March 29, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Defense Secretary Mattis: U.S. Almost Attacked Russians in Syria Again - Tom O'Connor (Newsweek)
    Defense Secretary James Mattis revealed Tuesday that U.S. forces nearly bombed Russians fighting on behalf of Syrian President Assad in the past week.
    But a call by Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to Russia's top military leader, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, via a deconfliction hotline, defused the situation.
    Last month, the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS killed a large number of Russian pro-Assad fighters in an airstrike in Syria.

American Forces Kill Senior Al-Qaeda Leader in Libya - Bill Roggio and Alexandra Gutowski (Long War Journal)
    The U.S. military killed Musa Abu Dawud, a high-ranking al-Qaeda leader in Libya, in an airstrike on March 24.
    The State Department said Dawud was "appointed commander of the southern zone for AQIM [Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb] in 2012," and was "responsible for multiple terrorist attacks" in Algeria and Tunisia.

Report: Turkey Mobilizing China's Muslims - Abdullah Bozkurt (Turkish Minute)
    A clandestine network was set up by Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MIT) among Uyghurs and other Muslim groups from Central Asian countries to transport jihadist fighters from China's Xinxiang region.
    On March 10, 2018, 700 Muslims from China visited the Turkish border city of Hatay near Syria and said they wanted to join Turkish forces in the battle in Afrin.
    In 2015, the Turkish Meydan newspaper reported on a secret operation to provide Turkish passports to Uyghurs, apparently run by Turkish intelligence.

Moroccan Foreign Minister Visits Temple Mount - Adam Rasgon (Jerusalem Post)
    Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita toured the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on Tuesday and later met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki.

Israeli Doctors Perform Lifesaving Spinal Surgeries in Ethiopia - Josefin Dolsten (JTA)
    Eight doctors, two nurses, and one physical therapist from the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem traveled to Ethiopia last week to fix severe spinal deformities in five young patients.
    "These cases were so bad that if we wouldn't have operated on these children, at least half of them would be dead by next year," said Dr. Josh Schroeder.

New Law Lets Mississippi Invest in Israel Bonds (AP)
    A new Mississippi law signed on Tuesday by Gov. Phil Bryant will allow the state treasury to invest up to $20 million in bonds issued by Israel.
    State treasury Chief of Staff Michelle Williams says the treasury invests most of its excess funds in state banks, then in the U.S. Treasury.
    The new law will give the state treasury another option for investment - one that Williams said is safe but with a higher rate of return.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • European Powers Press for New Iran Sanctions to Buttress Nuclear Deal - Robin Emmott and John Irish
    France, Britain and Germany sought on Wednesday to persuade their EU partners to back new sanctions on Iran to preserve the nuclear deal with Tehran that the U.S. has threatened to pull out of by May 12, diplomats said. The three European powers have proposed extra EU sanctions over Iran's ballistic missile programs and its role in the war in Syria. (Reuters)
  • UN Condemns Missile Attacks by Iran-Allied Yemeni Rebels on Saudi Arabia
    The UN Security Council on Wednesday condemned missile attacks on Saudi Arabia launched by Yemen's Houthi rebels last weekend and expressed "grave concern" at reports the Houthis obtained the weapons in violation of a UN arms embargo. The statement, approved by the 15-member council - including Russia, China, and top Western powers - did not name who was violating the arms embargo. (Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty)
        See also Coalition: Iran Is Behind Missile Attacks on Saudi Arabia - Rashid Hassan
    The Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia on Monday said the debris of missiles fired by Houthi rebels in Yemen carried the features of weapons manufactured near Tehran. The coalition lashed out at the Iranian regime for providing the Houthi militias with sophisticated arms and ballistic missiles. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel: Rules of the Game on Iran Nuke Deal Will Change - Daniel J. Roth
    Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that a monumental shift regarding the Iranian nuclear deal may be fast approaching. "We are now at a critical juncture. It is the last chance to correct the mistakes of the past and recognize that we all must set off on a new path aimed at reining in Iran's reckless behavior."
        "In forty-five days the clock will run out and the rules of the game will change....Either choose to work with the Americans and support their genuine efforts to make the Middle East a safer place - or choose Iran and enable a dangerous regime."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Returns to Directly Financing Convicted Terrorists - Elior Levy
    In the wake of Friday's enactment by the U.S. of the Taylor Force Act, which halts economic aid to the Palestinian Authority until it ceases paying stipends to terrorists, the PA has decided to return to directly providing financial aid to families of terrorists. For the past four years, in response to criticism of the practice, the PA had been paying stipends to terrorists indirectly through the Palestinian Authority for Prisoner Affairs and the Palestinian National Fund, branches of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). (Ynet News)
  • IDF Urges Gazans to Reject Hamas Exploitation
    IDF Spokesman in Arabic Maj. Avichay Adraee delivered a message to the people of Gaza on Tuesday in an effort to dissuade them from participating in a mass march on the Israel-Gaza border on Friday. "Hamas is organizing a march and calling on the people of Gaza to head toward the border with Israel, to deflect their attention from the water, unemployment, filth, sewage, electricity. Would it not be better to take care of all these problems before calling on the people to risk their lives?"
        "Don't you understand that terrorist elements are using you in a cynical manner? These events and activities do not and will not help, and they are pointless. Demand your rights from those who continue to oppress you rather than care about your problems, and who take what you deserve and your money for the purpose of digging useless tunnels."  (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Why Hamas Will Never Give In to the Jews - Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar
    When the "Islamic Resistance Movement" (Hamas) took over Gaza in 2007, pundits theorized that once the group became responsible for drinking water, gasoline, electricity, employment, and food, it would have no choice but to become more moderate. But no Islamic terror organization abandons terror without being seen as abandoning Islam as well.
        As a religious movement, Hamas must adhere to the principle that forbids any deviation from the path dictated by Allah. If Gaza Muslims suffer, that is considered one of the tests Allah presents to believers in order to determine whether or not they deserve a passport to Paradise. The religious conceptual framework prevents Hamas from doing anything that might be interpreted as giving in to the Jews.
        Over the 1,400 years since the dawn of Islamic history, there have been Muslim regimes that treated strangers with respect, refrained from attacking countries more powerful than they, and cared about the economic conditions of their subjects. Hamas is light years away from this type of rule. It takes step after step to create a picture of suffering and want in order to squeeze donations from the international community.
        Because the Arab world has turned its back on Hamas, the organization is close to bankruptcy, a crisis that explains its new, warm relationship with Iran. The ayatollahs see Hamas as the long arm of the Iranian octopus extended towards southern Israel, in combination with Huzbullah in the north. The writer, a senior research associate at the BESA Center, served for 25 years in IDF military intelligence. (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • Israel: One of the World's Oldest Democracies - Einat Wilf with Shany Mor
    70 years after declaring independence, Israel is (by one reckoning) the world's tenth oldest continuous democracy. It had universal suffrage from its first day - yes, Arab citizens too. Israel was not the only newly independent state to emerge in the aftermath of the Second World War and to begin its days as a democracy, but it has been the only one to never fall, even temporarily, into some kind of authoritarianism. No coups, no emergency governments, no cancelled elections, no opposition leaders in jail, no suspensions of basic political or civil liberties.
        Israel is one of only 20 or so countries (out of 200) that has been rated free by Freedom House for nearly half a century. Of the very few countries that have been practicing democracy without any interruptions longer than Israel, most have only done so for slightly longer (Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden) and none have done so in conditions of ongoing conflict, repeated wars on multiple fronts, terrorism, waves of immigration in unparalleled proportions, and a population of vast linguistic, national, religious and ethnic diversity.
        Dr. Einat Wilf is a former member of the Knesset (2010-13). Shany Mor is a former director for foreign policy on the Israeli National Security Council. (Fathom-BICOM)

Video: Israel and Syria: The UN and the Distortion of International Law - Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • This month, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Prince Zeid bin Ra'ad, described Israeli settlements as a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
  • Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 states that "Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of an occupying power," is prohibited, and that "the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."
  • Eugene Rostow, a former Dean of Yale Law School, served at the time of the 1967 Six-Day War as Undersecretary of State. With the memory of the Second World War in mind, he explained that the Fourth Geneva Convention was intended to preclude mass deportations of a state's population into territory that its forces had occupied for the purpose of extermination, slave labor, and other nefarious crimes.
  • Rostow rejected any link between Israeli settlements and the Fourth Geneva Convention. It is obscene to connect Israel with an international convention conceived to prevent actions like the transfer of German Jews to occupied Poland for extermination.
  • The Syrian civil war has involved the mass forcible transfer of Syrian Sunni Arabs out of Syria into Turkey, Jordan, and Europe. At the same time, there's a parallel effort under way, sponsored by Iran, to colonize Syria with Shiite Muslims. Removing one population and bringing in another is the very type of activity that the Geneva Convention was conceived to prevent.
  • The UN is distorting international law, focusing on the wrong issues and leaving some of the greatest abuses of human rights since World War II unanswered.

    Amb. Dore Gold, former director general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center.