March 21, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Struggling under Reimposed Sanctions, Country's Leaders Say (AFP-France 24)
    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the economic difficulties of Iranians the main and most urgent problem of the country in a message aired Thursday on state TV.
    The renewal of American sanctions sent shockwaves through Iran's economy.
    "In recent months the difficulties for people's livelihoods has increased," Khamenei said, mentioning the devaluation of the national currency, the drop in purchasing power and the fall in production.
    The IMF has forecast a 3.6% decline in Iran's GDP for 2019.

IsraAID Sending Response Team to Mozambique after Devastating Cyclone, Flooding (JNS)
    The Israeli humanitarian-aid organization IsraAID announced on Wednesday it is sending a response team to Mozambique this week after the country was hit by Cyclone Idai on March 14, to provide relief supplies and medical care, and restore access to potable water.

Malaysia Has Become Hub for Iranian Activity - Chaim Levinson (Ha'aretz)
    Many Palestinians have found a warm home in Malaysia, led by Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad, who wears the "anti-Semite" label proudly.
    A Malaysian newspaper described the country as a "bridge" between Iran and other countries.
    Some 15,000 Iranians have come to Malaysia to study, as have 5,000 Palestinians.
    Western intelligence analysts have noted extensive and growing activity by Iran in Malaysia.
    "Malaysia is the meeting point between various terrorist organizations and the Iranians," an Israeli official says.
    "Malaysia is a convenient place for communication, organization and training for various terror groups and states hostile to Israel. It's a place where they share technologies and plot operations."
    Israeli sources say that over the past 10 years, dozens of terrorist operatives have entered Malaysia to train and use it as a base of operations.

Israeli and Palestinian Firefighters in Joint Exercise in West Bank - Adam Rasgon (Times of Israel)
    Israeli and Palestinian firefighters participated in a joint firefighting and rescue exercise on Tuesday in the northern West Bank, extinguishing simulated fires in four locations using Israeli and Palestinian firetrucks.
    In the past year, Israeli and Palestinian firefighters have participated in about 10 joint exercises.

Number of Arab Teachers in Jewish Schools on the Rise - Shira Kadari-Ovadia (Ha'aretz)
    868 Arab teachers are teaching in Jewish schools in Israel in 2019, up from 465 in 2013.
    About half the Arab teachers in Jewish schools teach mathematics, English and science, while 1/4 teach Arabic.
    350 Jewish educators work in Arab schools - most of them teaching Hebrew.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Pompeo in Jerusalem: Iran Seeks the Annihilation of Israel
    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Wednesday. Pompeo recalled that four years ago, Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress. "On that day, you spoke about the grave threat that the Jewish people face, the threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran, which seeks the absolute destruction and annihilation of Israel. The ayatollahs have spent four decades spewing hatred, supporting terrorist violence, and pursuing nuclear weapons for a war against a neighbor that wishes nothing more than to live in peace."
        "With such threats a daily reality of Israeli life, we maintain our unparalleled commitment to Israel's security and firmly support your right to defend yourself."  (State Department)
        See also Netanyahu: U.S. and Israel Are Working Together to Roll Back Iranian Aggression
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Jerusalem on Wednesday that the U.S. president "said that he would re-impose tough sanctions on Iran, and he did. What we see is that this pressure is working. We need to increase it. We need to expand it. And together, the United States and Israel are working in close coordination to roll back Iranian aggression in the region and around the world....I also appreciate the fact that the United States gives Israel the full backing to defend ourselves against Iranian aggression."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • UK to Oppose Anti-Israel Resolutions at UN Human Rights Council - Justin Cohen
    The British government has confirmed it will oppose all four UN Human Rights Council resolutions against Israel due to be voted on this week. Alistair Burt, the Middle East minister, told the House of Commons on Wednesday: "The UK made clear some time ago in relation to Item 7 of the UN Human Rights Council determinations we would oppose those items - and we expect to do so." The vote is due to take place in Geneva on Friday. (Jewish News-UK)
        See also below Commentary: UN Human Rights Council's Permanent Agenda Item on Israel Should Be Abolished - British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
  • California State University Agrees that Zionism Is an Integral Part of Jewish Identity - Aaron Bandler
    California State University (CSU) agreed to a settlement on March 20 that includes a statement acknowledging Zionism's importance to Jewish identity. The case involved two San Francisco State University (SFSU) Jewish students who alleging that SFSU and CSU engaged in anti-Semitism when SFSU prevented the campus Hillel from participating in the campus' "Know Your Rights" fair in February 2017. The students also alleged that the university failed to effectively respond to anti-Semitic incidents on campus.
        CSU will also state that it will protect the rights of all students at SFSU, including Jewish and pro-Israel students. (Jewish Journal of Los Angeles)
        See also California State University Agrees to Safeguard Jewish Students' Rights (Lawfare Project)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu to Pompeo: Time for U.S. to Recognize Golan Heights as Israeli - Herb Keinon and Tovah Lazaroff
    With U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo standing next to him, on Wednesday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the international community to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights. "Last week we uncovered efforts by Hizbullah, Iran's proxy, to build up a terror network on the Golan Heights - and you can all imagine what would happen if we were not in the Golan. We would have Iran on the shores of the Sea of Galilee," Netanyahu said. For this reason and many more, "it is time for the international community to recognize Israel's stay on the Golan - the fact that the Golan will always remain part of the State of Israel."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Fatah Honors Palestinian Terrorist Murderer - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement, on its official Facebook page, has glorified terrorist Omar Abu Laila, who murdered 2 Israelis this week, as a "heroic martyr" deserving of a "military salute." By allowing itself to be used to honor and glorify terrorist murderers, Facebook serves as a platform for encouraging more terrorists. (Palestinian Media Watch)
  • Hamas Prisoners Set Fire to Cells after Israel Jams their Mobile Phones - Meir Turgeman
    Palestinian security prisoners from Hamas at Ramon Prison set fire to the mattresses in their cells on Tuesday after Israel introduced a jamming signal that blocks illicit mobile phones. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • UN Human Rights Council's Permanent Agenda Item on Israel Should Be Abolished - British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt
    A fair-minded observer would find it curious that, of all the situations in the world, only Israel and the Palestinian territories are permanently on the agenda of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). Amid the horrors of Syria's civil war, the brutal detention camps in North Korea, the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Burma, a dedicated place on the HRC agenda - known as Item 7 - is reserved solely for Israel.
        By any standard of fairness or proportion, elevating this dispute above all others cannot be sensible; indeed it is an unhelpful illusion to suppose that Israel's conduct deserves special scrutiny. Instead of promoting reconciliation and compromise, Item 7 strengthens the hard and trampled road of self-righteousness, a narrative that one side alone holds a monopoly of fault.
        Two years ago, the United Kingdom said that unless the situation changed, we would vote against all texts proposed under Item 7. Sadly, our concerns have not been heeded. So I have decided that we will do exactly what we said: Britain will now oppose every Item 7 resolution. (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
  • It's Scandalous that Hate-Filled Palestinian Textbooks Are Funded by the UK - Dame Louise Ellman
    Britain's government is currently giving millions of pounds each year to Palestinian schools which are teaching a curriculum which incites hatred, glorifies violence and promotes terror; nothing could do more to harm the cause for peace than fostering old hatreds and prejudices in another generation of children and young people. This has to stop.
        Five-year-olds are taught the word for "martyr" as part of their first lessons in Arabic; 11-year-olds taught that martyrdom and jihad are "the most important meanings of life"; and teenagers taught those who sacrifice themselves will be rewarded with "72 virgin brides in paradise." The massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics is cited as a good example of "Palestinian resistance" against "Zionist interests abroad."
        There is no suggestion that peace with Israel is desirable or possible and references to previous peace agreements, summits and proposals, which were present in schoolbooks, have been expunged. In their place are lies about the Al-Aqsa mosque being under threat and calls to conquer Haifa and Jaffa.
        These lessons in hatred are being funded through the UK's Department for International Development. British aid should support the goal - shared by MPs across the House of Commons - of a two-state solution. It cannot and must not make that goal harder to achieve. The writer is a Labour Member of Parliament. (Jewish News-UK)

  • Some media outlets are prepared to devote months of journalistic effort in order to trace the trajectory of a single bullet that accidentally kills a Palestinian - provided the bullet is Israeli. But when the shots are being fired by Hamas, the story barely rates in most Western news accounts.
  • The current round of demonstrations in Gaza comes in reaction to years of Hamas' economic mismanagement. This is not for lack of funds on Hamas' part: Since 2012, the group has taken in over a billion dollars from Qatar alone to pay the costs of fuel, humanitarian aid and civil-servant salaries.
  • In 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that Hamas had spent $90 million building attack tunnels into Israel, at an average cost of nearly $3 million a tunnel. The material devoted to each tunnel was "enough to build 86 homes, seven mosques, six schools or 19 medical clinics." Three wars against Israel, each started by Hamas, have also taken their toll in lives, injuries, and infrastructure.
  • You shouldn't be surprised by the scantiness of Western coverage: It would complicate a convenient narrative of the Israel-Palestinian conflict that holds that the former is the oppressor. Yet more Palestinians have died in Syria in the last decade, mainly on account of the depredations of Bashar al-Assad, than have been killed by Israel.
  • And Palestinians continue to be the victims of leaders who see no reason to subject themselves to regular elections, or financial audits, or criminal investigations, or any other mechanism of political or moral accountability. That lack of accountability is abetted by Western journalism that has been depressingly incurious about any form of Palestinian suffering for which Israel cannot be held responsible.
  • Palestinian lives and livelihoods should matter despite who harms them. A world that shrugs at Hamas' abuse of its own people merely licenses the abuse to continue, unchecked.