Middle East Allies Are Wrong to Bet on Trump

Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and Donald Trump of the United States pose for photos in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, May 16, 2017
Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and Donald Trump of the United States pose for photos in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, May 16, 2017 (Turkish Presidency)

Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have all made their bed with Donald Trump. That’s paying dividends for them, but only so long as this president remains in power. What happens in two or six years? Read more “Middle East Allies Are Wrong to Bet on Trump”

Netanyahu’s Miscalculation

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán speaks with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, in Brasília, Brazil, January 2
Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán speaks with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, in Brasília, Brazil, January 2 (Facebook/Viktor Orbán)

When Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called early elections in December, he was probably expecting to shore up his mandate and escape allegations of corruption.

But the decision galvanized his opponents. Three former generals set aside their differences and teamed up with the opposition in a bid to oust Netanyahu, who has been in office since 2009.

It is starting to look like Netanyahu miscalculated. Read more “Netanyahu’s Miscalculation”

Support for Israel Has Become a Partisan Issue in the United States

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Republican House speaker John Boehner in Washington DC, March 3, 2015
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Republican House speaker John Boehner in Washington DC, March 3, 2015 (Caleb Smith)

I wasn’t expecting this to happen so soon.

Last month, I admonished the Israeli right to stop hectoring President Barack Obama and the Democrats lest they politicize support for the Jewish state in the United States.

Turns out, they already have.

The Pew Research Center found that Democrats are now nearly as likely to sympathize with the Palestinians as they do with Israel. Read more “Support for Israel Has Become a Partisan Issue in the United States”

Israeli Right Jeopardizes Alliance by Hectoring Obama

Benjamin Netanyahu Barack Obama
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with American president Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 3, 2014 (GPO/Avi Ohayon)

With less than a month left in his presidency, Barack Obama has managed to infuriate the Israeli right by hardening America’s stance on the construction of West Bank settlements.

Whatever the merits of their quarrel with the American president, though — and there are leftwingers in Israel and Jewish supporters of Obama in the United States who are disappointed as well — the over-the-top reaction from the Israeli right is unjustified and, more importantly, ill-advised. Read more “Israeli Right Jeopardizes Alliance by Hectoring Obama”

The Trouble with Electing an Outsider

Businessman Donald Trump appears at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015
Businessman Donald Trump appears at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015 (Gage Skidmore)

What made Donald Trump seek the presidency?

A bit of armchair psychology is required to answer that question. Based on the way way he conducts himself and the many profiles I’ve read about the man, I think it’s safe to say that a powerful motivator was his desire to prove himself. Read more “The Trouble with Electing an Outsider”

Why Netanyahu Brought Lieberman In from the Cold

Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, February 18 (Bundesregierung/Marvin Ibo Güngör)

It looks certain now that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu will draw Avigdor Lieberman and his nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party into the ruling coalition, expanding his parliamentary majority by five seats. Lieberman, a hawk and former foreign minister, would become defense minister in the new arrangement, replacing Moshe Ya’alon.

The news comes after speculation that Netanyahu was working out a deal with Labor’s Isaac Herzog instead.

I talked about this surprising development today with the Atlantic Sentinel‘s man in Tel Aviv, Ariel Reichard. Read more “Why Netanyahu Brought Lieberman In from the Cold”

Hamas Celebrates Stabbings, Shootings Across Israel

View of the old city of Jaffa from Tel Aviv, February 28, 2008
View of the old city of Jaffa from Tel Aviv, February 28, 2008 (Matas Petrikas)

The Palestinian militant group Hamas praised a series of attacks in Israel on Tuesday that wounded fourteen and left an American tourist dead.

“Hamas celebrates the martyrs that have ascended through these operations,” a spokesman for the organization said, “and confirms that their pure blood will, God willing, be the fuel for escalating the intifada.” Read more “Hamas Celebrates Stabbings, Shootings Across Israel”

Israel Unfreezes Relations with EU After Labeling Row

Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, February 18 (Bundesregierung/Marvin Ibo Güngör)

Israel unfroze diplomatic relations with the European Union this weekend, having failed to persuade the bloc to revise its labeling rules for products imported from Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Israel suspended talks with EU institutions about its relations with the Palestinians in November in response to a directive to member states to label goods made in settlements as such rather than “Made in Israel”.

Michael Koplow argues at his blog, Ottomans and Zionists, that conservative politicians in the country played up the suspension of talks as Israel using its power to change EU policy and ended up with nothing but more exasperated European counterparts.

“The bluster and rage turned out to be irrelevant at best and counterproductive at worst,” he writes. Read more “Israel Unfreezes Relations with EU After Labeling Row”

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Made Super

View of the old city of Jaffa from Tel Aviv, February 28, 2008
View of the old city of Jaffa from Tel Aviv, February 28, 2008 (Matas Petrikas)

And here we go again.

Especially in the United States, Palestinian-Israeli violence always sucks up the headlines, siphoning valuable media and filling it with tried-and-true journalistic narratives that play to the myriad of biases that always come to the fore when discussing the Holy Land.

Evangelical Christians get their dose of Biblical chaos, hoping beyond hope that this time, the Rapture will follow this latest spasm of violence. Conservatives and neoconservatives find yet more ammunition against Islam, Islamism or, to the brute racists lurking among them, merely Arabs in general to fill the Facebook comments of every article that covers the attacks. Liberals dredge up well-worn tirades against colonization, colonialism, Western power and Israeli abuse.

Rather than sit this one out, I’ve decided to delve into the very basics of the conflict at risk, of course, of revealing my own bias (spoiler: I don’t care).

So let’s make this very popular-to-recycle conflict super. Read more “The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Made Super”

In Search of Patrons, Israel Looks to Rising Power

Premier Li Keqiang of China welcomes his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, in Bejing, May 8, 2013
Premier Li Keqiang of China welcomes his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, in Bejing, May 8, 2013 (GPO/Avi Ohayon)

For Israel to exist, so the early Zionists argued, it needs support from a powerful patron. They first looked to the Ottoman Empire. That didn’t work out. Then the British came. The results were… mixed. Now, Israel is allied to America.

Quite what would have happened if the Zionists had aligned themselves with the Palestinian population against whatever imperial hegemon happened to be dominating the region we will never know.

That isn’t as far fetched as it may sound. After Israel’s foundation, left-wing Zionists proposed to arm the Palestinians in the West Bank to strike at the Hashemite monarchy in Jordan.

Jewish and Arab fighters against the common enemy: British imperialism and its Hashemite stooges. If there’s one thing Zionists and Arab nationalists can agree on it’s probably a distrust of perfidious Albion.

Alternative history aside, Israel now has a special relationship with the United States that is extremely beneficial to it.

But that could change. Read more “In Search of Patrons, Israel Looks to Rising Power”