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  • Author: Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: Turkey’s projection of its military presence in the Middle East has become a source of worry to the “moderate” Arab states and specifically to Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Zvi Mazel
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: There has been a significant presence of the Muslim Brothers (also known as the Muslim Brotherhood) in Qatar since the second half of the twentieth century. The first wave came from Egypt in 1954 after Nasser had smashed their organization. The next wave came from Syria in 1982 after Hafez el-Assad bombed their stronghold in Hama. The last group arrived after September 11, 2001 - from Saudi Arabia. In 1995, the present Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, deposed his father in a bloodless palace coup. One of his first steps was to establish the Al Jazeera satellite channel in 1996, which is the most viewed station in the Arab world with an estimated audience of some 60 million. There was never any doubt about the network's political orientation. Al Jazeera immediately launched scathing attacks on Israel during the Second Intifada and went on to incendiary broadcasts against the United States at the time of the Afghanistan conflict and over Iraq. It was later revealed to be in contact with bin Laden, and was the medium of choice for the video and audio cassettes of bin Laden and his men. During the U.S. war in Iraq, the Americans accused the station of being pro-Saddam, and after the war, of presenting the terrorist groups active in the country in a positive light. One of its reporters stationed in Baghdad always seemed to arrive suspiciously quickly, with his camera, at the site of terror attacks. During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Al Jazeera behaved as a Hizbullah spokesman. During the Gaza war, a senior Al Jazeera reporter stationed himself at Shifa Hospital, from where he broadcast a stream of carefully selected horror pictures. The Egyptian Maamun Fendi wrote in Asharq Alawsat that some 50 percent of the network's personnel belong to the Muslim Brothers. He believes that Qatar, by embracing the Brothers while hosting American bases, has found the perfect formula against retaliation by Arab leaders and attacks by Islamic extremists. Al Jazeera has become a weapon in the hands of an ambitious emir who may be driven by the Muslim Brothers and who is threatening the stability of the Middle East. With the Muslim Brothers increasingly aligned in recent years with Iran, by repeatedly attacking the Sunni Arab regimes and inciting against them, Al Jazeera is serving as an important instrument for Tehran and its effort to undermine their internal stability.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Mass Media
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: There are voices in the Obama Administration who believe that the Kremlin is able and willing to exert pressure on Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons. However, perceived geopolitical and economic benefits in the unstable Persian Gulf, in which American influence is on the wane, outweigh Russia's concerns about a nuclear-armed Iran. The Kremlin sees Iran not as a threat but as a partner or an ad-hoc ally to challenge U.S. influence. Today, both Russia and Iran favor a strategy of "multipolarity," both in the Middle East and worldwide. This strategy seeks to dilute American power, revise current international financial institutions, and weaken or neuter NATO and the OSCE, while forging a counterbalance to the Euro-Atlantic alliance. Russian technological aid is evident throughout the Iranian missile and space programs. Russian scientists and expertise have played a direct and indirect role in these programs for years. According to some reports, Russian specialists are helping to develop the longer-range Shahab-5, and Russia has exported missile production facilities to Iran. Moscow has signed a contract to sell advanced long-range S-300 air-defense systems to Iran. Once Iran has air defenses to repel Israeli or American air strikes and nuclear warheads for its ballistic missiles, it will possess the capacity to destroy Israel (an openly stated goal of the regime) and strike targets throughout the Middle East, in Europe, and the Indian subcontinent. Beyond that, if and when an ICBM capability is achieved, Tehran will be able to threaten the U.S. homeland directly. Given the substantial Russian interests and ambitions, any grand bargain would almost certainly require an excessively high price paid by the United States to the detriment of its friends and allies. Russia simply does not view the situation through the same lens as the U.S.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Economics, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Nadav Shragai
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: An imbalanced EU position paper on Jerusalem written in December 2008, and recently leaked to the media, completely ignores Israel's historical and legal rights to its capital. The EU attack refers primarily to the City of David, located just beyond Jerusalem's Old City walls, an area identified by archaeologists and historians as the location of King David's capital some 3,000 years ago. Archaeological excavations took place there during Ottoman rule, as well as under the ensuing British Mandatory rule, and they have continued under Israeli rule as well. About 20 years ago a wave of new, illegal construction by Palestinians began on the site, causing significant and sometimes irreversible damage to the antiquities there. The Jerusalem municipality intends to offer the delinquent residents generous compensation and alternative land in the city. Jerusalem has had a Jewish majority for the last 150 years - at least since 1864. Israel's position in Jerusalem under international law derives from the Palestine Mandate, where the League of Nations recognized "the historical tie between the Jewish people and Palestine," and called "for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine." The 1949 Armistice Agreement between Israel and Jordan did not fix the final boundaries between the parties, but only the lines of military separation at the close of the 1948 war. At the demand of the Arab side, the Armistice Agreement stipulated that it did not serve to predetermine the rights of any party in the final resolution of conflict. In other words, upon the outbreak of the Six-Day War, the 1967 lines enjoyed no diplomatic status. In 1967, Israel agreed to allow the Muslim Waqf to manage the Temple Mount area, with a view toward preventing inter-religious conflict at one of the world's most sensitive sites. This was a huge concession on Israel's part that has never been properly recognized. By doing so, Israel has underscored its intention to assure freedom of access to members of all faiths at all of the holy sites in Jerusalem.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Post Colonialism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Jerusalem
