The War on TikTok: Security Concerns and Anti-Semitism
Programmes
22 Apr 2024

The War on TikTok: Security Concerns and Anti-Semitism

Social media has played a pivotal role in reshaping the narratives of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict since the outbreak of Oct. 7. The dissemination of news and information now extends far beyond traditional media outlets. Instead, social media platforms have emerged as potent influencers, surpassing the resonance of weapons and delineating a global divide between Israel and Palestine. These platforms have become arenas of contention, with users segregating into supporters and opponents, rendering them susceptible to content-related pressures amid the war. The war on Gaza has once again thrust TikTok into a heated discourse regarding the application's dangers and impact as a global forum for ordinary individuals to voice their opinions while also serving as a battleground for political factions to vie for narrative control. This debate assumes added significance as the audience of traditional news outlets continues to dwindle.   Recently, numerous TikTok videos concerning the war on Gaza garnered widespread attention, accompanied by pro-Palestinian hashtags, prompting Israeli President Isaac Herzog to engage in discussions with TikTok executives in February 2024. Expressing apprehension over the surge in antisemitic content on the platform since the onset of the Israeli war on Gaza, they assured President Herzog of their commitment to address the issue in the future. In a related context, social media companies based in the United States have already demonstrated a readiness to censor pro-Palestinian content. Human Rights Watch, in its December 2023 report, documented over 1,050 instances of content removal and suppression on Instagram and Facebook by Palestinians and their supporters between October and November 2023.   In this context, U.S. legislators, conservative activists, and technology investors have voiced calls to ban TikTok in the U.S., citing escalating concerns. These calls gained significant traction on March 13, 2024, when the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted in favour of a bill. The bill places ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, with two options, both fraught with implications: either sell the application to a U.S.-based company or confront a ban on distribution through significant platforms and application stores. President Joseph Biden voiced his backing for the bill and signalled his readiness to sign it into law pending Senate approval. However, the U.S. initiative this time brings forth broader concerns beyond national security, encompassing the application's ramifications on Israel's reputation. The country's standing has been damaged due to the swift dissemination of content depicting Israel's crimes against civilians in the Gaza Strip.   This analysis aims to elucidate the reasons behind the shift in the U.S. perspective on TikTok, moving from security concerns to the perception of promoting antisemitism. What repercussions would the embargo have on both the United States and Israel?
The Fallout of Escalating Iranian-Israeli Tensions
Programmes
17 Apr 2024

The Fallout of Escalating Iranian-Israeli Tensions

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Air Force made a historic move by launching a direct assault on Israel in an operation dubbed "The True Promise," marking the first instance of such an attack originating from Iranian territory. Late on Saturday, April 13, 2024, Israeli cities were subjected to a relentless barrage of drones and ballistic missiles, signalling a significant escalation in tensions between the two nations. This offensive action follows Iran's earlier pledge to retaliate against Israel for its targeting of the Iranian consulate in Damascus, an incident that resulted in the deaths of seven Revolutionary Guard members, including two high-ranking leaders, on April 1.   This calculated escalation underscores Iran's unwavering commitment to defending its sovereignty and national interests while bolstering regional security. The global spotlight now shifts to the scale, sophistication, and broader implications of Iran's strike against Israel.   The Iranian assault on Israeli soil marks a pivotal moment in the ongoing conflict between the two adversaries, thrusting their hostilities from the shadows into the open arena of direct confrontation.   Against this backdrop, the Israeli response hinges on several key factors. Firstly, the extent to which Iranian proxies, such as the Houthis and Hezbollah, may actively participate in the conflict will influence Israel's strategic calculus. Secondly, the response will be shaped by the presence or absence of casualties among Israeli forces, as well as the effectiveness of its defence systems, bolstered by support from the United States, in mitigating potential damage. Lastly, how Israel opts to retaliate will be of paramount importance in determining the trajectory of the conflict.   Consequently, this analysis aims to elucidate the attack's ramifications and its economic repercussions on the parties involved in the conflict.
Israel-Hamas War: A Potential Breaking Point for Israeli Society
Programmes

Israel-Hamas War: A Potential Breaking Point for Israeli Society

The dynamics between the Haredi Jewish community and the state of Israel are intricate and peculiar, shaped by many complex factors. Despite their historical opposition to the state's establishment and its Zionist underpinnings, they have emerged as prominent beneficiaries within Israeli society. Despite their active involvement in politics, with dedicated parties and ministerial representation in successive Israeli governments, the Haredi community seeks to diminish government authority over them. They maintain superficial compliance while preserving their self-organised societal structures.   These contradictions have been a continual source of critique within Israeli society since the State's inception. Successive Israeli administrations have consistently granted numerous privileges to the Haredi Jewish community, influenced by their political and religious sway. Chief among these privileges is their exemption from mandatory conscription, unlike other societal groups, accompanied by various financial incentives. However, the landscape is poised for significant transformation following the Gaza war.   This analysis aims to delve into the economic traits of the Haredi Jewish community and explore their broader economic impacts on Israeli society.
What if the U.S. Ceased Providing Military Aid to Israel?
Publications
3 Mar 2024

What if the U.S. Ceased Providing Military Aid to Israel?

A recent statement from the European Union Foreign Policy Commissioner, Josep Borrell, urging Israel's allies, notably Washington, to cease supplying weapons to Israel has ignited widespread controversy. This call comes amid heightened concerns over the significant civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip. Coinciding with this plea, a Dutch appeals court decision has prohibited the export of all spare parts for F-35 fighter jets destined for Israel. These developments unfold against the backdrop of Israel's plans to initiate an expanded military operation in Rafah. Such an operation raises the spectre of a potential humanitarian catastrophe, particularly concerning the over 1.3 million displaced individuals from the Gaza Strip who have sought refuge in Rafah since the commencement of military activities in the enclave.   The United States provides Israel with annual military aid worth $3.8 billion, which stands as one of the most substantial military aid packages supplied by the U.S. to any country globally. This commitment was reaffirmed by U.S. officials, including President Joseph Biden, who, during his tenure as Vice President under Barack Obama, emphasised the enduring strategic alliance between the two countries. Then Vice President Biden said the U.S. commitment to Israel transcends moral obligations and is a deeply rooted strategic obligation. During a visit to Tel Aviv amid the events of Oct. 7, he underscored that “the existence of an independent and secure Israel within globally recognised borders aligns with the practical strategic interests of the United States.” He further emphasised, “I have long said: If Israel didn't exist, we would have to invent it.” Evidence of the depth of relations and continued support is further demonstrated by Congress' approval of an additional $14.1 billion in military aid to Israel. This aid is intended to bolster Israel's capabilities in its conflict with the Hamas movement, specifically by providing air and missile defence support and replenishing U.S. military stock granted to Israel. This level of support echoes the assistance provided by the United States to Israel during the October 1973 War with the Egyptian Army.   The generous and unconditional support provided by the U.S. to Israel prompts numerous inquiries, particularly in the context of the U.S.'s inability to exert pressure on Israel to stop its war on Gaza. Additionally, its loss of control over the right-wing government's decision-making process regarding the potential expansion of the war to include Rafah, portending an imminent conflict with Egypt. Hence, this analysis endeavours to address a pivotal question: Will these developments prompt a shift in the U.S. stance toward Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing government, potentially leading to a withdrawal from the notion of an expanded operation in Rafah? Furthermore, can the United States feasibly cease its military aid to this strategic ally in the Middle East?
The Economic Impacts of Boycotts Against Israel and Supporting Companies
Programmes

