Hard Questions, Tough Answers

Yossi Alpher is an independent security analyst. He is the former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, a former senior official with the Mossad, and a former IDF intelligence officer. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

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This week, Alpher discusses what we can expect in Israel and Israel-US relations in 2016; the notion that the Palestinian issue increasingly will become an internal Israeli affair; how the Arab and Muslim worlds will respond to this and if we will witness external aggression against Israel; and prospects for some sort of international political agreement regarding Syria, spearheaded by the US and Russia

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This week, Alpher discusses why the most senior ministers of Israel’s right-wing coalition are taking a strong stand against terrorist attacks by extremist fringe settlers, even though it is a pro-settler coalition; whether new political and ideological lines have been drawn and the political right woken up to the excesses of the settlement enterprise; what are the new regional dynamics and alignments emerging from the Islamic State challenge to the Middle East across the region, with Turkey and Israel talking again, Saudi Arabia establishing a 34-member Islamic coalition, and Israel reportedly assassinating a Hezbollah terrorist in the all-but-occupied (by Russia) Syrian capital of Damascus; and where Israel is in this dynamic.

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December 21, 2015 - What the “Breaking the Silence” controversy is really about

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This week, Alpher discusses why the Israeli political right is so brutally attacking the Breaking the Silence NGO, and why now; whether mainstream Israelis are defending Breaking the Silence; why is the foreign funding a problem, whether the settlers and right-wing NGOs are funded from abroad; the allegations regarding exaggerations and supporting BDS; the oft-quoted statement that the IDF is the most moral army in the world; what he suggests regarding Breaking the Silence and the right-wing campaign against it; the bigger picture: the right wing and the occupation.

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December 14, 2015 - Rivlin, Yossi Cohen, the Mossad, and Iran

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This week, Alpher discusses who is the real Reuven Rivlin and how much influence does he wield back home in Jerusalem; does Yossi Cohen's appointment as new head of the Mossad tell us something about the future direction of Israel’s overall security strategy; what will be Cohen’s primary intelligence collection and operational priorities in the Mossad in the years ahead; how can one explain Tehran removing most of its Revolutionary Guards Quds forces from the Syrian battlefield and sending them home to Iran.

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November 30, 2015 - Israel and the UAE, Israel and the Palestinians, Turkey and Russia

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This week, Alpher discusses whether the opening of a diplomatic mission in the United Arab Emirates is a breakthrough; is the Palestinian issue being pushed to the back burner internationally despite the current protest wave of violence that reflects a high degree of Palestinian public despair; and how we should read the fallout from Turkey’s downing of a Russian combat aircraft last weekend.

 

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This week, Alpher discusses whether the two territorial issues PM Netanyahu’s raised in his recent Washington visit - recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Golan, and a unilateral withdrawal on the West Bank - are serious; if the Netanyahu government's decision to ban the so-called Northern Branch of the Israeli Islamist movement because of incitement there is also related; and whether this approach plays into the hands of people like the Swedish foreign minister, who recently argued that there is a link between ISIS’s terrorism and the plight of the Palestinians.

 

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November 16, 2015 - The Paris Attacks and more

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This week, Alpher discusses what strategic significance the Paris Massacre might be to the Islamic State; whether it is a sign that ISIS is losing in the Levant; what other countries can we expect ISIS to target now; whether the constellation emerging after the Paris attacks affect Israel’s security; why the former Yemeni prime minister Abdul Karim al-Eryani, who died at age 81 in his Cairo exile, was significant, and what this tells us about the future of Yemen.

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This week, Alpher discusses -in advance of the meeting- Netanyahu’s mood as he approached the meeting between him and President Obama, against a backdrop of an Arab Middle East in turmoil and personal relations that have soured over Iran and the Palestinian issue; Dr. Ran Baratz's appointment by Netanyahu as his new spokesman as head of the National Public Diplomacy Directorate; assuming the Russian passenger jet that crashed in Egyptian Sinai was brought down by an act of terrorism, how serious an event was this; and how strong an effect might the European Union's labeling of commercial goods made in West Bank and Golan settlements have on Israeli policy toward the Palestinians.

 

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November 01, 2015 - Not learning from Rabin’s assassination; Syria escalates

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This week, Alpher discusses whether, in the wake of the mass demonstration in Tel Aviv marking the twentieth anniversary of the murder of Yitzhak Rabin and his assassin’s brother “celebrating” the occasion by suggesting that God remove President Rivlin and his associates from the world, Israel has learned anything from Rabin’s death; if diplomatic negotiations in Vienna regarding an agreed solution for Syria have any meaning, given Russian bombing in southern Syria near the Israeli border, Iran sending more and more troops to Syria, the US sending 50 commandos, and Israel reportedly still intercepting Syrian arms shipments to Hezbollah; a "compare and contrast" of US and Russian military behavior in Syria; how Russian military involvement affects Israel’s decision-making regarding Syria; and potential factors for change there in addition to the Russian and Iranian military presence in Syria and the new US token deployment;

 

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This week, Alpher discusses whether the set of understandings between Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority regarding the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif acheived by Secretary of State Kerry will end the violence; the overall effect of the mini-intifada of the past month; why Jordan’s King Abdullah couldn’t play a more active role, without recourse to Kerry; what we are to make of bewildering statements by Netanyahu, to a World Zionist Congress audience in a speech in English, that the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, suggested to Hitler in 1941 that he annihilate the Jews (“burn them”) rather than expelling them and that as prime minister he has built far less in the settlements than his predecessors;

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