Europe May Finally Be Ready to Make Its Peace with Israel

During the recent round of fighting, Slovenia, Austria, and the Czech Republic all flew Israeli flags from important government buildings as a sign of solidarity. And such sentiments were not limited to Jerusalem’s emerging Central European allies: Western European governments, which normally trip over themselves to express their “deep concern” over Israel’s actions, or to issue disingenuous calls for both sides to stop the violence, were unusually silent. Germany’s Angela Merkel even expressed frank support for the Jewish state. Benjamin Haddad sees many economic and geopolitical factors at work, including the Abraham Accords, but also something deeper:

Facing terror attacks in the last few years, Europeans have increasingly [seen] Israel as a country facing similar challenges, the canary in the coalmine for European democracies.

For the [European Union], the disasters of World War II called for cooperation [and for] technocratic governance transcending the ills of the nation-state. For Jerusalem, the tragic fate of Jews in Europe urged them to overcome their historic powerlessness and build a strong nation supported by . . . a powerful army. As they integrated the continent, Europeans increasingly viewed their successful model as the shape of things to come for the rest of the world. . . . And what better place to apply the European model of reconciliation than [to the Israel-Palestinian conflict]?

But things did not turn out this way. Fifteen years ago, it was commonplace for observers to forewarn growing Israeli diplomatic isolation if it failed to find a sustainable and peaceful solution to the Palestinian issue. These predictions did not come to pass. With Europe and the United States, of course, but also with new partnerships in India, Russia, and Africa, Israel has more economic and diplomatic partners than it ever had. Meanwhile, . . . Europeans are questioning their model. . . . Maybe the sense of history is tilting toward Jerusalem, after all?

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Angela Merkel, Austria, Europe and Israel, European Union, Israel diplomacy

Iran’s Four-Decade Strategy to Envelope Israel in Terror

Yesterday, the head of the Shin Bet—Israel’s internal security service—was in Washington meeting with officials from the State Department, CIA, and the White House itself. Among the topics no doubt discussed are rising tensions with Iran and the possibility that the latter, in order to defend its nuclear program, will instruct its network of proxies in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and even Iraq and Yemen to attack the Jewish state. Oved Lobel explores the history of this network, which, he argues, predates Iran’s Islamic Revolution—when Shiite radicals in Lebanon coordinated with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s movement in Iran:

An inextricably linked Iran-Syria-Palestinian axis has actually been in existence since the early 1970s, with Lebanon the geographical fulcrum of the relationship and Damascus serving as the primary operational headquarters. Lebanon, from the 1980s until 2005, was under the direct military control of Syria, which itself slowly transformed from an ally to a client of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The nexus among Damascus, Beirut, and the Palestinian territories should therefore always have been viewed as one front, both geographically and operationally. It’s clear that the multifront-war strategy was already in operation during the first intifada years, from 1987 to 1993.

[An] Iranian-organized conference in 1991, the first of many, . . . established the “Damascus 10”—an alliance of ten Palestinian factions that rejected any peace process with Israel. According to the former Hamas spokesperson and senior official Ibrahim Ghosheh, he spoke to then-Hizballah Secretary-General Abbas al-Musawi at the conference and coordinated Hizballah attacks from Lebanon in support of the intifada. Further important meetings between Hamas and the Iranian regime were held in 1999 and 2000, while the IRGC constantly met with its agents in Damascus to encourage coordinated attacks on Israel.

For some reason, Hizballah’s guerilla war against Israel in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s was, and often still is, viewed as a separate phenomenon from the first intifada, when they were in fact two fronts in the same battle.

Israel opted for a perilous unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, which Hamas’s Ghosheh asserts was a “direct factor” in precipitating the start of the second intifada later that same year.

Read more at Australia/Israel Review

More about: First intifada, Hizballah, Iran, Palestinian terror, Second Intifada