January 22, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Conducts Successful Test of Arrow 3 Missile - Yaniv Kubovich (Ha'aretz)
    Israel successfully tested the Arrow 3 missile system on Tuesday in cooperation with the American Missile Defense Agency.
    An Arrow 3 was launched toward a target and destroyed it successfully.
    The Arrow 3 is capable of attacking targets at great distances and heights and at a much higher speed than previous missile defense systems.

Israel Hit Eight Syrian Air Defense Batteries in Sunday's Strikes - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    The Israeli strike in Syria on Sunday hit eight Syrian military air defense batteries including Russian-made SA2, SA3, SA17 and SA22 batteries, in addition to radar.
    The Russian military and the Syrian air force did not operate their more advanced S-300 system.
    See also Why Hasn't Syria Used the S-300? - Seth J. Frantzman (Jerusalem Post)

Israel Elected Vice-Chair of UN Committee Overseeing Human Rights Groups (UN Watch)
    The UN on Monday elected Israel as Vice-Chair of the 19-nation Committee on NGOs, which oversees the work of human rights groups.

UK Must Demand that Malaysian Ban on Israeli Athletes Be Reversed (Jewish News-UK)
    Labour party deputy leader Tom Watson called Monday for the international Paralympic Swimming World Championships being held in Malaysia to be cancelled if the country refuses entry to Israeli competitors.
    He said it was "completely unacceptable" to bar Israeli athletes for reasons of their nationality, adding: "The UK must demand this decision is reversed or the world championships must move to a country where the ideals of the Olympic movement are upheld."
    Speaking at the Oxford Union on Friday, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed restated his country's right to bar visitors from countries whose policies he disagreed with, adding that if the International Paralympic Committee wanted to withdraw Malaysia's right to host the tournament, "they can do so."
    See also Austria's Chancellor Calls Anti-Semitism in Malaysia "Unacceptable" - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian TV Says Shopping at New Jerusalem Mall Is Treason - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
    Israel encourages joint economic projects between Israelis and Palestinians.
    Businessman Rami Levy has built a chain of supermarkets in which Palestinians and Israelis work and shop side-by-side.
    When a new Rami Levy complex opened recently in the Atarot industrial area in northern Jerusalem, official PA TV broadcast a cartoon of a woman with a shopping cart. In the reflection in the mirror, her cart is full of skulls, the symbol of death.
    The text asserts that Palestinians shopping there would be committing "treason" and called for "boycotting" the supermarket.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iraqi Scientist Helped ISIS Make Chemical Weapons - Joby Warrick
    Iraqi scientist Suleiman al-Afari, a geologist with Iraq's Ministry of Industry and Minerals in Mosul, accepted an assignment from Islamic State to supervise the manufacture of lethal toxins in 2014. He described in detail the terrorist group's successful attempts to make sulfur mustard gas. Weapons created by Islamic State were used in scores of attacks on soldiers and civilians in Iraq and Syria, collectively inflicting hundreds of casualties.
        Progress on the program appears to have stalled in early 2016, after the U.S. and Iraq launched an aggressive campaign to destroy production facilities and kill or capture its leaders. Islamic State leaders moved equipment and perhaps chemicals from Iraq to Syria in 2016, and some of it may have been buried or hidden. Moreover, the knowledge and skills acquired from the program undoubtedly still exist, tucked away in flash drives and in the memories of the surviving participants. (Washington Post)
  • Al-Qaeda-Linked Fighters Take Control of Rebel Enclave, Making Syrian Offensive More Likely - Louisa Loveluck
    Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a coalition of al-Qaeda-linked fighters in Syria's northern Idlib province, have in recent days forced their rivals' surrender in the country's final rebel-held pocket, increasing the likelihood of a showdown with Syrian government forces. Until now, the area has been spared a government offensive thanks to a cease-fire deal between Russia and Turkey. Their agreement stipulated that "radical terrorist groups" would be removed, presumably by Turkey, but it never happened.
        Sam Heller, a senior analyst with the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, said, "The fear is that if the Syrian military and its allies march into Idlib, then a lot of dangerous people currently inside Idlib will scatter in all directions."  (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Wants UNIFIL to Make Hizbullah Tunnel Digging More Difficult - Herb Keinon
    Israel sent military intelligence officials to meet with UN officials to present information on Hizbullah's tunnel network, Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said Monday. Israel wants the UN to begin relating more to Hizbullah and to get UNIFIL to do more to prevent the future digging of tunnels. While Israel does not expect UNIFIL to fight Hizbullah, it does expect that UNIFIL's presence should make things more difficult for Hizbullah than has been the case until now. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Opens New International Airport near Eilat - Eytan Halon
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu inaugurated the new Ramon Airport near Eilat on Monday, named in memory of astronaut Ilan and pilot Assaf Ramon. Located 18 km. north of Eilat in the Timna Valley, the $460 million airport will replace Eilat and Ovda airports for commercial flights. The airport is the first entirely civilian airport to open since Israel's independence. It will also serve as a backup option for large aircraft in the case of rocket fire or inclement weather at Ben-Gurion Airport.
        Eilat has witnessed rapid growth in tourist demand. In 2015, there were 4 weekly flights between Eilat and Europe. This winter there were 57 weekly flights. Due to the airport's proximity to the Jordanian border, a 4.5 km., 26-meter-high smart fence was constructed to protect incoming and departing aircraft from a range of cross-border threats, including missile fire. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Jordan Protests New Israeli Airport near Its Border - Laith al-Junaidi
    Jordan has protested the opening of a new Israeli airport a few kilometers away from its border, Jordan's state-run Al-Mamlaka television reported. Amman says the location of the airport violates the kingdom's air sovereignty. (Anadolu-Turkey)
  • Palestinian Tries to Stab Israeli Soldier in West Bank
    A Palestinian man, Mohammad Adawi, 36, exited his vehicle on Monday evening at a checkpoint near a military base outside Nablus in the West Bank and charged at a soldier while holding a large knife, before being shot and killed by IDF troops. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israeli Strategy in Response to Changes in the Syrian Arena - Lt.-Col. (res.) Ron Tira
    Foiling the deployment of precision weapons by Iran and Hizbullah in Syria and Lebanon is a vital Israeli national interest that must be secured, even at the cost of assuming a higher level of risk than in previous years. Israel's critical infrastructures are vulnerable to precision weapons. 28% of the country's electricity is produced at only two sites, while its six largest electricity production sites account for 51% of national capacity.
        The picture is similar or even more severe for other critical systems, such as water desalination, gas infrastructure, and civil aviation. Even if only a small number of precision missiles manage to penetrate Israeli defenses, the impact could cause enormous damage and change the strategic equation.
        Each Israeli attack against Iran and Hizbullah in Syria must demonstrate Israel's operational superiority. Israeli strategy must seek to demonstrate to the relevant actors the potential for escalation and regional instability caused by the positioning of high quality Iranian weapons in Syria. Direct military hostilities with Iran (such as the events of Feb. 10 and May 10, 2018 and Jan. 21, 2019) in Israel's backyard and 1,500 km. from Tehran are occurring in an area where Israel has a clear advantage.
        Refraining from action is tantamount to consent to the buildup of a precision weapons capability by Iran and Hizbullah adjacent to Israel. The writer, a former fighter pilot, is a reservist in the Israel Air Force's Campaign Planning Department. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • The Battle to Push Iran Out of Syria Escalates - Yaakov Lappin
    Israel is conducting a proactive defense, working to prevent the Iranians from building their own war machine in Syria, and pointing it at Israel. If Iran has its way, Syria will be covered with Iranian missile bases, as well as cross-border attack bases for future raids against Israel by pro-Iranian forces, like Hizbullah and Shi'ite militias. Under Iran's grand vision, a Shi'ite army of 100,000 militiamen under Tehran's command would grow in Syria. Israel is signaling that it is prepared to do anything necessary to prevent this from happening.
        Former National Security Adviser Maj.-Gen. Yaakov Amidror said Monday, "We are ready for an escalation in order to stop the Iranians from building an independent war machine in Syria. This is such an important goal that we are ready for an escalation....Now the ball is in the Iranian court and they have to make a decision. If they retaliate, this means there will be an escalation on the ground." The writer is an associate researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. (i24News)
        See also Israel and Iran Escalate Their "War of Messages" in Syria - Ron Ben-Yishai (Ynet News)

Ilhan Omar and the Myth of Jewish Hypnosis - Bari Weiss (New York Times)
  • In 2012, during one of Israel's periodic wars with Hamas in Gaza, Ilhan Omar, at the time a nutrition coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Education, tweeted: "Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel." Ms. Omar, a refugee from Somalia who was just seated on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told CNN on Thursday, "I don't know how my comments would be offensive to Jewish Americans." Allow me to explain why this Jewish American, and almost every Jewish American I know, found her words so offensive.
  • The conspiracy theory of the Jew as the hypnotic conspirator is one with ancient roots and a bloody history. It has led to countless expulsions, murders, massacres and pogroms throughout Europe and elsewhere. The biggest "Jew" today in the demonology of modern anti-Semitism is the Jewish state, Israel.
  • While there are perfectly legitimate criticisms that one can make of Israel or the actions of its government, those criticisms cross the line into anti-Semitism when they ascribe evil, almost supernatural powers to Israel in a manner that replicates classic anti-Semitic slanders.
  • During the weeklong November 2012 war, which began when Hamas fired 100 rockets at civilian targets, Israel "hypnotized" nobody. It was subject to the usual barrage of intense criticism in the news media and at the UN.
  • That Israel continues to retain support in the U.S. among mainstream Democrats and Republicans is because the Jewish state is not engaged in "evil doings," but defending itself against the enemies pressing on all of its borders, including Hamas, which has genocide of the Jews at the heart of its ideology.
  • Those who call themselves anti-Zionists usually insist they are not anti-Semites. But I struggle to see what else to call an ideology that seeks to eradicate only one state in the world - the one that happens to be the Jewish one - while empathetically insisting on the rights of self-determination for every other minority.