Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Middle East Review of International Affairs, Vol. 20, No. 1 (Spring 2016)

World Values Survey


Click here for PDF This study attempts to estimate the development of civil society in the Arab World by using comparative opinion survey data based on the author’s evaluation of the World Values Survey. Certain basic assumptions of current Middle East studies are evaluated, which are also reflected in the Obama administration’s Presidential Research Directive […]
Flag of Jabhat al-Nusra


Click here for PDF This article seeks to explore the dynamics surrounding the various Sunni jihadi groups in the south of Syria near the border with the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, examining whether they pose a significant and imminent threat to Israel’s security. It is based on a presentation given by the author at a Rubin […]
DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 21JAN04 - H.E. Hojatoleslam Seyed Mohammad Khatami, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, delivers a speech during the Welcome to the Annual Meeting 2004 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 21, 2004.

Copyright World Economic Forum ( by Jean-Bernard Sieber


Click here for PDF Iranian moderates made significant gains in the country’s February 2016 legislative elections. The reformists won 85 out of 290 seats compared with 75 seats for the conservatives. However, the reformists represented in the new parliament have no historical continuity with the reformist camp of the former President Mohammad Khatami; those reformists […]
Flag of South Azerbaijani Awakening Movement (Source: WikiCommons, Qutlu)


Click here for PDF This article discusses the minority rights of Iran’s Azerbaijani Turks and human rights violations in its majority Azerbaijani-populated provinces of Iran by the Iranian central government. With the conclusion of the second Russo-Persian War (1826-1828) and the signing of the Turkmenchay Treaty, Azerbaijan was divided into north and south, with the […]
Fethullah Gulen


Click here for PDF Turkey’s Islamic movement increased its power dramatically during the first decade of the 2000s, benefiting from the cooperation of the AKP and the Gulen movement. This alliance allowed Islamic actors to control major state functions following several decades of struggle against secularist elites. Yet, to the surprise of most observers, the […]

Monday, January 25, 2016

Invitation: Symposium in Honor of the Late Prof. Barry Rubin: “Israel in a Changing Middle East”

The Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs cordially invites you to

A Symposium in Honor of the Late Prof. Barry Rubin:
“Israel in a Changed Middle East”

Sunday, February 7th, 2016, at 8:30am
Carol and Joey Low Lecture Halls
Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya

8:30 | Reception

8:45 | Opening remarks

Prof. Uriel Reichman, President and Founder, IDC Herzliya.

Judith Colp Rubin, Honorary President, Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs, IDC Herzliya.

Dr. Jonathan Spyer, Director, Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs,      IDC Herzliya.

Symposium on “Israel in a Changed Middle East”
Panel Chair: Dr. Jonathan Spyer, Director, Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs, IDC Herzliya.

9:00 | Session 1: State-to-State Issues and the Changed Region

Dr. Dan Schueftan, Director, The National Security Studies Center, The University of Haifa.
"Strategic implications of regional change for Israel, and the impact of U.S. Middle East policy."

Alex Grinberg, Research Associate, Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs, IDC Herzliya.
"The Iranian threat after the JCPOA."

Prof. Joshua Teitelbaum, Senior Research Associate, Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University.
"Israel and the Gulf countries: A window of opportunity?"

Dr. Bruce Maddy-Weitzmann, Principal Research Fellow, Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, Tel Aviv University.
"The current state of relations between Israel and Egypt"

10:40 | Break

11:00 | Session 2: Israel and Non-State Actors
Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, Rubin Fellow, Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs, IDC Herzliya.
"The jihadi threat on Israel’s northern border"

Dr. Eitan Azani, Deputy Executive Director, International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT), IDC Herzliya.
"Is Hizballah stronger or weaker as a result of its involvement in the Syrian civil war?"

Prof. Ofra Bengio, Senior Research Fellow, Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, Tel Aviv University.
"Israel and the Kurds"

The event will be conducted in English
To ensure a place, please RSVP to

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Rubin Center Needs Your Support to Continue Its Groundbreaking Research: Make Your Tax-Deductible Donation Before the End of the Year

Founded by the late Professor Barry Rubin, the Rubin Center is one of the most versatile and active Mid-East research centers in the world. The center is committed to making the most up-to-date; accurate; and in many cases, otherwise inaccessible information available to policymakers and to the broader public. The Rubin Center’s groundbreaking frontline reporting and research—frequently picked up by the major media outlets—sets us apart from other research centers.

