Weekend long read

Our weekly round-up of Middle East related background reading.

1) At Tablet Magazine Shany Mor discusses “The Golan Heights and the Depths of Hypocrisy”.

“…beyond the alarmism and facile bromides inflamed by Trump’s announcement, what the Golan situation actually illustrates is that the whole gamut of international “norms,” when they are applied injudiciously and for political ends as so often happens with Israel, can be reduced to blunt cudgels. The norms used to adjudicate land claims and challenge Israel’s rights to the Golan are not only selectively applied, they are mutually incoherent—their real power is not as legal precedents but as political instruments. To understand this we have to start with a survey of the norms in questions and their historical basis.”

2) At the INSS Carmit Valensi looks at “The Survival of Assad’s Regime and the Challenges to Syria’s Stabilization”.

“On March 10, 2019, hundreds of residents of Daraa in southern Syria protested against the erection of a statue of former Syrian President Hafez al-Assad. The restored statue of Assad the father, which was toppled when the rebellion that sparked the civil war began, is a symbol of the victory of the son, Bashar al-Assad, who, while bruised and battered, remains in power. And yet, current protests alongside other leadership challenges, including the fact that Assad controls only about 60 percent of Syrian territory, indicate that the situation in Syria is far from stable. Against this backdrop, and following eight years of tragic fighting, the factors leading to Assad’s victory, their current validity, and their future repercussions invite examination.”

3) The ITIC sums up the March 30th ‘Great Return March’ events.

“Despite the large number of participants (similar to the number at the first march and the one held on May 14, 2018), during the events there was a low level of violence and a show of relative restraint. As opposed to former return marches, Hamas closely supervised the demonstrators, who were requested to keep a distance of several hundred meters from the fence. The IDF spokesman reported on several hundred Hamas operatives wearing orange vests who prevented demonstrators from reaching the fence. According to the Hamas ministry of the interior, 8,000 operatives of the security forces and policemen were deployed in the various Gaza Strip districts. At the same time, members of the Egyptian security mediators’ delegation were on the ground at a number of demonstration sites. Apparently their presence was also a moderating influence. The members of the delegation were accompanied by Isma’il Haniyeh.”

4) At the Fathom Journal, Jonathan Spyer asks “To what extent is the current Israeli election campaign dominated by national security issues, as has historically been the case?”

“The Israeli public still primarily seeks a leadership it perceives able enough to provide security. The interesting element of the 2019 campaign is that while ‘security’ and the perception of a credible stance of security remains the key attribute to which parties wish to attribute themselves, there is in fact an absence of deep and substantive difference on the main issues comprising Israel’s challenges in this field among the major parties contending the election. This absence leads to a lack of focus on substantive security issues and instead efforts by each party to portray the other as untrustworthy and lacking integrity.”


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