Publications - Articles

Syria: The View from Israel

Israel has little sympathy for Assad – but is all too aware that any attempt to influence the Syrian would be fraught with danger

The Guardian, August 1, 2012


As the Syrian crisis has reached the tipping point and the fall of Bashar al-Assad's regime seems to be a matter of time, Israel has abandoned the passive stance it has maintained since this crisis began in March 2011. Israel's leaders and security establishment are now looking at the potential ramifications of the regime's collapse as imminent policy challenges. Uppermost in their minds is the danger that Syria's stockpiles of missiles and chemical and biological weapons fall into the hands of jihadis who have penetrated Syria and the Syrian opposition, or be handed over to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The Anarchy Factor in Syria

Project Syndicate, May 2, 2012


TEL AVIV – The failure of the Obama administration, its Western allies, and several Middle East regional powers to take bolder action to stop the carnage in Syria is often explained by their fear of anarchy. Given the Syrian opposition’s manifest ineffectiveness and disunity, so the argument goes, President Bashar al-Assad’s fall, when it finally comes, will incite civil war, massacres, and chaos, which is likely to spill over Syria’s borders, further destabilizing weak neighbors like Iraq and Lebanon, and leading, perhaps, to a regional crisis.


Peace, Normalization and Finality

The American Interest, December 1, 2011

In the mid-1970s, an unusual book was published in Egypt under the title After the Guns Fall Silent (“Ba‘d an taskut al-madafi”). Written by the Egyptian left-wing intellectual and journalist Muhammad Sid-Ahmed, the book featured the first explicit Arab vision of accommodation with Israel and the first Arab effort to spell out what the Middle East might look like after the establishment of Arab-Israeli peace. Roundly criticized in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world, this bold, pioneering work broke a taboo by endorsing a peaceful accommodation with Israel. That taboo held strong despite the signing in 1974 of the Israeli-Egyptian and Israeli-Syrian disengagement agreements, and two Arab summit conferences that redefined the Arab consensus to embrace the principle of a political settlement with Israel. But a full-fledged vision of Arab-Israeli peace written by a major Egyptian intellectual still angered those who remained ideologically and emotionally committed to the struggle against Israel.

The Devil We Knew

The New York Times, November 18, 2011

During the first 25 years of its existence, until Hafez al-Assad came to power in 1970, the Syrian republic was a weak unstable state, an arena in which regional and international rivalries were played out. The first Assad reversed this state of affairs by turning Syria into a comparatively stable and powerful state, a player in regional and international politics.

Israel: positive and negative ramifications

bitterlemons, November 03, 2011 Edition 32

The impact of the "Arab spring" on Israel has so far been mixed. Like other actors observing this series of events and being affected by it, Israel understands that this is just the beginning of a lengthy process whose repercussions for its interests will keep changing over time.

Egypt's new role in the conflict

Israel's best response is still to renew negotiations

bitterlemons, September 05, 2011 Edition 26

This is an arduous path, but the only promising one. It is highly unlikely that it will be adopted.

Israel’s Dilemma in Damascus

Jerusalem’s View on the Syrian Uprising

Foreign Affairs, April 10, 2011

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may blame Israel for his problems, but the Israelis are more ambivalent about their sometime antagonist. Yet with little ability to affect the outcome of the uprisings, Jerusalem can only watch nervously as events unfold.

Discussing the Arab Peace Initiative

The Arab Peace Initiative in its 2002 and 2007 incarnations has met with two categories of responses in Israel.

Israel could respond by reviving the Syrian track

For Israel, as for other actors interested in Lebanese affairs, the visit by Iran's president to Lebanon was more a matter of symbolism than substance. It did not reshape or deeply affect the realities of Lebanese or regional politics, but it did highlight and underline several important aspects of the Lebanese and larger Middle East scene: Hizballah's ascendancy in Lebanon, Iran's use of Hizballah as an extension of its own governmental machinery, Iran and Syria's ongoing collaboration in Lebanon, Iran's assumption of the leading role in the "resistance" to the US and Israel, and the weakness of the Arab world and in particular the major Arab states whose roles in Lebanon and in managing the conflict with Israel are being usurped by Iran.

Assessing the Obstacles to and Opportunities in a Future Israeli-Syrian-American Peace Negotiation

(The Brookings Institution, 31/05/2010)


In the ebb and flow of Middle East diplomacy, the two interrelated issues of an Israeli-Syrian peace settlement and Washington’s bilateral relationship with Damascus have gone up and down on Washington’s scale of im-portance. The election of Barack Obama raised expecta-tions that the United States would give the two issues the priority they had not received during the eight years of the George W. Bush administration.  Candidate Obama promised to assign a high priority to the resusci-tation of the Arab-Israeli peace process, and separately to “engage” with Iran and Syria (as recommended by the Iraq Study Group in 2006).