April 23, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Decision on Jerusalem Did Not Lead to Increase in Violence - Hillel Frisch (Jerusalem Post)
    According to data from the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, the pattern of violent Palestinian attacks in the four months since President Trump's decision on Jerusalem is remarkably similar to the four months preceding the decision.
    The number of arrests Israel makes is also a good indicator of levels of violence. Addameer, a Palestinian NGO, records a slight decline in arrests after the decision.
    If President Trump's decision on Jerusalem was so inflammatory, why did Hamas see the need for the "March of Return" campaign to mobilize Palestinians to violence?
    The writer, a professor of political and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University, is a senior research associate at its BESA Center.

Russians Buy Kurdistan's Oil Pipelines to Turkey - Dmitry Zhdannikov (Reuters)
    Russia's Rosneft oil company has taken over ownership of Kurdistan's oil export pipelines to Turkey from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq in return for $1.8 billion.
    Rosneft has pledged to invest billions of dollars in Kurdistan, to the anger of the Baghdad government.
    Control of the pipelines has given Rosneft a central role in ongoing talks between the KRG and Baghdad aimed at resuming full oil exports, which were disrupted by the Iraqi seizure of key oilfields - Kurdistan's main source of income.
    Moscow's use of Rosneft as a tool of foreign policy has increased significantly over the past two decades under Putin's rule.
    In Venezuela, Rosneft lent $6 billion to support the government. The company could end up owning large Texan refineries, currently belonging to Venezuelan state oil firm PDVSA, because the plants are collateral against the debt.

Hamas Fighter Killed in Gaza Tunnel Collapse (Times of Israel)
    Thaer Nayef al-Zaraie, a member of Hamas' Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was killed Sunday in a tunnel collapse near Deir al-Balah in Gaza.
    See also Hamas Man Killed, 3 Injured in Gaza Blast - Stuart Winer (Times of Israel)
    Mohammed Nimr Maqadmah, 55, a member of Hamas' military wing, was killed on Monday and three others were injured in an explosion in Beit Lahiya in Gaza.

Wounded Christian Arab IDF Veteran Now Combats BDS - Hassan Shaalan (Ynet News)
    Youssef Haddad, now 32, a Christian Arab from Nazareth, joined the IDF at the age of 18 and served in the Golani Brigade.
    He was wounded in the 2nd Lebanon War and upon his discharge found another way to serve his country: combating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign and improving ties between Israeli Arabs and the state.
    "I believe that just as I contributed to the state militarily, I can contribute in the PR arena and expose the lies disseminated regarding the State of Israel," he said.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran, Israel Play Down Prospects They'll Go to War over Syria - Dan Williams
    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told CBS News on Sunday that further Israeli sorties on Iranian bases in Syria would have "consequences," but "I do not believe that we are headed towards regional war."
        Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz told Ynet News that Israel is "not interested" in escalation, but Israeli power-projection "can challenge the Iranians, can clarify to the Russians, who seek stability, that it is worth it for them to apply their influence, and the same goes for the U.S., for France and all the others."  (Reuters)
        See also Transcript: Interview with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif - Margaret Brennan (CBS News)
  • Iranian Generals Threaten to "Annihilate" Israel
    The commander of Iran's army, Maj. Gen. Abdolrahim Mousavi, said Saturday, "The Army will move hand in hand with the IRGC (Revolutionary Guards) so that the arrogant system will collapse and the Zionist regime will be annihilated....We shouldn’t allow one day to be added to the ominous and illegitimate life of this regime."
        On Friday, IRGC Lt. Commander Brig.-Gen. Hossein Salami said his country would wipe Israel off the map in a twinkling of an eye. "We know you well, you are too vulnerable, you have no depth and no backyard....When your soldiers and citizens start escaping, you have no way out to escape but swimming in the sea."  (Fars-Iran)
  • Israel Dismisses Involvement in Killing Hamas Rocket Expert in Malaysia
    Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman dismissed suggestions that Israel had assassinated Fadi al-Batsh, 35, a Palestinian Hamas member who was shot dead by two men on a motorbike on a street in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Saturday. Lieberman told Israeli Radio, "We have heard the announcements by the heads of the Hamas taking responsibility for the man, explaining he was involved with the production of rockets, with improving the rockets' accuracy."
        "We heard about it in the news. There's a tradition at this point among terrorist organizations of blaming Israel for every settling of accounts. A settling of scores among terrorist organizations...is something that we see from time to time. I assume that's also what occurred in this case."  (BBC News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF: Hamas Sends Teens as "Human Shields" - Yoav Zitun
    The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said Saturday that 15-year-old Mohammed Ayoub's death at Friday's Gaza border skirmishes will be investigated. "Every incident in which a person is allegedly shot by IDF gunfire is thoroughly investigated by the relevant command hierarchy and is reviewed by the General Staff's investigative panel. Hamas endangers citizens deliberately by staging them on the frontlines of violence for the fourth consecutive week. Young children and women are sent to the fence as human shields."  (Ynet News)
        See also IDF: Palestinian Had Crossed Barbed-Wire Barrier, Was Headed to Main Fence
    An initial IDF investigation into the death of Palestinian Mohammed Ayoub found that he had crossed over an initial barbed wire barrier and was heading toward the main border fence when he was shot, Channel 10 reported Saturday. Earlier, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said, "The leaders of Hamas are the only culprits in the death of the boy, the cowardly leaders who hide behind children and women and send them forward as human shields so that they can continue digging attack tunnels and carrying out terror attacks against the State of Israel."
        Some 3,000 Palestinians rioted along the Gaza border with Israel on Friday. Soldiers responded with tear gas and live fire. The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said four were killed and 445 injured, including 96 from live fire. (Times of Israel)
  • Flaming Kite from Gaza Sets Israeli Warehouse Ablaze
    A warehouse in Israel's south was set aflame on Saturday after a kite equipped with a flaming rag that had been intentionally released by Palestinians in Gaza landed there. Heavy damage was caused to the warehouse. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Hamas, Not Israel, Is Responsible for Deaths in Gaza - Lt.-Col. (res.) Peter Lerner
    It's now been a month of Palestinian-organized, initiated and funded violence at the border with Gaza. What began with a promise of non-violence has cost 35 Palestinian lives and hundreds of reported casualties. Almost all of the lives lost could have been avoided.
        Israel announced that it intends to protect its sovereignty, defending the border fence because the consequence of a breach of that final line of defense puts thousands of Israeli civilians at risk. It's a risk no Israeli leader rightfully is willing to accept.
        While the leaders of Israel are being clear that the use of force will be permitted against those that wish to destroy Israel, Hamas needs to send a clear message that they don't want people to die during their protests. If they don't, we can assume that they want the opposite. And that is what's really outrageous. The writer is a former IDF Spokesperson. (Forward)
  • A Gift for Israel's Haters - Ben-Dror Yemini
    With actress Natalie Portman's decision to boycott Israel, Israel's haters have received a significant gift. Countries like Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, and the U.S. have been making decisions on refugees and asylum seekers that generate criticism and public debate. But no one has chosen to boycott those countries, or ceremonies that are held in those countries, or the leaders of those countries.
        Portman's move joins the march of double standards against Israel. When Israel defends itself against jihad organizations, like Hamas and Hizbullah, every Israeli response is turned into "crimes against humanity." Is every country allowed to defend itself, except Israel? Are the U.S., France and Britain allowed to strike in Syria - although it doesn't pose an existential threat to them - while Israel is forbidden to retaliate against those who are trying to harm it and who also happen to hold an ideology of annihilating Jews? (Ynet News)
  • The Logic of the BDS Movement Is Anti-Semitic - Editorial
    The BDS movement, which wages economic war against Israel via boycotts, divestment and sanctions, was founded by men committed to extinguishing the world's only Jewish state. By targeting the Jewish homeland for isolation for alleged human-rights abuses, while ignoring far more pervasive sins across the Arab and Muslim world, its logic is anti-Semitic. And along the way, many people of good will have been duped into becoming unwitting followers in this virulent campaign. Barnard College students voted 2-to-1 last week to ask their student government to urge the college to divest from eight companies involved with Israel.
        While it is more than fair game to criticize Israel, its leaders and its policies, it is beyond odious to cast as an aggressor a democracy that seeks to coexist with its neighbors and protect itself from hostile forces including Hamas and Hizbullah. Barnard College's sick timing of its vote, which comes just as Israel celebrates its 70th birthday, cheers the BDS forces. (New York Daily News)

Israel Exists to End the Victimization of Jews - Bret Stephens (New York Times)
  • Adam Armoush, a 21-year-old Israeli Arab, donned a yarmulke on a recent outing in Berlin to test a friend's contention that it was unsafe to do so in Germany. On Tuesday he was assaulted in broad daylight by a Syrian asylum-seeker who whipped him with a belt for being a Jew. There were nearly 1,000 reported anti-Semitic incidents in Berlin alone last year.
  • To be visibly Jewish in Europe is to live on borrowed time. That's not to doubt the sincerity and good will of European leaders who recommit to combating anti-Semitism every time a European Jew is murdered or a Jewish institution attacked. It's only to doubt their capacity.
  • There's a limit to how many armed guards can be deployed indefinitely to protect synagogues or stop Holocaust memorials from being vandalized. There's a limit, also, to trying to cure bigotry with earnest appeals to tolerance. The German government is mulling a proposal to require recent arrivals in the country to tour Nazi concentration camps as a way of engendering a feeling of empathy for Jews. It doesn't seem to occur to anyone that, to the virulent anti-Semite, Buchenwald is a source of inspiration, not shame.
  • Jews cannot rely for their safety on the kindness of strangers. Hence Israel's robust willingness to use force to defend itself. Israel did not come into existence to serve as another showcase of the victimization of Jews. It exists to end the victimization of Jews
  • On Friday, Palestinians in Gaza returned for the fourth time to the border fence with Israel, in protests promoted by Hamas. The explicit purpose of Hamas leaders is to breach the fence and march on Jerusalem. Israel cannot possibly allow this - doing so would create a precedent that would encourage similar protests, and more death, along all of Israel's borders.
  • The armchair corporals of Western punditry think the repeated use of deadly force to counter this is excessive. It would be helpful if they could suggest alternative military tactics to an Israeli government dealing with an urgent crisis against an adversary sworn to its destruction. They don't. Their complaints provide moral sustenance for Hamas in its efforts to win sympathy for its strategy of wanton aggression and reckless endangerment.