Lecturer of Arabic and Islamic affairs at Bar-Ilan University and senior researcher in the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA). Ph.D. in Arabic Studies. Served in the IDF Intelligence Corps and retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
What is the most significant advantage Israeli diplomacy currently enjoys?
Israel is seen throughout the Western world as a model for success and as a bastion of democracy, an island of sanity in the failed and dictatorial Islamic Arab world. Its high-tech industry is admired throughout the entire world, and Israelis are held in high regard for their ability to “think outside the box.” Israel provides the entire world solutions for security challenges, particularly in the fields of air transportation and cybersecurity, and distributes aid to Third World countries - including Arab and Islamic ones - in the fields of water management and agricultural development.
Photo: Courtesy of the author
What is the greatest disadvantage that Israeli diplomacy suffers from?
Israeli diplomacy simply does not make use of historical and religious arguments underlying the case for the State of Israel. You will never hear an Israeli diplomat say: "We have returned to the land of our forefathers and to the holy city of Jerusalem, where we worshiped the one God 3018 years ago, when our neighbors were still desert-dwelling idolaters, who guzzled wine and buried their daughters alive."
Muslims are against the State of Israel because Judaism for them is a derelict religion, the Jews are not a people but communities, and the Land of Israel is the land of the Muslim Waqf. But the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people according to the League of Nations decision made in the San Remo conference in 1920, a resolution that was adopted by the UN in Article 80 of the organization's charter.
What do you think is the most important opportunity Israeli diplomacy currently has?
The strengthening of ties with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, which rest on the Gulf States’ fear of Iran. Should Israel manage its relations with these states wisely, it will be able collaborate with them beyond the military-security realm and develop economic, academic, and other ties as well. African states represent another opportunity, due to the Arab and Islamic world’s declining influence on the geopolitical interests of African countries.
What is the central challenge and/or threat Israeli diplomacy faces?
Iran is the greatest challenge to Israeli diplomacy. This is due to the security threat it poses to Israel, both from its own territory and from the territory of Syria, and to the support it receives from Russia, China, and many European states. Israeli diplomats speaking to European colleagues usually fail to convey the threat Iran poses to the continent, due to its economic interests in the Islamic Republic. Furthermore, the Chinese and Russians shield Iran in the United Nations Security Council, and it is very difficult to persuade them to withdraw their support.