August 2, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Anti-Government Protests Persist in Iran - Michael Lipin (VOA News)
    Several hundred Iranians staged a second day of anti-government street protests in Iran's third-largest city, Isfahan.
    At least a thousand Iranians joined an anti-government protest in Karaj, adjacent to Tehran, on Tuesday.
    See also Iran Rocked by New Protests - Ben Flanagan (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
    A truck drivers' strike entered its eighth day in cities across Iran.
    Railway workers in Tabriz protested on Monday after receiving no salary over the past four months, and cut off the railway route which connects Tabriz with the rest of the country.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Visits Joint Firefighting Team near Gaza (i24News)
    Ten American firefighters arrived in Israel this week to help battle the blazes caused by incendiary kites and balloons launched from Gaza.
    U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman visited Sderot's fire station Wednesday to thank the American firefighters and their Israeli counterparts cooperating to extinguish the fires.
    "They demonstrated an amazing solidarity between the American people and the Israeli people," Friedman said.
    Another 50 American firefighters are on standby, ready to come, American firefighter Aston Bright said.
    "Just yesterday, we had two very large fires near Gaza. One we had to call in the bulldozers. We called in the fire planes. We also called in the fire helicopters. It was actually the first time I've ever worked with all three of those pieces of equipment at the same time on the same fire." 
    See also Israeli Volunteers Battle Kite and Balloon Fires - Matan Tzuri (Ynet News)

Palestinian Icon Ahed Tamimi and Her Critics - Pinhas Inbari (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Ahed Tamimi's first name means "obligation, commitment." It is part of the fundamental oath of terror organizations, primarily Fatah.
    Anyone who joins the organization swears and pledges himself to the liberation of the whole of Palestine. This is called: al-Qassam and al-Ahed: the oath and the obligation.
    After the signing of the Oslo accords, PLO leader Yasser Arafat went to the grave of his deputy in Tunis, Abu Iyad (Salah Khalaf), and said that despite the agreements, he would remain obliged to al-Qassam and al-Ahed.
    Tamimi's kiss of Yasser Arafat's tomb will not endear her to the more traditional Salafi Muslims who oppose "grave worshipping" and destroyed Palestinian leader Abu Jihad's grave in the Yarmouk camp in Syria.
    Her image also is in contradiction to the image of the traditional woman that the relatively conservative society in the West Bank expects. With her wild blonde hair, she challenges the image of the modest woman wearing a hijab.

Tel Aviv: Where to Surf, Eat, Drink, and Dance - Natalie B. Compton (GQ)
    Tel Aviv's beachfront promenade is a feast for the eyes on any given sunset.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Senate Approves $500 Million for U.S.-Israel Missile Defense Cooperation
    The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved the Defense Authorization Act for FY 2019 that includes $500 million for U.S.-Israel missile defense cooperation and $50 million for counter-tunnel cooperation. The bill extends authorization for the U.S. War Reserve Stockpile in Israel by five years and allocates an additional $1 billion for U.S. weapons stockpiles in Israel.
        AIPAC noted that the bill calls for a "joint assessment of the quantity and type of precision-guided munitions necessary for Israel to defend itself against Hizbullah, Hamas and other terrorist groups." Additionally, the measure authorizes the establishment of a cooperative R&D program with Israel to develop capabilities for countering unmanned aerial systems. (Algemeiner)
  • U.S. Sanctions Turkish Officials over Detained American Pastor - Adam Goldman and Gardiner Harris
    The U.S. Treasury Department imposed financial sanctions on Wednesday against Turkey's justice minister and interior minister over the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been detained in Turkey for nearly two years on espionage charges.
        A senior administration official said President Trump's ire resulted in part because he thought he had struck a deal with Erdogan to free Brunson if Israeli authorities released a Turkish woman being held on charges of funding Hamas. The Turkish woman went free, but Brunson remained on house arrest. (New York Times)
  • Maori Group Apologizes to Israel over New Zealand's Opposition at UN - Sheree Trotter
    On July 29, the indigenous Maori people of New Zealand organized a special ceremony to welcome the Israeli ambassador, Dr. Itzhak Gerberg. Led by elder Pat Ruka, and joined by many Maori from around the nation, a welcome ceremony was held at the meeting house in West Auckland. The ceremony of apology was held to express regret for New Zealand's actions in standing against Israel at the UN and to seek forgiveness.
        Ruka carries the stories of his ancestors who, because of their Christian beliefs, maintained a deep respect for the people of Israel. He remembers that his forbears travelled to the capital city, Wellington, to offer the government tribal land for Jewish refugees following World War II.
        National MP Alfred Ngaro spoke on the orators' bench, recalling his family connection to the Jewish people through his grandmother. Many similarities between Maori and Jewish cultures were noted, such as the emphasis on genealogy, language and land. The writer is a Maori New Zealander and Ph.D candidate in history at the University of Auckland. (J-Wire-Australia)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Kills Seven Armed ISIS Terrorists near Syrian Border - Anna Ahronheim
    Israel killed seven ISIS militants who were 200 meters from the Israeli border in an air strike in the Syrian Golan Heights overnight Wednesday, the army confirmed on Thursday. The terrorists had been tracked by Israel for several kilometers and were armed with Kalashnikov rifles, grenades, and suicide vests. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Netanyahu: Israel Will Help Keep Red Sea Open to International Shipping
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday: "At the start of the week we witnessed a sharp clash with Iranian proxies who tried to obstruct international navigation in the straits at the entrance to the Red Sea. If Iran tries to block the Bab-el-Mandeb, I am convinced that it will find itself facing a determined international coalition to prevent this. This coalition would also include the State of Israel and all its arms."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Israel Halts Fuel Shipments to Gaza over Airborne Firebombs - Judah Ari Gross
    Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday ordered a freeze on all fuel and gas shipments into Gaza in response to continued incendiary balloon attacks and ongoing violence along the Israel-Gaza border. Firefighters battled seven fires near the Gaza border caused by incendiary balloons, which have landed as far as the city of Beersheba. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • "There's a Disconnect between the Palestinian Street and Their Leadership" - Jason Greenblatt interviewed by Sara Lehmann
    Jason Greenblatt, the president's Special Representative for International Negotiations, said: "I think there's a disconnect between many on the Palestinian street in the West Bank and their leadership. I've met a lot of Palestinians in the last year and a half, young, middle aged, etc. They want a better life. They're not thumping on the table, incitement kind of people."
        "They are people who are nationalistic, to be sure. I'm not going to say that they don't want their own state; most do. But they also want their leaders to stop being defiant and stop wasting time running around the world trying to get paper victories and try to resolve the conflict, so that they can get a home, a job, pay their mortgage, send their kids to school."  (Hamodia)
  • Will Public Opposition in Egypt Block Proposed Railway Line from Israel? - Walaa Hussein
    Israel's ambassador to Cairo, David Govrin, met in July with prominent Egyptian sociologist and director of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies, Saad Eddin Ibrahim, to discuss strengthening diplomatic ties.
        Ibrahim said, "I discussed with the Israeli ambassador how the Israeli public believes the relations between the people of Israel and Egypt have not been as hoped since the peace agreement between the two sides. Many in Israel are calling for more coordination with Egypt. This should not be limited to daily security coordination to preserve security in the Sinai but should also cover travel, cultural and commercial activities. This is why the Israeli ambassador proposed at our meeting the idea of a railway connecting Egypt to Israel."
        Govrin's proposal comes in conjunction with the Israeli government's plans for a railway project linking it with Arab countries. The rail plan, called Tracks for Regional Peace, would begin in Israel and go to Saudi Arabia via the city of Jenin in the northern West Bank and across the Jordanian border.
        Ibrahim said, "In response to the proposals raised at the meeting with Ambassador Govrin, I asserted that the Palestine cause still prevents Egypt from reversing its conservative stance toward normalization with Israel." Nevertheless, on July 22, a complaint was filed with the Egyptian attorney general against Ibrahim on charges of spying for Israel. (Al-Monitor)

Former Kuwaiti information minister Sami Abdullatif Al-Nesf, former chairman and managing director of Kuwait Airways, said in an interview on Kuwaiti Diwan Al-Mulla Internet TV on July 11:
  • "In 1937, the...Peel Commission gave the Palestinians 90% of the land - 25,000 square km. - whereas the Jews were given a mini-state of 2,500 square km....The loud and empty slogans by Mufti Amin Al-Husseini thwarted the two-state plan. Al-Husseini fled to Hitler, betting on the wrong horse. What I'm trying to show is that historically speaking, the Palestinian cause has lost time and again because of the extremists."
  • Regarding what happened in Deir Yassin, Al-Husseini "blew it out of proportion because of his theory that the Palestinians should leave to make it easier for the Arab armies to move in....Al-Husseini's greatest crime of all was his insistence on keeping the Palestinians in refugee camps...and to this day, they are paying the price."
  • "In 1917, just as there were extremists, there were also wise, reasonable people. One of them was [Lebanese politician] Shakib Arslan. He said: When I visited the [Jewish] settlements, I realized that they were like an advanced locomotive, which could pull us out of our ignorance, poverty, and so on."
  • "There were Palestinians who said the same thing. Some Palestinians said: [The Jews] have been here since 1700-1800 and throughout history. The Israelites and the Land of Israel are mentioned in the Quran. Where was it? In Africa? No, it's the same land. Let's reach understandings."
  • "It is important to understand - and this has been true throughout history - that if you lose a war, you pay the price. We are the only ones who refuse to pay the price even though we lost the 1948 war. We lost the 1956 and 1967 wars, but refuse to pay the price. It doesn't work like that. We chose to wage war and lost, so by logic, we should pay the price."