  • Frontline reporting: Rubin Center researchers regularly visit the region, including Iraq and war-torn Syria, witnessing developments first-hand. The center has exposed many important news stories. In addition to being first to reveal ISIS’s use of chemical weapons, Rubin Center Director Dr. Jonathan Spyer visited Baghdad this year and obtained unprecedented access to the Shi’a militias, interviewing senior officials from those organizations there. Spyer and Rubin Fellow Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi published the first piece anywhere to call out the role being played by the militias, which later became mainstream knowledge. Spyer later published a detailed report on the subject. Spyer has also reported from Syria and Turkey, conducting groundbreaking research on the nature and limitations of U.S.-Kurdish cooperation in Syria.
  • Primary research: The Rubin Center was ahead of the game on the importance of ISIS as a proto-state. In the first attempt to understand ISIS ideology through use of primary resources in Arabic, Rubin Fellow Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi has been translating and analyzing key ISIS documents--including recruitment, training, textbooks, administrative, and other primary sources. Jawad obtained an ISIS “masterplan” for the governance of the Islamic State, which was a front page story in the Guardian—which received the information directly from Jawad—and in other major media outlets around the world. Senior U.S. officials referred to the document as significant. In another major, but non-public, media monitoring project, Rubin Research Associate Alex Grinberg has been conducting pioneering research on Iran using Farsi-language resources.
  • Media and consultancy: The Rubin Center consults for government--including the United States, UK, China, Israel, India, Canada, and the Czech Republic--news media, and academic research. Rubin researchers have been sought out by the White House, the British parliament, and other Western governments, as well as media bodies, and human rights NGOs. Rubin Research Fellow Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, for example, has testified before the British House of Commons on the threat represented by the Islamic State. The Rubin Center also provides research work for important pro-Western organizations as well as for major media outlets. Its work has been published/cited in the New York Times, Huffington Post, FOX News, and more. Dr. Jonathan Spyer is also a regular contributor to The Australian and to Jane’s Intelligence Review.
  • Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA):  Covering the latest developments in the region from a wide variety of viewpoints, including U.S. policy, radical movements, and minorities, the Rubin Center’s quarterly journal MERIA has a circulation of over 25,000. Get your free subscription today!
  • Turkish Studies: In a crucial geographical and political location, Turkey’s importance is growing rapidly throughout Europe, the Middle East, and the Caucasus. With an upsurge in interest in its history, politics, and foreign policy, Turkish Studies quarterly--listed in the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI)--offers scholarly discussion on these topics and more.
  • Books: The Rubin Center has produced numerous books on subjects of importance, including Nazis, Islamists and the Making of the Modern Middle East—about the political alliance forged among Third Reich leaders, Arab nationalists, and Muslim religious authorities during the 1930s and 1940sand The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict—which deals with the emergence of Islamist movements as Israel’s main adversaries and Israel’s response to this. In 2015, The Military History of the Modern Middle East was published, covering the military history of the past hundred years, including such topics as both world wars, the Turkish-Greek conflicts, Arab nationalism, the Arab-Israeli conflicts, and the post-2003 fighting in Iraq. As part of the center’s Free Books project, we also offer 13 of Barry Rubin’s books online, including on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Syria, U.S. policy, Jewish assimilation, and more.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

MERIA Journal, Vol. 19, No. 2 (2015)


Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA)


Arab Cocoon & Arab Mind
Every year, life in the Arab Middle East gets worse for its inhabitants.  Tarek Heggy’s books The Arab Cocoon and The Arab Mind Bound (2011) argue that cultural factors are to blame.  With all eyes focused on the Arab Spring, his books did not receive the attention they deserved on publication.  They are worth revisiting today, because they help to explain why the Arab Spring failed.  Heggy argues that a “Bedouin model” of Islam spread wildly in recent decades with … [Read more...]


