America’s Ham-Fisted Interference in Israeli Domestic Affairs

As of July 4, French police had detained some 2,000 people in response to the riots that swept through the country. Yet the White House made no statement comparable to that issued on Monday urging Jerusalem “to protect and respect the right of peaceful assembly” after a handful of arrests in protests there. Elliott Abrams notes that this was but one of several declarations from U.S. officials about the turmoil in Israel surrounding judicial reform:

Unlike in France, the protests [in Israel] are non-violent, no one has been killed, and there are many fewer arrests—dozens, not hundreds or thousands.

Why does the administration feel quite free to interfere with the internal politics of one democratic ally and not another? Here are two related reasons: in the case of France, critics of Macron have not sought such U.S. interference and pressure. In the case of Israel, opponents of Prime Minister Netanyahu have traveled to the United States and made almost daily appeals for this pressure. Second, there is no domestic pressure in the United States for criticisms of Macron while there is one for criticisms of Netanyahu. Many American Jewish groups and leaders have expressed their own opposition and invited—or demanded—U.S. pressure on Israel’s government.

The double standard in Biden administration treatment of the unrest in France and in Israel is evident. It is also quite problematic, because it creates a precedent that those who are today urging interference in Israeli domestic disputes may tomorrow regret. Unlike Israel’s policies regarding Iran, Egypt, Jordan, or the Palestinians, the role of its judiciary is about as “internal” an internal matter as can be imagined. Israelis are struggling—democratically and peacefully—over those domestic issues. They should be able to do so without U.S. interference—and without unfair and baseless suggestions that Israeli authorities are not protecting the right to demonstrate.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: France, U.S.-Israel relationship

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