Archive for August, 2010

Detecting depression online | social-action

August 26, 2010

Detecting depression online | social-action.

 An online ‘depression detector’ developed in Israel can identify depression 78 percent of the time, according to a team of clinical psychologists.

 

Detecting-Depression

Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90.
A new algorithm developed by Israeli researchers can identify Internet users who are feeling depressed or suicidal.

You know that the Internet is a goldmine of information, but did you know that the Web is able to diagnose your emotional states and determine whether you are depressed, in love, feeling vengeful or aggressive? A new algorithm developed by Israeli researchers can pinpoint human emotions and intentions by studying vast amounts of publicly available data on blogs and other social media outlets.

Lead researcher Dr. Yair Neuman from Israel’s Bar-Ilan University has especially promising results for identifying depression. The data provided by his application could help human experts to home in on who might be at risk for suicide. And the application, which skims the Internet automatically, can be adapted to any sort of data he says, presenting intriguing possibilities for crime fighters, pollsters or Homeland Security.

Currently enjoying a short summer sabbatical at the University of Toronto, Canada, Neuman will present his research in late August at the 2010 International Conference on Web Intelligence. He tells ISRAEL21c that he doesn’t imagine that his invention will replace the human element, but rather that he views it as an aid to help sift through and make sense of the billions of bits of data about the human experience that are available online.

Neuman has used his application, which is funded by Israel’s Defense Ministry, to scan more than 300,000 English language blogs linked to mental health websites. The software was programmed to identify the 100 most depressed, and the 100 least depressed individuals, by analyzing their responses to metaphors and questions.

The resulting data was handed over to a team of clinical psychologists, who confirmed a high correlation to what they would diagnose in the clinic, reporting that the software was able to identify depression 78 percent of the time.

New software could pinpoint would-be terrorists

“The software program was designed to find depressive content hidden in language that did not mention the obvious terms like ‘depression or ‘suicide’,” Neuman relates. “A psychologist knows how to spot various emotional states through intuition. Here, we have a program that does this methodically through the innovative use of ‘Web intelligence’.”

“I emphasize that the tool cannot substitute for an expert. It can provide a powerful way to screen for depression through blogs and Facebook. It analyzes text – the written language – and it can help us to identify people who are presenting signs of depression,” he tells ISRAEL21c.

“Most who suffer from depression won’t commit suicide. But this is a powerful way of screening for depression. It has psychosocial applications as well for Homeland Security – let’s say monitoring depression levels of the population in a political circumstance to understand the population’s sentiment.”

The software can also “excavate” the meaning of context Neuman continues, testing for love, revenge and happiness among people, or even the way a society feels about its minorities. To date, the standard way to gain insight into these issues is through costly and time-consuming public opinion polls. The identification of people prone to vengeful behavior might also help to pinpoint would-be terrorists or criminals, he adds.

Another Israeli researcher, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, recently developed an online sarcasm detector, but Neuman says his approach is different: “I am analyzing the metaphor by sending queries to the web as questions, and understanding the way people metaphorically describe the answer.

“We could ask: What is love like? What is depression like? And look for how people describe the personal experience. We are harvesting a web of metaphors,” he explains.

Combining the wisdom of people with IT

For now his tool won’t be open source [meaning that for now the public does not have access to the end product’s source material] and with no immediate plans for commercialization, Neuman isn’t commenting on which, if any, agencies may be interested in the application. Still, his “no comment” suggests that it may be of interest to the US defense department. “It’s not artificial intelligence, but intelligence augmentation, combining the wisdom of people with IT to mine a goldmine of data,” he says.

The Mayo Clinic for example, offers a list of clues that someone may be suicidal and includes in its watch list “statements about hopelessness, helplessness or worthlessness, sudden changes in mood, direct or indirect statements that reference death or dying and isolating oneself from friends or family.” These are signs loved ones can look out for, but what if the signs aren’t obvious? This is where the Israeli application could help.

In the US alone, about 35,000 people commit suicide each year and the problem of diagnostics remains a challenge, since people identified as suicidal are those who are already seeking help, or those who have been ‘diagnosed’ through an online questionnaire. With increasing software advances, in the future diagnosticians will be able to scan the online world for more proactive signs of depression and suicide, for better intervention, monitoring and prevention.

While developed for academic purposes, the new Israeli findings could be used to screen for suicidal teens and bloggers, mining the Internet for the clues they may leave about their intentions, perhaps enabling friends and relatives to intervene in time, if someone they care about is at risk.

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Israeli wins worldwide business prize | briefs

August 25, 2010

Israeli wins worldwide business prize | briefs.

Israeli Ofir Leitner, a consultant to cellular companies, won one of the top prizes in UK Trade & Investment’s prestigious Your Business Tomorrow competition.

Hundreds of businesspeople from across the globe participated in the competition sponsored by the UK business website that asked them to predict the next big idea that will change the world in the coming decade.

The best predictions were voted for on a special website. Ofir Leitner from Israel, Yoshinori Ichikawa from Japan and Jennie Lees from the United States received the highest number of votes.

All three winners receive round-trip business class tickets to London with the opportunity to meet influential figures from the business world.

Richard Salt, Director of UK Trade & Investment in Israel said: “We congratulate Ofir on winning the competition and are impressed by the number of Israelis who submitted predictions and participated in the competition… Both countries value innovation and recognize its role in shaping the future.”

Ofir’s prediction is: “In 2020 virtual and augmented realities will blend into the physical world, making our global village more connected and unified. People and businesses will be able to collaborate from great distances overcoming cultural and geographical barriers, thus entering the greatest golden age of all times”.

Moral myopia at Ground Zero

August 22, 2010

Links to this article By Charles Krauthammer

Friday, August 20, 2010

It’s hard to be an Obama sycophant these days. Your hero delivers a Ramadan speech roundly supporting the building of a mosque and Islamic center near Ground Zero in New York. Your heart swells and you’re moved to declare this President Obama’s finest hour, his act of greatest courage. This Story Karen Hughes: Move the New York City mosque, as a sign of unity Moral myopia at Ground ZeroThis Story Moral myopia at Ground Zero Greg Sargent: Krauthammer’s transparent dodge Worst Week in Washington Worst Week: Live Q & A View All Items in This Story View Only Top Items in This Story Alas, the next day, at a remove of 800 miles, Obama explains that he was only talking about the legality of the thing and not the wisdom — upon which he does not make, and will not make, any judgment. You’re left looking like a fool because now Obama has said exactly nothing: No one disputes the right to build; the whole debate is about the propriety, the decency of doing so. It takes no courage whatsoever to bask in the applause of a Muslim audience as you promise to stand stoutly for their right to build a mosque, giving the unmistakable impression that you endorse the idea. What takes courage is to then respectfully ask that audience to reflect upon the wisdom of the project and to consider whether the imam’s alleged goal of interfaith understanding might not be better achieved by accepting the New York governor’s offer to help find another site. Where the president flagged, however, the liberal intelligentsia stepped in with gusto, penning dozens of pro-mosque articles characterized by a frenzied unanimity, little resort to argument and a singular difficulty dealing with analogies. The Atlantic’s Michael Kinsley was typical in arguing that the only possible grounds for opposing the Ground Zero mosque are bigotry or demagoguery. Well then, what about Pope John Paul II’s ordering the closing of the Carmelite convent just outside Auschwitz? (Surely there can be no one more innocent of that crime than those devout nuns.) How does Kinsley explain this remarkable demonstration of sensitivity, this order to pray — but not there? He doesn’t even feign analysis. He simply asserts that the decision is something “I confess that I never did understand.” That’s his Q.E.D.? Is he stumped or is he inviting us to choose between his moral authority and that of one of the towering moral figures of the 20th century? At least Richard Cohen of The Post tries to grapple with the issue of sanctity and sensitivity. The results, however, are not pretty. He concedes that putting up a Japanese cultural center at Pearl Harbor would be offensive but then dismisses the analogy to Ground Zero because 9/11 was merely “a rogue act, committed by 20 or so crazed samurai.” Obtuseness of this magnitude can only be deliberate. These weren’t crazies. They were methodical, focused, steel-nerved operatives. Nor were they freelance rogues. They were the leading, and most successful, edge of a worldwide movement of radical Islamists with cells in every continent, with worldwide financial and theological support, with a massive media and propaganda arm, and with an archipelago of local sympathizers, as in northwestern Pakistan, who protect and guard them. Why is America fighting Predator wars in Pakistan and Yemen, surveilling thousands of conversations and financial transactions every day, and engaged in military operations against radical Muslims everywhere from the Philippines to Somalia — because of 19 crazies, all of whom died nine years ago? Radical Islam is not, by any means, a majority of Islam. But with its financiers, clerics, propagandists, trainers, leaders, operatives and sympathizers — according to a conservative estimate, it commands the allegiance of 7 percent of Muslims, i.e., more than 80 million souls — it is a very powerful strain within Islam. It has changed the course of nations and affected the lives of millions. It is the reason every airport in the West is an armed camp and every land is on constant alert. Ground Zero is the site of the most lethal attack of that worldwide movement, which consists entirely of Muslims, acts in the name of Islam and is deeply embedded within the Islamic world. These are regrettable facts, but facts they are. And that is why putting up a monument to Islam in this place is not just insensitive but provocative. Just as the people of Japan today would not think of planting their flag at Pearl Harbor, despite the fact that no Japanese under the age of 85 has any possible responsibility for that infamy, representatives of contemporary Islam — the overwhelming majority of whose adherents are equally innocent of the infamy committed on 9/11 in their name — should exercise comparable respect for what even Obama calls hallowed ground and take up the governor’s offer. To follow the debate over the Ground Zero mosque, check out: –Greg Sargent: Krauthammer’s dodge, –Charles Krauthammer: Sacrilege at Ground Zero, –Greg Sargent: Krauthammer: Can government really block the mosque? letters@charleskrauthammer.com

Israeli wins world’s most prestigious math prize

August 19, 2010

Great honor for Israel: Hebrew University Professor Elon Lindenstrauss first Israeli to be awarded Fields Medal, world’s most important math prize.

