America Shouldn’t Legitimize UNESCO’s Contempt for Israel and for International Law

In 2011, the U.S. ceased its funding for the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in response to the group’s recognition of a “state of Palestine.” In 2018 it withdrew from UNESCO completely. The White House is reportedly considering a reversal of both decisions, and urging Israel to follow suit. Alan Baker, Wade Ze’ev Gittleson, and Lea Bilke argue against doing so:

Rejoining UNESCO would be perceived to be an acknowledgment of Palestinian efforts to achieve statehood outside the framework of negotiations with Israel, [in violation of the Oslo Accords]. . . . Consequently, the United States and Israel, by rejoining the organization and thereby indirectly acknowledging a Palestinian state, [would] send the message to the Palestinians that they don’t have to fulfil their Oslo Accords obligation to negotiate with Israel to realize their ambitions, decreasing the likelihood of negotiations and consequently extending and exacerbating the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

UNESCO passed a total of 47 resolutions between 2009 and 2014, 46 of which were directed against Israel and only one against Syria. None of these resolutions made any reference to human-rights, educational, and cultural violations by the likes of North Korea, Iran, China, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, Islamic State, or any of the other culturally destructive regimes in the world.

Consequently, rejoining UNESCO at this point would be considered to be sanctioning UNESCO’s own neglect of its functions and purposes, namely “the contribution to peace and security by promoting collaboration among the nations through education, science, and culture,” as set out in Article 1 of its Constitution.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Oslo Accords, Palestinian statehood, U.S. Foreign policy, UNESCO, United Nations

Iran’s Options for Revenge on Israel

On April 1, an Israeli airstrike on Damascus killed three Iranian generals, one of whom was the seniormost Iranian commander in the region. The IDF has been targeting Iranian personnel and weaponry in Syria for over a decade, but the killing of such a high-ranking figure raises the stakes significantly. In the past several days, Israelis have received a number of warnings both from the press and from the home-front command to ready themselves for retaliatory attacks. Jonathan Spyer considers what shape that attack might take:

Tehran has essentially four broad options. It could hit an Israeli or Jewish facility overseas using either Iranian state forces (option one), or proxies (option two). . . . Then there’s the third option: Tehran could also direct its proxies to strike Israel directly. . . . Finally, Iran could strike Israeli soil directly (option four). It is the riskiest option for Tehran, and would be likely to precipitate open war between the regime and Israel.

Tehran will consider all four options carefully. It has failed to retaliate in kind for a number of high-profile assassinations of its operatives in recent years. . . . A failure to respond, or staging too small a response, risks conveying a message of weakness. Iran usually favors using proxies over staging direct attacks. In an unkind formulation common in Israel, Tehran is prepared to “fight to the last Arab.”

Read more at Spectator

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria