March 6, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Photo: Israel's Spacecraft to Moon Sends Selfie with Earth in Background (AFP-Daily Mail-UK)
    Israel's Beresheet spacecraft has sent its first selfie back to Earth, mission chiefs said on Tuesday.
    The image showing part of the spacecraft with Earth in the background was beamed to mission control in Israel - 37,600 km. (23,360 miles) away.

Poll: Americans Mostly Pro-Israel - Lydia Saad (Gallup)
    The majority of Americans remain partial toward Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with 59% saying they sympathize more with the Israelis whereas 21% sympathize more with the Palestinians, according to Gallup's World Affairs survey conducted Feb. 1-10, 2019.
    In the same poll, 69% of U.S. adults view Israel very or mostly favorably, within the 66-72% range seen between 2010 and 2017, while 21% view the Palestinian Authority favorably, similar to most years since 2010.

Bequests to State of Israel Contribute to Academic Research - Greer Fay Cashman (Jerusalem Post)
    12 doctoral students at Israeli universities received grants of NIS 150,000 each on Tuesday, funded by the bequests department at the Justice Ministry, at a ceremony at the President's Residence in Jerusalem.
    There are many Jews and non-Jews who make bequests or leave part or all of their estate to the State of Israel.

Genetic Research: Almost a Quarter of Latinos, Hispanics Have Jewish DNA - Ashley Perry (Jerusalem Post)
    We know that Jews who had been forcibly converted in Spain and Portugal fled the Iberian Peninsula to the New World beginning late in the 15th century.
    A study, published in Nature Communications in December 2018, revealed that almost a quarter of Latinos and Hispanics have significant Jewish DNA.
    There could be as many as 200 million descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jews around the world today.
    When these descendants become familiar with their Jewish ancestry, they become far more sympathetic toward Jewish causes and Israel.
    The writer is president of Reconectar, an organization facilitating the reconnection of the descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jewish communities with the Jewish world.

Tourism to Israel Stays Strong in February - Simon Griver (Globes)
    362,000 visitors entered the country in February, maintaining record levels of tourism to Israel.
    In January and February 2019, 683,000 visitors came to Israel, up 16% from the first two months of 2018, the Central Bureau of Statistics reports.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. House Set to Rebuke Lawmaker for Israel Comments
    House Democratic leaders will bring to the floor a resolution condemning anti-Semitism following outrage over comments made by Rep. Ilhan Omar last week that insinuated pro-Israel groups are pushing "allegiance to a foreign country." While the resolution does not mention Omar by name, it says: "In 2010 the Department of State adopted the 'working definition' of anti-Semitism promulgated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance....The definition...includes 'accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.'"  (CNN)
  • Belgian Carnival Float Features Puppets of Grinning Jews, a Rat and Money Bags - Cnaan Liphshiz
    Participants in a street celebration in the Belgian city of Aalst paraded giant puppets of Orthodox Jews and a rat atop money bags on Sunday. The display was titled "Shabbat Year."
        Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs condemned the float for containing "typical, anti-Semitic caricatures from 1939." The umbrella groups representing Flemish and French-speaking Jews in Belgium complained to the federal watchdog on racism that, "In a democracy like Belgium, there is no room for such things, carnival or not."  (JTA)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Clash Continues over Control of Temple Mount in Jerusalem - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Hatem Abdel Qader, a senior Fatah official and member of the Wakf Council which manages the Temple Mount, said Tuesday that Palestinians will step up their protests against Israel's decision to close the Golden Gate site located on the eastern side of the Temple Mount. The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on Monday ordered that the site be kept closed, but Abdel Qader said, "Israeli courts do not have jurisdiction over Al-Aqsa Mosque. We do not recognize the laws of "the occupation."
        He said the site will undergo renovations in the coming days in order to allow Muslim worshipers to pray there on a permanent basis. The Palestinians claim that Israel is planning to turn the site into a synagogue. A Wakf Council member warned of "an uprising in Jerusalem, similar to the one that erupted in 2017 and which forced the Israeli authorities to remove the security cameras and metal detectors." On Tuesday, police prevented Palestinian activists from bringing carpets into the site. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Jordan and the Palestinian Authority Seek to Sabotage the Trump Peace Plan - Yoni Ben Menachem
    Muslim leaders are calling for a new intifada - the Sha'ar a-Rahma (Gate of Mercy [Golden Gate]) uprising. Palestinian social networks are full of calls for Muslims to come to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem this Thursday to prevent "the settlers" from entering the new mosque at the Gate of Mercy. Hamas has called on Muslims to demonstrate in Jerusalem this Friday.
        Jordan and the Palestinian Authority are well aware of that fact that sensitive issues on the Temple Mount are instantaneously combustible. They are seeking to throw a wrench into the works as the proclamation of Trump's "Deal of the Century" approaches. They aimed to signal that sovereignty on the Temple Mount belongs to Jordan and the PA and not to Israel or Saudi Arabia or any international Arab body.
        The solution lies in dialogue with Jordan, which oversees the Waqf Council and can restore calm. Israel can always resort to force and impose the law, but every effort should be made to avoid an escalation on the Mount in light of what is happening along the Gaza border and in the PA. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Report: Israel Tells Hamas to Rein in Border Violence or Face Military Action - Elior Levy
    Israel has warned Hamas that it faces widespread military action if it does not rein in violence along the country's border with Gaza, Lebanon's Al-Akhbar reported.
        The two sides are in the midst of indirect negotiations mediated by Egypt meant to consolidate a ceasefire arrangement, Asharq al-Awsat reported Wednesday. As a pre-condition for the further transfer of Qatari funds to Gaza, Israel is demanding that Hamas cease all violence along the border, including riots near the security fence and the launch of incendiary airborne devices. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Do Netanyahu and Putin See Eye to Eye on Iran? - Israel Kasnett
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Moscow on Wednesday to discuss Israel's interest in removing Iranian forces from Syria and disallowing any continued Iranian presence there. But Anna Borshchevskaya, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said, "Moscow, in reality, has neither the ability nor desire to get Iran out of Syria." What Moscow does want "is for everyone to be weaker than it is, and to be dependent on it, so if Israeli strikes weaken Iran, it also helps Putin."
        According to Borshchevskaya, Putin's strategy in Syria is "predicated on a partnership with Iran." At the end of the day, "Putin is no one's friend but his own, and when push comes to shove, he will look out for the Kremlin's interest."  (JNS)
  • Hizbullah Is a Symptom, the Iranian Regime Is the Disease - Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
    Hizbullah's military and political activities are as closely intertwined as the military and political branches of its patron, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). But in order to pressure Hizbullah, the flow of funds from Tehran must be cut off. As its leader Hassan Nasrallah stated in 2016: "Hizbullah's budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, come from the Islamic Republic of Iran."
        Unfortunately, the UK continues to pursue appeasement policies with Hizbullah's masters in Tehran by maintaining the Iran nuclear deal, continuing trade with Iran, and helping Iran skirt U.S. sanctions. Sustaining the nuclear deal means that Tehran will continue to enjoy global legitimacy and have the revenues to sponsor its terror groups. The writer is a Harvard-educated, Iranian-American political scientist. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)

  • Certain of our recently elected congressional representatives view U.S. support for Israel as inexplicable. They are dismissive of explanations of shared values or strategic importance. They ask what reason other than a malignant influence could possibly explain why the U.S. has supported Israel and Zionism.
  • They fail to appreciate the extent to which the restoration of the Jewish people to sovereignty in their ancient homeland has been deeply ingrained in the religious, political and social fabric of America.
  • Even before there was a U.S., our Founding Fathers and even their forefathers longed to restore the Jews to their ancient homeland. The Puritans saw themselves as a "New Israel." Increase Mather, the Puritan leader, taught his followers that one day the "Jews would return to their homeland and establish the most glorious nation in the world." The Yale University coat of arms is adorned with the Hebrew words meaning "light and perfection."
  • Benjamin Franklin recommended that the Great Seal of the United States be an illustration of the Hebrews fleeing Egypt for their homeland. John Adams wrote in 1819: "I really wish the Jews again in Judea an independent nation." This all occurred when the Jews in America numbered only in the thousands.
  • Abraham Lincoln wrote of "restoring the [Jews] to their national home in Palestine" and that relieving their oppression was "a noble dream and one shared by many Americans." This support was echoed by Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Herbert Hoover.
  • While recent congressional critics of America's support of Israel might dismiss this history, they cannot escape it.