February 28, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Expert: Iran Is Working to Make Syria Shi'ite - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Brig.-Gen. (res.) Dr. Shimon Shapira, an expert on Iran and Hizbullah at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, believes that Iran has begun a major effort to increase its influence over civilian affairs in Syria, an effort reminiscent of what it did with Hizbullah in Lebanon.
    He noted that Syrian President Assad has allowed foreign Shi'ite militiamen to bring their families to Syria.
    Moreover, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are building institutions for them in Syria - schools, religious institutions and even universities where the language of instruction is Farsi.
    "A quiet revolution is taking place here, whose goal is to make Syria Shi'ite," he said.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard General: "We Are Planning to Break America and Israel" and "Cleanse the Planet from the Filth of Their Existence"  (MEMRI)
    Iranian Revolutionary Guard Deputy Commander Gen. Hossein Salami said in a televised speech on Feb. 19:
    "We will break our enemy. We have decided to do so. We have a plan. We are organized and motivated. We have faith. We have martyrdom. We have jihad."
    "Our nation's sword has been drawn out of its sheath. Our enemies should know that we will never let them be."
    "We have plans to defeat the world powers....We are planning to break America, Israel, and their partners and allies. Our ground forces should cleanse the planet from the filth of their existence."

How to Deal with Those Who Hate Us - Edward N. Luttwak (Tablet)
    How should Jews respond to self-declared enemies in a democracy?
    The most common and damaging emotional temptation is a yearning for dialogue no matter what, no matter with whom, even if it legitimizes extremism.
    The last time such absolute enemies emerged in democratic Western polities, in Britain and France in the 1930s, they were totally defeated.
    And there is every reason to believe that it can be done again, so long as we can avoid fear-driven pleading and the pretense of big-tent dialogue.
    The writer is senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Black Law Enforcement Leaders Endorse Police Exchange with Israel (Algemeiner)
    The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) has endorsed the work of a Georgia-based exchange program with Israeli officers which has been targeted by BDS activists.
    NOBLE applauded the work of the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE) in a letter earlier this month, saying the program "works continuously to improve public safety," and that NOBLE members have benefited from it for decades.

Hamas Militant Dies in Gaza Tunnel (Ma'an News-PA)
    Muhammad Qudeih, 24, a member of Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades, died of a heart attack Tuesday inside a "resistance tunnel" in Gaza.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Rejects UN Human Rights Council Report on Gaza as "Theater of the Absurd"
    Israel rejected as a "theater of the absurd" on Thursday a UN Human Rights Council report that accused its forces of possible war crimes in killing Palestinians during Gaza border riots last year. Acting Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a statement that the UN had "produced another hostile, mendacious and slanted report against the State of Israel....No one can deny Israel the right of self-defense and the obligation to defend its citizens and borders from violent attacks."  (Reuters-New York Times)
  • After Israel Deducts Payments to Terrorists, PA Rejects Monthly Tax Transfer
    The Palestinian Authority has rejected the first 2019 monthly tax transfer from Israel because it slashed the portion designated for financial support to families of militants who are jailed in Israel. The tax transfers make up about half of the PA's budget. Israel announced a freeze on 42 million shekels - 5% of the monthly transfer of 700 million shekels ($194 million).
        The U.S. passed legislation last year to sharply reduce aid to the PA unless it stopped the pay-outs. Israel and the U.S. say the PA's stipend policy fans Palestinian violence. (Reuters)
  • Kushner on Mideast Tour to Promote Investment Plan as Part of a Path toward Peace - Peter Baker
    Jared Kushner, the president's senior adviser, is traveling this week through the Middle East to promote a plan to invest tens of billions of dollars in the Palestinian territories and Israel's Arab neighbors as part of his long-promised peace initiative. Kushner told leaders of Arab states that the economic plan would be critical to creating an environment in which Israel and the Palestinians could make the necessary political compromises.
        Analysts said they had been told the economic component would involve investing $25 billion in the West Bank and Gaza over 10 years and another $40 billion in Egypt, Jordan and perhaps Lebanon. The bulk of the money would come from the region's wealthiest states, while the U.S. would contribute as well. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • After Meeting with Putin, Netanyahu Says Russia Wants to Get Iran Out of Syria - Noa Landau
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow that getting the Iranians and all foreign fighters out of Syria is also one of Russia's stated goals. A diplomatic source added that Putin did not place limitations on Israel's actions in Syria. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Strikes Hamas in Gaza after Airborne Device Damages Home in Israel - Yaniv Kubovich
    The Israeli air force struck several targets in Gaza on Wednesday after an airborne incendiary device damaged a home in southern Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Reservists Describe to EU How Palestinian Terrorists Use Children - Ilanit Chernick
    Four IDF reservist combat soldiers testified at the EU Parliament in Brussels about the difficulty they experienced when confronted by Palestinian terrorists using human shields - mainly women and children.
        Noy Leyb described facing two Palestinian teenagers who had been sent to infiltrate into Israel from Gaza by Hamas to check the IDF's blind spots and try to attack soldiers. "It was 2 a.m. and the two 14-year-olds who had infiltrated through the border were shivering and shaking [from fear]. They were holding knives - not hiding them like terrorists usually do - and had been given a 'glorified story' to take knives and kill an IDF soldier." When he saw them he thought: "What are these kids doing here?...When I see kids being used in warfare, it sickens me."
        Noam Kampler recalled arresting the 15-year-old terrorist who murdered nurse and mother of four Daphna Meir in Otniel. "All I could think was: How can a 15-year-old kid stab a mother of four to death?" Czech EU Parliament Member Tomas Zdechovsky hosted the group. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The UK's Hizbullah Ban Will Not Just Affect Al Quds Day - It Will Hinder Its Fundraising - Anshel Pfeffer
    The UK decision to add the political wing of Hizbullah to the list of terror organizations will have a clear effect on the streets of Britain. It will no longer be permitted to fly the movement's flags at future Al Quds Day rallies. But the decision may also curtail its extensive fundraising efforts.
        This comes during a period in which Hizbullah's financial needs skyrocketed. There are a large number of casualties returning home from the fighting in Syria - by some estimates totaling 2,000 dead and 9,000 wounded over the last eight years. Hizbullah now has to support the families of these dead fighters and the long-term wounded. (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
  • The Palestinians' Automatic "No" to Peace - Shimrit Meir
    It's hard to understand how the Palestinians, who are essentially living off hand-outs, summarily dismiss the opportunity to hear a proposal that might significantly improve their condition. One would at least expect some form of serious discussion about President Trump's peace plan, given their situation.
        The Palestinian issue has been pushed to the margins. Mahmoud Abbas might still be able to extract a promise out of the elderly Saudi king not to go "behind the Palestinians' backs," but the entire world knows about the business his son conducts with Israel.
        One Egyptian TV anchor wondered, "If you [Palestinians] want a state alongside Israel, why do you keep saying 'no' again and again when offered one?" An Iraqi journalist tweeted this week, "If the Palestinian leadership used the money donated by the Arabs since 1948 for Palestine, it would've already built 50 cities like Tel Aviv, 40 cities like Dubai and 30 cities like Riyadh."  (Ynet News)
  • How Brexit Has Benefited Israel - Ariel Kahana
    When the British decided to leave the EU, many Israelis rejoiced because "the EU's attitude toward Israel reflects the lowest common denominator in Europe," in the words of one Israeli ambassador. Therefore, when such an important European power quits the EU, it isn't surprising that Israelis feel a sense of relief.
        Ever since that decision, we've seen continuous improvement in Britain's approach to Israel. The Palestinian obsession has waned, along with the customary condemnations. Meanwhile, commerce and cooperation are soaring.
        Another important benchmark was reached when Britain announced it will label Hizbullah a terrorist organization. The incessant refusal of Germany, France, Italy and the EU itself to define the murderous organization accurately is the height of folly. (Israel Hayom)

Amb. Dore Gold was interviewed by Esti Perez on Israel Radio-Reshet Bet on Feb. 26, 2019:
  • Q: How do you respond to recent news reports about the Trump peace plan?
    Dore Gold: Given the uncertainty over the plan, what is important is to return to the basic principles of the Israeli consensus. I am speaking of a united Jerusalem, no withdrawal to the 1967 lines, and preservation not only of the settlement blocs but also of crucial security areas such as the Jordan Valley under Israeli sovereignty. These are principles that we must protect. These are diplomatic red lines. We must be clear about our red lines, where we cannot compromise and retreat.
  • In Yitzhak Rabin's last speech to the Knesset a month before he was murdered, he in effect outlined a map of Israel for the future: united Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley in the widest meaning of the term. This is an excellent basis for establishing red lines.
  • Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on a number of occasions about defensible borders for Israel. We have to explain our positions, and not just to Washington but to the entire world.
  • On the issue of a Palestinian state, if it should arise, there is the question of borders and powers. It is clear that any Palestinian political entity must be demilitarized. We must be sure that we have security elements in place that enable us to supervise this.
  • We cannot accept the idea that arose during the time of [U.S. Secretary of State] John Kerry who proposed an international force to defend Israel. Only the Israel Defense Forces can defend Israel.
  • Q: Is Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] a partner [for peace]? Are the Palestinians a partner? Will it be possible to return to negotiations?
    Gold: With every Palestinian leader - whether it be Abu Mazen or after Abu Mazen - you cannot be sure of the intentions of the other side. Therefore, you need political positions that assure your security needs. We cannot return to the 1967 lines, which some naively suggest, because situations have a way of changing.

    Dore Gold, former director general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.