Donate

Putting the Bible to Use in Israeli Diplomacy

In a historic ceremony on Monday, Benjamin Netanyahu and the Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, gathered at Entebbe to commemorate Israel’s 1976 hostage rescue there. Musevini not only commended Israel for carrying out the raid—despite the fact that IDF commandos killed a number of Ugandan soldiers—but compared it with various events in the Bible and even with a passage from the Quran. Speaking of his hopes for warm relations with the Jewish state, Musevini added that “on the issue of Israel/Palestine, we in Uganda are guided by the Bible.” Dror Eydar points to some important lessons Israeli diplomats can learn from this speech:

Museveni used Abraham’s two wives, Sarah the matriarch of the Jews and Hagar the matriarch of the Muslims, to propose a solution for the conflict between [Israel] and the Arabs. Both peoples, he said, belong to the region. He asserted that attempts to compare Israel with South Africa under apartheid rule were nonsense, that the two countries had “totally different stories,” and offered his services as a go-between on the mission to achieve peace.

The same parts of Israeli media (and politics) that are devoid of knowledge of Jewish texts and religious issues scorned what looked like a mixture of politics and myth. . . .

But anyone who is well-versed in our people’s ancient knowledge and spirit realizes the great potential that lies before Israeli statesmen (and also people in trade) if they appeal to religion as a source of common ground with their counterparts abroad. Israel’s renewing of its relations with African nations is a crucial historic event that could help break down the diplomatic wall that Israel’s enemies have worked to build around it. The Israelis came [primarily to commemorate the raid at] Entebbe, but the president of Uganda and many Africans along with him saw the representatives of the historic Jewish people, the people of the Bible. Only a blind person could miss this opportunity.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Africa, Bible, Entebbe, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Quran

How Lebanon—and Hizballah—Conned and Humiliated Rex Tillerson

Feb. 21 2018

Last Thursday, the American secretary of state arrived in Beirut to express Washington’s continued support for the country’s government, which is now entirely aligned with Hizballah. His visit came shortly after Israel’s showdown with Hizballah’s Iranian protectors in Syria and amid repeated warnings from Jerusalem about the terrorist organization’s growing threat to Israeli security. To Tony Badran, Tillerson’s pronouncements regarding Lebanon have demonstrated the incoherence of the Trump administration’s policy:

[In Beirut], Tillerson was made to sit alone in a room with no American flag in sight and wait—as photographers took pictures and video—before Hizballah’s chief allies in Lebanon’s government, President Michel Aoun and his son-in-law the foreign minister, finally came out to greet him. Images of the U.S. secretary of state fidgeting in front of an empty chair were then broadcast across the Middle East to symbolize American impotence at a fateful moment for the region. . . .

Prior to heading to Beirut, Tillerson gave an interview to the American Arabic-language station al-Hurra, in which he emphasized that Hizballah was a terrorist organization, and that the United States expected cooperation from the “Lebanon government to deal very clearly and firmly with those activities undertaken by Lebanese Hizballah that are unacceptable to the rest of the world.” . . . But then, while in Jordan, Tillerson undermined any potential hints of firmness by reading from an entirely different script—one that encapsulates the confused nonsense that is U.S. Lebanon policy. Hizballah is “influenced by Iran,” Tillerson said. But, he added, “We also have to acknowledge the reality that they also are part of the political process in Lebanon”—which apparently makes being “influenced by Iran” and being a terrorist group OK. . . .

The reality on the ground in Lebanon, [however], is [that] Hizballah is not only a part of the Lebanese government, it controls it—along with all of the country’s illustrious “institutions,” including the Lebanese Armed Forces. . . .

[Meanwhile], Israel’s tactical Syria-focused approach to the growing threat on its borders has kept the peace so far, but it has come at a cost. For one thing, it does not address the broader strategic factor of Iran’s growing position in Syria, and it leaves Iran’s other regional headquarters in Lebanon untouched. Also, it sets a pace that is more suitable to Iran’s interests. The Iranians can absorb tactical strikes so long as they are able to consolidate their strategic position in Syria and Lebanon. Not only have the Iranians been able to fly a drone into Israel but also their allies and assets have made gains on the ground near the northern Golan and in Mount Hermon. As Iran’s position strengthens, and as Israel’s military and political hand weakens, the Israelis will soon be left with little choice other than to launch a devastating war.

To avoid that outcome, the United States needs to adjust its policy—and fast. Rather than leaving Israel to navigate around the Russians and go after Iran’s assets in Syria and Lebanon on its own, it should endorse Israel’s red lines regarding Iran in Syria, and amplify its campaign against Iranian assets. In addition, it should revise its Lebanon policy and end its investment in the Hizballah-controlled order there.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Politics & Current Affairs, Rex Tillerson, U.S. Foreign policy