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Latest News in Israel – 28th July

Palestinian terrorist responsible for Rabbi Mark attack killed in IDF raid

In an overnight raid into the West Bank village of Surief the IDF killed the terrorist who gunned down Rabbi Michael Mark earlier this month as he drove with his family in the South Hebron Hills.

Mohammed Jabari Faqih, 29, originally from the village of Dura, had been hiding out in Surief, the IDF said.

He had been arrested in the past because of his connections to the Islamic Jihad and had joined Hamas while in prison.

Overnight members of the Etzion Regional brigade, together with and IDF SWAT team and the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) entered the village of Surief.

Faqih opened fire on them when they approached the home where he was hiding. The IDF responded by firing anti-tank missiles at the structure destroying it and killing Faqih. The soldiers also found a weapons cache that included Kalashnikov type weapons and homemade grenades.

Earlier in the month the IDF arrested Faqih’s brother Sahib for his involvement in the attack, including his cousin, who helped Faqih hide after Mark’s death.

The IDF had also arrested Mohammed Amaira, 38, a resident of Dura who drove Faqih to the site of the attack. He helped the Shin Bet locate a weapon and a vehicle that was used in the attack.

South Hebron Hills Regional Council head Yochai Damri thanked the IDF for their efforts but said, “this does not makes us feel safer, nor will it prevent the next attack.”

The IDF released a video on Wednesday morning that showed its troops searching for the terrorists over the last weeks in a series of night raids in the West Bank.

In the last nine months Palestinian terrorists have killed three Israelis, aside from Mark, on the same stretch of Route 60 in the South Hebron Hills. Damri counts that 25 fatalities from terror attacks on that road in the last 22 years.

The road will be safe only after additional security measures are taken, said Damri. In the past he has explained that some simple steps like street lights, better cellular coverage and checkpoints would help.

Nahal Brigade Commander Col. Amos HaCohen, who participated in the raid, said that his forces are operating nightly in the West Bank to ensure maximum security for Israeli residents.

“I am happy as a commander that my troops were able to help close a circle with regard to the [Mark’s] murder. Its a message to other terrorists that we are going to do what we need to do [to stop such attacks],” he told Army Radio.                  (Jerusalem Post)

Bereaved families lash out at PM during Protective Edge memorial

While speaking at the official state’s two-year memorial ceremony at Mount Herzl for those killed during Operation Protective Edge on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of a kinship between himself and the bereaved families of the fallen soldiers. The sentiment, however, did not go over well, as the parents of those who died during the operation interrupted his speech and demanded an independent investigation into the events that took place during those 50 days of battle.

Family members whose loved ones fell during Protective Edge booed Netanyahu, causing him to pause after saying that he, too, comes from a bereaved family. “We don’t believe you,” shouted Yoram, whose son Capt. Omri Tal fell during the operation. “My son died for democracy, not for this kind of government.” Netanyahu responded by saying, “As a bereaved brother, I understand your pain.”

Another heckler was Motti, whose son Sgt. Li Mat also fell during the operation. He said that “The families demand that the prime minister follow the example of former prime ministers, who had responded to public pressure by agreeing to an investigative committee, thereby appointing one for Operation Protective Edge.” Li’s mother, Smadar, also called for such a committee, saying that “The prime minister is trying to paint a rosy picture, saying that it had all gone off wonderfully. If that’s the case, what’s the problem with setting up a committee?”

Calling family members his “brothers and sisters in mourning,” Netanyahu promised that his door will always be open to them. “The settlements surrounding Gaza are flourishing because of your boys. Children are able to play outside because of your boys, and farmers are able to plow their fields thanks to the soldiers and commanders who were called to arms and stood on the front line.”

Netanyahu detailed the goals achieved during the operation. “Hamas’ plan for an aerial, naval and ground forces attack was foiled. The operation led to unprecedented cooperation with other organizations that similarly recognize Hamas as a common enemy.” He assured those in attendance that ultimately, “Hamas had achieved nothing, and peace was returned to the South.”

Netanyahu also referred to fallen soldiers Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul, whose bodies are still held by Hamas. He promised that their return home “is an ongoing mission for me and one that we will achieve, even if it takes a long time.”

President Reuven Rivlin echoed Netanyahu’s sentiments, saying that the returning Shaul and Goldin’s bodies must be “a part of any negotiation” and citing their return as “part of our moral debt to our soldiers.”

Two days prior to the ceremony, several bereaved parents whose sons fell during Protective Edge had sent Netanyahu a letter demanding that a committee be set up to investigate the operation, in which 67 soldiers and five civilians were killed, hundreds were injured and the entire country came under the threat of missile attacks.

In the letter, the parents referred to a recent decision to reconvene the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and to publish its report on the operation that was previously unreleased to the public. “It is inappropriate to reconvene a committee that had already looked into the operation and still decided not to publish its report,” their letter stated. “It is your job to set up an independent committee that will investigate the events and those in charge, including the decision making process. We further believe that such an investigation should be transparent and satisfy our need to know what happened.”

Responding to the possible criticism that might be aimed at him in the soon-to-be released state comptroller’s report on the operation, Netanyahu stated that “Protective Edge is not the Second Lebanon War. The accusation that we didn’t prepare and didn’t know about the tunnels is not true.” He added that in the year and a half that preceded the operation, he had conducted eight security meetings, in which he also discussed Hamas’ tunnel system threats and demanded that the IDF better prepare for them.   (Ynet News)

Eisenkot warns against populism: ‘IDF follows orders, not the ethos of a gang’

A decline in the public’s trust in the “people’s army” would be problematic for the IDF, Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen.

Gadi Eisenkot told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday.

Eisenkot criticized politicization of the public discourse about the military, in an apparent reference to politicians taking sides in the ongoing trial of Sgt. Elor Azaria, who shot and killed a subdued terrorist in Hebron earlier this year.

“Recent comments heard about operative issues that are being checked by the legal system and IDF commanders are unwanted and do not influence our internal processes,” he said. “A lot of things were said without knowing the facts to promote agendas that should not be connected to the IDF.

“We want the IDF to follow orders, the rules of engagement, the spirit of the IDF [the army’s ethical code], and the values of the IDF. If someone wants us to have the ethos of a gang, he should say so,” Eisenkot remarked.

The chief of staff explained that since the IDF is made up of different parts of society, the public becomes aware of any problem it may have almost immediately.

“Today, a high percentage of the public has trust in the army, but I certainly see the potential for harm in the public’s trust in the IDF as a serious problem that can make it difficult for the people’s army to fill its role,” he warned.

In light of Eisenkot’s comments, Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avi Dichter (Likud) drafted a resolution, which the committee approved, in support of the chief of staff and IDF commanders, calling to keep the military out of political disputes in order not to damage the public’s trust in the IDF.

Eisenkot also responded to a question about incoming IDF Chief Rabbi Col. Eyal Karim, whose past statements created a storm of protest earlier this month.

Karim was asked, in the context of an “Ask the Rabbi” column in 2003, how the Torah could condone the rape of non-Jewish women by Jewish soldiers during wartime, and he explained the Torah’s rationale.

When a blogger seized upon his answer in 2012, claiming Karim was allowing IDF soldiers to rape women, the rabbi issued a clarification that he was referring only to the biblical verse, and that “it is clear that in our times… this law cannot be utilized and, further, that it totally contradicts the values and regulations of the army.”

Eisenkot said that Karim was vetted well, including through sources outside of the IDF, and he was universally praised. He said Karim issued lenient religious rulings and forged creative solutions with a patriotic view.

As for reports Karim opposed women enlisting in the IDF, Eisenkot said the opposite was true; the rabbi was praised for his actions to encourage female enlistment.

Eisenkot took a different tone in connection to Rabbi Yigal Levenstein, head of the premilitary academy in Eli in the West Bank. Levenstein said in a speech earlier this month that he prevented homosexuals, whom he described as “perverts,” from giving lectures on tolerance in the IDF officers’ training course.

The chief of staff condemned Levenstein’s statements and said he instructed that all his activity in the army be put to a stop until the Defense Ministry’s director-general finishes looking into the matter.

Eisenkot gave Levenstein credit for heading an institution that brought many combat soldiers and officers into the IDF, but said that is not enough to cancel out the severity of his remarks.

“I don’t see any situation today in which a soldier can say a rabbi or someone else told him to go against an order he received. From the first day of enlistment, they receive an explanation on the difference between civilians and soldiers, what orders mean, and what is the spirit of the IDF,” the chief of staff added.

Eisenkot also addressed the current wave of terrorism, and contrasted the drop in attacks with criticism that the IDF is not fighting enough.