‘It’s a strange feeling, I’m not used to speaking to journalists,’ winner tells Ynet Yael Branovsky

Latest Update: 08.19.10, 12:13 / Israel News share Great honor for Israel: Professor Elon Lindenstrauss from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Einstein Institute of Mathematics has been awarded the prestigious Fields Medal for 2010. “The feeling is a little odd, I’m not used to speaking to journalists. No doubt, speaking before the cameras is an interesting experience,” Lindenstrauss told Ynet after his achievement was announced. The medal, dubbed “mathematics’ Nobel Prize,” is the world’s most important math prize. It is awarded once every four years to researchers aged 40 years or under. Lindenstrauss will receive the prize along with three other mathematicians at the International Mathematical Union congress in India. The prize will be awarded by Indian President Pratibha Patil. Great honor for Israel – Lindenstrauss (Photo: Sasson Tiram) “I’ve known about the award for six months, but I was told to keep it a secret so I did,” Lindenstrauss told Ynet. “However, in Israel it’s very hard to keep a secret, and for a while now I’ve been receiving well-wishes.”

Lindenstrauss said that wining the prize is a “great responsibility” and added that he was surprised to win it. “It’s an exceptional feeling. I know many brilliant, exceptional mathematicians…it’s very surprising to be chosen out of all these brilliant minds,” he said. “I received the award for a series of projects, some of them undertaken with partners. One of the joys here is the ability join forces with other mathematicians; this is one of the things I love most about this field.” Distinguished military career The prize is named after John Charles Fields, a mathematician and philosopher at Toronto University. Fields donated the prize and drew up the criteria which differentiate it from the Nobel: The winner must prove significant mathematical achievements and show potential for the future. Prof. Alex Lubotzky, Lindenstrauss’ colleague from the Einstein Institute, said the Israeli winner he had been awarded the prize for work that uses probabilistic and dynamic systems for solving problems in number theory. “There is a broad Israeli component in Lindenstrauss’ mathematics, and his work uses methods developed by Israeli researchers from the Hebrew University,” Lubotzky said. Lindenstrauss (40), a Jerusalem resident, is a graduate of the Air Force’s elite Talpiot program, holds the rank of major (res.) and was even awarded the highly-regarded Israel Defense Prize. He has a math and physics undergraduate degree and a masters and doctorate in mathematics from the Hebrew University. After receiving his doctorate, he became a member of Princeton’s Institute of Advanced Study and in 2008 received a professorship at the Hebrew University. His father is Yoram Lindenstrauss, professor emeritus at the Einstein Institute. His uncle is Israel’s State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss. This is not the first time Lindenstrauss has been awarded prestigious prizes. He won the Haim Nessyahu Prize in Mathematics for his doctoral research, the Salem Prize for young mathematicians in 2004, the European Mathematical Union prize in 2004, the Erdos Prize of the Israel Mathematical Union for 2009, and the Fermat Prize for Mathematics of the Toulouse Mathematics Institute. “Israel is a mathematical power, but till now no Israeli researcher had won this prize,” said Hebrew University President Professor Menachem Ben-Sasson. “The 40 year age limitation is certainly an obstacle for young researchers who are compelled to start their academic lives relatively late because of army service. However, Lindenstrauss proves that the talented among the world’s scientists can cope even with this obstacle.”

IDF razes wall dividing Jewish and Arab areas east of Jerusalem

August 15, 2010

Work starts to remove concrete barrier at Gilo built in 2002, later becoming one of the enduring symbols of the Second Intifada.

By Nir Hasson

Work began east of Jerusalem Monday morning to remove one of the city’s enduring symbols of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, a two-meter-high concrete barrier built to separate the Jewish neighborhood of Gilo from the Arab district of Beit Jalla. The army’s home front command began the demolition at the request of Jerusalem’s municipality, after security checks suggested that the wall, designed to protect Gilo residents from sniper fire, was no longer needed. A crane lifts part of a concrete barrier put up eight years ago to protect residents in Gilo, August 10, 2010 AP

Gilo, which is beyond the Green Line but which Israel considers part of Jerusalem, was sealed off from Beit Jalla eight years ago, when the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, saw violence flare across the West Bank. In response, the Israel Defense Forces launch Operation Defensive Shield, the largest military deployment in the Palestinian territories since 1967. “The wall was built at the time of Defensive Shield and right now we don’t see a problem in getting rid of it,” said Lt. Col. Hezi Ravivo, a military engineer in charge of the demolition. During the two years between the start of the intifada in 2000 and the construction of the wall two years later, Gilo was hit regular sniper and machine gun fire, with one attack seriously wounding a Border Guard. Today Gilo is quieter. “I don’t expect the gunfire to resume,” Ravivo said. “If the need arises we can put it up again,” he said, adding that in the current security climate, it would even be safe for Israeli tour guides and groups to enter Bethlehem, a major Palestinian city that lies just south of Jerusalem. But the demolition has angered local residents, who say the army has left them exposed. “It gave us a certain feeling of security,” said Aviva Klein, who lives nearby. “I didn’t feel the wall was shutting me in – I felt safe.” The army said in a statement: “The IDF will continue to protect the citizens of the State of Israel continuing to assess the changing security climate.” A section of the concrete barrier separaing Gilo from Bait Jalla.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/idf-razes-wall-dividing-jewish-and-arab-areas-east-of-jerusalem-1.308134

The Flotilla Farce

August 15, 2010

Whether they are from Turkey, Ireland or Cyprus, those that participate reek of hypocrisy.

By DANNY AYALON

A couple of years ago, a Palestinian refugee camp was encircled and laid siege to by an army of tanks and Armored Personnel Carriers. Attacks initiated by Palestinian militants triggered an overwhelming response from the army that took the life of almost 500 people, including many civilians. International organizations struggled to send aid to the refugee camps, where the inhabitants were left without basic amenities like electricity and running water. During the conflict, six U.N. personnel were killed when their car was bombed.

Government ministers and spokesmen tried to explain to the international community that the Palestinian militants were backed by Syria and global jihadist elements. Al Qaeda condemned the government and the army, declaring that the attack was part of a “crusade” against their Palestinian brothers.

AFP/Getty ImagesA Palestinian refugee collects metal and plastic objects at a garbage dump in the Palestinian refugee camp of Beddawi near Tripoli.

ayalon

ayalon

While most will assume that the events described above took place in the West Bank or Gaza, they actually took place in Lebanon in the summer of 2007, when Palestinian terrorists attacked the Lebanese Army, which struck back with deadly force. The scene of most of the fighting was the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in Northern Lebanon, which was home to the Islamist Fatah al-Islam, a group that has links with al Qaeda.

At the time, there was little international outcry. No world leader decried the “prison camps” in Lebanon. No demonstrations took place around the world; no U.N. investigation panels were created and little media attention was attracted. In fact, the plight of the Palestinians in Lebanon garners very little attention internationally.

Today, there are more than 400,000 Palestinians in Lebanon who are deprived of their most basic rights. The Lebanese government has a list of tens of professions that a Palestinian is forbidden from being engaged in, including professions such as medicine, law and engineering. Palestinians are forbidden from owning property and need a special permit to leave their towns. Unlike all other foreign nationals in Lebanon, they are denied access to the health-care system. According to Amnesty international, the Palestinians in Lebanon suffer from “discrimination and marginalization” and are treated like “second class citizens” and “denied their full range of human rights.”

Amnesty also states that most Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have little choice but to live in overcrowded and deteriorating camps and informal gatherings that lack basic infrastructure.

In view of the worsening plight of the Palestinians in Lebanon, it is the height of irony that a Lebanese flotilla is organizing to leave the port of Tripoli in the next few days to bring aid to Palestinians in Gaza. According to one of the organizers, the participants are “united by a feeling of stark injustice.”

This attitude exposes the dishonesty of the whole flotilla exercise. Whether it is from Turkey, Ireland or Cyprus, those that participate in these flotillas reek of hypocrisy. There are currently 100 armed conflicts and dozens of territorial disputes around the world. There have been millions of people killed and hundreds of millions live in abject poverty without access to basic staples. And yet hundreds of high-minded “humanitarian activists” are spending millions of dollars to reach Gaza and hand money to Hamas that will never reach the innocent civilians of Gaza.

This is the same Gaza that just opened a sparkling new shopping mall that would not look out of place in any capital in Europe. Gaza, where a new Olympic-sized swimming pool was recently inaugurated and five-star hotels and restaurants offer luxurious fare.

