August 16, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

The Islamic State Is Building Caliphate 2.0 in a Syrian Camp - Josh Rogin (Washington Post)
    The Islamic State has largely taken over control of the al-Hol camp in northeast Syria, containing tens of thousands of Islamic State fighters and family members. The camp is home to 70,000 people, including more than 50,000 children.
    In al-Hol, Islamic State now exerts more influence and control than the few dozen Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) guards stationed there, according to U.S. officials.
    Islamic State women have created a morality police corps inside the camp, enforcing sharia law and even conducting brutal executions.
    Islamic State is recruiting from the camp, smuggling fighters in and out and using it to plan attacks in other parts of Syria, officials told me.

The EU Battles Israel in Area C - Hillel Frisch (Jerusalem Post)
    Since a decision in January 2012, the European Union has committed to the expansion of illegal Palestinian settlement in Area C of the West Bank in conjunction with the Palestinian Authority, disregarding the Oslo agreements.
    As new Israeli building dwindles into insignificance in areas east of Jerusalem, the PA with the help of the EU have succeeded in housing tens of thousands of Palestinians in parts of Area C near Jerusalem (some estimates say 120,000).
    Hundreds of 6-10 story illegal apartment buildings were built in a space of nine square km.
    Jamil Sanduqa, head of the local council of Ras al-Khamis, acknowledges these neighborhoods are an ecological disaster.
    The writer is a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.

    See also Who's Funding Illegal Palestinian Settlements in Area C? - Edwin Black (JNS)
    Illegal Palestinian settlements, agricultural tracts, water networks, roads and infrastructure have been built throughout Area C of the West Bank in violation of the Oslo Accords, which specify full Israeli administrative control of the area.
    In the past five years, illegal Palestinian construction has sprawled across more than 9,000 dunams in more than 250 Area C locations, supported by more than 600 km. of access roads.
    The rapid buildup is funded by hundreds of millions of euros annually from the EU and individual European nations.

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There Is No Difference between Hatred of Israel and Hatred for Jews - Marc A. Thiessen (Washington Post)
    Recently, the State Department revised its definition of anti-Semitism to include "drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis" - an apparent response to the rise of the anti-Israel BDS movement whose supporters routinely make such comparisons.
    Just a few days ago, I sat in the former SS headquarters of the Auschwitz concentration camp with Piotr Cywinski, director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, who explained that there is no difference between hatred of Israel and hatred for Jews.
    "It's the same old story with some different words," he said.
    "If you are speaking with somebody who is defending some anti-Israeli ideologies, maybe not in the first minute, maybe not in the second minute, but in the third minute you will find the same old story accusing Jews of every bad thing in the world."
    "For me, that's very, very clear. I never saw any anti-Israeli theory that was not anti-Semitic."

The Men Responsible for the AMIA Bombing in Buenos Aires Are Known and Still at Large - Matthew Levitt (Mosaic)
    As Avi Weiss has documented, the devastating July 1994 bombing of the AMIA building in Buenos Aires was the largest single attack "against a Jewish community in the Diaspora since the Holocaust," leaving 85 dead and hundreds wounded.
    Argentine prosecutors concluded: "The decision to carry out the AMIA attack was made, and the attack was orchestrated, by the highest officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran at the time, and...these officials instructed Lebanese Hizbullah - a group that has historically been subordinated to the economic and political interests of the Tehran regime - to carry out the attack."
    Despite the publication of three detailed reports on the AMIA bombing itself, on the role of Hizbullah, and on Iranian agents in Argentina, not one of the key suspects has been apprehended.
    Indeed, several individuals who were personally involved in the AMIA bombing have since been promoted to senior positions within the Iranian government or Hizbullah.
    Those who executed the AMIA bombing 25 years ago continue to oversee international terrorist operations today.
    The writer, a former FBI and Treasury Department official, directs the program on counterterrorism and intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Druze Officer Appointed Military Secretary to President Rivlin (Times of Israel)
    Brig.-Gen. Ala Abu Rokun, a Druze IDF officer from Isfiya, was appointed Wednesday as Israeli President Reuven Rivlin's military secretary.
    Abu Rokun, 47, has served in the military for 25 years and was previously the IDF military attache in China.

