February 7, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Satellite Imagery Suggests Second Iranian Space Launch Has Failed - Geoff Brumfiel (NPR)
    Satellite imagery taken Wednesday of a space launch center in northern Iran shows burn scars on a newly painted launchpad at the Imam Khomeini Space Center.
    The burns appeared after days of activity at the site, suggesting that Iran's second attempt to launch a satellite has failed.
    Iran has made no public announcement regarding the launch, and observers believe that the rocket took off successfully but something went wrong later in the flight.
    On Jan. 15, Iran attempted unsuccessfully to launch a satellite.

Report: Russia Attacks Targets Held by Iranian Militia in Syria (Jerusalem Post)
    Russian forces blew up bridges on the Euphrates River held by Iranian militias several days ago, a senior Syrian official told Bas News, a Kurdish website.

U.S. Embassy Closes Booth at Cairo Book Fair over Anti-Semitism - Cassandra Gomes-Hochberg (Jerusalem Post)
    The U.S. Embassy closed its booth at the Cairo International Book Fair due to the presence of anti-Semitic materials, the Simon Wiesenthal Center reported Wednesday.
    The Egyptian stand at the fair offered such staples of anti-Semitic literature as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Henry Ford's International Jew, and Hitler's Mein Kampf.
    U.S. Charge d'Affaires Thomas H. Goldberger said, "I immediately contacted the Egyptian government...to protest the presence of anti-Semitic materials...and to demand that it take immediate action to remove the materials."

U.S. Voters Show Little Enthusiasm for Boycotting Israel (Rasmussen Reports)
    Just 20% of likely U.S. voters favor boycott, disinvestment and sanctions against Israel over the Palestinian issue, while 41% are opposed and 39% are undecided, according to a survey conducted on Feb. 3-4, 2019.

