March 27, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Hamas Says Iran Ordered Rocket Attack on Israel - Ilanit Chernick (Jerusalem Post)
    A senior Hamas official told Israel Hayom on Tuesday that the rocket which struck central Israel on Monday was ordered by Iran.
    He claimed that Iran "went over the heads" of the Hamas leadership and ordered Islamic Jihad to carry out the attack.
    Senior officials in both Egypt and Gaza confirmed that Iran had ordered the attack and claimed that the Hamas leadership was aware of the plan to fire the rocket deep into Israeli territory.

U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Network Supporting Iranian Revolutionary Guard - Lesley Wroughton (Reuters)
    The U.S. on Tuesday imposed fresh sanctions on 25 companies and people in Iran, Turkey and the UAE who raised billions of dollars to fund the operations of the Revolutionary Guards.
    "We are exposing an extensive sanctions evasion network that was established by the Iranian regime to evade American sanctions," said Brian Hook, the U.S. special envoy for Iran. "With this action today we are increasing our pressure even further on the Iranian regime."

The Golan Isn't Very High on the Arab or Muslim Agenda - Zvi Bar'el (Ha'aretz)
    Arab countries are expected to condemn President Trump's recognition of Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights, but - unlike the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital - the Golan isn't a holy site. It isn't very high on the Arab or Muslim agenda.
    At the end of the month, the leaders of the Arab countries will gather for their annual summit in Tunisia and will harshly condemn the American decision.
    But as far as they're concerned, the American declaration is a bit of revenge against Assad for massacring his own people.

Bill De Blasio Makes a "Progressive Case" Against BDS Boycotts at AIPAC - Davis Richardson (New York Observer)
    New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio told AIPAC on Monday, "Israel at its core is there to shelter an oppressed people. That is why I am here to make a simple, clear, progressive case for the State of Israel."
    Citing Israel's free market, universal health care, strong labor groups, and multicultural diversity, De Blasio said "a progressive America must always protect the State of Israel."
    "Progressives fight oppression. Progressives shelter those in danger."
    See also Video: New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio at AIPAC (AIPAC)
    See also Nikki Haley: Arab States Don't Believe in their Anti-Israel Campaign Anymore - Benjamin Kerstein (Algemeiner)
    The Arab states themselves don't believe in their diplomatic campaign against Israel anymore, former U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told AIPAC on Monday.

McDonald's Buys Israeli AI Company for $300 Million - Omri Zerachovitz (Globes)
    U.S. fast food giant McDonald's has acquired Israeli AI startup Dynamic Yield for $300 million.
    McDonald's will utilize the Israeli company's decision technology to provide a more personalized customer experience by varying outdoor digital Drive Thru menu displays to show food based on time of day, weather, current restaurant traffic and trending menu items.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israelis Forced to Take Shelter as Gaza Fires Rockets - Deborah Haynes
    Moran Freibach, 48, who lives in Kibbutz Nahal Oz, said he was cooking a barbecue for his wife and children on Monday night when a rocket warning siren started up. The family ran inside and took shelter in two iron-enforced "safe rooms." "This place, 95% of the time, is heaven, (but) 5% of the time - this is 5% of the time," he said.
        A school building has a specially built roof and walls of thick, heavy concrete. A second building is surrounded by concrete blast walls painted with colorful pictures, to try to lighten the mood. The children and their parents are trained to race for shelter the moment the siren sounds. (Sky News-UK)
        See also Video: Hamas Fires Rockets at Israeli Civilians (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Hamas Military Can Sabotage Any Deal Its Political Leaders Make with Israel - Shlomi Eldar
    Israelis are no longer buying the explanation that rockets fired from Gaza are a "mistake" and realize the attacks are deliberate. While the political leadership of Hamas is seeking to advance a long-term cease-fire deal with Israel, Israel is now convinced that Hamas' armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, no longer accepts the authority of the political leadership.
        In other words, Israel may strike a deal with Hamas' top leadership such as Haniyeh and Sinwar, but the head of the al-Qassam Brigades, Mohammed al-Deif, is the one calling the shots and can sabotage any arrangement with Israel. (Al-Monitor)
  • Secretary of State "Saddened, But Not Surprised" by Reactions to Golan Recognition
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked Tuesday about world reaction to the Golan recognition decision. He replied, "I'm saddened by that but not surprised. I remember the move to Jerusalem of our embassy as well. In each case, we're simply recognizing facts on the ground and the reality and doing the right thing. We hope those nations will join us to understand how important that is, how right it is, and we are continuing to have conversations with...each of them about this issue, about our decision and why we believe this is fundamentally the right decision."
        "This is an incredibly unique situation. Israel was fighting a defensive battle to save its nation, and it cannot be the case that a UN resolution is a suicide pact. It simply can't be, and that's the reality that President Trump recognized."  (State Department)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: "The Golan Is Ours by Historic Right and by Right of Self-Defense"
    On Monday, before he returned to Israel from Washington, Prime Minister Netanyahu said: "There is a very important principle in international life - when you start wars of aggression [and] you lose territory, do not come and claim it afterwards....We have historic foundations on the Golan Heights. When you dig there, you discover magnificent synagogues, which we are restoring. We have returned to the Golan....The Golan is ours by historic right and by right of self-defense, and President Trump recognizes this....In historical reckoning this is huge."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Gaza Rockets, Israeli Airstrikes Resume Tuesday Night
    Rocket fire on Israel from Gaza was met with retaliatory airstrikes on Hamas military positions on Tuesday evening. Palestinians fired rockets at Ashkelon, which were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system. (Ynet News)
  • A Shift in the IDF's Response to Gaza Rocket Fire - Ron Ben-Yishai
    There has been a significant shift in the pattern of the IDF's response to rocket fire from Gaza: Attrition will be met with attrition, escalation will be met with escalation. The IDF is attacking targets systematically with two goals in mind: hurting Hamas' military capabilities and infrastructure, and striking into its consciousness that Israel will not hesitate to harm it. The message is that if Hamas escalates the provocations against Israel, it will endanger the survival of its regime. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Crucial Distinction between Acquiring Territory Through Aggression and Acquiring It Through Lawful Self-Defense - Jeff Jacoby
    In recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, President Trump upheld the oft-ignored but crucial distinction between acquiring territory through aggression and acquiring it through lawful self-defense.
        If Israel had seized the Golan Heights as an act of aggression, it would arguably have no right to keep the land. But in 1967, Israel was the target. It seized the Golan in a defensive war against an enemy explicitly bent on its annihilation. Syria forfeited its sovereign right to the territory when it was defeated by its intended victim. To claim otherwise is to claim that a belligerent aggressor should lose nothing for waging an unlawful war. That would be folly.
        By endorsing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan, the U.S. is sending a message of deterrence to would-be warmongers. It's a message that should have been sent years ago. (Boston Globe)
  • Expert: International Law Only Prohibits Taking Territory in a War of Aggression - Israel Kasnett
    The formal U.S. recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli sovereign territory "will doubtless be met by responses that it violates, or condones violation, of international law and will encourage forcible annexation of territory," Eugene Kontorovich, director of International Law at the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum and professor of International Law at George Mason University, told JNS. But "these international legal arguments lack merit." The relevant international law "only prohibits taking territory in a war of aggression."
        "If international law does not allow attacked countries to make border changes in some circumstances, it would actually invite aggression because the attacking country would be ensured against losses to the defender....Israel's sovereignty has only been recognized after it made multiple good-faith peace efforts to return the territory; after Syria lost all legitimacy by committing mass atrocities; and, of course, after a 52-year waiting period."  (JNS)
  • Ceding the Golan to Syria Would Be Unimaginable Military Malpractice - Col. (ret.) L. Scott Lingamfelter
    The Golan Heights, an area of 690 square miles bordering Israel and Syria, overlooks the Sea of Galilee, offering any occupying military force a clear and unobstructed view of the peaceful villages and towns lying below. In 1965, this region was the launch point for Palestinian military raids into Israel. Two years later, Israel took possession of two-thirds of the Golan.
        In 1981, Israel annexed about 500 square miles of the region, a move condemned by the UN, yet regarded by the U.S. as a de facto necessity for Israel's security. One can only marvel at why it has taken so long for the U.S. to recognize that ceding the Golan to Syria would be strategic lunacy and unimaginable military malpractice.
        In clarifying the U.S. position on the Golan, Mr. Trump has cleaned the forest floor of latent kindling ready to erupt in military incursions by Iran's Hizbullah and other militias. The writer served as a U.S. military observer with the UN in the Golan Heights. (Washington Times)
  • Why Israel Must Act Unilaterally to Defend Itself - Michael Rubin
    The real reason why Israel should possess the Golan is because recent events show the international community is too craven to be trusted to defend it against annihilationist aggression.
        Consider international silence with regard to China's imprisonment of more than 1 million Uighur Muslims in concentration camps. Germany not only has refused to stop lethal trade with Iran, but its foreign ministry actively celebrated Iran's Islamic Revolution. Why? A desire for commercial advantage. The irresistibility of a good business deal is also why Dutch firms provided the chemical precursors which Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein used against the Kurds 31 years ago.
        After surviving the Holocaust but losing 6 million of their own, Jews often say "Never Again." Israelis, who have faced their neighbors' efforts to wipe them off the map several times before, mean it. Jews understand that no other state experiences persistent efforts to end its existence. The writer is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official. (Washington Examiner)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the 2019 AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington on Tuesday by video link.
  • Those who seek to undermine American support for Israel must be confronted. Despite what they claim, they do not merely criticize the policies of Israel's government. They spew venom that has long been directed at the Jewish people.
  • Again, the Jews are cast as a force for evil. Again, the Jews are charged with disloyalty. Again, the Jews are said to have too much influence, too much power, too much money.
  • What is the best way to respond to this kind of hatred? We read it just a few days ago in the Book of Esther when Mordechai confronted Haman of Persia. The best way to respond to those who hate the Jews is not to bow down to them. It's to stand up to them. The Jewish people do not bow down. We stand up. We fight. And we win.
  • I am proud of Israel's vibrant democracy, where no one is a second-class citizen. All of Israel's citizens are first-class citizens. All of Israel's citizens, whether Jew or Arab, Muslim, Christian, or Druze, have exactly the same individual rights. We vote in the same elections. We're subject to the same laws. We study in the same universities. And we are also treated in the same hospitals.
  • Contrary to the false attacks and allegations, the Nation State bill did not denigrate any individual rights, which remain sacred and equal for all our citizens.
  • Israel is also the one and only country on earth in which the Jewish people exercise our collective right of self-determination.

        See also Video: Prime Minister Netanyahu at the 2019 AIPAC Policy Conference (AIPAC)