March 13, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Pro-Palestinian Campaigner Admits Their Activist Initiated 2010 Violence aboard Mavi Marmara - Robert Philpot (Times of Israel)
    In newly revealed posts from a secret British Facebook group, Greta Berlin, the spokesperson of the group involved in the flotilla that attempted to enter Gaza in May 2010, states that the Israeli troops did not open fire until after Ken O'Keefe, a former U.S. marine aboard the Mavi Marmara, seized a gun from one of them.
    O'Keefe "was responsible for some of the deaths on board the Mavi Marmara. Had he not disarmed an Israeli...soldier, they would not have started to fire," she wrote on the Palestine Live group in 2014.
    She added that O'Keefe was "not a hero and his actions put others on the Mavi Marmara at risk."
    She also refers to "Ken's crazy ideas to attack" soldiers, branding him "a menace," and writing of his "rather crazy ideas of wanting to have a 'suicide boat.'"

The Blood Libel Revived - Editorial (Washington Times)
    The Palestinians, perhaps in the spirit of the approaching Passover season, have revived the ancient "blood libel" accusing the Jews of using the blood of Christian babies in their recipe for matzos.
    This time the Jews are accused only of the massacre of Islamic children.
    Official Palestinian Authority television stated that Israel "has built itself on the bodies of children and it murders, imprisons and tortures them with the most extreme types of torture."
    Parents are warned not to let their children venture far from home lest they be kidnapped by evil Jews.
    Official Palestinian voices accuse the Israel Defense Forces of summarily "executing" children for throwing rocks at passing cars.

Islamic Jihad Terrorist Accidentally Blows Himself Up - Adam Rasgon (Jerusalem Post)
    Ibrahim Frahat, 27, a member of Islamic Jihad, died in an "accidental explosion" in northern Gaza on Saturday, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said.
    IDF Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai said Frahat died while "manufacturing weapons and ammunition for Islamic Jihad."

Israeli Backpackers Volunteer in Rio's Slums (JTA)
    25 Israeli backpackers volunteered during their post-army travels in Rio de Janeiro's poor neighborhoods as emissaries of the non-profit Heroes for Life.
    For two weeks they renovated elementary schools and taught math and English to disadvantaged children.
    Heroes for Life, founded in 2014, has dispatched teams to India, Nepal, South Africa, Guatemala, Mexico, Argentina, and Ethiopia.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Palestinian Prime Minister's Convoy Hit by Roadside Bomb in Gaza
    An explosive device targeted the convoy of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and PA intelligence chief Majed Faraj after they entered Gaza on Tuesday, in what Fatah called an assassination attempt. Three vehicles in the convoy were damaged, their windows blown out. One had signs of blood on the door. (AP-CBC News)
  • Palestinian Authority to Sue U.S. at International Criminal Court over Jerusalem Recognition - Qais Abu Samra
    PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki will fly to The Hague soon to sue the U.S. administration at the International Criminal Court (ICC) over President Donald Trump's official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Saleh Rafat, an executive committee member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), told the official Voice of Palestine radio.
        Al-Maliki will file another ICC complaint against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman for "their involvement in crimes against the Palestinian people," Rafat said. The PA became an official member of the ICC in 2015. (Anadolu-Turkey)
  • More than Half a Million People Killed in Syrian Civil War
    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday that about 511,000 people had been killed in the Syrian civil war since 2011. The Observatory has identified by name more than 350,000 of those killed. About 85% of the dead were civilians killed by the forces of the Syrian government and its allies. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Hizbullah Forces Participating in Massacre of Syrian Civilians - Smadar Perry
    Hundreds of Hizbullah fighters are participating in the Syrian army's onslaught on rebel forces and in the massacre of civilians in the Ghouta district near Damascus. Iranian Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force, ordered the dispatch of Hizbullah fighters to the Ghouta area.
        Some 3,000 Hizbullah fighters have been sent to the al-Makr base in the Damascus suburbs in recent weeks. More than 1,100 civilians have been killed in the offensive against the rebel stronghold in Ghouta in the past three weeks. More than 100 Hizbullah fighters have been reported killed as well. (Ynet News)
  • Work Begins on New Jerusalem Light Rail Extension to Serve Jews and Arabs - Nadav Shragai
    Work has begun on the infrastructure for the Jerusalem light rail's second line, the "Green Line," which will run from Hebrew University on Mount Scopus in the north to Gilo in the south. Like its predecessor, the line will serve both the Jewish and Arab populations. At the same time, the "Red Line," which opened in 2011, will be extended to Neve Yaakov in the north and Hadassah Ein Karem Medical Center in the south.
        The Jerusalem light rail has become a symbol of coexistence and 200,000 Jews and Arabs ride it each day. In 2014-2016, the railway became a target for firebombs and stone throwers, but the Israeli authorities insisted on continuing to run the train through the Arab neighborhoods of Shuafat and Beit Hanina. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Palestinians Caught Trying to Bomb West Bank Military Court
    Two Palestinians from Jenin, aged 16, were detained by Border Police guards at the entrance to the Samaria Military Court on Sunday while carrying hidden pipe bombs. The court has been targeted repeatedly in the past few months by Palestinians carrying pipe bombs and this was the sixth such incident. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • In Syria and Lebanon, Iran and Its Proxies Threaten Israel, Sunni Arabs and the U.S. - Sen. Lindsey Graham
    When Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000, the UN promised to provide a buffer via the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), to ensure that southern Lebanon would not continue to be a threat to Israel. On a recent visit to the region, we were stunned by how pervasive sophisticated rockets have become in the area. The Israel Defense Forces informed us that Hizbullah - with Iran's help - is manufacturing precision-guided weapons there. Under the nose of UNIFIL, there are thousands of intermediate-range rockets and missiles pointed at Israel.
        Soon Israel will have to attack these rocket sites, which Hizbullah has integrated into civilian infrastructure such as apartment buildings, schools and hospitals. Israeli leaders are concerned that this will lead to high civilian casualties. I will hold hearings about the military buildup in southern Lebanon, the failures of UNIFIL, and the need for more missile-defense funding for Israel. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Gas Deal with Egypt Deepens Israel's Anchor in the Eastern Mediterranean - Oded Eran, Elai Rettig, and Ofir Winter
    On Feb. 19, 2018, Israel announced a $15 billion contract to export natural gas to Egypt over ten years. In addition, a pipeline to Jordan is under construction as part of a 2016 agreement. In security terms, in the new reality being created, any damage by Hizbullah or Hamas to Israel's ability to produce gas will also affect the supply of electricity to Jordan and Egypt. The joint threat will encourage intelligence and security cooperation with neighboring countries in identifying and preventing sabotage, and serve as a catalyst for them to seek calm if fighting breaks out. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • UNRWA Has Been Captured by the Population It Serves - Alex Joffe and Asaf Romirowsky
    The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is the only refugee relief effort aimed at a single population; it is seemingly permanent; and it is the world's only internationally funded "relief" organization run by its clients. UNRWA serves as an additional Palestinian health, education and welfare ministry, thus relieving the PA from assuming these responsibilities. Alex Joffe is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum. Asaf Romirowsky is executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)

  • Jews lived in Morocco for centuries before Islam came to Casablanca, Fez and Marrakesh. The Jews, along with the Berbers, were the backbone of the economy and culture. Now their historic presence can be seen primarily in the hundreds of Jewish cemeteries and abandoned synagogues throughout North Africa.
  • Maimonides, the great Jewish philosopher and medical doctor, taught at a university in Fez. Other Jewish intellectuals helped shape the culture from Morocco to Algeria to Tunisia to Egypt. Now they are a remnant in Morocco and gone from the other counties. Many were forced to flee by threats, pogroms and legal decrees, leaving behind billions of dollars in property and the graves of their ancestors.
  • The Arab exodus from Israel in 1948 was the direct result of a genocidal war declared against the newly established Jewish state by all of its Arab neighbors, including the Arabs of Israel. If they had accepted the UN peace plan - two states for two peoples - there would be no Palestinian refugees.
  • Nearly all of the Jews displaced from their Arab homelands could trace their heritage back thousands of years, well before the Muslims and Arabs became the dominant population.
  • It has now been 70 years since this exchange of Jewish and Arab populations occurred. It is time to end the charade of calling the displaced Palestinians "refugees." Almost none of the five million Arabs who claim the mantle of "Palestinian refugee" was ever actually in Israel. The time is long overdue for the world to stop treating these Palestinians as refugees.

    The writer is professor of law emeritus at Harvard Law School.