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The Eight Great Powers of 2017. Israel joined the list for the first time.

1. The United States of America
2. China (tie)
2. Japan (tie)
4. Russia
5. Germany
6. India
7. Iran
8. Israel

This year there’s a new name on our list of the Eight Greats: Israel. A small country in a chaotic part of the world, Israel is a rising power with a growing impact on world affairs. Although 2016 saw the passage of yet another condemnation of Israel at the United Nations, this time in the Security Council thanks to an American decision to abstain rather than veto, overall the Jewish state continues to develop diplomatic, economic and military power and to insert itself into the heart of regional politics.
Three factors are powering Israel’s rise: economic developments, the regional crisis, and diplomatic ingenuity. Looking closely at these tells us something about how power works in the contemporary world.

The economic developments behind Israel’s new stature are partly the result of luck and location, and partly the result of smart choices. As to the luck and location factor, large, off-shore discoveries of natural gas and oil are turning Israel into an energy exporter. Energy self-sufficiency is a boost to Israel’s economy; energy exports boost Israel’s foreign policy clout. In 2016 Erdogan’s Turkey turned on most of its NATO and Western allies; ties with Israel strengthened. Turkey’s Islamist ruler wants gas, and he wants to limit Turkey’s dependence on Russia. Israel is part of the answer.

But beyond luck, Israel’s newfound clout on the world stage comes from the rise of industrial sectors and technologies that good Israeli schools, smart Israeli policies and talented Israeli thinkers and entrepreneurs have built up over many years. In particular, Israel’s decision to support the rise of a domestic cybersecurity and infotech economy has put Israel at the center of the ongoing revolution in military power based on the importance of information control and management to 21st century states. It is not just that private investors all over the world look to invest in Israel’s tech startups; access to Israeli technology (like the technology behind the Iron Dome missile system) matters to more and more countries. It’s not just America; India, China and Russia all want a piece of Israeli tech wizardry.


Most Dreadful Inaugural Address in history

Twenty minutes into his presidency, Donald Trump, who is always claiming to have made, or to be about to make, astonishing history, had done so. Living down to expectations, he had delivered the most dreadful inaugural address in history.

Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s White House counselor, had promised that the speech would be “elegant.” This is not the adjective that came to mind as he described “American carnage.” That was a phrase the likes of which has never hitherto been spoken at an inauguration.

Oblivious to the moment and the setting, the always remarkable Trump proved that something dystopian can be strangely exhilarating: In what should have been a civic liturgy serving national unity and confidence, he vindicated his severest critics by serving up reheated campaign rhetoric about “rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape” and an education system producing students “deprived of all knowledge.” Yes, all.

But cheer up, because the carnage will vanish if we “follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American.” “Simple” is the right word.


UK voices 'reservations' over Mideast summit, refuses to sign statement

Britain cited "reservations" over Sunday's Middle East peace conference and refused to sign a joint statement that called for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A Foreign Office spokesman said the British had "particular reservations" about the meeting in Paris taking place without Israeli or Palestinian representatives, "just days before the transition to a new American president".

Britain had therefore attended the talks as an observer only, the spokesman said.

The British refusal to send a high-level delegation to Paris was widely viewed as a sign of London's determination to stay close to Donald Trump's incoming administration.


Berlin emblazons Israeli flag on Brandenburg Gate after Jerusalem attack

Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate was lit with the Israeli flag Monday night in a show of solidarity following a terror attack in Jerusalem Sunday in which four IDF soldiers were killed.

Like the Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower and other landmarks, the gate is often used as a screen for national colors to show support in the wake of attacks and other incidents.

The landmark was illuminated with the Turkish flag last week following the Istanbul New Year’s attack.

East Jerusalem resident Fadi el-Qanbar drove a truck into a group of soldiers at the Haas-Sherover Promenade in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood of Jerusalem on Sunday.


80 years ago and today.

US House passes motion repudiating UN resolution on Israel. Approved with vote of 342-80

House Resolution 11 declared the UN motion a “one-sided” effort that is an obstacle to peace, placing disproportionate blame on Israel for the continuation of the conflict and discouraging Palestinians from engaging in direct, bilateral negotiations.

Passed by a vote of 342-80, the measure puts the lower chamber of Congress firmly against President Barack Obama’s decision to withhold the US veto power from shielding Israel against the censure.


It also calls on all states “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967” — language that Israel fears will lead to a surge in boycott and sanctions efforts, and that an Israeli official warned would provide “a tailwind for terror.”

The House resolution condemned that provision, saying it “effectively lends legitimacy to efforts by the Palestinian Authority to impose its own solution through international organizations and through unjustified boycotts or divestment campaigns against Israel.”


Final vote roll call:

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