With Washington Looking the Other Way, Iran Fills a Void in Iraq - Mohamad Bazzi (Reuters)
In recent weeks, thousands of Iraqi soldiers and Shi'ite militia members supported by Iran assembled on the outskirts of Falluja for the expected attack on the Sunni city.
In the lead-up to the assault, General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, the special operations branch of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, met with leaders of the Iraqi Shi'ite militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces.
More broadly, Tehran wants to ensure that Iraq never again poses an existential threat to Iranian interests. Iran will do whatever is necessary to keep a friendly, Shi'ite-led government in power in Baghdad.
Since mid-2014, Tehran has provided tons of military equipment to the Iraqi security forces and has been secretly directing surveillance drones from an airbase in Baghdad. Iran has also sent hundreds of its Quds Force fighters to train Iraqi forces and coordinate their actions.
The writer, a journalism professor at New York University, is former Middle East bureau chief at Newsday.
Correction: Third of American Students Say BDS Justified (Globes)
One-third of American students believe that a boycott of Israel is justified.
Israel's Channel 2 originally reported that the survey covered the general U.S. population, but subsequently corrected its report, saying it related only to the student population.
Argentina Unveils Tank with Israeli Armor - Santiago Rivas (IHS Jane's)
The Argentine Army has unveiled a prototype for its TAM medium tank modernization program, for which it is working with Israel Military Industries (IMI), Elbit, and Tadiran.
Its new armor could be added to any TAM tanks, modernized or not, without any modification.
Israeli Medical Cannabis Company to Build New Mexico Plant - Gali Weinreb (Globes)
Israel drug and medical device company Panaxia has signed an agreement with Ultra Health, the leading medical cannabis distribution company in New Mexico, to build a cannabis processing plant.
Panaxia has developed a method to extract and precisely measure the active ingredients of THC and CBD in the cannabis plant and every pill or powder is designed to contain exactly the required dosage.
Alibaba Invests in Israeli Tech for Next Generation of E-Commerce Search - Alyssa Abkowitz (Wall Street Journal)
Chinese Internet giant Alibaba is investing in the Israeli technology company Twiggle to improve product searches on e-commerce websites.
Twiggle's biggest appeal is its query language tool, which uses behavioral data and artificial intelligence to narrow search results for online shoppers.
The Arab Peace Initiative - Dr. Joshua Teitelbaum (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Israel Fills UN Hall for Anti-BDS Conference - Michael Astor
Over 1,500 pro-Israel activists, students, and representatives of Jewish organizations filled the UN General Assembly on Tuesday for a conference sponsored by the Israeli mission on how best to combat a movement on U.S. campuses calling for a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel. Israel's Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, said, "BDS is not about helping the Palestinians or bringing peace. Their only goal is to bring an end to the Jewish state. This is the reality and we won't be afraid to say it out loud, everywhere. BDS is the true face of modern anti-Semitism." (AP-ABC News)
See also Why I Am Standing for Israel at the UN - Jay Sekulow
The writer is chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice.
- Banking Sanctions Won't Put Hizbullah Out of Business - Jonathan Schanzer
"After many years of sanctions targeting Hizbullah, today the group is in its worst financial shape in decades," Adam Szubin, the acting Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said last week. "We are working hard to put them out of business." Congress in 2015 enacted the Hizbullah International Financing Prevention Act, which hammers banks that knowingly do business with Hizbullah.
But nobody is putting Hizbullah "out of business" anytime soon. Hizbullah is a wholly owned subsidiary of Iran. And Iran just negotiated a massive windfall of $100 billion in last summer's nuclear deal.
One senior Israeli official recently told me that intelligence estimates assess that Hizbullah's war machine is more powerful than 90% of the world's militaries. The group has a massive rocket arsenal of 150,000, including many with greater accuracy and payload than in the past.
In other words, a robust strategy to hit Hizbullah in the purse is by itself insufficient. The writer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, is vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Jerusalem City Hall Orders Halt to Illegal Waqf Construction on Temple Mount
The Jerusalem Municipality on Tuesday ordered a halt to illegal construction at Jerusalem's Temple Mount holy site. The Israel Antiquities Authority had filed a lawsuit against the Waqf for building bathrooms in an archaeological site within the Temple Mount complex. Army Radio said the municipality has pledged to install portable toilets in the Temple Mount area for the upcoming Ramadan holiday. The bathrooms will be erected in coordination with Jordanian authorities.
(Times of Israel)
See also Protecting the Status of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem - Nadav Shragai (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Gazan Kids Put on Play of Death - Elior Levy
An elementary school in the Gaza city neighborhood of Zeitun put on a show last weekend with pupils dressed as armed Islamic Jihad fighters, with camouflage uniforms, helmets and play guns. During the play, children enacted placing a bomb under an IDF tank and blowing it up, shooting mortar fire at an IDF outpost, and raiding an outpost and killing an Israeli soldier. (Ynet News)
See also PA Schools Use Plays to Teach Murder and Hate - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
A recent play at the Tuqu' High School for Boys near Bethlehem portrayed Israeli soldiers arresting a Palestinian youth, planting a knife next to him, and then shooting him in cold blood. At another play at the Al-Surra Elementary School near Hebron, young Palestinian children "executed" an Israeli soldier. The way the Palestinian Authority educates its children will determine if there can be peace in the future.
(Palestinian Media Watch)
- Any International Effort to Impose a Solution on Israel Will Lack Balance - David Makovsky and Dennis Ross
Having the international community impose the parameters of a solution regarding Israel and the Palestinians is ill-advised. If the past is any indicator, the international effort will lack balance. Principles that Palestinians seek will be concrete, while those addressing Israeli concerns will be left vague - borders and Jerusalem will be spelled out for the Palestinians, while the details behind security and refugees will be left for future negotiations.
Calls for getting Netanyahu and Abbas in a room and waiting for white smoke sound good in theory, but the gaps between them are too wide and their mutual distrust is too deep, making any such talks a certain failure. David Makovsky is director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at The Washington Institute. Dennis Ross, the Institute's counselor, served as White House senior Middle East advisor in 2009-2011.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- Between Paris and Cairo: Balancing Security and Diplomacy - Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman
Policymakers in Israel have ample reason to be apprehensive about French peace initiatives. At moments of crisis, such as the Gaza fighting in 2014, it was France that took the lead in driving through to EU endorsement a position on permanent status that reflected Arab demands on borders, Jerusalem, and the interpretation of UN resolutions. This drive to impose "parameters" is inimical to Israeli interests.
The measured Israeli reaction to the latest flurry of problematic diplomatic activity reflects Jerusalem's more central security imperatives, as well as its newly-discovered sense of being a significant regional player rather than a besieged small state in a hostile sea. The writer, a former deputy for foreign policy and international affairs at Israel's National Security Council, served for two decades in Israeli military intelligence.
(Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
- 75th Anniversary of the Farhud Anti-Jewish Pogrom in Iraq - Dr. Edy Cohen
On June 1, 1941, the Farhud took place in Iraq - a pogrom against the Jews carried out by an incited, raging Muslim majority. Hundreds of Jews were murdered in Baghdad and elsewhere, and thousands more were injured. Jewish property was looted, and many homes were burned down. An Iraqi government investigation revealed that Jerusalem Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini and the Nazi Arabic-language propaganda broadcast on the radio from Berlin were the main causes behind the massacre.
The writer is a research fellow at Bar-Ilan University.
See also When Iraq Kicked Out Its Jews - Edwin Black
From the moment Hitler took power in 1933, Iraq had distinguished itself throughout the Arab world as a top Nazi ally. When World War II broke out in 1939, Nazism became a fervent cause among many Iraqis.
On July 19, 1948, Zionism itself became a crime in Iraq, punishable by up to seven years in prison. Only two Muslim witnesses were needed to denounce a Jew, with virtually no avenue of appeal.
Thousands of Jewish homes were searched for secret caches of money thought destined for Israel. On September 23, 1948, the single wealthiest Jew in Iraq, Ford automobile importer Shafiq Ades, was publicly hanged in Basra.
More arrests, executions, and confiscations followed. In October, all Jews were dismissed from government positions.
An estimated 130,000 Jews lived in the Iraq of 1949, with about 90,000 residing in Baghdad. Household by household, Jewish families finally almost unanimously realized that their 2,600-year existence in Iraq was over. In wave after wave, groups of refugees left the country, first via Iran and then in an airlift to Israel in 1950-51.
The writer is author of The Farhud, Roots of the Arab-Nazi Alliance in the Holocaust. (Times of Israel)
The Peace Charade - Jonathan S. Tobin (Commentary)
- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday: "I remain committed to making peace with the Palestinians and with all our neighbors. The Arab peace initiative includes positive elements that can help revive constructive negotiations with the Palestinians. We are willing to negotiate with the Arab states revisions to that initiative so that it reflects the dramatic changes in the region since 2002, but maintains the agreed goal of two states for two peoples."
- There were good reasons why Israel did not rush to embrace the Saudi proposal, which included recognition of Israel and an end to the conflict. The Saudis presented it as a take-it-or-leave-it proposal. Its terms required Israel to give up every inch of land it won in 1967, including Jerusalem.
- It also said that peace must also include a "just" solution to the question of Palestinian refugees, a poison pill that is equivalent to calling for an end to Israel as a Jewish state because the only "just" solution in the eyes of the Muslim world is a "right of return" that means the elimination of Israel.
- The international community is heading to Paris later this week to hold a conference at which they'll discuss ways to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinians are happy about that because their sole object is avoiding direct negotiations with the Israelis.
They far prefer diplomatic exercises such as the one promoted by the French because it diverts attention from their intransigence.
- At no point has the international community come to grips with the grim fact that Palestinian national identity is inextricably tied to the war they have been waging on Zionism for a century.
- If the U.S. or the French are serious about peace rather than merely bashing Israel, they'll act on Netanyahu's suggestion. But don't hold your breath.
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