Why the Conflict in the Caucasus Matters to Israel

Sept. 11 2020

In July, Armenia initiated a brief round of skirmishing with its neighbor Azerbaijan. The two former Soviet republics have had uneasy relations since fighting a war in the 1990s, and the Kremlin has long backed Yerevan, while Baku maintains a more pro-Western orientation. Although Israel has stayed formally neutral in the latest round of the conflict, it has clear interests in it, as Emil Avdaliani explains:

Iran, located to Azerbaijan’s south, is Israel’s archnemesis, while Baku and Tehran have mixed relations. Diplomatic relations exist and bilateral economic contacts are extensive, [but] Baku is nevertheless apprehensive about Iranian moves that could complicate its position in the South Caucasus and Caspian Sea. All of this is heightened by Tehran’s concerns about the allegedly political aspirations of the Azeris in Iran. Tehran thinks that at an opportune moment, this minority might begin to talk of secession and a “Greater Azerbaijan” idea might emerge.

This is all hypothetical, but there is a high level of distrust between the two states. Consider, for example, Azerbaijan’s recent claim that Iran was sending trucks to Nagorno-Karabakh, [the Azeri territory long occupied by Armenia]. Baku summoned Iranian diplomats and accused Tehran of stoking the conflict over the land.

This state of affairs naturally makes Israel a comfortable partner for Azerbaijan. Moreover, from Jerusalem’s perspective, Azerbaijan’s geographic position on Iran’s border makes it an ideal site for the gathering of strategic intelligence. Media sources claim that Israel helped Baku build electronic intelligence-gathering stations along the Azerbaijani border with Iran in the 1990s.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Armenians, Azerbaijan, Iran, Israel diplomacy, Russia

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror