Israel’s Migrant Crisis Was a Sign of Improving Relations with the Islamic World

Between 2006 and 2012, some 55,000 Africans—many of the Muslims, coming especially from Sudan and Eritrea—entered the Jewish state illegally via the Sinai Peninsula. Some fled war and famine; others merely sought opportunity. At the time, the influx of migrants caused much controversy, but since then the border has been sealed and the Israeli government arranged for about 20,000 to settle elsewhere. Of those who remain, some have become citizens and joined the IDF. Daniel Pipes revisits the episode, and what it suggests about changing Muslim attitudes toward Israel:

A Sudanese woman explained why she walked more than 200 miles across Egypt and the Sinai desert to the Israeli border: Egyptians “spit on us and called us monkeys and animals” while she heard that she would be treated well in Israel. And, indeed, she was: “they gave us chocolate and juice and handcuffed us.”

Muslim migrants abandoning their countries of origin, traveling long distances, enduring terrible experiences in Egypt, and taking a chance in the Jewish state unambiguously reveals a wide but covert appreciation of Israel. Far from the angry oratory of the United Nations or the insipid bigotry of the Middle East studies professoriate, large numbers of Muslims long to live among Zionists. As Malcolm Hedding of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem has noted, “It is remarkable that while some highly educated British academics consider Israel a racist and immoral country, these simple Sudanese refugees seem to know better.”

Thus do Muslim Africans desperate to reach the Jewish state point to an important aspect of Israel’s growing acceptance.

Read more at Middle East Quarterly

More about: Immigration, Israeli society, Jewish-Muslim Relations


Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy