Why the Conflict in the Caucasus Matters to Israel

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.

Read more at BESA Center

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

Using the Power of the Law to Fight Anti-Semitism

Examining carefully the problem of anti-Semitism, and sympathy with jihadists, at American universities, Danielle Pletka addresses the very difficult problem of what can be done about it. Pletka avoids such simplistic answers as calling for more education and turns instead to a more promising tool: law. The complex networks of organizations funding and helping to organize campus protests are often connected to malicious states like Qatar, and to U.S.-designated terrorist groups. Thus, without broaching complex questions of freedom of speech, state and federal governments already have ample justifications to crack down. Pletka also suggests various ways existing legal frameworks can be strengthened.

And that’s not all:

What is Congress’s ultimate leverage? Federal funding. Institutions of higher education in the United States will receive north of $200 billion from the federal government in 2024.

[In addition], it is critical to understand that foreign funders have been allowed, more or less, to turn U.S. institutions of higher education into political fiefdoms, with their leaders and faculty serving as spokesmen for foreign interests. Under U.S. law currently, those who enter into contracts or receive funding to advocate for the interest of a foreign government are required to register with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). This requirement is embedded in a criminal statute, and a violation risks jail time. There is no reason compliance by American educational institutions with disclosure laws should not be subject to similar criminal penalties.

Read more at Commentary

More about: American law, Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus