Staring down the new face of Middle East conflict
Photo: Ben Tinsley Michael Makovsky speaks to a gathered group, discussing what Middle Eastern problems can mean for America and how they can transfer here.

By Ben Tinsley

DALLAS — Dr. Michael Makovsky covered a lot of ground May 20 during his presentation “The New Face of Conflict: Lessons from the 2014 Gaza War for America.”
As the chief executive officer of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, a pro-Israel nonprofit think-tank, Dr. Makovsky also reviewed at length JINSA’s opposition to “Goldstone II” — the name many Israelis used to describe the three-member commission set up to investigate allegations of “war crimes” following Operation Protective Edge.
Goldstone II originally derived its name from the infamous Goldstone Report set up following Operation Cast Lead in 2009 — which was slammed as one-sided and anti-Israel by critics.
JINSA officials selected Dallas for one of Makovsky’s presentations because of its size, political influence, and large Jewish population.
Makovsky had a lot of information to impart over the course of an hour:

  • The U.S.-Iran nuclear talks aren’t slowing Tehran’s production;
  • Hamas bent the same rules of war that it accused Israel of doing during last year’s Gaza Conflict; and
  • Both Israeli and Arab media skewed coverage of last summer’s events.

Makovsky conducted several vigorous discussions with audience members regarding Israel and the Middle East.
He had prepared several folders for audience members packed with documents and copies of news stories, which provided background on several of Makovsky’s talking points during his presentation in the Old Parkland Pecan Room, 3819 Maple Ave.
“I thought what I would do is talk a little about my organization, talk a little about the Middle East, and then have a conversation,” Makovsky said.
The folders contained at least two articles referencing the Israeli-Arab “War of Narrative” — the distortion of the historical record on both sides of the conflict.
On the subject of Iran and nuclear arms, Makovsky passed out documents addressing his belief that the Iran nuclear arrangement with the U.S. is not slowing any increase in nuclear arms — as had been hoped.
“The Iran deal is (speeding up) nuclear proliferation in an unbelievably unstable part of the world,” he said.
Then came the subject of the investigation into soldier conduct during the 2014 Israel-Gaza Conflict. A special task force of retired U.S. generals visited Israel and conducted an assessment of conduct during that conflict, Makovsky said.
The results of that investigation were listed in a May 2015 document presented to Congress.
The conclusions:

  • The study showed that Hamas violated the law of armed conflict and exploited misunderstanding of its requirements to undermine Israel’s perceived moral standing and international support.
  • The study indicated Israel’s military did everything it could to avoid civilian casualties — and also did what it could to reduce the risk to the civilian population.
  • The conduct of the Israel Defense Forces during battle was an “admirable case of restraint,” according to the study.
  • The study indicates Hamas and its supporters substantially manipulated the Law of Armed Conflict, or LOAC, to allege that collateral damage from Israeli was illegal, while concealing the fact that Hamas simultaneously encouraged collateral damage.
  • Hamas, according to reports, supported false claims against the IDF by distorting stories and images to serve their organization’s narrative and by manipulating stories in the international media.

After Makovsky’s presentation, he spent much time in back-and-forth conversations with the audience:
“The star of the war was the Iron Dome. It was a great success.”
“These aren’t your grandfather’s tunnels — 7 feet high and cased with cement.”
As the evening concluded, Makovsky specifically thanked Harlan and Amy Korenvaes for being his hosts.
Dr. Michael Makovsky joined JINSA in 2013 as CEO. A U.S. national security expert, he has worked extensively on Iran’s nuclear program, the Middle East, and the intersection of international energy markets and politics with U.S. national security.

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