July 5, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Syrian Pipeline Explosion Delays Delivery of Iranian Oil (Radio Farda)
    A recent report said that an Iranian oil tanker with one million barrels was waiting off the Syrian coast unable to deliver its cargo because an underwater pipeline delivering the crude to a Syrian refinery had exploded.
    Syrian media blamed a "foreign power" for the explosion.
    Later, Syria announced that the pipeline was repaired and the stranded Iranian tanker finally offloaded its cargo on July 2.

Poll: 80 Percent of Palestinians Believe Arabs Have Abandoned Them - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    80% of Palestinians believe that the participation of Arab countries in the economic workshop in Bahrain signifies Arab abandonment of the Palestinians, according to a poll by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research published on Thursday.
    The survey also showed that 90% of Palestinians do not trust the U.S.
    57% said they want PA President Mahmoud Abbas to resign, while 35% want him to remain in office.
    67% said they believe corruption is deeply rooted in the PA.
    Nearly half of respondents said they support a return to an armed intifada against Israel.

Survey: Almost Half of Young European Jews Experience Anti-Semitism - Patrick Smyth (Irish Times)
    44% of young Jewish people in Europe aged 16-34 have experienced anti-Semitic harassment in the past year, although 80% did not report it, according to a new EU report on anti-Semitism in Europe.
    4% said they had experienced a physical anti-Semitic attack in the last year.
    Victims of anti-Semitic harassment or violence are most likely to describe their assailant as "someone with a Muslim extremist view."
    44% choose not to wear, carry or display Jewish items in public because they are concerned about their safety.
    38% have considered emigrating because they did not feel safe living in Europe.

Israeli Diplomat to Serve on UN Administrative Committee (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli diplomat Yaron Wax was elected this week to serve as Rapporteur of the UN's Fifth Committee, responsible for administration and budget.

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Foreign Powers Stoke Libya's Civil War - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    The war in Libya may appear as a civil war, but the five-year conflict between the Tobruk government's Libyan National Army, led by Gen. Khalifa Haftar, versus the Tripoli-based General National Congress led by Fayez al-Sarraj, is stoked by many outside parties.
    Haftar's forces have accused Turkey of being involved not only with the supply of weapons to the Tripoli government but also of coordinating military operations against its forces.
    According to Libyan sources, Turkey is operating a command and control center in Tripoli, with Turkish officers flying drones and assisting Tripoli's troops.
    At the same time, Tripoli says French and Emirati forces were involved with Haftar's forces, while U.S. and Chinese weapons were delivered to his troops.
    Haftar is supported by Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and France, and is facing a Turkish-Qatari-Jihadist coalition assisting the Tripoli government.
    The writer served as Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence.

Miss Iraq Stands with Israel at UN Human Rights Council (Jerusalem Post)
    Former Miss Iraq Sarah Idan told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday: "The issue between Arabs and Israelis goes beyond policy disagreements. It's deeply rooted in the belief systems taught in Muslim countries, which are anti-Semitic."
    "Two years ago, I represented Iraq at Miss Universe. I posted a photo with Miss Israel on social media. I was told to remove it and forced to denounce Israeli policies. I received death threats. Since then, I can no longer return to my homeland."
    "For advocating peace, I'm called a traitor. Negotiating peace for both states isn't betraying the Arab cause but a vital step to end conflict and suffering for all."

Peace Must Start in Palestinian Schools - Marcus Sheff (Jerusalem Post)
    The American "Peace to Prosperity" plan quite rightly focuses on enhancing Palestinian education. It is the school system that passes on the values that shape subsequent generations.
    By the time Palestinian students finish school, they have been thoroughly radicalized by the current Palestinian textbooks.
    Comprehensive research by IMPACT-se has shown that anti-Semitism is now more prevalent than in previous Palestinian curricula.
    No examples of cooperation between Israel and the PA are taught, and there is no education for coexistence. Instead, Palestinian textbooks are replete with encouragement to violence.
    Young Palestinians are taught to aspire to a life dedicated to jihad - that martyrdom is a realistic and recommended life goal. They are told that choosing death is better than choosing life.
    The writer is CEO of IMPACT-se - The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education.

