Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg

Professor Gerald Steinberg is president of NGO Monitor and professor of Political Studies at Bar Ilan University. His research interests include international relations, Middle East diplomacy and security, the politics of human rights and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Israeli politics and arms control.

Publications by Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg

Steinberg: Durban 2: An Important Victory in the Narrative War?

Analyzing the Durban II Conference

From 20-24 April 2009, the Durban Review Conference took place in Geneva. It is also known as Durban II, a follow-up to the infamous "Durban I" World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in the late summer of 2001. At Durban I, an NGO Forum accepted what can be summed up as a declaration of war against Israel. Participating nongovernmental organizations adopted a strategy for the complete isolation of Israel through boycotts, divestment, Read More »

“Lawfare”

The Centrality of NGOs In Promoting Anti-Israel Boycotts And Sanctions

NGOs (non-governmental organizations) focusing on human rights are powerful actors in international politics in general, and in the Arab-Israeli conflict in particular. The NGO community has advanced anti-Israel agendas in the UN, including in the 2001 Durban conference, which adopted the strategy of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS). NGO reports, press releases, and political lobbying campaigns constitute an important source of “soft power”. Read More »

Selective Human Rights: NGOs and the Delegitimization of Israel

Israel at Sixty: Asymmetry, Vulnerability, and the Search for Security

In the past sixty years as a nation, Israel has survived many existential threats by means of its intense motivation to restore national sovereignty and through the adoption of various strategies and tactics. Threats of ballistic missiles, nonconventional warheads and mass terror attacks have increased in the recent past, with the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran posing a problem for the future. Read More »

The Bush Visit and Tensions in the U.S.-Israel Relationship

The December “surprise” resulting from the publication of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate disrupted fifteen years of Israeli policy based on working with the international coalition to pressure Iran to drop its nuclear weapons program through sanctions and the threat of military action, and has reminded Israelis of the limits of American security guarantees and strategic cooperation. Read More »

Decoding the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program

Israel, the prime potential target for a nuclear Iran, cannot afford to take the chance of underestimating the threat, and therefore relies on what policy-makers refer to as a “worst-case” analysis. This means that the focus is on Iranian capabilities, rather than intentions, which can only be guessed. Read More »

Why Are the IAEA and Dr. Mohammed El-Baradei Protecting Iran?

El-Baradei’s complicity in the Iranian effort to acquire nuclear weapons is counterproductive. If the IAEA and El-Baradei were to join in the effort to warn and deter the Iranian regime, it might still be possible to halt the uranium enrichment and similar activities, without needing to use force. Read More »

Advice for Mr. Blair: Stop Patronizing the Palestinians

In taking the position of “international peace envoy” for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mr. Blair will need to change the basic political parameters in order to avoid another catastrophic failure. Most importantly, this will require abandoning the widely held images of Palestinian victimization and demonization of Israel. Read More »

North Korea and Iran: Will Any Lessons Be Learned?

A nuclear Iran is even more of a threat than North Korea. In East Asia, North Korea lacks allies and can be contained by an alliance of surrounding states. However, in the Middle East, Iran’s close links to Syria and its support for Hizballah make containment more difficult. In addition, in contrast to North Korea, Iran has large oil revenues to finance a major weapons program. Read More »

Is a Sustainable Cease-Fire in Lebanon Realistic?

As intense discussions continue on the terms of a "sustainable cease-fire" and a "robust international force" that would end the latest war in Lebanon and prevent renewed conflict, many of the elements suggested appear highly unrealistic. All of the elements envisioned in such a framework are highly problematic, to understate the case. Read More »

First Do No Harm: A Critique of the Human Security Approach to Arms Control

When the President of Iran calls for "wiping Israel off the map," while his country provides weapons and training to terror groups, and the International Atomic Energy Agency officially declares that it is in violation of its commitments under the Non-Proliferation Treaty prohibiting the development of nuclear weapons, what can the advocates of human security and multilateral disarmament offer in response? Read More »

Can Diplomacy Still Prevent Iran from Going Nuclear?

The decision of the International Atomic Energy Agency on September 24, 2005, to declare Iran in non-compliance with respect to its obligations as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is a major diplomatic development, opening the door to consideration of Iran’s nuclear weapons program by the UN Security Council. Read More »

Deterrence Instability: Hizballah’s Fuse to Iran’s Bomb

Iran is moving steadily to a nuclear weapons capability, European diplomatic efforts notwithstanding. The “window”; within which Iran might be stopped short of the finish line is closing quickly. But many Europeans argue that Iran will, of necessity, act as a responsible nuclear power in order to avoid catastrophic destruction. Read More »

European NGOs Against Israel

Europe’s failure in the Middle East is directly connected to the way it filters perceptions of Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Many Europeans see Israel through the lens of anticolonialist rhetoric. They perceive Israel as the representative incarnate of the West, its colonialism, imperialism, and behavior throughout the Second World War. Europe projects its own past onto Israel, and as a result the Palestinians become its victims. Read More »

Evaluating International Approaches to Security and Aid Following Disengagement in Gaza

The experiment in Palestinian autonomy, as implemented in the Oslo framework, was unsuccessful, with deeply-rooted corruption, administrative chaos, terror, and lawlessness – the characteristics of a failed state. In this environment, international efforts to provide assistance to the Palestinian population have also been ineffective, and have contributed to the corruption and the terror attacks. Read More »

Abusing the Legacy of the Holocaust: The Role of NGOs in Exploiting Human Rights to Demonize Israel

In the wake of the Holocaust, as human rights norms have come to the fore, NGOs have become major actors in international politics in general and in the Arab-Israeli conflict in particular. These organizations and their leaders form an extremely powerful “NGO community” that has propelled the anti-Israeli agenda in international frameworks such as the UN Human Rights Commission and the 2001 UN Conference against Racism in Durban. Through their reports, press releases, and influence among academics and diplomats, these NGOs propagated false charges of “massacre” during the Israeli army’s antiterror operation in Jenin (Defensive Shield) and misrepresent Israel’s separation barrier as an “apartheid wall.” Read More »

The International Atomic Energy Agency and Israel: A Realistic Agenda

There is no foundation for a change in Israel’s policy of nuclear ambiguity under present circumstances, and the topic is not on the agenda. Under the terms of a 1969 agreement with the U.S. government, Israel has refrained from making any declarations about its nuclear weapons capability, or from testing devices. The threat to Israel has not diminished much in the past five decades and hatred of Israel in the Arab and Moslem worlds remains intense. Read More »

The Vanunu Myths and Israeli Deterrence Policy

The concept of “whistle blower” refers to individuals who go public with information on corrupt practices and violations of the law, enabling the constituted authorities to hold the culprits accountable. In contrast, by seeking to impose his personal views of Israeli security requirements on the elected representatives of the Israeli government, Vanunu acted in violation of the law and the core principles of democracy. Read More »

Learning the Lessons of the of the European Union’s Failed Middle East Policies

The European Union’s massive investments (financial and political) in Middle East peace efforts in the past three decades have failed to produce positive outcomes. Relations between Israel and Europe, as reflected in official channels and public opinion polls, reflect unprecedented hostility. From the Israeli perspective, European political officials, NGOs, journalists, and academics are perceived as contributing to the demonization of Israel and Jewish sovereignty. Read More »

After Ghadafi’s Declaration: The Impact of Changes in Libyan and Iranian WMD Policies on Israel and the Region

The Libyan declaration that it was ending its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, dismantling existing capabilities and facilities, and opening up its territory for inspection marks an important step in reducing threats and instability in the region. As in the case of the recent Iranian declaration that it has accepted the conditions of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the main test lies in the implementation of the Libyan pledge of transparency, both immediately and in the long term. Read More »

Unilateral Separation as Roadmap Insurance

The record of formal efforts to negotiate peace in protracted ethno-national conflicts (Balkans, N. Ireland, Sri Lanka, etc.) is not encouraging. Israel needs a serious insurance policy, in the form of unilateral separation, to minimize vulnerability to another and potentially more deadly terror campaign, should the “roadmap” fail. Read More »

