Thursday, January 21, 2016

New Israel Fund leader is taking a long sabbatical...

From Jewish Business News, 20 Jan 2016:

In a stunning turn of events amongst the radical American Jewish left, it has just been announced by Rabbi Gordon Tucker of Temple Israel Center of White Plains that he is taking a long sabbatical...

Rabbi Tucker became known recently for his financial support and vocal endorsement of the controversial New Israel Fund and its grantees.

In 2013, he assigned Temple’s discretionary funds to New Israel Fund, and did not inform his congregants that he is a leader of the organization, serving on its International Council. The New Israel Fund backs the boycott of Israel, seeks to delegitimize the IDF and fund efforts to see Israel brought before the Criminal Court at the Hague, to name just a few of what they fund.

Rabbi Tucker is further a prominent supporter and donor to Rabbis for Human Rights, which has been recently linked to payments toward Ezra Nawi, an Israeli activist who admitted to passing names of Arabs who are seeking to sell land to Jews to the Palestinian Authority. Nawi, who was on the payroll of Rabbis for Human Rights, admitted that the people he reported were killed.

After months of news items about Temple Israel, highlighting Rabbi Tucker and his steadfast support of these anti-Israel causes, he is now taking a significant step away from his duties in White Plains.
Sources have informed us that synagogue membership has dwindled. Finally, the members of Tucker’s synagogue have had enough – although he claims to be coming back in May, in hopes that pressure will die down. It will not. His synagogue must not allow him back.

Other American Jewish congregations that fund the NIF include: The Congregants of Temple Beth El of Santa Cruz, CA; Tzedakah Hevra at Congregation Beth El in Sudbury, MA; Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun in WI, Kehila Chadasha of Bethesda, MD; Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia, PA; Temple Beth Avodah of Newton Center, MA.; Temple Shalom of Newton, MA.; and Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco, CA.

As Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “We must not cave into the pressure, [we must] expose the lies and attack the attackers. We shall unite forces in Israel and abroad, expose our enemy’s lies, and fight for the Israeli citizen’s right to live their lives peacefully and safely.”

Those who support a boycott of Israel are wrong.

Restoring a love of Israel and pride in Jewish heritage

From Isi Leibler, 20 January 2016:

