January 8, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

EU Agrees on Sanctions Against Iranian Intelligence Services (National-Abu Dhabi)
    The EU agreed to impose sanctions against the Iranian intelligence services on Tuesday in response to a plot to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in Paris last year.
    Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen announced the sanctions on Twitter, saying it is an "important day for European foreign policy," adding it is a "strong signal from the EU that we will not accept such behavior in Europe."

Israeli Security Experts Building Protection Strategies for UN Employees in Africa - Arie Egozi (BulgarianMilitary)
    Israeli security experts are building protection strategies for UN employees in Africa, after 60 UN workers were killed in 2017 while performing their duties.
    Five security companies won chunks of an emergency UN tender for security services and three of them are Israeli.
    So far, contracts valued at $30 million have been signed with the Israeli companies.

Fatah Calls to "Blow Up" Israelis - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
    At a procession in Ramallah marking the 54th anniversary of the Palestinian Fatah movement, masked men with Fatah headbands called for the murder of Israelis, shouting, "blow up the head of the settler."
    The PA and Fatah often refer to all Israelis as "settlers." When a Palestinian terrorist murdered American army veteran Taylor Force in Tel Aviv in 2016, PA TV called him and all the others wounded in the attack "settlers."

4 Palestinians Injured in Gaza Explosion (Xinhua-China)
    At least four Palestinians were injured on Saturday evening in an accidental explosion that wrecked three houses in the Gaza town of Rafah.
    Security officials in Gaza said the explosion was a result of a technical error when militants were preparing an explosive device.
    Dozens of accidental explosions have occurred in Gaza during the past 20 years, killing and wounding dozens of militants.

PA Halts Payments to Hundreds of Gazans - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    The Palestinian Authority has decided to stop paying salaries to 169 Palestinians in Gaza including many Fatah members, sources said on Friday.
    One Palestinian source said the latest PA move will affect Palestinians believed to be affiliated with deposed Fatah official Mohammed Dahlan, an outspoken political opponent and critic of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
    Another source said that dozens of former Palestinian security prisoners have also been told that they will no longer be receiving their salaries from the PA.
    Most are affiliated with Hamas and Islamic Jihad but were on the PA payroll.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • America Isn't Abandoning the Fight Against Iran - Eli Lake
    In an interview on Jan. 4, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed that the U.S. remains committed to kicking Iran and its proxies out of Syria - and to a broader strategy of countering Iran across the region. "That campaign hasn't changed one lick," he told me. "A component of that is being altered, the reduction of the forces in Syria is being changed, but the mission set hasn't changed a bit." The U.S. will continue to work to reduce Iranian influence in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. (Bloomberg)
        See also Secretary of State Pompeo Begins Trip to Middle East to Ramp Up Pressure on Iran (AP-TIME)
  • Iranian Lawmaker Makes Unprecedented Call for Foreign Policy Changes
    Iranian lawmaker Jalil Rahimi Jahanabadi said on Jan. 6, "When the Soviet Union collapsed, it had 13,000 nuclear warheads and had influence in more than twenty countries and a space station, but it was torn apart on the streets of Moscow, losing its security and territorial integrity....If we fail to resolve the problem of unnecessary domestic and foreign expenditures, we will bear heavy costs."
        Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's critics have in recent years singled out his anti-Western and interventionist policies in the region as the main reasons for Iran's isolation and economic problems. (Radio Farda)
  • Iran Has Held U.S. Navy Veteran since July - Rick Gladstone
    Iran has been holding American Navy veteran Michael R. White, 46, in prison on unspecified charges since late July, when he was seized while visiting an Iranian girlfriend, his mother said Monday. At least three other American citizens, two of them of Iranian descent, have been incarcerated in Iran for years. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Nabs Palestinian Terrorist after Month-Long Manhunt - Judah Ari Gross
    Israeli security forces early on Tuesday arrested Asem Barghouti, who opened fire at a bus stop near Givat Assaf in the West Bank on Dec. 13, killing two soldiers and seriously injuring a third and a civilian woman. Barghouti also took part in another shooting attack on Dec. 9 with his brother, Salih, in which they injured seven Israelis. Salih was shot dead on Dec. 12. The Israel Security Agency said Asem Barghouti was "busy preparing to carry out additional terror attacks in recent days." A Kalachnikov assault rifle was confiscated during his arrest. (Times of Israel)
  • U.S. Jewish Groups Denounce Palestinian-American Congresswoman - Amir Tibon
    Leading Jewish groups in the U.S. denounced a tweet by Palestinian-American Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) on legislation against boycotts of Israel. Tlaib wrote that the senators who are promoting the legislation "forgot what country they represent."
        The Jewish Democratic Council responded: "We oppose your charge of dual loyalty. It's wrong, dangerous, and hurts the cause of peace. Whether one supports a particular bill or not, it's offensive to insinuate that senators would be driven by anything other than the best interests of the U.S." The American Jewish Committee tweeted a picture of Tlaib hugging a person wrapped in a Palestinian flag and wrote, "Tell us more about dual loyalty."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also Rashida Tlaib Casually Dives into Anti-Semitism - Editorial
    It's particularly ironic for freshman Rep. RashidaTlaib to make the charge of dual loyalty, since she has vowed to "be a voice" for her relatives in the West Bank and declared that her "passion for justice is rooted in my beautiful Palestine."  (New York Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • U.S. Leadership Needed to Confront Iran - Jackson Richman
    After the U.S. announcement that it will withdraw troops from Syria, Dore Gold, a former Israeli Ambassador to the UN, said, "I believe President Trump is concerned with Iranian aggression across the Middle East including in Syria. In his mind, he has begun to alter Iran's calculus by withdrawing from the terrible Iran nuclear agreement and with the renewal of U.S. sanctions."
        "Israel is still concerned with Iran's determination to build up for itself a network of bases that will eventually host a Shi'ite expeditionary force from countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, all under Iranian command. That force could reach 100,000 to 150,000 troops. It will also be backed up by Iranian rockets which are being upgraded with new, highly accurate guidance systems."
        "Defeating this emerging threat to the Middle East requires U.S. leadership at the macro level...backed by the measures being adopted by Israel and America's Sunni Arab allies."  (JNS)
  • Why Israel Isn't Worried about Trump's Syria Withdrawal - Zev Chafets
    The presence of 2,000 American troops in Syria has been helpful in blocking overland supply routes from Tehran to Iran's Lebanese proxy, Hizbullah; but they are, from Israel's point of view, not essential. Israel is waging its war on Hizbullah mostly from the air. What Netanyahu wants from Trump is not American troops in the neighborhood, but his support for Israel to have freedom of action in the skies of Syria and Lebanon, and perhaps western Iraq.
        With its air superiority, Israel can maintain red lines on the ground, preventing shipment of advanced Iranian weapons to Hizbullah via Damascus, preventing Iranian military installations in proximity to Israel, and, of course, preventing attacks on Israeli territory. Russia, which has installed new air defenses in Syria, has thus far respected Israeli security interests.
        An abrupt U.S. pullout from Syria would, of course, worry Israelis. But not overly, so long as America's greater commitment to Israel remains firm. There is no sign it won't. How the U.S. wields influence in the world matters more to Israelis than how it projects power in Syria. The writer served for five years as director of the Israel Government Press Office. (Bloomberg)
  • BDS Is Anti-Semitic, Aids Terrorists, Says Arizona Attorney General - Yair Altman
    Arizona's Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed a brief in late December stating that the BDS campaign was motivated by anti-Semitism and aids terrorist groups such as Hamas. Brnovich told the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that a state law enacted in 2016 "prohibits all state contractors, who receive taxpayer money, from discriminating on the basis of national origin" and that BDS was not protected under freedom of expression.
        While noting that contractors may freely boycott Israel in their personal capacity, Brnovich asserted that public funds should not support "economic warfare" against Israelis and their country. "The First Amendment does not leave the state powerless to prevent its commerce from furthering such unsavory - and frequently murderous - ends," Brnovich concluded. (Israel Hayom)
        See also Text: Motion to Dismiss Lawsuit Against State Israel-Boycott Law - Mark Brnovich (Arizona Attorney General)

  • This is a story about two people going to jail and the countries sending them there. Both are Palestinians and were sentenced on Monday in courts.
  • Jamil Tamimi was sentenced at Jerusalem district court in Israel for the murder of British student Hannah Bladon, 21. On Good Friday 2017, she was riding the Jerusalem light rail to church when Tamimi stabbed her seven times. Tamimi had just been released from a psychiatric hospital and reached a plea bargain with prosecutors on the grounds of mental illness, reducing his sentence from life to 18 years.
  • Issam Akel did get a life sentence. He was convicted at Ramallah high court in the Palestinian Authority of attempting to sell land to a Jew.
  • Isn't saying Israel and the Palestinians have different values perilously close to saying one country's values are superior to the other's? It is and they are, as these two convictions underline.
  • Israel showed leniency to a vulnerable person who committed a horrific crime. The Palestinians showed no mercy to a member of their own population who committed the crime of selling real estate to a Jew. The primary victims of the Arabs' century-long war against a Jewish homeland have been the Arabs themselves.
  • And we avert our eyes and let them get on with it. To do otherwise would mean confronting awkward facts. Why talk about the Palestinians jailed for selling land to Jews when we can demand Israel release the Palestinians jailed for killing Jews?
  • Why talk about the stipends paid to the families of terrorists who murder Israelis when we can condemn Israel for the security fence built to stop the terrorists getting in? Why talk about the Palestinians' insistence that the West Bank be rendered Jew-free before they pledge to accept a state there.
  • Why, in short, face up to the real "obstacles to peace" when we can pretend building houses in the West Bank is what's really holding things back?