How Concrete Made the Zionist Dream a Reality

Reviewing two recent books on the history of Israeli architecture, Liam Hoare observes that if there is one common thread, stretching back to the days before statehood, in the way the Jewish state has been built, it is concrete:

It was the perfect building material for a state founded as a negation of history wishing to establish something new—cheaply, quickly, and efficiently. Early Israel not only needed new versions of everything—apartment buildings, courthouses, bus stations, concert halls, public squares—but it needed multiple versions of those things in order to establish the infrastructure of a functioning, modern state. Concrete was malleable—it could be poured to fill any mold, manufacture any shape. It could be domestically produced and prefabricated. Concrete could be used to create anything. Concrete would serve the plan.

Lest concrete seem too prosaic a material for the task of engineering the rebirth of the Jewish nation, or too urban for a movement so invested in agriculture, Hoare gives us the words of the great Hebrew poet Natan Alterman:

To Alterman, the transformation of the rural was not merely about planting trees and tilling fields. “From the slopes of Lebanon to the Dead Sea/ We shall crisscross you with ploughs/ We shall yet cultivate and build you/ We shall yet beautify you,” he wrote in his 1935 poem, “Shir Moledet.” “We shall dress you in a gown of concrete and cement/ And lay for you a carpet of gardens/ On the soils of your redeemed fields.”

Read more at Tel Aviv Review of Books

More about: Architecture, History of Zionism, Natan Alterman, Tel Aviv

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security