Strategic Analysis

Mideast Briefing: From the Turkel Report to the Palmer Commission

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Ed Rettig, Acting Director, AJC-Jerusalem

The commission of inquiry that the Israeli government established to probe the Turkish flotilla incident released the first of two reports. It deals with the legality of the blockade of Gaza and actions taken against the attempt to run the blockade, and also reports on the conduct of the flotilla’s participants. The second report, expected shortly, will address how Israel handles allegations that its troops violate the rules of war, in order to determine if the mechanisms in place rise to the level demanded by international law. It will also deal with what were described as “questions of Israeli internal affairs.” Read more »

AJC Special Report: The Egyptian Struggle through Israeli Eyes

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Dr. Edward Rettig, Director, AJC-Jerusalem

Israel has been watching spellbound as events unfold in Egypt. Overall, for the friends of Egypt in Israel, the exciting possibility that we observe the birth pangs of a more democratic order wrestles with the frightening prospect that Egypt may shift from a pillar of anti-Islamism to something less dependable. Read more »

Mideast Commentary: Jerusalem Prognosis

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Ed Rettig, Director, AJC-Jerusalem

The Israeli Knesset designated Jerusalem Day as a national holiday in 1968. It falls on the 28th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, the anniversary of the day the State of Israel proclaimed the reunification of the city in 1967. This year the Hebrew date fell on June 1. The occasion calls for some reflections on the state of the city. Read more »

Mideast Briefing: The Children of the Cobbler Go Barefoot

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

Ed Rettig, Director, AJC-Jerusalem

An Israeli-owned company sells an oil tanker to Iran

Lenin reportedly said of capitalists that they “will sell us the rope with which to hang them.” Israel seems to have encountered a contemporary version of this trope with the announcement by the U.S. State Department that it is placing sanctions on a large Israeli company, the Ofer Brothers Group, and its Singapore-based subsidiary Tanker Pacific - among a group of seven companies, including a major Venezuelan firm, targeted under increasingly restrictive U.S. laws barring specified trade with Iran. Read more »

Mideast Briefing: The Second Gaza Flotilla

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Ed Rettig, Director, AJC-Jerusalem

A second, much larger flotilla will attempt to break the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza in the third week of June. This expansion of last year’s effort, again led by IHH, the Turkish Islamist group, revives questions that need examination before events play out. Read more »

Mideast Briefing: “That Sinking Feeling: Palestinian “Unity” and the Peace Process”

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Ed Rettig, Director, AJC-Jerusalem

A familiar sinking feeling accompanies the news of a unity agreement between the Palestinian Authority’s Fatah leadership and the Islamist Hamas government of Gaza. Some informed observers suggest to AJC that this should not be taken too seriously. It is, they claim, mainly window dressing designed to facilitate the Palestinian attempt to bypass negotiations with Israel and attain independence through a UN vote in September, and the alliance will not hold water much beyond that. Nevertheless, even window dressing carries costs, and this particular adornment may be more expensive than most. Read more »

AJC Mideast Briefing: Cyprus and Israel

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Ed Rettig, Director, AJC-Jerusalem

On behalf of the entire staff of AJC in Israel, I want to wish all of our friends a most happy Passover holiday.


Cyprus feels much like home to an Israeli: rocky hills; familiar food; same sea; and a similar existential sense of living on the edge of a volcano. Many Israelis have been to Cyprus for vacations or for business, and, because their own country lacks civil marriage, Cyprus provides a convenient foreign registrar. And more Cypriots are coming to Israel to play, tour, pray and seek medical care. The flight only takes forty minutes. Read more »

Mideast Briefing: A Presidential Visit

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Ed Rettig, Director, AJC-Jerusalem

While worldwide attention focused on the conflict in Libya, ongoing strife in the Arab world, and the disasters striking Japan, important events took place in Israel that may reshape some of the political architecture of the Eastern Mediterranean. Read more »

Mideast Briefing: The Cost of Dehumanization

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Ed Rettig, Director, AJC-Jerusalem

Words fail, following the stabbing murders at the settlement of Itamar. The victims were Ruth and Rabbi Udi Fogel and three of their children, Yoav (eleven), Elad (three) and Hadas (four months). What was the terrorist thinking as he slit the throat of a baby? What were the feelings of the 12-year-old daughter who arrived home around midnight to find her family slaughtered? With our dead laid out before us, let us not attempt to describe the deed. But we must not shrink from contemplating the cost of dehumanization. Read more »

Mideast Briefing: Demoting the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Ed Rettig, Director, AJC-Jerusalem

Just a few months ago General Jim Jones, the former U.S. National Security Advisor, told the Herzliah Conference that if God has allocated just one crisis for President Obama to resolve during his term in office, it should be the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It is, indeed, a conflict that must be resolved - for the future of both peoples, and because of its exploitation by regional actors. But waves of protest in the Arab world have undermined the delusion that somehow the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the root cause of regional instability. Whether in nations at peace with Israel like Egypt, those that sit out the conflict like Tunisia, or those like Syria that practice vitriolic hostility, Palestine was not the motivation for revolutionary confrontation with the government. Citizens are risking everything and challenging national authority in order to fundamentally rewrite the social contract. Read more »