February 11, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Mississippi House Approves Bill Targeting Israel Boycotts (AP)
    The Mississippi House of Representatives on Thursday voted 88-10 for a bill which would have the state join others in refusing to do business with companies boycotting Israel.

Report: Israel Spying on Iran from U.S. Air Base in Afghanistan - Dean and Neta Bar (Israel Hayom)
    Iran's Tasnim news agency and the Russian news agency Sputnik quoted Israeli expert Semyon Tsipis on Saturday as saying Israeli forces were carrying out intelligence collection from a U.S. Air Force base in Shindand in western Afghanistan, 120 km. from the Iranian border.

Report: Kuwaiti Businessmen Said to Visit Israel (Times of Israel)
    A group of Kuwaiti businessmen visited Israel last month in a private capacity, Israel's Kan TV reported Thursday.
    The group received special permission to enter the country from the Prime Minister's Office.

Two Palestinians Killed, Nine Injured in Gaza Tunnel (IMEMC-PA)
    Abdul-Hamid al-Aker, 39, a police officer, and Sobhi Abu Qershein, 28, died while trying to rescue Palestinians trapped in a tunnel on the Gaza-Egypt border on Sunday. Nine others were injured in the incident.
    Dozens of Palestinians have been killed and hundreds injured in tunnel accidents.

UK Labour Activists Find "4,000 Examples of Anti-Semitism" on Party Facebook Groups and Twitter Accounts - Daniel Martin (Daily Mail-UK)
    Labour Against Anti-Semitism (LAAS) has collected thousands of screenshots of vile comments and images from Labour Facebook groups and Twitter accounts.
    LAAS said Friday they were "overwhelmed" by the scale of Labour's anti-Semitism and added: "It is terrifying how racial hatred towards Jews is now thriving across the Labour movement."

Report: Finnish SS Soldiers Carried Out Atrocities Against Jews during WWII (YLE-Finland)
    An independent investigation confirmed several cases in which Finnish volunteers in the Waffen-SS engaged in violent acts against Jews in Ukraine and the Caucasus during WWII. In 1941-43, 1,408 Finnish volunteers served in the Waffen-SS.
    The decision to investigate the matter was prompted by an appeal made by Efraim Zuroff of the U.S.-based Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Number of Israeli-Arab Ph.D. Candidates More than Doubled in a Decade - Lior Dattel (Ha'aretz)
    The number of Arab Ph.D. candidates in Israel rose from 355 in 2008 to 759 in 2018, according to the Council for Higher Education.
    In the same period, the number of Israeli-Arab students in master's degree programs rose by 90%.
    Haifa University hosts 241 Arab-Israeli Ph.D. candidates, followed by Hebrew University with 131.
    Between 2010 and 2017, the number of Arab students studying for a bachelor's degree rose from 26,000 to 47,000.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • MI6, CIA and Mossad Smuggled Defecting Iranian Nuclear Technician to the West - Joe Middleton
    A 47-year-old Iranian nuclear technician, who has information about Iran's nuclear program, arrived on New Year's Eve in Britain after a joint operation involving MI6, the CIA and Mossad, before he was flown to America. The man reportedly helped plan the assassination of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a nuclear scientist who died in a car explosion in Tehran in 2012.
        The Mossad managed to get him out of Iran and into Turkey. Since Britain supports the Iran nuclear deal, the intelligence services did not want to be seen helping him get to England. So he was infiltrated into Britain with a group of fellow Iranian migrants who crossed the Channel in an inflatable boat. (Daily Mail-UK)
  • Report: Saudis Harden Stance on U.S. Peace Plan - Barak Ravid
    A classified Israel Foreign Ministry report from mid-December determined that Saudi Arabia will not support the Trump administration's Middle East peace plan and won't normalize relations with Israel if it doesn't address Palestinian demands - mainly regarding a capital in east Jerusalem. A Foreign Ministry official told me that the report said that Saudi Arabia's King Salman had taken the Israeli-Palestinian file back from his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The official said, "There was a feeling in the last year that there was a window of opportunity to reach a breakthrough with Saudi Arabia - but, even if there was such an opening, this window is closed for now."  (Axios)
  • Anger as Good Morning Britain Posts Survey on Boycotting Eurovision in Israel
    Good Morning Britain has deleted a Twitter poll that asked whether Britain should boycott this year's Eurovision Song Contest in Israel. The poll was published on Thursday and deleted on Friday. Talent agent Jonathan Shalit said he rang GMB editor Neil Thompson who "immediately responded very positively, totally understanding the negative and bias inferences of such a question."
        Responding to the poll before it was deleted, researcher David Collier wrote: "Disgraceful. Currently, in anti-Semitic groups across the web, a 'call to action' has gone out on this. Twitter handles, faceless, anonymous, get to legitimize their hate by voting 'yes.'...How stupid can you be?" After it was deleted, he wrote: "Will media outlets please get the message. BDS isn't about Palestinian rights nor settlements. It is a call to destroy Israel."  (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Arrests Palestinian for Brutal Murder of Young Israeli Woman in Jerusalem - Tovah Lazaroff
    The Israel Security Agency and Israel Police arrested a Palestinian man, Arafat Irfaiya, 29, near Ramallah who is suspected of brutally murdering Ori Ansbacher, 19, in Jerusalem's Ein Yael forest on Thursday. The grisly murder of the young woman, who was a national service volunteer in the Ye'elim youth center, sparked national outrage. UN Ambassador Danny Danon called for the Security Council to condemn the killing. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinian Said to Confess to Killing
    Israel's Channel 12 quoted Israeli security officials as saying that Palestinian Arafat Irfaiya had confessed to the murder on Thursday of Israeli teen Ori Ansbacher in Jerusalem. He left his home in Hebron armed with a knife and made his way toward Jerusalem, where he spotted Ansbacher in the woods and stabbed her multiple times. He had previously been jailed for being in Israel illegally. Channel 13 reported that police said DNA evidence tied him to the crime "without question."  (Times of Israel)
        See also Palestinian Suspected Killing Israeli Teen Reenacts Murder at Crime Scene - Yaniv Kubovich and Josh Breiner
    Arafat Irfaiya, 29, the Palestinian man suspected of sexually assaulting and murdering Ori Ansbacher, 19, reenacted the crime at the scene of the murder in the Jerusalem Forest on Sunday. He demonstrated where he saw the teen sitting on a chair in the woods, sexually assaulted her and then killed her. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Prime Minister Netanyahu Visits the Ansbacher Family - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
  • Netanyahu: Israel to Implement Law Deducting Money for PA Payments to Terrorists - Herb Keinon
    Israel will deduct money that the Palestinian Authority pays terrorists and their families from the tariffs and duties it collects monthly on behalf of the PA and transfers to Ramallah, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Cabinet on Sunday. He said that by the end of the week, the "necessary staff work will be completed to implement the law....The money will be deducted, no one should have any doubt about it."
        The PA said last week that if Israel deducts the funds, it will not accept any of the money Israel transfers to it under terms of the Oslo Accords - more than $100 million a month. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • What Iran Means to the Arab World - Hussein Ibish
    Ayatollah Khomeini's 1979 Iranian Shiite revolution radicalized and emboldened Sunni Arab Islamists throughout the region. The new Islamic Republic gave those Arab Islamists, ranging from Muslim Brothers to those who would emerge as al-Qaeda and Islamic State, a model of success. From their perspective, Iranian Islamists may get many aspects of religion wrong, but if they could overthrow a strong government of a powerful state against the wishes of both the U.S. and the Soviet Union, then surely the sky was the limit for those with a better version of religious fundamentalism and revolutionary politics.
        Iran might be the biggest single external problem for the Arab world, but internal problems remain the greater challenge. Much of the Arab world would be a mess with or without the Iranian revolution. The writer is a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. (Bloomberg)
  • UNRWA Is a Total Failure as a Refugee Organization - Israel Kasnett
    Uri Akavia, a researcher at Kohelet Policy Forum, published a new paper titled "Is UNRWA's hereditary refugee status for Palestinians unique?" He told JNS, "People have finally realized that UNRWA is a very large and important organization that is perpetuating a problem that should not have even existed after 70 years."
        Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, told JNS: "The fact is that so many of the worst Hamas terrorists were educated in UNRWA schools, and UNRWA was used as a place where Hamas could store its weaponry in violation of all kinds of UN resolutions that prohibit conversion of refugee camps to military facilities."
        Gold pointed to what he thinks is UNRWA's worst sin: The "conversion of the Palestinian refugee problem to a challenge locked into perpetuity. If you look at other refugee situations - Europe after World War II - all those refugees have been settled. Whereas, in the case of the Palestinian refugees who are taken care of by UNRWA, the numbers have only increased from about half a million in 1948 to what UNRWA claims is over 5 million today. That represents a total failure of UNRWA as a refugee organization."  (JNS)

Don't Make the Mistake of Dismissing Iran's Ideology - Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (Washington Post)
  • Hopes that the 2015 nuclear deal would lead the Tehran regime to moderate its behavior have proved misplaced. The ayatollahs may have kept to the letter of the deal, but they have intensified their malign policies around the region. Where Israel is concerned, they implacably oppose not only government policy but also the country's very existence.
  • This hatred of Israel is not confined to the clerics. It is also the declared position of figures that the West has misidentified as "moderate." So it is misguided to see Iran as following the principles of realpolitik. It is ultimately defending and where possible extending ideological interests. The ideology is driven by a belief that religion should be converted into a political system of government. Such a worldview necessarily becomes totalitarian.
  • This politicization of religion is the bane of the Middle East. In a world where economies succeed by being open, and countries prosper by being open-minded, such a view of religion divides people, misdirects political energy and causes extremism.
  • Where Iran is exercising military interference, it should be strongly pushed back. Where it is seeking influence, it should be countered. Where its proxies operate, it should be held responsible. Where its networks exist, they should be disrupted. Where its leaders are saying what is unacceptable, they should be exposed. Where the Iranian people are protesting for freedom, they should be supported.
  • Forty years of disappointment should make us clear-eyed. The revolution has made Iran the single biggest destabilizing force in the Middle East. Ultimately the Iranian people will find a way to the future without this outdated theocracy.