The Jerusalem Light Rail: Good for Israelis, Good for Palestinians—and Therefore a Provocation to Enemies

Since its construction was completed in 2012, Jerusalem’s light rail has provided inexpensive transportation from the city’s outskirts to its center. Its single line goes through both Jewish and Palestinian neighborhoods of east Jerusalem, making it easier for residents of both to get to jobs in other parts of the city, and actually facilitating integration. It is precisely for these reasons, argues Jared Samilow, that it has been the target of both terrorists and European boycott efforts:

[T]he absence of grassroots Palestinian opposition to the light rail didn’t stop their advocates in the West from complaining on their behalf.

Adri Nieuwhof, a Dutch anti-Israel journalist and activist, wrote that the light rail was a ploy to tighten Israel’s grip on eastern Jerusalem and urged a boycott of French multinational giants Veolia and Alstom—companies that held partial shares in the project and were involved in operating the train cars. The official website of the BDS movement bleated out boycott instructions to its troops.

Unfortunately, enough people listened, causing Veolia and Alstom to lose contracts in Europe. . . . In August 2015, the boycotters won, and Veolia sold its last shares. . . .

In driving French multinationals out of Israel, European activists discourage foreign investors from operating in Israel in the first place. Often, the possibility of negative publicity can be enough to deter a commercial endeavor. More disturbing is how these activists succeeded in persuading the foreign media to adopt the narrative of a “controversial” light rail violating international law. It diminishes Israel’s status as a legitimate nation if it can’t so much as build public infrastructure without international interference. . . .

By attacking enterprises that benefit both Israelis and Palestinians, BDS evangelists show that they’ll always opt to cause Israel pain even at the cost of Palestinian suffering that doesn’t bring [Palestinians] any closer to a state.

Read more at Tower

More about: BDS, East Jerusalem, Israel & Zionism, Jerusalem, Palestinian terror, Palestinians

Syria’s Druze Uprising, and What It Means for the Region

When the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011, the Druze for the most part remained loyal to the regime—which has generally depended on the support of religious minorities such as the Druze and thus afforded them a modicum of protection. But in the past several weeks that has changed, with sustained anti-government protests in the Druze-dominated southwestern province of Suwayda. Ehud Yaari evaluates the implications of this shift:

The disillusionment of the Druze with Bashar al-Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizballah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In Syrian Druze circles, there is now open discussion of “self-rule,” for example replacing government offices and services with local Druze alternative bodies.

Is there a politically acceptable way to assist the Druze and prevent the regime from the violent reoccupation of Jebel al-Druze, [as they call the area in which they live]? The answer is yes. It would require Jordan to open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three kilometers from the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states, which have currently suspended the process of normalization with Assad. . . . The cost of such an operation would not be high compared to the humanitarian corridors currently operating in northern Syria. It could be developed in stages, and perhaps ultimately include, if necessary, providing the Druze with weapons to defend their territory. A quick reminder: during the Islamic State attack on Suwayda province in 2018, the Druze demonstrated an ability to assemble close to 50,000 militia men almost overnight.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Druze, Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy