March 6, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Pentagon: Operations Against ISIS in Syria "Paused" as Kurdish Troops Shift to Fight Turkish Forces - Robert Burns (AP-Military Times)
    U.S.-backed ground operations against Islamic State in eastern Syria have been put on hold because Kurdish troops who had spearheaded the combat have shifted to fight Turkish forces attacking the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin, Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning said Monday.
    The "operational pause" is an explicit sign that Turkey's intervention is hindering the U.S. effort to finish off ISIS in Syria.

Iran Can Resume Nuclear Enrichment to 20 Percent Purity in 2 Days (Tehran Times-Iran)
    Iran can resume enriching uranium to 20% purity in less than two days, Behrooz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said Monday.
    "We are able to return to the former state and even to a new state several times better than the previous one....We can speed up enrichment by new machines," he said.

UN Rights Investigator Decries Iran Clampdown, Torture, Floggings - Stephanie Nebehay (Reuters)
    Iran has arrested activists and political opponents in a clampdown on freedom of expression as use of torture continues, a UN report said on Monday.
    The report was compiled by Asma Jahangir, a Pakistani lawyer serving as UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran who died suddenly last month.
    Jahangir called for a halt to flogging and amputations.

Bahrain Seizes Armed Network Set Up by Iran's Revolutionary Guard (Reuters)
    Bahrain said on Saturday it had rounded up 116 members of an armed network established by Iran's Revolutionary Guard, suspected of plotting attacks on Bahraini government officials and security forces.
    The Interior Ministry in Bahrain said that investigators found sites used by the militants to manufacture and store explosives intended to be used for "terrorist attacks."
    The Western-allied kingdom has faced a wave of bomb attacks by militants, whom the government says are trained and supported by Iran.

More Turkish Jews Seek New Life in Israel - Sibel Ekin (Ahval-UK)
    I learned that my Jewish friend, Izak, 32, had left Istanbul, where he had spent his whole life, to become one of the 400 Turkish Jews who settled in Israel last year - more than double the 164 who moved there the year before.
    Izak explained to me, "I thought about it for two years. Then when the coup attempt in July 2016 happened, I made the decision that it was right to leave Turkey without wasting more time."
    On July 15, Izak (a pseudonym) looked at Twitter to find hundreds of posts by Turkish users blaming the coup attempt on Jews.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Netanyahu to Trump: Israel, U.S. Have a Common Challenge to Stop Iran - Steve Herman
    "Iran must be stopped; that is our common challenge," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House on Monday. In the Oval Office, the two leaders discussed how to thwart Iran's military advances in the Middle East and the 2015 nuclear accord that both Trump and Netanyahu have deemed inadequate. "Iran has not given up its nuclear ambitions," said Netanyahu, adding that Tehran "came out of this nuclear deal emboldened, enriched. It's practicing aggression everywhere, including on our own borders."
        President Trump said he thinks the Palestinians want to come back to the negotiating table, but "if they don't, you don't have peace."  (VOA News)
        See also Netanyahu: Talks with Trump Focused on Iran - Daniel Estrin
    After his Oval Office meeting with President Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu answered questions from reporters on Monday. The central issue Netanyahu raised, he said, was: "Iran, Iran and Iran." "The president will decide [by May 12] whether to renew the [Iran nuclear] agreement," Netanyahu said. His advice: "Fully fix, or get rid of it, fully nix."
        Regarding the Palestinians, Netanyahu said Israel did not seek to govern the Palestinians but that Israel must retain overriding security control of the West Bank, arguing that the Palestinians are not capable of rooting out violence. (NPR)
        See also Remarks by President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu before Their Meeting (White House)
  • Vice President Pence: U.S. Will Withdraw from Iran Deal Unless It Is Fixed Soon - Ben Sales
    Vice President Mike Pence told AIPAC on Monday: "Earlier this year, the president waived sanctions [on Iran] to give our lawmakers and our allies time to act. But make no mistake about it: This is their last chance. Unless the Iran nuclear deal is fixed in the coming months, the United States of America will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal."  (JTA)
        See also Video: Vice President Mike Pence at AIPAC (AIPAC)
  • Former Argentine President Kirchner to Be Tried over Jewish Center Bombing Cover-Up
    Former Argentine President Cristina Kirchner will face trial on charges she covered up the role of Iranians in a 1994 terrorist bombing at a Jewish center in Argentina's capital that killed 85 people, judicial authorities announced Monday. Her former foreign minister Hector Timerman and other former officials and people close to Kirchner's government will also be tried on charges of cover-up and abuse of power, Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio said. (AP-ABC News-AFP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Haley to AIPAC: Our Push to End UN Anti-Israel Bias Is Really a Demand for Peace - Eric Cortellessa
    U.S. insistence on fair treatment for Israel at the UN is "actually a demand for peace," U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told AIPAC on Monday. The UN's bias against Israel has "long undermined peace by encouraging an illusion that Israel will simply go away." But Israel "is not going away. When the world recognizes that, then peace becomes possible" because all sides will then "be dealing with realities, not fantasies" and "reasonable negotiated compromises can prevail over absolutist demands."  (Times of Israel)
        See also Video: U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley at AIPAC (AIPAC)
  • Fatah Names Potential Successor for PA Leader Abbas - Daniel Siryoti
    PA President Mahmoud Abbas will be replaced by his deputy, Mahmoud al-Aloul, if he becomes unable to fulfill his duties, Fatah's Central Committee decided in Ramallah on Saturday. Abbas appeared to be in poor health while addressing the UN Security Council last week and is reportedly coping with stomach cancer. (Israel Hayom)
  • IDF: Improving Conditions in Gaza Depends on Hamas Returning Captive Israelis - Judah Ari Gross
    Improving living conditions in Gaza is contingent upon the return of two Israeli civilians and the remains of two slain IDF soldiers, Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, head of the IDF Southern Command, said Monday. During the 2014 Gaza war, Hamas captured the remains of two Israeli soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul. In the following year, two mentally ill Israeli civilians, Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, entered Gaza and were taken captive by Hamas. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Prince William's Visit a Testament to Good Israel-UK Ties - Mark Regev
    The first-of-its-kind visit by a member of the royal family to Israel comes amid the backdrop of intensive talks at the highest levels between the two countries on Israel's role in matters of defense and the war on terror. Additionally, bilateral trade stood at $10 billion in 2017, a 25% increase in one year.
        One in every six medications sold within the British public healthcare system is Israeli-made. There are 300 Israeli companies with offices in Great Britain, 29 of which are publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange. The writer is Israel's Ambassador to the UK. (Israel Hayom)
  • Egyptian President Sisi Chooses Survival over Democracy - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
    Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is doing whatever he can to ensure the survival and sustainability of Egypt's secular military regime. El-Sisi's main enemy remains the Muslim Brotherhood and the radical Muslim organizations fighting to uproot the current regime to replace it with a "truly" Islamic regime.
        El-Sisi himself was twice targeted by extreme Islamic radicals identified with the Islamic State. Once during a visit to Saudi Arabia, the terrorists had planned to smuggle explosives to the 34th floor of the Swiss Hotel where he was lodged, and if this failed, a woman wearing a suicide jacket was set to explode near the president. The second plot to assassinate el-Sisi was to be in Helwan, south of Cairo, carried out by six officers, four of whom belonged to the "Central Security force."
        Due to his merciless battle against Islamic radicals seeking to topple his regime, el-Sisi has transformed Egypt's political landscape into a repressive regime with zero tolerance for its critics. There is no doubt that el-Sisi will be elected president for a second term in the elections on March 26-28, and most probably a third term if he wants to and if he survives potential attacks on his life. The writer, an analyst for the Jerusalem Center, was Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Are American Universities Hiding the Truth about Deir Yassin? - Shmuel Rosner (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
  • Israeli academic Eliezer Tauber has written a book offering a detailed account of what happened in the Arab village of Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948, minute by minute, hour by hour. I'd be surprised to find any scholar whose familiarity with this event is more intimate. Tauber knows the names of everybody, he knows the time and the place where everybody was fighting, or hiding, or wounded, or killed.
  • The battle was bloody and many Arabs were killed, including women and children. It was followed by a propaganda campaign, claiming that what happened in Deir Yassin was a massacre. This campaign was very much responsible for the decision by many thousands of Arabs to flee their homes.
  • Tauber counts one clear case of unjustified shooting. An Arab family evacuated a house in surrender. An Irgun fighter opened fire while his commander was shouting at him, "What are you doing? Stop it!"
  • But the myth that was perpetrated was a deliberate attempt by the Palestinian leadership to force the Arab militaries of surrounding countries to intervene. Yet, more than convincing the Arab states to intervene (they eventually did), they convinced their fellow Palestinians to flee.
  • Why am I telling you this story? Because there is no other way for you - Americans - to know about it. Professor Tauber contacted university presses in the U.S., but apparently, a book questioning the Palestinian narrative is not a book that American universities feel comfortable publishing.