November 7, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

As Democrats Win House, Jewish Lawmakers Step into Key Roles - Ron Kampeas (JTA)
    The new Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives means that five Jewish Democrats are now set to chair key House committees: Jerrold Nadler, Judiciary; Eliot Engel, Foreign Affairs; Nita Lowey, Appropriations; Adam Schiff, Intelligence; and John Yarmuth, Budget.
    Despite the election of a handful of Democrats who have sharply criticized Israel, staunchly pro-Israel lawmakers still call the shots.
    Engel is one of Israel's most reliable supporters in the House, and so is Lowey, who will be the most influential Democrat controlling government spending.
    See also New Jewish Congressmen, Senator Elected in U.S. Midterms - Ben Sales (JTA)
    New Jewish members of the House of Representatives elected in 2018 include Michigan Democrat Elissa Slotkin, who had worked for the CIA and won in Lansing, the state capital.
    New York Democrat Max Rose, 31, who won medals for his service as an Army officer in Afghanistan, won in Staten Island.
    Virginia Democrat Elaine Luria, a former Navy commander who once organized a Passover seder on an aircraft carrier, won in Norfolk.
    Minnesota Democrat Dean Phillips, whose father was killed in the Vietnam War before he was born, won in suburban Minneapolis.
    Pennsylvania Democrat Susan Wild, a member of the board of directors of the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley, won in suburban Philadelphia.
    In Nevada, Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen, a former president of Ner Tamid, a Reform synagogue in suburban Las Vegas, defeated sitting Sen. Dean Heller.

Report: Risks of Doing Business with Iran - Toby Dershowitz and Serena Frechter (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
    This resource guide brings together independent rankings on the Iranian business environment, reports from German intelligence agencies, information about U.S. sanctions, reports from human rights monitoring organizations, and major media coverage to support enhanced due diligence in doing business with Iran.

Former Nazi SS Camp Guard Goes on Trial in Germany - David Rising (AP)
    Johann Rehbogen, 94, a former SS enlisted man, went on trial Tuesday in Germany as an accessory to murder during the years he served as a guard at the Nazis' Stutthof concentration camp east of Danzig in Poland.
    Over 60,000 people were killed at Stutthof.
    Prosecutor Andreas Brendel described how some prisoners were given lethal injections of gasoline or phenol directly to their hearts, shot or starved.
    Others were forced outside in winter without clothes until they died of exposure, or put to death in the gas chamber.
    Survivor Judy Meisel, who today lives in Minneapolis, said, "Stutthof was organized mass murder through the SS, made possible through the help of the guards."

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Facing New Sanctions, Iranians Vent Anger at Rich and Powerful - Babak Dehghanpisheh
    More Iranians are using social media to vent anger at what they see as the corruption and extravagance of a privileged few, while the majority struggles to get by. People are increasingly pointing fingers at the rich and powerful, including clerics, diplomats, officials and their families.
        Seyed Mahdi Sadrossadati, a cleric with 256,000 followers on Instagram, in a recent post blasted the "luxury life" of a Revolutionary Guards commander and his son, who posted a selfie online in front of a tiger lying on the balcony of a mansion. (Reuters)
  • France Issues Arrest Warrants for Three Syrian Security Officials for War Crimes
    French prosecutors issued international arrest warrants on Oct. 8 for three senior Syrian intelligence and government officials for collusion in war crimes, legal sources said Monday. They include security chief Gen. Ali Mamlouk, one of Syrian President Assad's most senior advisers; Jamil Hassan, the head of Air Force Intelligence; and another senior Air Force Intelligence official, Abdel Salam Mahmoud, who heads a detention facility at Mezzeh military airport in Damascus.
        The French warrants bring charges including collusion in torture, forced disappearances, crimes against humanity and war crimes. In June, the German Der Spiegel reported that German prosecutors had also issued an international arrest warrant for Hassan on charges he oversaw the torture and murder of hundreds of detainees. (France 24)
  • UN Verifies 200 Mass Graves Left by Islamic State in Iraq
    More than 200 mass graves containing between 6,000 and 12,000 bodies have been found in northern Iraq from the time of the Islamic State's three-year reign, UN investigators said Tuesday. ISIS militants killed captured members of the security forces en masse. Several graves contain the remains of victims of the 2014 Camp Speicher massacre, when the militants killed 1,700 Iraqi security forces and army cadets. (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Jerusalem Arabs Continued Their Boycott of City Elections - Adam Rasgon
    The sole all-Arab list that ran in last Tuesday’s Jerusalem municipal elections failed to win a seat on the city council, according to results posted on the Jerusalem Municipality's website. Ramadan Dabash's list received 3,001 votes, 1.2% of the total, while about 8,000 votes were needed to gain one seat. On election day, polling stations in east Jerusalem were largely empty with the exception of those in Dabash's Sur Baher neighborhood.
        "The results show the pressure against voting in the elections won," said Amnon Ramon, a researcher at the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research. "I think there is a readiness in east Jerusalem to participate and vote in these elections. But with the great pressure against voting in them, which includes threats of violence, most of the people decided not to cast ballots."  (Times of Israel)
  • After 56 Years, Israel Finds Remains of Missing Pilot in Sea of Galilee - Anna Ahronheim
    56 years after he went down over Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), the remains of Israel Air Force pilot Lt. Yakir Naveh have been discovered, the IDF said on Tuesday. In 1962, Naveh, 23 and newly married, was an air force instructor flying low over the Kinneret with IAF cadet Oded Kuton who was the pilot, when the plane hit the water. The pilot's seat with Kuton still strapped into it was found almost a year later, but the IDF has searched for Naveh for decades. His funeral will take place on Nov. 13. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Anti-Semitism Is Civilization's Acid Test of Decency - Amit Deri
    The Pittsburgh synagogue murderer is a classic anti-Semite who believes one thing is certain: Jews have no right to live. Anti-Semitism is a hatred that enables its adherents to blame everything on Jews, attributing to them all the paranoid delusions that the irrationally hateful suffer from.
        I have spent the last two years immersed in American college campuses helping to make the case for Israel. I have encountered not just rejection of Israel's legitimacy, but the most vile Jew-hatred, over and over again, with little pushback from decent people.
        I understand and support the right to voice your opinion, no matter how much I might disagree with it. But I also know that free speech cannot be the rationale for not calling out vile and hateful accusations. When anti-Semitism is excused because the speaker is someone whose political agenda I support, or is part of an ethnic or racial group that I don't want to offend, then I have given my tacit support to that same anti-Semitism.
        In the increasingly identity-centric world I encounter on campuses, where the world is conveniently divided between the privileged and the oppressed, the real loser is human dignity. In the current calculus, Israel - and by extension and increasingly explicitly Jews - are privileged oppressors. Unworthy. Not deserving of common decency and respect. Anti-Semitism thrives in this landscape.
        Anti-Semitism is ultimately civilization's acid test of decency. When it is tolerated, the floodgates of hatred and inhumanity will open in truly horrific fashion. The writer is founder and CEO of Reservists on Duty. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Threats to Arab Normalization with Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh
    When it comes to Israel, one would be hard-pressed to distinguish between Fatah and Hamas. The daily statements condemning Israel that are issued separately by Hamas and Fatah sound almost identical. These daily attacks have radicalized Palestinians to a point where many of them would not consider any form of compromise with Israel.
        In the past few days, the rival Palestinian parties have again found themselves in agreement over what they perceive as efforts to normalize relations between Israel and some Arab countries. They are opposed to normalization between Israel and the Arab counties because they are afraid that their Arab brothers will forget about the Palestinians and focus on bringing prosperity and stability to the Arab countries.
        The Palestinians seek to continue holding the Arab world hostage to their own unrealistic demands. They do not want to see the Arab countries move forward and build a better future for their people. In the world of the Palestinians, peace between Israel and the Arab countries is tantamount to treason, a conspiracy concocted by Israel and the U.S. (Gatestone Institute)

After the Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre: It's Time to Adopt an International Convention on the Crime of Anti-Semitism - Amb. Alan Baker (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The recent spate of violent acts of anti-Semitism in the U.S., together with the alarming renaissance of anti-Semitism in Europe and elsewhere, should be seen as a rude wake-up call. Anti-Semitism has existed for thousands of years, reappearing in many and varied forms, adapting itself to whatever circumstances exist at any given time and utilizing the available cultural, social, and technological means to propagate itself among the public.
  • Aside from political statements of sympathy, shock, and disgust by international leaders, what, practically, can and should be done to deal with anti-Semitism worldwide?
  • Perhaps one of the major lessons to be learned from this recent outbreak of violent anti-Semitism is the need for consolidated action - a "united front" by the international community against anti-Semitism.
  • In today's world, any consolidated, international action to counter violence and terror requires a solid legal basis and sanction for action. In 2015, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs published a draft International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Anti-Semitism - a document intended to universally criminalize anti-Semitism within the world community.
  • This draft convention follows the accepted format of other UN international conventions condemning and criminalizing genocide, racial discrimination, terror, and other most serious international criminal phenomena.
  • This proposal should be brought before the appropriate UN legal bodies for consideration, with a view to its being studied and accepted as an international treaty, criminalizing and punishing anti-Semitism.

        See also Text: Draft International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Anti-Semitism - Amb. Alan Baker (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    The writer, former legal counsel and deputy director-general at Israel's Foreign Ministry, currently directs the International Law Program at the Jerusalem Center.