April 22, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli President, IDF Chief of Staff Celebrate Passover with 400 Lone Soldiers - Zack Evans (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin celebrated Passover with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi and 400 soldiers from 35 countries whose parents live outside Israel.
    Rivlin said, "Passover is a holiday where families gather for the Seder meal. We are your family and you are our family."
    See also Lone Soldiers in Israel (JNS)
    There are 6,581 lone soldiers in the IDF from 76 different countries. They include 882 from the U.S., 596 from the Ukraine and 479 from Russia.

Militant Attacks Kill nearly 50 Syrian and Allied Soldiers (AP-Washington Post)
    Syrian government forces came under separate attacks from Islamic State militants and al-Qaeda-linked insurgents that killed nearly 50 soldiers and allied fighters.
    Beginning on Thursday, clashes with ISIS in the desert in Homs province killed 27 soldiers.
    Separately, insurgents of al-Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahir al-Sham attacked government forces in northwest Syria, where a cease-fire is supposed to be in place, killing 21 soldiers and allied fighters.

ISIS True Believers Regroup Inside Refugee Camp, Terrorize the "Impious" - Erin Cunningham (Washington Post)
    A militant band of women loyal to the Islamic State is terrorizing others in the Al-Hol displacement camp in northeastern Syria, demanding they adhere to the strict codes once enforced by ISIS.
    The true believers have been threatening those they consider impious, brandishing knives, spitting and throwing stones at them, and even burning down their tents.
    The militant women have targeted health staff and aid workers, calling them "infidels."
    Many have pledged to resurrect the caliphate should they ever be released.

France Tells Lebanon: Israel Won't Tolerate Iranian-Backed Missile Plant (Times of Israel)
    France has warned Lebanon that Israel will not tolerate the existence of an Iranian-backed manufacturing facility for precision-guided missiles located inside the country, the London-based Al-Hayat reported on Saturday.
    France expects Lebanon to take action against the facility.

Head of UN Peacekeeping Force in Golan Heights Dies Unexpectedly in Israel (Ha'aretz)
    The head of UNDOF, the UN Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights, Maj.-Gen. Francis Vib-Sanziri of Ghana, died suddenly on Friday at the age of 62.

Israel Ranked as 8th Most Influential Country in the World in 2019 - Ilanit Chernick (Jerusalem Post)
    U.S. News & World Report ranked Israel as the world's 8th-most influential country in 2019, similar to 2018.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. to Eliminate Iran Oil Waivers after May 2 - Nick Wadhams
    The Trump administration won't renew waivers that let countries buy Iranian oil without facing U.S. sanctions, according to four people familiar with the matter. The current set of waivers - issued to China, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey - expire May 2. Other suppliers, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, will offset the loss of Iranian crude on the market.
        "The maximum pressure campaign could not be maximalist until the administration cut off Iran's oil exports," said Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. "With this decision, Iran's economy will be under severe pressure as its hard currency earnings dry up and its foreign exchange reserves plummet."  (Bloomberg)
        See also U.S. Will Try to Force Iranian Oil Exports to Zero - Josh Rogin
    Greece, Italy and Taiwan have already reduced their Iranian oil imports to zero. The administration's ramping up of its "maximum pressure" campaign is meant to starve the regime of the cash it needs to perpetrate its malign activities around the world. Iranian oil exports in March were at 1 million barrels per day, down from 2.5 million bpd in April 2018. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Ambassador's Passover Wishes in Polish Met with Anger
    U.S. Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher wished Jews a happy Passover in Polish on Friday, and the reaction was a wave of angry comments on Twitter. She also wished Poles a happy Easter on Sunday. By then, Mosbacher had been accused of offending Poland with her Passover tweet and reminded she is serving in a predominantly Roman Catholic country.
        Also Sunday, Polish media reported that residents of Pruchnik in southeast Poland carried out a Good Friday tradition of beating and burning an effigy that was styled to look like an Orthodox Jew. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Winnipeg Restaurant Severely Vandalized and Spray-Painted with Anti-Semitic Graffiti - Ahmar Khan (CBC News-Canada)
  • Ukraine Elects Jewish President - Cnaan Liphshiz
    Comedian Volodymyr Zelensky had such a dramatic lead in exit polls Sunday that it prompted a concession of defeat by incumbent Petro Poroshenko even before the official results were in, Radio Liberty reported. When Zelensky is sworn in, his prime minister will be Volodymyr Groysman. Both the president and prime minister are Jewish. (JTA)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Abbas Wants a Humanitarian Crisis - Judith Bergman
    PA President Abbas is willing to create a humanitarian crisis in the West Bank as long as it encourages the murder of Jews. Israel decided to deduct money from taxes that Israel collects on behalf of the PA in order to implement a law to freeze funds used to pay Arab terrorists and their families. The sum comprises 5% of the PA's revenues. Abbas responded by announcing that the PA will refuse to receive any of the taxes collected by Israel - an average $187 million a month.
        The move is cynically aiming at creating a financial crisis in the PA which could lead to a humanitarian crisis. The PA has already announced pay cuts for its civil servants, while salaries to terrorists and their families will be paid in full. The PA also announced that it will no longer permit its citizens to travel for medical treatment in Israel. In 2015, over 20,000 Palestinians received medical treatment in Israeli hospitals. (Mida)
  • Iran's Rivalry with Russia in Syria - Zvi Bar'el
    Iran has learned that despite the military and economic assistance it gave Assad, the Syrian president favors Russia, to which he granted franchises to develop the Syrian oil fields and huge contracts to rehabilitate infrastructures after the war. The economic rivalry between Iran and Russia was reflected last week in clashes between Iranian militia forces and Russian forces near Aleppo's vegetable market over controlling checkpoints and charging commissions.
        Iran also blames Russia for indirectly coordinating the last Israeli air force attack on its forces in Syria with Israel. Iranian commentators believe Russia and Israel are planning to dispossess Iran of its achievements in Syria. (Ha'aretz)
  • How Hamas Controls the Gaza Border Marches
    A year has passed since the Palestinian "Return" marches at the Gaza border began. While they began as an initiative of social activists, Hamas quickly took control of the marches even before the first march took place. Hamas determines the nature of the marches and regulates their level of violence, in accordance with its strategy.
        Hamas encouraged the establishment of a civilian leadership for the marches called the "Supreme National Authority of the Return Marches and Lifting the Siege." Yet it is Hamas that gives the marches their organizational, logistical, political and media framework. Hamas operatives are those who are close to the border fence and engage in clashes with the IDF. Hamas operatives constitute the highest percentage of those who died during the marches. (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)

  • How did it happen that former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who had never been to either Israel or the UN before accepting the diplomatic assignment as America's UN ambassador, would come to earn a reputation as a pathbreaker, a reputation now widely endorsed by both friends and enemies of Israel? I have thoughts on these questions, having served as Haley's deputy.
  • Four factors account for Haley's extraordinary performance.
    • First, President Donald Trump supported everything Haley did at the UN. Had he not, she would not have been able to do it.
    • Second, Trump does not micromanage people he trusts. Trump and Haley got along quite well. They spoke frequently and he valued her counsel.
    • Third, Haley was a member of the president's Cabinet and National Security Council. She was a policymaker, not just a messenger.
    • Fourth, Haley decided early in her tenure that American interests at the UN, and American principles more broadly, required steadfast support for Israel.
  • There was a gross disparity between the size of American financial assistance the Palestinians received and the extreme degree to which they rhetorically or otherwise opposed American policies.
  • The Palestinian Authority refused even to meet with any U.S. representative, yet between UNRWA and direct aid, the U.S. was sending them well over half a billion dollars a year.
  • Haley challenged and disproved some important basic assumptions about Middle East policy. It turns out that the U.S. can support Israel strongly and still work closely with Arab states to promote common interests.
  • Even if future U.S. administrations revert back to the policies of the past, these old assumptions will remain disproven.