Markets brimming with all manner of foods dot the landscape of Gaza, where Lauren Booth, journalist and “human rights activist,” was pictured buying chocolate and luxurious items from a well-stocked supermarket before stating with a straight face that the “situation in Gaza is a humanitarian crisis on the scale of Darfur.”

No one claims that the situation in Gaza is perfect. Since the bloody coup and occupation by Hamas of Gaza in 2007, in which more than 100 Palestinians were killed, Israel has had no choice but to ensure that Hamas is not able to build up an Iranian port on the shores of the Mediterranean. Until Hamas meets the three standards laid out by the international community, namely renouncing violence, recognizing Israel’s right to exist and abiding by previously signed agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Hamas will continue to be shunned by the international community.

While Israel’s policy is to continue to see that all civilian needs are addressed, it can not allow Hamas to rearm and use Gaza as a base to attack Israel and beyond. For this reason, Israel initiated a blockade, fully legal under international law, to ensure that no items can be appropriated by Hamas to attack innocent civilians. Organizations that wish to join the U.N. and the Red Cross to deliver goods or aid to Gaza are welcome to do so through the Kerem Shalom crossing or even through Egyptian ports. Those that refuse and seek to break the legal blockade to boost Hamas are interested in provocation. If Israel allows these confrontational flotillas to successfully open up a shipping lane for arms smuggling for an Iranian proxy, then the region will suffer from continuous conflict. Actions that embolden the extremists will be at the cost of the moderates and this will pose a grave danger to moving the peace process forward.

The latest flotilla preparing to leave from Lebanon fully exposes not only the hypocrisy but the danger of these provocative vigilante flotillas. The Lebanese flotilla, whose organizers claim injustice while ignoring the dire human rights situation of the Palestinians in Lebanon, amply demonstrate that these flotillas have nothing to do with humanitarian concerns and everything to do with delegitimizing Israel.

Mr. Ayalon is Israel’s deputy minister of foreign affairs.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703940904575395022140188274.html 

 

 

Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle

August 14, 2010

Rover Italy and Israel to cooperate on space research

August 14, 2010

ISRAEL21c

Israel’s man on space

By Karin Kloosterman – August 08, 2010

It’s men like Dr Zvi Kaplan who are leading Israel, one of only eight nations in the world to launch an indigenous satellite into space, into the billion-dollar space industry. Zvi Kaplan (right), the head of the Israel Space Agency meets astronaut Charles Frank “Charlie” Bolden Jr., (left) the new head of NASA.

An Israeli has yet to moonwalk – and the country’s only astronaut Ilan Ramon perished on a tragic NASA mission in 2003 – but Israel has big ambitions to jump into the billion-dollar space industry. One of only eight nations in the world to launch an indigenous satellite into space, Israel’s government recently announced an $80 million boost to its space activities in research and development, which should jibe well with the country’s established defense and high-tech communications industries.

While the space industry is commonly associated with the development of space-related defense technologies, according to Dr. Zvi Kaplan, director general of the Israel Space Agency, its civilian applications are also extensive, and in some cases critical. For example, the monitoring of global warming from earth to space or from space down to earth is vital for studying the phenomenon and potentially mitigating risks.

ISRAEL21c met with Kaplan to learn more about the man and the Space Agency he has stewarded for the past six years, which is leading Israel and the Middle East toward this new frontier. One of several dominant figures in Israel’s space industry – alongside Haim Eshed, who heads the Israeli space program at the Ministry of Defense and Major General Prof. Itzik Ben-Israel, head of the Program for Security Studies at Tel Aviv University – Kaplan, born in 1944, says he views himself as someone continuing the work of the other prominent men in Israel’s space sphere, “to help create a vision for the new millennium.” A Jerusalem childhood like ‘Love and Darkness’ His vision to funnel Israel’s existing industries and academic research into “space” will likely be a legacy for future generations.

According to Kaplan, a trained plasma physicist who worked for many years at Israel’s Soreq Nuclear Research Center, the development of a space industry has many positive aspects beyond the obvious financial ones. It is his hope that it will help to stem the brain drain, and keep the country’s brightest minds at home in academia, research, corporations and government. Born in Jerusalem, Kaplan says that the neighborhood where he grew up resembled the one described by leading Israeli novelist Amos Oz in his autobiographical novel A Story of Love and Darkness. “It was one of his best. It describes the atmosphere in Israel for the Ashkenazi Jews that came with nothing before the outbreak of the Second World War in the ’30s and ’40s and during the end of the Second World War and a bit later,” Kaplan reminisces.

Like tens of thousands of other Jerusalem Jews, Kaplan’s family immigrated to Israel from Europe. Both his parents – his dad from Lithuania, his mom from Poland – come from families of Holocaust survivors. “Those days, between the wars, East Europe’s young Jews were going to study in western universities,” says Kaplan. “My father came to Palestine after studying chemical engineering to work at the Dead Sea when the potassium production began,” he recounts. “My mother came from a very religious family, but which was also very modern, so all the girls got an education. She was a pharmacist, and came to Israel not with a strong Zionist motivation, but to follow some of her family members who were already living in Israel.”

Growing up in Jerusalem, like most of his peers Kaplan served in the army. He was in Nahal, an infantry brigade that at the time combined military service with the establishment of new agricultural settlements. After the army, he attended the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to study math and physics, later obtaining a PhD at the Weizmann Institute, where he specialized in plasma physics. He then spent one year in the US at Bell Laboratories under Kumar Patel, a prominent laser physicist from India who discovered the carbon dioxide laser. Making way for the next generation For the bulk of his career Kaplan worked at the Soreq center, rising to the position of director. His claim to fame in space is the development of the “electric propulsion” system. In recognition of this and other achievements he was named director of Soreq in 1997.

In Israel, as in the rest of the world, the industry was born during the 1950s, when scientists believed that nuclear science would “control everything – energy, agriculture, medicine – mainly through the production and utilization of radioactive isotopes. But the focus of science went in quite different directions,” Kaplan says. Now the world looks to silicone chips and information and high-tech communication. Yet despite its lack of popularity, nuclear research is still important, for many reasons. Reminders were the disasters like Three Mile Island and the meltdown at Chernobyl. “It’s a legitimate field, because it’s needed. The energy crisis you cannot ignore; and we cannot make miracles only with the sun and wind,” says Kaplan. At Soreq, Kaplan benefited from the international movement while working in the field of electromagnetic propulsion, participating in projects initiated by the Reagan Administration.

The space applications that he worked on at Soreq helped to prepare him for his current position at the Israel Space Agency, which he’s held for the past six years. Nuclear science is important in space applications so that space missions can deal with radiation encountered in space, cosmic and particle radiation. “When you send a system to space with electronics it becomes very sensitive to radiation,” Kaplan explains. Live according to our time Residing in central Israel in Rehovot, Kaplan relates that so far his two sons and his daughter have provided him with “almost” nine grandchildren. He says that he plans to retire next year, so that a younger candidate can move into his position. That plan dovetails with his belief that “we should live according to the time set aside for us, and let our younger generation take managerial positions at an early stage in their careers, otherwise we are losing something [in society].” Although older people may be unwilling to retire and many can work well into their 70s and 80s, Kaplan believes that the system should not be asymmetrical. “If you don’t give responsibility to a bright scientist when he is about 40 he will never become a manager,” asserts the man who is hoping to help launch Israel’s scholars and the country’s defense and communications industries into the “final frontier.”

The power of aliyah

August 14, 2010

Op-ed: Israel’s demographic optimism can be further boosted by growing 

Yoram Ettinger Published: 08.11.10, 10:59 /

In 2010, a surge in the Israeli Jewish fertility rate is a long-term, unique, global phenomenon, while fertility rates decline sharply in the Third World in general and in Muslim countries in particular. In 2010, there is a 66% Jewish majority in 98.5% of the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean (without Gaza) – and a 58% Jewish majority with Gaza. That Jewish majority benefits from a demographic tailwind and from a high potential of aliyah (Jewish immigration) and of returning Israeli expatriates.

In comparison, in 1900 and 1947 there was an 8% and a 33% Jewish minority, deprived of economic, technological and military infrastructures. In 2010, the number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria is inflated by 900,000 (1.6 million and not 2.5 million) through the inclusion of 400,000 overseas residents, a double-count of 200,000 Jerusalem Arabs (who are counted as Israeli Arabs by Israel and as West Bank Arabs by the Palestinian Authority), and by ignoring annual net-emigration since 1950 (e.g. 17,000 in 2009), etc. Meanwhile, a World Bank study documents a 32% “inflation” in Palestinian birth numbers. Since the appearance of modern-day Zionism, the demographic establishment has contended that Jews are doomed to be a minority west of the Jordan River. It asserts that Jews must relinquish geography in order to secure demography.

But, what if demographic fatalism is based on dramatically erroneous assumptions and numbers? What if the demographic establishment has adopted Palestinian numbers without auditing, although such numbers are refuted annually by an examination of birth, death, migration and 1st grade registration records? What if the contended Palestinian numbers require a population growth rate almost double the highest population growth rate in the world, while Gaza and Judea and Samaria are ranked 5th and 38th in global population growth rate? What if the demographic establishment failed to realize that the Arab demographic surge of 1949-1969 (in pre-1967 Israel) and 1967-1990 (in Judea and Samaria and Gaza) had to be succeeded by a sharp demographic decline?

Contrary to demographic projections, the first half of 2010 sustains the growth of the Jewish fertility rate and the sharp and rapid fall of the Arab fertility rate throughout the Muslim World, as well as west of the Jordan River. The decline in Arab fertility results from accelerated urbanization and modernization processes, such as education, health, employment, family planning, reduced teen pregnancy, enhanced career mentality among women, in addition to domestic security concerns.

Another potential immigration wave The Washington-based Population Resource Center reported a sharp dive in global Muslim fertility, trending toward two births per woman. For instance, Iran shrunk from 8 births 30 years ago to 1.7, Egypt – 2.5, North Africa – 1.9, Jordan – a “twin sister” of Judea and Samaria – is below 3 births per woman and Judea and Samaria’s fertility rate is 3.2 in 2010. According to demographic precedents, there is a very slight probability of resurrecting high fertility rates following a prolonged period of significant reduction. In contrast with demographic fatalism, the share of Jewish births in pre-1967 Israel has increased in 2010 – mostly due to the secular sector – to 76% of total births, compared with 75% in 2009 and 69% in 1995. From 80,400 births in 1995 the number of Jewish births catapulted by 50% to 121,000 in 2009, while the annual number of Arab births has stabilized at 39,000 due to their most impressive integration into Israel’s infrastructures of modernity.

The fertility gap between Arabs (3.5 births per woman and trending downward) and Jews (2.9 and trending upward) was reduced from 6 birth per woman in 1969 to 0.6 in 2009. The erosion in the Arab fertility rate is 20 years faster than projections made by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. In 2010, Israel’s demographic establishment determined that aliyah sources have been drained. However, during the 1980s, it dismissed any notion of a massive aliyah from the USSR – even if the gates were open – due to cultural, economic and security reasons. But, over one million Olim reached the Jewish State as a result of Prime Minister Shamir’s initiatives: limiting Soviet Jews to direct flights from Moscow to Israel only and terminating the issuance – by the USA – of refugee certificates to Soviet Jews.

During the 1970s it was suggested that Western Jews can, but don’t wish to, emigrate, while Communist Bloc Jews wish to, but cannot, emigrate. But, 300,000 Jews reached Israel due to Prime Minister Golda Meir’s initiatives. In 1948, the founders of Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics mocked Ben Gurion’s vision of a massive aliyah. But, one million Olim arrived in the Jewish Homeland due to Ben Gurion’s initiatives. In 2010, there is a unique potential for another wave of aliyah and returning expatriates, due to the economic meltdown and the rise of anti-Semitism in the former USSR, France, Britain and Argentina, as well as the long-term US economic crisis. Will Jerusalem resurrect drastic pro-aliyah activity? Will Jerusalem realize that aliyah is the raison d’etre of the Jewish State and the crux of its national security and economy? Will Jerusalem elevate aliyah to the top of its order of national priorities, thus dramatically bolstering the Jewish majority and uprooting demographic fatalism from the public debate over the territorial boundaries of the Jewish State?

The Enemy of My Enemy

August 8, 2010

Being an Arab leader has its rewards: the suite at the Waldorf-Astoria during the United Nations General Assembly, travel in your own plane, plenty of cash, even job security—whether kings, sheiks or presidents, with or without elections, most serve for life.

AUGUST 6, 2010.

Facing the threat of a nuclear Iran, the hostile Arab-Israeli relationship is giving way to a more complex picture.

By ELLIOTT ABRAMS Being an Arab leader has its rewards: the suite at the Waldorf-Astoria during the United Nations General Assembly, travel in your own plane, plenty of cash, even job security—whether kings, sheiks or presidents, with or without elections, most serve for life. But the advantages must seem dwarfed by the problems that face the Arab world this summer. The Shia in Iran seem to be building a bomb, Iran’s ally Syria is taking over Lebanon (again), Yemen is collapsing (again), Egypt’s President Mubarak is said to be dying and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is back on the front pages. What’s more, no one is sure who’s in charge these days. The American hegemony, in place at least since the British left Aden in 1967 and secured through repeated, massive military operations of its own and victories by its ally Israel, seems to be fraying. Who will stop the Iranian nuclear weapons program, the Arabs wonder; they place no faith in endless negotiations between earnest Western diplomats and the clever Persians. Israel is the enemy of their enemy, Iran. Now, the usual description of Arab-Israeli relations as “hostile” or “belligerent” is giving way to a more complex picture. Following the joint Arab military efforts to prevent the formation of the Jewish State in 1948, and the wars that followed in 1956, 1967 and 1973, this is a bizarre turn of events. Israel is as unpopular in the Arab street as it has been in past decades (which is to say, widely hated), but for Arab rulers focused on the Iranian threat all those the Israeli Air Force jets must now appear alluring. The Israeli toughness the Arabs have complained about for over a half century is now their own most likely shield against Iran. The Arab view that someone should bomb Iran and stop it from developing nuclear weapons is familiar to anyone who meets privately with Arab leaders, especially in the Gulf. Now, the curtain is being pulled back: Just last month, the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba, spoke publicly of a “cost-benefit analysis” and concluded that despite the upset to trade that would result and the inevitable “people protesting and rioting and very unhappy that there is an outside force attacking a Muslim country,” the balance was clear. The ambassador told an Aspen audience, “If you are asking me, ‘Am I willing to live with that versus living with a nuclear Iran?’ my answer is still the same: ‘We cannot live with a nuclear Iran.’ I am willing to absorb what takes place.” By speaking of “an outside force,” Ambassador Al Otaiba did not specifically demand U.S. action; he left the door open for volunteers. And two weeks ago, the Israeli press carried reports of a visit to Saudi Arabia by Gen. Meir Dagan, chief of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency; Gen. Dagan is the point man on Iran for the Israeli government. This follows stories in the Times of London two months ago claiming that the Saudis would suspend their air defense operations to permit Israeli fighter planes to cross Saudi air space en route to an attack on Iran. All this will be denied, of course, as it has always been, but Arab-Israeli (and for that matter, Arab-Palestinian) relations remain far more complicated than headlines suggest. Even in states where there are no politics as we know it—there are no elections or the outcomes are decided by fiat in the presidential palace—all politics is local, and concerns about the Palestinians take a back seat to national and personal interests. The minuet now being conducted by Arab foreign ministers with the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is illuminating. The issue is whether the Palestinians should move to direct negotiations with Israel, in place of the desultory “proximity talks” that have been led by U.S. envoy George Mitchell. Mr. Abbas has been very reluctant to make this decision, fearing venomous criticism from Hamas and wondering if direct talks would actually lead anywhere except to a further crisis down the road if and when they break down. Mr. Abbas has been laying down preconditions that make talks harder and harder to begin, asking in essence that the U.S. guarantee an outcome he likes on the central matters (refugees, borders, Jerusalem) before he will sit down at the table. Despite heavy American and European pressure, Mr. Abbas has been unwilling to decide anything. In fact, reversing years of effort by his predecessor Yasser Arafat to escape the tutelage of Arab states, he threw the ball to them. He would do whatever the Arab League told him to do. But the Arab foreign ministers, meeting two weeks ago in Cairo, proved to be as wily as he. They decided to endorse direct talks, but with preconditions—and they left the timing to the Palestinians, thus leaving Mr. Abbas on his own. Their decision was to make Mr. Abbas bear any blame associated with the decision, while they ducked and returned to their hotel suites. They are for peace and talks with Israel, and they are helping the Americans, and they are backing their Palestinian brothers, unless of course things go sour, in which case it will be clear that Mr. Abbas made the wrong decision to enter (or not to enter) direct talks. All this under the guise of “Arab solidarity.” There isn’t much solidarity this summer. For Syria, the only issue right now is regaining hegemony in Lebanon, and Syria is aligned with Iran and Hezbollah. Syrian President Bashar Assad visited Beirut a week ago for the first time since Syrian troops withdrew from Lebanon in 2005—a fitting symbol of the return of Syrian power. But Syria’s border with Israel remains dead quiet, for the regime seeks no direct confrontation. The last time it moved to assert a leadership role in the region, by the secret construction of a nuclear reactor with designs supplied by North Korea, Israel bombed the site to smithereens in September 2007. So Syria arms Hezbollah, menaces the Lebanese and watches to see how the Americans will handle Iran. There will be no serious negotiations over the Golan Heights until the Iran issue is settled, for any Golan deal would require that Syria break with Iran—and such a move depends entirely on whether the regime there is rising or falling in influence. For Lebanon, divided as ever among Sunni, Shia, Christian and Druze, the main concern is the forthcoming decision of the international tribunal investigating the murder of former prime minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. Will it name Syria or Hezbollah, the Shia terrorist group that controls much of the country? And how will Hariri’s son Saad, now prime minister, balance the need for stability against the desire for justice? The fact that Mr. Assad of Syria arrived a week ago in a Saudi jet and accompanied by the Saudi King, Abdullah, shows Lebanese that Saudi support for their independence is a thing of the past. The Saudi message was clear: Make your own arrangements with Damascus and do not count on us. Until this week, the Lebanese border with Israel had been quiet since the 2006 war—Hezbollah and its Shia supporters were hurt badly enough to avoid a repetition. For months there have been rumors of war this summer along the Israeli-Lebanon border, but that was never in the cards. Hezbollah, whose well-trained terrorists and rockets aimed at Israel’s cities are supplied or financed by Iran, could attack Israel if Israel bombs Iran’s nuclear sites. Thus Hezbollah’s forces are both a deterrent to an Israeli attack, and a way for Iran to strike back at Israel if an attack occurs—an Iranian second-strike capability. The ayatollahs need Hezbollah intact and ferocious to scare the Israelis, so another Israel-Hezbollah war that might badly wound the Shia group is the last thing Tehran wants right now. The incident last Tuesday, when Lebanese Army snipers shot into Israel, killing one Israeli officer and wounding another, is still not fully understood. It appears to be the work of the Lebanese commander in that area, a Shia considered close to Hezbollah. Perhaps the attack was his own nasty idea; perhaps Hezbollah ordered him to do it, using the Lebanese Army to change the subject away from the tribunal. Either way it is a reminder that Lebanon is not a normal country with an army under government control. It is a battlefield largely controlled by Syria and Hezbollah, and unable to determine its own fate. For Egypt, there is one worry: Mr. Mubarak’s health. With a presidential election coming in the fall of 2011, will his 30 years in power (since Sadat’s assassination in 1981) end with a free election, or will the ill, 82-year-old Mr. Mubarak demand another term or the installation of his son Gamal as his successor? Meanwhile, Egypt’s dominance of Arab diplomacy and its overall influence in the region are declining steadily. The Arab League is still headquartered there, but it was symbolic of Egypt’s diminished status that the key figure in the foreign ministers’ meeting held there last week was Hamad bin Jassem of Qatar, the rich Gulf sheikdom with about 350,000 citizens, not Ahmed Aboul Gheit of Egypt, with a population of 80 million. At stake in the succession crisis in Egypt is not simply who will rule the country, but whether a new president will maintain Egypt’s chilly but reliable peace with Israel. Here too there are shared enemies, in this case Hamas and other Palestinian radical and terrorist groups; Israel and Egypt have maintained together (though with Israel shouldering 99% of the blame) a blockade on Gaza since the Hamas coup there in 2007. The Egyptian regime feels no love for the Israelis, but there is significant security cooperation between the two countries; Egypt’s rulers see the Shia in Iran, not the Jewish state, as the more dangerous threat to Arab power in the region. Egypt’s decisions in late July to bar an Iranian Red Crescent ship carrying aid to Gaza from entering the Suez Canal and to prevent four Iranian parliamentarians from crossing the border into Gaza are the most recent proof of this Egyptian attitude. Whatever Egypt’s concerns about Iran, fears are far greater in the Gulf. Seen from those shores, the Palestinians are a constant drain on the pocketbook and, with Al Jazeera stirring things up through constant broadcasts depicting Israeli violence and Palestinian misery, a source of popular dissatisfaction. Israeli-Palestinian violence is poison for regimes that are concerned above all else with survival, and the “peace process” is a much-sought antidote. Everyone loves conferences that suggest “progress,” though as the decisions at the recent Arab League meeting show, everyone will seek to avoid the hard decisions that serious negotiations might necessitate. The Palestinian issue has been with them for decades and may last decades more; the rise of Iran is new and pressing, given its proximity—and the existence of a Shia majority in Bahrain and a significant Shia population in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern province. It is not difficult to think of Iranian pressure, money and even guns leading to riots and violent uprisings. The Gulf regimes have long relied on American protection, and the U.S. maintains large bases in the UAE, Bahrain (the Fifth fleet’s headquarters), Qatar and Kuwait. For these regimes and for the Saudis, Iran is a constant threat and the issue of the day is who will be, to use the old British phrase, “top country” in the region. Repeated American offers to negotiate with Iran, and statements from Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates respectively that an attack on Iran would be “incredibly destabilizing” or “disastrous” do not reassure them. They want Iran stopped. They are not sure the need to do that is understood as well in Washington as it is in Jerusalem—and at Israel Defense Forces headquarters in Tel Aviv. Perhaps the enemy of my enemy is not my friend, if he is an Israeli pilot. In that case, all gestures of friendship will be forsaken or carefully hidden; there will be denunciations and UN resolutions, petitions and boycotts, Arab League summits and hurried trips to Washington. But none of that changes an essential fact of life well understood in many Arab capitals this summer: that there is a clear coincidence of interests between the Arab states and Israel today, in the face of the Iranian threat. Given the 60 years of war and cold peace between Israel and the Arabs, this is one of the signal achievements of the regime in Tehran—and could prove to be its undoing. —Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. George Mitchell, U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas .View Full Image Getty Images Mr. Abbas with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri .View Full Image Getty Images Mr. Hariri with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. .View Full Image Getty Images Mr. Mitchell with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. .View Full