July 24, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

IDF Shoots Down Syrian Warplane over Israel - Yaniv Kubovich (Ha'aretz)
    Israel shot down a Russian-made Syrian Sukhoi fighter jet that penetrated Israeli airspace on Tuesday.
    The IDF said the plane was downed by two Patriot missiles.

Senior Hamas Official: "We Are Coming to Chop Off Your Head" (MEMRI)
    Hamas Political Bureau member Fathi Hammad, a former Hamas interior minister, told a rally in Gaza on July 12:
    "We are looking forward to two important things, which are within sight: The first is the cleansing of Palestine of the filth of the Jews, and their uprooting from it."
    "The second thing is the establishment of the Caliphate, after the nation has been healed of its cancer - the Jews."
    "Our finger is on the trigger, and our [military] plants are operating and working day and night."
    "We are coming for you, oh Netanyahu! We are coming for you, oh Lieberman! We are coming to chop your head off your necks!"

Palestinians Burn Effigy of U.S. President - Shiri Moshe (Algemeiner)
    Supporters of the Palestinian Authority's ruling Fatah party held a rally in the West Bank city of Nablus last Tuesday to celebrate President Abbas' rejection of an American peace proposal.
    Attendees at the event cheered as an effigy of President Trump hanging from a noose was ignited and burned.
    Fatah Deputy Chairman Mahmoud al-Aloul was seen making a victory sign as Trump's effigy was engulfed in flames.

UAE, Tunisia Stripped of Judo Events for Discriminating Against Israeli Athletes - Alexander Fulbright (Times of Israel)
    The International Judo Federation on Friday said the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam and the Tunis Grand Prix would be suspended until the UAE and Tunisia guarantee "free and equal participation" for all countries at the tournaments.
    In the past, Israelis were not allowed to participate with their national insignia and anthem at these events.
    "We strongly believe that politics should not have any interference in sports and that sports should be a reflection of human respect, understanding and mutual cooperation," the IJF said.
    See also 7-Year-Old Israeli Chess Champ Barred from World Championship in Tunisia (Times of Israel)
    Liel Levitan, 7, from Haifa, is unable to accept an invitation to play in the World Chess Championship because host nation Tunisia will not allow Israelis to compete, it was reported Thursday.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel's UN Ambassador: Iranian People Are Being Held Hostage by Regime - Ken Martin
    Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told Fox Business on Monday: "We have nothing against the Iranian people, they are good people. We want to help them, we want to cooperate with them, but they are being kept hostage by the regime which exploits their economy and takes the money to stick in their bank accounts, and when they have free money they invest in Hamas, Hizbullah, terror cells around the world. Even in South America you can find fingerprints of Iranian money."  (Fox News)
  • Iran Faces a Deadline on Terrorism Financing - Nader Uskowi
    On June 30, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) - the intergovernmental organization which monitors money laundering and terrorist financing - gave Iran until mid-October to fully criminalize terrorism financing in line with international standards - with no exemptions. Iranian law currently gives exemptions to protected proxies it regards as liberation organizations that share Iran's anti-U.S. and anti-Israel ideology, which allows Tehran to finance groups such as Hizbullah. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has publicly spoken out against changing laws to meet the FATF-related reforms.
        If Iran doesn't change its laws, it could be added to the agency's blacklist, which will presumably cause the exodus of the remaining financial institutions and foreign investors still operating in Iran. The FATF convention is observed not just by the West, but by Russia, China, and the overwhelming majority of countries. Its effects on Iranian banking could be devastating. The writer is a nonresident senior fellow with the Middle East Security Initiative at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security. (Atlantic Council)
  • Former Israeli Official: Palestinians Have a Culture of Terror
    Israel's former deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon told Al Jazeera that Hamas is solely to blame for the recent bloodshed in Gaza, saying that those killed at the border "came with the intention to harm." "They [Hamas] are sending them to die. It's a culture of death," he added. "Anyone who goes into a war zone knows exactly what he's doing....I'm not saying that there are no accidents, which are deplorable, but the responsibility squarely lies with Hamas....It's not a human rights situation. It's an area in conflict. It's an armed conflict."
        "If you send your kids to schools where they are taught to kill Jews, when you have summer schools with Palestinian kids...with...make-believe suicide bombs, this is a culture of terror."  (Al Jazeera)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Russian Officials in Israel Discuss Iranian Activity in Syria - Noa Landau
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the Russian military chief of staff, Gen. Valery Vasilyevich Gerasimov, met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to discuss distancing Iranian forces from the Golan Heights and removing long-range Iranian missiles from Syria.
        A senior Israeli official said after the meeting: "The removal of Iran must include the removal of long-range weapons, halting the production of precision weapons as well as the air defenses that protect the missiles, and the closure of border crossings that permit smuggling of this weaponry to Lebanon and to Syria. Russia has a certain ability to prevent this. They are a significant factor in Syria."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel: Hamas Is Responsible for Gaza Violence - Tovah Lazaroff
    Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday: "Is the State of Israel interested in a war against Hamas in Gaza? The answer is no. Are we deterred from [a military] campaign in Gaza? Here too, the answer is no. Are we prepared to accept a reality in which there is fire, incendiary kites and friction along the fence? The answer is no. Have we done everything we can to prevent a war in Gaza? The answer is yes. So everything that happens from here on in with regard to Gaza is solely the responsibility of the Hamas leadership."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Gaza's Future Is Up to Hamas - Editorial
    Hamas has been trying to force Israel's hand with new forms of asymmetrical warfare. First it organized masses of civilians to march on the border fence. Then it began launching burning kites and inflated condoms to touch off fires on Israeli territory.
        The Trump administration and a UN mediator would like to expand humanitarian assistance to Gaza and launch projects to rebuild its economy. But their implicit assumption, that Hamas will observe a long-term cease-fire in exchange for economic aid, is flawed: The group has been choosing war with Israel over development for years. The "Hamas leadership is holding the Palestinians of Gaza captive," a trio of Trump aides wrote in The Post last week. They are right. (Washington Post)
  • Iran May Be Wearing Out Its Welcome in Syria and Iraq - Evelyn Gordon
    Iran seems to be wearing out its welcome even in the Arab countries with which it is most closely allied. In Syria, Shiite Iran has been the mainstay of the Assad regime ever since civil war erupted in 2011. Yet a study of official Syrian textbooks for 2017-18 by the IMPACT-se research institute finds that they portray Iran as "lukewarm at best."
        The curriculum revolves around Syria's position as an integral part of the "Arab homeland," to which non-Arab Iran emphatically doesn't belong. The textbooks say the Arab world suffered "cultural domination" by the Persian Empire and, at times, Arab lands were even under "Persian occupation." The books list Iran's Khuzestan province as one of "the usurped areas of the Arab homeland."
        In Shi'ite-majority Iraq, recent protests have repeatedly targeted Iranian-affiliated organizations. In July, protesters torched a base belonging to the Iranian-backed militia Kata'ib Hizbullah. They also raided the Najaf airport and ransacked planes belonging to Iran. Both Syria and Iraq are still dependent on Iran, but its goal of Mideast domination may face more obstacles than were apparent a few years ago. (Commentary)
        See also Protests in Iraq Target Pro-Iran Militias and Parties - Seth J. Frantzman (Jerusalem Post)

There's Nothing Wrong with a Jewish State - Jonathan S. Tobin (National Review)
  • Considering the enormous fuss it created, you'd have thought the law passed last week by Israel's Knesset fundamentally changed the nature of the state. But the law changes virtually nothing. The new law is an enunciation of the basic principles on which Israel was founded. When David Ben-Gurion, the country's first prime minister, read the Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948, he said that those assembled "hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, to be known as the State of Israel."
  • 70 years after its founding, Israel continues to pass "Basic Laws" as part of the ongoing construction of its constitution. The Jewish state law is therefore merely a statement of national purpose rather than legislation that purports to alter the existing legal structure of Israel's government.
  • Unlike every other nation in the region, Israel remains a democracy, in which all of its citizens have equal rights under the law, including voting rights and representation in the Knesset. Many Arabs and minorities serve in government, particularly in judicial and diplomatic posts.
  • While the country's founding document and other basic laws guarantee equal rights for all, the purpose for which Israel was created was to give expression to the right of the Jews to self-determination in their ancient homeland.
  • The constitutions of many other countries make clear that they exist as vehicles for a national idea. The only thing that is really unique about Israel's insistence that it is a Jewish state is that it is the only one on a planet with dozens of states that are avowedly Muslim, Christian, or associated with another faith.
  • The reason why so many Israelis believed that such a law was necessary has more to do with the refusal of the Palestinians and their foreign enablers to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders were drawn. The desire of so many to deny Israel the right to express its Jewish identity is exactly why a majority of the Knesset felt it necessary to remind the world that their country is the nation-state of the Jewish people.