The Economic Impacts of Boycotts Against Israel and Supporting Companies

The documented history of employing a boycott as an economic weapon traces its origins to 432 B.C., Athens enacted the Megarian Decree, named after the city of Megara in ancient Greece. This decree comprised a series of economic sanctions, with a pivotal measure prohibiting Megarian goods from entering Athens. It extended to restricting Athenian ships from docking in Megara and, ultimately, barred Megarians from trading within the Athenian market.   In response, Megara and its allies in the Peloponnesian League took retaliatory economic actions, prominently featuring a boycott of Athenian goods. This reciprocal economic pressure adversely affected both entities, culminating in the onset of the Peloponnesian War. Lasting approximately 27 years, this conflict subsequently impeded the growth and continuity of Greek civilisation.   The following centuries witnessed the global utilisation of economic boycotts for various political purposes, primarily targeting the party subject to the sanctions, causing it to abandon a particular policy. Noteworthy instances include the Jews' first-century B.C. boycott of Roman goods, a protest against Roman occupation. In the 16th century, the Dutch Republic boycotted Spanish goods in opposition to Spanish rule. Additionally, during the 18th century, the U.S. colonies boycotted British goods as a protest against exorbitant taxes.   Contrary to common belief in the Arab world, the weaponisation of economic boycotts is not a recent phenomenon. Over the past two centuries, numerous academic studies have comprehensively examined and analysed its impact on both the boycotting and boycotted economies. These studies aim to gauge the effectiveness of economic boycotts in realising their intended goals.   The tactic of economic boycotts made its debut in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict in 1922, when Palestinian Arab leaders initiated a boycott targeting Jewish-owned businesses in Palestine, aiming to inflict economic harm upon the Jewish population. These boycott attempts persisted sporadically throughout the 1930s and 1940s, with a notable instance occurring in 1936 when Palestinian Arab leaders advocated for a comprehensive boycott of all things associated with Jewish identity, even resorting to physical violence against Arabs who disregarded the boycott. Despite these efforts, the boycott proved unsuccessful, given the significant reliance of the Palestinian population on Jewish professionals such as lawyers, doctors, and hospitals.   Subsequently, the boycott assumed a regional dimension in December 1945 when the six states comprising the Arab League jointly issued the initial call for an economic boycott against the Jewish community in Palestine. This declaration went beyond mere encouragement and urged all Arab countries, regardless of their League membership status, to prohibit the trade of Jewish products.   In 1946, the situation evolved with the Arab League establishing the Permanent Boycott Committee, intending to heighten the implementation of the boycott. Despite these efforts, the boycott's lack of success became evident, as outlined in the first annual report of the Boycott Committee.   Following the committee's shortcomings, the League swiftly bolstered its structure, transforming it into the Central Boycott Office. Headquartered in Damascus, it established branch offices in every member state of the Arab League. The pivotal role of the county commissioner was instituted to lead the office, accompanied by appointed deputies serving as liaison officers accredited by each member state of the Arab League.   The Central Office in Damascus assumed the pivotal role of coordinating the boycott in tandem with its affiliated offices. It was responsible for presenting regular reports to the Council of the Arab League. Starting from 1951, semiannual meetings were scheduled to synchronise boycott policies and formulate blacklists of individuals and companies breaching the boycott. The punitive measures were executed locally, with each member state implementing decisions through legal and administrative executive procedures.   From 1951 to the present moment of composing this analysis, calls for boycotts have been recurrent with each political conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. They have been wielded as a means of resistance against Israeli occupation and its perceived unjust policies toward the Palestinian population. However, these calls have generally manifested in three distinct patterns, as explained below.
Navigating the Two-State Solution: Balancing Possibility and Hope in the Palestinian Cause
Programmes
5 Feb 2024

Navigating the Two-State Solution: Balancing Possibility and Hope in the Palestinian Cause

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict stands as one of the world's most intricate and pressing issues, marked by enduring conflicts between Palestinians and Israelis, with potentially dire consequences that could escalate into a regional war. In 1993, both Yasser Arafat, leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin embraced the two-state solution, leading to the signing of the Oslo Accords. The essence of these agreements aimed at establishing two states, one for Palestinians and the other for Israelis, as a pivotal step toward a conclusive resolution to the prolonged and costly conflict. Unfortunately, the intended implementation of these agreements faltered, resulting in failed efforts and the division of Palestinian society between Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Instead of fostering confidence, Israeli positions hardened toward Palestinians, leading to a surge in settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Currently, approximately 700,000 Israelis reside on lands designated for the Palestinian State, contributing to a decline in both regional and global interest in the matter.   The Palestinian cause regained global prominence with the events of October 7, marking the end of a three-decade stagnation and a background role amid the Arab Spring and subsequent regional and global crises. The Israel-Hamas War raised international concerns about the potential escalation into a regional war. It heightened fears of derailing the Middle East peace process, particularly the "two-state solution." Israeli officials have recently declared that this option no longer exists, despite opposition and warnings from some of Tel Aviv's closest allies, notably Washington.   These indicators underscore the notion that stability in the Middle East hinges on a resolution to the Palestinian cause that aligns with the national aspirations of the Palestinian people. Consequently, discussions surrounding a two-state solution have resurfaced as the optimal proposal to end the conflict, serving as an alternative to the right-wing expansion and settlement policy on the West Bank. Such a policy could potentially isolate and compromise Israel's security while significantly depleting its military and financial resources. Hence, this analysis addresses the crucial question: Is the two-state solution still viable given the current circumstances?
Decoding the Istanbul Church Attack
Programmes
29 Jan 2024