Anti-Semitic Incidents in UK at Record High for Third Year in a Row - Harriet Sherwood (Guardian-UK)
    Last year, 1,652 anti-Semitic incidents, a 16% increase over 2017, were logged by Britain's Community Security Trust, which monitors anti-Semitism and provides security to the UK Jewish community.
    CST said the more than 100 incidents a month indicated a general atmosphere of intolerance and prejudice.
    There was a fall in the number of violent anti-Semitic assaults from 149 in 2017 to 123 in 2018, and 78 incidents of damage or desecration to Jewish property.
    3/4 of the incidents were recorded in Greater London and Greater Manchester.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Blocks UN Statement on Hebron Monitors
    The U.S. blocked a draft UN Security Council statement on Wednesday that would have expressed regret at Israel's decision not to renew the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) after 22 years. UN diplomats said the U.S. did not believe a council statement on the issue was appropriate. (Reuters)
  • A Desperate Exodus from ISIS' Final Village - Rukmini Callimachi
    In the last two weeks, thousands of people have been streaming out of the village of Baghuz, the last speck of land under Islamic State control in Iraq and Syria. The militants are now trapped in an area about the size of Central Park. As the noose has tightened, even those who joined the caliphate in its earliest days are trying to save themselves. Large numbers of the escapees are foreigners, especially Iraqis, as well as Germans, French, Britons, Swedes and Russians. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu Hails U.S. Purchase of Israeli Iron Dome Batteries
    The Israeli Defense Ministry and U.S. Department of Defense on Wednesday confirmed that the U.S. Army will buy two Israeli-developed Iron Dome batteries to defend deployed American troops. "This is a great achievement for Israel and yet another expression of the strengthening of our powerful alliance with the U.S. and an expression of Israel's rising status in the world," Netanyahu said. (Times of Israel)
  • Iran to Move Weapons Supply Center Out of Damascus - Amos Harel
    The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps apparently will relocate its weapons supply center for Syria from the Damascus international airport to the Syrian T4 air base, located between Homs and Palmyra, after the latest wave of Israeli attacks on its facilities at Damascus airport. (Ha'aretz)
  • Court: Israel Can Confiscate Ships Used in Flotillas - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    The Haifa District Court on Wednesday ruled that the state can confiscate ships used in flotillas to break the IDF's naval blockade of Gaza, saying it has a right to do so under international law because of the ongoing state of war with Hamas which runs Gaza. The ruling sets a precedent which could deter future flotillas. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israel Is Forging Limited Ties with Arab States without Progress with Palestinians - Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yoav Mordechai and Col. (ret.) Michael Milshtein
    Over the years, a strategic equation emerged between Israel and the Arab world that posits there will be no progress in normalization between the two sides without a political settlement with the Palestinians. In the late '70s, Egypt prioritized its own national interests by pursuing a peace agreement with Israel, despite the absence of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. This pattern has accelerated in recent years, becoming the formal and informal policy of a large group of Arab leaders.
        The roots of this dramatic change can be found in the increasing threat of Iran in the region; the Islamic challenge from within; the rise of new young Arab leaders who feel less commitment to the Palestinian issue; and growing Arab disappointment in the positions of the Palestinians. The change finds its expression in formal and informal visits of senior Israeli officials in Arab states, growing cooperation between Israel and Arab states, and expanding economic activity between Israeli and Arab business leaders and companies.
        However, these changes are limited to the political elite in the Arab world, while ordinary citizens and public opinion still demonstrate deep hostility toward Israel and oppose any expression of normalization. Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yoav (Poly) Mordechai is a former Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. Col. (ret.) Michael Milshtein served as a senior advisor for Palestinian affairs in COGAT. (Times of Israel)
  • BDS Is Linked to Terrorists, Just as You Suspected - Lt.-Col. (ret.) Peter Lerner
    For years, we have heard claims from Israeli officials positing that the global BDS movement to boycott Israel is controlled by extreme individuals who are unconcerned with the human rights of Palestinians which they claim to champion. This week, Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs provided conclusive evidence that the energy of terrorists and their organizations has infiltrated, and is even driving, the BDS activities.
        The report reveals direct ties between numerous boycott groups and designated terror organizations such as Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. "Convicted terrorist operatives who have served prison sentences currently hold senior positions in NGOs which delegitimize and promote the BDS campaign against Israel," reads the report.
        Of all the details revealed in the report, one stands out as particularly disturbing: the driving force behind the international BDS efforts is the Ramallah-based BDS National Committee (BNC), which is composed of a coalition of Palestinian terror organizations called the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces (PNIF). In other words, the "executive board" of the BNC is a league of terrorist organizations. Boycott activities throughout the world are effectively being directed and implemented by terror organizations from Ramallah. The writer is a former IDF Spokesperson. (Forward)
  • Israel's Popularity in Africa Is Growing, even among Muslim-Majority Nations - Israel Kasnett
    "Things are changing dramatically in Africa. And Africa is an increasingly important continent for the future stability of the world. Africa is the largest exporter of human refugees and has enormous, awesome resources. For that reason, there has been a new scramble for influence in Africa," Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, told JNS. And Israel, with expertise in technology, agriculture, water management and security, is poised to lend assistance to these African nations.
        "The world has changed," Gold said. "The constraint on ties with Israel vanished. The reason why Chad cut ties with Israel in 1972 had nothing to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict. The reason Chad cut ties with Israel is because Chad had Moammar Qaddafi breathing down its neck. But today, Qaddafi is gone, and Libya is almost gone. As a result, Chad felt complete freedom of maneuver that it didn't have previously."  (JNS)

Dermer: Israel's Use of Power Is Not Inherently Wrong - Gary Rosenblatt (New York Jewish Week)
  • Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer on Monday described what he called "a potential threat to Israel and to Jews everywhere" - not from an outside force but from a perilous way of perceiving right and wrong in today's world.
  • Throughout history, Dermer said, the Jewish people incorporated the internal lesson that "might does not make right." "The danger today is that many think might is inherently wrong, unjust," not consistent with Jewish values.
  • But in a world where the Jewish state faces enemies committed to its destruction, "it's dangerous for Israel and Jews everywhere to think power is wrong." It just needs to be applied wisely and sparingly.
  • Israel's need to be strong and defend itself is particularly significant at a time when most Americans want to see the U.S. less involved in military operations overseas, including the Mideast.
  • Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Dermer noted that the issue of Palestinian statehood is about power, so the questions to ask are: "Would the Palestinian state have an army? What about control of air space so close to Israel?"
  • Israelis would favor the Palestinians governing themselves but without presenting a threat to Israeli security. In the meantime, Dermer charged that the Palestinian leadership has been more focused on defeating Israel than their right to self-determination.