May 28, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

German Government U-Turns to Urge Solidarity in Wearing of Jewish Kippa (Telegraph - UK)
    The German government has called on people to wear the Jewish kippa ahead of an anti-Israel protest as a demonstration of solidarity and as Jews face a spike in anti-Semitism, withdrawing an earlier warning against wearing the traditional skullcap.
    "The state must see to it that the free exercise of religion is possible for all... and that anyone can go anywhere in our country in full security wearing a kippa," Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman told a press conference.
    Felix Klein, the country's commissioner on anti-Semitism, reversed his earlier warning on wearing kippot. "I call on all citizens of Berlin and across Germany to wear the kippa next Saturday if there are new, intolerable attacks targeting Israel and Jews on the occasion of al-Quds day in Berlin," Klein stated.

French Police Arrest Four over Lyon Package Bomb Blast (Agence France Presse)
    French police have arrested four people over a package bomb explosion in the heart of the city of Lyon last week that injured 13 people. According to Paris prosecutors, the suspected bomber is a 24-year-old Algerian computer student, who was arrested along with his parents and another Algerian friend. Police also questioned the main suspect's sister.
    The explosive device, filled with screws and ball bearings, was placed in front of a bakery near the corner of two crowded pedestrian streets in the historic center of Lyon.

China's Sichuan Province Signs 18 Cooperation Agreements, MOUs with Israel (Xinhua)
    A total of 18 cooperation agreements and memoranda of understanding (MOUs) were signed between China's southwestern province of Sichuan and Israel in Tel Aviv on Monday. Delegates from the Sichuan provincial government, research and education institutions and companies signed these agreements and MoUs with Israeli partners at the China (Sichuan)-Israel Science, Technology and Trade Conference. The value of the agreements signed in the sectors of economy, trade, and investment surpassed $350 million U.S. dollars.

Robert L. Bernstein, Publisher and Champion of Dissent, Dies at 96 - Robert D. McFadden (New York Times)
    Robert L. Bernstein, who built Random House into an international publishing giant and founded Human Rights Watch, died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 96.
    He retired in 1998 after 20 years at the helm of HRW. But in a 2009 Op-Ed article in The New York Times, Mr. Bernstein accused Human Rights Watch of anti-Israeli bias, saying it condemned "far more" human rights abuses in Israel than in other Middle Eastern countries ruled by "authoritarian regimes with appalling human rights records."

Iraq to Seek Compensation from Israel for '81 Airstrike on Osirak Reactor (Middle East Memo)
    Iraq's parliament is considering legislation that would, if approved, call on the Iraqi government to formally demand compensation from Israel for a 1981 airstrike that destroyed the country's French-built Osirak nuclear reactor. The draft legislation seeks compensation from Israel for casualties and material damage incurred by the strike.

News Resources - North America and Europe:
  • Amid Tensions, Iran's Crude Buyers Jump Ship - Benoit Faucon
    One month after the Trump administration said it would tighten its ban on Iran's oil sales, the country's direct crude buyers have all but vanished, traders and executives in the Islamic Republic say.
        Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in late April the end of exemptions to eight countries that had been allowed to buy crude despite a U.S. ban on Iran's exports. Since then, China, India, Turkey, South Korea and Japan have ended all direct purchases of Iranian crude and condensates, they said. Three others - Taiwan, Greece and Italy - had been unable to use the waiver due to banking and insurance issues. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Israel's SodaStream Hosts Thousands for Ramadan Iftar Feast
    SodaStream hosted nearly 3,000 Muslims and Jews for a Ramadan fast-ending Iftar meal at its factory in the southern Israel town of Rahat. Bedouins and Jewish Israelis and some Palestinians attended the feast on Monday along with U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
        Friedman wrote on Twitter that he had "the pure joy" to attend, and touts SodaStream as a paragon of peace: "Muslims, Druze, Christians and Jews working together, each making the other better, happier and more prosperous."
        SodaStream, manufacturer of fizzy drink-machines and other bubbly products, shut its West Bank factory in 2015 amid boycott calls and opened a new facility in the predominantly Bedouin town of Rahat. (Associated Press)
  • 530 Multinationals from 35 Countries Innovating in Israel - Amir Mizroch
    Israel is emerging as a leading innovation destination for a growing number of multinational corporations looking to the country's 6,000 plus startups for new ideas, quick prototyping ability, and infectious entrepreneurial culture, a new report shows.
        The report, commissioned by tech NGO Start-Up Nation Central,maps for the first time the activities of some 539 multinational companies (MNCs) representing 35 countries, who are currently active in Israel. It tracks the evolution of their innovation activity, showing that companies tend to increase and diversify their innovation activity with time in market, for example, going from tech-led R&D centers to operating startup accelerators and engaging in joint ventures. (Start-Up Nation Central/Forbes)
News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:
  • IDF Attacks Syrian Anti-Aircraft Battery
    The IDF attacked an anti-aircraft battery on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights Monday, after a round was fired at an Israeli fighter jet flying a routine mission over northern Israel, said an IDF Spokesman. "The IDF views with gravity any threat against its planes and takes active measures to defend them," the message said. The missile landed in Syrian territory and did not harm the aircraft. Syrian state media reported that an Israeli rocket attack struck the country's south, killing one soldier and injuring another. (Ynet)
  • Wounded British and Israeli Veterans to Compete in Sporting Event - Anna Ahronheim
    More than 100 disabled veterans from Israel and the United Kingdom will join forces next week in Israel for a groundbreaking celebration of family and sports.
        The Veteran Games, being held May 26-30 in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem at rehabilitation centers run by Beit Halochem, will see participants compete, try new sports, and learn about how their respective countries provide specialist care for those wounded in combat. The games will include a three-day conference about PTSD. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also U.S. Army Veterans Find Comfort in Israel on U.S. Memorial Day - Alan Rosenbaum
    277 U.S. Army veterans traveled to Israel with the Jewish National Fund-USA partner Heroes to Heroes, a U.S.-based organization that provides spiritual healing and peer support for American combat veterans who have attempted suicide or are on a path to self-destruction. In partnership with JNF-USA, American and Israeli military veterans are also able to meet and bond during a 10-day journey to Israel, where teams of 12 to 14 U.S. vets are led by program alumni. While in Israel, the vets are joined by their Israeli counterparts and visit various sites important to Israel's path to independence. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Tensions Grow between Russia, Iran in Syria - Sirwan Kajjo
    Russian military police last week reportedly carried out a raid against Iranian-backed militiamen stationed at Syria's Aleppo international airport, local media reported. In the aftermath, several Iranian militia leaders were arrested in what was seen as the latest episode of tensions between Iranian and Russian forces in Syria.
        As the war is waning, with Syrian regime forces reclaiming most of the territory once controlled by rebel forces, Russia and Iran seem to be vying for influence in the war-torn country.
        "There are definite tensions that exist between Russia and Iran within Syria," said Phillip Smyth, a researcher at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who closely follows Iranian-backed militias in Syria. "You see things like this [raid in Aleppo] that occur in flashpoint zones because there's criminal activity going on. Each country's proxy wants a cut of that," he said. (Voice of America)
        See also Iranian Militias in Syria under Pressure from all Sides - Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami
    "Former allies Iran and Russia are now shifting from the phase of cooperation and coordination to one of confrontation." (Arab News - Saudi Arabia)
  • The Nuclear Deal Crumbles - Matthias Kuntzel
    Iran cannot break the nuclear agreement and intend to stay in it at the same time.
        Iran's tactic of nuclear extortion is not aimed at Russia or China but rather explicitly at the European Union. Rouhani is giving the E3-Great Britain, France, Germany-an ultimatum: either you protect us from the stepping up of sanctions by the United States or the nuclear deal collapses and we resort to the nuclear option once again, whatever the cost.
        Even on May 8, 2019, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas celebrated the nuclear deal as "a defining moment of diplomacy." For Germany's government, this deal is indeed more than just any agreement. The P5+1 talks enhanced Germany's status: for the first time, Germany was able to shape global policy together with the veto powers of the Security Council.
        In addition, there is an ideological aspect: Germany is economically a superpower but militarily a dwarf. As soon as there is a threat of military force, Germany is no longer relevant.
        Face the facts: the course of the German Iran policy has failed and that with the beginning of Iran's exit from the nuclear deal something fundamentally has changed. (TELOS)
  • Why Iran's Cash Crunch Isn't Disabling Hizbullah Yet - Todd Bensman
    Iran's global battering ram, the U.S.-designated terrorist group Lebanese Hizbullah, has entered such dire financial straits that it can no longer supply free groceries to its employees and beseeches the people to fill donation boxes. So said The Washington Post and The New York Times.
        Hizbullah is not on the ropes. As Iran's global tool of retribution and coercion, and battle-hardened from years of fighting in Syria, it remains a highly dangerous threat to the United States and its allies.
        Left unsaid by both the Post and the Times is that Hizbullah achieved significant financial autonomy from Iran more than a decade ago. How? Starting in about 2006, it moved into Latin America and hit it very big in the international cocaine trafficking industry.
        Experts point out that while Iran was providing Hizbullah up to $200 million per year, our own Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Treasury Department said just one Hizbullah smuggling ring in Central America generated more than $200 million every month.
        Hizbullah's trafficking and globally circuitous money-laundering operations are extensive now, well-reported and notorious in 10 countries across Latin America.
        Former U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman, in an analysis for Brookings, noted that Hizbullah is Iran's "force-multiplier" to carry out its coercive diplomatic agenda. Late salaries to social service employees and delayed payments to suppliers may be interpreted as signs that U.S. sanctions are taking a toll. But, he writes, the organization remains "revolutionary Iran's most successful export and one of its primary tools for deadly mischief regionally and internationally." (The Federalist)

The Old Scourge of Anti-Semitism Rises Anew in Europe - Editorial (New York Times)
  • For years, Europe maintained the comforting notion that it was earnestly confronting anti-Semitism after the horrors of the Holocaust. It now faces the alarming reality that anti-Semitism is sharply on the rise, often from the sadly familiar direction of the far right, but also from Islamists and the far left.
  • The worrisome trend was underscored by a report issued by the German government this month showing that anti-Semitic incidents in Germany had increased by almost 20 percent in 2018 from the previous year, to 1,799, with 69 classified as acts of violence.
  • Anti-Semitism is on the rise all across Europe, as well as in the United States. France reported an increase of 74 percent in anti-Semitic acts in a single year, with 541 incidents reported in 2018. In the United States, attacks on synagogues by white-supremacist gunmen have led the growing list of assaults on Jews. The Anti-Defamation League reported that these attacks more than doubled from 2017 to 2018, to 39, part of a total of 1,879 anti-Semitic incidents.
  • What is clear is that these strains of anti-Semitism - from the right, from the left and from radical Muslims - have morphed into a resurgence of a blight that should have been eradicated long ago, and that is causing serious anxiety among Europe's Jews.
  • More than a third of Europe's Jews said in a poll last year they had considered emigrating in the five years preceding the survey.
  • As appalling as these statistics should be to every European, they should also ring a loud alarm for every American leader of conscience. Speak up, now, when you glimpse evidence of anti-Semitism, particularly within your own ranks, or risk enabling the spread of this deadly virus.