Seven Decades of Czech-Israeli Friendship

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. . . .

Read more at Israel Hayom

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

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood