Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Explains What Her Country’s Narrative Should Be

March 6 2017

In an interview with Daniel Johnson, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely explains how Israel can do a better job explaining itself abroad:

There are two Israeli stories. One is of modern Israel—a modern state, re-established in 1948. . . . This story is problematic. Now I am, of course, a Zionist, and I think the Zionist movement is maybe one of the biggest miracles of the 20th century if not all humankind—re-establishing a state after 2,000 years in exile. But what is missing from the story is: what makes a bunch of people coming from Russia, Yemen, Morocco, Britain, [and] America re-create a state in the Middle East? . . .

[There’s a tale of Chaim Weizmann’s] response to a member of the House of Lords who asked, “Mr. Weizmann, why do you insist on having Israel in the Middle East, this is a very dangerous area.” He said, “Excuse me, Mr. Minister, why do you insist on going all the way to Brighton to visit your mother, when there are so many old ladies in London?” . . .

[S]ome people say that Israel was established after the Holocaust because the world felt bad about the whole thing. I don’t like that narrative. . . . I think we should tell the big story, and the big story is 3,000 years of Jewish history. . . . [B]y putting the Israeli policy [vis-à-vis the Palestinians] in the center [of our rhetoric] we lost the real narrative of our country. The real narrative . . . is [about] why we are there. . .

[First we need to make] a very clear statement of the fact that this is our country; we don’t apologize for it; we don’t apologize for being occupiers because we’re not; we would like to have co-existence with our neighbors. We have proved throughout all the years of our existence, from the declaration of independence of David Ben-Gurion to our current prime minister, that we want peace. I think we will prove that to the world. We don’t need to re-approve that message all the time. It’s very clear that most Israelis want to live peacefully and that we are also willing to defend ourselves if it’s needed.

Read more at Standpoint

More about: Chaim Weizmann, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Zionism

Strengthening the Abraham Accords at Sea

In an age of jet planes, high-speed trains, electric cars, and instant communication, it’s easy to forget that maritime trade is, according to Yuval Eylon, more important than ever. As a result, maritime security is also more important than ever. Eylon examines the threats, and opportunities, these realities present to Israel:

Freedom of navigation in the Middle East is challenged by Iran and its proxies, which operate in the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, and the Persian Gulf, and recently in the Mediterranean Sea as well. . . . A bill submitted to the U.S. Congress calls for the formulation of a naval strategy that includes an alliance to combat naval terrorism in the Middle East. This proposal suggests the formation of a regional alliance in the Middle East in which the member states will support the realization of U.S. interests—even while the United States focuses its attention on other regions of the world, mainly the Far East.

Israel could play a significant role in the execution of this strategy. The Abraham Accords, along with the transition of U.S.-Israeli military cooperation from the European Command (EUCOM) to Central Command (CENTCOM), position Israel to be a key player in the establishment of a naval alliance, led by the U.S. Fifth Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain.

Collaborative maritime diplomacy and coalition building will convey a message of unity among the members of the alliance, while strengthening state commitments. The advantage of naval operations is that they enable collaboration without actually threatening the territory of any sovereign state, but rather using international waters, enhancing trust among all members.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Abraham Accords, Iran, Israeli Security, Naval strategy, U.S. Foreign policy