Assignment Six: Israeli current events in Syria

After recently finishing our classes section on Israeli-Arab relations, seeing news on Israel is suddenly much more interesting. I always remember Israel being in the news and being a constant topic of discussion, but since I never knew too much about it or its issues I never paid close attention to it. But after doing the readings, it has become much easier to understand what news articles are talking about when it comes to Israel and having some historical context helps with that.

I found two short articles published recently about Israel’s activities in Syria:

The first one is about Israel and its opposition to Iran’s influence in Syria. Iran has been providing arms to some anti-Israel groups like the Hezbollah and trying to establish a presence in Syria partly because of Israel. Israel destroyed the Iranian Republican Guard HQ in retaliation for rockets being launched into Israel by who they suspect to be Iranians. The second article talks about Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu accusing Iran of planning future attacks against Israel. Keeping a historical context in mind, it is interesting to wonder if these Iranian attacks are exaggerated to shore up domestic support within Israel, considering also that Netanyahu is being indicted on corruption charges. It reminds me of the more hawkish parties in Israel in the past using attacks against Israel as excuses to respond with a disproportionate amount of force. On the other hand, Israel is seriously threatened by many of it neighbors either through funding terrorist groups or by direct military action(in the past mostly). The attacks in the articles weren’t made up and the threat of Iran does certainly exist to Israel.

The second article is about Prime Minister Netanyahu speaking about Iranian threats to Israel. He goes on to say that Israel will counter or prevent any potential attack on Israel. This article supplements the previous one by putting the Iranian missile attacks in the broader context of the threat that Iran poses to Israel through Syria. Netanyahu also showcases his more hawkish foreign policy against threats to Israel, which are often well received by the people during times of violence. It will be interesting to see if he is able to stay in office despite being indicted on corruption charges.

The existence of the threats to Israel along along with the more hawkish conservative parties in Israel supporting seemingly increasingly disproportionate retaliations against the perpetrators make it hard to see a potential middle ground for peace, either with surrounding neighbors or with Palestine.

Assignment five: Israeli and Palestinian conflict resolution

The readings about the Arab-Israeli conflict over the past few weeks have shown the complex history of Israel and Palestine. I remember always hearing about Israel in the news growing up but I never really knew that much about the history. That being said, know that I know a little more I can see why this is a problem that has lasted so long and has been seemingly impossible to solve over the years. One pattern that I noticed while reading about the history of Israel and Palestine peace negotiations was that right after any kind of “forward progress” or step forward in the peace process was made, it was often met with intense and violent backlash. The backlash on the Palestinian side would be extremist terrorist groups firing rockets into Israel or blowing up buses or committing some other act of terror in protest of negotiations with who they saw as an existential threat which needed to be destroyed. On the Israeli side the backlash seems to be an overreaction to Palestinian attacks or threats with hawks in the government supporting “punishment” on Palestinian communities.

The book portrays the peace process as getting hampered or sabotaged by extremists on either side who will refuse to negotiate or view the other side as a group with any validity. With all of this being said, in the current state of Israel and Palestine, peace looks to be further in the distance. Israel has continued to elect nationalist leaning governments who have shown that they either can’t or won’t take peace as seriously through negotiations as some past Israeli presidents have. Meanwhile Palestine’s leadership is fractured and plagued with terrorist groups supported by larger powers that continue to undermine the peace process. Couple this with the current US government being clearly pro-Israel, making it hard to be a neutral arbitrator as well as the EU being focused on their own internal problems, and finally Russia is experiencing its own problems with Ukraine. So many external actors are distracted by other things and the leadership in Israel and Palestine doesn’t seem willing to engage in the peace process seriously enough to make any real progress, making it look unlikely that peace will happen soon barring a major shift in one of these factors.