“There are soldiers who are killed and wounded, and hundreds of soldiers fighting every night to bring these results, to eradicate terrorism, so there is no place for statements making the army sound weak,” he stated.

In the last 10 months, more than 3,200 arrests were made, over 200 weapons were confiscated and 20 weapons lathes were destroyed. Soldiers killed 166 terrorists in the West Bank, as well as seven people who were uninvolved in terrorist activities.

Eisenkot expressed regret about the uninvolved people who were killed.

The chief of staff said that, because of the IDF’s actions, there is “a growing understanding on the Palestinian street that choosing terrorism is pointless.”

In addition, he posited that economic factors deter many Palestinians from turning to terrorism.

In the Gaza Street, Eisenkot said, Hamas is taking advantage of the “two quietest years on the border since 1968” to grow stronger, and has been acting to prevent rocket attacks, most of which are perpetrated by Salafi groups, since the IDF responds by attacking Hamas targets.

More than NIS 1.2 billion has been invested in finding a response to terrorist tunnels, in addition to NIS 300 million spent to build an underground barrier along the Gaza border.

Eisenkot said Hezbollah is facing a “deep strategic crisis” over its great losses in Syria, though the fighters who survived gained operative experience.

Hezbollah has more rockets than ever before, and they are not being used in Syria, but Israel’s intelligence and operative abilities have improved measurably since the Second Lebanon War 10 years ago, the chief of staff added, saying the IDF is working to deter and forestall threats.   (Jerusalem Post)

Jordan arrests man trying to enter Israel with petrol bombs

Jordanian border guards on Tuesday arrested a man as he tried to enter Israel in a car containing petrol bombs, an official said, according to AFP.

He was detained after ignoring orders at a checkpoint and trying to drive through roadblocks leading to the border, the source told the news agency, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The source added the car was seized and found to contain petrol bombs which the driver had “intended to use illegally”.

A statement from the armed forces also reported the arrest of a man and the seizure of his vehicle for “trying to cross the checkpoints on the road to a neighboring country”.

“Materials used to carry out illegal acts were found in the vehicle, and the driver admitted that he intended to use them,” the statement said.

Just last week, Israeli security forces seized weapons that were smuggled from Jordan into Israel.

During the operation, the forces seized 20 guns, five M16-type rifles and parts of weapons along the border.

Nevertheless, attempts to infiltrate Israel from Jordan are rare because of strict security measures on both sides of the border.

The two countries signed a peace treaty in 1994.                                    (Israel National News)

ABC ‘sorry’ for airing Q&A Israel-ISIS tweet

The ABC has been forced to apologise and admit an error after ­allowing an “inflammatory’’ tweet likening Israel to Islamic terrorists to appear on live TV during its Q&A program.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield raised concerns with the broadcaster on Monday after the tweet aired.

An ABC spokeswoman blamed “moderator error” for ­allowing the tweet by Twitter user supercatsimon to air prominently. “Any young radicals who join ISIS or Israel should not be allowed into Australia,” it read.

The tweet was labelled “totally inappropriate” and “wildly inaccurate’’ by Jewish community leaders, who called for a review of the show’s moderation process.

“An audience tweet was broadcast on Q&A which implied false equivalence between ‘radicals joining ISIS’ and Israel,” an ABC spokeswoman said. “It was a moderator error. Q&A apologises for any offence and removed the tweet from future broadcasts.”

It is not the first time the broadcaster has had to apologise for the actions of Q&A. Last year, former ABC managing director Mark Scott apologised to Tony Abbott via text message after a tweet from an account called “AbbottLovesAnal” was aired.

Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council’s executive director Colin Rubenstein last night said several tweets on Monday night displayed “raw bias” and the moderators should be reviewed.

“It seems to be a certain pattern, an element of bias,” he said. “It’s totally inappropriate and unfair … Of the thousands of questions they must get, how does that one get chosen? It’s wildly inaccurate and inflammatory.

“The core issue is the selection criteria they use,” he said. “Something’s going on, and someone needs to have a look at it.”

Last week Senator Fifield demanded the ABC explain how Muslim man Khaled Elomar, who had denigrated two female politicians online, was allowed to ask Pauline Hanson a question.                          (the Australian)

Direct Tel Aviv-Tiberias train in the works

A weekend up north may soon get easier after a plan was unveiled for a nonstop train from Tel Aviv to Tiberias, promising a trip that clocks in just under an hour. Currently the trip takes almost two hours by car and almost three hours by bus – for those lucky enough not to get entangled in traffic.

The plan was unveiled late last week when Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz gave his approval to an extension to the Jezreel Valley Line, which is expected to start running this autumn from Haifa to Beit She’an. The extension would run from Afula nonstop to Poriya Hospital, just outside Tiberias and eventually entail a further connection to Kiryat Shmona, along the border with Lebanon.

The extension from Afula to Tiberias would require 30 kilometers of new tracks to be laid down, as well as several tunnels and bridges. Netivei Israel – National Transport Infrastructure Company Ltd – has been charged with the task of advancing the plan.

The minister said that his transportation vision for the country entailed better connecting the North and other “periphery” areas with the Center and the rest of the country.

“This is a historic revolution that will make [the North] an integral part of Israel’s business makeup,” Katz said, adding that more industry would also bring more residents to the north. Part of the plan would include a loading platform for transporting goods and raw materials between the Galilee and Ben-Gurion airport.

“This will turn Tiberias into a metropolitan city in the eastern Galilee,” Katz enthused. The connection to Tel Aviv via high-speed train would branch from the Poriya station and run directly to Tel Aviv, stopping at the Ben-Gurion International Airport.                     (Jerusalem Post)

No more English, math and science studies in haredi schools?

The Knesset Education, Sports and Culture Committee approved a bill for a second and third (final) reading in the Knesset calling to cancel core curriculum requirements in haredi schools as a prerequisite for government funding.

The bill aims to repeal the law passed during the previous government by Yesh Atid and then-education minister Shai Piron, which conditioned the budget received by ultra-Orthodox schools on the teaching of at least 11 hours per week of English, math and science, dubbed the core curriculum.

The law was supposed to reduce the funding of what are known as “exempt institutions,” which many male haredi pupils attend for their elementary education.

Committee chairman Ya’acov Margi (Shas) opened the discussion and said he wanted to clarify that the bill was never properly enforced, and so was never actually put into practice.

“We are talking about a small group, that even if the Education Ministry will take from them the symbol of their institution, they will still not teach the core subjects,” he said.

Margi said that he personally believes the core curriculum should be taught in schools, “but I do know how to respect this group. We are a multicultural society, so please respect these communities,” he said.

“Forced processes do not succeed,” he added.

MK Elazar Stern criticized the haste with which the bill was sped through the Knesset, questioning why the committee was convened so hastily to discuss such an important bill.

“Are we here to talk about human rights and compulsion, or are we here to talk about education?” he said in response to Margi.

The new bill would effectively abolish the need for haredi schools to teach the core curriculum, and will grant the education minister broad authority to determine which schools to give budgets to without any restrictions or conditions.

MK Menachem Eliezer Moses (United Torah Judaism) said that ultra-Orthodox pupils do learn some core subjects but do not study the entirety of the Education Ministry’s curriculum.

“It is not that they don’t study secular studies.

It is not that they don’t learn,” he said.

Moses explained that the law only affects around 1.8 percent of the education system and 10% of the ultra-Orthodox education system. “What does it bother you that a few tens of thousands sit in a tent and study Torah?” he challenged.

MK Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) responded that it doesn’t bother him that the ultra-Orthodox study the Torah. “It bothers me that you cannot give 10 hours a week to receive a tool box for the future of these children in the State of Israel. The only way to raise their standard of living is through studying [core subjects],” he said.

“You, the haredim are able to bring Israeli society to the next stage but you have to want to receive help from this State. Any outline you offer we will accept,” he said.

MK Manuel Trajtenberg (Zionist Union) said the government was shirking its responsibilities toward a population group that does have the desire to integrate into society.

“Because the haredim do not gain the skills, they are unable to work or they work in fields and jobs that pay minimum wage,” he said.

Trajtenberg, who heads the Knesset’s Lobby for the Creation of Opportunities for the Haredi Public in Israel, said that the main complaints he received from the ultra-Orthodox was that they do not know English, basic mathematics or computer skills.

“Some 50% fail in the preparatory schools because they don’t know the basics. The ultra-Orthodox population is desperate for unique employment. They want to get out of poverty. But if we do not build the minimal basis for them, we will have wronged them,” he said.

The committee passed the bill by a vote of seven to three.                          (Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian Flags Outnumber American Flags at Democratic National Convention

Palestinian flags were prominently displayed by activists at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) on Monday, amid an apparent lack of American flags, according to numerous media and social media postings.

Eye-witness accounts and press coverage of the first day of the DNC pointed out the limited presence of Old Glory.

According to Daily Caller reporter Alex Pfeiffer, “It doesn’t look like there are any American flags. The stage is bland and grey, with no red, white or blue present. A thorough look at the crowd present also turns up no American flags.”

In addition, activists were seen holding up signs reading, “I support Palestinian human rights.”                (the Algemeiner)

Israel’s only mummy gets afterlife spotlight at Israel Museum

Alex’s toes poke out of his linen shroud. The chamber is dark and cool like a crypt. On the wall above him the unwavering gaze of his wooden sarcophagus glares downwards, its chest emblazoned with a mahogany-hued winged scarab, Khepri, symbol of rebirth.

He lived and died in upper-class obscurity around 2,200 years ago, but Alex’s remains — the only mummy in Israel — star in an Israel Museum exhibit opening Tuesday.

A century before Anthony and Cleopatra, when the Ptolemies ruled the Nile he lived as a priest in the city of Panopolis, modern-day Akhmim, in Upper Egypt. During his lifetime Alex was known as Iret-hor-iru — The Protective Eye of Horus — but got his modern moniker after he was donated to Jerusalem’s Pontifical Biblical Institute by Jesuits in Alexandria.

Iret-hor-iru is “very well preserved” for his age, Israel Museum curator Galit Bennett-Dahan told The Times of Israel as the finishing touches were being put on the exhibit. “You can see that not only were whole bones preserved, but also teeth, ears, eyes, tissues in the thighs and hands.”

Israeli Mummy[1]

Israeli Mummy

The mummy of Iret-hor-iru at the Israel Museum’s new exhibit: “A Mummy in Jerusalem: Secrets of the Afterlife”

After his demise, he underwent the traditional process of embalming and mummification. His internal organs were removed and placed in canopic jars, his brain was pulled out through his nose, his body was packed and covered with natron to dry it out and then wrapped in linen.

In the lead-up to the exhibit, the Israel Museum teamed up with the Carmel Medical Center in Haifa and scientists from Tel Aviv University to get a better understanding of who Iret-hor-iru was, how he lived, and how he died. Contrary to what the priests at the institute thought, he wasn’t a teenage boy, nor did he live in the 4th century BCE, around the time Egypt fell to Alexander the Great.

Radiocarbon dating of his linen wrappings found he died in the 2nd century BCE, and CT scans found he lived into his late 30s or early 40s, no small feat when infant mortality was rampant and a year-old child was expected to live until 40. He stood 5’5″ when he was alive — taller than average — but the desiccating embalming procedure left him a few inches shorter as the centuries passed.

He still has most of his teeth, but suffered from cavities and receding gums, as well as osteoporosis. Like people nowadays, he indulged in too many carbs and spent too much time indoors.

“Maybe he had a convenient life, because he didn’t work so hard,” she said.

Arabic and French newspapers bunched up in the sarcophagus to protect the mummy during its journey to Jerusalem date to 1927 and 1928, confirming it arrived at the institute just after it opened in 1927. Since then it has remained in the institute’s modest and oft-overlooked archaeology museum next door to the King David Hotel.

The one-room display runs parallel to the ongoing Pharaohs in Canaan exhibit that opened in March and explores Egypt’s political and cultural influences upon the Bronze and Iron Age Levant. Through Iret-hor-iru, the curators try to explain the ancient Egyptian perception of death, from embalming and mummification of the dead (both human and animal) to the spirit’s passage through the afterlife.

Although his mummification techniques and burial style follow Egyptian custom, Iret-hor-iru’s Egypt was Hellenized, having been conquered by Alexander the Great’s armies over a century before. The Ptolemies respected local religion, and funerary traditions were preserved, albeit with the inclusion of Greek styles, the Israel Museum’s Bennett-Dahan explained. The painted plaque laid across his chest is distinctive of the Ptolemaic period, and his stylized death mask traditional. Both are relatively modest compared to the gilt grandeur of Tutankhamen, but typical of the more affluent.

Accompanying Iret-hor-iru in his Israel Museum afterlife are an assortment of Hellenistic and Roman-era funerary masks that were placed over the face of the dead. Some, like that of Iret-hor-iru, are stylized, imitating the traditional Egyptian representation of the deceased, with almond eyes and a long wig. Others are realistic and strikingly beautiful portraits.

