December 13, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

France Hunts for Strasbourg Killer - Jonathon Gatehouse (CBC News-Canada)
    Tuesday's attack on a Christmas market in Strasbourg was an act of terrorism, French prosecutors said, citing witnesses who heard the attacker shout, "Allahu Akbar."
    The man was identified as Cherif Chekatt, 29, who was born in Strasbourg and has been on France's security watch list since 2015.
    See also Who Is the Strasbourg Shooting Suspect? - Kim Willsher (Guardian-UK)
    Cherif Chekatt was born into a family with Moroccan roots. His move into Islamic extremism was reportedly sparked during a spell in prison between 2013 and 2015.

Airbnb Faces Blacklisting in Illinois over Israel Boycott - Adam Kredo (Washington Free Beacon)
    The Illinois Investment Policy Board voted Wednesday to notify the online lodging website Airbnb that it is violating state laws barring the economic boycott of Israel.
    Airbnb has 90 days to respond before it is blacklisted in Illinois.

Turkey Threatens to Target U.S.-Backed Syrian Kurds - David Gauthier-Villars (Wall Street Journal)
    Turkish President Erdogan said Wednesday, "We will start our operation in a few days to liberate areas east of the Euphrates River from terrorist organizations" - meaning a military intervention in northeastern Syria to combat U.S.-backed Kurdish rebels.
    Pentagon spokesman Navy Cmdr. Sean Robertson responded, "Unilateral military action into northeast Syria by any party, particularly as U.S. personnel may be present or in the vicinity, is of grave concern. We would find any such actions unacceptable."
    He also asserted that the Kurdish units are a "committed partner against [Islamic State]."
    The U.S. has established observation posts it says are intended to prevent any Kurdish attack on Turkey. However, Erdogan said, "[U.S.] radars and observation posts are not placed to protect Turkey from terrorists, but terrorists from Turkey."

