Published in Ha'aretz on September 4, 2017
Israel's Iron Dome has saved thousands of lives, but similar missile defense systems now face an unprecedented challenge from Pyongyang - as does the efficacy of America's military commitment to its allies... MORE
By Azriel Bermant and Igor Sutyagin, Published in Foreign Affairs Journal, August 21, 2017
Tempers in North Korea and the United States are rising amid speculation that Pyongyang has successfully fitted a miniaturized nuclear warhead onto one of its missiles. And now the Trump administration has accelerated its deployment of a missile defense system in South Korea, known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), which is meant to protect both U.S. forces in Asia and American allies in South Korea and Japan from a North Korean attack.
Yet in contrast to U.S.-led missile defense projects in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, THAAD is not particularly welcome in South Korea. The country’s president, Moon Jae-in, has sent mixed signals about the deployment and many of his people are actively opposed to it. In fact, South Koreans have protested en masse against THAAD, with many concerned that it will further destabilize the region. China is angry, claiming that the missile defense radar system peers into its territory and poses a military threat. It has even initiated economic sanctions against South Korea in response. Russia has likewise voiced strong objections, just as it has done over NATO’s missile defense system in Europe. Rather than making the region more secure, it appears that THAAD could lead to a further escalation in tensions. MORE
Published in the special Balfour 100 edition of Fathom Journal, Summer 2017
The British Prime Minister David Lloyd George believed that Chaim Weizmann would be become ‘the one name that will be remembered in Jewish history a thousand years from now’. Hyperbole, for sure, but Azriel Bermant’s researches in the Guardian Archive at the University of Manchester reveal that he was indeed central to the discussions that led to the Balfour Declaration.
The 100th anniversary is an opportune moment to revisit the role played by Chaim Weizmann, Zionist statesman par excellence, in the decision by the British government to issue the Balfour Declaration in November 1917. In the decades following the Declaration, Weizmann certainly revelled in the adulation of Britain’s political and intellectual giants, including many leading progressives and liberals. David Lloyd George believed that his would become ‘the one name that will be remembered in Jewish history a thousand years from now’. Winston Churchill described him as the ‘ablest and wisest leader of the cause of Zionism’ (Rose, 1986; 246). Richard Crossman, the Labour Member of Parliament and minister in the first government of Harold Wilson, believed that through the course of the twentieth century, ‘the histories of Great Britain and of the Jewish people have been tragically yet providentially intertwined – and the man chiefly responsible for this was Chaim Weizmann’ (Crossman, 1960; 13)... MORE
Published in Ha'aretz on May 29, 2017
In IRA and Hezbollah friendly-Corbyn, the Conservatives should have had an easy target on anti-terror policy. But they have skeletons of their own.
According to the latest opinion polls, and with less than ten days to go until the general election, Britain’s prime minister Theresa May has seen a... MORE
Published in Ha'aretz, May 23, 2017
The recent horrific attack by 'evil losers', in Trump's words, won't swing the UK election. But will the U.S. president's hazardous position provide them a different win?
The horrific bombing at the Manchester Arena is the most serious terrorist attack Britain... MORE
Published in The JC, January 6, 2017
Theresa May raised more than a few eyebrows recently when she attacked US Secretary of State John Kerry for focusing on settlements and underplaying the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during his controversial address on December 28, following the UN Security Council resolution.
Understandably, the US State Department reacted with incredulity to Mrs May’s criticisms: Britain itself has been consistent in its condemnations of Israel’s settlement expansion.
Not only did Britain vote for UN Security Council resolution 2334; it also played a key role in crafting the resolution and ensuring that it passed.
Mr Kerry strongly condemned terrorism and incitement against Israel and said that settlements were not “the whole or even the primary cause of the conflict” which only adds to the incomprehension in Washington. MORE
By Steven Erlanger, Published in The New York Times, 30 December 2016
LONDON — Even the so-called special relationship is subject to limits, it seems.
With a Republican administration under Donald J. Trump only weeks away, Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain scolded Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday night for his speech criticizing Israel — a public jab that would have been highly unlikely any other time during the Obama administration.
In a statement that echoed Mr. Trump’s fierce criticism of the Obama administration, Mrs. May chided Mr. Kerry for, among other things, describing the Israeli government as the “most right-wing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements.” READ MORE
"In an opinion piece in The Guardian newspaper, Azriel Bermant, a lecturer in international relations at Tel Aviv University, suggested that, by criticizing Mr. Kerry and currying favor with both Mr. Trump and Mr. Netanyahu, Mrs. May may be hoping to, as Mr. Darroch suggested, persuade Mr. Trump to act more moderately in the Middle East and support the two-state solution that Mr. Kerry was defending.
By Azriel Bermant, Published in The Guardian on Friday 30 December 2016
What was Theresa May thinking in attacking the US secretary of state John Kerry’s address on the need for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Her spokesman said on Thursday: “We do not ... believe that the way to negotiate peace is by focusing on only one issue, in this case the construction of settlements, when clearly the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is so deeply complex.”
This is extraordinary. Why would May attack Kerry for suggesting that settlements were the main obstacle to peace? Did she read his speech? In it, he stated that “settlements are not the whole or even the primary cause of this conflict” and strongly condemned terrorism and incitement against Israel. More extraordinary still, why would the British prime minister criticise Kerry when her own government played a leading role in the passing of UN security council resolution 2334 which condemned Israel over its settlement expansion? Kerry ordered the United States to abstain while May’s government voted in favour... READ MORE
By Azriel Bermant and Igor Sutyagin, Published in The National Interest, December 5, 2016
On 18 November, Vladimir Putin issued a warning that Russia considered missile defense and Prompt Global Strike as threats to its security, and would work hard to neutralise them. Viktor Ozerov, Chairman of the Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee, went further in an interview with the RIA Novosti Russian news agency on Nov. 21, warning of Russian efforts to improve its offensive capabilities to deal with NATO’s missile defense installations. Ozerov specifically mentioned air-to-surface missiles capable of penetrating US air defenses in Europe. In the meantime, the Russian military has placed Bastion missile launchers in Kaliningrad, the exclave bordering NATO members Poland and Lithuania. This could threaten the prospective NATO missile defense site in Poland.
Remarkably, with all the controversy surrounding Trump’s remarks on NATO and the Baltic States during the presidential election campaign, barely a word was heard about the missile defense system. This is surprising for a number of reasons... READ MORE
By Azriel Bermant, Published in The JC, December 1, 2016
In 1981, the British band Heaven 17 released a single called Fascist Groove Thang. The song, a fierce attack on Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, described the US President-elect as a "fascist god in motion" , bewailing "evil men with racist views spreading all across the land" and "Democrats out of power across that great wide ocean." Sounds familiar? The BBC banned it from the airwaves citing legal concerns. Thirty five years on, with Donald Trump as President-elect, the world is crying out for Reagan. After his election victory, Trump remarked that he was looking forward to having the same relationship with Theresa May, Britain's Prime Minister, that Reagan had once enjoyed with Thatcher. A Trump visit to Britain may take place next summer.
There are some interesting- if eerie - similarities between the situation in 1979/1980 when Thatcher and Reagan came to power and the state of the world today. READ MORE
Dr Azriel Bermant
Foreign Policy and International Security Analyst, Historian, Lecturer, Author