April 12, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Photos: Israel Remembers 6 Million Victims on Holocaust Remembrance Day - Michael Bachner (Times of Israel)
    Israel came to a standstill at 10 a.m. Thursday as sirens wailed throughout the country in memory of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis during World War II.
    Buses and cars halted on streets and highways as Israelis stepped out of their vehicles and stood with heads bowed.
    Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel is held on the day marking the beginning of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943.
    The UN set International Holocaust Remembrance Day as January 27, the day the Red Army liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in 1945.

Hamas Practices Breaching Gaza Security Fence and Abducting IDF Soldiers (Israel Hayom)
    Hamas operatives have been practicing breaching the Gaza security fence, rushing IDF posts and abducting Israeli soldiers and civilians under cover of the border riots, senior defense officials told the Walla news website.
    In some places near the border, these drills are carried out in broad daylight, an official noted.

Report: 80 Percent of Palestinians Killed at Gaza Border Were Terrorists - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    26 of the 32 Palestinians killed in the recent Gaza border clashes - 80% - were terrorist operatives or identified with terrorist organizations, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reported.
    The high proportion of persons identified with terrorist groups showed that the clashes are being orchestrated mostly by those groups and not by civilian leaders.
    30 of the 32 were men between the ages of 19 and 45.
    See also More Palestinian "Victims" Identified as Terror Group Members (Honest Reporting)

Steep Slide in Currency Threatens Iran's Economy - Thomas Erdbrink (New York Times)
    The Iranian rial plunged this week, losing 35% of its value against the dollar and hitting a record low.
    In 2013, the exchange rate was 36,000 to the dollar; in Tehran's black-market exchanges this week the going rate was 60,000.
    The currency slide is taking its toll on business, with many firms selling foreign products halting all sales, unable to determine prices.

Syria to Chair UN Disarmament Forum on Chemical and Nuclear Weapons (UN Watch)
    Beginning on May 28, Syria will chair the UN Conference on Disarmament, based in Geneva, that produced the treaty banning chemical weapons, despite accusations that it perpetrated yet another deadly chemical weapons attack.
    "The Assad regime's documented use of chemical weapons remains the most serious violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention in the treaty's twenty-year history," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Backs EU Iran Sanctions Push, Warns Firms Against Tehran Trade - William James
    Sigal Mandelker, U.S. Undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said Tuesday in London that sanctions were an important part of a comprehensive effort to counter Iran's "malign activity" in the region. "We understand that the EU...is considering new Iran-related sanctions. This is a good and important step that we support."
        "We say any companies thinking about doing business in Iran or with Iranian companies face serious risks that they will be doing business with those, like the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps), supporting terrorism and instability throughout the world." Mandelker cited a continued lack of transparency in the Iranian banking system. "The onus of responsibility lies in Iran and we're going to continue to highlight the risks of doing business there because they haven't taken the actions that they have promised they would take."  (Reuters)
  • Report Warns of Resurgent Global Anti-Semitism - Rick Noack
    Jewish life around the world is under attack once again by "classic traditional anti-Semitism," according to a report released Wednesday by the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University. The study blames the surge on "the constant rise of the extreme right, a heated anti-Zionist discourse in the left, accompanied by harsh anti-Semitic expressions, and radical Islamism."
        The report concludes that "Europe's largest Jewish communities are experiencing a normalization and mainstreaming of anti-Semitism not seen since the Second World War." European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor said, "There has been an increase in open, unashamed and explicit hatred directed against Jews. The Jew as exploiter, the Jew as killer, the Jew as banker. It is like we have regressed 100 years."  (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Moves to Block Iran's Military Presence in Syria - Amos Harel
    In recent months Iran has moved to establish army bases and camps for the Shi'ite militias, whose activity it funds, around Syria. Iranian air force equipment has also been moved there, and Iran has been pressing the Assad regime to let it assume control of seaports and build airbases.
        Last September, a big military facility was bombed at Masyaf. Foreign reports said the facility had been a Syrian-Iranian assembly line making kits to improve the accuracy of missiles for Hizbullah. In December, a base Iran was building for Shi'ite militias in Al-Kiswah was bombed. The latest attack ascribed to Israel at the T-4 airbase exposed Iran's intentions. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is building an extensive, smart system in Syria, aimed against Israel. The nature of this activity is being kept secret from Russia.
        The series of attacks ascribed to Israel shows how exposed and penetratable the Iranian activity is. Tehran should assume that Israel has similar information about what Iran is doing in other bases and sites around Syria. Israeli military and political leaders say that if Tehran reacts now, this would lead to immediate escalation that could endanger Iran's entire project in Syria. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Netanyahu Tells Putin: Israel Will Not Permit an Iranian Military Presence in Syria
    Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by phone on Wednesday. Netanyahu told Putin that Israel will not permit Iran to set up a military presence in Syria. (Ha'aretz)
  • If Iran Acts Against Israel, the Assad Regime Will Disappear - Ben Caspit
    "Assad's regime and Assad himself will disappear from the map and the world if the Iranians do try to harm Israel or its interests from Syrian territory," senior Israeli defense officials said, after a top adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei warned that a strike on the Syrian T-4 airbase would "not remain without response."  (Maariv-Jerusalem Post)
  • Trump Envoy Greenblatt Calls on Hamas to Relinquish Power - Amir Tibon
    U.S. special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process Jason Greenblatt called on Hamas to disarm and relinquish control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority in a series of tweets on Wednesday. "In a speech a few days ago, Hamas' Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar says (in Arabic) that they will 'tear down the wall and tear out their (meaning Israelis') hearts.' This message is monstrous. Is this what a leader does? This only hurts the Palestinians of Gaza. This old-line of thinking and ideology hurts all Palestinians."
        "Hamas must relinquish its control of Gaza to the PA and disarm. If it wants to join the real world, it must renounce violence, recognize Israel, and decide to abide by past agreements."  (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • More U.S.-Israeli Coordination Could Change the Balance of Power in the Middle East - Michael Doran
    Imagine if Washington and Jerusalem were to develop a joint military plan designed to contain and degrade Iranian forces in Syria. Even a limited American military commitment to a coordinated U.S.-Israeli strategy would immediately change the balance of power on the ground. It would most likely engender more diplomatic cooperation from Mr. Putin while sending a powerful message to Tehran about the necessity of respecting American demands regarding its nuclear program. The writer, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, was a senior director at the National Security Council in the George W. Bush administration. (New York Times)
  • Hamas Attacks Israel - and the World Condemns Israel - Larry Haas
    With hundreds of Palestinians chanting, "We are going to Jerusalem, millions of martyrs," Hamas leaders made clear that their "March of Return" is only the latest tactic in their efforts to destroy Israel. However, that hasn't convinced much of the global community to abandon its comfortable narrative of a peace-loving Palestinian people in Gaza driven to violence by an iron-fisted Israel. However carefully it responds to violent efforts to breach its borders and attack its people, Israel finds itself falsely portrayed, second-guessed, and ultimately condemned.
        "Palestine and Jerusalem belong to us," top Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh declared this week. Maybe Israel's critics don't realize that with their one-sided condemnations, they're emboldening Hamas. Or maybe they do. The writer, a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, served as senior communications director for Vice President Al Gore. (The Hill)

Palestinians Are Welcome to Protest But Not Infiltrate Israel En Masse - David Keyes interviewed by Gamal Fahnbulleh (Sky News)

Prime Minister Netanyahu's spokesman David Keyes was interviewed by Sky News presenter Gamal Fahnbulleh last week.
  • Q: How do you justify the deaths of 18 Palestinians on the Israel-Gaza border?
    Keyes: Israel found itself in the unfortunate situation where a mob of tens of thousands was encroaching towards the border. People blew up the security fence. People launched Molotov cocktails. And Hamas' stated aim, which it repeated in recent days, is the total and utter annihilation of Israel. They even go so far as to advocate genocide of Jews and genocide of Americans. Ahmad Bahar, the deputy speaker of the parliament, called to "kill every single Jew." Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas leader, called to "eat the livers of the Israelis."
        So when Israel found itself in a situation where it was being shot at, where people were trying to infiltrate en masse, it took the steps that any state would have taken and defended its people. The full onus is on this genocidal terrorist organization which is theocratic, dictatorial, doesn't care one wit about its people, and that's why it is stealing so much money, hiding behind children and women. They took a 7-year-old girl and sent her to Israeli soldiers so if she was shot it would be a victory for Hamas. This is insane. This is outrageous. This is an abomination and it should stop right now.
  • Q: You say no Israeli soldiers have been injured or killed. Where is the proportion?
    Keyes: The way to judge what is right and wrong is not to tally up the sides and have the exact number of people. If a criminal comes into a home and starts shooting people, you don't say, well, unfortunately not enough policemen died protecting the family, and that's the situation we're in today. There's no parity whatsoever. There's no moral comparison whatsoever. I think we should be a little bit smarter than to say, well, we want the exact same number on both sides to die. That's ridiculous.
  • Q: Aren't some people just protesting for their right to return?
    Keyes: What does the right to return mean? It's a euphemism for the destruction of Israel. Hamas' leadership has been abundantly clear. Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud al-Zahar routinely call for the annihilation of Israel. People are welcome to protest as much as they want, anywhere they want, anytime they want. What they can't do is try to infiltrate Israel en masse, which is exactly what they said they would do.