Decoding the Istanbul Church Attack

This article was originally published on Ahram Online on Jan. 31, 2024.   The attack on the Santa Maria church in Istanbul is the first attack on Turkey claimed by IS since 2017. According to the Islamic State's statement, the attack was a response to one of its leaders instructing for the attack on "Jews and Christians". However, the end goal of the attack remains unclear and that raises questions about the legitimacy of IS’s claim. Over the last decade, the world has witnessed a sharp rise in terrorist attacks often claimed by terrorist groups striving to establish their relevance and influence over international politics. In fact, between 1998 and 2016, an estimated 16% of attacks were falsely claimed.
The West Polarised: Impact of the War in Gaza
Programmes
30 Nov 2023

The West Polarised: Impact of the War in Gaza

Ramifications of the Israeli-Hamas War have not been confined within Gaza or the Middle East’s borders. Polarisation over the Palestinian cause has reached a new character especially in the Western world where such a trend has never been as deep. Cracks within governments and societies can be traced to a volatility of values, exposure to social media, and demographic changes. With such an unprecedented divide over Western governments tolerating Israeli impunity in Gaza, the West is faced with a moral dilemma which might cost it it’s claimed “moral superiority”.
Hannibal Protocol: Will Israel Burn Hamas’s Leverage?
Programmes
18 Oct 2023

Hannibal Protocol: Will Israel Burn Hamas’s Leverage?

The emergency government of Israel has taken decisive steps, announcing its intent to declare war and initiate comprehensive ground invasion preparations in response to the recent incursion by Palestinian factions on October 7, 2023. This incursion targeted over 20 locations surrounding the Gaza envelope. It resulted in the capture of numerous Israeli soldiers and officers stationed along the front lines in the Gaza Strip's secure zones. The present prisoner crisis is one of the most severe episodes in the long history of confrontations between Israel and Palestinian factions.
Netanyahu and the Art of Storytelling
Programmes
27 Sep 2023

Netanyahu and the Art of Storytelling

Since its emergence, Zionism has been an ideology of strategic and ambitious imagination. In his address to the UN General Assembly's 78th session, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu takes every opportunity to confirm the effectiveness of this strategy and ensure the fruition of his vision for a “New Middle East.” Although the address was very much consistent with the Prime Minister’s record of flamboyant public speaking and Israel’s usual public image projection, it was equally revealing of a certain political desperation lurking in the shadows.
Netanyahu’s Israel: Escalating Security Threats & Political Fault Lines
Programmes
26 Apr 2023

Netanyahu’s Israel: Escalating Security Threats & Political Fault Lines

The Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem is a hotbed of tension between the Israeli forces and Palestinians. The “clashes” which are often depicted by international media reports as a struggle between two equal counterparts are part of a larger system used by the Israeli government to prevent and put into check any form of Palestinian resistance. However, when it comes to Al-Aqsa, media accounts tend to amplify certain narratives that justify police or military retaliation. Accounts from Israeli official sources vary greatly from the official Palestinian accounts and point to the large role that narratives about rights play in shaping the conflict on the ground. From the Israeli perspective, the presence of Palestinians in Al-Aqsa overnight is framed as a potential security threat while for Palestinians, the heavy presence of Israeli police and frequent raids, particularly during prayer times in the holy month of Ramadan, is a violation of their basic right to worship. Identifying the exact cause of violent escalation then becomes an issue of validating the accounts presented by each side which often pits official reports by the Israeli forces against individual Palestinian accounts and those of rights organisations present in the areas; arguably contributing further to international complacency. However, although the raids on Al-Aqsa Mosque are an annual occurrence, especially during Ramadan, the 2023 raids come under different circumstances than previous years.
Netanyahu’s Judicial Amendments and the Future of the Palestinian Cause
Programmes
30 Mar 2023

Netanyahu’s Judicial Amendments and the Future of the Palestinian Cause

In recent months, protests inside Israel have increased significantly in response to Israeli Minister of Justice Yariv Levin's announcement of the judicial overhaul plan on January 4, 2023. Protests have been held every week since Yariv's announcement. On February 12, 2023, Israeli President Isaac Herzog delivered an unusual address in which he warned of the consequences of this plan and its harm to Israeli society, economy, and security. The president attempted to mediate a reconciliation between the opposition and the ruling coalition, but he was unsuccessful. Nevertheless, the coalition began its strategy; on March 20, 2023, the Knesset passed the first reading of the proposal regarding the eligibility of ministers and deputy ministers with a majority of 63 members. In addition, the proposal states that courts, including the Supreme Court, are not allowed directly or indirectly to hear cases relating to the appointment or dismissal of ministers from office. This proposal is one of the most crucial components of the judicial amendments plan.