March 26, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Saudi Arabia Intercepts 7 Missiles Fired at Cities from Yemen - Saeed Al-Batati and Rick Gladstone (New York Times)
    Saudi Arabia said its air defenses destroyed seven ballistic missiles on Sunday fired from Yemen including three that targeted the capital, Riyadh.
    Fragments of the destroyed missiles landed on residential neighborhoods, killing one Egyptian.

Fiery Crash at Travis Air Force Base Being Investigated as Terrorist Act (CBS Sacramento)
    A car loaded with propane tanks crashed through a gate at Travis Air Force Base Wednesday night and an explosion tore through the vehicle.
    Law enforcement sources say the driver deliberately ignited the fire. He died inside the car which drove off the road into a ditch.
    Since he ignited himself, investigators are treating this as an act of terrorism.

Three Dead after Jihadist Goes on Shooting Rampage in Southern France (AFP-The Local-France)
    Three people were killed and 5 injured on Friday in a shooting spree and hostage siege in southern France by Redouane Lakdim, 25, a French-Moroccan national, who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State.
    Security forces killed the gunman after he carried out three separate attacks in Carcassonne and Trebes.
    "Our country has suffered an Islamist terrorist attack," said President Emmanuel Macron.
    A witness reported that the assailant was armed with knives, a gun and grenades and shouted "Allahu Akbar" before going into a supermarket.
    According to reports, the gunman had demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving suspect of the 2015 Paris attacks, who is in jail in France.
    See also French Hero Officer Who Swapped Himself for Hostage Dies (AP-CNBC)
    Col. Arnaud Beltrame, a French police officer who offered himself up to an Islamic extremist gunman in exchange for a hostage, died of his injuries, raising the death toll in the attack to four.

Gaza Palestinians Attempt to Sabotage Anti-Tunnel Barrier Equipment - Yoav Zitun and Elior Levy (Ynet News)
    Four Palestinians carrying gasoline entered Israel from Gaza on Saturday night near Kibbutz Kissufim and attempted to torch heavy engineering equipment used to construct the Israel's new anti-tunnel barrier.
    They fled when an IDF force approached.

U.S. Strikes Al-Qaeda in Southern Libya - Declan Walsh and Eric Schmitt (New York Times)
    The U.S. military carried out its first drone strike against al-Qaeda militants in southern Libya on Saturday.
    The U.S. Africa Command said two militants with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) were killed when a missile fired by the drone struck a house in Ubari, 435 miles south of Tripoli.

Dublin Students Vote to Support Anti-Israel BDS Campaign - Ciaran Molloy (University Times-Ireland)
    64.5% of 1,995 students have voted to support a boycott, divest and sanction campaign against Israel in a Trinity College Dublin Students' Union (TCDSU) referendum.
    Students for Justice in Palestine has pushed the issue to the center of campus politics over the last year.
    See also Students for Justice in Palestine Unmasked - Dan Diker and Jamie Berk (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Taylor Force Act Signed into Law
    The Taylor Force Act, that cuts financial aid to the Palestinian Authority unless it ends its payments to terrorists and their families, was passed by Congress Thursday as part of a $1.3 trillion spending bill. President Trump signed it into law on Friday. The law allows for three humanitarian exceptions, including funding for Palestinian water and childhood vaccination programs as well as eastern Jerusalem hospitals. The legislation also does not cut U.S. assistance to PA security forces.
        "Passage of the Taylor Force Act will serve as a shot across the bow to President Abbas, as he must be held accountable for the Palestinian Authority's record of incitement and subsidizing of terror. It is my hope that by enacting this bill, we can put an end to the Palestinian Authority's disturbing practice, all while honoring the memory and sacrifice of Taylor Force," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. (JNS)
        See also Congress Approves Security Grants Sought by Jewish Institutions
    The spending bill approved by Congress more than doubles spending for security grants that have been overwhelmingly tapped by Jewish institutions. The bill includes $60 million for the security grants, up from $25 million last year. More than 90% of the grants have been used to harden security at Jewish institutions since the nonprofit security grant program was launched in 2005. A spike in threats on Jewish institutions over the last year drove the increase. According to the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. in 2017 increased by 43% over 2016.
        The bill also includes $5 million for the Holocaust Survivor Assistance Program, double the amount of previous years. The program partners with Jewish institutions to deliver assistance to elderly Holocaust survivors. (JTA)
        See also U.S. Approves Record $705 Million in Missile Defense Aid to Israel - Anna Ahronheim
    The U.S. Congress has approved a record $705 million to support Israeli missile defense programs in 2018, an increase of $148 million for Iron Dome and Arrow 3 development. "I thank our great friend the United States, which has invested $6.5 billion to defend the skies of the State of Israel," Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday. "We are grateful for the assistance and uncompromising commitment of the administration and Congress to Israel's security."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Haley Slams UN Human Rights Council for Issuing More Condemnations of Israel
    The UN Human Rights Council passed five anti-Israel resolutions in Geneva on Friday. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley expressed America's outrage at the UNHRC's treatment of Israel and warned that the U.S. would reconsider its membership in the body. "When the Human Rights Council treats Israel worse than North Korea, Iran, and Syria, it is the Council itself that is foolish and unworthy of its name....Our patience is not unlimited. Today's actions make clear that the organization lacks the credibility needed to be a true advocate for human rights."
        One resolution called on Israel to give the Golan Heights to civil war-torn Syria. Another called on member states not to sell any military armaments to Israel. Others called for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1948 lines and to cease building homes for Jews in Judea and Samaria (West Bank). All the resolutions were authored by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. (JNS)
        See also UK Condemns UN Human Rights Council's Dedicated Israel Agenda - Ben Weich
    The UK government has attacked the UN Human Rights Council's agenda on Israel's actions in the West Bank, saying, "The disproportionate number of resolutions against Israel and the existence of a dedicated agenda item (Item 7) that singles out Israel does little to advance dialogue, stability or mutual understanding." The UK delegation voted against two of five resolutions on Israel, but supported two others. The U.S. and Australia were the only nations to oppose each of the five motions. (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
        See also Israel Condemns UN Human Rights Council Votes - Daniel J. Roth
    Commenting on a string of anti-Israel resolutions adopted by the UN Human Rights Council on Friday, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said Saturday night, "These actions against Israel are hypocritical and cause irreparable damage to the cause of those who truly care about real human rights violations around the world."  (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu Praises Passage of Taylor Force Act Slashing Aid to PA over Terror Payments
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday: "The American Congress has passed the Taylor Force Act, which is named after an American student who was murdered in Jaffa, Taylor Force, from a wonderful family. It is designed to deny to the Palestinian Authority hundreds of millions of dollars that they invest in encouraging terrorism and lavish on terrorist families and the murderers themselves. I think that this is a very powerful signal from the U.S. which is changing the rules. It is unwilling to accept the truth of the past or, I should say, the lies of the past."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Israel Gears Up for Clashes along Gaza Border - Amos Harel
    Beginning on Friday, mass protests backed by Hamas are planned for the Gaza-Israel border, where Palestinians are planning on establishing big tent camps some 700 meters from the fence. The intention is for thousands of Palestinians to remain near the fence until mid-May.
        Israel is preparing for large-scale protests that could turn violent, with attempts to cross the border fence and to perpetrate terror attacks. Israel's military has proved it can deal with marches and demonstrations well when it has time to prepare, and it will send troop reinforcements to the border. They will include snipers, Border Police units, and police with riot control training and equipment. The rules of engagement are: Anyone who tries to cross the border will be subject to the "suspect arrest protocol" (firing in the air and then at the legs), and anyone who tried to injure soldiers will be hit.
        On Thursday, Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot ordered commanders to try as much as possible to avoid civilian deaths, but the mission they were given is to prevent a mass crossing of the border fence. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Despite Anti-Israel Resolutions, UNHRC Vote Shows Some Positive Change - Ben-Dror Yemini
    The number of states opposing and abstaining on five anti-Israel resolutions at the UN Human Rights Council on Friday was higher than in previous votes. The resolution which condemned Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights was supported by 25 countries and opposed by 24, and seven countries abstained. All EU countries voted against the resolution and were joined by others in South America, Asia and Africa. This hasn't happened in the past. In the resolutions concerning the Palestinian issue, the European countries split and more Third World countries abstained than in the past. (Ynet News)
  • John Bolton Is Right about the UN - Bret Stephens
    In 1994, John Bolton said that if the UN Secretariat building in New York "lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference." Why is the remark even controversial?
        The UN is a never-ending scandal disguised as an everlasting hope. The hope is that dialogue can overcome distrust and collective security can be made to work in the interests of humanity. Reality says otherwise. Trust is established by deeds, not words. Collective security is a recipe for international paralysis or worse. Just ask the people of Aleppo.
        Total expenditure for the UN system in 2016 was $49 billion, up 22% since 2010. And the abuse of the UN system by states such as Russia to protect clients like Bashar al-Assad is a feature of the system, not a bug. (New York Times)
        See also The UN Hates Israel - Editorial
    Syria bombs civilians with chlorine gas, China tortures dissidents, Venezuela restricts access to food and Burma is engaged in ethnic cleaning of a Muslim minority. So naturally the UN Human Rights Council trains the bulk of its outrage on...Israel. (Wall Street Journal)

Checking the Washington Post's Fact Checker - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser and Sander Gerber (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The Washington Post's Fact Checker's column, "Does the Palestinian Authority pay $350 million a year to 'terrorists and their families'?"  (March 14, 2018), was less successful at fact-checking than at whitewashing the official Palestinian Authority policy of promoting and incentivizing terror by rewarding terrorists.
  • The article verifies that the Palestinian Authority pays huge sums to perpetrators of terrorist acts and their families and confirms that the PA operates two organizations dedicated to this purpose. It also affirms that the salaries are malignly promised in advance to the terrorists and grow as the violence perpetrated causes greater damage.
  • Appallingly, it excuses payments to civilian attackers for intentional violence against innocents to promote political and religious goals, citing the excuse: "one man's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter." As Amb. Dore Gold has noted, the Post's columnist "enters the swamp of moral relativism, which in the current context means that no one is in a position to judge even the most heinous terror attacks, and this leads to terror with impunity and the world becomes more dangerous as international standards are not upheld."
  • The terrorists are paid in accordance with Palestinian Authority law. This reflects the Palestinian narrative that regards the ongoing struggle against Zionism as an imperative for any Palestinian until victory. This is the logic behind the terror payments that is ignored.
  • The PA promotes acts of stone throwing, stabbing, and vehicular attacks that go far beyond non-violent civil disobedience.
  • The PA sees terrorists as warriors and heroes sent on their mission by the Palestinian authorities. This is why the PA leadership, including Mahmoud Abbas, insist that they will keep paying terrorists under any circumstances.
  • The PA terror payments policy incentivizes terror that has claimed thousands of lives, including those of Americans. Providing any justification or rationalization for this is outrageous, immoral, illegal, and unacceptable.

        Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser was formerly Director General of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs and head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence.
        Sander Gerber is a former vice chairman of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
        Both are Fellows of the Jerusalem Center.