Israeli Firm to Supply Cyber Intelligence System to Dutch National Police - Adi Pick (Calcalist)
    Cyber Intelligence, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems, will provide the Dutch National Police with a cyber intelligence system, Elbit announced Wednesday.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Seized Oil Tanker Headed to Syria Was Iranian - Jonathan Saul and Parisa Hafezi
    The giant oil tanker seized by Britain in Gibraltar on Thursday for trying to take oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions was Iranian. While the vessel flies a Panama flag and is listed as managed by a company in Singapore, Iran's Foreign Ministry summoned the British ambassador to voice "its very strong objection to the illegal and unacceptable seizure" of its ship, lifting any doubt over Iran's ownership of the vessel. Shipping data reviewed by Reuters suggests the tanker was carrying Iranian oil, although its documents say the oil is from Iraq. (Reuters)
        See also Iran Threatens to Seize British Oil Tanker
    Mohsen Rezai, a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander, warned on Friday that it would be Tehran's "duty" to seize a British oil tanker if an Iranian tanker detained in Gibraltar was not immediately released. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Squeezed by U.S. Sanctions, Iran Shifts to Confrontation - Sune Engel Rasmussen
    Tighter new U.S. sanctions have proved more punishing than Iran's leaders expected, driving Tehran to hit back militarily and breach limits it had agreed to put on its nuclear program. This increasingly confrontational approach aims to raise the costs to the U.S. of its maximum-pressure campaign and to push Western European nations to offer economic relief, according to former Iranian officials and analysts.
        On Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran would enrich uranium beyond 3.67% - a step that would surpass limits imposed by the 2015 nuclear deal. If Iran breaches the accord further, this is likely to trigger a process that could eventually see international sanctions reimposed on Iran.
        The European powers have developed a way for companies to conduct transactions with Iranian companies, but it just became operational and is unlikely to help Iran's economy much. Iran has found ways to smuggle oil, often by turning off ship location equipment and making furtive transfers to other ships, but the limits of those efforts were underlined Thursday when Gibraltar stopped an Iranian tanker headed to Syria. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • PA Increases Salaries to Terrorists by 12 Percent Despite Financial Crisis - Maurice Hirsch and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
    The Palestinian Authority has implemented an 11.8% pay raise to jailed and released terrorists, based on its reported financial expenditures for the first 5 months of 2019. (Palestinian Media Watch)
  • Incoming EU Foreign Policy Czar Tough on Israel, Fond of Iran - Raphael Ahren
    On Tuesday, the European Council nominated Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell Fontelles, a member of the country's ruling Socialist Workers' Party, as the EU's top diplomat. When Borrell was appointed Spain's foreign minister last year, he quickly become a leading voice advocating for recognition of a Palestinian state.
        He also condemned Israel's response to the Palestinian riots on the Gaza border, writing in Republica that it "reflects the dehumanization of the Palestinians by a large part of the Israeli political class and society." In February, he tweeted a congratulatory message celebrating the 40th anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution.
        Notably, he met his first wife in Israel while working on a kibbutz in 1969. In 2005, as president of the European Parliament, he spoke to the Knesset and endorsed Israel's Jewish character, something European officials almost never do. "I wish to reaffirm Europe's commitment to, and its special responsibility for, the existence of Israel as a Jewish state and as a democracy living in security and peace with its neighbors," he declared.
        But, like many European politicians who once used to have sympathy for Israel, "somewhere along the road, he became very critical," an Israeli diplomatic official said. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • Pilgrimage Road and Palestinian Memory - Meir Soloveichik
    Two thousand years ago Jews walked the Pilgrimage Road as they came from around the world to visit the Temple. Rabbinic texts abound with descriptions of the processions that occurred, and the road - first discovered 15 years ago - parallels these details in an exquisite way. Now pilgrims will be able to ascend stairs as their predecessors once did.
        But the Pilgrimage Road is located on land in eastern Jerusalem that Palestinians claim for themselves. Palestinian official Saeb Erekat contended that the road is a "lie that has nothing to do with history." Erekat and many other Palestinian leaders have long denied what archaeologists and historians consider basic and uncontroversial facts, such as the existence of the Temple.
        The excavated path is only one bit of a literal mountain of archaeological evidence, uncovered in most cases by secular archaeologists, that confirms the historical fact of Jerusalem's ancient connection to the Jewish people. In an age where actual facts are all too often eschewed for "personal narrative," the Pilgrimage Road is another reminder that peace can only be attained through the recognition of historical truth.
        The writer is the rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel in Manhattan and director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Real Problem Is the Palestinian Denial of Jewish History - Jonathan S. Tobin
    U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman's presence at the ceremonial opening of Jerusalem's "Pilgrimage Road" was yet another reaffirmation of the absurdity of the Palestinians' denial of Jewish history. The "road" is a tunnel dug underneath a Jerusalem neighborhood that permits visitors to trod the path taken by ancient Jewish pilgrims to reach the Temple Mount.
        Critics complain that the archeological park is part of an effort to "Judaize Jerusalem." But the notion is absurd that Jerusalem - a city that has been integral to Jewish national identity, history and faith for 3,000 years - can be "Judaized." They also point to the fact that some Palestinians have been inconvenienced by the construction. But their real beef is not about cracks developing in walls but that the history the archeologists have unearthed undermines efforts to portray Jews as foreign colonists in their ancient capital.
        Without an acknowledgement on the part of the Palestinians of the truth about the Jewish history that they continue to lie about, true peace is impossible. (JNS)
  • Will Palestinian Islamic Jihad Drag Gaza into a War Against Israel? - Yoram Schweitzer and Aviad Mendelboim
    Over the past year, Islamic Jihad has intensified its independent military actions from Gaza against Israel, including rocket and sniper fire. Its activities are not fully coordinated with Hamas and at times are even undertaken contrary to Hamas' position. Some of its actions are carried out at the initiative of senior local activists, at times against the backdrop of internal conflicts.
        The change in the organization's leadership with the appointment of Ziad al-Nakhla to replace Ramadan Shalah in September 2018 has contributed to the radicalization of its positions and to the implementation of a more aggressive policy. Islamic Jihad now has 6,000 combatants deployed in Gaza equipped with rockets and advanced Iranian ordnance. Yoram Schweitzer heads the Program on Terrorism and Low-Intensity Conflict at INSS, where Aviad Mendelboim is a research assistant. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • The Promise of the U.S. Mideast Plan - Glenn Hubbard
    The U.S. Peace to Prosperity plan for the West Bank and Gaza is sensible and offers the best hope for building sustainable economies in the region. It may not be politically feasible - the Palestinian Authority boycotted the conference in Bahrain last week - but it's a promising approach to foreign aid.
        The plan is based on two important economic observations. First, private business, not charity, is what drives prosperity. Second, Palestinian businesses need access to capital. The plan thus focuses on reforming business practices and building basic infrastructure. The writer, a professor of economics and dean emeritus at Columbia Business School, was Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Palestinians' Eternal "No" - Benny Avni
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas boycotted last week's economic workshop in Bahrain - aimed at creating jobs and opportunity for Palestinians - and his PA vowed to punish anyone going to the conference. Palestinian media trashed those who went as collaborators with Israel and traitors. Such accusations are "unconscionable," tweeted U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt: "No! Betrayal is the PA arresting its own people for having the courage to discuss new ideas for a better life."
        We've seen Palestinian rejection of well-intentioned outside help before. Remember Israel's 2005 withdrawal of all Israeli communities and soldiers from Gaza? Outside donors raised $13 million to assure that the Israeli greenhouses, growing flowers and vegetables for export to Europe, would be transferred to Gazans. But hours after the last Israeli community was evacuated, a Palestinian mob looted and burned those greenhouses.
        David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, said an Arab leader at the Bahrain conference told him that the Palestinians "are no longer a priority. No matter what's on the peace table, their reply is always no. We want strategic and economic ties with Israel and don't want to be held back by them." The Bahrain conference showed that the main stumbling block to creating a Palestinian state is Palestinian leaders. (New York Post)

  • Other Issues

  • Israeli Experts Skeptical about Russia in Syria - Laurie Mylroie
    IDF Col. (res.) Ehud Evental, former head of the strategic planning unit of the Political-Military and Policy Bureau of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, told the Herzliya security conference on Tuesday that the Russians are playing all sides in Syria. They "give us some room to maneuver" to attack Iranian targets in Syria, but they also "give the Iranians freedom of action" to bring weapons into Syria.
        Dr. Dmitry Adamsky, a professor at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy, and Strategy in Herzliya, said, "Russia is trying intentionally to position itself as part of the problem and also as part of the solution." That tactic is more informally described as playing arsonist and fireman: you help create a problem and then offer yourself as part of the solution. That creates leverage. (Kurdistan 24)
  • Will Iranian-Backed Militias Merge with Iraqi Security Forces? - Jonathan Spyer
    Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi this week announced that the Shia militias of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) are to be fully integrated into the Iraqi security forces by July 31. The Shia militias are the main instrument of Iranian policy in Iraq. Not all groups involved in the 150,000-strong PMU are Iran-linked, but the largest and most consequential are, answering directly to the IRGC's Quds Force and its leader, Maj.-Gen. Qassem Soleimani. The Iraqi announcement comes in the wake of a sharp increase in mortar and rocket attacks by the militias on U.S. targets in Iraq in recent weeks.
        Yet this latest announcement is not without precedent. The first law making the militias part of the Iraqi security forces was passed in 2016. With the welcome cover of official status, the militias continue to act as the strong arm of Iran in Iraq. Moreover, as a result of the blurring of boundaries between the Iraqi army and the Shia militias, Iran's fighters have gained access to state-of-the-art U.S. equipment including M1A1 Abrams tanks.
        The IRGC does not regard Iraq as a country, but, rather, as one arena in which it is growing in power and prosecuting its attacks against U.S. forces. If the militias can burrow into the Iraqi state and benefit from the largesse afforded it by its allies, then so much the better. The writer is director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis. (Jerusalem Post)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • The Dangerous Drive to Correlate Islamophobia with Anti-Semitism - Melanie Phillips
    The claim that Islamophobia is the equivalent of anti-Semitism is dismaying because it's a morally bankrupt and dangerous equivalence. While some people are truly prejudiced against Muslims, Islamophobia was invented by the Muslim Brotherhood as a way of silencing legitimate discussion of any fault in the Islamic world. A relentless campaign is currently being waged to outlaw Islamophobia in the West - and thereby shut down that vital discussion. The UN is working with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to prohibit all speech that Muslims consider offensive.
        Muslim anti-Semitism is fueling and legitimizing Western anti-Semitism. Refusal to criticize Muslims means that the frenzied discourse of anti-Jewish hatred coursing through the Islamic world, consisting of blood libels, unhinged conspiracy theories and paranoid fantasies, has become normalized in broader Western society. (JNS)
  • I Have Never Met Anti-Semitism in Britain... until Now - Richard Zimler
    I have been publishing my novels in the UK since 1998, when my first book, The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon, became a surprise bestseller. Whenever a new work of mine is released, I give talks at bookshops, libraries and literary festivals. After the launch of my newest novel in April, my book publicist informed me that he had just been turned down by two cultural organizations that had previously shown enthusiasm for hosting an event with me. He told me, "They asked me if you were Jewish, and the moment I said you were, they lost all interest." He believes they weren't anti-Semitic themselves but they feared a backlash if they extended an invitation to a Jewish writer.
        I was deeply shocked and upset. It made Britain seem like a place I didn't know and maybe never knew. Even just asking about my religious affiliation struck me as outrageous. Let's not get sidetracked with references to Israel. I have no connection with Israel. If you fail to be welcoming to Jewish writers and artists because you fear a backlash, then your cowardice makes it possible for the haters to have their way - to spread their irrational dislike of Jews and make shunning them seem acceptable.
        The writer is a best-selling novelist whose books have earned him a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Fiction and have been translated into 20 languages. (Guardian-UK)

  • Weekend Feature

  • The Hollywood Legend Who Mobilized Public Opinion on Behalf of the Jews of Europe and Israel - Rick Richman
    Ben Hecht was Hollywood's highest-paid screenwriter. He wrote 65 movies, 25 books, including several best-sellers, 250 short stories, and 20 plays, receiving six Oscar nominations and two Oscars. In 1939, Hecht wrote a tale of an "International Pogrom," carefully planned for the "extirpating of the Jews," that kills a half-million and drives "another million or so" into "forests, deserts, and mountains."
        In August 1942, the World Jewish Congress representative in Switzerland, Gerhart Riegner, learned from a reliable German source that within months the Nazis planned to murder between 3 1/2 and 4 million Jews. By November, the New York Times reported (on page 10) that "about half of the estimated 4,000,000 Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe had [already] been slain in an extermination campaign."
        Hecht organized and wrote the script for a massive, celebrity-studded pageant at New York's Madison Square Garden called "We Will Never Die" on March 9, 1943, to honor those murdered in Europe. Performances followed in Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, and the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles (from which it was broadcast nationally by NBC). The pageants were a significant factor leading to the establishment of the War Refugee Board in January 1944. But by that time, at least 4 1/2 million Jews had been murdered.
        Hecht wrote a play, A Flag Is Born, telling the story of Holocaust survivors who die trying to reach Palestine, which opened on Broadway on September 5, 1946. The proceeds went for efforts to smuggle displaced Jews into Palestine. (Mosaic)

  • Ambassadors to Israel from across Europe met with Israeli security and legal experts in Tel Aviv this week to gain insights on how to cope with the migrant crisis that has severely impacted Europe over the past decade, at an event hosted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
  • Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Research Division, addressed the security implications of the immigration wave. He noted that many Muslims adhere to an Islamic doctrine that calls for them to be less aggressive while living under the sovereignty of non-Muslims, with the belief that they will later become the rulers themselves.
  • "Just because they currently live as a minority in Europe does not mean that Muslims have given up the idea that Islam should one day be in the majority," he said.
  • Hungarian Ambassador to Israel Levente Benko noted that European governments' inability to come up with suitable answers on the immigration issue is giving rise to political extremism in Europe. "If the mainstream is unable to deal with this issue, that will give rise to parties on the extreme left and the extreme right," he said.
  • Ambassador Martin Stropnicky of the Czech Republic said problems are arising in large part because "most of the people that are immigrating [to Europe] now do not want to accept our cultural milieu, but want us to accept theirs, and that is not acceptable."
  • Israel Prize laureate Professor Asa Kasher, co-author of the IDF Code of Ethics, said nobody should be indifferent to the human suffering of migrants, yet at the same time, "states have a right to maintain their identity. That means they have a right to stop others from taking steps that jeopardize that identity."
  • Kasher suggested that a more appropriate humanitarian approach might be to invest effort and money in the countries migrants are fleeing. "Maybe it is more effective to spend the money building a hospital or a school, that will help encourage those who are suffering to stay and not to emigrate."

        See also The Migration Wave into Europe: An Existential Dilemma - Fiamma Nirenstein, ed. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
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