April 29, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Foiled Hamas Suicide Attack - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    The Israel Security Agency announced Sunday that it had foiled a Hamas suicide car bombing attack near Maale Adumim outside Jerusalem.
    Authorities arrested Yahya Abu Dia, 23, from the West Bank village of Az Za'ayyim on March 31, who was to act as the suicide bomber.

Report: Iran Limits Its Plans in Syria (Asharq al-Awsat-UK)
    Israel's military operations in Syria, as well as the economic situation in Iran, prompted Tehran to give up a large part of its plans and limit its objectives in Syria, Israeli intelligence sources told Maariv on Thursday.
    Israeli intelligence officials also believe that Israeli operations in Syria will slow down Hizbullah's growing power and armament.
    As Iran's dream in Syria fades away, it shifted its attention to Iraq, where it has been increasing its influence.

University of Maryland Student Government Rejects BDS - Victoria Ebner (Diamondback-U. of Md.)
    The University of Maryland Student Government Association voted 25-9, with two abstentions, on Wednesday to reject a bill urging the university to divest from companies involved with Israel. 74 students spoke in opposition to the bill, while 55 spoke in favor.
    A petition against the resolution was signed by 1,086 students, according to a representative from Terps United Against BDS.
    A letter sent Tuesday to outgoing SGA President Jonathan Allen, signed by seven of the state's U.S. Representatives and Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin, called the resolution "profoundly counterproductive."

Human Rights Group Documents Hamas Abuses - Entsar Abu Jahal (Al-Monitor)
    On April 23, the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights released a fact sheet documenting human rights abuses in Gaza.
    Between March 1, 2018, and March 1, 2019, the Hamas government security services detained 742 people because of their political affiliations.
    The numbers would have been even higher, but the project ended just before the recent wave of popular protests against poor economic conditions in Gaza - during which the security services arrested hundreds of protesters.

