November 28, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Sen. Rand Paul Is Blocking U.S. Military Aid to Israel (JTA)
    Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is blocking U.S. military aid to Israel.
    Paul, who has previously called to cut defense assistance to Israel, put a hold on the U.S.-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018, a parliamentary procedure that allows senators to prevent a motion from reaching a floor vote.

The Secret Meeting between Israel and Sudan - Barak Ravid (Axios)
    A special envoy from the Israeli Foreign Ministry held a secret meeting in Istanbul with Sudanese officials a year ago as part of an attempt to renew the dialogue between the two countries, a source told me.
    Sudan used to host Hamas' headquarters and was an ally of Iran, but since 2014 it has started to distance itself from Tehran and pivot toward Saudi Arabia.

Deutsche Telekom Cuts Service for Iran's Bank Melli - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
    German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom has cut off phone and internet service for Iran's Bank Melli, which funnels funds to terrorist groups working for Iran.
    According to Handelsblatt, Bank Melli Hamburg managing director Helmut Gottlieb said the loss of Deutsche Telekom service has caused the bank's operation to be "almost paralyzed."
    On Friday, the U.S. Embassy in Berlin tweeted that "sanctions are working...thank you Deutsche Telekom."
    The U.S. reimposed sanctions on Iranian banks, including Bank Melli, on Nov. 5.

South Korea Buys Israeli Radar Tech to Counter North's Missiles - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    South Korea announced on Tuesday that it was purchasing two advanced Green Pine radar systems from Israel for $292 million to improve its ability to detect incoming missiles, like those of North Korea.
    Seoul said the systems could "spot and track ballistic missiles from a long distance at an early stage."
    South Korea already possesses earlier versions of the Green Pine system, purchased in 2009.
    The new model has an improved operational range and the ability to track multiple projectiles in the air simultaneously.

More than 500 Bodies Exhumed from Mass Grave Left by ISIS in Syria (AP-CBC News)
    Syrian workers have exhumed more than 500 bodies from a mass grave near Raqqa, once the capital of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
    The mass grave in the Panorama neighborhood is one of the largest of nine mass graves discovered so far, and is believed to contain 1,500 bodies.

Arab Teenager Who Joined IDF Says "It's a Privilege" - Yishai Porat (Ynet News)
    T., 19, an Arab Israeli who lives in the Jerusalem area, decided four months ago to join the Israel Border Police.
    "I'm proud to serve the country and it's a privilege to protect it. This is my country just as much as of anyone else who lives here," he said.
    Following his decision to enlist, three of his close friends decided to follow in his footsteps.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Lobbies Europe to Back UN Vote Condemning Hamas
    The U.S. is leading a push at the UN to win backing from European countries for a resolution it has proposed condemning the Palestinian Hamas group, Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon said Tuesday. The General Assembly is expected to vote Friday or Monday on the resolution condemning rocket firings into Israel and demanding that Hamas end the use of violence.
        Danon said, "The U.S. is negotiating the language with the EU. For us it's very symbolic to have this resolution presented with the support of the EU." If adopted, it would mark the first time that the assembly has voted to condemn Hamas. (AFP-Daily Mail-UK)
  • Pompeo: The U.S.-Saudi Partnership Is Vital
    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday: "Degrading U.S.-Saudi ties would be a grave mistake for the national security of the U.S. and its allies. The kingdom is a powerful force for stability in the Middle East."
        "The U.S. doesn't condone the Khashoggi killing, which is fundamentally inconsistent with American values....[Yet] critics of the U.S.-Saudi alliance would do well to revisit Jeane Kirkpatrick's seminal 1979 essay, "Dictatorships and Double Standards," which analyzed the Carter administration's failure to distinguish between autocrats friendly to U.S. interests and those who are implacably opposed."  (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Khashoggi Killing Had Roots in a Cutthroat Saudi Family Feud - David Ignatius
    Behind the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi lies a power struggle within the Saudi royal family. After the death of King Abdullah in 2015, the two most powerful clans of the royal family jockeyed for power. The conflict set King Abdullah's wing of the family against Abdullah's brother - the new King Salman - and his son, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).
        Starting in the spring of 2017, a team of Saudi intelligence operatives, under the control of the royal court, began organizing kidnappings of dissidents abroad and at home, according to U.S. and Saudi experts. This helps explain the vortex that ultimately sucked in Khashoggi when he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. MBS was paranoid about rivals, such as Abdullah's sons, and, later, about the threat from the uncontrollable journalist Khashoggi. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • 10,000 Iran-Trained Syrian Soldiers Posted on Israel Border
    Two new Syrian military divisions, trained and led by officers of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard special forces, have been mobilized on Syria's borders, i24News revealed Monday. Each division numbers more than 10,000 men. One has been sent to the border with Iraq, while the second is currently at the border between Syria and Israel. (i24News)
  • Netanyahu to Czech President: "We Have No Greater Friend than the Czech Republic in the Eastern Hemisphere"
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Czech President Milos Zeman at the dedication of the new "Czech House" in Jerusalem on Tuesday: "You said yesterday in a magnificent speech in the Knesset, 'If we betray Israel, we betray ourselves.'...No one in Europe understands so readily and immediately the situation of Israel and the challenge of Israel - a small, beleaguered democracy that is courageously facing the challenges of an undemocratic neighborhood."
        "We will never forget that you [the Czechs] supported us in the founding of our state, in the UN vote, among 33 countries. But then went further with deeds....You gave us the weapons to survive when we had no weapons....We fought and we won, and we're eternally indebted to you."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Dore Gold: Give UNIFIL a Mandate to Clean Out Southern Lebanon
    The UN Security Council needs to enforce Resolution 1701 from 2006 to clean out the illegal weapons held by Hizbullah in southern Lebanon, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and former Israel Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold told the Hudson Institute in Washington on Tuesday. "There are about 200 Shiite villages in southern Lebanon. Many residents have prohibited weapons in their homes. They accept payment for it or are simply too frightened to refuse the terrorists' request," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Anti-Semitism Is Alive and Kicking in Europe - Clarissa Ward
    Anti-Semitism is alive and well across Europe, according to a CNN survey of more than 7,000 adults across seven European countries. 42% of Hungarians think Jews have too much influence in finance and business. Almost one in five Europeans (18%) agree that most anti-Semitism in their country is a response to the "everyday behavior of Jewish people." In Poland, 50% of people think that Jews use the Holocaust to advance their position.
        Poland's Chief Rabbi, Michael Schudrich, said, "There will always be people who had anti-Semitic feelings and I don't know if the number has grown but this new situation today is they feel that it's more acceptable socially that they can express these opinions out loud....The feeling beforehand was there was a social taboo against anti-Semitism."  (CNN)
        See also Poll: Anti-Semitism in Europe - Richard Allen Greene (CNN)
        See also Netanyahu: Anti-Semitism First Attacks the Jews, But It Never Stops with That - James Masters
    Responding to CNN's investigation into European attitudes toward Jews, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday: "I'm concerned, because I think anti-Semitism is an ancient disease and when it rears its ugly head, it first attacks the Jews, but it never stops with that."  (CNN)
        See also Netanyahu: Denying Israel's Right to Exist Is the Ultimate Form of Anti-Semitism (i24News)
  • The Future of Sino-Israeli Relations: Optimism or Caution? - Shaun Ho
    As the most senior Chinese official to visit Israel since 2000, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan's visit on October 22, 2018, to the Jewish state marks an important milestone in Sino-Israeli relations. For the past decade, trade, investment, technological cooperation, tourism, and exchanges between the two countries have all expanded rapidly. In its bid to make its economy more innovative, China increasingly sees Israel as a valuable and strategic partner.
        By investing in Israeli companies, especially those specializing in agricultural, food, and medical technologies, China will solve many domestic problems relating to drought, lack of arable land, food security, and an aging population. Moreover, as part of the Maritime Silk Road in China's "Belt and Road" Initiative (BRI), Israel will play an important role in connecting China with the Mediterranean.
        Yet Israel must also be cautious of Beijing's close relationships with Tehran and Damascus and ensure that the Sino-Israeli relationship does not jeopardize Israel's national security. Since Iran and the Arab states are of greater strategic importance for Beijing, it will likely be cautious in its developing relationship with the Jewish state so as not to offend its closest allies in the region.
        The writer is a student at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and an intern at the Jerusalem Center. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Recalling Western-Muslim History - Raymond Ibrahim (Jerusalem Post)
  • From Islam's first contact with Western civilization and for more than a millennium thereafter, Muslims behaved not unlike the Islamic State and on the same conviction: that Islam commands war on - and the enslavement or slaughter of - non-Muslims.
  • During this perennial jihad that began in the seventh century, almost 3/4 of Christendom's original territory was permanently swallowed up by Islam. European nations and territories were attacked and/or came under Muslim occupation (sometimes for centuries). An Islamic army of 200,000 martyrdom-seeking jihadis came as late as 1683 to conquer Vienna, but failed.
  • Between the 15th and 18th centuries alone, approximately five million Europeans were abducted and enslaved in the name of jihad. Muslim slavers of the Barbary States of North Africa wreaked havoc all along the coasts of Europe; America's first war was against these Islamic slavers.
  • In short, for well over a millennium - punctuated by a Crusader rebuttal - Islam posed an existential threat to Western civilization. Yet today, the predominant historic narrative is that Muslims are the historic victims of intolerant Western Christians.
  • But all this is history, it might be argued. Why not let it be and move on, and begin a new chapter of mutual tolerance and respect?
  • This would be a somewhat plausible position if not for the fact that, all around the globe, many Muslims are still exhibiting the same imperial impulse and intolerant supremacism of their forbears.
  • In classrooms all across the Islamic world, Muslim children are taught to glorify the jihadi conquests of yore - while despising infidels.

    The writer, a former Arabic language specialist at the Library of Congress and editor and translator of The Al Qaeda Reader, is a fellow at the Middle East Forum.