February 18, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Netanyahu's Main Rival in Israeli Election Voices Agreement with Him on Iran (Reuters)
    Former IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Benny Gantz, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's strongest challenger in an election scheduled for April, according to surveys, voiced support on Sunday for the prime minister's tough policy towards Iran.
    "I am standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Prime Minister Netanyahu in the fight against Iran's aggression," Gantz told the Munich Security Conference.
    "When Israel's security is under threat, there is no daylight between us," Gantz said about Netanyahu.

Netanyahu Held Secret Meeting at UN with Morocco's Foreign Minister - Barak Ravid (Axios)
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a secret meeting with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York last September, an Israeli official told me.

Poland Cancels Foreign Minister's Visit to Israel (Jerusalem Post)
    Poland officially cancelled the visit of its foreign minister to Israel after acting Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz quoted former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir as saying that "Poles imbibe anti-Semitism from their mothers' milk."
    "That's what Yitzhak Shamir said [of the Poles who murdered his father]....No one will tell us how to remember the fallen," Katz said.
    Opposition Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid commented: "The reason the Poles helped the Nazis is because anti-Semitism was an integral part of Polish society. This isn't racism, but the painful historical truth."
    See also Visegrad Group Cancels Israel Summit after Poland Row (Deutsche Welle-Germany)
    The Visegrad Group of four central European countries have cancelled their meeting in Israel after Poland pulled out.
    The leaders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary would instead hold separate meetings with Israeli leaders later this week, a spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

After Warsaw Summit, Arabs Launch "Normalization is Treason" Campaign - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    In response to last week's U.S.-sponsored conference in Warsaw which brought together several Arab foreign ministers and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Arab political activists have launched a campaign aimed at criminalizing normalization between the Arab states and Israel, called "Normalization is Treason."

Egyptian Police Systematically Extort Palestinians at Cairo Airport (Middle East Monitor-UK)
    Palestinians traveling through Egypt's Cairo airport are being extorted by Egyptian officials, Khaleej Online has found.
    When Egyptian police officers receive Palestinian passengers at Cairo airport, they demand bribes to facilitate their travel and to avoid being detained in a detention facility for illegal immigrants in the basement of the airport.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Report: Syrian Military Linked to More than 300 Chemical Attacks - Louisa Loveluck
    The Syrian government and affiliated forces have launched more than 300 attacks using chemical weapons in the past eight years, ranging from nerve agents to chlorine bombs, a report by the Berlin-based Global Public Policy Institute said Sunday. Some 98% of 336 uses of chemical weapons were attributed to Assad's military or allied forces, with the rest attributed to the Islamic State.
        Medical workers in opposition-held areas say they have treated more than 5,000 people for suspected chemical exposure since 2012, and that at least 188 people died after chlorine attacks. (Washington Post)
  • Netanyahu: The Iranian Regime Is Murdering Iranian Dissidents on European Soil - Setareh Sieg
    Voice of America Persian interviewed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Warsaw on Feb. 14:
        "My concern is not that Iran violates the [nuclear] deal. My concern is that Iran keeps the deal. I think it's a horrible deal, because I think it paves the way to the nuclear arsenal....Iran got billions and billions of dollars for (accepting the deal). Where did the money go?...It went into the Houthis, it went into Hizbullah. It went into Iraq, it went into Syria for these Shiite militias. It didn't go to the people of Iran."
        "Iran says that they want to exterminate the Jews of Israel....They want to bring a good part of their army and certainly their advanced weaponry and Shiite militia...to Israel's doorstep, 1,500 kilometers away....We won't let that happen....If they try to establish such bases next to our border with the view of destroying us, then we prevent it."
        "Iran has been systematically liquidating - that means murdering - Iranian citizens, dissidents who have a different view....We've prevented quite a few of these murders of Iranians from taking place in European capitals. So I've asked the European leaders, on the week that we have exposed these plots to murder people on your own soil, you're meeting with representatives of the Iranian regime to help them circumvent the American action?...At least have some self-respect and consistency. How can you do this?"  (VOA News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel to Begin Withholding Tax Fees in Response to PA Payments to Terrorists - Herb Keinon
    Israel's Security Cabinet decided on Sunday to deduct $140 million from the money it collections in tariffs for the Palestinian Authority because of the payment of this amount by the PA to terrorists and their families in 2018. On July 7, the Knesset passed legislation requiring the Defense Ministry to inform the Security Cabinet of how much the PA pays in "payments to terrorists and their families," which will then be deducted from the amount Israel transfers to the PA each month.
        This legislation followed the passage of the Taylor Force Act in the U.S., which ended most U.S. assistance to the Palestinians unless the PA stops payments to terrorists and their families. Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Avi Dichter said after the Security Cabinet decision: "The party is over....Paying salaries to murderers does not pay."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israel to Check on Additional PA Payments to Terrorists
    According to the Security Cabinet communique regarding its decision to implement the law freezing Palestinian Authority funds, "Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed security officials to step up checks on additional Palestinian Authority payments linked to terrorism, including those to terrorists and their families. The amount frozen will be updated as per the information received."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
        See also Continued PA Payments to Terrorists in 2018 Underscore Need to Implement New Israeli Law - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Israeli Soldiers Injured by Explosive Devices at Gaza Border - Yaniv Kubovich and Jack Khoury
    Palestinians near Israel's border with Gaza hurled explosive devices toward Israeli soldiers on Sunday, injuring an Israeli soldier.
        On Friday, an Israeli Border Police officer was wounded by shrapnel at the Gaza border after an explosive device was thrown at him by Palestinians. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Video: Hamas Uses Women as Human Shields to Cut Gaza Border Fence (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • American Jewish Leaders Insist Congress Remains Strongly Pro-Israel - Jeremy Sharon
    At the 45th leadership mission in Israel of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Chairman Arthur Stark and CEO Malcolm Hoenlein said that comments by Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) were worrying and needed to be addressed, but that the majority of the U.S. political establishment was still strongly pro-Israel.
        "It raises the sense that this is a whole new strain of anti-Semitism than what we've seen before in the halls of power," said Stark. "We do believe that by and large U.S. political leaders are very strongly behind Israel, but it is critical that they take it very seriously. We have taken upon ourselves to raise the alarm with them and to ensure that they censure this behavior."
        Hoenlein said the comments by Omar and Tlaib could represent "a cancer that metastasizes." "There has to be a declared policy of zero tolerance for this type of thing as there would be for any other form of bigotry or racism." However, Hoenlein noted that the House of Representatives voted 424 to 0 last week on a motion to combat anti-Semitism and BDS. "This Congress is more pro-Israel than the last one was," said Hoenlein. "More people will speak out on this and more importantly will act on it, and we will do everything to reinforce the positive trends in Congress."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Anti-Semitism Has Spread through the Islamic World Like a Cancer - Fareed Zakaria
    Anti-Semitism has spread through the Islamic world like a cancer. In 2014, the Anti-Defamation League did a survey in more than 100 countries and found that anti-Semitism was twice as common among Muslims as among Christians, and it's far more prevalent in the Middle East than the Americas.
        It wasn't always this way. Through much of history, the Muslim Middle East was hospitable to Jews when Christian Europe was killing or expelling them. The historian Bernard Lewis once said to me, "People often note that in the late 1940s and 1950s, hundreds of thousands of Jews fled Arab countries. They rarely ask why so many Jews were living in those lands in the first place." Jews were second-class citizens - but they were tolerated and encouraged to a far greater degree in Muslim societies than in Christian ones.
        Things changed in the Muslim world only in the late 19th century, when, according to Lewis, "as a direct result of European influence, movements appear among Muslims of which for the first time one can legitimately use the term anti-Semitic." After the founding of Israel in 1948, Arab states became vast propaganda machines for anti-Semitism, brainwashing generations of their people with the most hateful ideas about Jews. While some Arab governments have stepped back from the active promotion of hate, the damage has been done. (Washington Post)

BDS Movement Undermines South Africans - Rhulani Thembi Siweya (Daily Maverick-South Africa)
  • The trajectory taken by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement in South Africa (BDS-SA) to selectively discriminate against entrepreneurial and business opportunities by corporations linked to Israel, if not challenged, may lead to unwarranted job losses in South Africa.
  • With our unemployment rate remaining alarmingly high at 27%, the South African reality necessitates the need to focus on the economy and maintain trade relations with other countries that excel in certain vital economic aspects. This is in the best interests of the people of South Africa.
  • A few days ago, BDS-SA threatened to disrupt investments from Brimstone Investment Corporation that has committed to developing and improving South Africa's biggest dairy company, Clover. Why is BDS-SA so willing to sacrifice its fellow South African workers for its own self-serving position? The call by BDS-SA undermines the strides made by President Cyril Ramaphosa to attract vital foreign investment.
  • Palestinian Authority officials were recently seen sitting around a table with several juice bottles, all products from Israel. How does BDS-SA call on South African companies to boycott Israeli products while Palestinian leaders themselves are not boycotting those same products?
  • BDS-SA does not hold any electoral mandate and its lobbying must not be at the expense of the South African worker. It must encourage the people of Palestine to sit with the Israelis at the negotiation table.

    The writer is a member of the ruling African National Congress Youth League National Executive Committee.