December 25, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Foiled 400 Major Terror Attacks in 2017 - Jonathan Lis and Yaniv Kubovich (Ha'aretz)
    Israel foiled 400 major terror attacks in 2017, Israel Security Agency head Nadav Argaman told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Sunday.
    They included 13 suicide attacks and 8 kidnappings. A further 1,100 lone wolf attacks were thwarted.
    There were 54 attacks in 2017, compared with 108 in 2016.
    However, Argaman noted that "the calm we are experiencing is misleading, and Hamas is trying with all its might to carry out attacks."

Denmark Halts Aid to Palestinian NGOs over Terror Ties - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    Denmark's Foreign Ministry announced on Friday that it was halting financial aid to several Palestinian NGOs over ties with terror groups in the wake of an internal investigation.
    In addition, Copenhagen set stricter conditions for Palestinian NGOs' eligibility for aid in the future.
    Starting in 2018, aid will be provided to only 10 Palestinian NGOs instead of 24.
    Israel Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan called "on other nations on the European continent to take the same measure of moral responsibility and take similar steps."

Terror Attack in Pennsylvania on Friday - Nicole Chavez (CNN)
    The Department of Homeland Security is calling a series of shootings targeting law enforcement in Pennsylvania a "terror attack."
    Ahmed Aminamin El-Mofty, 51, fired several times at a Capitol Police officer near the state capitol building in Harrisburg, then shot and injured a state trooper.
    Later, he used two handguns to open fire at several officers who returned fire and killed him.

Former Marine Planning Christmas Terror Attack Blames U.S. Decision on Jerusalem - Josh Delk (The Hill-Los Angeles Times)
    Everitt Aaron Jameson, 26, an ex-Marine sharpshooter who converted to Islam after being discharged, was charged Friday with planning a terrorist attack on San Francisco's Pier 39 using a combination of explosives, firearms and a vehicle.
    He left behind a signed note saying, "long live the Islamic State," and cited the U.S. decision to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Israel Excluded from Saudi-Hosted Match, Chess Federation Says (Reuters)
    Seven Israeli players have been denied visas to participate in a speed chess championship hosted by Saudi Arabia on Dec. 26-30, Israel Gelfer, vice president of the Athens-based World Chess Federation (FIDE), said on Sunday.
    Israel Chess Federation Spokesman Lior Aizenberg said, "The event is not a world championship if they prevent chess players from several countries from taking part."
    Aizenberg said FIDE should ensure Israeli players could compete in international events.

Number of Palestinians in Lebanon Two-Thirds Less than Estimates, Census Finds (AP-New York Times)
    The first official census of Palestinians in Lebanon found 174,422 Palestinians, a figure almost two-thirds less than the previously estimated 450,000.
    Tens of thousands of Palestinians have emigrated from Lebanon over the past decades.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • White House Pledges to Stand Firm on Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's Capital - Anne Gearan
    In the wake of President Trump's announcement this month that the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital and has initiated the process of relocating the U.S. Embassy, a U.S. official said, "Overall, the reaction was more muted than we expected."  Trump has told aides and members of Congress that the decision merely recognizes what is already true in practice, since the Israeli government is headquartered in Jerusalem, and has complained about what he considers narrow thinking.
        Language in the UN General Assembly resolution Thursday condemning the action was softer and less direct in its criticism of the U.S. than Palestinians had proposed, after Egypt and some European allies said they would not vote for the original version. U.S. officials said they did not lobby for that but pointed to it as a sign of solidarity with the U.S.
        The administration vowed that neither the Jerusalem announcement nor the reaction to it would derail plans to seek a Middle East peace accord next year. "Relationships between the United States and other nations have their peaks and their valleys," said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert. (Washington Post)
        See also Guatemala to Move Its Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem
    Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales announced on Christmas Eve that the country will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. (AP-NBC News)
  • Syrian, Iranian-Backed Forces Advance in Border Area near Israel - Suleiman Al-Khalidi
    Syrian army forces backed by Iranian-backed militias pushed deeper into the last rebel-held enclave near a strategic border area with Israel and Lebanon in a new expansion of Tehran's influence. The forces advanced east and south of the Sunni-rebel-held bastion of Beit Jin, southwest of Damascus in the foothills of Mount Hermon, backed by heavy aerial bombing and artillery shelling. A Western intelligence source confirmed that Iranian-backed militias including Hizbullah were playing a major role in the ongoing battles.
        Diplomatic sources say several thousand Shi'ite fighters are pitted against hundreds of Islamist and mainstream Free Syria Army (FSA) rebels, mainly drawn from local fighters, who have closed ranks under the banner of "Union of Fighters of Jabal al Sheikh." The rebels have called on youths to enlist as mosque imams in Beit Jin called on people to take up arms and fight the army. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Following U.S., Israel Announces Exit from UNESCO - Noa Landau
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed Israel's envoy to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, to officially announce Israel's withdrawal from the agency, joining the U.S., which announced its withdrawal in October due to its "continuing anti-Israel bias." Shama-Hacohen said Thursday, "The bottom line is that the U.S. is leaving UNESCO because of Israel, and it's our moral duty [to make sure] it's not doing it alone. UNESCO, led by Arab states, has broken records of hypocrisy, incitement and lies against Israel and the Jewish people, while polluting its noble basic values with politicization and diplomatic terror that sometimes bordered on anti-Semitism."
        In July, UNESCO voted in favor of a resolution that recognized the Tomb of the Patriarchs and the Old City in Hebron as Palestinian heritage sites. (Ha'aretz)
  • "Innocent Protester" Killed in Gaza Said He Wanted to "Die a Martyr" - Ben-Dror Yemini
    Ibrahim Abu Thuraya, a disabled person who used a wheelchair, was killed as he participated in a protest meters from the border fence in Gaza. According to the IDF's investigation, "Riot control equipment was used in the protest area. A few live rounds were fired towards the main instigators. Troops received approval prior to shooting each round by a senior commander in the field. No live fire was aimed at Abu Thuraya."
        Abu Thuraya's family members have reported to the media that on the day before the protest he told his father: "Forgive me. This is the last night you will see me, as I intend to be a martyr. I am bored of this life, I have no legs and I have nothing. I want to die and rest from life."
        Moreover, instead of being, as he claimed, an innocent civilian who lost his legs as a result of an Israeli bombing during Operation Cast Lead in 2008, a Palestinian website reports he lost his legs 8 months earlier in April 2008 in a battle with the IDF as a Hamas combatant. (Ynet News)
        See also IDF Calls on Red Cross to Release Findings on Death of Disabled Gaza Activist - Shoshana Kranish
    Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, called on the International Committee of the Red Cross to release its findings on the death of disabled Palestinian activist Ibrahim Abu Thuraya, who died during riots near the Gaza border on Dec. 16. Mordechai said there was "no basis" for the rumors that IDF soldiers "deliberately" killed him. "Let us put an end to the rumor mill, the exaggerations and the series of lies that inflame discourse and incite more violence. There are too many questions and ambiguities surrounding Abu Thuraya's death," Mordechai wrote on Facebook. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Next Year in Jerusalem: The UN Reveals the Depth of Its Anti-U.S., Anti-Israel Politics - Editorial
    The reality is that Jerusalem has been Israel's capital for decades. The UN vote Thursday to condemn the U.S. changes nothing, because the UN doesn't get to decide which capitals America recognizes and where it puts its embassies. 128 countries voted yes, with Britain, France, Japan and Germany joining Iran, Russia, China and North Korea to condemn the U.S.
        We hope the Trump Administration finds ways to make clear its displeasure to the friends who abandoned the U.S. The best way for America to show the hollowness of this UN stunt is by proceeding with its plans to build an embassy in Jerusalem - and demonstrate to the UN that America is one nation that stands by its friends. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Bye UNESCO: It's about Time - Editorial
    Israel will join the U.S. in removing itself and its funding from UNESCO. It's about time. The decision by the U.S. was precipitated by UNESCO's decision in 2011 to accept "Palestine" as a full-fledged member, even though there is no such thing as a Palestinian state, only a failed, quasi-political entity that is split between an Islamist enclave ruled by Hamas in Gaza and a corrupt fiefdom controlled by Fatah in the West Bank. A 1990s-era U.S. law prohibits funding any UN agencies that recognize Palestine as a state.
        Like other UN institutions, UNESCO has been hijacked by an anti-American, anti-Semitic agenda. UNESCO rewrote history to leave out the Jews. It decreed last October that Jews have no connection with the Temple Mount. The area, the holiest place in the world for Judaism, was referred to as Buraq Plaza, after Muhammad's horse. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas "Just Waiting for Abbas to Die" as Palestinian Unity Deal Falters - Yaakov Lappin
    Hamas' latest effort to join a Palestinian unity government is little more than a facade, and the terror group's top immediate objective is to seize control of the West Bank and turn it into a second Gaza, according to the assessments of defense experts. "Hamas is just waiting for Abbas to die, or that he agrees to elections, to try and take over the West Bank," said Dr. Ely Karmon, a senior scholar at Israel's International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT). "And Hamas is again talking about close ties with Iran and Hizbullah."
        Dr. Col. (res.) Moshe Elad, former head of security coordination between the IDF and the PA, said IDF-PA coordination is "the insurance policy" that the PA has for its survival in the West Bank, since "Hamas is very strong there....It's a threat that exists all of the time....Abbas knows that the five to six battalions the PA has cannot keep him in power over time on their own. He needs Israel." Elad has counted more than 25 unification attempts between Hamas and the PA since 2007. (JNS.org)

  • Outvoted on a resolution on Israel, on the wrong side of international opinion, the U.S. ambassador told the UN General Assembly: "The United States rises to declare before the General Assembly of the United Nations, and before the world, that it does not acknowledge, it will not abide by, it will never acquiesce in this infamous act....A great evil has been loosed upon the world. The abomination of anti-Semitism...has been given the appearance of international sanction." The U.S. was putting the world's deliberative body on notice that it intended to disregard its deliberations.
  • None of this happened last week. The angry words were spoken by Daniel Patrick Moynihan in 1975 after the UN passed Resolution 3379 and declared Zionism to be "a form of racism." Four decades later, Nikki Haley stepped out of Moynihan's shadow and issued the UN a rebuke just as fierce. The UN had voted to condemn America for acknowledging Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and committing to relocating the U.S. embassy there.
  • As with Moynihan, Haley has been chided for her disrespect. As with Moynihan, she has been accused of isolating America in the world. Haley is guilty of pointing out that the U.S. was being lectured like a naughty child by countries that regularly line up for pocket money from Washington.
  • U.S. contributions to the UN are a taxpayer-funded job creation scheme for anti-Americans. How dare Nikki Haley threaten to turn the tap off. And so they lined up - the human rights violators, the cowards of Western Europe, and all the lesser nations of the world - to preach and posture, living symbols of the degradation of once noble ideals.
  • Last week was not the first time America has been more or less on its own at Turtle Bay. Whether Moynihan on Zionism-is-racism or Jeane Kirkpatrick exposing the Soviet Union's downing of Korean Air Lines Flight 007, America has sometimes stood proudest at the UN when it has stood alone.