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Commentary | 19 April 2024

The Women Leaders Podcast: The Middle East – Endless escalation

The 7 October attack by Hamas on Israel changed the Middle East – and the world. The sheer brutality of the attack and the overwhelming response of Israel threw many assumptions about the Israel-Palestine conflict into disarray. As well as relations between Israel and the Arab and Muslim worlds, relations within the Arab and Muslim worlds, and relations between Israel and the US, Europe, and many other parts of the world. At the same time, these geopolitical events have been mirrored by marked rises in antisemitism and Islamophobia.

Six months into the war, escalation has become the keyword, with each instance of destruction, killing, and outrage assumed to be the worst – from murder, rape and hostage-taking to mass destruction, killing and significant aid shortages – right up until the next example of human suffering comes along. A new height of escalation was reached on the night of Saturday, 13 April, when Iran directly attacked Israel with a swarm of drones, ballistic missiles and surface-to-surface missiles: a new reality in both warfare and global politics was born.*

The Intertwined elements of the war, the region, the world, the personal, the political and the consequences are difficult to discuss. However, Ilana Bet-El is joined by two amazing women who do just that: Jodi Rudoren, Editor-in-Chief of the Forward and former New York Times Bureau Chief in Israel, and Dr Roxane Farmanfarmaian of Cambridge University and the Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education, Senior Associate Fellow at the ELN, and an expert on Iran and the Middle East. In a free and fascinating exchange, they highlight their own experiences of 7 October, their reactions to the war in Gaza, the implications for the media, geopolitics and the region, and their sense of why everyone cares so much about this conflict above all others. Take a deep breath and dive into their knowledge, wit, insights, and powerful exchanges.

*Despite recording on 18 April before the release of the episode on 19 April, there was yet a further escalation with an apparent Israeli counterattack on Iran.

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Recorded on 18 April 2024

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The opinions articulated above represent the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the European Leadership Network or all of its members. The ELN’s aim is to encourage debates that will help develop Europe’s capacity to address the pressing foreign, defence, and security policy challenges of our time.

Image credit: Florence Ferrando