No, Israel Doesn’t Prefer Undemocratic Regimes in the Middle East

Last month, with the announcement of the peace agreement—signed yesterday—between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, one respected expert on the Arab world averred that “it’s hard to imagine an Arab country, if it were democratic, striking a peace deal with Israel” and that, moreover, “Israel, one of the region’s few democracies, prefers that its Arab neighbors not be democratic.” Some have taken this line of reasoning one step further, to suggest that Jerusalem is in some sense propping up Arab dictatorships. Nonsense, writes Seth Frantzman:

It was the authoritarian regimes in the Middle East in the 1950s that led the drive against relations with Israel. . . . These dictatorships inflamed a generation and brainwashed people against Israel, even as [they] normalized with other states that [with whom they had conflicts]; e.g., despite the India-Pakistan conflict, no one suggested not recognizing India forever. [By contrast], Israel always had relations with democracies.

[Furthermore], the argument that average citizens in the Middle East oppose Israel, and therefore Israel “needs” dictatorships is flawed. The public that was propagandized against Israel is sometimes hostile. However this is mostly a historical aberration. Israel had relationships with democracies like Turkey, and Iranians would make peace with Israel if not for their regime. Kurds would also be open to Israel if not for Saddam and then Iran occupying Baghdad.

Next, we need to ask why Israel is singled out for being responsible for “authoritarianism” in the Middle East when every single other nation in the world has relations with countries like Saudi Arabia.It is only [considered] a problem for Israel to have relations with the UAE. But when the U.S. or France has relations with the UAE or when Switzerland embraces Iran, it’s fine? This makes no sense.

Read more at Middle East Forum

More about: Arab democracy, Bahrain, Israel diplomacy, United Arab Emirates

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security