November 27, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Promises Israel It Will Press International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran Atomic Archive - Barak Ravid (Axios)
    The Trump administration has promised Israel it will put pressure on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to examine revelations from the Iranian nuclear archives captured by Israeli intelligence in Tehran, State Department officials told me.
    The archives showed Iran was working until 2003 on building at least five nuclear warheads.
    Two weeks ago, U.S. special envoy for Iran Brian Hook visited Israel and was told that Israel was angry the IAEA didn't take the Israeli intelligence seriously.
    Hook said the new U.S. ambassador to the IAEA, Jackie Wolcott, will "work aggressively to make sure the IAEA seriously addresses all information provided by Israel, the U.S. and other countries regarding the Iranian nuclear program."

Qatar Mulls Nixing Future Gaza Cash Transfers (i24News)
    Qatar is mulling replacing cash payments to Gaza with an alternative means of aid to avoid appearing as if it supports terror against Israel.
    The Israeli news site Walla reported on Sunday that a document circulating among Qatari officials says transferring large sums of cash - "a method reminiscent of the mafia...only reinforces the negative view of Qatar as a financier of terror."
    "If the intention was only to pay the salaries of government officials, it would have been possible to transfer the money directly to their bank accounts."
    "Hamas' demand to receive money in a way that bypasses Israel's monitoring capabilities reinforces the assumption that some of the money will go to terrorist organizations."

Israel Appoints First Male Ethiopian-Israeli Judge - Revital Hovel (Ha'aretz)
    The Judicial Appointments Committee has appointed new judges, among them Israel's first male Ethiopian-Israeli judge, Bialin Elazar, who will serve on the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court.
    Elazar, previously a state prosecutor, will join two female Ethiopian-Israeli judges who were appointed two years ago.

Israelis to Be Welcomed in Qatar for Soccer World Cup in 2022 (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    Qatar will allow Israelis to visit during its hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Israel's Channel 2 reported.

