May 29, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

German Intel: Iran Wants to Expand to Weapons of Mass Destruction - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
    The Islamic Republic of Iran is committed to a program of weapons of mass destruction, the domestic intelligence agency for the German state of Bavaria said in its May 2019 intelligence report.
    The hair-raising section of the report states Iran's regime is "making efforts to expand its conventional arsenal of weapons with weapons of mass destruction."
    Fox News first reported on Tuesday that the Bavarian intelligence agency issued a report that "accuses the Islamic Republic of seeking to build weapons of mass destruction." The intelligence report defines weapons of mass destruction as "the spread of atomic, biological, chemical weapons of mass destruction."
    "In order to obtain the necessary know-how and corresponding components, these states [Iran, North Korea, Pakistan] are trying to establish business contacts to companies in highly technological countries like Germany," said the Bavarian intelligence report in its section on weapons of mass destruction.

Japan's Mitsubishi to Open Innovation Center in Israel (Nasdaq/Reuters)
    Japan's Mitsubishi Corp will open an innovation center in Tel Aviv, turning to Israeli start-ups for new technologies, Israel's Economy Ministry said on Monday.
    "In the past two years, company representatives have begun to examine whether they should expand their activity in Israel and focus more on technological cooperation, including investments in Israeli companies," the ministry said in a statement. "They intend to locate innovative technologies in Israel that are relevant mainly to digital transformation," it said.
    Over the past four years, Japanese investment in Israel has topped $5 billion, with more than 70 Japanese firms opening missions in Israel.

Student Claims NYU Has Allowed 'Extreme Anti-Semitism' on Campus - Sara Dorn (New York Post)
    A complaint filed last week with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights claims a NYU pro-Palestinian group created a "hostile atmosphere" for the school's Jewish students.
    The alleged source of the tension is an anti-Israel group, Students for Justice in Palestine, led by Leen Dweik, who went viral last month after she cornered Chelsea Clinton at an NYU vigil for the New Zealand massacre victims.
    Students for Justice in Palestine is "the master of campus strife" between NYU's Jewish students and anti-Israel activists, the complaint notes.

West Point Graduates 1,000th Jewish Student - Cathryn J. Prince (Times of Israel)
    When West Point graduated its 1,000th Jewish cadet Saturday, it was more than a historical moment. For the 12 Jewish cadets graduating this year out of a class of 980, and the hundreds of Jewish alumni before them, this milestone shows how much Jewish life has grown here since the military academy's 1802 founding.