  • Author: Scott Carpenter
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: The Obama administration marks the return of a so-called "realist" approach and an intentional downplaying of President Bush's vision of an America that would use its power actively to advance freedom around the world. Few will lament the demise of Bush's "Freedom Agenda," which came to be seen as dangerous naivete which risked the stability of the region and with it Israel's security. The height of folly was the Palestinian elections in January 2006 when, in contradiction to the Oslo Accords, Hamas was allowed to compete and ultimately win without laying down its weapons. Too late, the administration recognized it could no longer take the risk of bringing potentially hostile forces to power through democratic elections. Unfortunately, neither approach addresses the structural and demographic time bombs in the region. A youth "bulge" requires the creation of 100 million new jobs by 2010, according to the World Bank. Yet if economic reform is to be advanced and sustained, democratic development must also take place. The U.S. government can use Arab governments' insecurity regarding Iran as leverage to encourage real reform. This is particularly true for Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia - now engaged in the ideological fight of their lives with Iran and its reactionary allies. Only by establishing a new bargain with these regimes that stresses the need for them to respect internal civil and political rights, while forging a joint response to the reactionary threat, can the U.S. offer a true alternative to theocratic and minority rule. This is not to say that democratic and economic reform need be the priority for the West, but it must remain a priority, if otherwise intractable problems which pose a longer-term national security threat are to be addressed. Allowing autocrats to continue to get away with inaction will simply make the coming tidal wave of Iranian-style revolutions larger and more damaging, placing Israel's existence in even greater jeopardy than it is now.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Foreign Policy, Democratization
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Mordechai Kedar
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: Many in the Arab world felt deep humiliation due to George W. Bush. The Islamic view is that Islam came to the world to replace Judaism and Christianity, and all of the sudden comes a religious Christian president and occupies Iraq, the capital of the Islamic Abbasid Caliphate and the beating heart of Arab history. So when Bush left office, this was viewed as a victory for Allah over the modern Crusaders. The core question is to whom does this country belong? According to the Arab narrative, this has been an Arab Islamic state since the days of Omar, the caliph who conquered the country in the seventh century. According to Islamic tradition, he declared that the country between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River is waqf land, meaning it belongs forever to Muslims all over the world, and no one else could ever have it According to Islam, land can only go one way, to become Islamic, and it can never go the other way, just like Spain, Sicily, and parts of the Balkans, which at different stages of history were lands of Islam. This is why Hamas and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood cannot even begin to consider recognizing the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state on the land of Palestine. At the same time, Jews feel that this country belongs to them. From the Jewish perspective, this country was populated by Jews and two Jewish kingdoms were here until 1900 years ago. We Jews were expelled with no justification and we came back to our country. This is what gives justification to the Jews having our state here and not in Uganda, Argentina or Birobijan. It even appears in the Koran that this country had been given to the Jews. In 2006 a document approved by the Committee of Arab Local Authorities in Israel - entitled: "The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel and their Relations with the State" - opened with the statement: "Israel is the outcome of a colonialist action which was initiated by the Jewish-Zionist elites in Europe and in the West." To call Israel a colonialist state means a total denial of Jewish history, and echoes the Islamic approach to Jewish history. According to this approach, since Islam came to the world in the year 622 CE with the hijra of Mohammed from Mecca to Medina, all of history before that time lost any meaning or significance.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: In early March, two senior U.S. officials traveled to Damascus for the highest-level bilateral meeting in years, part of the new administration's policy of "engagement." Washington seeks to test Damascus' intentions to distance itself from Iran. While a "strategic realignment" of Damascus is unlikely, in the short term the diplomatic opening is sure to alleviate international pressure on Damascus. The Assad regime made no secret of its preference for Barack Obama last November. At the same time, Syrian regime spokesmen appear to be setting preconditions for an effective dialogue, saying Washington would first have to drop the Syria Accountability Act sanctions and remove Syria from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. U.S. diplomatic engagement with Syria comes at a particularly sensitive time, just a few months before the Lebanese elections, where the "March 14" ruling coalition faces a stiff challenge from the Hizbullah-led "March 8" opposition, and Washington has taken steps to shore up support for its allies. Should the U.S. dialogue with Damascus progress, Washington might consent to take on an enhanced role in resumed Israeli-Syrian negotiations. However, U.S. participation on the Syria track could conceivably result in additional pressure for Israeli concessions in advance of any discernible modifications in Syria's posture toward Hizbullah and Hamas. Based on Syria's track record, there is little reason to be optimistic that the Obama administration will succeed where others have failed. Washington should not necessarily be faulted for trying, as long as the administration remains cognizant of the nature of the regime. Damascus today remains a brutal dictatorship, which derives its regional influence almost exclusively through its support for terrorism in neighboring states and, by extension, through its 30-year strategic alliance with Tehran.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Washington, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Giora Eiland
