April 24, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Maintaining Israel's Qualitative Military Edge in a Changing Region - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Sami Turjeman (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    Israel's security concerns in Sinai should focus on two main goals: restoring demilitarization of the territory by defeating the Islamic State-Sinai Province (ISSP), and maintaining Israel's "qualitative military edge" (QME) over neighboring countries.
    Once ISSP is defeated, Israel should demand that Cairo reduce its Sinai deployment to a level approximating what is stipulated in the Camp David Accords.
    Cairo has been acquiring advanced weaponry and not just from the U.S.
    It has purchased 50 MiG-29M/M2 fighter jets, 50 Ka-52 combat helicopters, and multiple S-300VM air-defense systems from Russia, along with 4 Gowind 2500 warships and 24 Rafale fighters from France.
    Moreover, U.S. arms deals with other countries in the Middle East have reached massive proportions. Whatever the wider geostrategic purpose of such sales, they threaten Israel's QME.
    The writer was former head of the IDF Southern Command.

Barnard Alumni Reject Student Divestment Referendum (JTA)
    Over 2,000 Barnard College alumni have signed a petition calling on the school to reject a student referendum supporting divestment from companies doing business with Israel.
    On Sunday, college president Sian Leah Beilock said the Board of Trustees would not take action on the referendum.

The Need to Tackle Iran's Reactionary Ideology in Africa - Heshmat Alavi (Al Arabiya)
    Iran is spending billions to export its reactionary ideology among Africa's vast Muslim community, providing free social services through a network of hospitals and orphanages, running more than 100 Islamic schools and seminaries, and giving bribes and "financial aid" to corrupt governments.
    Al Mustafa University, under the direct supervision of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has branches in 17 African countries, with more than 6,000 African clerical students studying in Africa and inside Iran.
    Some of these students, along with their families, enjoy free education, health insurance and financial support. The children of these students go to special schools to learn the Iranian regime's reactionary ideology at an early stage.

UK Arms Sales to Israel Increasing (Middle East Eye-UK)
    UK arms export licenses to Israel increased from $28 million in 2015 to $117 million in 2016 and $300 million in 2017, new UK Department for International Trade figures show.
    They include components for drones, combat aircraft and helicopters along with spare parts for sniper rifles.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Revolutionary Guards Are Fighting Thousands of Kilometers from Iran - Masoud Al Zahid
    Rear Adm. Ali Fadavi, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, said Monday that Revolutionary Guards' activities "are not limited to Iran," noting that "today we are fighting the enemy thousands of kilometers away from our borders." "Guarding the Islamic Revolution does not only mean guarding one country and one government, i.e. Iran....The Islamic Revolution is not limited to geography. And...the Revolutionary Guards are present everywhere to protect it."  (Al Arabiya)
  • ISIS Spokesman Calls for Attacks on Arab Nations - Rukmini Callimachi
    Islamic State spokesman Abu Hassan al-Muhajir on Sunday called on fighters to redirect their ire toward the leaders of neighboring Arab nations, a departure from his last pronouncement which aimed to incite attacks against Europe and North America. The spokesman said there was "no difference" between fighting the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, the Palestinians "and their American Crusader allies, or the Russians or the Europeans." They deserved to be treated even more harshly because "these are Arabs and are more fierce and vicious against Islam."  (New York Times)
  • French Jews "Face Ethnic Cleansing by Islamists" - Adam Sage
    More than 300 political leaders, intellectuals and celebrities in France have signed a manifesto claiming that French Jews have fallen victim to a form of ethnic cleansing perpetrated by radical Islamists, amid the indifference of the country's elite. Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president, and Manuel Valls, the former prime minister, are among those who have thrown their weight behind the document.
        It says that France has become "the theatre of murderous anti-Semitism" - with 11 Jews having been "assassinated" because of their religion since 2006. "French Jews are 25 times more at risk of being attacked than their Muslim counterparts. Ten percent of the Jewish citizens of the Paris region...have recently been forced to move because they were no longer secure in certain council estates. This is a quiet ethnic cleansing."  (The Times-UK)
        See also French Muslims Blast Anti-Semitism Letter as Attack on Islam (AFP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Ambassador: Jerusalem under Israeli Rule a "Model for Coexistence" - Raphael Ahren
    U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Monday, when "you look at Jerusalem under the sovereignty of the Israeli government, how it's been able to maintain the openness that it's had - rather than a place of conflict, it's actually the model for coexistence in the world."
        "The Old City of Jerusalem is all of one square kilometer, and yet it houses the most holy places for two of the three major religions and a very holy place for the third. And Jerusalem over the past 51 years now has become a place like it's never been before. It's a place where people who want to worship at the Kotel [the Western Wall], al-Aqsa [mosque] or the Church of the Holy Sepulcher all can do so with freedom of worship, most of the time without fear of violence. And that's a model for the world to appreciate."
        Friedman also hailed robust Israeli-American intelligence ties. "There are people in the United States today who are safe, who are alive, because of intelligence cooperation that Israel has provided to the United States."  (Times of Israel)
        See also Video: Israel Will Safeguard the Holy Sites of All Faiths in Jerusalem - Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Blazing Kites from Gaza Set Fire to Israeli Wheat Field
    Gazans sent four kites into Israel on Monday with flaming materials attached, causing extensive damage to a wheat field. (Times of Israel)
  • Commander of U.S. Troops in Syria Visits Israel - Judah Ari Gross
    Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of the U.S. military's Central Command, arrived in Israel on Monday to meet with senior Israeli officials. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • How Hamas Exploits the People of Gaza - Dennis Ross
    In conflicts with Israel, Hamas seeks to maximize Palestinian civilian casualties in order to generate international opprobrium and make it harder for Israel to engage in its self-defense. Recent mass marches on the border fence with Israel are a case in point. With popular dissatisfaction with Hamas growing, the only thing to be done was divert attention to Israel. As one European diplomat told me, Hamas leaders acknowledge privately that PA President Mahmoud Abbas is the source of their current difficulties, but shifting the focus to Israel is a proven, if cynical, tactic.
        Both Israel and Egypt control what can go into and out of Gaza. But Hamas leaders have little interest in breaching the Egyptian border, knowing the casualties would be high and the international response minimal. The writer is counselor and fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (New York Daily News)
  • The Rebellion in Iran: Not a Temporary Phenomenon - Prof. Ivan Sascha Sheehan
    In late December 2017 and January 2018, the largest countrywide uprising in Iran since 2009 spread to 142 cities and towns in all 31 provinces. Tehran responded to the rebellion with brutality, but after two weeks of relative calm, more than a dozen Iranian cities were again scenes of protests on January 31 and February 1, with similar slogans that rejected the regime in its entirety.
        Meanwhile, there has been a steady stream of protests and strikes by laborers and victims of theft and fraud by state institutions. A careful review of the evidence clearly indicates that the protests were not a short-lived phenomenon with temporary impact. Rather, they marked a turning point and permanent change in the trend of events and political calculations in Iran.
        According to one school of thought, the clerics are isolated at home and are loathed by the Iranians, in particular by the youth. People are waiting for the first opportunity to express their wrath. Iran's foreign interventions and wars are not signs of strength. Rather, they are taking a big toll on the regime and are maintained to cover up the shortcomings and failures at home.
        Despite the unfreezing of tens of billions of dollars under the nuclear agreement, there is total economic stagnation and the public has not witnessed any benefits. Inflation is still in double digits, while unemployment is staggering. The failure in the past few years of a series of major financial institutions affiliated with the IRGC has impacted millions of Iranians. The writer is executive director of the School of Public & International Affairs at the University of Baltimore. (Modern Diplomacy)

Israel's Contribution to the Modern Evolution of International Law - Amb. Alan Baker (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Even before the establishment of the Israeli state, Jewish and Israeli international lawyers and experts participated in the drafting of the Genocide Convention and relevant international resolutions.
  • In the aftermath of World War II, Israel was one of the few founding countries that initiated and developed the idea of a permanent international criminal court to deal with genocide and crimes against humanity.
  • Israel actively participated in the drafting of the 1958 international conventions on the laws of the sea and international straits and the subsequent 1982 International Convention on the Law of the Sea.
  • On the basis of Israel's battlefield experience, Israeli legal and military experts participated in the development and codification of the laws of armed conflict and international humanitarian law, including the 1977 Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions, international humanitarian law and human rights instruments, conventional weapons conventions, mine protocols, and non-conventional weapons conventions.
  • Through Israel's battlefield experience, Israel has developed combat techniques to deal with modern-day terror, while at the same time seeking to avoid loss of life by innocent individuals.
  • However, with all that Israel has achieved and contributed to humanity, the same elements of hostility, discrimination, singling-out, and anti-Semitism that have existed since even before Israel's establishment remain a major stumbling block to its total acceptance and acknowledgment in the international community.

    The writer, director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center, served as legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as Israel's ambassador to Canada.