How Israel Became a Model for Ukraine

Last Tuesday, the Ukrainian president Volodomyr Zelesnky declared that, when the war in Ukraine is finally over, his country will emerge as “a big Israel.” Lahav Harkov suggests that Zelensky meant, in part, that Ukraine will learn to “view its neighbors the way Israel has long viewed its own: as enemies waiting to pounce.” Harkov also highlights the significance of Zelensky’s repeated requests that Russians and Ukrainians meet in Jerusalem—not Washington, London, or Brussels—to hash out a peace agreement, and the difficult situation in which the war has put Israel.

On the one hand, the Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid has repeatedly condemned Russia’s attacks, and on Tuesday, while discussing the Bucha massacre, he accused Russia of “war crimes.” On the other, [Prime Minister Naftali] Bennett has only expressed a more general sorrow about the loss of life. Reacting to the slaughter at Bucha, the Israeli prime minister said, “We are shocked by what we see in Bucha, horrible images, and we condemn them”—but he refrained from explicitly condemning Russia or Putin.

How did Israel end up walking this tightrope? In part, it’s because Israel exists to be a safe haven for Jews everywhere, and there are still nearly half a million in Ukraine and Russia. Israel wants to make sure it doesn’t alienate Putin—and complicate things for the Jewish community in his country. (Since the war began, over 10,000 Jews have applied to immigrate to Israel from Russia. The country has prepared to absorb as many as 100,000 refugees.)

But the bigger reason is waning American hegemony.

America’s post-Iraq war exhaustion with the Middle East led Israel to begin to see what Ukraine has just discovered: that it cannot rely on the assurances of an America that has turned inward—and away from the rest of the world. As the United States backed away from its “red line” in Syria and pursued a nuclear deal widely viewed in Israel as an existential threat, the former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu shifted Israel away from relying on the vaunted special relationship, forging new ones with China, India, and Russia, among others. Israel’s position in the Ukraine war has brought the Jewish state’s new geopolitical reality into stark relief.

Read more at Common Sense

More about: Naftali Bennett, Volodomyr Zelensky, War in Ukraine, Yair Lapid

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy