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  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: There are voices in the Obama Administration who believe that the Kremlin is able and willing to exert pressure on Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons. However, perceived geopolitical and economic benefits in the unstable Persian Gulf, in which American influence is on the wane, outweigh Russia's concerns about a nuclear-armed Iran. The Kremlin sees Iran not as a threat but as a partner or an ad-hoc ally to challenge U.S. influence. Today, both Russia and Iran favor a strategy of "multipolarity," both in the Middle East and worldwide. This strategy seeks to dilute American power, revise current international financial institutions, and weaken or neuter NATO and the OSCE, while forging a counterbalance to the Euro-Atlantic alliance. Russian technological aid is evident throughout the Iranian missile and space programs. Russian scientists and expertise have played a direct and indirect role in these programs for years. According to some reports, Russian specialists are helping to develop the longer-range Shahab-5, and Russia has exported missile production facilities to Iran. Moscow has signed a contract to sell advanced long-range S-300 air-defense systems to Iran. Once Iran has air defenses to repel Israeli or American air strikes and nuclear warheads for its ballistic missiles, it will possess the capacity to destroy Israel (an openly stated goal of the regime) and strike targets throughout the Middle East, in Europe, and the Indian subcontinent. Beyond that, if and when an ICBM capability is achieved, Tehran will be able to threaten the U.S. homeland directly. Given the substantial Russian interests and ambitions, any grand bargain would almost certainly require an excessively high price paid by the United States to the detriment of its friends and allies. Russia simply does not view the situation through the same lens as the U.S.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Economics, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: David Perl
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: Germany has been increasingly forced to confront "homegrown" Islamist terrorism, the threat of radicalized converts to Islam, and the threat of non-integrated Muslim immigrants. In 2003, Iranian-backed Hizbullah was found to have identified Israeli, Jewish, and American facilities in Germany as terror targets. Which are the prominent radical Islamic groups operating in Germany? The Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), one of the most significant threats to German national security, is a Sunni terrorist organization closely associated with al-Qaeda. IJU is well known to the German public due to frequent video threats published on the Internet and on television. Hizb ut-Tahir al-Islami (HuT) is a clandestine, radical Islamist political organization that operates in 40 countries around the world including Germany, which banned the organization in 2003. Prior to its ban, HuT operated mainly in college towns in Germany, and orchestrated a terrorist attack in 2006, when two terrorists placed two suitcases containing bombs (which failed to detonate) on regional trains in Germany. The Islamic Center in Hamburg (IZH), which was under the direct guidance of Iran's Ayatollah Khameini between 1978 and 1980, is considered to be the most important Hizbullah base in Germany and is the institution most engaged in exporting the Islamic Revolution of Iran. It has branches in Berlin, Munich, Muenster, and Hannover, pointing to the ability of Hizbullah to launch attacks within Germany at any time in line with directives from the Iranian Supreme Leadership. Millî Görüş (MG), a radical Islamic group associated with Islamist parties in Turkey, is anti-Western, anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli, and opposes integration into Western society by the 2.5 million Turkish immigrants and their families in Germany. Yakup Akbay of the Fathi Mosque in Munich told Turkish television in 2007: "When Europe, as we hope, will be Islamized, the credit has to be given to the Turkish community. That's the reason for us doing the groundwork."
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Germany
  • Author: Nadav Shragai
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: An imbalanced EU position paper on Jerusalem written in December 2008, and recently leaked to the media, completely ignores Israel's historical and legal rights to its capital. The EU attack refers primarily to the City of David, located just beyond Jerusalem's Old City walls, an area identified by archaeologists and historians as the location of King David's capital some 3,000 years ago. Archaeological excavations took place there during Ottoman rule, as well as under the ensuing British Mandatory rule, and they have continued under Israeli rule as well. About 20 years ago a wave of new, illegal construction by Palestinians began on the site, causing significant and sometimes irreversible damage to the antiquities there. The Jerusalem municipality intends to offer the delinquent residents generous compensation and alternative land in the city. Jerusalem has had a Jewish majority for the last 150 years - at least since 1864. Israel's position in Jerusalem under international law derives from the Palestine Mandate, where the League of Nations recognized "the historical tie between the Jewish people and Palestine," and called "for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine." The 1949 Armistice Agreement between Israel and Jordan did not fix the final boundaries between the parties, but only the lines of military separation at the close of the 1948 war. At the demand of the Arab side, the Armistice Agreement stipulated that it did not serve to predetermine the rights of any party in the final resolution of conflict. In other words, upon the outbreak of the Six-Day War, the 1967 lines enjoyed no diplomatic status. In 1967, Israel agreed to allow the Muslim Waqf to manage the Temple Mount area, with a view toward preventing inter-religious conflict at one of the world's most sensitive sites. This was a huge concession on Israel's part that has never been properly recognized. By doing so, Israel has underscored its intention to assure freedom of access to members of all faiths at all of the holy sites in Jerusalem.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Post Colonialism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Jerusalem
  • Author: Tamas Berzi
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: Many countries such as Italy, Germany, and the Czech Republic showed understanding for Israel and described Israel's actions as self-defense. These countries generally used strong language against Hamas and demanded that it stop the rocket attacks unconditionally. At the time of the start of the Israeli airstrikes, the European presidency was held by France. On December 27, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union condemned both the Israeli air raids and the Palestinian rocket strikes on Israel from Gaza and called for an immediate end to these activities. The statement also condemned the disproportionate use of force. As of January 1, 2009, the Czech Republic took over the role of the Presidency of the European Union. On January 3, the presidency described the Israeli ground operations as an act of self-defense. This drew heavy criticism from many European countries, and the Czechs apologized for the "misunderstanding" and issued a new statement, but one that did not call for an "immediate" ceasefire. In diplomatic language there is a significant difference between "as soon as possible" and "immediate." France has been traditionally the main driving force behind European foreign policy. The separate Sarkozy visit to Israel and his humanitarian ceasefire proposal showed that France was not ready to relinquish its positions to the Czech Republic. The Czech positions during Israel's Gaza operation indicate that the current presidency will work toward a more favorable international environment for Israel. However, Israel should try to make the most of it, since the upcoming Swedish presidency, which starts on July 1, 2009, will most likely be a more difficult time for Israel.
  • Topic: War, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza, Germany, Italy