Photo by Sasson Tiram/Ministry of Education
Photo by Sasson Tiram/Ministry of Education
[There have been]...recent ...headline reports in the Haaretz newspaper accusing Education Minister Naftali Bennett of Stalinist behavior and seeking to brainwash Israeli children and deny them access to good literature. He was charged with instituting a “boycott” of a recent novel, “Borderlife” by Dorit Rabinyan, which deals with a love affair between a Palestinian man and an Israeli Jewish woman.
The Education Ministry stated that aside from other considerations, the book was not included as a compulsory text because “young people of adolescent age tend to romanticize and in many cases don’t have the systematic vision that includes considerations involving maintaining the national ethnic identity of the people.”
... There is not and has never been a call for a boycott of this book. There are hundreds of new novels appearing every year and those not selected as compulsory reading in the school curriculum are not being boycotted. In fact, the publicity has now transformed “Borderlife” into a best seller and those who wish can purchase it at any bookstore.
Contrary to media accusations, Bennett did not initiate his ministry’s decision. Nevertheless, he emphatically endorsed the ruling, noting that in addition to the Palestinian’s affair with an Israeli, the book also contained sections that “depict IDF soldiers as sadistic war criminals” and equated them with Hamas.
Bennett recommended that schools promote authors like Natan Alterman and Yehuda Halevy for Israeli students to read rather than a book extolling intermarriage between Jews and Arabs and besmirching the IDF. The vast majority of Israelis would undoubtedly endorse this.
But this issue is merely one example of the bogus efforts by the delusional leftists in Haaretz and other anti-government media outlets to demonize the government.
Culture Minister Miri Regev faced an uproar when, some months ago, she announced that government funds would no longer subsidize cultural initiatives that slandered or delegitimized Israel. She did not propose banning such activities but refused to endorse the use of taxpayers’ funds to vilify the state. This action was triggered by a government-sponsored play that glorified and humanized the abductor and murderer of IDF soldier Moshe Tamam and scorned his surviving family. To cap it, groups of schoolchildren were being taken to see this lamentable play.
Again, in this case there was not even a hint of boycott. Just the logical assertion that the government was not obliged to subsidize demonization of the nation. Yet Regev was accused of acting as a commissar and stifling free speech.
A similar scenario occurred when Bennett gave instructions that organizations like Breaking the Silence, which incited against IDF soldiers, were to be denied access to schools. That an organization notorious for slandering Israel and accusing the IDF of wantonly engaging in war crimes had to be formally prohibited from lecturing to schoolchildren reflects the current deplorable influence of marginal elements in the administration of the mainstream secular school stream.
In any society, the school fulfils a major role in molding national identity and good citizenship. This applies even more so in Israel, whose right to exist continues to be challenged, which is demonized throughout the world, and which faces additional hostility from its own entrenched post-Zionist academics and educators.
Incredibly, in the current Israeli secular educational arena there are elements that criticize the inculcation of love of Israel as nationalistic and worse, as an effort to promote patriotism – a nasty word in the lexicon of the far Left. Furthermore, they portray the view that there is an intrinsic conflict between a democratic and Jewish state. Some even suggest that Israel dispossessed the Palestinians and was thus born in sin. Needless to say, this type of education serves to diminish the motivation of youngsters for future sacrifices that may be required of them in defense of their country.
This negative atmosphere, accelerated after the Oslo Accords, contrasted starkly with the education of the earlier Labor Zionists. The founding Labor Zionist education ministers were secularists but steeped in Jewish knowledge, deeply sensitive to their Jewish heritage and passionate Zionists for whom the concept of Israel as a Jewish state was consensual.
In line with Labor Zionist ideology, they sought to foster secular schools designed to promote “a positive relationship to the values of democracy, together with an openness to a critical attitude” (“Curriculum in Citizenship for General and Religious State High Schools,” Education Ministry, 1976.) But they were also unequivocally committed to nurture youngsters with a love of the land of Israel and solidarity with the Jewish people and with an appreciation of Zionism as the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. They stressed the historical roots justifying “the right of the Jewish people to self-determination.”
With the enthusiastic personal support of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, they linked the study of the Bible with a love of the country and ensured that its geography and history were central features of the curriculum. Ironically, in many cases, graduates from the secular system were better versed in the Bible than their religious counterparts.
All of that changed when far-leftists, postmodernists and even post-Zionists, took over the Education Ministry. The first was Shulamit Aloni in 1992, followed by Yossi Sarid in 1999 and Yuli Tamir in 2006. Aloni and Sarid held office for about one year each, and Tamir for three. But in their relatively short tenures they introduced major changes that were not revoked by their successors. Study of Bible – a mainstay of Jewish identity in curriculum over the first half century of the state – was virtually expunged. Jewish subjects designed to promote the love of Israel were significantly eroded.
The dramatic change was exemplified in 1999 when Sarid, as Education Minister, saw fit to incorporate into the school curriculum two poems from the Palestinian rejectionist poet Mahmoud Darwish who had previously called on Israelis to “dig up your dead, take your bones with you and leave our land” and broke off relations with Yassir Arafat because he considered the latter too moderate.
Public rage ultimately forced Sarid to backtrack, but this was indicative of how the Labor Zionist education system, based on nurturing a love of the land and people, was being downgraded by discussions on whether or not Israel was born in sin. Critics complained that the curriculum was better suited for Hebrew-speaking Canaanites rather than proud Israelis.
The generational change in the Labor Party was highlighted last month when Opposition Leader MK Isaac Herzog cynically presented copies of the book “Borderlife” to schoolchildren as a protest against the “boycott.”
One wonders what his father, the late President Chaim Herzog, or his revered grandfather, Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Herzog (after whom he is named) would have felt about his endorsing a book as compulsory reading for Jewish students, in which Israeli soldiers are defamed as war criminals and intermarriage is approved.
Restoring a climate that nurtures love of Israel and promotes pride in Jewish heritage will be a real test for Bennett. This requires courage and will lead to a vicious debate in which he will undoubtedly be accused of extreme nationalism and fascism. But Bennett is articulate and if he makes his case and demonstrates that he is not imposing religious coercion, the majority of Israelis will support efforts to ensure that their schools inculcate love of our land and people, and promote patriotism and pride in our democratic Jewish state.
If Bennett succeeds, he will leave a lasting legacy that will benefit the entire nation.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Lessons We Palestinians Can Learn

From Gatestone, 6 Jan 2016, by Bassam Tawil*:

