December 3, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Test-Fires Missile Capable of Carrying Multiple Warheads, Pompeo Says - Phil McCausland and Farnoush Amiri (NBC News)
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday that Iran's government had just test-fired a medium-range missile "that is capable of carrying multiple warheads."
    The missile tested has the ability to hit parts of Europe and any location in the Middle East.
    Pompeo said the test violated a UN Security Council resolution that called on Iran to not pursue "any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology."
    "We condemn this act and call upon Iran to cease these activities."

Iran's Shift of Tactics Endangers Israel - Ben Caspit (Al-Monitor)
    Israel considers the joint Iran-Hizbullah project to make Hizbullah's missile arsenal precision-guided to be a strategic threat, which will make Israel more vulnerable in the next conflict.
    Precision missiles will allow Hizbullah to interfere with Israeli air force activities, target major infrastructures and population centers, and cause Israel considerable damage.
    Israel's Security Cabinet has deemed the precision project a "red line" for Israel and grounds for war. Thwarting the project at almost any cost has been made a top priority.
    The Iranians are changing their tactics. They are no longer flying supplies into Damascus and transporting them over land to Beirut. From now on, their Boeings will land in Beirut on direct flights from Tehran.

How Iran Spreads Disinformation around the World - Jack Stubbs and Christopher Bing (Reuters)
    Nile Net Online, part of an influence operation based in Tehran, is one of more than 70 websites found by Reuters which push Iranian propaganda to 15 countries.
    The sites are visited by more than half a million people a month, and have been promoted by social media accounts with more than a million followers.
    The sites underline how political actors worldwide are increasingly circulating distorted or false information online to influence public opinion.
    Social media companies have closed hundreds of accounts that promoted the sites or pushed Iranian messaging.
    See also Iran Duped Pakistan into Threatening Israel with Nuclear Attack in Wake of Fake News Story (Times of Israel)

Saudi Arabia Loses Right to Host Chess Tournament over Discrimination Against Israel - Daniel Sugarman (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    The Federation lnternationale des Echecs (FIDE) decided to cancel this month's World Blitz and Rapid [Chess] Championship in Riyadh after Israeli players, supported by the Lawfare Project, contacted the sport's governing body, pointing out that when the same tournament was held last December in the Saudi capital, they were denied visas to enter the country to compete.
    Despite a slight thaw in relations over the last few years, the Kingdom does not permit Israeli nationals to enter the country.
    FIDE statutes say that events sanctioned by the Federation can only be hosted "by Federations where free access is generally assured to representatives of all Federations."

We wish our readers a Happy Hannukah holiday!

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Introduces UN Resolution to Condemn Hamas
    Leslie Ordeman, Deputy Political Coordinator at U.S. Mission to the UN, told the UN General Assembly on Friday, "The United States continues to oppose the annual submission of a disproportionate number of unfair resolutions biased against Israel. As in the past, this one-sided approach damages the prospects for peace by undermining trust between the parties and failing to create the kind of positive international environment that is critical to achieving peace."
        "Again, we see resolutions that are quick to condemn all manner of Israeli actions, but say almost nothing about Palestinian terrorist attacks against innocent civilians. This is particularly acute now, when the rocket attacks on November 12 saw more projectiles fired on a single day than on any day since 2014. That is also why, for the first time, we are introducing a stand-alone resolution to condemn Hamas and other militant groups for their indiscriminate attacks on civilians and primary role in the worsening humanitarian and economic situation in Gaza, and actions to restrict free expression and silence political dissent." (U.S. Mission to the UN)
        See also Palestinian Delay Tactics Designed to Defend Hamas Terrorism
    "The United States has introduced a resolution, supported by the European Union, to condemn Hamas' militant activities and diversion of aid, as well as to encourage intra-Palestinian reconciliation and respect for human rights. This resolution was supposed to be scheduled for a vote on Monday. However, the Palestinian representative at the UN pushed for a delay until Thursday."
        "Each country will be asked to vote for or against the activities of Hamas, along with other militant groups like Palestinian Islamic Jihad. If the UN cannot bring itself to adopt this resolution, then it has no business being involved in peace discussions." (See Text of the U.S. Resolution) (U.S. Mission to the UN)
        See also Palestinian Authority and Hamas Join Forces Against U.S. at UN - Yoni Ben Menachem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Sen. Schumer: "Israel Does More to Help Against Terrorism than Any Other Place" - Glenn Garvin
    Senate Minority Leader Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), speaking to the Israeli-American Council on Sunday, described Israel as "a mighty aircraft carrier" in service of U.S. interests in the Middle East. "Israel does the job so American soldiers and sailors don't have to be there," he said. "Israel does more to help against terrorism than any other place."
        House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who likely will be Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in January, said, "It is in our national security interest" to support Israel. "It's about security. It's about values."  (Miami Herald)
        See also below Observations - Vice President Pence: We Will Stand with Israel to Confront Those Who Seek War (White House)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Video: Iranian Behavior in Yemen Against Saudi Arabia Parallels Its Behavior in Lebanon Against Israel - Dore Gold
    Former Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dore Gold told VOA News on Friday: "Iranian missiles are being used to strike at the capital of Saudi Arabia - Riyadh. In fact there's a certain parallelism between Iranian behavior in Yemen against Saudi Arabia and Iranian behavior in Lebanon against Israel."
        "Hizbullah is the huge, pro-Iranian militia operating in both Lebanon and in Syria threatening the State of Israel with enormous amounts of missiles and rockets, perhaps as many as 100,000. Similarly, the Houthi militias operating in Yemen are the ones launching Iranian missiles into Saudi Arabia. It's a similar problem, and these Iranian-supported organizations must be defeated or at least neutralized."
        "Therefore, we and the Gulf States have a similar interest in seeing that stopped, and I'm very glad that Vice President Pence made reference to the dangers that Iran poses to the Arabian Peninsula and, of course, to Israel."  (VOA News)
  • A New Order Emerges in Southern Syria as Assad Regains Control - Jonathan Spyer
    The Assad regime has begun to settle accounts with former rebels in southwest Syria who worked with Israel during the years that this area was outside of regime control. 23 former rebel commanders and opposition activists in Deraa and Quneitra provinces have been detained or have disappeared after being apprehended by regime forces in recent weeks. The emergent reality in Syria's south is one in which it is difficult to discern where precisely the Syrian state ends and Iran and its allies begin.
        By the end of 2011, the Syrian regime had lost control of the greater part of both provinces and in the subsequent six years, a flourishing post-regime reality came into being as the West sought to aid the development of rudimentary civil society structures to replace those of the Assad regime. All this came abruptly to an end by July 2018.
        A recent report on the Syrian Observer website provided details of a large Iranian base under construction by the Iraqi militia Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Hizbullah in the Lajat area of Deraa province. Evidence is also emerging of the presence of Hizbullah personnel and other pro-Iranian Shia militiamen in Syrian Arab Army uniforms among regime forces returning to the border area with the Golan Heights. This is despite the nominal Russian commitment to keep such elements at least 85 kms. from the border.
        The writer is a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies and the Middle East Forum. (Jerusalem Post)

Vice President Mike Pence told the Israeli-American Council on Friday:
  • "71 years ago this week, the United States joined with 32 other nations to declare to the modern world an ancient truth - that the Jewish people have a natural, irrevocable right to an independent state of their own in their ancestral and eternal homeland of Israel."
  • "If the world knows nothing else, let the world know this: America stands with Israel....We stand with Israel because her cause is our cause, her values are our values, and her fight is our fight. We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong. We believe in good over evil, liberty over tyranny. And we stand with Israel because support for the Jewish state is not a partisan issue; it is an American issue."
  • "As we've seen in recent weeks, the terrorist threat still festers at Israel's borders. Hamas has sent a stream of rockets into Israel, including more than 300 rockets and mortars in a single six-hour span earlier this month. These attacks against Israel must end, and they must end now."
  • "But we recognize terrorists across the region, from Hamas to Hizbullah, are really, truth be told, nothing more than proxies of a vile regime. They're the pawns of Iran and its ayatollahs, who in recent years have devoted more than $16 billion to spreading violence, sowing chaos and bloodshed across the Middle East and the wider world."
  • "As we continue to hope and work toward peace, we will continue to stand without apology with Israel and all our allies and partners across the world to confront those who seek war."
  • "What happened that day...at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh... was not just criminal, it was evil. The 11 members of the Jewish community who perished were victims of one of the oldest hatreds known in the human race....There is no place in America for anti-Semitism and violence, and we will confront and condemn it 'everywhere it rears its ugly head.'"