IMF: Iran Inflation Could Reach 40 Percent as Economy Shrinks - Davide Barbuscia (Reuters)
    Jihad Azour, director of the International Monetary Fund's Middle East and Central Asia department, told Reuters, "Clearly the re-imposition of sanctions and the removal of the waivers will have additional negative impact on the Iranian economy both in terms of growth and in terms of inflation, where inflation could reach 40% or even more this year."
    Iran's economy shrank by 3.9% last year and is expected to shrink by 6% in 2019. The Iranian rial lost more than 60% in value last year.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • One Dead, 3 Wounded in Synagogue Shooting near San Diego - Jennifer Medina
    John Earnest, 19, entered the Chabad of Poway synagogue north of San Diego on Saturday yelling anti-Semitic slurs, and opened fire with an AR-15-style rifle, killing Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, and wounding 3 others including Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein. The shooter fled the scene and later surrendered to police. President Trump said, "Our entire nation mourns the loss of life, prays for the wounded, and stands in solidarity with the Jewish community. We forcefully condemn the evil of anti-Semitism and hate, which must be defeated."  (New York Times)
        See also Two Wounded in California Synagogue Shooting Are Israelis from Sderot - Michael Bachner
    In the Chabad synagogue shooting in California, Israeli girl Noya Dahan, 8, was hit by shrapnel in the face and leg, while her uncle Almog Peretz, 31, was shot in the leg. The family had moved to San Diego from Sderot in Israel amid incessant rocket attacks from Gaza, some of which had damaged their home.
        Peretz told Israel's Channel 12: "A person with a big rifle, like an M16, entered the synagogue and started shooting everywhere....There were many small kids next to me. I took a little girl who was our neighbor and three nieces of mine and ran. I opened the back door and we ran with all the children to a building in the back. I hid them in that building. As I picked up the girl, the terrorist aimed his weapon at me. I was injured in the leg."  (Times of Israel)
        See also U.S. Army Veteran Chased the Gunman - Laura Newberry
    Oscar Stewart, 51, was deployed to Iraq for a year in 2003, and never thought he would hear gunfire again, especially in the U.S.  Stewart knew that the rifle would be useless if he was within five feet of it. So he kept close to the shooter as he chased him into the parking lot. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Rabbi Says Shooter's Gun "Miraculously Jammed" - Amy Taxin (AP)
  • New York Times Says It Is "Deeply Sorry" for Running Anti-Semitic Cartoon - Chris Isidore and Brian Stelter
    After a barrage of criticism, the New York Times said Sunday: "We are deeply sorry for the publication of an anti-Semitic political cartoon last Thursday in the print edition of the New York Times that circulates outside of the United States, and we are committed to making sure nothing like this happens again. Such imagery is always dangerous, and at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise worldwide, it's all the more unacceptable."  (CNN)
        See also below Observations: The New York Times Needs to Reflect Deeply on How It Came to Publish Anti-Semitic Propaganda - Bret Stephens (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Releases Two Prisoners to Syria - Josh Breiner
    Israel on Saturday released two Syrian prisoners to Syria as a gesture of "good will" following the return of the body of Israeli soldier Zachary Baumel who was killed in Lebanon in 1982. The two are a Fatah operative jailed for attempting to kidnap Israeli soldiers and a prisoner jailed for smuggling drugs. Both asked not to be returned to Syria. Baumel's body was retrieved by Russian forces from a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria earlier this month. (Ha'aretz)
  • Report: U.S., Israel Pressuring UN to Increase Monitoring of Hizbullah - Jack Khoury
    The U.S. and Israeli governments are pressuring the UN to monitor Hizbullah's activity south of the Litani River, Hizbullah-linked Al-Akhbar reported Friday. According to the report, UNIFIL has in recent weeks received instructions to begin patrolling areas that were previously not subject to patrols. The report claimed that UNIFIL has added 15 new patrols to inspect areas that Israel claims Hizbullah uses to hide missile batteries. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Jews Shouldn't Have to Pay with Their Lives to Gather in Prayer - Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper
    Something precious and uniquely American is being stripped away from us before our very eyes. Until recently, Americans of all faiths felt secure leaving our homes to go to our churches, synagogues or mosques to pray, socialize with our faith communities and return home in peace. No more.
        Is turning our houses of worship into armed camps the best we can offer our children? We can and should increase training and deploy technological tripwires to "harden" houses of worship. But that cannot stop the hate. We should also demand that all social media platforms stop providing the anti-Semites and racists a platform.
        We American Jews live with the fact that we are the No. 1 target of religious-based hatred. In 2019, we are more worried than ever because anti-Semitism is now accepted in the mainstream of society. Rabbi Marvin Hier is founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, where Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate dean and director of global social action. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Hatred of the Jews Might Not Have Changed, But the Jews Have - Herb Keinon
    History has taught that anti-Semitism will not disappear, regardless of what the Jews do or what ideology they do or do not embrace. It needs to be fought with all tools possible. The difference today is that the Jews now have the ability to stand up for themselves and protect themselves and defend themselves to a degree unthinkable a century ago. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Anti-Semitic Cartoon Blames the Jews - Seth J. Frantzman
    On April 25, the New York Times international edition published a cartoon of a yarmulke-wearing, blind U.S. President Donald Trump being led by a dog with a Star of David collar and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's face for a head. Even if the Times subsequently said it was an error, they thought it was okay to print a cartoon showing the U.S. president being blindly led by the "Jewish dog." It used to be that we were told that Trump was driving a new wave of anti-Semitism in the U.S. But the cartoon depicts him as a Jew.
        Now we see how mainstream it has become to blame the Jews and Israel for the world's problems. The cartoon clearly presents the Jews as secretly controlling the U.S. president. No other country or minority group is subjected to such unrelenting and systematic hatred by mainstream U.S. newspapers. No one would dare to put an Islamic leader's face on a dog, with Islamic symbols, leading the U.S. president. How can we demand zero tolerance for anti-Semitism when this happens? (Jerusalem Post)

  • On Thursday the opinion pages of the New York Times international edition provided a textbook illustration of anti-Semitism. Except that the Times wasn't explaining anti-Semitism.
  • It was purveying it in the form of a cartoon in which a guide dog with the face of Benjamin Netanyahu leads a blind, fat Donald Trump wearing dark glasses and a black yarmulke. The dog-man wears a collar from which hangs a Star of David.
  • Here was an image that, in another age, might have been published in the pages of Der Sturmer. The Jew in the form of a dog. The small but wily Jew leading the dumb and trusting American. The hated Trump being Judaized with a skullcap. What was this cartoon doing in the Times?
  • For some Times readers - or former readers - the Times has a longstanding Jewish problem, dating back to World War II, when it mostly buried news about the Holocaust, and continuing into the present day in the form of intensely adversarial coverage of Israel. On the editorial pages, its overall approach toward the Jewish state tends to range from tut-tutting disappointment to thunderous condemnation.
  • The real story is a bit different. The international edition has a much smaller staff, and far less oversight than the regular edition. Incredibly, the cartoon was selected and seen by just one midlevel editor right before the paper went to press.
  • The cartoon's publication wasn't a willful act of anti-Semitism but was an astonishing act of ignorance of anti-Semitism at a publication that is otherwise hyper-alert to nearly every conceivable expression of prejudice. Imagine if the dog on a leash had been a prominent woman such as Nancy Pelosi, a person of color such as John Lewis, or a Muslim such as Ilhan Omar?