January 17, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Radicalized Muslim Planned Jihad Attack on White House - Victor Morton (Washington Times)
    Hasher Jallal Taheb, 21, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of planning a jihad attack in Washington.
    Taheb was arrested immediately after picking up weapons in an FBI sting operation.
    He told an FBI informant in October that he "wished to conduct an attack in the United States against targets such as the White House" and a "specific synagogue" in the Washington area.
    Taheb said that "jihad was the best deed in Islam and the peak of Islam," and "it was not complicated at all to do jihad today."
    He said that he wanted to be a "martyr" and do as much damage as possible.

White House Dismisses Israel TV Report on Peace Plan - Eric Cortellessa (Times of Israel)
    The Trump administration on Wednesday dismissed as "inaccurate" an Israeli TV report on its forthcoming peace plan.
    Jason Greenblatt, the White House special envoy for Mideast peace, tweeted, "Speculation about the content of the plan is not helpful."
    See also Palestinian Authority Rejects Trump Peace Plan Revealed in Israeli Report - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)

Iran's Leaders Becoming Fed Up with Europe - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    In recent weeks, there has been a marked deterioration in relations between Iran and Europe.
    The imposition of EU sanctions on the Iranian intelligence ministry, the arrest of Iranian diplomats, and repeated delays in operating a system for bypassing sanctions has increased Iran's disappointment with Europe.
    Against this backdrop, Iranian media have recently been covering the renewal of the uranium enrichment program, the possibility of Iran leaving the nuclear deal, and the announcement of a conference in Warsaw on Feb. 13-14 to "Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East" to bring the positions of the U.S. and Europe closer to each other.

Will Israel's Sea Barrier Protect It from Future Hamas Infiltration? - Adnan Abu Amer (Al-Monitor)
    The Israeli army announced the completion of a sea barrier next to Zikim beach on Gaza's northern border.
    The barrier, which is 200 meters long and six meters high and took seven months to build, is fitted with sensors to detect the movement of Hamas infiltrators.
    Hamas military expert Rami Abu Zubaydah said, "The barrier will not completely prevent the Palestinians from infiltrating the Israeli army lines, but it will make their task more difficult as their swimming and diving distances are increased."
    Hamas' naval units have "acquired equipment enabling its members to cross distances underwater much longer than distances crossed on land."
    The writer heads the Political Science and Media Department of Umma University Open Education in Gaza.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • ISIS Attack in Syria Kills 4 Americans - Eric Schmitt
    Four Americans were among 19 people killed in Syria on Wednesday in a suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State that targeted an American military convoy in Manbij. The American casualties included two service members, a civilian employee of the Defense Intelligence Agency and a military contractor. Three other service members were wounded. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 10 Syrian civilians and five local fighters were also killed. (New York Times)
  • Iran Vows No Military Withdrawal from Syria
    The head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Maj.-Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, said Wednesday, "The Islamic Republic of Iran will keep its military advisers, revolutionary forces, and its weapons in Syria." He warned Israel, "Be afraid of the day that Iran's precision-guided missiles roar and fall on your head."  (Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty)
  • Trudeau: "I Will Continue to Condemn the BDS Movement" - Ryan Maloney
    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday: "I will continue to condemn the BDS movement" that calls to boycott Israel. Trudeau said the anti-Semitism that was commonplace decades ago still exists, as evidenced by hate crimes against Jewish Canadians. He added that Canada must be very careful "not to sanction this new frame around anti-Semitism and undue criticism of Israel."
        "When you have movements like BDS that single out Israel, that seek to delegitimize and in some cases demonize, when you have students on campus dealing with things like Israel apartheid weeks that make them fearful of actually attending campus events because of their religion in Canada, we have to recognize that there are things that aren't acceptable, not because of foreign policy concerns but because of Canadian values."  (Huffington Post-Canada)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Hamas Interrogates Italians It Suspected Were Israelis - Jack Khoury
    Hamas interrogated four bodyguards of an Italian diplomat on Tuesday at UN headquarters in Gaza City under the suspicion they were an Israeli special-operations team, Palestinian media reported. After the four men, armed with automatic weapons, did not stop at a Hamas checkpoint, Hamas security personnel chased and shot at their car, after which they sought refuge at UN headquarters. The men were released after being questioned by Hamas investigators. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Police: "Hebron International Observer Mission Deliberately Creates Friction" - Elisha Ben Kimon
    The Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) "is deliberately creating friction to justify their salaries," the Judea and Samaria District Police said in a report to Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan. "The members of the mission confront Israel Defense Forces troops stationed at permanent checkpoints and disrupt standard inspection procedures."
        "It is no wonder that a mission comprised of police officers from hostile countries - such as Turkey and other pro-Palestinian countries that promote boycott of Israel - causes disturbances to the IDF and the police," Erdan said. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Myth of the Israel-Diaspora "Schism" - Rafael Medoff
    Since Israel's earliest days, there has always been a minority of American Jews who are deeply troubled by some Israeli policies, or even uncomfortable with the very existence of a sovereign Jewish state. The voices of the critics are amplified precisely because their perspective runs contrary to that of most American Jews. For the media, Jews supporting Israel is a boring dog-bites-man story; Jews denouncing Israel, however, is man-bites-dog.
        But the notion that there is a substantial new split between American Jews and Israel is contradicted by years of public opinion polling. Every year, the American Jewish Committee, in its annual survey of U.S. Jewish public opinion, asks respondents how much they care about Israel. And every year, the results are the same.
        For the past 20 years - regardless of who Israel's prime minister was - 70-75% of American Jews have said they care "strongly" or "somewhat strongly" about Israel. The percentage who care "strongly" about Israel (as opposed to "somewhat strongly") has actually increased over the years. It was in the 20s in 1997-2002, the 30s from 2003 to 2015, and reached the 40s in each of the past three years.
        The writer, an American historian, is founding director of the David Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies in Washington. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iran's Tiny Navy Is Trying to Revive the Persian Empire - Adm. (ret.) James Stavridis
    The Iranian navy announced it will undertake a five-month deployment to the western Atlantic, to include docking in Venezuela. It will undoubtedly be conducted in cooperation with the Russian navy, which has been increasing its patrols in the approaches to the continental U.S. It is also an indication of how Iranians truly believe themselves to be a global power. Iranians see themselves as the inheritors of the Persian Empire, which at its peak ruled nearly half of the world's population.
        Iran's navy has strong capabilities to create mischief in the Arabian Gulf and the northern Indian Ocean. Iran has stealthy diesel submarines, it employs swarming flotillas of small armed boats to threaten larger warships, and it is very good at employing mines to constrict shipping. But this new deployment to the distant waters off America is a concerning display of advanced capability and ambition.
        The writer is former military commander of NATO and dean emeritus of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. (Bloomberg)
  • Palestinian Conspiratorial Thinking as an Obstacle to Peace - Adam Levick
    We know from polling that conspiratorial thinking is quite common among Palestinians. 88% believe that Jews have too much control over global affairs and the global media. 78% think Jews are responsible for most of the world's wars. Other conspiracy theories widely accepted in Palestinian society involve the claim that Israel is trying to destroy al-Aqsa Mosque, and that it steals Palestinian organs.
        The fact that most Israelis have indeed grown wary of the logic of Oslo does not reflect any affection towards the status quo in the West Bank. Rather, it's nurtured by the trauma of the 2nd Intifada, frustration over multiple Palestinian rejections of real Israeli peace offers, the rise of Hamas following their evacuation from Gaza, and PA leaders who express little if any interest in inculcating a culture of peace, liberalism and tolerance.
        The promotion and acceptance within their society of conspiracy theories only fuels Israelis' profound skepticism that, even if their leaders did one day agree to two states, the state would be a responsible state actor and prevent extremist groups like Hamas - whose ideologically driven wish to annihilate Israel is immutable - to obtain political power.
        The media and most international diplomats ignore such Palestinian pathologies. Until such behavior is called out, Israelis will have little reason for hope that two states will actually achieve peace. (UK Media Watch-CAMERA)

The Golan Heights Should Stay Israeli Forever - Steven A. Cook (Foreign Policy)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly been lobbying the Trump administration on the idea of formally acknowledging Israel's 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights.
  • But whether Washington recognizes Israel's annexation or not, the Israelis are never withdrawing from the Golan Heights - conquered in the June 1967 war - nor should they.
  • Above all, the Golan does not require the control of a large hostile population, as the 27,000 Druze on the Golan Heights have accommodated themselves peacefully to Israel's rule.
  • The Golan Heights multiplies Israel's force in the event of a war, and is an unrivaled intelligence-gathering platform. From its posts atop the Golan Heights, the IDF can look and listen in on the valley below that leads to Damascus, only 45 miles away.
  • There is no question that holding onto the plateau is superior to withdrawing and the uncertainty of an agreement with the Syrian regime.
  • In the wake of the Syrian civil war, Iran and its expeditionary force, Hizbullah, are a threat to Israel's security. The Golan Heights is critical to keeping both from achieving their ends.

    The writer is a senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.