Vladimir Putin meeting with Hassan Rouhani, 13 September 2013
(Photo: Russian Presidential Press and Information Office,
In light of the July 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 powers, as well as Russian involvement in Syria, Russian-Iranian relations deserve special attention. This article argues that Russia and Iran have both common interests and cultural similarities that simultaneously foster their bilateral relationship and complicate these ties. This is also reflected in the foreign policies of both countries. Russia has been managing a “hybrid war” in Ukraine through … [Read more...]


"Air strike in Sana'a 11-5-2015" by Ibrahem Qasim - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons -
This article examines the broad implications of the 2015 Yemeni civil war on Chinese foreign policy in the Middle East. The findings show that the ongoing crisis in Yemen presents a challenge to the key element of non-intervention guiding Chinese foreign policy in the region and may force Beijing to gradually abandon its low-key strategy in managing its relations with the countries in the region.   INTRODUCTION   The Yemeni civil war, which began in … [Read more...]


Scores of Israeli army tanks and armored personnel carriers are massed on December 29, 2008 near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. (Photo: Amir Farshad Ebrahimi)
Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has faced numerous security challenges. Ongoing threats to the country’s security could potentially lead to a serious crisis or even escalate to a war. Israel’s greatest concerns are Iran’s nuclear program, Hizballah in Lebanon, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. In addition, there has been unrest in the West Bank, incidents in the Golan Heights, fighting in Sinai, and uncertainty about Jordan. Since its establishment in 1948, … [Read more...]


The Quagmire by Emil Murad
The following article is the personal testimony of an Iraqi Jew regarding the last days of his community and their preparations for emigration to Israel. It is an extract from Emil Murad’s book, The Quagmire (London: Freund Publishing, 1998). Editor’s Note: This article differs quite significantly from the usual material published by MERIA. The story of the immigration of Middle Eastern and North African Jewish communities to Israel, and their expulsion from their host … [Read more...]

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Melanie Phillips on Rubin and Schwanitz's Book Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East: "As I See It: Netanyahu’s Mufti Firestorm"

By Melanie Phillips

Haj Amin al-Husseini meeting with Adolf Hitler (December 1941).

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about the role played in the Holocaust by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, he cannot have imagined the reaction he would detonate.

What he said was this: “He [Husseini] flew to Berlin. Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time; he wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here.’ ‘So what should I do with them?’ he [Hitler] asked.

He [Husseini] said, ‘Burn them.’” In the subsequent global firestorm, Netanyahu was denounced for exonerating Hitler. It was said he had claimed the mufti had given Hitler the idea of exterminating the Jews when the two met in November 1941; that he was cynically trying to tarnish today’s Palestinians; even that he was a Holocaust denier.

His subsequent protest that he had no intention of absolving Hitler of responsibility fell on deaf ears. Even those who acknowledged that the mufti had allied with the Nazis insisted Netanyahu had turned history back to front.
Most of this reaction, however, is at best wide of the mark and at worst quite obscene. For Netanyahu was fundamentally correct.

There can be no doubt he spoke too loosely. He has provided no source for the words he quoted from both Husseini and Hitler at that November 1941 meeting. And he should have acknowledged that the mass murder of European Jews was already well under way, and that Hitler had talked about exterminating the Jews since the 1920s.
But mass murder is not the same as genocide. And the precise moment when Hitler decided to exterminate the whole of European Jewry – the “Final Solution” – has long been disputed by historians.

For even while the Nazis were rounding up Jews for slaughter they were also deporting them – more than 500,000 between 1933 and 1941. And recently unearthed documentary evidence suggests that the mufti and Hitler egged each other on in a mutual genocidal frenzy.

A book published last year, Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East, by Barry Rubin and Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, argues that the mufti’s alliance with Hitler turned the extermination of the whole of European Jewry into a strategic imperative.

As late as July 1941, according to Hermann Göring, Hitler thought the last of the Jews could be removed from Germany by “emigration or evacuation.”

