In a Changed World, Declining Democratic Support Might Be One of Israel’s Greatest Challenges

Surveying the geopolitical changes that have swept the world, and the Middle East, in the last several decades, Yaakov Amidror takes stock of what they mean for the Jewish state. Among the most important developments he points to are the rise of China, the return of Russia to the Levant, and the evolution of the Internet and cyberwarfare—the last of which poses an array of new threats to any advanced country’s wellbeing. And then there is the collapse of some Arab states, coupled with the retreat of the U.S. from the Middle East:

The two Muslim non-Arab countries—Iran and Turkey, central to the history of the region and to the present power struggle—are now trying to make use of the regional vacuum and to advance their national interests and the ideologies to which their leaders adhere. Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdogan promotes the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood, with an added layer of revived Ottoman pretensions, which had vanished since the aftermath of World War I. . . . As for the Arabs, they detest the Ottoman dream—and the Turks—and while they admire the Persians and their ancient culture, they also fear their power.

In the face of Iran’s efforts to destabilize the region and obtain nuclear weapons, and Turkey’s attempts to extend its authority from the Caucasus to Libya, the Arabs have no good answers. There is no acceptable Sunni Arab leadership and no Arab state leads the pack. All this comes against the background of a gradual American retreat from the region. When the leaders of the Arab states look around, they see no steady anchor to latch onto.

Amidror identifies a single threat to Israel on par with that from the Islamic Republic, namely:

the erosion [in America] of traditional bipartisan support for Israel, which U.S. Jewry had been able to secure in the wake of World War II and up until the presidency of Barack Obama. This may well be the result of an inevitable historical trajectory. . . .

At the end of the day, only a militarily strong Israel, ready to preserve [its historic] national defense doctrine . . . of defending itself by itself against any coalition of enemies—can sustain its regional position and thus retain its attraction as a partner to other significant international players.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Barack Obama, Democrats, Iran, Israeli grand strategy, Israeli Security, Turkey, US-Israel relations


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount