February 27, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Arabic TV Mistranslation: Kushner Did Not Call to "Re-draw" Israel's Borders - Raphael Ahren (Times of Israel)
    U.S. President Donald Trump's Middle East point man Jared Kushner gave an interview to Sky News Arabic on Monday about the administration's upcoming peace proposal. It was widely reported that he had spoken of "re-drawing" Israel's boundaries.
    What Kushner actually said was: "The political plan, which is very detailed, is really about establishing borders and resolving final status issues. The goal of resolving these borders is really to eliminate the borders."
    "If you can eliminate borders and have peace and less fear of terror, you could have freer flow of goods, freer flow of people and that would create a lot more opportunities."
    See also below Commentary - Jared Kushner Interview on U.S. Peace Plan (The National-Abu Dhabi)

Iran's President Rouhani Rejects Resignation of Foreign Minister Zarif (Reuters)
    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rejected on Wednesday the resignation of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, state news agency IRNA reported.
    See also Report: Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif Resigned over Snub - Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall and the Iran Desk (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    On Feb. 25, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced his resignation.
    The Iranian Entekhab newspaper reported that Zarif resigned after he saw pictures of Syrian President Bashir Assad visiting Iran, photographed with President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Zarif was not invited to either of these meetings.

Jordan's Public Shares U.S. View on Iran - David Pollock (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    A public opinion poll conducted in November 2018 reveals that the Jordanian "street" is solidly in line with official opposition to Iran.
    Popular support for the main organized opposition party - the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate Islamic Action Front - remains a minority position, stuck at around 25%.
    These figures suggest that, despite Jordan's perennially troubled economic prospects and sporadic demonstrations, the monarchy faces no immediate crisis as King Abdullah marks two decades on the throne this month.
    U.S. President Donald Trump scores an approval rating in Jordan of just 2%, while Russian President Vladimir Putin got 5%; Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan received 72%.
    57% of Jordanians voice a favorable opinion of Hamas, which rejects peace with Israel.
    However, both Hizbullah and the Houthis, two of Iran's major clients in the region, have a 95% disapproval rating.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • House of Commons Approves Ban on Hizbullah Political Wing - Peter Walker
    On Tuesday the measure proscribing Hizbullah's political wing was put to the House of Commons. A Labour spokesman said the party would not oppose the measure overall, but argued that there did not seem to be sufficient evidence for the move, noting also that Hizbullah was part of the Lebanese government.
        Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman said: "In light of Hizbullah's increasingly destabilizing behavior over recent years we believe it is right to proscribe the entire organization. Hizbullah itself has publicly denied a distinction between its military and political wings...and...the distinction between the two wings is now untenable."  (Guardian-UK)
  • India Uses Israeli Air Defense System to Shoot Down Pakistani Drone
    A Pakistani drone on a reconnaissance mission was shot down on Tuesday in the Kutch area of Gujarat in western India by the Indian Army using the Israeli Spyder air defense missile system, sources said. This is the first time that Spyder has been used for taking down enemy aircraft, they said. Spyder was first deployed in 2017. (ANI-India)
  • Gaza Reporter Appeals Hamas Prison Sentence and Fine - Fares Akram
    Gaza journalist Hajar Harb appealed a six-month prison term and fine Tuesday over her reporting on alleged corruption within the Hamas-run Health Ministry. She reported in 2016 that healthy people were paying doctors to issue medical referrals to hospitals abroad.
        Last year, Harb was fired from a local media production company after another investigation piece raised suspicion that Hamas authorities gave donated housing units designated for the poor to ineligible beneficiaries. (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: "Iran Is Threatening to Destroy Israel and We Will Not Allow It a Base Close to Our Border"
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. Prior to his departure, Netanyahu said: "The focus of our talks will be the Iranian entrenchment in Syria. We are taking action against it; we are attacking their bases....We will continue to act until we get the Iranians to leave Syria because Iran is threatening to destroy Israel and we will not allow it a base close to our border."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Hamas Recruiters Pose as Journalists to Attract New Operatives in West Bank
    Qutayba Al Nawaj'a of Yatta, 21, was detained by the Israel Security Agency on Dec. 21, 2018. He revealed that a year prior, he started communicating via Facebook with a Hamas operative from Gaza named Mohammad Arbid. At first, Al Nawaj'a believed Arbid to be a journalist, since during riots on the Gaza border Arbid had photographs taken of him wearing a shirt with "PRESS" written on it.
        Al Nawaj'a was told by Gaza-based Hamas operatives to carry out a suicide bombing using an explosive belt on a bus in Lod, Israel. He was to receive the explosive belt mere days after his arrest.
        Bahaa Shuja'iya of Deir Jarir, 21, was the leader of Hamas' clandestine student cell at Abu Dis University. Shuja'iya was contacted by a Gaza-based Hamas operative via Facebook. The operative was Moussa Alayan of Jabalya, a Hamas member who is identified as a journalist on social media. (Israel Security Agency)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Jared Kushner Interview on U.S. Peace Plan
    "We've focused on the following four principles that we've used in which to create the plan. The first principle is to have freedom. We want people to be able to have the freedom of opportunity, the freedom of religion, the freedom to worship, regardless of your faith. Respect: we want all people to have dignity and to respect each other. Opportunity: we want people to be able to better their lives and not allow their grandfather's conflict to hijack their children's future. And the final one is security."
        "We've focused on...what's holding back the Palestinian people from achieving their full potential and what's holding back the Israeli people from being able to properly integrate with the whole region."
        "Every time there is a terror attack in the West Bank, the people who are the most fearful are the 160,000 workers who cross over into Israel every day because they don't want their flow restricted. All the terror attacks from Gaza have eliminated a lot of the workers coming from Gaza into Israel where they would work and get along and do very well."  (The National-Abu Dhabi)
  • Outlaw Hizbullah: What Took So Long? - Editorial
    It is hard to believe that until now, England and the EU only classified Hizbullah's "military wing" as a terrorist entity, but not the rest of the organization. The Shia terrorist organization is not compartmentalized between its "political wing" and its "military wing," and it is an outright hoax to proffer the claim that there is any distinction.
        Hizbullah has not been shy in spelling out its genocidal intentions toward world Jewry: "The war is on until Israel ceases to exist and the last Jew in the world has been eliminated." In 1994, in the largest deadly attack on Jews since the Holocaust, 85 people were killed when the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires was bombed by Hizbullah. (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Law Targets Hizbullah in Europe - Matthew Zweig
    The EU's reluctance to fully designate Hizbullah as a terrorist organization may no longer matter; it may now in practice be forced to. In October 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act (HIFPAA), which imposes secondary sanctions on the organization's Foreign Relations Department (FRD).
        Secondary sanctions require the administration to sanction "any foreign person that the President determines knowingly provides significant financial, material, or technological support for or to" the FRD. This means that any European individual or company that rents facilities to, provides banking services for, or any other action that aides a person or entity that is designated as FRD could face U.S. sanctions.
        The writer, a former senior professional staff member for the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is a senior fellow at FDD. (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)

Palestinians and the Disastrous Politics of Rage - Joshua Berman (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian victimhood knows no reconciliation with Israel because central to identity politics is the conviction that permanent victim status must be maintained.
  • Palestinian identity politics hamstrings Palestinian aspirations for a better life. Grassroots criticism of the Palestinian leadership is disallowed because it threatens the collective Palestinian identity.
  • Failing to establish the institutions of a functioning state, Palestinian leaders turn to globetrotting in a look-busy-while-doing-nothing action plan of self-righteousness. They insist the world must come and save them.
  • Palestinians pluck the chords of European colonial guilt in order to receive generous aid, discouraging Palestinian self-agency and personal responsibility.
  • Palestinians routinely call for "days of rage," where the rage is an end in itself that fuels an identity predicated on victimhood.
  • The narrative of victimization loosens moral standards. When a Palestinian murders a Jew, it is explained and excused as "a natural outcome of the occupation." Ironically, Palestinians ignore just how racist their own narrative of victimization really is.
  • To maintain that any Israeli Jew is a fair target for murder simply because he is an Israeli Jew - is racist. To maintain that any Palestinian has license to murder simply because he is Palestinian - is racist.
  • Palestinian leaders will "keep the conversation going" about reconciliation interminably because of the capital they accrue with world leaders by doing so.

    The writer is a professor of Bible at Bar-Ilan University and at Shalem College and a fellow at the Herzl Institute, Jerusalem.