Israel’s Culture and Demography Make It Less Vulnerable to Epidemics—and to Terrorism—than Europe

March 18 2020

According to the World Health Organization, Europe has replaced China as the center of the coronavirus epidemic. By contrast, Israel seems thus far to have been more successful at containing its spread. Eyal Zisser ascribes the differences to two factors: the much larger proportion of the European population that is elderly (and thus more vulnerable to disease) and Israel’s swifter and more aggressive response:

There is a distinct connection between these two factors: . . . the European ideal of living for today and preferring a certain quality of life and prosperity over having and raising children is . . . at the root of Europe’s low birth rates. These low birthrates have led to severe shortages of workers and the flooding of the continent with labor migrants from across the globe, mainly from Africa and the Arab world.

The challenges facing Europe were evident as early as ten years ago when the threat of Islamic terror intensified. At the root of this threat were the Muslim immigrants across the continent who failed to assimilate. The European response to this challenge was denial. Unlike Israel, instead of dealing with the threat, the Europeans opted to tolerate terroristic motivations and avoided implementing measures to protect themselves—all in the name of preserving the rights of the individual and concerns over lowering the quality of life.

The Europeans have grown accustomed to criticizing and preaching to the Jewish state, but it appears that tiny Israel has some things to teach Europe. . . . [T]he Israeli way of doing things provides a model of how a modern Western country can be capable of rallying society and state institutions toward a singular purpose, while also maintaining dynamism, growth, openness—and yes, a positive natural growth rate as well.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Coronavirus, Demography, Europe, Israeli society


Leaked Emails Point to an Iranian Influence Operation That Reaches into the U.S. Government

Sept. 27 2023

As the negotiations leading up to the 2015 nuclear deal began in earnest, Tehran launched a major effort to cultivate support abroad for its positions, according to a report by Jay Solomon:

In the spring of 2014, senior Iranian Foreign Ministry officials initiated a quiet effort to bolster Tehran’s image and positions on global security issues—particularly its nuclear program—by building ties with a network of influential overseas academics and researchers. They called it the Iran Experts Initiative. The scope and scale of the IEI project has emerged in a large cache of Iranian government correspondence and emails.

The officials, working under the moderate President Hassan Rouhani, congratulated themselves on the impact of the initiative: at least three of the people on the Foreign Ministry’s list were, or became, top aides to Robert Malley, the Biden administration’s special envoy on Iran, who was placed on leave this June following the suspension of his security clearance.

In March of that year, writes Solomon, one of these officials reported that “he had gained support for the IEI from two young academics—Ariane Tabatabai and Dina Esfandiary—following a meeting with them in Prague.” And here the story becomes particularly worrisome:

Tabatabai currently serves in the Pentagon as the chief of staff for the assistant secretary of defense for special operations, a position that requires a U.S. government security clearance. She previously served as a diplomat on Malley’s Iran nuclear negotiating team after the Biden administration took office in 2021. Esfandiary is a senior advisor on the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group, a think tank that Malley headed from 2018 to 2021.

Tabatabai . . . on at least two occasions checked in with Iran’s Foreign Ministry before attending policy events, according to the emails. She wrote to Mostafa Zahrani, [an Iranian scholar in close contact with the Foreign Ministry and involved in the IEI], in Farsi on June 27, 2014, to say she’d met Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal—a former ambassador to the U.S.—who expressed interest in working together and invited her to Saudi Arabia. She also said she’d been invited to attend a workshop on Iran’s nuclear program at Ben-Gurion University in Israel. . . .

Elissa Jobson, Crisis Group’s chief of advocacy, said the IEI was an “informal platform” that gave researchers from different organizations an opportunity to meet with IPIS and Iranian officials, and that it was supported financially by European institutions and one European government. She declined to name them.

Read more at Semafor

More about: Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy