November 5, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

ISIS Claims Deadly Attack on Christians in Egypt - Declan Walsh and Mohamed Ezz (New York Times)
    Islamist gunmen killed at least seven Coptic Christian pilgrims in Egypt on Friday and wounded at least 16 in an attack on two buses 85 miles south of Cairo near a remote desert monastery.

Iranians Stage Mass Rallies Against U.S., Israel (Fars-Iran)
    Millions of Iranians, including school and university students, took to the streets on Sunday to mark the anniversary of the U.S. embassy takeover in Tehran in 1979, chanting "Down with the U.S." and "Down with Israel."
    They also set fire to the U.S. and Britain's flags.

Bulgaria Catches Three Iranians Trying to Enter Country on Fake Israeli Passports (Sofia Globe-Bulgaria)
    Bulgarian Border Police officers have detained three Iranian men who attempted to enter the country using false Israeli passports, the Interior Ministry said on Nov. 2.

40,000 Jews Gather in Hebron to Mark Biblical Purchase of Cave of the Patriarchs (JTA)
    Tens of thousands of Israelis and visitors came to the West Bank city of Hebron and the Tomb of the Patriarchs in a yearly pilgrimage to mark the week's Torah portion in which the Biblical patriarch Abraham buys the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron in order to bury his dead wife Sarah.
    Large tents were set up for group meals, and families and groups camped out near the tomb for the festive Shabbat.

Tunisian Court Bans Israelis from Interfaith Dialogue - Mohammed Majid (Anadolu-Turkey)
    An Israeli delegation was scheduled to take part in the World Forum Interfaith Dialogue Ambassadors conference on Nov. 4-8 in Tunisia.
    But on Friday, the Tunis-based Court of First Instance ruled to prevent the Israeli delegation from entering the country to attend the event.

Israeli Municipal Elections in Arab Sector Signal Greater Violence, Waning Influence of Clans, More Women - Jack Khoury (Ha'aretz)
    Last week's local elections were marked in Israeli Arab communities by greater violence. Turan, Sakhnin, Tuba-Zangaria, Kafr Kana, Lakiya and Hura all experienced gunfire and property damage.
    In Kalansua, the leading mayoral candidate quit the race due to death threats against himself and his family.
    Nohad Ali, a sociologist at Western Galilee College, noted the waning influence of clans, as reflected in multiple mayoral candidates from the same clan running in the same town.
    Moreover, most of the tickets were independent rather than affiliated with a national party.
    20 women won seats on city councils, and another 6 will be seated later under rotation agreements.
    In the four Druze communities in the Golan Heights, elections ultimately never took place in Masadeh and in Buqata due to public pressure, while in Majdal Shams and Ein Kinya, turnout did not exceed 2%.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Reimposes All Sanctions Lifted Under the Iran Deal
    The U.S. on Friday announced that on Monday it would restore all U.S. sanctions on Iran that were lifted under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Over 700 individuals, entities, vessels, and aircraft are going back onto the sanctions list, including major Iranian banks, oil exporters, and shipping companies. Reimposing sanctions will cut off revenues the regime uses to bankroll terrorist groups, foment global instability, fund nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and enrich its leaders. The U.S. is confident that energy markets will remain well supplied despite Iranian oil export reductions. (White House)
        See also Statement by the President Regarding the Reimposition of Nuclear-Related Sanctions on Iran
    The Iran nuclear deal failed in its fundamental objective, which was to permanently block all paths to an Iranian nuclear bomb, and it did nothing to address the regime's malign actions across the Middle East and beyond. Since the nuclear deal was reached, Iran's military budget has grown by nearly 40%. The regime has poured billions of dollars into regional conflicts, accelerated its missile development and proliferation, and repeatedly lied about its nuclear ambitions.
        Our objective is to force the regime into a clear choice: either abandon its destructive behavior or continue down the path toward economic disaster. The U.S. remains open to reaching a new, more comprehensive deal with Iran that forever blocks its path to a nuclear weapon and addresses the entire range of its malign actions. (White House)
        See also U.S. Announces Six-Month Waivers from U.S. Sanctions for Eight Countries Importing Iranian Oil - Gardiner Harris
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Friday that eight countries were being granted six-month waivers from U.S. sanctions for importing Iranian oil. Pompeo said the waivers were granted to the countries "only because they have demonstrated significant reductions in their crude oil and cooperation on many other fronts." He said two were expected to end their imports of Iranian oil "within weeks."  (New York Times)
        See also Briefing on Iran Sanctions - Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin (U.S. State Department)
        See also Briefing with Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook (U.S. State Department)
  • U.S. Bank Sanctions Will Hit Iran Where It Hurts - Eli Lake
    Sanctions on Iran's banks, oil exports, ships and ports, lifted in 2015, were reimposed on Monday. It was not clear until Friday whether those banks would be allowed to participate in the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or Swift. That is the system that allows the world's banks to communicate with one another, making global transactions possible.
        Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced: "We have advised Swift that it must disconnect any Iranian financial institution that we designate as soon as technologically feasible to avoid sanctions exposure." Mnuchin said that some Iranian financial institutions that were not sanctioned could remain on Swift, but only to conduct transactions involving food and medicine.
        Swift is a big deal. Isolating Iran from it compounds its financial crisis. Even if companies were willing to risk being cut off from the U.S. economy to purchase Iranian oil, it will be almost impossible for Iran to receive the payments if its banks aren't part of Swift.  (Bloomberg)
        See also The Iranian Economic Situation Continues to Worsen as U.S. Sanctions Loom - Iran Desk (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Egyptian Leader Says Most Egyptians Support "Stable and Permanent" Peace Agreement with Israel
    Egyptian President el-Sisi on Sunday hailed the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel as "stable and permanent." Speaking at the World Youth Forum in Sharm el-Sheikh, Sisi spoke optimistically about peace with Israel, which he said most Egyptians supported. "When Sadat raised his idea of peace, no one thought that this idea would be acceptable to the general opinion," Sisi said.
        On Sunday, the new Egyptian ambassador, Khaled Azmi, arrived in Israel. Azmi previously served as the Egyptian Foreign Ministry's director of its counterterrorism unit. (i24News)
  • Gaza Border Protest More Subdued Friday
    Crowds of Palestinians protested along the Gaza-Israel border on Friday but in fewer numbers and with less fury than has been seen for months as Egyptian mediators worked to lower tension. The Israeli military said that while there were indeed disturbances, much of the crowd kept their distance. A Palestinian official said the goal of Egyptian mediation was to end the protests and in return secure an easing of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza. (Reuters-AFP-Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Pittsburgh Shooter Hated Jews. We Should Say So. - Yair Rosenberg
    There is an urge to universalize specifically Jewish tragedies in ways that ignore their actual victims. In 2017, Canada had to replace the plaque on a new $8.9 million Holocaust monument when officials belatedly realized that it did not mention Jews. British Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn co-sponsored a 2010 motion in Britain's Parliament to rename Holocaust Memorial Day as Genocide Memorial Day, which would have abolished the one day devoted solely to commemorating Europe's murdered Jews in favor of lumping together all victims of all genocides into one undifferentiated group.
        Well-meaning non-Jews often seek to draw universal lessons against intolerance from acts of anti-Semitic violence. Others want to make the incidents accessible and relevant for a broader, non-Jewish audience in an attempt to evoke empathy for the victims, and do so by trying to equate anti-Jewish oppression with forms of oppression faced by non-Jews. After deadly anti-Semitism strikes, Jews are expunged as inconvenient accessories to their own execution. Their persecution is but a pivot to subjects of greater importance.
        Any serious effort to combat anti-Semitism must begin with understanding the hatred: its sources, symptoms and manifestations. That cannot happen if anti-Jewish prejudice is collapsed into a milquetoast mishmash of all bigotries. (Washington Post)
  • The Paradox of American Anti-Semitism - Adam Kirsch
    The great contradiction of American anti-Semitism is that it is at the same time feeble and deadly. America's acceptance of Jews and Judaism is profound. Last year, the Pew Research Center released a poll in which Americans were asked to rate different religious groups by the warmth of the feelings they inspired. The group that received the friendliest response was Jews.
        At the same time, massacres in what should be safe places are no longer surprising in the U.S. If angry, heavily armed men can commit mass murder in kindergartens, high schools, movie theaters and nightclubs - as well as a black church in South Carolina and a Sikh temple in Wisconsin - there is no reason to think that a synagogue would be immune.
        Meanwhile, the ADL reports that in 2017, anti-Semitic assaults actually decreased by almost half, to just 19 in the whole country. The number of threats made to Jewish institutions jumped dramatically over the year before, but almost the entire increase is owed to a single Israeli teenager who phoned bomb threats to dozens of American Jewish schools and community centers. (Wall Street Journal)

The Iran Nuclear Deal Allows a Terrorist State to Develop a Nuclear Arsenal - Dr. Colin Rubenstein (Daily Telegraph-Australia)
  • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's decision to review support for the Iran nuclear deal should be welcomed. U.S. President Trump has made action to thwart Iran's nuclear and hegemonic ambitions a top U.S. foreign policy priority.
  • A change in Australia's view on the Iran deal would be welcomed by Sunni Arab states - from Egypt, to Saudi Arabia to the Gulf States to Morocco - all whom view Iran as their most serious regional threat. Australian trade with these countries dwarfs that with Iran.
  • The flaws in the deal include sunset provisions that expire in 10 to 15 years, as well as enabling Iran to continue working on advanced centrifuges, and testing ballistic missiles which could carry nuclear weapons. As a country committed to nuclear non-proliferation, we should question the deal if it does not prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons.
  • In evaluating which position on Iran best serves Australia's national interest, reinforcing the commendable efforts of the U.S. to stop Iran's drive towards nuclear weapons and its rogue behavior would surely rate as a major consideration.

    The writer is Executive Director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC).