Israel’s Arabs and Jews: Destined, not Doomed, to Live Together

Israel’s president recently appeared at a ceremony in the village of Kafr Qasim, commemorating the anniversary of the killing of 49 Arab civilians by Israeli border police in 1957. (The next year, Israeli courts convicted eight of those involved.) In his speech, Reuven Rivlin reiterated Israel’s official apology for the killings, condemned recent acts of Palestinian terror, and commented frankly on the future of the relationship between Israeli Jews and Arabs.

Friends, “I hereby swear, in my name and that of all of our descendants, that we will never act against the principle of equal rights, and we will never try and force someone from our land.” These are not my words, but the words of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the founder of the Beitar movement. Words he spoke more than 80 years ago, and which I repeat here today.

The state of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, who returned to their land after two millennia of exile. This was its very purpose. However, the state of Israel will also always be the homeland of the Arab population, which numbers more than one-and-a-half million, and makes up more than twenty percent of the population of the country. . . .

I am not naïve. There is no point in denying or ignoring the reality of relations between the communities. Between the Jewish and Arab populations of the state of Israel, there remain the sentiments of a difficult past. We belong to two nations, whose dreams and aspirations, to a great extent contradict each other. . . . [T]he Arab population of Israel must be brought to internalize and accept that the state of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people. As long as there exists any aspiration to eradicate the Jews from this land, there will be no chance of building a true partnership.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Israeli Arabs, Laws of war, Reuven Rivlin, Suez Crisis

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