What the War in Ukraine Means for Israel and the Middle East

Writing just before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in earnest, Eldad Shavit, Udi Dekel, and Anat Kurz examine the conflict’s implications for the Jewish state, and for the dangerous region in which it resides:

The possibility that Russia might exploit the [situation] in Syria to demonstrate to the United States that it can increase the volatility of arenas other than Eastern Europe is already materializing. Moscow has recently been making it difficult for Israel to wage its campaign against Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and Tehran’s efforts to transfer weapons through Syrian territory to Hizballah in Lebanon.

In January Russia’s Ministry of Defense announced that Russian and Syrian aircraft had conducted a joint patrol in the skies of the Golan Heights, and that Moscow and Damascus intend to continue doing so. This was a clear message to Israel that Russia has the ability, if it chooses, to impede Israel’s struggle against the Iranian axis as it presents in Syrian territory. This should also be seen as a step aimed at making it clear to Jerusalem that from its perspective there is a risk in taking sides in the crisis between Russia and NATO, and as a message to Washington that Moscow has additional points of leverage.

[Moreover], an American response to a Russian attack on Ukraine, which would isolate Russia and deepen the sanctions imposed on it, is expected to have negative consequences for Israel. As part of the Russian response against the United States’ allies, it is possible that Moscow would cut off the Russian-Israeli operational coordination and try to thwart Israeli strikes in Syria using Russian air-defense systems and interception aircraft. Simultaneously, it is possible that Russia would refrain from restraining Iran and even encourage it to use its proxies, not only against the American forces in Syria, but also against Israel.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Israeli Security, Russia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, War in Ukraine

How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus