March 4, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Official PA Daily Launches Personal Attack on U.S. Middle East Peace Envoy - Maurice Hirsch and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
    In an unprecedented personal attack, columnist Omar Hilmi Al-Ghoul wrote in the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida on March 3:
    "Anyone who looks at the American envoy [Greenblatt] discovers that he has external and inner characteristics similar to those suffering from Down Syndrome: He is short, his eyes are similar to Mongoloid eyes, he prattles unrestrainedly, and is politically retarded."
    "The ill Greenblatt is not the only one who has Down Syndrome, for it strikes all the components of the American administration."

PA to Pay Full Salaries of Palestinian Prisoners But Not Government Workers (Ma'an News-PA)
    Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said Sunday that the government is determined to pay the full salaries of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli custody, but would only be able to pay a portion of the February salaries of civil servants, in light of the financial crisis affecting the Palestinian Authority.

Hamas: Turkey Stands by Palestinians While Arabs Move Closer to Israel - Mahmut Geldi (Anadolu-Turkey)
    "Along with a few other countries, Turkey has stood by the Palestinian people, despite the rush by a number of Arab states to normalize their relations with Israel," Ahmed Abdulhadi, Hamas' representative in Lebanon, said Friday.

Texas Blacklists Airbnb over West Bank Settlement Boycott - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
    On Friday, the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Glenn Hegar, publicly updated the list of businesses on the state's "List of Companies that Boycott Israel" to include Airbnb, which has 90 days to prove that it has not boycotted Israel.
    After that period, "the state governmental entity shall sell, redeem, divest, or withdraw all publicly traded securities of the company."
    The State of Texas holds that a boycott of Israeli settlers in the West Bank is akin to a boycott of Israel.

Israel to Upgrade Shelters in New Homes near Gaza in Response to Improved Hamas Rockets - Arie Egozi (Bulgarian Military)
    In response to the increasing threat posed by improved Hamas rockets, the IDF Home Front Command has instructed that all new homes being built in the Israeli communities adjacent to Gaza would contain a reinforced security room with walls 40 cm. thick instead of 25 cm.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Says Closing Consulate in Jerusalem Is No Policy Shift - Isabel Debre
    The U.S. officially shuttered its consulate in Jerusalem on Monday, downgrading the status of its main diplomatic mission to the Palestinians by folding it into the U.S. Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem. For decades, the consulate functioned as a de facto embassy to the Palestinians. Now, that outreach will be handled by a Palestinian affairs unit under the command of the embassy. State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said: "It does not signal a change of U.S. policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip."  (AP)
  • Top Foreign Affairs Democrat Rebukes Rep. Ilhan Omar for "Vile Anti-Semitic Slur" - Andrew Desiderio
    Rep. Ilhan Omar said last Wednesday: "I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is O.K. for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country." In response, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Friday that Omar's latest remarks amounted to a "vile anti-Semitic slur."
        "I welcome debate in Congress based on the merits of policy, but it's unacceptable and deeply offensive to call into question the loyalty of fellow American citizens because of their political views, including support for the U.S.-Israel relationship," said Engel. "Her comments were outrageous and deeply hurtful, and I ask that she retract them, apologize, and commit to making her case on policy issues without resorting to attacks that have no place in the Foreign Affairs Committee or the House of Representatives."  (Politico)
  • Censured by Britain, Hizbullah Is Bigger than Ever in Beirut - Martin Chulov
    Last week, Britain announced it was listing Hizbullah's political wing as a terrorist organization. Yet Hizbullah has consolidated its role as Lebanon's most powerful organization. After safeguarding Assad, Hizbullah has begun to reap the prize. In postwar Syria, Hizbullah and Iran are ascendant; both playing lead roles in shaping what emerges from the ruins of war. In Beirut, where it controls three ministries and, together with allies, 70 of the 128 parliamentary seats, it has a decisive hand in the government's decisions.
        A Hizbullah member with access to senior leaders said the Israeli attacks on mainly Iranian targets in Syria had caused carnage and confusion. "The Iranian targets in the military bases in Damascus and Homs were annihilated," he said. "I mean the damage was unbelievable. People were shocked, here and there. It's caused many discussions."  (Guardian-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Two Israeli Soldiers Injured in West Bank Car Ramming, Palestinian Attackers Killed - Yotam Berger and Josh Breiner
    Two Israeli soldiers were wounded Sunday night, one critically, when a car rammed into them in the village of N'ima in the northern West Bank as they were stopped on the side of the road. (Ha'aretz)
  • Russia-Israel Team to Eye Foreign Forces' Pullout from Syria
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Cabinet on Sunday: "Last week I met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow....The focus of our discussions was the Iranian issue. I made it unequivocally clear that Israel will not allow the military entrenchment of Iran in Syria, and I also made it unequivocally clear that we would continue to take military action against it."
        "We agreed on the continuation of the security coordination mechanism between the Russian military and the IDF. President Putin and I also agreed on a common goal - the withdrawal of foreign forces that arrived in Syria after the outbreak of the civil war. We agreed to establish a joint team to advance this goal."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Corbyn Calls on UK to Freeze Arms Sales to Israel - Tovah Lazaroff
    UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn renewed his call for a British arms embargo against Israel after a UN Human Rights Council commission of inquiry condemned Israel while ignoring Hamas violence at the Gaza-Israel border. Corbyn tweeted on Friday, "The UK government must unequivocally condemn the killings [in Gaza] and freeze arms sales to Israel."
        At the same time, U.S. special envoy Jason Greenblatt attacked the UNHRC report on Gaza in a series of tweets. "This report is another manifestation of the UNHRC's clear bias against Israel. Hamas behaved with reckless irresponsibility [and] disregard for human life when it incited VIOLENT protests, breaches [and] attacks at the Gaza fence-line. Hamas is directly responsible for the miserable situation of the people of Gaza."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Is Abbas Behind the Tension on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem? - Rachel Avraham
    Itamar Marcus, founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch, warned that Israel should expect more violence on the Temple Mount. "Abbas, whenever he is in trouble politically, even internally, he tries to incite conflict connected to the Temple Mount as a way of putting himself center stage and presenting himself as a fighter for Al-Aqsa. There has been intense incitement over Al-Aqsa for the past few weeks. It could be that what happened just now was directed from Abbas, who is in need of something to improve himself internally."
        According to Marcus, Abbas is not only desperate because of the reduction in tax revenues, but also wants to ensure that U.S. President Donald Trump's "deal of the century" will never see the light of day. He wants the world community to focus more on the Palestinian issue and less on building a coalition against Iran. The writer is the president of the Dona Gracia Mendes Nasi Center for Human Rights. (Israel Hayom)
  • Gaslighting Gaza: The UN Commission of Inquiry on the Gaza Riots
    On Feb. 28, the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the riots along the Israel-Gaza border alleged that "Israeli soldiers committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law...and may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity."
        The COI largely erases the dimension of Palestinian violence along the Gaza border, as well as Hamas' leading role in orchestrating the attacks. The COI ignored and minimized the use of guns, firebombs, stones, burning tires, and incendiary kites, as well as the exploitation of children to perpetrate these acts, reconstituting the riots as "peaceful protests."
        The COI was established by the notorious UN Human Rights Council, a body controlled by dictatorships and authoritarian regimes and known for extreme anti-Israel bias. (NGO Monitor)

The Line between Criticism of Israel and Anti-Semitism - Aaron Kliegman (Washington Free Beacon)
  • Criticism becomes bigotry when it involves demonizing and delegitimizing Israel. Accusing Israel of genocide - or of running an apartheid state, as Rep. Ilhan Omar did on Wednesday - is a shameful lie that cannot be labeled legitimate criticism. The same goes for describing Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, as a human rights abuser on the level of China and North Korea.
  • Imagine if someone demonized Ireland with the same obsessive hatred that Omar shows Israel. Would they not be bigoted against the Irish? Of course they would. But no one targets Ireland like so many target Israel.
  • To paraphrase the eminent historian Bernard Lewis, anti-Semitism has two special features that make it a distinct form of bigotry: Jews are assigned restrictive, disadvantageous double standards, and a cosmic, satanic evil is attributed to them unlike anything else in this world. This means treating Israel differently than all other countries and accusing it of being a nefarious puppet master controlling world events.
  • In today's world, where hatred and persecution based on race and religion are supposed to be no longer tolerated, anti-Semitism is based primarily on the Jewish people's nation-state. Anti-Zionism, or opposition to Israel's continued existence as a Jewish state, is the chief medium through which anti-Semites push their agenda.
  • Those who may not have a personal animus toward Jews but who support the BDS movement and other efforts to destroy the Zionist project are complicit in anti-Semitism.