Israeli Gymnast Artem Dolgopyat Wins Gold Medal in Artistic Gymnastics World Cup - Itamar Katzir (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli gymnast Artem Dolgopyat won the gold medal on Saturday evening for his floor exercise during the Artistic Gymnastics World Cup competition in Cottbus, Germany.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • France and Germany Step In to Circumvent Iran Sanctions - Laurence Norman
    France and Germany have joined forces to rescue a European effort to create a payments channel to keep trade flowing with Iran, defying the U.S., senior diplomats said. France or Germany will host the corporation that would handle the payments channel and both countries will help fund the corporation.
        Richard Grenell, U.S. Ambassador to Germany, said that European efforts to work around the sanctions "would not be a smart move" and that "the U.S. will consider sanctions on those entities participating in these tactics." European officials say that because of the sanctions threat, only a fraction of pre-U.S. sanctions European trade with Iran will likely be safeguarded. (Wall Street Journal)
  • U.S. Secretary of State Calls Iranian President's Comments "Dangerous and Irresponsible"
    Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said Monday: "Iranian President Rouhani has once again called for the destruction of Israel. He referred to it as a 'cancerous tumor' and a 'fake regime.' Such statements inflame tensions in the region by seemingly calling for war. At an international conference on Islamic unity, Rouhani also encouraged Muslims worldwide to unite against the United States. This is a dangerous and irresponsible step that will further deepen Iran's isolation."  (U.S. State Department)
  • Islamic State Kills Dozens of U.S.-Backed Fighters in Syria - Sune Engel Rasmussen and Nazih Osseiran
    At least 91 fighters belonging to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces died in a battle that started on Friday in eastern Deir Ezzour province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday. About 61 Islamic State militants and 51 civilians, mostly family members of Islamic State fighters, also were killed. U.S. airstrikes helped end the fighting.
        In the weekend attack against SDF positions in Hajin, Islamic State fighters emerged from a thick fog with as many as 100 vehicles and 20 motorcycles. Sleeper cells inside Hajin helped the ISIS militants navigate the area. There are currently 2,000 Islamic State fighters near Deir Ezzour city, U.S. Central Command said. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also below Commentary: America's Proxy in Syria - Abdulrahman Al-Rashed (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Attorney General: ICC Can't Rule on Conflict since "There Is No Palestinian State" - Jacob Magid
    Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said Monday he is drafting a legal opinion that refutes the International Criminal Court's legitimacy to discuss matters pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because "there is no Palestinian state." Jerusalem has long argued that the ICC has no jurisdiction over Israel, which is not a member state of the court. (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinians Seek to Halt Warming Israeli Ties with Arab States - Jack Khoury
    Palestinian Authority officials are seeking emergency sessions of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation over Israel's increasingly close ties with some Arab and Muslim countries. Former Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Sha'ath said, "What we have been seeing in recent weeks - beginning with Netanyahu's visit to Oman and the visit to Israel by the president of Chad, and now there is talk of Bahrain and Sudan and ties of one kind or another with Saudi Arabia - raises question marks, and there is therefore a need to clarify the Arab and Islamic position."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Abbas Orders Crackdown on Palestinians Who Sold Property to Jews - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Palestinian Authority security forces, on "direct orders" from PA President Mahmoud Abbas, are going after eastern Jerusalem residents suspected of selling properties to Israeli Jews, Fatah spokesman Osama Qawassmeh revealed on Thursday. He confirmed that PA security forces had recently arrested Isam Aqel, an American-Palestinian man from Jerusalem, on suspicion of involvement in the sale of an Arab-owned house in the Old City to Israeli Jews. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • British Prime Minister Theresa May Launches Scathing Attack on Anti-Semitism - Joe Millis
    Prime Minister Theresa May launched a scathing attack on anti-Semitism at Monday's Sara Conference on gendered anti-Semitism. "I have no time for equivocation. Anti-Semitism is racism - and any 'equality' movement that indulges or ignores it is not worthy of the name."
        "The research published at today's conference, showing that Jewish women politicians are more likely to attract the attentions of far-right hate groups, was deeply disturbing....These attitudes are not limited to the far right. As is so often the case with anti-Semitism, bigotry directed at Jewish women also comes from those who would never consider themselves to be racist, including within the women's rights movement itself. Some Jewish women have been told that they're not 'real' feminists unless they publicly disavow Israel's right to exist or been thrown off pride marches for flying rainbow flags that feature the Star of David."
        May said her government was "removing all hiding places for anti-Semitism, becoming the first government in the world to adopt the [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance] IHRA's working definition - and all its examples....Freedom of thought and freedom of speech have never meant freedom to abuse and freedom to threaten. Anti-Semitism and misogyny have no place in this country."  (Jewish News-UK)
  • America's Proxy in Syria - Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
    The U.S. has established local militias in Syria to fight against Iran's militias and forces. 30,000 Kurdish Syrians are being recruited, armed and trained within the Syrian Democratic Forces (QSD) east of the Euphrates. Most of them are Kurds and there are also some Arabs. The Russians' insistence to protect the Iranians in Syria made the Americans resort to expanding the role of Syria's Kurds to confront ISIS, Iran, the Syrian regime and even the Turks.
        Moscow's story that it neither has influence over the Assad regime nor the capability to get the Iranians out of Syria does not convince anyone. Without the Russian air force, the Syrian regime forces and the Iranian forces cannot keep new territories, and without the Russian S-300 missiles, Israeli airstrikes will kill more of the Iranian regime forces.
        Due to the Americans' militarization east of the Euphrates, they, through QSD, control vast Syrian areas, from Iraq's borders in the south to Turkey's border in the north. Hence, the Russians have to choose between victory without the Iranians or resuming the war through them. The writer is former general manager of Al-Arabiya television and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)

Airbnb's Anti-Israel Hypocrisy - Eugene Kontorovich (Wall Street Journal)
  • Under Airbnb's newly announced policy, an American Jew with a rental property in the West Bank is barred from listing it for rent on the website. But an American Arab is welcome to list his home a few hundred meters away.
  • Palestinian law forbidding real-estate deals with Jews carries a maximum penalty of death. Yet that openly racist policy doesn't trigger Airbnb's delisting policy.
  • When Israel declared independence in 1948, all its Arab neighbors invaded immediately. Jordan occupied the West Bank and massacred or expelled every Jew in the area, took their homes and destroyed their synagogues. Israel only regained the West Bank after Jordan foolishly attacked again in 1967. Many Jews then returned, including to lands Jews had purchased before Israeli independence.
  • Israel signed the Oslo Accords with the Palestinian leadership in 1993, leaving all settlements - the new and returning Jewish communities - under complete Israeli control.
  • Airbnb tried to ward off accusations by noting, "each situation is unique and requires a case-by-case approach." But so far the only situation unique enough to warrant delisting is the one involving Jews.
  • Airbnb's capitulation underscores the need for Congress to pass the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which would bar U.S. firms from complying with UN boycotts of Israel, like they're already prohibited from adhering to the Arab League's boycott.

    The writer, a director at the Kohelet Policy Forum in Israel, is a professor at George Mason University's Antonin Scalia School of Law.