January 10, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Iran: Hizbullah, Palestinian Terror Groups Ready to Annihilate Israel (Fars-Iran)
    Iranian Revolutionary Guards Spokesman Gen. Ramezan Sharif said Wednesday:
    "Today Israel is in its worst condition and the fighters in Palestine and Lebanon are at the peak of their preparedness to confront any aggression by the Zionists and end the disgraceful life of the fake and criminal regime."

In Israeli Interview, Kuwaiti TV Host Calls for Ties, Shrugs Off Death Threats (Times of Israel)
    Fajr al-Saeed, 52, founder of Kuwaiti satellite TV station Scope, made a unique appearance on Israeli television on Tuesday, and brushed off death threats that she received over tweets she made calling for normalization with the Jewish state.
    "I think that at this particular time especially, there is a possibility of greater acceptance of peace with Israel," she said.
    "I received threats because of what I said about Israel....I'm used to getting threats - it's not something new for me."

Muslim Arab Woman Competing in Likud Party Primaries (Times of Israel)
    Dima Tayeh, from Kafr Manda in the Galilee, made headlines on Tuesday when she told Hadashot TV she was running in the Likud party's primaries.
    "There is no other country in the Middle East that respects its citizens and gives them as much equality as possible and democracy for all," she said.
    See also Israeli Arab Activist: Israel Is My Country and I Am Proud of It (MEMRI, 13Oct2017)
    Israeli Arab activist Dima Tayeh, who participated in an Israeli anti-BDS delegation to the U.S., told Arab-Israeli Musawa TV that Israel was a democracy and not an apartheid state.
    "I wish that all the Arab communities could live in a democracy like Israel," she said.

Western Media Ignore Palestinian Tragedy in Syria - Khaled Abu Toameh (Gatestone Institute)
    The latest reports from Syria reveal that 82 Palestinians died as a result of brutal torture in prisons run by the Syrian government in 2018.
    Some 556 Palestinians have been tortured to death in Syrian prisons in the past few years.
    According to the Action Group for Palestinians of Syria (AGPS), the real number could be higher; those are just the ones they know about.
    The families of the victims are afraid to announce the deaths of their sons and daughters for fear of being targeted by the Syrian authorities.
    AGPS says that there are at least 1,711 Palestinians being held in Syrian prisons.
    Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria eight years ago, 3,911 Palestinians have been killed.
    Where are the international media when those Palestinians are being brutalized?

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Enters Deep Recession after U.S. Sanctions Restored - Ahmad Alavi
    Iran's economy entered a deep recession in the last few months of 2018. The official unemployment rate among young Iranians reached 27% and over 40% among university graduates, says Omid Ali Parsai, chairman of the Iranian Statistical Center. The rates of investment and economic growth are in free fall in industry and agriculture, with a sharp decline in automobile production. The World Bank's forecast for next year indicates a minus 3.7% economic growth and a 31.2% inflation rate. (Radio Farda)
        See also New Iranian Draft Budget Slashes Military Spending - Saeed Ghasseminejad and Tzvi Kahn
    Iran's military spending will significantly decrease, according to a draft 2019-2020 budget that President Rouhani submitted to parliament in December. The new figures suggest that reimposed U.S. sanctions have forced Tehran to prioritize its stability over its expansionary ambitions. (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
  • Washington Post Journalist Sues Iran for $1 Billion to Deter Future Hostage Taking - Spencer S. Hsu
    Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, 42, asked a federal judge Tuesday to impose $1 billion in damages against the government of Iran to deter future taking of American hostages. Iranian security agents arrested Rezaian and his wife in Tehran on July 22, 2014. He was held 544 days in captivity, and his wife spent 72 days in solitary confinement. He was convicted of espionage after a "sham trial" with evidence that consisted of his newspaper articles.
        Rezaian was released with two other Americans in a prisoner swap on Jan. 16, 2016, the day the nuclear pact with Iran was implemented. In exchange, seven Iranians charged or imprisoned on sanctions violations won U.S. grants of clemency. Brig.-Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the commander of Iran's Basij Force, linked Rezaian's release to the U.S. payment of $1.7 billion to Iran in the nuclear deal. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Mideast Envoy: Palestinians Need to Accept Reality - Erez Linn
    U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman were given a guided tour of the Western Wall and the adjacent tunnels in Jerusalem earlier this week, drawing condemnation from PA officials. In response, U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt tweeted on Tuesday: "PA officials criticize" visit by U.S. officials "to historic Jewish areas of Jerusalem. Will these officials ever realize that peace can only be built on truth and reality? You cannot wipe away truth or history. Time to get serious!"  (Israel Hayom)
  • Mexican Drug Baron El Chapo Brought Down by Israeli Technology - Ronen Bergman
    The drug baron El Chapo, considered the most-wanted man in the world, was captured with the help of a phone interception system known as Pegasus, created by the Israeli company NSO. Pegasus can take full control of a cell phone, including listening in on calls, reading every written communication, using its microphone to eavesdrop on conversations held in its vicinity, and taking photos with its camera. It is also able to obtain access to all of the information needed to log into bank accounts and emails.
        The president of Mexico called on Christmas Eve 2011 to personally thank NSO. "I couldn't have asked for a better Christmas present. With what you gave us, we can finally eradicate the cartels." In 2017 El Chapo was extradited to the U.S. where he is now standing trial. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Experts View Israel's Response to a U.S. Pullout from Syria
    According to Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, after the U.S. withdrawal from Syria, the Israelis will continue to strike hard against any Iranian effort to establish a military industrial base in Syria, to transfer advanced weaponry to the country, or through it to Hizbullah, or to advance its forces or militias close to Israel's border. While the U.S. decision to quit Syria is significant, it does not alter the trajectory of U.S. policy, nor Israel's strategic calculus.
        Elliott Abrams, former U.S. deputy national security advisor, said Israel will continue and even increase its actions against Iran in Syria. It's clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin does not object to such attacks because he does not want to see Syria fall entirely under Iranian control. Moreover, now the U.S. will no longer be there to counsel Israeli restraint.
        In addition, the U.S. departure will persuade many Arab states that Israel is an invaluable ally against Iran, which will lead to even closer (though still mostly secret) collaboration between them and Israel. Moreover, the U.S. departure will remind Israelis that in the end not even the Americans are a wholly reliable ally, and therefore they must defend themselves by themselves. (Carnegie Middle East Center-Lebanon)
  • Gaza's Public Servants Outraged at Hamas' Recent Spending - Huda Baroud
    On Dec. 17, media sites circulated a leaked document from Hamas' Popular Action Department detailing the movement's expenses for the celebrations of its 31st anniversary in mid-December in Gaza City. The expenditures, including travel and accommodation costs to bring the Al-Waad band from Beirut to Gaza to participate in the festivities, totaled $534,350 - a bill that angered many Hamas government employees in Gaza who have been paid only half their full salary since 2013.
        Bayan Bakr, a spokesman for the Ministry of Finance in Gaza, said Hamas has been suffering a financial crisis since the fall of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's regime, when the new Egyptian government launched a campaign against the Hamas tunnels. Hamas benefited from taxes imposed on products that entered Gaza through the tunnels. Bakr said Hamas government employees recently received 60% of their salaries after a Qatari payout. (Al-Monitor)
  • The UK and EU Build an Illegal Road on an IDF Training Ground - Naomi Kahn
    The British government and the EU are paving an illegal road on land in IDF Firing Zone 917, an army training ground in the southern Hebron Hills. The signs along the route leave no room for doubt: "This project is funded by the UK through the European Union and the Municipal Development and Lending Fund." The illegal construction in the training area includes hundreds of residential structures, schools, clinics and mosques, funded by a combination of foreign bodies.
        The bottom line: A new Arab city is being built in a strategically critical area, creating a swath of territory under Arab control stretching from the Arad Valley to the Hebron Hills and eastern Gush Etzion. In the 1980s, only a handful of Bedouin families lived in tents and temporary structures on the grounds of the training zone. The writer is Director of the International Division at Regavim. (JNS)

Yes, Anti-Zionism Is the Same as Anti-Semitism - David Harsanyi (The Federalist)
  • In a recent New York Times op-ed titled "Anti-Zionism isn't the same as Anti-Semitism," columnist Michelle Goldberg defended Ilhan Omar, a newly elected House representative who has claimed that Jews have hypnotized the world for their evil works.
  • Anti-Zionism is the most significant and consequential form of anti-Semitism that exists in the world today. Anti-Zionism has done more to undermine Jewish safety than all the ugly tweets, dog whistles, and white nationalist marches combined.
  • It is the predominant justification for violence, murder, and hatred against Jews in Europe and the Middle East. And it's now infiltrating American politics.
  • Merely being critical of the Israeli government isn't anti-Semitic. No serious person has ever argued otherwise. Israelis criticize their government every day.
  • However, opposing "Zionism" itself - the movement for a Jewish homeland - is to deny the validity of a Jewish claim to a nation altogether. It puts you in league with Hamas and Hizbullah and the mullahs of Iran. To argue against Jews' nationalism - to argue against the ability of Jews to defend themselves in their own state - is substantively anti-Jewish.
  • It's true that Israel is an "ethno-nationalist" state - like every nation in Europe and the Middle East - and primarily concerned with protecting Jews. This is an especially important job because the rest of the world has repeatedly and dramatically failed at the task.