For the First Time in 70 Years, Britain Will Permit a Royal Visit to Israel

March 5 2018

British officials announced last week that Prince William will pay an official visit to the Jewish state this summer. Although other members of the House of Windsor have come to Israel previously, they did so only in a private capacity—and even this was not allowed until 1994. The British Foreign Office, which coordinates such visits, had previously defended its unofficial boycott of Israel by stating that “many countries have not had an official visit.” To which Andrew Roberts replies:

That might be true for Burkina Faso and Chad, but the Foreign Office has somehow managed to find the time over the years to send the queen on state visits to Libya, Iran, Sudan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, and Turkey. So it can’t have been that she wasn’t in the area. . . .

At least she could be certain of a warm welcome in Israel, unlike in Morocco where she was kept waiting by the king for three hours in 90-degree heat, or at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Uganda, where they hadn’t even finished building her hotel.

The Foreign Office ban on royal visits to Israel was all the more powerful for its being unwritten and unacknowledged, like so much “club” or “social” anti-Semitism in Britain. As an act of “delegitimization” of Israel, this effective boycott was quite as serious as other similar acts, such as the academic boycott. Now it is over, and hopefully there will be many such visits, including of Prince Charles and [his wife]. . . .

When he gets back to Britain after his visit, Prince William will be able to tell the rest of his family what a wonderful place they were forced to miss out visiting because of the ban imposed for 70 years by a small group of Foreign Office Arabists. He will hopefully open the door to plenty more such visits, advertising to the world how much Britain values her brave democratic ally in the Middle East.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: House of Windsor, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, United Kingdom


To Undermine Russian and Iranian Influence in Syria, the U.S. Must Go on the Offensive

March 22 2018

When Iranian-lead, pro-Assad forces attacked U.S. allies in Syria last month, they found themselves quickly overwhelmed by American firepower. The incident, writes Tony Badran, makes clear that the U.S. has the capability to push back against the Damascus-Tehran-Moscow axis. By taking a more aggressive approach while working closely with Israel, Badran argues, Washington can at once prevent Russia and Iran from cementing their control of Syria and avoid getting drawn into a wider conflict:

Israeli assets can augment U.S. capabilities considerably. A few days after the skirmish in Deir Ezzour in February, Iran flew a drone into Israeli air space. Israel responded by destroying the Iranian command center at the Tiyas military air base near Palmyra, and then proceeded to bomb a large number of Iranian and Assad-regime targets. The episode again underscored the vulnerability of Iran, to say nothing of the brittle Assad regime. Close coordination with Israel to expand this ongoing targeting campaign against Iranian and Hizballah infrastructure, senior cadres, and logistical routes, and amplifying it with U.S. assets in the region, would have a devastating effect on Iran’s position in Syria.

By going on the offensive, the U.S. will also strengthen Israel’s hand with Russia, reducing Jerusalem’s need to petition the Kremlin and thereby diminishing Moscow’s ability to position itself as an arbiter on Israeli security. For instance, instead of haggling with Russia to obtain its commitment to keep Iran five or seven kilometers away from the Israeli border, the U.S. could adopt the Israeli position on Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and assist Israel in enforcing it. Such a posture would have a direct effect on another critical ally, Jordan, whose role is of high importance in southern Syria and in the U.S. zone in the east.

Assad and Iran are the scaffolding on which the Russian position stands. Targeting them, therefore, undercuts Moscow and reduces its leverage. By merely forcing Russia to respect Israeli and Jordanian needs on the border, the U.S. would undermine Russia’s attempt, more generally, to leverage its position in Syria to make headway into the U.S. alliance system. In addition to adopting a more offensive military posture, the U.S. should also intensify the economic chokehold on Assadist Syria.

Read more at Caravan

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy