Seven Decades of Czech-Israeli Friendship

Dec. 19 2017

Shortly after the American declaration acknowledging Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state, the Czech Republic joined suit. Amnon Lord notes that, in doing so, it followed a tradition of sympathy for the Zionist cause that goes back to the War of Independence, when Czechoslovakia sent much-need arms to a nascent Israel. Lord contrasts this reaction to that of Germany:

In Germany, a major news channel devoted ten minutes of a fifteen-minute broadcast to the horrible scandal caused by [U.S. recognition of Jerusalem]. The anchor [explained that] the American president had taken such an unreasonable step . . . “because of his evangelical supporters and ‘rich donors.’” It seems that Germany hasn’t changed. Anti-Semitism is like malaria; it doesn’t go away.

In contrast to the attack [on the White House’s decision delivered by] Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, the stance of the Czech Republic’s President Miloš Zeman shines brightly. The Czechs know what it is to be a small country sold out by a bunch of strong and hypocritical nations. We saw this Sunday in Emmanuel Macron’s chilly reception for Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Czech admiration of Israel in the post-Communist era stems from rebellion. In Czechoslovakia in 1948 there was real admiration for the newly established state of Israel, and the assistance it received from the Czechs will forever be remembered by Israel’s people. . . . In 1967, popular admiration for Israel broke out again after the military victory of the Six-Day War, which is still being mourned by the rest of Europe and the Israeli and American left. But not by the Czechs. . . . [T]he Six-Day War victory gave the Czechs courage and inspiration for the Prague Spring, which then turned into a twenty-year winter. . . .

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Czech Republic, Czechoslovakia, Israel & Zionism, Israeli War of Independence, Israeli-German relations, Jerusalem

 

The Dangers of Diplomacy with Iran

Aug. 21 2018

Although President Trump’s offer to meet with President Rouhani of the Islamic Republic was rejected, the possibility of direct negotiations remains. Ray Takeyh and Mark Dubowitz warn that Tehran could use talks to stall and gain leverage over Washington:

The mullahs understand that just by staying at the table, Americans usually offer up concessions. [They] are betting that the Trump administration may become weaker over time, preoccupied with domestic politics. Best to entangle America in protracted diplomacy while awaiting what the regime expects will be midterm Republican losses in Congress and the return of a more flexible Democratic president to power in 2021. This is what [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei probably meant when he stressed that negotiations have to wait until America is softened up.

Diplomacy would surely blunt the impact of U.S. pressure. The mullahs believe they can undermine the escalation of [U.S.] sanctions by being diplomatically flirtatious and know well that America seldom disrupts negotiations with military action. Indeed, as a prelude to the talks, Iran may even resume its nuclear activities to frighten the Europeans and gain leverage by putting even more pressure on Washington to adjust its red lines.

Should negotiations begin, the Trump team should take sensible precautions to avoid the predicament of the Obama negotiators. The administration will need to maintain its maximum-pressure campaign and its negotiating demands. . . . Any negotiations with the Islamic Republic should be time-limited, and Washington must be prepared to leave the table when it confronts the usual pattern of regime bombast and mendacity.

Donald Trump should insist on direct talks with the supreme leader, as he did with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un: Rouhani is a lame duck without any real influence. The administration also should demand that Europeans join its sanctions policy targeting Iran’s ballistic-missile program, support for terrorism, and human-rights abuses as a price for their participation in the talks.

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More about: Ali Khamenei, Donald Trump, Hassan Rouhani, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy