Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security VP and World Center Director Brief B’nai B’rith Leaders on Israel Situation
(Washington, D.C., May 12, 2021)--During a briefing for B’nai B’rith leaders about the latest on the situation in Israel, Eran Lerman, vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, summarized the situation: “Why is Hamas doing it? Answers are fairly straight forward: It has been cornered. They pinned their hopes on the Palestinian elections.” He continued that “Hamas is livid with [Palestinian leader Mahmoud] Abbas and these rocket attacks and violence are part of the internal Palestinian power play.”
He addressed the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) strategic decisions for its defensive response, noting that the idea to remove some high-level—but not top-level—Hamas operatives is to disrupt Hamas capabilities and send a powerful message.
In response to a question from President Charles O. Kaufman about the future of Gaza, Lerman said that the IDF does not want to rule over millions of additional Palestinians. That the IDF can defeat Hamas “at any moment of our choice” but if it does so, then Israel “will inherit the Gaza strip for a prolonged period of time.”
Lerman also said that part of this strategy is to keep an eye on Iran. Israel does not want to tie up its forces fighting Hamas when Tehran’s ceaseless threats against Israel continue.
Lerman and Alan Schneider, director of the B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem, agreed there is perhaps a bigger issue to be considered beyond the current violence. Lerman also said that beyond the rocket fire and the attacks on synagogues, which he likened to pogroms, there is a serious long-term issue of a “profound rift” that may set back many years “in terms of Jewish-Arab relations,” and that this issue is one of Israel’s political future. He said that the deeper problem is “how to restore Jewish-Arab relations. That will take more work and more complicated work than anyone anticipated.”
Schneider added that it is vital to “put Hamas back in the box,” but that the ongoing issue is “the Arabs we live with.” The need to deal with that intercommunal issue is a serious problem, he said.
Lerman noted that Hamas is clearly committing war crimes and that Israel should welcome an International Criminal Court investigation, but he does not expect the ICC to investigate Hamas.
Lerman and Schneider agreed that Israelis have yet to feel the presence of American Jewry’s support, in a much louder and clearer manner.
CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin, who moderated the briefing, said of B’nai B’rith, “We count ourselves among Israel’s staunchest supporters.” He added that we will continue to work day and night to advocate for a strong and secure Israel.
B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community. Visit bnaibrith.org.