  • Opinion polls show that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians support an armed campaign against Israel, and want to see Israel destroyed and a State of Palestine built on its ruins. The polls also show a troubling increase in popular support in the West Bank for Hamas, and a decrease in support for Mahmoud Abbas.
  • The greatest tragedy of the Palestinians is not 1948, it is 2015. The only thing the Palestinian leadership and terrorist organizations can agree on is their obsession to destroy the State of Israel.
  • It is particularly disappointing that we keep trying to defraud the Israelis and Americans with fictitious messages of peace and "two states for two peoples." We assume they have no intelligence at all, do not understand Arabic and cannot read our Facebook pages.
  • The time has come to try creating -- for the first time -- a peaceful and demilitarized Palestinian state, which the Israelis have indicated for decades they would be happy to help us achieve.
This past week, the Israelis arrested 25 Hamas terrorists in the West Bank, most of them students from Al-Quds University in Abu Dis. Not rebels without a cause or the unemployed with a chip on their shoulder, but the finest minds we have, the intellectuals of the future Palestinian academia! The group, which dealt with recruiting and guidance and was being handled by Hamas in Turkey and its terrorist wing the Gaza Strip, was planning to carry out suicide bombing attacks inside Israel.
The leaders of the terror cell arranged safe houses and storage sites, where they set up laboratories to manufacture explosives. They recruited Palestinians -- from Bethlehem, Hebron, Qalqilya and even from Jerusalem, as well as Arabs from the Israeli Negev -- to acquire the chemicals and other equipment necessary for making car bombs for these students, who were getting ready to die as suicide bombers.

The Israeli security forces uncovered the network and arrested its operatives, who had also been influenced by the Palestinian Authority's non-stop incitement of the Palestinian population. The Palestinian Authority (PA) wants to sacrifice our best and brightest to carry out terrorist attacks against Jews.

Unfortunately, recent events herald the end of the concept of establishing an independent state for the Palestinian people. The cracks in the wall of Palestinian history -- which is barely a hundred years old -- are growing wider. The attempts to repair the fabric of Palestinian society with neon colors are a failure. There is also internal friction among the various Salafist organizations (Hamas, ISIS, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad) and the PLO and Fatah and other West Bank terrorist organizations.

There is also the issue of inheritance: which organization will control the PLO? What are the differences in their agendas? The Hamas leadership in Gaza wants first to reconstruct the Gaza Strip and then renew the fighting with Israel. The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's military-terrorist wing, demands the immediate renewal of attacks and rocket fire against Israel. Both are trying to establish new terrorist networks in the West Bank (like the one recently uncovered). The double objective of both groups is to kill Israelis and topple the Palestinian Authority.

We Palestinians seem incapable of agreeing on even the most basic productive and constructive issues, such as rebuilding houses, education, an intelligent use of the hundreds of millions of dollars received as donations, opening the Rafah crossing and improving relations with the Arab world, especially Egypt. The greatest tragedy of the Palestinians is not 1948, it is 2015. The only thing the Palestinian leadership and terrorist organizations can agree on is their obsession to destroy the State of Israel and establish a Palestinian state on the ruins; and even there, they cannot agree on the ways, stages and means.
As long as the Palestinians thought they could get what they wanted through negotiations and intransigence, they concealed their true intentions. Recently, however, when it became clear the Israelis would not waive their demand for the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state or their determined objection to the right of return, Palestinian extremism came out of hiding. That is evident from the results consistently obtained by opinion polls, carried out by Palestinian polling centers, which show that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians support an armed campaign against Israel, and want to see it destroyed and the state of Palestine built on its ruins. The polls also show a troubling increase in popular support in the West Bank for Hamas, and a decrease in support for Mahmoud Abbas and the PA because of their inability to restore all of "occupied Palestine" to the Palestinians.

I wish we Palestinians were only smart enough to learn from the history of the Jews instead of totally rejecting them. We would immediately rid ourselves of Hamas and the other terrorist organizations. But instead we use them, because they kill Jews.

Unfortunately, the late Yasser Arafat thought it would be easier to force the Jews to make concessions if the negotiations were held in an atmosphere of terrorist attacks and to that end, he subcontracted to Hamas.