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: While the outlines of a two-state solution are generally known, the maximum that any government of Israel will be ready to offer the Palestinians and still survive politically is much less than the minimum that any Palestinian leader can accept. The real gap between both sides is much greater than what is perceived, and that gap is growing. The level of trust between both sides has changed. There are fewer Israelis who believe that the real intention of the Palestinians is to have only a small Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Furthermore, there is less trust in the Palestinians' abilities to keep their commitments, even if they undertake the right commitments. In Gaza today there is, for all practical purposes, an independent state led by Hamas. It is not part of the Palestinian Authority because that is what the Palestinians decided. If there is an accountable state in Gaza, although it is an enemy state, Israel has a degree of deterrence because there is another party that has something to lose. Current Israeli policy claims that Israel's goal is to bring about the collapse of the Hamas government in Gaza, but that is not going to happen. If we make Gaza double or triple its current size by adding an additional 600 sq. km. of territory from Egyptian Sinai, this could give Gaza the space it needs. Suddenly Gaza would have the space to build a new city of a million people, along with a real seaport and airport, and to create the conditions that would make economic expansion possible At the same time, Israel needs 600 sq. km. in the West Bank because the 1967 line is unacceptable from a security point of view. In return, Israel could give to Egypt 600 sq. km. in the Negev in southern Israel. At the end of the day no one loses land, while multilateral swaps enable us to solve the currently intractable problem of Gaza and solve Israeli needs in the West Bank. Egypt can gain significant benefits from this arrangement. The new seaport and airport next to Egypt can become major economic connections between the Gulf and Europe. Furthermore, Egypt could get a land corridor to enable movement from Egypt to the rest of the Middle East without the need to cross Israel.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Jonathan Fighel
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: The Mumbai attacks have been linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba and radical Islamic groups in Kashmir generally. Yet it would be a mistake to see Lashkar only as a local organization with only a local agenda. Saudi Arabia has contributed very much to what Lashkar-e-Taiba looks like, how it thinks, its motivation, ideology, and funding. Saudi Arabia presents itself as the protector and the spearhead of the defense of Muslims around the world against what they define as the Western cultural attack. The Saudis are very committed to recruiting, funding, and funneling ideology to embattled Muslim minorities, and use Muslim charities as their tool to implement this policy. The Saudi methodology is to take advantage of a humanitarian crisis to get a foot in the door. Who could be against assisting widows and orphans and setting up schools and clinics? Some of the money is indeed funneled to support terrorism - families of suicide bombers. The notion of global Islam has also penetrated to Gaza and exists under the umbrella of Hamas, which is enabling a revival of global jihadi organizations there such as Jaish al-Islam and others. This phenomenon is radicalizing the already radicalized society in Gaza. Hamas could agree to a hudna (calm) for fifty years, but there will be no recognition of Israel or a cessation of the struggle against it. If Hamas was ready to act pragmatically, it would no longer be Hamas. And then the frustrated factions within Hamas would break off and join up with the radical global jihadi organizations in Gaza.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Post Colonialism, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza, Arab Countries, Mumbai
  • Author: Tamas Berzi
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: Many countries such as Italy, Germany, and the Czech Republic showed understanding for Israel and described Israel's actions as self-defense. These countries generally used strong language against Hamas and demanded that it stop the rocket attacks unconditionally. At the time of the start of the Israeli airstrikes, the European presidency was held by France. On December 27, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union condemned both the Israeli air raids and the Palestinian rocket strikes on Israel from Gaza and called for an immediate end to these activities. The statement also condemned the disproportionate use of force. As of January 1, 2009, the Czech Republic took over the role of the Presidency of the European Union. On January 3, the presidency described the Israeli ground operations as an act of self-defense. This drew heavy criticism from many European countries, and the Czechs apologized for the "misunderstanding" and issued a new statement, but one that did not call for an "immediate" ceasefire. In diplomatic language there is a significant difference between "as soon as possible" and "immediate." France has been traditionally the main driving force behind European foreign policy. The separate Sarkozy visit to Israel and his humanitarian ceasefire proposal showed that France was not ready to relinquish its positions to the Czech Republic. The Czech positions during Israel's Gaza operation indicate that the current presidency will work toward a more favorable international environment for Israel. However, Israel should try to make the most of it, since the upcoming Swedish presidency, which starts on July 1, 2009, will most likely be a more difficult time for Israel.
  • Topic: War, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza, Germany, Italy