Amulets in the shape of beasts and birds and crafted out of faience, ivory, gold or semiprecious stones were placed on the body to protect it in the afterlife. Today, they make up a kaleidoscopic menagerie accompanying Iret-hor-iru.

The only other mummy in the room is that of an ibis, the bird considered holy to Thoth, the Egyptian god of writing and wisdom. A lifelike sarcophagus with the wading bird’s distinctive curved bill, enclosing the mummified remains of the sacred bird, was a gift to former deputy prime minister Moshe Dayan from Egyptian president Anwar Sadat after the signing of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty in 1979. Across the hall, in the Pharaoh in Canaan exhibit, the museum showcases a duplicate of the bent Canaanite scimitar given to Egypt by Israel in the same exchange.

While the exhibit is by no means as exhaustive as that of the British Museum, or as glamorous as King Tut, it offers a clear, concise and humanizing insight into death on the Nile.    (the Times of Israel)

Interactive attraction opens at Western Wall Tunnels

The past and present come together at Journey to Jerusalem, a new interactive tourist attraction inside the Western Wall Tunnels that retells the 2,000-year-old story of the wanderings of the Jewish people in the Diaspora and back to Jerusalem.

Using advanced technology, Journey to Jerusalem, located inside a refurbished ancient Mamluk grand hall, combines over 100 films to dramatically narrate the circuitous journey that is the Jewish experience.

The exhibit allows visitors to go back in time to their family’s region of origin and see the dramatic decisions their ancestors made during many years of exile from Israel.

According to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, the project took 10 years of extensive research throughout the Diaspora and Israel to illustrate and recreate the many challenges and hardships faced by a multitude of Jews.

The exhibit includes over 250,000 scanned images and 600 scenes of animation used to prepare the intricate videos of the movements of Jews around the globe through Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Persia, Iraq, North Africa, North America, South America, India, Yemen, Ethiopia and back to Israel.

The rabbi of the Western Wall and holy sites, Shmuel Rabinowitz, described the exhibit as a historically rich and engaging retelling of countless Jewish journeys.

“The Journey to Jerusalem reveals the deep connection between the chain of Jewish generations to Israel,” said Rabinowitz. “It was the heart’s desire and longing of past generations to return to Jerusalem and build a new Temple. Years of exile and suffering did not dim this desire.

“This site allows everyone to connect with Jerusalem and connects us to the glorious past heritage of the Jewish people as a family and as a nation,” he added.              (Jerusalem Post)

Implications of US Disengagement from the Middle East

by  Efraim Inbar                 The Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies


Executive Summary

The United States is retreating from the Middle East. The adverse implications of this policy shift are manifold, including: the acceleration of Tehran’s drive to regional hegemony, the palpable risk of regional nuclear proliferation following the JCPOA, the spread of jihadist Islam, and Russia’s growing penetration of the region. Manifest US weakness is also bound to have ripple effects far beyond the Middle East, as global players question the value of partnership with an irresolute Washington.


Washington is retrenching. It is projecting weakness and eliciting doubts about its value as an ally. The US has the potential to snap back under different leadership, but this could take time. Building military assets is a lengthy process, particularly when it comes to training qualified military forces. Overcoming mistrust is perhaps more difficult. Certain strategic losses, such as foreign policy reorientation by former allies, are not easily reversible.

US allies in the Middle East believe Washington needs a different lens through which to view international affairs.

It needs a clear conceptual framework by which to identify friends and foes. This is a basic mechanism for any military activity and has to be deployed also within the politico-strategic sphere. As Samuel Johnson observed, though there is twilight, there is still light and darkness. Strategic clarity is vital for astute policy-making.

Washington’s reluctance to deploy ground forces is understandable, and such military involvement is not always useful. Conserving blood and treasure, rather than expending them to pursue ambitious political schemes, is a good instinct. But Obama-style disengagement has produced harmful outcomes for the US and its allies. While the Middle East seems to have become gradually less important in the international arena, it is still very relevant with respect to several global challenges: Islamic radicalism, nuclear proliferation, and energy security. These issues cannot be ignored. For the time being, there is no alternative to a responsible and well-calibrated US role in world affairs. An assertive US position is also important for spreading the values for which it stands – democracy and the free market. Abdicating this role is simply irresponsible.

Israel has a Huge Problem and Finally Someone is Doing Something About it