Image Getty Images Mr. Netanyahu with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. .View Full Image Getty Images King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia with Mr. Assad. .View Full Image Getty Images King Abdullah with Mr. Hariri .View Full Image Associated Press King Abdullah with Mr. Mubarak. .View Full Image AFP/Getty Images Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with Mr. Assad. . .But the advantages must seem dwarfed by the problems that face the Arab world this summer. The Shia in Iran seem to be building a bomb, Iran’s ally Syria is taking over Lebanon (again), Yemen is collapsing (again), Egypt’s President Mubarak is said to be dying and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is back on the front pages. What’s more, no one is sure who’s in charge these days. The American hegemony, in place at least since the British left Aden in 1967 and secured through repeated, massive military operations of its own and victories by its ally Israel, seems to be fraying. Who will stop the Iranian nuclear weapons program, the Arabs wonder; they place no faith in endless negotiations between earnest Western diplomats and the clever Persians. Israel is the enemy of their enemy, Iran. Now, the usual description of Arab-Israeli relations as “hostile” or “belligerent” is giving way to a more complex picture. Following the joint Arab military efforts to prevent the formation of the Jewish State in 1948, and the wars that followed in 1956, 1967 and 1973, this is a bizarre turn of events. Israel is as unpopular in the Arab street as it has been in past decades (which is to say, widely hated), but for Arab rulers focused on the Iranian threat all those the Israeli Air Force jets must now appear alluring. The Israeli toughness the Arabs have complained about for over a half century is now their own most likely shield against Iran. The Arab view that someone should bomb Iran and stop it from developing nuclear weapons is familiar to anyone who meets privately with Arab leaders, especially in the Gulf. Now, the curtain is being pulled back: Just last month, the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba, spoke publicly of a “cost-benefit analysis” and concluded that despite the upset to trade that would result and the inevitable “people protesting and rioting and very unhappy that there is an outside force attacking a Muslim country,” the balance was clear. The ambassador told an Aspen audience, “If you are asking me, ‘Am I willing to live with that versus living with a nuclear Iran?’ my answer is still the same: ‘We cannot live with a nuclear Iran.’ I am willing to absorb what takes place.” By speaking of “an outside force,” Ambassador Al Otaiba did not specifically demand U.S. action; he left the door open for volunteers. And two weeks ago, the Israeli press carried reports of a visit to Saudi Arabia by Gen. Meir Dagan, chief of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency; Gen. Dagan is the point man on Iran for the Israeli government. This follows stories in the Times of London two months ago claiming that the Saudis would suspend their air defense operations to permit Israeli fighter planes to cross Saudi air space en route to an attack on Iran. All this will be denied, of course, as it has always been, but Arab-Israeli (and for that matter, Arab-Palestinian) relations remain far more complicated than headlines suggest. Even in states where there are no politics as we know it—there are no elections or the outcomes are decided by fiat in the presidential palace—all politics is local, and concerns about the Palestinians take a back seat to national and personal interests. The minuet now being conducted by Arab foreign ministers with the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is illuminating. The issue is whether the Palestinians should move to direct negotiations with Israel, in place of the desultory “proximity talks” that have been led by U.S. envoy George Mitchell. Mr. Abbas has been very reluctant to make this decision, fearing venomous criticism from Hamas and wondering if direct talks would actually lead anywhere except to a further crisis down the road if and when they break down. Mr. Abbas has been laying down preconditions that make talks harder and harder to begin, asking in essence that the U.S. guarantee an outcome he likes on the central matters (refugees, borders, Jerusalem) before he will sit down at the table. Despite heavy American and European pressure, Mr. Abbas has been unwilling to decide anything. In fact, reversing years of effort by his predecessor Yasser Arafat to escape the tutelage of Arab states, he threw the ball to them. He would do whatever the Arab League told him to do. But the Arab foreign ministers, meeting two weeks ago in Cairo, proved to be as wily as he. They decided to endorse direct talks, but with preconditions—and they left the timing to the Palestinians, thus leaving Mr. Abbas on his own. Their decision was to make Mr. Abbas bear any blame associated with the decision, while they ducked and returned to their hotel suites. They are for peace and talks with Israel, and they are helping the Americans, and they are backing their Palestinian brothers, unless of course things go sour, in which case it will be clear that Mr. Abbas made the wrong decision to enter (or not to enter) direct talks. All this under the guise of “Arab solidarity.” There isn’t much solidarity this summer. For Syria, the only issue right now is regaining hegemony in Lebanon, and Syria is aligned with Iran and Hezbollah. Syrian President Bashar Assad visited Beirut a week ago for the first time since Syrian troops withdrew from Lebanon in 2005—a fitting symbol of the return of Syrian power. But Syria’s border with Israel remains dead quiet, for the regime seeks no direct confrontation. The last time it moved to assert a leadership role in the region, by the secret construction of a nuclear reactor with designs supplied by North Korea, Israel bombed the site to smithereens in September 2007. So Syria arms Hezbollah, menaces the Lebanese and watches to see how the Americans will handle Iran. There will be no serious negotiations over the Golan Heights until the Iran issue is settled, for any Golan deal would require that Syria break with Iran—and such a move depends entirely on whether the regime there is rising or falling in influence. For Lebanon, divided as ever among Sunni, Shia, Christian and Druze, the main concern is the forthcoming decision of the international tribunal investigating the murder of former prime minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. Will it name Syria or Hezbollah, the Shia terrorist group that controls much of the country? And how will Hariri’s son Saad, now prime minister, balance the need for stability against the desire for justice? The fact that Mr. Assad of Syria arrived a week ago in a Saudi jet and accompanied by the Saudi King, Abdullah, shows Lebanese that Saudi support for their independence is a thing of the past. The Saudi message was clear: Make your own arrangements with Damascus and do not count on us. Until this week, the Lebanese border with Israel had been quiet since the 2006 war—Hezbollah and its Shia supporters were hurt badly enough to avoid a repetition. For months there have been rumors of war this summer along the Israeli-Lebanon border, but that was never in the cards. Hezbollah, whose well-trained terrorists and rockets aimed at Israel’s cities are supplied or financed by Iran, could attack Israel if Israel bombs Iran’s nuclear sites. Thus Hezbollah’s forces are both a deterrent to an Israeli attack, and a way for Iran to strike back at Israel if an attack occurs—an Iranian second-strike capability. The ayatollahs need Hezbollah intact and ferocious to scare the Israelis, so another Israel-Hezbollah war that might badly wound the Shia group is the last thing Tehran wants right now. The incident last Tuesday, when Lebanese Army snipers shot into Israel, killing one Israeli officer and wounding another, is still not fully understood. It appears to be the work of the Lebanese commander in that area, a Shia considered close to Hezbollah. Perhaps the attack was his own nasty idea; perhaps Hezbollah ordered him to do it, using the Lebanese Army to change the subject away from the tribunal. Either way it is a reminder that Lebanon is not a normal country with an army under government control. It is a battlefield largely controlled by Syria and Hezbollah, and unable to determine its own fate. For Egypt, there is one worry: Mr. Mubarak’s health. With a presidential election coming in the fall of 2011, will his 30 years in power (since Sadat’s assassination in 1981) end with a free election, or will the ill, 82-year-old Mr. Mubarak demand another term or the installation of his son Gamal as his successor? Meanwhile, Egypt’s dominance of Arab diplomacy and its overall influence in the region are declining steadily. The Arab League is still headquartered there, but it was symbolic of Egypt’s diminished status that the key figure in the foreign ministers’ meeting held there last week was Hamad bin Jassem of Qatar, the rich Gulf sheikdom with about 350,000 citizens, not Ahmed Aboul Gheit of Egypt, with a population of 80 million. At stake in the succession crisis in Egypt is not simply who will rule the country, but whether a new president will maintain Egypt’s chilly but reliable peace with Israel. Here too there are shared enemies, in this case Hamas and other Palestinian radical and terrorist groups; Israel and Egypt have maintained together (though with Israel shouldering 99% of the blame) a blockade on Gaza since the Hamas coup there in 2007. The Egyptian regime feels no love for the Israelis, but there is significant security cooperation between the two countries; Egypt’s rulers see the Shia in Iran, not the Jewish state, as the more dangerous threat to Arab power in the region. Egypt’s decisions in late July to bar an Iranian Red Crescent ship carrying aid to Gaza from entering the Suez Canal and to prevent four Iranian parliamentarians from crossing the border into Gaza are the most recent proof of this Egyptian attitude. Whatever Egypt’s concerns about Iran, fears are far greater in the Gulf. Seen from those shores, the Palestinians are a constant drain on the pocketbook and, with Al Jazeera stirring things up through constant broadcasts depicting Israeli violence and Palestinian misery, a source of popular dissatisfaction. Israeli-Palestinian violence is poison for regimes that are concerned above all else with survival, and the “peace process” is a much-sought antidote. Everyone loves conferences that suggest “progress,” though as the decisions at the recent Arab League meeting show, everyone will seek to avoid the hard decisions that serious negotiations might necessitate. The Palestinian issue has been with them for decades and may last decades more; the rise of Iran is new and pressing, given its proximity—and the existence of a Shia majority in Bahrain and a significant Shia population in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern province. It is not difficult to think of Iranian pressure, money and even guns leading to riots and violent uprisings. The Gulf regimes have long relied on American protection, and the U.S. maintains large bases in the UAE, Bahrain (the Fifth fleet’s headquarters), Qatar and Kuwait. For these regimes and for the Saudis, Iran is a constant threat and the issue of the day is who will be, to use the old British phrase, “top country” in the region. Repeated American offers to negotiate with Iran, and statements from Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates respectively that an attack on Iran would be “incredibly destabilizing” or “disastrous” do not reassure them. They want Iran stopped. They are not sure the need to do that is understood as well in Washington as it is in Jerusalem—and at Israel Defense Forces headquarters in Tel Aviv. Perhaps the enemy of my enemy is not my friend, if he is an Israeli pilot. In that case, all gestures of friendship will be forsaken or carefully hidden; there will be denunciations and UN resolutions, petitions and boycotts, Arab League summits and hurried trips to Washington. But none of that changes an essential fact of life well understood in many Arab capitals this summer: that there is a clear coincidence of interests between the Arab states and Israel today, in the face of the Iranian threat. Given the 60 years of war and cold peace between Israel and the Arabs, this is one of the signal achievements of the regime in Tehran—and could prove to be its undoing. —Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. An Israeli F-16i jet fighter. Being an Arab leader has its rewards: the suite at the Waldorf-Astoria during the United Nations General Assembly, travel in your own plane, plenty of cash, even job security—whether kings, sheiks or