Beth Tfiloh hosts discussion on Middle East issues

Yonah Jeremy Bob
Yonah Jeremy Bob (Courtesy of Beth Tfiloh Congregation)

Beth Tfiloh Congregation hosted an online presentation on Israeli issues, Oct. 7, titled “Updates from the Israeli Political Arena with Yonah Jeremy Bob ‘96.”

Bob, a Beth Tfiloh alumnus as well as the intelligence, terrorism and legal analyst at the Jerusalem Post, spoke on a range of topics, starting with the peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Regarding the agreement with the UAE, as well as possible similar agreements in the future with other nations such as Oman and Saudi Arabia, Bob said the major cause of this “normalization trend” had to do with the apprehension Sunni nations were beginning to feel regarding the potential threat of Iran.

“The moderate Sunni Arab countries, as we refer to them, realize that Iran is a much bigger enemy for them than Israel,” Bob said. “Yes, there’s an Israeli-Arab conflict, but it’s much shorter, much less deep, than the conflict between Sunni and Shias. Iran is Shiite, a lot of these countries are Sunni, and they’ve been at war a much longer and much more serious way.”

Other contributing factors, Bob said, included the 2017 announcement by Gadi Eizenkot, then the chief of general staff of the Israel Defense Forces, that Israel was sharing top secret information with Saudi Arabia, in addition to the coronavirus pandemic, which Bob said “probably pushed the UAE, Bahrain and maybe some of these other countries over the line to cut a deal with Israel. … They want Israeli expertise with combating corona.”

Other topics of discussion included American sanctions on Iran, the possibility of a future peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, and cyberwarfare between the Israeli and Iranian governments.

“Israel … was responsible for a cyber attack against Iran in May, one of its major ports,” Bob said, explaining the attack was in retaliation for an earlier failed Iranian cyber attack in April against the Israeli water sector, with the apparent objective of releasing dangerous levels of chlorine into the population’s water supply. “Even though it didn’t succeed, Israel hit back with a major attack that basically completely stopped an Iranian port for over a week.”

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