Ehud Yaari addresses AIJAC in Sydney

October 26, 2015 by Glenn Falkenstein
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Prominent Israeli journalist and commentator Ehud Yaari visited Australia last week, giving an exclusive briefing on the recent spate of violence in Israel and conflict in the Middle East generally to an AIJAC gathering in Sydney.

Colin Rubenstein and Ehud Yaari

Colin Rubenstein and Ehud Yaari

Yaari focused on a range of topics including Russian intervention in the Middle East, changing dynamics in the region, as well as addressing the incitement to violence that is furthering the recent round of attacks in Israel.

“What is important to watch now is that what we see is not an Intifada,” explained Yaari. “Please believe me, I wrote the book on the Intifada, which they use as the history of the Intifada. This is no Intifada, so far.”

“The second Intifada had a commander, his name was Yasser Arafat and he was running the Intifada from the presidency in Ramallah. This time, there is no central command orchestrating, so far. But what we see… is a growing level of co-ordination, dialogue between those different armed groups.”

“I think that there could be a prospect of calming it down if the Palestinian Authority takes a more clear cut stance against the stabbings and violence in general and if there is more denunciation, condemnation of these acts of terrorism coming from abroad, and it isn’t,” explained Yaari, who went on to comment on the rhetoric fueling the violence, largely carried out by a younger generation of militants.

“The (Palestinian) public feels that they were burnt by the previous Intifadas. They view Arafat’s Intifada, the second Intifada, as a catastrophe, as a fiasco. So all those that are involved in violence now belong to the generation that do not remember the second Intifada of 2000. That is why at least 50% of those involved in stabbings are teenagers with no memory.”

“Now top it up with the consistent campaign managed by Mr Abbas and his lieutenants, claiming, arguing that Israel, the Prime Minister, are out to change the status quo over the Temple Mount and Al Aqsa Mosque. That was going on for many months; that the Israelis want to divide the Holy Place between Muslims and Jews; that Israel is going to allow Jews to pray on the Temple Mount, it is forbidden by 99.9% of the Rabbis anyway… ‘Al Aqsa the Mosque is in danger,’ this is the slogan, in brackets. ‘Al Aqsa in danger’ is always the slogan in every round of conflict between Jews and Arabs in this peace of real estate – the Arab slogan, the Palestinian slogan for a century or more is always that Al Aqsa is in danger. That helped raise the flames.”

Yaari went to on to describe the fractured borders in the Middle East and how Russian intervention is redefining the dynamics of the region, including that of an emerging Shiite axis lead by Iran.

“The Middle East is disintegrating. What you have is the system of borders made a century ago are longer there. The borders remain on the maps because we are using old maps, they do not exist in reality… the collapse is partly the result of the retreat of the United States from the region.”

“The American campaign against ISIS is going nowhere and the Syrian rebels do not get US support in a significant way and the US does not arm the Kurds who have proven their capabilities on the battlefield,” said Yaari who explained how Russia and President Putin had filled the void.

“Now we (Israel) have the Russian air force next to our air force, and we need a hotline to co-ordinate, we don’t want a dogfight with the Russians, they don’t want it either.”

“Putin is building an axis, Iran, Iraq under Shiite government, Baghdad, Syria still under Assad and Hezbollah on the Mediterranean, I call it the new Baghdad pact… Russia in alliance with the Shiite axis lead by Iran… it’s a new situation for us, no America around and Russia very close.”

Yaari concluded his comments with his views on the US Presidential race and the possibility of an expanded role for the US in the region in the near future.

“I’m following the debate, I think the issue is now that you don’t have a Republican candidate who can win an election; the Democrats have someone who can win an election, it’s a she, she can win an election… I don’t see how the Republicans at this point can create a serious candidate… she will be better (than Obama), she has a different feel for Israel and the conflict… she views very differently the need for American leadership and involvement in the world.”

​This is a rapporteur summary prepared by AIJAC Policy Analyst Glen Falkenstein​

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