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Field Research Finds Israel Grappling With New Security Environment
August 4, 2011
This summer, AFPC Vice President Ilan Berman and Kraemer Strategy Fellow Jeff M. Smith each conducted week-long research trips to Israel. They arrived in the country during a period of profound political turmoil, both regionally and domestically. The events of the “Arab Spring,” which have swept several of the region’s long-serving Arab autocrats from power (Egypt, Tunisia, Libya) and propelled several other regional countries into varying states of civil war (Syria, Yemen), were of critical concern to Israeli policymakers. In their conversations with leading experts and policymakers, Berman and Smith learned that the Israeli establishment has been unnerved by the potential for well-organized Islamist movements to fill the power vacuum left behind by the departing autocrats, and registered concerns about its deteriorating relationships with Egypt and Turkey. To complicate matters further, during Smith and Berman’s time in Israel, the country was experiencing its most intense (albeit peaceful) bout of domestic political protest in the country’s recent history, as Israelis thronged the streets of the county’s major cities to protest rising food and housing prices.