Israeli experts address community

October 31, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Several distinguished Israeli experts addressed a function co-hosted by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), the Zionist Council of New South Wales and United Israel Appeal (UIA) at the Central Synagogue in Sydney this week.

Professor Boaz Ganor, Professor Efraim Karsh, Yossi Kuperwasser

The speakers are in Australia for the upcoming Be’er Sheva Strategic Dialogue, an annual discussion co-hosted by AIJAC between the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and Bar Ilan’s Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies involving multiple government officials and experts in a variety of security-related fields from both Australia and Israel.

Professor Boaz Ganor, Executive Director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, focused primarily on counter-terrorism, and particularly on the phenomenon of “lone wolf” attackers – terrorists with no known operational ties to terrorist groups – a timely topic given the previous day’s massacre of Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pennsylvania by a lone white supremacist.

“I would argue that most of the terrorists are rational actors,” Ganor said, explaining “if you really want to understand the mind of a terrorist, what you need to do is to open your own head, take out from your head your own calculus of cost-benefit, and wear the calculus of the enemy.”

“You can refer even to the attack that occurred yesterday in Pittsburgh as some kind… of a lone wolf phenomenon,” he argued. “Terrorism is not just a criminal act. It’s a political act. And by the way, anti-semitism and the attack that was in Pittsburgh was also a political act. It’s not just a criminal act. And sometimes even the Americans are wrong, because they refer to that as a hate crime… we need to understand all of those sorts of attacks is terrorism.”

Yossi Kuperwasser, Director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) and former high-ranking military intelligence and diplomatic official, concentrated more on contemporary events in the Middle East and their implications for Israel and the West, with an emphasis on developments relating to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal.

“I was very happy to know that there was a review in Australia about the Australian attitude to this deal, because I believe that if Australia takes the right attitude towards the deal, it’s going to affect the people in Iran… It’s going to put more pressure on the leadership of Iran to be ready to discuss a new deal… and most of all, it’s going to help convincing the leadership of Europe” to pressure Iran.

“The Middle East is now caught in a war…between two schools of thought inside Islam,” Kuperwasser explained. “On the one hand, we have… pragmatists,” consisting of the Saudi Arabian-led Gulf States, Egypt, and Jordan, among others, who are willing to accommodate the current World Order. Arrayed against them are the “radical” forces, especially the Iranian regime, which despise the West and are bent on revising the World Order based on Islamic principles.

This battle has caused a radical realignment between Israel and the Arab states. “Israel has proven itself once and again, especially in the last couple of years, as the only country that the pragmatists can rely on when they have to deal with Iran,” he said, citing Benjamin Netanyahu’s historic visit to Oman and its calls to recognize Israel.

Professor Efraim Karsh, a historian and analyst and current director of BESA, presented a succinct historical overview of the Israeli-Arab-Palestinian conflict and the prospects for a potential solution. He also noted the absurd and unfortunately common tendency to connect antisemitic attacks like the one in Pittsburgh with Israel.

“Of course, this is complete nonsense. If you look at Jewish history, I mean, you don’t have to look back very far… The second World War, and we know how many Jews were killed there. You couldn’t blame the State of Israel or Benjamin Netanyahu for this. Or if you go a bit further, to the Pogroms, or if you want to go even further in history to the Crusades… If anything, Israel suffers because it’s a Jewish state, not the Jews worldwide suffer because of Israel.”

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