August 27, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Netanyahu: "The State of Israel Salutes John McCain" (Prime Minister's Office)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday: "I am deeply saddened by the passing of John McCain, a great American patriot and a great supporter of Israel."
    "I will always treasure the constant friendship he showed to the people of Israel and to me personally. His support for Israel never wavered. It sprang from his belief in democracy and freedom. The State of Israel salutes John McCain." 
    See also John McCain Understood Why I Refused to Leave Prison - Natan Sharansky (Times of Israel)

White House Denies Trump Set to Offer Glimpse of Mideast Peace Plan at UN (i24News)
    The White House on Friday denied a report that President Trump would unveil the first phase of his administration's plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace in a speech at the UN in September.

EU Aid Plan for Iran a "Big Mistake," Says Netanyahu (Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty)
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized an EU economic aid plan for Iran during a visit to Lithuania on Friday.
    "I think giving money to this regime at this time is a big mistake and should be stopped," he said, referring to $20.9 million that the EU has earmarked for Iran to keep the nuclear deal alive.
    The EU said the funds were part of a wider package of $58 million intended to help Iran "address key economic and social challenges."
    Netanyahu said, "It is going to go to the missiles and the Revolutionary Guards in Iran, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East." 

Pro-Iran Militias in Syria Turn on Assad - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
    Pro-Iran Shiite militias have fought Syrian army forces several times over the last two weeks near Al-Bukamal, next to the Al-Qa'im border crossing between Syria and Iraq.
    It is likely part of the Iranian effort to gain control of the key border crossing.

FIFA Bans Palestinian Soccer Head for Inciting Hatred (AP-VOA News)
    FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, banned Palestinian soccer federation head Jibril Rajoub from attending matches for a year on Friday for inciting hatred and violence toward Lionel Messi as part of a campaign to stop Argentina's national team from playing in Israel in June.
    Rajoub was also fined $20,300.

Iranian Hackers Attack UK Universities to Steal Secret Research - Anthony Cuthbertson (Independent-UK)
    Hackers linked with the Iranian government are targeting universities and academic institutions around the world as part of a campaign to steal unpublished research and obtain intellectual property, security researchers have revealed.
    Cyber experts from IT firm Secureworks discovered the attacks, which they believe stem from the Cobalt Dickens group operating out of Iran.
    The hackers targeted 76 universities in 14 countries, including Australia, Canada, China, Israel, Japan, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK, and the U.S.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Cuts $200 Million in Aid for Palestinians - Gardiner Harris
    The Trump administration announced on Friday that it would not spend more than $200 million set aside for Palestinian aid in the West Bank and Gaza and would redirect the funds to higher-priority projects elsewhere. Josh Block of the Israel Project welcomed the cuts, saying that as long as Palestinian leaders supported terrorism and refused to engage with President Trump, then the Palestinians "will continue seeing its international aid cut not only by the U.S. but others as well."  (New York Times)
        See also Palestinian Aid Cut Meant to Block U.S. Funding for Terrorism - Adam Kredo
    A senior U.S. official said the decision to cut aid to the Palestinians meant the U.S. will no longer enable the Palestinian Authority and those in the Hamas terrorist government in Gaza to use aid dollars in their war against Israel. "Hamas is fighting a morally-bankrupt war at the expense of the Palestinian people," said the official. "Hamas' corrupt and illegitimate control [in Gaza] has provoked conflict and led to poverty and hopelessness, while hampering the ability of the international community to help."
        The administration's decision is separate from Congress' mandate in the Taylor Force Act to deduct aid dollars used to pay terrorists and their families, the source said. (Washington Free Beacon)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. to Demand Reduction in Number of Recognized Palestinian Refugees
    Israel's Hadashot TV reported Saturday that the U.S. is expected to announce that it will no longer accept UNRWA's definition of Palestinian refugee status as something passed from one generation to the next. A senior Trump administration official told Ha'aretz this month that "UNRWA's mandate has perpetuated and exacerbated the refugee crisis and must be changed." The official said that only a change in UNRWA's mandate would allow the Palestinians to "reach their full potential."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also U.S. Set to Announce It Rejects Palestinian "Right of Return" - Eric Cortellessa
    The Trump Administration will soon announce that it rejects the Palestinian demand for a "right of return" for million of refugees and their descendants to Israel, Israel's Hadashot TV reported Saturday. The U.S. will also ask Israel to "reconsider" the mandate that Israel gives to UNRWA to operate in the West Bank, the report said.
        Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last year: "The time has come to dismantle UNRWA and have its parts be integrated into the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)." He asked why the Palestinians needed a specific body when the UNHCR has helped tens of millions of displaced persons since World War II. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Will Negotiate with Hamas Only When There Is Complete Calm - Ariel Kahana
    Israel will agree to engage in indirect negotiations with Hamas about easing the humanitarian situation in Gaza only when attacks on areas adjacent to Gaza stop completely, a senior official traveling with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Lithuania said this weekend. "We are working to secure a cease-fire...[but] there is no deal yet."
        The official explained that all Israeli gestures would be entirely contingent on a complete cease-fire along the border, similar to the calm following the 2014 war. "We cannot move on to any other stage without securing calm first. The previous cease-fire held for three and a half years. These past few weeks, we're seeing movement toward restoring calm near Gaza, with a drop in the number of arson balloons and a dwindling number of protesters [at the border]."  (Israel Hayom)
        See also Palestinians Clash with IDF on Gaza Border Friday
    Palestinian rioters threw rocks and firebombs and rolled burning tires at IDF troops Friday along the border between Gaza and Israel. Burning kites sent over the border from Gaza sparked two fires in Israel. (Times of Israel-Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israel Does Not Have an Official Religion, But Britain Does - Denis MacEoin
    Once word got out that the Israeli parliament had dared to enact a Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, it was, for many, as if they had never known that, since the time of the Bible, the land now called Israel was home to the Jews.
        In Iran, the large Baha'i minority suffers massive persecution, including imprisonment and execution, while in Israel, the Baha'i have their international governing body and their holiest shrines, and bring in pilgrims from round the world.
        Israel is being wrongly condemned for something that not one Muslim state has ever been condemned for: identifying its nationality with its religion. Iran, Pakistan, Mauritania, and Afghanistan officially identify as Islamic Republics. All are dangerous places for non-Muslims to live, with laws against apostasy and blasphemy.
        Islam is the official religion of the Palestinian Authority, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Oman, the UAE, Kuwait, Iran, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Somalia, Djibouti, Sudan, Nigeria, the Maldives, Brunei, and Malaysia. Even Britain officially exists as an Anglican state, without mistreating any of its minorities.
        Israel, though a Jewish state, does not have an official religion - not even Judaism - and members of all religions and ethnic groups are full citizens. The writer is a senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute. (Gatestone Institute)
  • Abbas Silent as 3,840 Palestinians Killed in Syria - Dr. Edy Cohen
    The Action Group for Palestinians in Syria recently documented 3,840 cases of Palestinians killed since the onset of the Syrian civil war in 2011. An additional 1,682 Palestinians are still missing. Moreover, tens of thousands of Palestinians in Syria have lost their homes and employment. Yet not one official in the Palestinian Authority has publicly condemned the Assad regime.
        When a Hamas or Islamic Jihad terrorist from Gaza is killed by IDF soldiers, Mahmoud Abbas requests international protection for the Palestinians. When Palestinians are killed by other Arabs, no one in the Arab world cares - not even among the Palestinians themselves, whether in the PA or Hamas. Abbas has never repudiated Assad or Iran for killing Palestinians. The writer is a researcher at the BESA Center. (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a visit to the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Sunday:
  • "I want to thank you [Lithuanian Foreign Minister] Linas [Linkevicius] for standing up for Israel and the truth in European forums, for telling your colleagues the service that Israel performs in saving so many European lives by our resourceful and brave intelligence people. We have saved so many European lives in so many countries. Israel in many ways is the defender of Europe and it's time that Europe understood this."
  • "Yesterday my wife Sara and I walked through the streets of the Jewish ghetto of Vilna....We saw the ruins of some of the 100 Jewish synagogues. We saw the barricade where Yechiel Scheinbaum and his brave colleagues fought to the deaths the Nazi oppressors. We saw Jewish resistance in the heart of the ghetto."
  • "And we saw the courtyards where Jews were assembled before being crated off to Ponar where they were shot by Lithuanian collaborators and the Nazis and then thrown into the death pits. We saw all this. I saw their pictures on the walls of the ghetto. I heard their stories. I wanted to tell them: We are here. We are back. We are alive. Am Yisrael Chai."
  • "For the Jewish people, what has changed in these 75 years? Not the attempts to destroy us. They're still [trying] to destroy us. Iran says so openly. Hamas says so openly and others. What has changed is our ability to defend ourselves by ourselves. We are no longer defenseless. We are no longer helpless. We are a power that controls our own destiny with the State of Israel and the army of Israel."
  • "This is what the Jewish state means - the ability of Jews to defend themselves. With this newfound capacity of self-defense, we've built an extraordinary state in such a short time....We have an example - much maligned in the world but nevertheless shining as a beacon - of what a free people can do once they are given the opportunity to control their destiny."

        See also Israeli Prime Minister at WWII Massacre Site in Lithuania: "We'll Never Be Defenseless Again"
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday visited Paneriai [Ponar to the Jews, Ponary to the Poles, Paneriai to the Lithuanians], a Vilnius, Lithuania, neighborhood where over 100,000 people, mostly Jews, were killed during World War Two. Netanyahu said his grandfather had been severely beaten near what he called "a forest of death."
        Netanyahu said he had learned two lessons from the Holocaust. "First, we must fight barbarism or it will burn all of us. The second for us, Jews, is that we must never be defenseless again."
        Netanyahu's grandmother Sarah Mileikowsky was born in Seduva, Lithuania, and his grandfather Nathan Mileikowsky was born in Kreva, in what is now Belarus. (Baltic Times-Latvia)