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

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