Hamas, like Frankenstein's monster, grew to become a large terrorist organization, now threatening not just Israel but the PLO and the Palestinian Authority. In consequence, we are forced to collaborate with the Israelis if we want to survive and avoid being swallowed whole by Hamas, as we were in Gaza. That is why the threats from the Palestinian Authority to stop intelligence collaboration with Israel are nonsense. As our rhetoric becomes more and more extremist, some Palestinians suffer from a passive desire to submit to Hamas, and fewer and fewer people dare to challenge Hamas instead of rejecting both it and the Muslim Brotherhood, and gaining the trust of wider, far more powerful backer: the world, the West, and even in some ways the Israelis. We are, instead, soaking up Hamas's destructive extremism. We allow Hamas to brainwash our younger generation with its fanatic -- and unproductive -- web of hate, destruction and death.

The Palestinian leadership has not yet internalized the bitter consequences of our fruitless terrorist attacks against Israel. The leadership uses its media to spread false propaganda about knives, stone-throwing and car ramming attacks, along with threats of another intifada. They do not realize that nothing will move the Israelis. Nothing will make them leave; nothing will make them give up one inch of land -- certainly not terrorism. That only strengthens their resolve. We keep making the awful and perhaps irreparable mistake of educating our children, generation after generation, to hate the Jews and Israelis and to want to destroy the State of Israel. At the same time, we can see that the Israelis and the Americans follow our every move, and document our hate propaganda. Little by little, our credibility is shredded as they lose their trust.

We broadcast children's programs promoting violence and hate on government-funded -- and government-run -- Palestinian TV, and at the same time expect the Israelis to make concessions to us that will compromise their security. How stupid is that?

Then we continually brainwash viewers with the nonsense that, with the help of Allah, the State of Israel is temporary and will eventually cease to exist. Whom or what should the Israelis trust?

The elderly Mahmoud Abbas, without support in his own country, waiting until the younger generation, brought up on hatred and war, pushes him out? We have the program "Children Speak," which declared on November 11, 2015, with absolute certainty, that Israel's end was just around the corner and that all the land of Palestine from 1948, "from the River to the Sea," including Israeli cities such as Haifa, Jaffa, Acre and Nazareth, "belong to us" and "will return to us." If you were the Israeli government, you would be suspicious too.

It is therefore mystifying why Greece's parliament would now symbolically (non-bindingly) recognize a Palestinian State -- thereby pushing actual Palestinian statehood farther away than ever.

Abbas doubtless goes around trying to pick up such worthless endorsements, no doubt hoping that if he manages to bundle enough of them, stacks of internationally binding agreements will be bypassed and an actual Palestinian state, with no need for any concessions, might magically spring up.

Has no one in the intelligence services of either country noticed that, according to Palestinian TV (December 4, 2015),
some of the Palestinians who have lived on Palestinian land since 1948 did not leave and now defend the land from the abuse of the "racist occupation." The very fact that they still live on our land, despite the occupation's full control, means they preserve Palestinian existence and guard the land as Palestinian, and believe all the land will return to Palestinian control and be part of the state of Palestine.
Ahem. "The Palestinians who have lived on Palestinian land since 1948" are what the rest of the world calls "Israeli Arabs."

The above are two examples of official Palestinian propaganda spread by the Palestinian leadership, media and educational system throughout the Palestinian territories every hour of every day.

According to Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, the official Palestinian newspaper, on December 10, 2015, Jihad Jayyusi, the Palestinian Authority's military liaison officer, visited a creative writing class in the Al-Awda girls' school in Bethlehem, and presented them with a plaque of "Palestine," which now includes all the territory of the State of Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. According to the same newspaper, on November 17, 2015, the prize in a photography contest held by the PLO's "prisoner department" was a map of "Palestine," which included the same territories.
Palestinian Authority leaders, official television, schools and media outlets often display maps showing Palestine stretching from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea. The maps do not show the existence of Israel.

It is particularly disappointing that we keep trying to defraud the Israelis and Americans with fictitious messages of peace and "two states for two peoples." We assume they have no intelligence at all, do not understand Arabic and cannot read our Facebook pages, including the page of the Palestinian national security forces, where Acre and Jaffa are called "occupied." We assume that Westerners never read Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, which on November 30, 2015, published a picture of two keys and a map of "Palestine" that included all the Israeli and Palestinian territories and read, "A memory that does not rust" -- or if they do read it, that they do not understand what they are looking at.

If there is to be peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the first step is for the Palestinians to coordinate their own expectations. Our leaders have to understand that the Middle East arena is in a constant state of flux, that descendants of the 1948 refugees clearly will never "return" to the State of Israel, Jerusalem will never be the capital of a state of Palestine, and we will never control the Jordan Valley (because of Israel's unfortunately justified security concerns).

In addition, in a world staggering under the burden of Islamist terrorism, Palestinian terrorism is likely, over time, only to strengthen the West's support for Israel's security and existence.

We should have understood a long time ago that Jews exist in Palestine, that they are here to stay forever, and that murdering them in the streets is not going to change anything. The time has come to try creating -- for the first time in history -- a peaceful and demilitarized Palestinian state, which the Israelis have indicated for decades they would be all too happy to help us achieve. I hope and pray we are not already too late.

*Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East

New Permutations in the Mideast “Game of Camps”

 From BESA, 17 January 2016, by Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman*:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Middle East is today divided into four rival camps:
  1. Iran with her proxies and allies;
  2. the Salafi Jihadists, currently dominated by the so-called “Islamic State”;
  3. the Muslim Brotherhood movement in its various manifestations, including Hamas, supported by Qatar and by Erdogan's Turkey; and
  4. the “forces of stability”: all those who fear and resist the rise of the first three camps, with Israel an active and important player in this latter camp.
... The escalating tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran are the most salient aspect of a larger drama now unfolding across a broad landscape – from Yemen to Syria and from the Gulf to Libya.
...It is easy enough, when the Saudis execute a Shi'a cleric and Iran erupts in sectarian anger, to simplify the current upheaval in terms of the primordial confessional divide between Shiites and Sunnis; the divide that has torn apart the world of Islam since the days of 'Ali Ibn Abu Talib in the 7th century. And yet the present confrontation deserves a more nuanced analysis; a perspective that avoids the tarring of all Muslims, or of all Shi'a or Sunnis, with the same brush.
... it is possible to discern in the "Middle East" as broadly defined – North Africa, the Levant, the Red Sea basin, and the Gulf – not two confessional camps, but four ideological camps.
[One might add a fifth, secular nationalist socialist camps, which once dominated Arab politics; and a sixth camp:  the hopeful young liberals who played such a prominent role in launching the political upheaval in the first place. But these are the forces of the past and (perhaps) of the future, respectively. They are not in real contention for power at present.]
Of the forces who are in contention, three camps or groups belong to the general category of Islamist totalitarians:
  1. Iran with her proxies and allies;
  2. the Salafi Jihadists, currently dominated by the so-called “Islamic State” (IS); and
  3. the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) movement in its various manifestations, including Hamas, supported by Qatar and by Erdogan's Turkey. (Prime Minister Netanyahu has called these groups “branches of the same poisonous tree”).
The fourth camp, loosely defined, brings together all those who fear and resist the rise of the first three camps. We can call these actors the forces of stability, with Israel as an active and important player in this camp.
What we are witnessing is a shift in the complex balance of power among these four camps. They are essentially at war – even if they do at times find it possible to cooperate across the ideological divide, against what they come to see as even more dangerous enemies.
The sharp edge of the escalating Iranian-Saudi confrontation reflects the fact that the Iranian camp on one hand, and the forces of stability on the other, have by now come to see each other as the predominant challenger, with IS and the MB relegated to a second tier.
What happened? To begin with, the Ikhwani (Muslim Brotherhood) camp went into sharp decline, diminishing their prospects and curbing their ambitions.  (Turkey had hoped that the AKP could become the predominant political template for the rising MB tide). Sisi's grip on power in Egypt seems firm, despite persistent economic problems, recurrent terror    attacks, and serious doubts as to the validity of the recent parliamentary elections. The chances of an MB return to power seem slim.
Elsewhere, an-Nahdha in Tunisia has regained the status of the largest party in parliament, when the governing coalition of parties (Nidaa Tunis) fell apart. But at this point, they seem to have little appetite to take power again.
Hamas, after the painful blows of 2014, remains eager to avoid another test of wills in Gaza. The Jordanian front party of the Ikhwan has split. The Syrian MB factions have been marginalized. Across the Gulf, the written work of Hasan al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb, Mawlana Abu-A'la al-Mawdudi and their likes is being taken off the shelves as subversive. The list could go on and on. In short, since the summer of 2013, the fortunes of the MB has been receding, casting doubts about the movement's usefulness as a “strong horse” with which to ride to power.
The same cannot yet be said of IS, whose spectacular acts of public brutality enhance their mystique and still draw to them certain types of young people, excited by the prospect of a life of action outside all Western (read: human) norms.
On the ground, IS has made gains in places like Libya, and its forcesstill hold large swathes of Iraq and Syria. Its momentum, however, has been checked.