News Resources - North America and Europe:
  • Germany's Merkel Admits Threat to Jews
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was interviewed by CNN's Christiane Amanpour in Berlin, condemned the rise of anti-Semitism in the country, saying Germany "always had a certain number of anti-Semites among us, unfortunately."
        Merkel also condemned the fact that, "there is to this day not a single synagogue, a single day care center for Jewish children, not a single school for Jewish children that does not need to be guarded by German policemen." (AP/New York Times)
  • 'Flying the Hizbullah Flag Risks Arrest' at Quds Day Marches - Ben Cohen
    Quds Day protests and marches were instituted during the final week of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, by Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The rallies call for the elimination of the State of Israel and the "liberation" from the "infidels" of Jerusalem. Alongside Tehran, Beirut and Damascus, "Quds Day" rallies are held in several Western cities, among them London, Berlin and Toronto, under the auspices of pro-Iranian Muslim organizations.
        In London this year, the display of Hizbullah flags at the "Quds Day" march in London will likely result in arrests, following the British Parliament's vote in February to end the UK's controversial distinction between Hizbullah's "political" and "military" wings.
        In Berlin, participants in this year's "Quds Day" march on Saturday will face a counter-demonstration supported by Jewish, Kurdish and LGBT+ groups, among others.
        In Toronto, Jewish activists have been pressuring city authorities to "stop subsidizing this hate rally at taxpayers' expense." (Algemeiner)
        See also Al Quds Day March an Embarrassment to Toronto - Michael Mostyn
    Extremists from across Southern Ontario will gather to spew hate in Toronto - and leave Torontonians footing the bill.
        I call on the City of Toronto to put an end to this madness. I call on city staffers to simply do their jobs, and enforce the city's Hate Activity Policy.
        Michael Mostyn is the chief executive officer of B'nai Brith Canada (Toronto Sun)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Will Iran Display "Heroic Flexibility" and Negotiate with the United States?
    Iran's Intelligence Minister Hajat Al-Islam Mahmoud Alavi declared on May 21, 2019, the need to show "heroic flexibility" to enable the survival of the Islamic regime. These words seem to be in paradox to the inflammatory statements recently exchanged between Iran and the United States.
        Alavi said that the leadership of the Shi'ite community (Imamat) does not insist that the path of uprising is consistently taken. Sometimes a passive strategy is best.
        In 2013, Supreme Leader Khamenei cited ancient Islamic history and counseled the Iranian diplomats starting the nuclear negotiations to show heroic flexibility, determination, and faith in order to achieve Iran's strategic goals.
        The reality today is that both Iran and the United States seem to be interested in avoiding direct confrontation. The words of the Iranian intelligence minister more than hint at the possibility of opening channels of indirect negotiations. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Iran Deeply Concerned over Upcoming Arab Conferences - Heshmat Alavi
    Three fundamental domestic and global elements are placing the regime ruling Iran on the edge of a cliff. However, a conference of Arab countries scheduled for May 30 in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, has resulted in Tehran scrambling senior figures across the Middle East calling for talks and accelerating their tactic of deceptive measures.
        Firstly, sanctions are beginning to bite. The U.S. bringing an end to oil sanctions waivers issued for China, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey and imposing new sanctions on Tehran are beginning to suffocate the mullahs.
        Secondly, the presence of U.S. military forces in the region that has literally terrified the mullahs regime. During the past three decades, Tehran has never paid any price for its interference in regional countries. Currently, Tehran is deeply concerned that this period of taking utter advantage of regional developments is coming to an end.
        Thirdly, the active presence of the Iranian opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its cornerstone member, the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), inside the country and abroad.
        Looking forward, Arab delegates participating in the Mecca conference should adopt a firm position against the regime of Iran to deliver a strong response to Tehran's recent measures. "No thank you, Mr. Javad Zarif, Iran's proposal is unacceptable," was the title of a piece published in the UAE's Gulf News responding to Zarif's ridiculous suggestion of signing a "non-aggression pact" with Iran's neighbors. (Iran Commentary)
  • What's Beijing Doing in Haifa? - William A. Galston
    In 2015,Israel's Transportation Ministry accepted an offer from the Shanghai International Port Group to operate the port of Haifa for 25 years, starting in 2021, and invest $2 billion to expand the port into Israel's largest harbor. Notably, this decision was taken without the formal involvement of either Israel's security cabinet or its National Security Council.
        In 2018, retired Adm. Gary Roughead, former chief of naval operations, warned Israelis that China's presence in Haifa might force the U.S. Sixth Fleet to abandon the port and dock elsewhere. As he explained in remarks reported in the Jerusalem Post, "The Chinese port operators will be able to monitor closely U.S. ship movements, be aware of maintenance activity, and could have access to equipment moving to and from repair sites and interact freely with our crews over protracted periods."
        Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Israeli officials that if the Chinese deal continued, the U.S. might reduce its intelligence sharing with Israel.
        Underlying this dispute is the remarkable growth in recent years of economic ties between Israel and China. Chinese investment in Israel's high-tech sector is soaring.
        Doing business with China is not the same as doing business with a democracy. Does Israel really want to enable China's rise at the cost of weakening its relationship with its greatest ally? (Wall Street Journal)
  • Libya Post-Qaddafi: Lurching from One Crisis to Another - Nabih Bulos
    On paper, Libya should be booming. It's one of the world's top 10 countries in oil reserves. It has more than a thousand miles of coastline on the Mediterranean. And it serves as a vital conduit linking Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
        But since the Arab Spring revolutions in 2011, when rebel forces, augmented by NATO airstrikes and enforcement of a no-fly zone, toppled the country's longtime ruler, Col. Muammar Qaddafi, the northern African nation has lurched from one crisis to another. As the fighting stretches into its eighth week, it threatens to plunge the country into yet another all-out civil war, its third since Qaddafi was ousted and later killed in October 2011.
        It's hard to say who the good guys are. The cast of characters on both sides includes fighters and commanders sanctioned by the U.N. or indicted by the International Criminal Court.
        What's the reaction of the U.S.? In a word, confused. (Los Angeles Times)

The Impossible Future of Christians in the Middle East - Emma Green (The Atlantic)
  • The precarious state of Christianity in Iraq is tragic on its own terms. The world may soon witness the permanent displacement of an ancient religion and an ancient people. Those indigenous to this area share more than faith: They call themselves Suraye and claim a connection to the ancient peoples who inhabited this land long before the birth of Christ.
  • But the fate of Christianity in places like the Nineveh Plain of Iraq has a geopolitical significance as well. Religious minorities test a country's tolerance for pluralism; a healthy liberal democracy protects vulnerable groups and allows them to participate freely in society. Whether Christians can survive and thrive in Muslim-majority countries is a crucial indicator of whether democracy, too, is viable in those places. In Iraq, the outlook is grim, as it is in other nations in the region that are home to historic Christian populations, including Egypt, Syria, and Turkey. Christians who live in these places are subject to discrimination, government-sanctioned intimidation, and routine violence.
  • Alqosh sits nestled below the mountains that divide Iraq from Turkey. For Christians in the Nineveh Plain, Alqosh is a place of national and religious pride, a way station for important figures in the ancient Christian world that some here compare in significance to Jerusalem or Rome.
  • There's another history to Alqosh. Back through the winding roads of town sits a tomb said to belong to Nahum, a biblical prophet believed to have lived in the region during the seventh century BCE. Jews prayed in this place. The building was a synagogue and the walls are covered in Hebrew. One engraved stone promises, "This will be your dwelling place forever."
  • Jews lived in Alqosh for centuries, and in Iraq for thousands of years, although the priest who showed me around, Father Araam, knew about them only from stories. The Babylonian Talmud, which is the major text of rabbinic Judaism, was written here. Then, over a few short years, the Jews disappeared. Almost all of Iraq's remaining Jews were effectively expelled from the country in the late 1940s and early 1950s amid intense political pressure and mob violence.
  • Priests in the Nineveh Plain see this history as a warning. Their communities, too, could one day be nothing more than overgrown tombs.