Israel’s One-Man Arabic Public-Relations Department

Although the Israeli government maintains official Arabic-language social-media accounts that appear to have had some success in reaching an audience that tends to have a knee-jerk hostility to the Jewish state, at the moment it seems that the Beirut-born researcher Edy Cohen is Israel’s most active spokesman on the Internet. Cohen, who came to Israel at the age of eighteen, has no official position, but interacts extensively via Twitter with Arabic-speakers, patiently answering their questions and trying to disabuse them of their prejudices. Vivian Bercovici writes:

Cohen says that there are so many participants [in online conversations] who really want to understand the situation more accurately and they know that state-controlled national media in Arab countries will never provide anything close to a balanced perspective. So, he works to provide facts and verifiable information.

“There is so much fake news,” [said Cohen], “and these people have never seen an Israeli or a Jew and they imagine us as monsters. Really. Arabs from Syria or Saudi [Arabia]—it doesn’t matter. But now, with technology, Twitter, social networks of friends, we’ve broken so many barriers. They suddenly speak with me and can see me.”

Still, Lebanese nationals will not engage with him at all. Syrians, he says, are afraid to participate. And Jordanians and Palestinians? He says they tend to hurl insults and curses. Small numbers of Egyptians interact with him but very few.

Cohen’s rendering is similar to what I experienced in my interactions with numerous Arab diplomats when I served as the Canadian ambassador to Israel. These were the pre-Abraham Accord days, when there had been no public thaw between Israel and the Arab countries. . . . Several Arab diplomats told to me how stunned they were upon arrival in Israel. They truly had expected monsters. The reality they encountered was nothing like the propaganda myths which saturated media and professional culture in their home countries.

Read more at State of Tel Aviv

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel diplomacy, Israel-Arab relations

Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

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