UK Band Cancels Concert in Israel Due to Threats by BDS Supporters - Adam Shay (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    The UK Pink Floyd Experience, a Pink Floyd tribute band, recently announced that it will not perform three scheduled shows in Israel after BDS-poster boy Roger Waters, former front man for the original band, urged them not to play in Israel.
    Waters announced on Facebook he is "glad to welcome them into the BDS fold."
    Yet David Power, front man of the UK tribute band, replied, "Roger, as I pointed out to you, my concern was for my colleagues and the abuse and threats they were receiving as a result of your initial post."
    So it was fear, brought on by a frontal assault of abuse and threats ordered by Roger Waters, which prompted this cancelation.
    The writer is a senior program coordinator and researcher at the Jerusalem Center, specializing in battling the cultural boycott of Israel.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Urges UN to Ban Iranian Missile Tests - Zachary Cohen and Jennifer Hansler
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the UN Security Council on Wednesday to prohibit Iran from conducting ballistic missile tests. "Iran has exploited the goodwill of nations and defied multiple Security Council resolutions in its quest for a robust ballistic missile force," he said. He called on nations to "establish inspection and interdiction measures" aimed at countering Iran's efforts to circumvent existing arms restrictions.
        "We risk the security of our people if Iran continues stocking up on ballistic missiles. We risk escalation of conflict in the region if we fail to restore deterrence. And we convey to all other malign actors that they too can defy the Security Council with impunity if we do nothing."  (CNN)
        See also Text: Secretary of State Pompeo at the UN Security Council (U.S. State Department)
  • State Department: We Recognized Jerusalem as Israel's Capital Because It's a Recognition of Reality
    State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said Tuesday: "A year ago...we recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and that is a recognition of reality....We were the first nation to recognize the State of Israel. And ever since, Jerusalem has remained the seat of the modern government. It's home of Israel's parliament, supreme court, other bodies of government, president, prime minister. And for decades, the United States put off recognizing this basic reality, and yet we came no closer to achieving a new peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis."
        "Trying the same old methods have failed for decades, and to continue to do the same thing over and over again would be folly. Old challenges require new approaches."  (U.S. State Department)
  • China Suspends Investment in Iran Gas Field after U.S. Pressure - Chen Aizhu
    China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) has suspended investment in Iran's South Pars natural gas project in response to U.S. pressure and to minimize tensions amid trade talks between China and the U.S. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Two Israelis Killed, Two Seriously Wounded in West Bank Shooting Attack - Elisha Ben Kimon and Yishai Porat
    Two Israelis were killed and two more seriously wounded Thursday in a drive-by shooting attack south of Ofra near Giv'at Asaf in the West Bank. (Ynet News)
  • Baby Dies Days after Mother Shot in West Bank Terror Attack - Ido Efrati and Yotam Berger
    The baby who was delivered Sunday after his mother was seriously wounded in a drive-by shooting attack at a bus stop near Ofra in the West Bank died on Wednesday. The baby, named Amiad Israel, was laid to rest in the Mount of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem. The baby's parents, Shira and Amichai Ish-Ran, were both recovering from gunshot wounds. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel Kills Palestinian Shooter Responsible for Attack at West Bank Bus Stop, Hamas Claims Responsibility - Adam Rasgon
    Palestinian Salih Omar Barghouti, 29, who shot a pregnant Israeli woman and five others at a bus stop near Ofra in the West Bank on Sunday, was killed Wednesday after he tried to attack troops while escaping arrest. Four others involved in the attack were arrested. Hamas claimed credit for the shooting attack on Thursday, saying, "Hamas announces with great pride the death of its martyr Salih Omar Barghouti, the perpetrator of the heroic Ofra operation."  (Times of Israel)
  • IDF Kills Palestinian Terrorist Who Murdered Two Israelis in Industrial Park
    Israel's police counterterrorism unit killed Palestinian terrorist Ashraf Na'alwa in Nablus Thursday, two months after he murdered Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, 28, and Ziv Hagbi, 35, in a shooting attack at the Barkan industrial park in the West Bank. Na'alwa was armed when the forces arrived at his hiding place and he was killed after a short exchange of fire. Interrogation of suspects who aided Na'alwa found that he was planning to carry out another attack. (Ynet News)
  • Two Israeli Border Police Officers Hurt in Jerusalem Stabbing Attack - Yishai Porat
    A Palestinian terrorist tried to stab a Jewish man in Jerusalem's Old City on Thursday. After he failed to do so, he attacked two Border Police officers. One of them shot and killed the terrorist, a 26-year-old resident of the West Bank. (Ynet News)
  • Netanyahu: Israel Is the Only One Engaging Iranian Forces in Syria
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday: "For the moment Israel's military is the only military in the world that is directly engaging the Iranian forces. We're doing that in Syria and pulling them back. Because what they want to do is bring their army right here, 1,500 kilometers from Iran to our border....Bring in 80,000 Shiite militias with the express purpose of destroying us....So we meet Iran head on in Syria and if we need to we'll do whatever else we need to do to protect ourselves."  (Prime Minister's Office)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Syria, Israel, and the Golan - Frederic C. Hof
    In November 2018, 151 members of the UN General Assembly told Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights, with only Israel and the U.S. voting "no." The "yes" voters communicated not only callous disregard for Israel's security, but cold contempt for the suffering of millions of Syrians at the hands of a rapacious regime. They called to reward the premier war criminal of the 21st century with a gift of real estate and let Israeli citizens reap the consequences of his homicidal campaign spilling over into their homes. Yet there is literally no one with whom to negotiate in Syria.
        This writer does not expect to see Syrian-Israeli peace in his lifetime. Assad's betrayal of Syria is so profound and far-reaching as to defer indefinitely for Syrians and Israelis alike the promise of real peace and genuine partnership. The writer, former ambassador and special adviser for transition in Syria, is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. (Atlantic Council)
  • The Social Revolution of Arab Women in Israel - Meirav Arlosoroff
    The status of Arab women in Israel is improving significantly. Hadas Fuchs, a researcher at the Taub Institute, published a study in 2018 on the integration of Arab women in the labor market in Israel. The most striking detail of her research relates to a revolution in the education of Arab women: 15% of students in higher education are Arab women, even though the proportion of Arab women among the general population is only 10%. In fact, the number of female Arab students in higher education has doubled since the beginning of 2000. As a result, women in Arab society are much more educated than men.
        Female students at Arab high schools comprise 52% of students studying computer programming and sciences, 55% in electronics, 59% in mathematics, and 70% in chemistry. The employment rate of Arab women jumped from 35% to 40% in the past year alone. (The Marker-Hebrew, 6 Dec 2018)

Reduce UN Peacekeepers on Iran's Western Front - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Assaf Orion (The Hill)
  • In the fantasy-land Lebanon of the UN, as recently as November, the UN secretary general insisted that there was "no evidence" of Hizbullah arms on the ground in south Lebanon.
  • The 10,000-strong UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has a $474.4 million yearly budget and spends significant amounts on 580 local staff and projects, which actually mean significant UN cash flow to the Hizbullah-supporting populace, and protection money to the local power brokers. Today, UNIFIL has become an accessory to Hizbullah's ambitions. It is time to acknowledge that UNIFIL is oversized and over-funded.
  • Meanwhile, the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) has begun its return to positions on the Syrian Golan Heights after an absence of four years, with only 975 troops and an annual budget of $60.3 million.
  • At the same time, the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), created to supervise the cessation of hostilities between Israel and its neighbors in 1948, has a biannual budget of nearly $70 million, with 153 military officers, 153 international civilians, and 91 national staff.
  • The UN could take an important step toward reducing security threats along Israel's northern border - and save money - by rebalancing these three missions. UNIFIL could fulfill its mandate even if it were to cut its troop size to 3,000 and drop its expenditures on local workers, development projects and communities involved in aggression against UNIFIL forces.
  • Conversely, UNDOF should resume its substantial monitoring in Syria and needs to grow by about $30 million and 300 troops, while UNTSO should disband.

    The writer is a former head of the IDF Strategic Planning Division.