presidents, with or without elections, most serve for life. AUGUST 6, 2010.The Enemy of My Enemy Facing the threat of a nuclear Iran, the hostile Arab-Israeli relationship is giving way to a more complex picture. By ELLIOTT ABRAMS Being an Arab leader has its rewards: the suite at the Waldorf-Astoria during the United Nations General Assembly, travel in your own plane, plenty of cash, even job security—whether kings, sheiks or presidents, with or without elections, most serve for life. But the advantages must seem dwarfed by the problems that face the Arab world this summer. The Shia in Iran seem to be building a bomb, Iran’s ally Syria is taking over Lebanon (again), Yemen is collapsing (again), Egypt’s President Mubarak is said to be dying and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is back on the front pages. What’s more, no one is sure who’s in charge these days. The American hegemony, in place at least since the British left Aden in 1967 and secured through repeated, massive military operations of its own and victories by its ally Israel, seems to be fraying. Who will stop the Iranian nuclear weapons program, the Arabs wonder; they place no faith in endless negotiations between earnest Western diplomats and the clever Persians. Israel is the enemy of their enemy, Iran. Now, the usual description of Arab-Israeli relations as “hostile” or “belligerent” is giving way to a more complex picture. Following the joint Arab military efforts to prevent the formation of the Jewish State in 1948, and the wars that followed in 1956, 1967 and 1973, this is a bizarre turn of events. Israel is as unpopular in the Arab street as it has been in past decades (which is to say, widely hated), but for Arab rulers focused on the Iranian threat all those the Israeli Air Force jets must now appear alluring. The Israeli toughness the Arabs have complained about for over a half century is now their own most likely shield against Iran. The Arab view that someone should bomb Iran and stop it from developing nuclear weapons is familiar to anyone who meets privately with Arab leaders, especially in the Gulf. Now, the curtain is being pulled back: Just last month, the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba, spoke publicly of a “cost-benefit analysis” and concluded that despite the upset to trade that would result and the inevitable “people protesting and rioting and very unhappy that there is an outside force attacking a Muslim country,” the balance was clear. The ambassador told an Aspen audience, “If you are asking me, ‘Am I willing to live with that versus living with a nuclear Iran?’ my answer is still the same: ‘We cannot live with a nuclear Iran.’ I am willing to absorb what takes place.” By speaking of “an outside force,” Ambassador Al Otaiba did not specifically demand U.S. action; he left the door open for volunteers. And two weeks ago, the Israeli press carried reports of a visit to Saudi Arabia by Gen. Meir Dagan, chief of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency; Gen. Dagan is the point man on Iran for the Israeli government. This follows stories in the Times of London two months ago claiming that the Saudis would suspend their air defense operations to permit Israeli fighter planes to cross Saudi air space en route to an attack on Iran. All this will be denied, of course, as it has always been, but Arab-Israeli (and for that matter, Arab-Palestinian) relations remain far more complicated than headlines suggest. Even in states where there are no politics as we know it—there are no elections or the outcomes are decided by fiat in the presidential palace—all politics is local, and concerns about the Palestinians take a back seat to national and personal interests. The minuet now being conducted by Arab foreign ministers with the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is illuminating. The issue is whether the Palestinians should move to direct negotiations with Israel, in place of the desultory “proximity talks” that have been led by U.S. envoy George Mitchell. Mr. Abbas has been very reluctant to make this decision, fearing venomous criticism from Hamas and wondering if direct talks would actually lead anywhere except to a further crisis down the road if and when they break down. Mr. Abbas has been laying down preconditions that make talks harder and harder to begin, asking in essence that the U.S. guarantee an outcome he likes on the central matters (refugees, borders, Jerusalem) before he will sit down at the table. Despite heavy American and European pressure, Mr. Abbas has been unwilling to decide anything. In fact, reversing years of effort by his predecessor Yasser Arafat to escape the tutelage of Arab states, he threw the ball to them. He would do whatever the Arab League told him to do. But the Arab foreign ministers, meeting two weeks ago in Cairo, proved to be as wily as he. They decided to endorse direct talks, but with preconditions—and they left the timing to the Palestinians, thus leaving Mr. Abbas on his own. Their decision was to make Mr. Abbas bear any blame associated with the decision, while they ducked and returned to their hotel suites. They are for peace and talks with Israel, and they are helping the Americans, and they are backing their Palestinian brothers, unless of course things go sour, in which case it will be clear that Mr. Abbas made the wrong decision to enter (or not to enter) direct talks. All this under the guise of “Arab solidarity.” There isn’t much solidarity this summer. For Syria, the only issue right now is regaining hegemony in Lebanon, and Syria is aligned with Iran and Hezbollah. Syrian President Bashar Assad visited Beirut a week ago for the first time since Syrian troops withdrew from Lebanon in 2005—a fitting symbol of the return of Syrian power. But Syria’s border with Israel remains dead quiet, for the regime seeks no direct confrontation. The last time it moved to assert a leadership role in the region, by the secret construction of a nuclear reactor with designs supplied by North Korea, Israel bombed the site to smithereens in September 2007. So Syria arms Hezbollah, menaces the Lebanese and watches to see how the Americans will handle Iran. There will be no serious negotiations over the Golan Heights until the Iran issue is settled, for any Golan deal would require that Syria break with Iran—and such a move depends entirely on whether the regime there is rising or falling in influence. For Lebanon, divided as ever among Sunni, Shia, Christian and Druze, the main concern is the forthcoming decision of the international tribunal investigating the murder of former prime minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. Will it name Syria or Hezbollah, the Shia terrorist group that controls much of the country? And how will Hariri’s son Saad, now prime minister, balance the need for stability against the desire for justice? The fact that Mr. Assad of Syria arrived a week ago in a Saudi jet and accompanied by the Saudi King, Abdullah, shows Lebanese that Saudi support for their independence is a thing of the past. The Saudi message was clear: Make your own arrangements with Damascus and do not count on us. Until this week, the Lebanese border with Israel had been quiet since the 2006 war—Hezbollah and its Shia supporters were hurt badly enough to avoid a repetition. For months there have been rumors of war this summer along the Israeli-Lebanon border, but that was never in the cards. Hezbollah, whose well-trained terrorists and rockets aimed at Israel’s cities are supplied or financed by Iran, could attack Israel if Israel bombs Iran’s nuclear sites. Thus Hezbollah’s forces are both a deterrent to an Israeli attack, and a way for Iran to strike back at Israel if an attack occurs—an Iranian second-strike capability. The ayatollahs need Hezbollah intact and ferocious to scare the Israelis, so another Israel-Hezbollah war that might badly wound the Shia group is the last thing Tehran wants right now. The incident last Tuesday, when Lebanese Army snipers shot into Israel, killing one Israeli officer and wounding another, is still not fully understood. It appears to be the work of the Lebanese commander in that area, a Shia considered close to Hezbollah. Perhaps the attack was his own nasty idea; perhaps Hezbollah ordered him to do it, using the Lebanese Army to change the subject away from the tribunal. Either way it is a reminder that Lebanon is not a normal country with an army under government control. It is a battlefield largely controlled by Syria and Hezbollah, and unable to determine its own fate. For Egypt, there is one worry: Mr. Mubarak’s health. With a presidential election coming in the fall of 2011, will his 30 years in power (since Sadat’s assassination in 1981) end with a free election, or will the ill, 82-year-old Mr. Mubarak demand another term or the installation of his son Gamal as his successor? Meanwhile, Egypt’s dominance of Arab diplomacy and its overall influence in the region are declining steadily. The Arab League is still headquartered there, but it was symbolic of Egypt’s diminished status that the key figure in the foreign ministers’ meeting held there last week was Hamad bin Jassem of Qatar, the rich Gulf sheikdom with about 350,000 citizens, not Ahmed Aboul Gheit of Egypt, with a population of 80 million. At stake in the succession crisis in Egypt is not simply who will rule the country, but whether a new president will maintain Egypt’s chilly but reliable peace with Israel. Here too there are shared enemies, in this case Hamas and other Palestinian radical and terrorist groups; Israel and Egypt have maintained together (though with Israel shouldering 99% of the blame) a blockade on Gaza since the Hamas coup there in 2007. The Egyptian regime feels no love for the Israelis, but there is significant security cooperation between the two countries; Egypt’s rulers see the Shia in Iran, not the Jewish state, as the more dangerous threat to Arab power in the region. Egypt’s decisions in late July to bar an Iranian Red Crescent ship carrying aid to Gaza from entering the Suez Canal and to prevent four Iranian parliamentarians from crossing the border into Gaza are the most recent proof of this Egyptian attitude. Whatever Egypt’s concerns about Iran, fears are far greater in the Gulf. Seen from those shores, the Palestinians are a constant drain on the pocketbook and, with Al Jazeera stirring things up through constant broadcasts depicting Israeli violence and Palestinian misery, a source of popular dissatisfaction. Israeli-Palestinian violence is poison for regimes that are concerned above all else with survival, and the “peace process” is a much-sought antidote. Everyone loves conferences that suggest “progress,” though as the decisions at the recent Arab League meeting show, everyone will seek to avoid the hard decisions that serious negotiations might necessitate. The Palestinian issue has been with them for decades and may last decades more; the rise of Iran is new and pressing, given its proximity—and the existence of a Shia majority in Bahrain and a significant Shia population in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern province. It is not difficult to think of Iranian pressure, money and even guns leading to riots and violent uprisings. The Gulf regimes have long relied on American protection, and the U.S. maintains large bases in the UAE, Bahrain (the Fifth fleet’s headquarters), Qatar and Kuwait. For these regimes and for the Saudis, Iran is a constant threat and the issue of the day is who will be, to use the old British phrase, “top country” in the region. Repeated American offers to negotiate with Iran, and statements from Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates respectively that an attack on Iran would be “incredibly destabilizing” or “disastrous” do not reassure them. They want Iran stopped. They are not sure the need to do that is understood as well in Washington as it is in Jerusalem—and at Israel Defense Forces headquarters in Tel Aviv. Perhaps the enemy of my enemy is not my friend, if he is an Israeli pilot. In that case, all gestures of friendship will be forsaken or carefully hidden; there will be denunciations and UN resolutions, petitions and boycotts, Arab League summits and hurried trips to Washington. But none of that changes an essential fact of life well understood in many Arab capitals this summer: that there is a clear coincidence of interests between the Arab states and Israel today, in the face of the Iranian threat. Given the 60 years of war and cold peace between Israel and the Arabs, this is one of the signal achievements of the regime in Tehran—and could prove to be its undoing. —Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. George Mitchell, U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas .View Full Image Getty Images Mr. Abbas with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri .View Full Image Getty Images Mr. Hariri with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. .View Full Image Getty Images Mr. Mitchell with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. .View Full Image Getty Images Mr. Netanyahu with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. .View Full Image Getty Images King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia with Mr. Assad. .View Full Image Getty Images King Abdullah with Mr. Hariri .View Full Image Associated Press King Abdullah with Mr. Mubarak. .View Full Image AFP/Getty Images Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with Mr. Assad. . .But the advantages must seem dwarfed by the problems that face the Arab world this summer. The Shia in Iran seem to be building a bomb, Iran’s ally Syria is taking over Lebanon (again), Yemen is collapsing (again), Egypt’s President Mubarak is said to be dying and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is back on the front pages. What’s more, no one is sure who’s in charge these days. The American hegemony, in place at least since the British left Aden in 1967 and secured through repeated, massive military operations of its own and victories by its ally Israel, seems to be fraying. Who will stop the Iranian nuclear weapons program, the Arabs wonder; they place no faith in endless negotiations between earnest Western diplomats and the clever Persians. Israel is the enemy of their enemy, Iran. Now, the usual description of Arab-Israeli relations as “hostile” or “belligerent” is giving way to a more complex picture. Following the joint Arab military efforts to prevent the formation of the Jewish State in 1948, and the wars that followed in 1956, 1967 and 1973, this is a bizarre turn of events. Israel is as unpopular in the Arab street as it has been in past decades (which is to say, widely hated), but for Arab rulers focused on the Iranian threat all those the Israeli Air Force jets must now appear alluring. The Israeli toughness the Arabs have complained about for over a half century is now their own most likely shield against Iran. The Arab view that someone should bomb Iran and stop it from developing nuclear weapons is familiar to anyone who meets privately with Arab leaders, especially in the Gulf. Now, the curtain is being pulled back: Just last month, the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba, spoke publicly of a “cost-benefit analysis” and concluded that despite the upset to trade that would result and the inevitable “people protesting and rioting and very unhappy that there is an outside force attacking a Muslim country,” the balance was clear. The ambassador told an Aspen audience, “If you are asking me, ‘Am I willing to live with that versus living with a nuclear Iran?’ my answer is still the same: ‘We cannot live with a nuclear Iran.’ I am willing to absorb what takes place.” By speaking of “an outside force,” Ambassador Al Otaiba did not specifically demand U.S. action; he left the door open for volunteers. And two weeks ago, the Israeli press carried reports of a visit to Saudi Arabia by Gen. Meir Dagan, chief of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency; Gen. Dagan is the point man on Iran for the Israeli government. This follows stories in the Times of London two months ago claiming that the Saudis would suspend their air defense operations to permit Israeli fighter planes to cross Saudi air space en route to an attack on Iran. All this will be denied, of course, as it has always been, but Arab-Israeli (and for that matter, Arab-Palestinian) relations remain far more complicated than headlines suggest. Even in states where there are no politics as we know it—there are no elections or the outcomes are decided by fiat in the presidential palace—all politics is local, and concerns about the Palestinians take a back seat to national and personal interests. The minuet now being conducted by Arab foreign ministers with the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is illuminating. The issue is whether the Palestinians should move to direct negotiations with Israel, in place of the desultory “proximity talks” that have been led by U.S. envoy George Mitchell. Mr. Abbas has been very reluctant to make this decision, fearing venomous criticism from Hamas and wondering if direct talks would actually lead anywhere except to a further crisis down the road if and when they break down. Mr. Abbas has been laying down preconditions that make talks harder and harder to begin, asking in essence that the U.S. guarantee an outcome he likes on the central matters (refugees, borders, Jerusalem) before he will sit down at the table. Despite heavy American and European pressure, Mr. Abbas has been unwilling to decide anything. In fact, reversing years of effort by his predecessor Yasser Arafat to escape the tutelage of Arab states, he threw the ball to them. He would do whatever the Arab League told him to do. But the Arab foreign ministers, meeting two weeks ago in Cairo, proved to be as wily as he. They decided to endorse direct talks, but with preconditions—and they left the timing to the Palestinians, thus leaving Mr. Abbas on his own. Their decision was to make Mr. Abbas bear any blame associated with the decision, while they ducked and returned to their hotel suites. They are for peace and talks with Israel, and they are helping the Americans, and they are backing their Palestinian brothers, unless of course things go sour, in which case it will be clear that Mr. Abbas made the wrong decision to enter (or not to enter) direct talks. All this under the guise of “Arab solidarity.” There isn’t much solidarity this summer. For Syria, the only issue right now is regaining hegemony in Lebanon, and Syria is aligned with Iran and Hezbollah. Syrian President Bashar Assad visited Beirut a week ago for the first time since Syrian troops withdrew from Lebanon in 2005—a fitting symbol of the return of Syrian power. But Syria’s border with Israel remains dead quiet, for the regime seeks no direct confrontation. The last time it moved to assert a leadership role in the region, by the secret construction of a nuclear reactor with designs supplied by North Korea, Israel bombed the site to smithereens in September 2007. So Syria arms Hezbollah, menaces the Lebanese and watches to see how the Americans will handle Iran. There will be no serious negotiations over the Golan Heights until the Iran issue is settled, for any Golan deal would require that Syria break with Iran—and such a move depends entirely on whether the regime there is rising or falling in influence. For Lebanon, divided as ever among Sunni, Shia, Christian and Druze, the main concern is the forthcoming decision of the international tribunal investigating the murder of former prime minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. Will it name Syria or Hezbollah, the Shia terrorist group that controls much of the country? And how will Hariri’s son Saad, now prime minister, balance the need for stability against the desire for justice? The fact that Mr. Assad of Syria arrived a week ago in a Saudi jet and accompanied by the Saudi King, Abdullah, shows Lebanese that Saudi support for their independence is a thing of the past. The Saudi message was clear: Make your own arrangements with Damascus and do not count on us. Until this week, the Lebanese border with Israel had been quiet since the 2006 war—Hezbollah and its Shia supporters were hurt badly enough to avoid a repetition. For months there have been rumors of war this summer along the Israeli-Lebanon border, but that was never in the cards. Hezbollah, whose well-trained terrorists and rockets aimed at Israel’s cities are supplied or financed by Iran, could attack Israel if Israel bombs Iran’s nuclear sites. Thus Hezbollah’s forces are both a deterrent to an Israeli attack, and a way for Iran to strike back at Israel if an attack occurs—an Iranian second-strike capability. The ayatollahs need Hezbollah intact and ferocious to scare the Israelis, so another Israel-Hezbollah war that might badly wound the Shia group is the last thing Tehran wants right now. The incident last Tuesday, when Lebanese Army snipers shot into Israel, killing one Israeli officer and wounding another, is still not fully understood. It appears to be the work of the Lebanese commander in that area, a Shia considered close to Hezbollah. Perhaps the attack was his own nasty idea; perhaps Hezbollah ordered him to do it, using the Lebanese Army to change the subject away from the tribunal. Either way it is a reminder that Lebanon is not a normal country with an army under government control. It is a battlefield largely controlled by Syria and Hezbollah, and unable to determine its own fate. For Egypt, there is one worry: Mr. Mubarak’s health. With a presidential election coming in the fall of 2011, will his 30 years in power (since Sadat’s assassination in 1981) end with a free election, or will the ill, 82-year-old Mr. Mubarak demand another term or the installation of his son Gamal as his successor? Meanwhile, Egypt’s dominance of Arab diplomacy and its overall influence in the region are declining steadily. The Arab League is still headquartered there, but it was symbolic of Egypt’s diminished status that the key figure in the foreign ministers’ meeting held there last week was Hamad bin Jassem of Qatar, the rich Gulf sheikdom with about 350,000 citizens, not Ahmed Aboul Gheit of Egypt, with a population of 80 million. At stake in the succession crisis in Egypt is not simply who will rule the country, but whether a new president will maintain Egypt’s chilly but reliable peace with Israel. Here too there are shared enemies, in this case Hamas and other Palestinian radical and terrorist groups; Israel and Egypt have maintained together (though with Israel shouldering 99% of the blame) a blockade on Gaza since the Hamas coup there in 2007. The Egyptian regime feels no love for the Israelis, but there is significant security cooperation between the two countries; Egypt’s rulers see the Shia in Iran, not the Jewish state, as the more dangerous threat to Arab power in the region. Egypt’s decisions in late July to bar an Iranian Red Crescent ship carrying aid to Gaza from entering the Suez Canal and to prevent four Iranian parliamentarians from crossing the border into Gaza are the most recent proof of this Egyptian attitude. Whatever Egypt’s concerns about Iran, fears are far greater in the Gulf. Seen from those shores, the Palestinians are a constant drain on the pocketbook and, with Al Jazeera stirring things up through constant broadcasts depicting Israeli violence and Palestinian misery, a source of popular dissatisfaction. Israeli-Palestinian violence is poison for regimes that are concerned above all else with survival, and the “peace process” is a much-sought antidote. Everyone loves conferences that suggest “progress,” though as the decisions at the recent Arab League meeting show, everyone will seek to avoid the hard decisions that serious negotiations might necessitate. The Palestinian issue has been with them for decades and may last decades more; the rise of Iran is new and pressing, given its proximity—and the existence of a Shia majority in Bahrain and a significant Shia population in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern province. It is not difficult to think of Iranian pressure, money and even guns leading to riots and violent uprisings. The Gulf regimes have long relied on American protection, and the U.S. maintains large bases in the UAE, Bahrain (the Fifth fleet’s headquarters), Qatar and Kuwait. For these regimes and for the Saudis, Iran is a constant threat and the issue of the day is who will be, to use the old British phrase, “top country” in the region. Repeated American offers to negotiate with Iran, and statements from Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates respectively that an attack on Iran would be “incredibly destabilizing” or “disastrous” do not reassure them. They want Iran stopped. They are not sure the need to do that is understood as well in Washington as it is in Jerusalem—and at Israel Defense Forces headquarters in Tel Aviv. Perhaps the enemy of my enemy is not my friend, if he is an Israeli pilot. In that case, all gestures of friendship will be forsaken or carefully hidden; there will be denunciations and UN resolutions, petitions and boycotts, Arab League summits and hurried trips to Washington. But none of that changes an essential fact of life well understood in many Arab capitals this summer: that there is a clear coincidence of interests between the Arab states and Israel today, in the face of the Iranian threat. Given the 60 years of war and cold peace between Israel and the Arabs, this is one of the signal achievements of the regime in Tehran—and could prove to be its undoing. —Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703748904575411162454395320.html