JCRC Update April 24 2013
[by Matt Goldberg, Director, Jewish Community Relations Council]
In the past two weeks, there have been a number of awful incidents in the world that have dominated the news cycle. I can’t remember such a time when major news events were relegated to secondary status, simply due the fact that there are so many things going on.
In the last month, we have had North Korea threatening nuclear war and Congress rejecting a bill to increase background checks on the purchase of guns. Just in the last week, there was the horrible tragedy at the Boston marathon, a massive deadly explosion at a chemical plant in Texas, and a violent earthquake in China that killed over 200 people. All of these events should, in some way, concern the Jewish community.
There were also two events in the last two weeks that did not seem to make the biggest news, but they were significant nonetheless for the future of the Middle East.
First, there is the pending rapprochement between Turkey and Israel. Turkey-Israel relations were soured for three years, as a result of Israel’s actions to enforce a blockade of Gaza, an action that left nine Turkish terrorists dead.
Israel has since apologized for operational errors made in the incident, and Israel and Turkey are now negotiating compensation for the families, which will lead to restoration of full diplomatic ties. Turkey and Israel are extremely important players with regards to Syria and Iran, and a united front will put that much more pressure on them.
Another significant development happened just this past week, as Secretary of defense Chuck Hegel made a visit to Israel. In meetings with Israeli defense officials, The Secretary agreed to sell long-range refueling planes and advanced aircraft. Israel has never received these two items before and they could ostensibly be used for a military strike against Iran.
Furthermore, the U.S. Senate voted for a non-binding resolution to support Israel should they attack Iran. This week, Israeli defense officials have been hinting that their “red lines” regarding Iran have already been crossed. With negotiations regarding Iran’s weapons program seemingly at a stalemate, and Israel now possessing more advanced weaponry to be used in a military attack, the next couple of months could prove to be a pivotal time for the region.