Israelis Want Leaders Who Have a Vision for a Jewish and Zionist State

If preliminary election results are to be believed, the Religious Zionism party—led by Bezalel Smotrich, and which includes a faction led by the controversial Itamar Ben-Gvir—could get fourteen seats in the next Knesset. Daniel Gordis has little affection for either politician, but argues that they win votes not for their most extreme statements, but because they guarantee something essential that many Israelis want, and that other political figures don’t persuasively offer. To illustrate his point, Gordis cites a campaign video from the center-left incumbent, Yair Lapid:

It’s a perfectly fine, innocuous video. There’s not a platform there that I disagree with. The elderly living with dignity. Combat soldiers having their education supported by the state. Women’s rights. Caring about people with disabilities. Respect and protection for gay and lesbian couples. A liberal Israel. A democratic Israel. All the rest. What’s the problem?

The problem, for me, is that if you translated this video into French and substituted “France” for Israel, Emmanuel Macron could use it in his next campaign. Translated into English with “America” substituted for Israel, it would make a fine video for Liz Cheney or Amy Klobuchar. It’s a lovely video that would work for any modern liberal democracy.

But here’s the rub. I never intended to move to any old modern liberal democracy. Democracy? Of course? Liberal (in the philosophic, not political sense)? Absolutely. But “any old”? Definitely not. I came here to live in a Jewish state, a state that while not imposing religiosity on anyone, would be Jewish in manifold ways, culturally, educationally, in values, and much more.

And in this video, the words “Jewish” and “Zionist” are entirely absent. . . . The first time I watched the video, I felt like I’d been sucker-punched.

That, in short, is why some of Ben-Gvir’s voters voted for him. . . . They may or may not want many things, but what matters to them is that this state not be like France or the United States, that its leaders be mindful that they are at the helm of a Jewish state, the place to which the Jewish people has returned to reconstitute itself.

Read more at Israel from the Inside

More about: Israeli Election 2022, Israeli politics, Itamar Ben Gvir, Yair Lapid

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security