October 31, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

President Trump and Family Pay Respects to Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Victims (KDKA-Pittsburgh)
    President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania, Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, were in Pittsburgh on Tuesday to pay their respects to the victims of Saturday's deadly synagogue shooting.

Vigils Held Around the World for Pittsburgh Shooting Victims (JTA)
    Jewish and interfaith vigils were held in the U.S. in memory of the 11 victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, including in Boston, New York, Chicago, Denver and Washington, D.C.
    In Canada, vigils and rallies were held in Montreal, Ottawa, Halifax and Vancouver.
    In Jerusalem, some 500 Americans and Israelis gathered Sunday night at Zion Square for a candlelight vigil.

Muslim World League in Mecca Condemns Attack on Synagogue in Pittsburgh (Muslim World League)
    The Secretary-General of the Muslim World League Dr. Mohammed Bin Abdulkarim Alissa condemned the shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh as a heinous attack on peaceful civilians and places of worship.

Gazans Flee to Europe - Huda Baroud (Al-Monitor)
    Mahmoud, 23, left Gaza on Sept. 16 after he had been detained by Hamas' internal security services on suspicion of collaborating with Israel.
    "Rumors spread in al-Zaytoun neighborhood that I was a spy for Israel. It became impossible for me to stay in Gaza, so I decided to leave," Mahmoud said."
    Along with 122 Palestinians from Gaza arrested during the first half of October and detained in southern Algeria, he awaits release by the Algerian government so he can continue his journey to Europe.
    Crossing the Gaza-Egypt border in a timely manner required payment of $1,500.
    Some 500 Palestinians from Gaza traveled via Turkey to Greece in August and September.
    Dozens of Gazans travel illegally on a daily basis to Morocco to seek asylum in the Spanish city of Melilla on the north coast of Africa.

Alibaba's Jack Ma Lauds Israeli Innovation - Zhang Hongpei (Global Times-China)
    Jack Ma Yun, founder and executive chairman of e-commerce giant Alibaba, told the Innovation Summit in Tel Aviv on Thursday:
    "Most people innovate for success, but Israel innovates for survival. You have no diamonds, but you have a large diamond industry. You have no car industry, but you are a leader in auto technology. You have no water, but you export vegetables to Europe."

IAI Wins $550 Million Contract in Asia for Air Defense System - Alex Nimelman (Globes)
    Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced Monday that it had been awarded a $550 million contract for the army of an Asian country to provide its "Sky Capture" Air Defense system. The country is believed to be India.
    Sky Capture is a command and control system for anti-aircraft systems which transforms the country's legacy air defense systems into highly accurate and effective systems, using multiple sensors and radars.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iranian Assassination Plot Thwarted in Denmark
    A police operation last month in Denmark stemmed from an Iranian plot to kill an opposition activist, Danish security service chief Finn Borch Andersen said Tuesday while announcing a suspect's arrest. A Norwegian citizen of Iranian descent was arrested Oct. 21 on suspicion of helping an Iranian intelligence service "to act in Denmark" and of involvement in the assassination plot. Denmark's Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen and Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen on Tuesday both called the planned Iranian attack in Denmark "totally unacceptable."  (AP-New York Times)
        See also Report: Israel Helped Foil Plot to Assassinate Dissidents in Denmark - Seth J. Frantzman
    Israel's Mossad intelligence agency helped Denmark foil an Iranian plot to assassinate the leader of a dissident group that fights for the rights of Arabs in southwest Iran, Israeli media reported on Wednesday.
        U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked Denmark's government for arresting the "Iranian regime assassin" on Tuesday. Pompeo tweeted, "For nearly 40 years, Europe has been the target of Iran-sponsored terrorist attacks. We call on our allies and partners to confront the full range of Iran's threats to peace and security."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Iran's European Hit Squads - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)
  • Iranian Boats Approach U.S. Navy Ships in Persian Gulf - Courtney Kube
    Six armed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy fast inshore attack craft approached both the USS Rushmore and the Essex in the Persian Gulf Friday. Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, was visiting and watching from the bridge. Capt. Brian Mutty said that during a radio transmission earlier in the day an IRGCN sailor warned that if the Essex continued to fly one of its helicopters around the Iranian boats, the Iranians would shoot at it. The chopper continued to fly and no shots were fired.
        While the U.S. Navy hasn't had any interactions with Iran that the U.S. deemed unsafe or as full-fledged "harassment," Iranian boats in the region continue to pester U.S. ships on a routine basis, according to sailors on the Essex. (NBC News)
  • Israel and Boeing Sign Major Reciprocal Spending Deal
    Boeing has signed a reciprocal procurement agreement with Israel that calls for the firm to collaborate with Israeli industries for at least 35% of the value of any transaction it signs with the Israeli government, Israel's Economy Ministry said Tuesday. This could ease concerns in Israel over new requirements in a U.S. aid package that divert funds away from local industries. Israel is expecting to make about $10 billion in military purchases from Boeing over the next decade, so the agreement means $3.5 billion in new business in Israel. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Poll: Palestinians Reject a State along the 1967 Lines
    55% of Palestinians reject, while 39% support, the creation of a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines borders as a final solution for the Palestinian cause, according to a poll conducted on 25-27 October 2018 in the West Bank and Gaza by the Center for Opinion Polls and Survey Studies at An-Najah University.
        75% of Palestinians reject the creation of a binational state for both Arabs and Jews. 66% of Palestinians in the West Bank and 49% in Gaza reject an armed intifada in the Palestinian territories. 56% of Gazans expressed a desire to emigrate abroad.
        Regarding political affiliation, in the West Bank 34% support Fatah and 11% support Hamas. In Gaza, 28% support Fatah and 12% support Hamas. (An-Najah University-PA)
  • Israeli Teens Living near Gaza Share Images of Palestinian Destruction on Instagram - Amy Spiro
    A group of eight teenage Israeli girls from Gaza border communities are sharing their experiences living under fire. In 12 days, their Instagram account - otef.gaza - has gained more than 50,000 followers.
        "We, children of the Gaza border communities, live a kilometer away from the separation fence," they wrote. "We decided to open an Instagram account that will reveal the daily war that we feel in our region....Every day we have incendiary kites, exploding balloons, fires, shelling, tear gas we breath in and choke on - and this is just the beginning."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Oman Is Israel's Link to the Middle East - Ronen Bergman
    In the fall of 1979, two Israelis carrying foreign passports arrived on a flight to Muscat, the capital of Oman. One was Reuven Merhav, a senior Mossad official who later became the director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The other was IDF Maj.-Gen. Menachem (Mendy) Maron. "The importance of that meeting was in its very existence," Merhav recounted on Saturday. "These are direct ties, though covert, with an important Arab country." The meeting was one of many between senior Israeli officials and officials in Oman. The ties with Oman opened the door to important covert ties with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
        What does Israel gain from Prime Minister Netanyahu's public visit to Oman on Friday? Oman can serve as a channel to many countries - including Iran, Qatar and Syria. Another hope is that other countries would take courage from this visit and also expose their own covert ties with Israel.
        Finally, for Netanyahu, exposing the ties with Oman is another layer in his Middle Eastern strategy, which includes creating covert alliances - and public ones whenever possible - with moderate Sunni nations and movements, in an effort to prevent Iran's spread throughout the region. (Ynet News)
  • Human Rights Watch Report Demonstrates Palestinian Leadership's Weakness, Inability to Lead - Yara Hawari
    On Oct. 23, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published an extensive 149-page report on the abuses and crushing of dissent by both Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. The interviews collated by HRW detail some horrific cases of torture. The arbitrary arrests and interrogations of students, activists, journalists and political opposition is characteristic of many despotic regimes in the region. While the report does not reveal anything new - indeed various Palestinian NGOs have long documented this kind of repression - it elevates these extensive and troubling details to an international platform.
        The intense development of the security sector in the years following Oslo resulted in security personnel being elevated to politically powerful positions. The merging of the political and security elites created the perfect environment for a police state.
        The abuse of power documented in the new HRW report demonstrates the weakness of the Palestinian leadership and its inability to lead their people. The time has come for us to think about what kind of leadership we actually want after Abbas, rather than who comes next. The writer is the Palestine Policy Fellow of Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network. (Al Jazeera)
        See also The Palestinians' Worst Enemy Is Their Own Leaders - Elliot Kaufman (Wall Street Journal)

  • He is bare-chested, muscular and not unattractive. A Palestinian flag blazes in one hand, a slingshot is strained taut in the other. All around him is smoke and press photographers. Aed Abu Amro, a 20-year-old Gazan, is rioting on the boundary between the Hamas-run statelet and Israel's southern frontier. Amro, who was snapped mid-rampage on Monday, has stirred that morbid romanticism which draws Western progressives to the Palestinians.
  • Newsweek gushed of "the now-iconic photo." The New Zealand Herald told its readers the image had "drawn comparisons with the iconic French Revolution painting, 'Liberty Leading the People,' by Eugene Delacroix." There is scarcely an anti-Israel agitator who has not tweeted, Facebooked or Instagrammed the picture. Depictions of heroic resistance rewrite the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a romantic epic in which righteous victims are ennobled by their oppression at the hands of inhuman tormentors.
  • Amro is the new Ahed Tamimi, the 17-year-old Palestinian jailed for eight months for assaulting Israeli soldiers. In a series of interviews with Tunisian media this month, she said: "We should always be slapping soldiers, wherever they may be, regardless of whether they did anything or not....We, as a generation, will fight for the liberation of Palestine in its entirety."
  • Tamimi will fight for the destruction of the world's only Jewish state, which is located, for those who still inhabit the fact-based community, on land to which Jews are indigenous, in which they alone have ever been sovereign, from which they were expelled, to which they returned, and upon which a rival Palestinian nationality so defined has staked a claim to nationhood for little more than a century and to statehood for around half that time.
  • Westerners have little time and even less comprehension for Palestinians who seek comity and compromise, who acknowledge Israel as the state of the Jewish people, who recognize Israel's legitimate security needs and who spurn the self-harming violence of their fellow Palestinians. The peacemakers exist but they do not capture the imagination of remote revolutionaries. They are the wrong kind of Palestinians.
  • Instead, Aed Abu Amro will be the face of Palestine and Tamimi its voice. The Palestinians will go on being pin-ups and go on being stateless.