September 6, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Iran's Currency Crashes (AP-New York Times)
    Iran's rial fell to a record low of 150,000 to the dollar on Wednesday.

Iranian Forces Arrive in Syria to Fight in Idlib (Al Arabiya)
    Dozens of Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Basij militia militants arrived in Syria on Wednesday to fight alongside regime forces in Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold, a source confirmed.

Norwegian Foreign Aid Executive Received Support from Palestinian Intelligence - Mohammed Alayoubi and Christine Svendsen (NRK-Norway)
    Norwegian-Palestinian Loai Deeb has been charged with having misappropriated and laundered 10 million Norwegian krone from the Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD) which he headed.
    In its early years, the Norwegian organization had close ties to Palestinian intelligence, and Deeb was furnished with a Palestinian diplomatic passport.

Israel Closes Gaza Crossing after Rioting Palestinians Damage Infrastructure (JTA)
    The Israeli military announced its closure of the Erez crossing into Gaza on Wednesday after hundreds of Palestinians rioted on Tuesday, throwing rocks and vandalizing infrastructure. The closure will remain in place until the infrastructure is repaired.
    About 1,000 Gazans enter Israel each day through the Erez crossing, including students, businesspeople and those seeking medical care.

Paraguay to Move Embassy Back to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem - Jack Khoury (Ha'aretz)
    Paraguay will move its embassy in Israel back to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem, Foreign Minister Luis Alberto Castiglioni said Wednesday after a new president took office last month.
    In response, Israel will close its embassy in Paraguay.
    Paraguay officially moved its embassy to Jerusalem on May 21, with former President Horacio Cartes in Israel for the ceremony.

Hamas Commander Dies in Accidental Explosion in Gaza (Times of Israel)
    Abdel Rahim Abbas, 42, a local commander of the Hamas security forces, was killed Wednesday in an accidental explosion in Gaza, Hamas reported.

Israel's Supreme Court Says Illegal Bedouin Camp near Key Highway Can Be Removed - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's High Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday that the IDF can legally evacuate the Bedouin village of al-Khan al-Ahmar, which was built illegally.
    Located close to a major artery, Route 1, between Jerusalem and Jericho, the encampment of shacks and tents is home to 180 Bedouin.
    European countries had heavily lobbied to prevent the evacuation.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • British Labour Party Rejects Corbyn's Plan to Declare Israel Racist - Harry Yorke and Jack Maidment
    Jeremy Corbyn has said he does not believe it is anti-Semitic to describe the creation of Israel as racist. The Labour leader called for the party on Tuesday to adopt a personal statement saying: "[It should not be] regarded as anti-Semitic to describe Israel, its policies or the circumstances around its foundation as racist." However, he was overruled by the party's ruling body. Labour insiders said Corbyn's proposal was "completely scrapped" following opposition from members of the national executive committee.
        Jennifer Gerber, the director of Labour Friends of Israel, said: "It is contemptible but utterly unsurprising that Jeremy Corbyn prioritized and fought for the right of anti-Semites to describe the world's only Jewish state as racist in a meeting supposedly about combating anti-Semitism."  (Telegraph-UK)
  • ISIS Never Went Away in Iraq - Krishnadev Calamur
    ISIS is supposed to have gone away. Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi declared "final victory" over the group last December. But attacks this week in Anbar province and Kirkuk show that ISIS is active in both areas.
        "ISIS never went anywhere," Michael Knights, an expert on Iraq at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told me. "All they did was in every area where they lost the ability to control terrain, they immediately transitioned to an insurgency." Knights said ISIS doesn't view the loss of the major Iraqi cities it controlled "as the end of their operations. They just view it as a movement to a new phase of their operation....You can see that ISIS had returned to the very targeted violence that allowed it to dominate the rural areas in 2012-2013."
        Over the past six months, 84 villages have seen their village leaders murdered by ISIS without the security forces being able to do anything about it. "What this does is completely erode the faith of the population in the security forces," he said. "They don't inform on ISIS. And, eventually, their kids start to see ISIS as the strongest forces in the area....You can say that almost all of Iraq has been liberated from ISIS during the day, but you can't say that at night."  (Defense One)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel's Ambassador to U.S.: "Arab States No Longer Dancing to the Palestinians' Tune" - Amir Tibon
    Arab states are no longer "dancing to the Palestinians' tune," Israel's ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer said on Wednesday at an embassy reception in Washington for the Jewish New Year. "Opponents of recognition [of Jerusalem as Israel's capital] argued that it would harm America's standing in the Arab world and undermine America's relationship with Arab states," Dermer said. "Despite the best efforts of the Palestinian leaders to whip up opposition to Trump's Jerusalem decision, the response in the Arab world was mostly silence."
        Dermer also thanked Trump in his speech for withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions on Iran's economy. "This dramatically improved Israel's security and it may change the trajectory of the entire Middle East." He added that the decision has diminished the likelihood of war in the region by weakening Iran. (Ha'aretz)
  • Egypt Halts Efforts to Broker Ceasefire Deal in Gaza - Daniel Siryoti
    Egypt's efforts to broker a long-term cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza have come to a grinding halt, Arab media reported Tuesday. Officials expressed concern that the most recent lull will collapse as well. Hamas military leader Yahya Sinwar told Palestinian media Tuesday: "The efforts to reach an agreement have stopped."  (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Corbyn's Anti-Semitism Is a Threat to All of Us - Stephen Harper and David Trimble
    History shows that the mindset which embraces anti-Semitism rarely restricts its hatred to the Jewish minority. Today's hard-left exhibits a particularly pernicious form of anti-Semitism - one couched in anti-racism rhetoric to make it socially acceptable in polite company. It is not the Jews, they claim, who are uniquely evil among the nations. It just happens to be Israel, the Jewish state, that is the source of such malevolence.
        While Britain's Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn claims to embrace anti-Semites and other extremists in the name of "peace," it is a peace that only ever involves the enemies of the West generally and of the Jewish people specifically. Today's anti-Semitism all too often manifests itself in the singling out of Israel, depicted as a uniquely horrific place, responsible for all the ills of the Middle East, if not the world.
        A fair examination would show that nothing could be further from the truth. Israel grapples with some of the most acute challenges the West faces in defending ourselves against jihadist aggression while maintaining modern, open societies. Israel carries this burden admirably, sustained by a democratic polity and a civil judiciary that, in some instances, surpass our own practices. It does this despite having been repeatedly tested under fire in ways our own citizens would simply not tolerate.
        Stephen Harper is the former Prime Minister of Canada. David Trimble was First Minister of Northern Ireland from 1998 to 2002. (Telegraph-UK-Toronto Sun-Canada)
  • The Horrifying Logic of Hard-Left Anti-Zionism - Allister Heath
    I find the fact that so many on the extreme Left and at the top of the Labour Party now routinely describe themselves as anti-Zionists to be not just baffling but absolutely horrifying.
        Zionism involves accepting a simple proposition: the Jewish people should have their own country in the historic Land of Israel. Being a Zionist today means advocating the survival of Israel. Being an anti-Zionist must therefore entail reversing this, with all of the calamitous implications that this implies for its Jewish citizens.
        Those who rail endlessly against "the Zionists" aren't merely demanding a two-state solution or better treatment for Palestinians: all of that would be compatible with Zionism. The hard Left wants to dismantle the only truly democratic nation state in the region and force the Jewish people, once again, into minority status.
        Anti-Zionism of the sort propounded by the hard Left is racism of the worst kind: obsessed with delegitimizing the world's only Jewish country (and no other), in the full knowledge that its existence is what protects its people from persecution, misery and even death. How is that not anti-Semitic? The writer is editor of the Sunday Telegraph UK. (Telegraph-UK)

  • To American ears, the meaning of "two states" is straightforward. The struggle between Israel and the Palestinians, to them, is a struggle between two indigenous peoples fighting over the same space of land in which they share a history.
  • As Shlomo Avineri, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the Hebrew University, wrote in Ha'aretz, "According to the Palestinians' view, this is not a conflict between two national movements but a conflict between one national movement (the Palestinian) and a colonial and imperialistic entity (Israel). According to this view, Israel will end like all colonial phenomena - it will perish and disappear. Moreover, according to the Palestinian view, the Jews are not a nation but a religious community, and as such not entitled to national self-determination."
  • From my extensive experience speaking with Palestinians, I have come to learn that the Palestinian version of the two-state solution leaves no room for a Jewish state.
  • This year, I led an in-depth seminar in Israel trying to understand what Palestinian citizens of Israel want. To almost all Palestinian citizens of Israel I spoke with, a state of the Jewish people is illegitimate in their eyes; Zionism is a colonizing enterprise of Jews stealing Arab land. They view the Jewish historical claim to the land as fictional and Zionism as racism.
  • Their idea of a fair "two-state solution" is one completely Arab state in the West Bank and one democratic binational State of Israel that allows the right of return for descendants of Palestinian refugees.
  • They said they would not consider Israel a legitimate democracy until the Jewish star is removed from the flag, Hatikvah is no longer the national anthem, and the right of return for diaspora Jews to Israel is rescinded.

    The writer is founder and director of the Middle East Political and Information Network (MEPIN).