July 16, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Iranian "Bomb Boat" Found in Path of British Warship Sailing to Gulf - Chris Hughes (Mirror-UK)
    An unmanned, remote-controlled Blowfish attack vessel packed with explosives was spotted in the Red Sea by Saudi forces close to the route of the British destroyer HMS Duncan as it sailed to protect shipping in the Gulf.
    Sources believe the Iranian "bomb boat" was deployed by Iran's Houthi allies.
    Former naval officer Simon Warrington warned: "The threat from the Houthis, who as Iran's proxy militia do Tehran's dirty work, is very real."

Insurance Rates Increase 10-Fold after Attacks on Oil Tankers in Strait of Hormuz - Sam Meredith (CNBC)
    "Insurance to transit the Strait of Hormuz has actually increased 10-fold in the last two months as a consequence of the attacks" on six tankers since May, Anthony Gurnee, CEO of Ardmore Shipping, told CNBC on Tuesday.

In Iran, Some Women Take Off Their Hijabs (AP-New York Times)
    An AP reporter spotted about two dozen women in Tehran without a hijab over the course of nine days, mainly in well-to-do areas.
    Many other women opted for loosely draped colorful scarves that show as much hair as they cover.
    Hard-liners have called for harsh punishment, even lashes, arguing that allowing women to show their hair leads to moral decay.
    Last month, a widely watched online video showed a security agent grab an unveiled teenage girl and violently push her into the back of a police car.

Rising Anti-Arab Hate Reported in Turkey - Esther Solomon (Ha'aretz)
    Nasreen Amirah, an aspiring Palestinian artist in her early 20s, arrived in Turkey two years ago from Gaza. But she found that resentment against Arabs is growing at an alarming rate, directed mainly at the many Syrian refugees, but metastasizing into a general hostility toward all Arabs - and Palestinians are caught in the backlash.
    "The racism. It's extreme. It's a kind of racism I never saw in Gaza," she says.
    According to UN figures, Turkey hosts the largest refugee population in the world - including 3.6 million Syrians. At the same time, the economy has plunged into recession, with unemployment at its highest rate in a decade - 15%.
    Since 2017, the Turkish lira has lost 30% of its value. Many Turkish citizens blamed their economic insecurity on the refugees, as in the rallying cry: "Syrians are stealing our jobs."
    Turkey's Interior Ministry recently insisted that Arabic could not be used on more than 25% of signs on storefronts.
    Istanbul's new mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, who led an anti-Erdogan coalition to victory, noted, "When you enter some neighborhoods you can't even read the shop signs. This is Turkey, this is Istanbul...they [the refugees] cannot recklessly change Istanbul's color."
    Popular racism against Arabs is hardly a new phenomenon in Turkey. It starts in school, where textbooks teach Turkish children that the Arabs betrayed them during World War I.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • EU Says Iran Exceeding Nuclear Deal Limits Is "Not Significant"
    The remaining parties to the Iran nuclear deal do not see Tehran's breaches as significant non-compliance, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Monday. Under the terms of the deal, if any party believes another is not upholding their commitments, they can refer the issue to a joint commission in a process that can eventually end with the restoration of global, UN sanctions on Iran. Mogherini said, "For the time being, none of the parties to the agreement has signaled their intention to invoke this article."  (Reuters-New York Times)
  • U.S., Israel Monitor Iranian Military Base in Syria
    The town of Bukamal on the Euphrates River in eastern Syria has become an Iranian military base that the U.S. and Israel have under "constant monitoring," Israeli sources said on Friday. "Iran established its base in Bukamal to launch attacks against U.S. forces deployed in eastern Syria, in addition to other targets inside Israel." Iran also established special training centers to instruct forces loyal to Tehran.
        "Iranian leadership centers and weapons stockpiles are also present at the Bukamal base....Iranians also built a telecommunications tower at the center of the town to link between its units and different facilities." A few days ago, "Eye of the Euphrates" published maps and detailed locations of 13 key Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) positions in Bukamal. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
  • Israeli NGO Asks to Seize Iranian Oil Tanker in Gibraltar to Compensate Terror Victims - Simon Osborne
    An Israeli NGO, Shurat HaDin, is asking the Supreme Court of Gibraltar to grant an injunction to seize an Iranian oil tanker detained by Royal Marines off Gibraltar. It wants to use the proceeds to pay damages for the victims of terrorism sponsored by Iran. The NGO has won a series of judgments in U.S. courts holding Iran responsible for the murder of Israeli-Americans by Islamist groups including Hamas and Hizbullah.
        Shurat HaDin president Nitsana Darshan-Leitner told The Times: "The Grace 1 in Gibraltar is a rare opportunity for the victims to seize Iranian assets and for European governments to show that they are unforgiving in the struggle against terrorism."  (Daily Express-UK)
  • U.S. Education Secretary: Campus Efforts to Boycott Israel Are a "Pernicious Threat"
    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told a Justice Department summit on anti-Semitism on Monday that the campaign led by pro-Palestinian activists calling for a boycott, divestment and sanctions [BDS] of Israel over its treatment of Palestinians is "one of the most pernicious threats" of anti-Semitism on college campuses. "These bullies claim they stand for human rights, but we all know that BDS stands for anti-Semitism," she said. "Israel is a light to the region, but we all know it's surrounded by jihadists who embrace evil."  (AP-New York Times)
        See also U.S. Officials Tackle Rising Anti-Semitism - Adam Kredo (Washington Free Beacon)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli President on State Visit to South Korea
    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin met on Monday with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea in Seoul. President Rivlin noted the many similarities between Korea and Israel. Both have a long history, both gained independence in the same year and both turned every challenge into opportunity. He added that 2018 was a record year for Korean tourists to Israel. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Two More F-35 Planes Land in Israel, Bringing Total to 16 - Judah Ari Gross
    Two F-35 fighter jets landed in Israel Sunday, the army said, bringing the number of stealth aircraft in Israel's arsenal to 16. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Appeasing Iran Isn't an Option - Prof. Eyal Zisser
    Surprisingly, Iran's recent belligerence in the Persian Gulf is being accepted by the international community with apathy. Voices in the West are expressing understanding and even empathy toward Iran, which is perceived as a victim fending off an aggressor - the U.S. In Europe and even certain circles in the U.S., it is largely accepted that the nuclear deal successfully secured peace and quiet.
        A similar argument was made 80 years ago, whereby U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt forced the leaders of Japan to attack Pearl Harbor by imposing painful sanctions on the country. But Iran of today, similar to Japan in 1941, isn't a peace-seeking country but a belligerent regional power that doesn't hide its expansionist ambitions.
        History teaches us that an aggressor can't be placated with concessions. It wasn't Trump who forced Iran to take the path of violence and terror, and he isn't the reason it is trying to conquer the Middle East. Iran's essence - anchored in the ayatollahs' fundamentalist and apocalyptic worldview - was established well before Trump entered office.
        Iran doesn't need to be appeased; it has to be curbed and subdued. The writer is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University. (Israel Hayom)
  • Comparisons of Police Shooting in Israel with U.S. Are Dishonest and Unhelpful - Shmuel Rosner
    It is tempting to compare the protests after the killing of a young Ethiopian Israeli by an off-duty police officer with "Black Lives Matter" in the U.S., but it is not the same. The reason why begins with two very different histories. Africans were shipped to America as slaves. Ethiopian Israelis were brought by their own country to play their part in the great Zionist gathering of Israel's tribes.
        Moreover, African Americans had to fight for equality. Ethiopian equality, at least in principle, was a given. Yes, mistakes were made. There are clearly some issues that are not yet resolved. And yet, Israel invested resources in helping the newcomers more than in any other community. There are social workers and educators, government branches and NGOs, programs and subsidies. There are also many successes. Coming to Israel with very little property, as a group they made a giant leap in a relatively short period of time.
        The majority of Israeli Jews want Ethiopian Jews to integrate and succeed. The media was sympathetic to the unrest. The government will be quick to respond. The growing number of Ethiopian policemen is a sign of progress. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
  • European Academic Association Bends to the Will of the Anti-Israel BDS Movement - Evan Gerstmann
    The European Network for Mental Health Service Evaluation (ENMESH) has announced that it no longer plans to hold its 2021 academic conference in Jerusalem. The organization claims that it is not making a political statement, but it has certainly done so by joining the academic boycott of Israel that is being pushed by the BDS movement.
        BDS demands the "right of return" of Palestinian refugees, including people who are descendants of the people who left Palestine in the 1940s but are now citizens of other nations. Today this applies to such a large group of people that, if implemented, it would turn Israel into a majority Arab nation. It also applies to descendants of Palestinians who left well before the 1948 war and who left of their own free will.
        The BDS movement is demanding, in effect, that the Jews turn themselves into a minority in Israel. That would mean that just as the Palestinians gain a homeland, the Jews would lose theirs. Academic boycotts that succumb to BDS pressure only further convince Jewish Israelis that their critics seek nothing less than their destruction. The writer is a professor of political science at Loyola Marymount University in California. (Forbes)

Can Ilhan Omar Overcome Her Prejudice? - Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Wall Street Journal)
  • Like Ilhan Omar, I was born in Somalia and exposed at an early age to Muslim anti-Semitism. Things would break, conflicts would arise, shortages would occur - and adults would blame it all on the Jews. When my mom lost her temper at someone, she would scream or curse under her breath "Yahud!"
  • I was made to understand that Jews - Yahud - were all bad, even though there were no Jews around. We were taught that the Jews were not human, that we should aspire to kill them wherever we found them.
  • We were taught that the Jews occupied the Holy Land of Palestine. We were shown pictures of mutilated bodies, dead children, wailing widows and weeping orphans. Standing over them in military uniform were Israeli soldiers with large guns.
  • Ms. Omar tweeted in February, "It's all about the Benjamins baby," implying that American politicians support Israel only because of Jewish financial contributions. The irony is that the resources available to propagate Islamist ideologies, with their attendant anti-Semitism, vastly exceed what pro-Israel groups spend in the U.S. The Center for Responsive Politics estimates that the Israeli government has spent $34 million on lobbying in Washington since 2017. The Saudis and Qataris spent a combined $51 million during the same period.
  • I eventually unlearned my hatred of Jews, Zionists and Israel. I am living proof that one can be born a Somali, raised as an anti-Semite, indoctrinated as an anti-Zionist - and still overcome all this to appreciate the unique culture of Judaism and the extraordinary achievement of the State of Israel.

    The writer, a former member of the Dutch Parliament, is a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.