The authors write: “Yet since other countries refused to take many or any Jewish refugees, Palestine was the only possible refuge, as designated by the League of Nations in 1922. If that last safe haven was closed, mass murder would be Hitler’s only alternative.”
Rubin and Schwanitz make clear that the November 1941 meeting between Hitler and Husseini merely continued a dialogue that had started earlier that year about the mufti’s opposition to Hitler’s deportation of European Jews.
“In February 1941, Hitler had received al-Husaini’s proposal for an alliance of which one condition – paragraph seven – was that Germany stop Jewish emigration from Europe. After Hitler promised al-Husaini on March 11 to do so, Germany’s expulsion of the Jews was impossible and only mass murder remained.
“... After agreeing in early June to meet al-Husaini to discuss the issue, Hitler ordered SS leader Reinhard Heydrich on July 31, 1941 to prepare an ‘overall solution for the Jewish question in Europe.’ On October 31, he ended the legal emigration of Jews from German-ruled areas. But the specific final decision had not yet been taken.”

On November 28, Hitler met the mufti in Berlin. “Behind closed doors, Hitler promised al-Husaini that Arab aspirations would be fulfilled. Once ‘we win’ the battle against world Jewry, Hitler said, Germany would eliminate the Jews in the Middle East, too.” The following day, “he ordered Heydrich to organise a conference within ten days to prepare ‘the final solution of the Jewish question.’” As the book also shows, the mufti was making common cause with Hitler long before 1941. By 1936, he was courting the Nazis for arms and money. In 1940, he sent Hitler a nine-page letter detailing a proposed alliance. The Palestine question, he said, united them in their joint hatred of the British and the Jews. He proposed to make Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Transjordan a single federated state with a Nazi-style system. In return, he wanted Hitler’s help to wipe out all Jews in the Middle East.
Evidence that the mufti played a key role in the Holocaust was provided at the Nuremberg Tribunal by Eichmann’s close associate in the extermination program, Dieter Wisliceny. He said: “The mufti was one of the instigators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry and was a partner and adviser to Eichmann and Hitler for carrying out this plan.”

This was corroborated at the tribunal by two witnesses, Andrej Steiner and Rudolf Kasztner, who confirmed that Wisliceny had talked about Husseini in these terms during the war.

Given all this evidence, the reaction to Netanyahu’s remarks demonstrates historical ignorance, venom toward Israel and particular malice toward Netanyahu himself – not least amongst Israeli Jews. Prof. Moshe Zimmermann of the Hebrew University, for example, said the prime minister “joins a long line of people that we would call Holocaust deniers.”

But as Dr. Alex Safian of CAMERA has pointed out, Zimmermann has previously likened IDF solders to the Nazi SS and Jewish children living in Hebron to the Hitler Youth. If anyone is guilty of Holocaust denial, it is surely Prof. Zimmermann.

Nevertheless, one has to wonder how Netanyahu could have been so careless with his words. The answer, I would suggest, is that he and the rest of Israel’s political class are crippled by the arrogance of moral certainty.
They know they are the victims of irreconcilable Arab aggression. They know they stand for morality, history and law.

And they think the evidence is so overwhelmingly obvious that no reasonable person could disagree.
They don’t grasp the extent to which reason has been eclipsed by emotion, ideology and bigotry. So they fail to realize that there is no lie about themselves too absurd or outrageous for the enemies of Israel to regurgitate.
These enemies react with fury to evidence of the grand mufti’s Nazi enthusiasm because this destroys the fiction that the Palestinian cause so dear to their hearts is noble. This cause is in fact the direct heir to a genocidal project.

We know that Nazi doctrine whipped millions of Germans into murderous frenzy. We also know Soviet propaganda turned truth and lies inside out and brainwashed millions.
Yasser Arafat learned from the Soviet Union how to rewrite history and capture the minds of the credulous. Mahmoud Abbas, whose doctoral thesis denied the Holocaust, hero-worships Husseini. Palestinian propaganda reproduces vile Nazi tropes of Jew-hatred.

Last century’s Islamist ideologues drew on both Communism and Nazism. The Palestinian cause likewise fuses Islamist and Nazi ambitions with Soviet psychological warfare. This explains not just the frenzied war against Israel, but why so many in the West are cheering it on.
That is the context of Netanyahu’s mufti firestorm.

Melanie Phillips is a columnist for
 The Times (UK).

Nazis, Islamists and the Making of the Modern Middle East