May 27, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

German Anti-Semitism Official: Don't Wear Kippot in Public - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
    The German government's commissioner to combat anti-Semitism, Felix Klein, said on Saturday that the country's Jewish community should avoid wearing kippot in public because of rising anti-Semitism.
  Klein is the first federal government representative to declare that Jews cannot practice their religion in public spaces because of the danger in Germany."I cannot advise Jews to wear the kippot everywhere all the time in Germany," Klein said.
    See also Response by U.S. Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell (Twitter)
    The opposite is true. Wear your kippa. Wear your friend's kippa. Borrow a kippa and wear it for our Jewish neighbors. Educate people that we are a diverse society.

Israeli President Defiant to German Recommendation to Remove Kippot - Benjamin Kerstein (Algemeiner)
    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin issued a defiant statement in reaction to the German recommendation: "We acknowledge and appreciate the moral position of the government of Germany and its commitment to the Jewish community that lives there, but fears about the security of German Jews are a capitulation to anti-Semitism and an admittance that, again, Jews are not safe on German soil."
  "We will never submit, will never lower our gaze, and will never react to anti-Semitism with defeatism - and we expect and demand our allies act in the same way."
    See also Top German Paper to Print Cutout Kippah in Solidarity with Jews (Times of Israel)
    The editor of Bild, Germany's largest newspaper, said he will print a Jewish skullcap on the front page of Monday's paper so Germans can cut it out and wear it in solidarity with the local Jewish community.

Murderer of Sarah Halimi Will Avoid Criminal Trial, French Jewish Defense Group Says - Ben Cohen (Algemeiner)
    A leading French Jewish organization said on Friday that it had "learned with consternation" that the man accused of murdering Jewish pensioner Sarah Halimi in April 2017 will not face a criminal trial. A statement, carried by the Jewish publication Alliance, said that the investigating magistrate in the Halimi case had concluded that the murderer, Kobili Traore, was heavily intoxicated on marijuana when he committed the killing, and mentally unfit to stand trial.

Israel Reveals Details of Samir Kuntar's Assassination near Damascus (Asharq Al-Awsat - UK)
    A former Israeli army officer confirmed Israel's responsibility for the assassination of "the dean of liberated detainees from Israeli prisons," Samir Kuntar, in Jaramana, near Damascus, in late 2015.
  Kuntar, who spent nearly 30 years in Israeli prisons and was involved in fighting with the Syrian regime forces and Lebanese Hizbullah party in the ongoing war in Syria, was killed in an air strike targeting him.
  Before his assassination, six members of Hizbullah and an Iranian military official were killed in an Israeli raid on Kuneitra, southern Syria in early 2015. Among those killed was Jihad Mughniyeh, son of the group's late military leader Imad Mughniyeh, who was assassinated in Damascus in 2008.
  Syrian opposition officials at the time said that the victims of the raid were members of Kuntar's unit.
  The details of his assassination had remained a mystery until they were revealed by former Israeli army officer, Lt. Marco Morno, and published on Israel's Mfzak website. The information disclosed by Morno was allowed to be published under military censorship.

News Resources - North America and Europe:
  • New Report Shows How a Pro-Iran Group Spread Fake News Online - Scott Shane and Ronen Bergman
    Citizen Lab, a research group at the University of Toronto, says it discovered a pro-Iranian influence operation that used elaborate look-alike websites and social media to spread bogus articles online and to attack Iran's adversaries. Gabrielle Lim, a fellow at Citizen Lab, called the pro-Iran operation "a sprawling disinformation assembly line" that has operated since at least 2016.
      Raz Zimmt, an expert on Iran at Israel's Institute for National Security Studies and a former Israeli military intelligence officer, said Iran has turned to cyberattacks and online influence campaigns in part because of military weakness.
      Citizen Lab said it had identified 73 web domains created by the group, 135 ersatz articles it had posted and 11 fake identities like Mona A. Rahman, often used as bylines on the fake articles. (New York Times)
  • Foundation Files Formal Complaint with NY State against Rockefeller Brothers Foundation BDS Ties
    The Rieders Foundation filed a formal complaint with the New York state division of Human Rights on Monday May 20, 2019 against the Rockefeller Brother's Foundation (RBF) for its extensive and well-documented donations to groups with anti-Semitic and anti-Israel bias.
      According to the foundation, recipients of RBF grants include, Ifnotnow, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights. Organizations such as Defense for Children International (which received $25,000 from the RBF in 2017) employed board members and workers with direct ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), "a terrorist organization designated as such by the U.S., EU, Canada, and Israel." (The Jewish Voice)
  • NYU President Condemns Pro-BDS Graduation Speaker after Seen Applauding Him
    "We are sorry that the audience had to experience these inappropriate remarks," said New York University president Andrew Hamilton. "A graduation should be a shared, inclusive event; the speaker's words - one-sided and tendentious - indefensibly made some in the audience feel unwelcome and excluded."
      Guest speaker Steven Thrasher had declared, "I am so proud, so proud, of NYU's chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voices for Peace for supporting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against the apartheid state government in Israel." (Jewish News Syndicate)
        See also Statement by Northwestern University on Steven Thrasher Joining Northwestern Faculty (Northwestern Now)
News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:
  • Iranian General: We've Exported our Culture to Armed Groups in Yemen, Gaza, Lebanon
    The assistant to the Iranian army's chief, Brigadier General Hassan Seifi, said that they have been able to "export their culture" to armed groups in Yemen, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan who can "overcome the largest army in the world."
      The Iranian general ruled out war with the United States amid tensions between the two countries. However, he stressed, the Iranian forces "are fully ready ... and any attack on Iran will be expensive for the United States," he wrote in the Iranian Mehr news agency. (Al Arabiya - Dubai)
  • Palestinian Authorities Thwarted an ISIS Terror Attack in Israel
    Ala' Bashir, a 23-year-old Palestinian woman from a village near Kalkilya, joined ISIS through "Telegram" and was planning to execute a terror attack in Israel. She was arrested by Palestinian authorities beforehand for "attempting to shake regional stability."
      Bashir joined ISIS who then taught her through manuals sent through the internet, how to assemble large explosive devices, which she could strap to herself and commit a suicide terror attack in the heart of Israeli territory. (Jerusalem Post)
  • VOA Persian Broadcasts a Powerful Message from an Iranian Regular Army Officer to the People of Iran
    In recent months, with the Iranian regime's steady decline and the open hatred of the Iranian people for the Shi'a regime, the regular army has begun to communicate its refusal to collaborate with the regime against Iranian protesters and those who are calling for regime change.
      On Friday, May 17th, The Last Page, a show on Voice of America's Persian Network News (PNN) which is accessed by millions of Iranians inside Iran, via satellite, broadcast a verified recording from an Iranian regular army officer who issued a warning for the Islamic regime's officials and statement of support for the people of Iran.(Video) (ISICRC)
  • Egypt Sent Military Helicopters to Battle Wildfires in Israel - Anna Ahronheim
    More than 70 years after the last Spitfires of King Farouk's Royal Egyptian Air Force were seen in the skies above Ashdod (then Isdud) and 40 years since Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty, Egypt's Air Force was back on Friday, this time for a different kind of fight with their former enemy.
      Cairo came to Jerusalem's aid, sending two Mi-8 transport helicopters to battle brush fires which broke out in Israel's south. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The World Faces Many Tragedies. The Lack of a Palestinian State Ranks Low on the List - James Kirchick
    Few regional conflicts attract more diplomatic energy, media coverage and attention on the part of human rights activists than that between Israel and the Palestinians. Figures on all sides of this intractable dispute endow it with an awesome significance demanding our utmost concern.
      By investing the Palestinian cause with such monumental importance, politicians and polemicists mistake a regional quarrel for a global struggle.
      As the so-called "Arab Spring" demonstrated, what really motivates the Arab masses are not Israeli settlements in the West Bank but the daily indignities of their own lives, blame for which lies with their rulers, not the Jews. And as for those rulers, Shia Iran's growing assertiveness on a variety of fronts - a nuclear program on the threshold of weaponization, suborning the genocidal Assad regime, fueling the ruinous war in Yemen - has led the Sunni Arab states to reach a historic realignment with the nation they used to lambaste as "the Zionist entity."
      The amount of global resources heaped upon the Palestinians appears wholly disproportionate when contrasted to the measly efforts expended upon other stateless peoples, like the Tibetans and Kurds.
      That the Palestinians lack a state is a tragedy, but it is a tragedy largely of their own making. More than once have they been presented with the opportunity to create a sovereign country alongside Israel; each and every time they responded with violence. On the long and growing list of world problems, the absence of a Palestinian state ranks somewhere between the conflicts over Transnistria and Western Sahara, neither of which you are likely to read about on newspaper front pages. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Trump's 'Emergency' to Justify Saudi Arms Sales - Eli Lake
    For more than a year now, Senator Bob Menendez has delayed the sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to make a point about the war in Yemen. On Friday, the Trump administration went ahead with those sales over his objections to make a point about the threat from Iran.
      In an interview Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put it like this: "There is an urgency to the matter. You can see the destabilizing activity in the Middle East." He said later that the arms sales were designed in part to deter Iran from further attacks by its own forces or proxies. (Bloomberg)

Israel Destroyed Syria's Nuclear Potential. What Would The World Look Like Now If They Hadn't? - Yaakov Katz (Newsweek)
  • Meir Dagan, the renowned and feared head of the Mossad took a seat on the couch in the West Wing of the White House. Vice President Dick Cheney settled into a large blue wing chair to his right. Not one for small talk, Dagan got straight to the point."Syria is building a nuclear reactor," the Mossad chief said in his thick Israeli accent. "For Syria to have a nuclear weapons program, to have a nuclear weapon, is unacceptable."
  • Dagan then pulled the first folder out of his bag and spread dozens of color photos on the coffee table. Cheney lifted one. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and his deputy, Elliott Abrams, took another. They could clearly make out a concrete building under construction, with some large pipes being installed inside. There was nothing yet that showed the building to be a nuclear reactor. It didn't have the typical dome or smokestacks, the trademarks of nuclear facilities.
  • "That is the nuclear reactor," Dagan told the group. It was a gas-cooled, graphite-moderated reactor, he explained, used to produce plutonium, and was being built as an almost exact replica of the Yongbyon nuclear reactor in North Korea. The concrete building on the exterior was a fa├žade to hide what was really inside.
  • The Americans were speechless. Cheney, Hadley and Abrams just watched and listened as Dagan explained in detail what the pictures showed. In one, two men posed in front of the concrete structure. One of the men, of Asian ethnicity, was wearing a blue tracksuit. The man he was standing next to, Dagan said, was Ibrahim Othman, head of Syria's Atomic Energy Commission.
  • Dagan then showed his hosts another photo. It was the same Asian man, although this time he was wearing a tailored suit and tie. From their intelligence experience, the Americans knew what they were seeing. It was a photo taken at a recent meeting of the Six-Party Talks, the negotiations America and other Western superpowers were conducting with North Korea in an effort to stop its rogue nuclear program. The man in the photo, Dagan said, was Chon Chibu, one of the scientists in charge of the Yongbyon nuclear reactor.
  • The news was earth-shattering. Until then, there was no evidence in the U.S. intelligence community to support what Dagan was claiming. Not a clue.
  • Excerpt from the new book, Shadow Strike, by Yaakov Katz.