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Israel’s Strike on Syria, What Russia Didn’t Do, and What the U.S. Should

Sept. 11 2017

Although Israel has not officially acknowledged a role in the destruction last week of a chemical- and precision-weapons factory in Syria, Jerusalem has repeatedly made clear that it will not permit certain military developments near its borders, and will do what is necessary to enforce its red lines. Elliott Abrams explains the background, and implications, of the latest attack:

On August 23, Prime Minister Netanyahu visited Vladimir Putin in Moscow. The goal, I believe, was to tell Putin that certain actions by Iran in Syria would be intolerable, and to ask him to restrain Iran—his ally in Syria. Putin’s reply was negative. In effect he told Netanyahu: “I’m not restraining you and I’m not restraining them. Not my job. Take care of your own security.” Having learned that there would be no help from that quarter, the Israelis acted. The Russians seem not to object: Netanyahu is doing what he said he would do, and what Putin would do in a similar situation.

Israel is also acting in part because the United States does not seem willing to restrain Iran in any serious way in Syria. We are doing less, not more, while the Assad regime’s forces and Iran’s gain ground. . . .

Israel’s strategic situation has been seriously damaged in the last several years because there is now an Iranian presence in Syria. The Israelis are not going to go into Syria and try to drive out Iran, the Shiite militias, and Hizballah, but they are trying to establish some limits to acceptable Iranian behavior.

In my view this ought to be part of U.S. policy in the region as well. . . . What would be useful at this point, it seems to me, is a statement by the United States that we approve of the action Israel took, and that in the event of a conflict Israel would have our support in defending itself—for example by allowing the Israelis to have access to the stocks of weapons that we store in that country.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Chemical weapons, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy, Vladimir Putin

Israel’s Economy Thrives While the Middle East Disintegrates

Jan. 19 2018

Now that the data have come in from 2017, it is clear that the Israeli economy had another successful year, expanding at a rate higher than that of any other advanced country. Israel’s per-capita GDP also grew, placing it above those of France and Japan. Daniel Kryger notes some of the implications regarding the Jewish state’s place in the Middle East:

The contrast between first-world Israel and the surrounding third-world Arab states is larger today than ever before. Israel’s GDP per capita is almost twenty times the GDP per capita of impoverished Egypt and five times larger than semi-developed Lebanon.

Like any human project, Israel is a never-ending work in progress and much work remains to integrate ḥaredi Jews and Israeli Arabs into Israel’s knowledge economy. Properly addressing Israel’s high costs of living requires more economic and legislative reforms and breaking up inefficient oligopolies that keep the prices artificially high. However, by any standard, the reborn Jewish state is a remarkable success story. . . .

Much has changed since OPEC launched its oil embargo against the West after the failed Arab aggression against Israel in October 1973. Before the collapse of the pro-Arab Soviet empire, China and India had no official ties with Israel and many Western and Japanese companies avoided doing business with Israel. Collapsing oil prices have dramatically eroded the power of oil-producing countries. It has become obvious that the future belongs to those who innovate, not those who happen to sit on oil. Israel has today strong commercial ties with China and a thriving partnership with India. Business delegations from Jamaica to Japan are eager to do business with Israel and benefit from Israel’s expertise. . . .

[For its part], the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement may bully Jewish and pro-Israel students on Western campuses. However, in real life, BDS stands no chance of succeeding against Israel. The reason is simple: reborn Israel has . . . become too valuable a player in the global economy.

Read more at Mida

More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Middle East, OPEC