The Russian intervention in Syria may not have been quite as transformative as it is claimed to be, but it did increase the Western drive to do more – as did the horrors in Paris. The fight against IS is still far from being overwhelming; it needs to be far more focused and purposive, operationally and strategically. But it is sufficient to ensure that Baghdadi's “Caliphate” is being steadily eroded, and cannot ultimately compete at the highest level of the struggle for power.
This seemed to leave the Iranian regime and its wide network of proxies, allies and agents in a position to turn the years of turmoil to its advantage. With the Russians now shouldering some of the burden of saving the rump regime state in what is left of Syria from collapse, the Iranian camp is free to resume the march for regional hegemony. This is true even before international sanctions on Iran are lifted and funds begin to flow to Teheran.
Consider these developments. An IRGC commander has already boasted that the Guards already control four Arab capitals – Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sana'a – and two of the world's maritime choke points, in the Straits of Hormuz and Bab al-Mandab. To this scary list could be added the network of subversives in the Eastern seaboard of the Arabian peninsula – whose activities were at the core of the violent Saudi reaction. On the Mediterranean, in addition to their grip on Lebanon through Hizbullah, a fully-owned Iranian subsidiary, and their hold on Assad's remnant of Syria, Iran also has a proxy in Gaza known as Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), as well as a cooperative relationship with Hamas (although the latter belongs to the MB camp).
The Obama Administration, which looks upon the nuclear deal as a key strategic legacy, has been paying lip service (but little more) to the need to counter Iranian regional ambitions. As the international focus shifts to fighting IS, it is not surprising that the Saudis and others in the region have the impression that Obama and other Western leaders are willing to look at Iran as part of the solution, not the key part of the problem. After all, Iranian-trained Shi'a militias were increasingly significant in the battle against IS in Iraq, and Tehran has been willing to sing from the same sheet of music as Washington when it comes to fighting “terrorists.”
(This is, of course, a fairly surprising assertion from the world's premier fount of state-sponsored terror, as the authorities in Argentina, Bulgaria and India know all too well. Even more surprising is the willingness of some in Washington to take these Iranian protestations at face value.)
Perhaps more than any other factor, it is this sense that the US can no longer be relied upon to stand effectively alongside the forces of stability in the region which drives the new dynamics in “the game of camps.”
Saudi Arabia has by now put together a broad, Sunni-based coalition of forces committed to fighting terrorism. It is, in effect, conducting a continuous and often brutal coalition warfare against the Houthi uprising in Yemen (– which is seen in Riyadh as a Shi'a dagger aimed at the two holy sites, Mecca and Medina, in the Hijaz, Saudi Arabia's Western province and the cradle of Islam).
Enough inducements (and pressures) were brought to bear on Bashir's regime in Sudan, ultimately translated into a dramatic decision to defect form the Iranian camp directly over into the Saudi-led ranks in Yemen The Sudanese have been joined several Arab states in cutting off relations with their former patrons in Tehran.
Most significantly, Turkey – facing growing friction with Russia over Syria and the need for a general review of her priorities, given the extremely poor results of past policies – also has strongly indicated an interest in closer association with the Saudis and their camp. In this context, interestingly enough, Ankara has openly raised the proposition of improving relations with Israel.
This new reality has thus become so distinct so as to force Turkey and Qatar to consolidate their bilateral cooperation, including unprecedented plans to station Turkish forces in Qatar, as well as to reconsider their priorities in the regional game.
It would be premature, and at this stage unwise, to speak of the emergence of a coherent and strong camp of stability, acting in close cooperation. The Saudis seriously differ with Egypt over Syria, and the Israeli relationship with Abbas’ regime in Ramallah, despite common perspectives on the broader regional challenges, has suffered a severe regression in recent months as the Palestinians latched on to a wave of terror as a political tool. Turkey's shift has yet to mature, and Erdogan's intentions (and his continued commitment to Hamas) still arouse suspicions in Jerusalem, and in Cairo.
But given the potential rise of Iranian power, alliances which until recently seemed unlikely may well become the building blocks of new realities. This is exactly what already has happened in the Eastern Mediterranean, where the interests of Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Greece and Cyprus, as well as Italy and other European powers who are waking up to the dangers of the present situation – now cohere.
*Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman is a senior research associate at the BESA Center, and former deputy for foreign policy and international affairs at the National Security Council.