Monitoring the Political Role of NGOs

One of the harshest fronts of the Arab-Israeli conflict is the information war, in which powerful non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with major influence on the international media consistently display a biased approach. The hijacking of the Durban anti-racism conference in 2001 by anti-Israel NGOs illustrated the dangers of politically motivated humanitarian groups that derive credibility simply on the basis of mission statements promoting "universal human rights." Read More »

The Quartet, the Road Map and the Future of Iraq: A Realistic Assessment

The Middle East "road map," designed to implement the peace initiative presented by President Bush on June 24, 2002, is based on a number of extremely optimistic assumptions, and successful implementation depends on fundamental changes in the environment.
Read More »

Starting Over After Oslo

The optimistic assumptions and mechanisms that guided Palestinian-Israeli negotiations under the "Oslo" process proved unrealistic and fatally flawed. This failure is reflected in two years of Palestinian terrorism and the catastrophic leadership of the Palestinian Authority. The realization that the core of the conflict remains the rejection of Israel as a Jewish state has fundamentally changed the framework for negotiations. Read More »

Rediscovering Deterrence after September 11, 2001

As the military and political leaders of the Roman Empire understood, in a hostile and anarchic world, in order to preserve the peace, it is often necessary to prepare for war (Qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum). The promise of unacceptable consequences and retaliation following an attack may not be politically correct, but in the face of deep-seated hatred and hostility, there is often no realistic alternative. Read More »

Israel Looks Over the Horizon: Responding to the Threats of Weapons Proliferation

The wave of Palestinian violence and terrorism that began at the end of September 2000 led to a widespread tendency to focus exclusively on Israeli-Palestinian political and security relationships. This narrow concentration of attention is potentially misleading and obscures the fundamental security threats that Israel is facing at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Read More »

“The Poor in Your Own City Shall Have Precedence”: A Neo-Zionist Critique of the Katzir-Qaadan Decision

As events that accompanied the establishment of the State of Israel receded into the history books, the extraordinary accomplishments of the Zionist movement also began to fade. For many Israelis growing up after 1948, Zionism became a negative term, satirized and trivialized, and the details of its achievements were rarely taught in the Israeli schools. Read More »

Conflict Prevention and Mediation in the Jewish Tradition

Specific cultural factors are important in framing the approaches to conflict and dispute resolution in particular societies. In the traditional Jewish framework, examples and principles related to conflict resolution are found in biblical sources, the Talmud, and other texts, as well as in commentaries. In particular, the Talmudic emphasis on compromise in the context of monetary disputes, the praise of judges who were able to mediate resolutions instead of issuing legal judgments, and the admonishment to preserve the peace in the community are frequently cited. Leaders, including rabbis, are enjoined to act cautiously and accept compromise in order to prevent conflict and to
preserve the peace and welfare of the community.
Read More »

Interpretations of Jewish Tradition on Democracy, Land, and Peace

During the past twenty years, beginning with the Israeli-Egyptian disengagement talks following the 1973 war, the tension between secular and religious perspectives on the Middle East peace process and the "land for peace" formula has grown steadily. Read More »

The European Union and the Middle East Peace Process

Europe, both in terms of the individual states and collectively through the 15-member European Union, seeks to play an active role in the Middle East peace process. There are many reasons for this – substantive, political, and symbolic. Read More »

Barak’s Complex Foreign Policy Agenda

Prime Minister Ehud Barak will not get a period of grace or a post-election honeymoon. Immediately upon taking office, he faces a number of pressing issues. Many of these are domestic – including religious-secular relations and economic concerns. However, the most urgent items are in the realm of security and foreign relations. Read More »

Assessing the Impact of the Indian and Pakistani Nuclear Tests on the Middle East

Since the beginning of the atomic age in 1945, the possession and deployment of nuclear weapons has become the dominant factor in the international system. Those countries that acquired nuclear weapons have become (or maintained their status as) primary world powers, but as the number of such countries grew, the potential for the use of nuclear weapons also increased. Read More »

Palestinian Statehood, Autonomy, or Confederation: The Impacts on Israeli Security

Israel, Egypt and Nuclear Policy

The Strategic Implications of the Peace Process for Israel

The Cairo Conference on Middle East Arms Control

In the New World Order – The Threat to Israel Continues

The Lavi and the Future of the Israeli Defense Ministry