outlet of the Red Sea into the Indian Ocean.

    In the critical Bab-el-Mandeb straights, the naval choke point at the bottom of the Red Sea, Iran has been using the Houthi militias, which are its proxies in the Yemen war. And it may get to a point where the Iranians will seek to block the flow of naval traffic through this sensitive point.

    While all this has been going on, Turkey has imposed itself as a new factor in the Red Sea and in the Horn of Africa. The Turks have been active in Somalia, where they’ve built a north-south highway and a major military base. More recently, the Turks have leased Suakin Island from Sudan and they intend to build a naval base right in the Red Sea.

    Of all the nations that are positioning themselves in the Horn of Africa, careful attention should be given to the presence of China in Djibouti where China has constructed one of its first naval bases at the gateway to the Middle East. Given the interests of all the actors appearing now in the Red Sea, the whole region has become far more combustible than it was in the past. With all the focus on Syria and Iraq in recent years, it may be necessary to give greater attention to the theater of the Red Sea which in the next decade could become a serious source of international conflict.

    ***
    Ambassador Dore Gold has served as President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs since 2000. From June 2015 until October 2016 he served as Director-General of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Previously he served as Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN (1997-1999), and as an advisor to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

    • 7 min

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