June 20, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Iran: Europe's Proposals Not Enough to Save Nuclear Deal (Reuters)
    Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, on Tuesday expressed Iran's dissatisfaction with European proposals to save the nuclear deal in a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the IRNA state news agency said.

Israeli National Security Adviser in Russia for Talks on Iran Troops in Syria (Times of Israel)
    Israel's national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat traveled to Moscow on Monday to discuss Russian efforts to formulate a plan for southern Syria and Israel's demand for Iranian military forces to leave the country, Israel's Channel 10 reported.

Israeli Navy Says Advanced New Submarine Torpedo System Is Operational - Yaniv Kubovich (Ha'aretz)
    After year-long testing, the Israeli Navy announced on Tuesday that a modern, advanced torpedo missile system for its submarines was ready for operational use and will be integrated into the Navy's submarine fleet.
    The system is capable of hitting targets dozens of miles away, in ranges typically outside of the submarines' detection abilities.
    The system can hit targets both above and below the water, while being fired from a depth of hundreds of meters below sea level.
    See also Video: Israel's Navy Tests New Long-Range Heavy Torpedo - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)

Egypt to Keep Gaza Border Crossing Open for Two More Months - Michael Bachner (Times of Israel)
    Egyptian President el-Sissi has reportedly allowed the Rafah border crossing with Gaza to remain open until the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha in late August.
    Last month Egypt granted access in both directions for the entire month of Ramadan, already opening the crossing for the longest period in recent years.

Hamas Did Not Invent Incendiary Balloons - Dr. Ehud Finkelstein (Ha'aretz)
    During World War II, the Japanese launched 9,000 incendiary balloons from their territory in the hope that they would be carried to the U.S. by the jet stream air current.
    At least 342 balloons reached American territory. In May 1945, a balloon bomb killed teacher Elsie Mitchell and five Sunday school students out for a fishing trip near Klamath Falls, Oregon.
    See also Balloon Bomb Memorial in Oregon (Atlas Obscura)

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Withdraws from UN Human Rights Council over Bias Against Israel
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday: "Today, we need to be honest - the Human Rights Council is a poor defender of human rights. Worse than that, the Human Rights Council has become an exercise in shameless hypocrisy - with many of the world's worst human rights abuses going ignored, and some of the world's most serious offenders sitting on the council itself. The only thing worse than a council that does almost nothing to protect human rights is a council that covers for human rights abuses and is therefore an obstacle to progress and an impediment to change."
        "The council's continued and well-documented bias against Israel is unconscionable. Since its creation, the council has adopted more resolutions condemning Israel than against the rest of the world combined....When organizations undermine our national interests and our allies, we will not be complicit."
        U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said: "It is now clear that our call for reform was not heeded. Human rights abusers continue to serve on and be elected to the council. The world's most inhumane regimes continue to escape scrutiny, and the council continues politicizing and scapegoating of countries with positive human rights records....Therefore, as we said we would do a year ago if we did not see any progress, the United States is officially withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council."  (U.S. State Department)
        See also Why We're Leaving the So-Called Human Rights Council - Amb. Nikki Haley
    The misnamed UN Human Rights Council refuses to eliminate its Agenda Item 7, which targets Israel unfairly by mandating that each session include a discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
        In the end, our allies' case for the U.S. to stay on the council was actually the most compelling argument to leave. They said American participation was the last shred of credibility left in the organization. But a stamp of legitimacy on the current Human Rights Council is precisely what the U.S. should not provide. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Jihadist Planned Suicide Attack to Kill British Prime Minister May - Ben Quinn
    Police arrested Naa'imur Zakariyah Rahman, 20, days before he intended to carry out a suicide attack on Downing Street to kill Prime Minister Theresa May, a court has heard. Rahman was arrested in London on Nov. 28 after a number of meetings with undercover police officers posing as Islamic State terrorists. The British-Bangladeshi is on trial alongside Mohammad Aqib Imran, 21, who is accused of planning to travel either to Libya or Syria in order to engage in terrorism. (Guardian-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinians Fire 45 Rockets and Mortars at Israel from Gaza - Yoav Zitun
    45 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israeli communities from Gaza on Tuesday night. 7 were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system, while at least three landed within Gaza. One mortar shell exploded on a pathway near a nursery. In response, the Air Force struck 25 Hamas targets across Gaza.
        The IDF said, "The Hamas terror organization led a serious rocket offensive against the Israeli home front tonight....Hamas is responsible for everything going on in Gaza and will bear the consequences of the acts of terror against Israel's citizens."  (Ynet News)
  • Incendiary Kites from Gaza Caused 16 Fires in Israel Tuesday - Matan Tzuri
    16 fires caused by incendiary kites sent from Gaza broke out in Israel on Tuesday. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Iranian Responses to Trump's Meeting with Kim Jong-Un
    This Jerusalem Center Iran Desk report surveys a variety of responses to the Trump-Kim meeting from Iranian sources. The Asr-e Iran news website wrote that in a world where everyone speaks to each other in the language of threats, holding meetings with world leaders shaking hands and smiling at each other is a ray of hope.
        "The arena of international relations is not a place where one country relies upon another....It is clear that North Korea can't rely on the United States, and there is no trust between the two of them, but specifically, when there is no trust, it is necessary to hold talks with the objective of breaking the present heavy atmosphere, which will minimize the results of that lack of trust."  (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Hundreds of Israeli Families Have Moved to the Gaza Border - Judy Maltz
    Remnants of flaming kites launched from Gaza, strewn on the ground and hanging from trees at Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, serve as the latest reminder of the risks involved in living this close to a hostile population. Yet seven families will be moving to Kerem Shalom this summer and another seven families will join them later in the year.
        Over the past few years, hundreds of new families from around the country have chosen to move to the region. Many of the newcomers say their motivation is idealistic: A desire to help fortify and secure Israel's most vulnerable border. Others cite the natural beauty of the region and the more relaxed pace of life. For some, it is the strong sense of community and child-friendly atmosphere that beckon.
        Over 50 agricultural communities, most of them kibbutzim, dot Israel's 51-km. (32-mile) border with Gaza. Some of them sit right on the edge, where they have little to no warning of Hamas rocket and mortar fire (at best, 15 seconds). They are also in easy range of the flaming kites. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Wise to Quit UN Human Rights Council - Anne Bayefsky
    The Human Rights Council was the UN's cure for the Human Rights Commission - presided over by Muammar Qaddafi's Libya shortly before somebody noticed it lacked credibility. While the General Assembly was first drafting the rules for the council back in 2005, the Bush administration and later the Obama administration pushed for membership reform. They all failed. The writer is director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights. (Fox News)

Wasatia: The Path to Reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis - Prof. Mohammed Dajani Daoudi (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Palestinian supporters of the global boycott campaign and denormalization of relations with Israel do not encourage peace, reconciliation, and dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.
  • Rather, they have deepened the current political and diplomatic stalemate and have further entrenched Palestinian and Israeli negative conceptions of the "other."
  • The better option is the path of wasatia, a religious term in Islam for the middle path of temperance and reconciliation. Wasatia is the only straight path forward for Palestinians to achieve state sovereignty and for Israelis and Palestinians to achieve peace, coexistence, prosperity, and good neighborly relations.
  • While there are those who have misapplied the Hadith (sayings of the Prophet) to justify anti-Semitism, a number of verses in the Koran describe Jews warmly:
    • "Children of Israel, remember the blessing I have bestowed on you, and that I have exalted you above the nations." [Cow Sura, verse 47];
    • "Children of Israel, remember that I have bestowed favors upon you, and exalted you above the nations." [Cow Sura, verse 122]
  • Wasatia is the name of the movement I established in January 2007. Our aspiration is not only to create a moderate Palestinian Islamic movement that calls for peace, mutual understanding and good relations among Muslims, but also set the climate for a peaceful resolution of the conflict with Israel.

    The writer is professor emeritus of political science and founding director of the American Studies Institute at Al-Quds University, and a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. In 2014, he took 27 Palestinian students to Auschwitz for an educational experience about the Holocaust.