Forgotten Heroes: The Jewish Resistance in France and Exodus 1947 - Dr. Tsilla Hershco (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
    The Jewish Resistance organization in France participated in the rescue of tens of thousands of Jews during the Nazi occupation.
    At the end of the war, David Ben-Gurion appointed Avraham Polonski, a leader of the Jewish resistance in France, as commander of the Haganah in France.
    Veterans of the Jewish resistance participated in many critical postwar activities, including clandestine immigration, forging documents, transferring of arms to the Haganah, and setting up communication systems, immigrant camps, and military training camps.
    Members of the Haganah in France were involved in the Exodus 1947 ship endeavor from its early stages.
    They forged travel documents and helped transport the refugees on their journey to the port of Marseilles.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Arranges Secret Talks between Israel, UAE over Iran - Warren P. Strobel and Dion Nissenbaum
    Israel and the United Arab Emirates held secret meetings arranged by the U.S. in recent months to share information and coordinate efforts to counter the increasing threat posed by Iran, according to U.S. officials. The meetings were convened by Brian Hook, the State Department's top official for Iran, and are the latest sign of a steady thaw between Israel and Gulf Arab nations.
        Aaron David Miller, a veteran Middle East negotiator, said, "This is happening because of significant and profound regional changes that have altered the calculations of Arab nations."  (Wall Street Journal)
  • Gibraltar Releases Iranian Tanker, Hours after U.S. Asked to Seize Ship - Richard Perez-Pena and Megan Specia
    Authorities in Gibraltar on Thursday released the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 they impounded six weeks ago, defying a U.S. request to seize the ship. The chief minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, said he had "received written assurance" from Iran that "if released, the destination of Grace 1 would not be an entity that is subject to European Union sanctions." It remained unclear who would buy Iranian oil in defiance of American sanctions. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Bars Entry to BDS Advocates Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday: "No country in the world respects America and the American Congress more than the State of Israel. As a free and vibrant democracy, Israel is open to critics and criticism, with one exception: Israeli law prohibits the entry into Israel of those who call for and work to impose boycotts on Israel, as do other democracies that prohibit the entry of people who seek to harm the country."
        "Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar are leading activists in promoting the legislation of boycotts against Israel in the American Congress. Only a few days ago, we received their itinerary for their visit in Israel, which revealed that they planned a visit whose sole objective is to strengthen the boycott against us and deny Israel's legitimacy. For instance: they listed the destination of their trip as Palestine and...did not request to meet any Israeli officials, either from the government or the opposition....The sole purpose of their visit is to harm Israel and increase incitement against it."
        "Therefore, the Minister of Interior has decided not to allow their visit, and I, as Prime Minister, support his decision. Nonetheless, if Congresswoman Tlaib submits a humanitarian request to visit her relatives, the Minister of Interior has announced that he will consider her request on the condition that she pledges not to act to promote boycotts against Israel during her visit."  (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Israel's Ambassador Denies U.S. Pressure Was Behind Decision to Ban Tlaib and Omar - Josefin Dolsten and Ben Sales
    After Israel's decision to ban Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from entering the country, in a conference call organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Thursday, Israel's ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer said, "We were not pressured by the Trump administration to do this and this is a sovereign decision that Israel has to make."  (JTA)
  • Israel Allows Tlaib to Enter to Visit Her Palestinian Family
    Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri on Friday said he would allow Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib to enter Israel on humanitarian grounds after Tlaib submitted a letter requesting to be allowed in to visit her elderly Palestinian grandmother in the West Bank. "I would like to request admittance to Israel in order to visit my relatives, and specifically my grandmother, who is in her 90s and lives in Beit Ur al-Fouqa," Tlaib wrote in her letter to Deri. "This could be my last opportunity to see her. I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit."
        Deri's office said Friday he had decided to allow Tlaib into the country based on her letter and "expressed hope that she will live up to her promise."  (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinians Stab Israeli Policeman near Temple Mount - Aaron Rabinowitz and Nir Hasson
    Two Palestinians stabbed a policeman near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City on Thursday, before being shot by security forces, police said. Nassim Abu Rumi, 17, was killed and Hamoudeh Al-Sheikh, 14, was critically wounded. Footage of the incident showed the Palestinians holding knives and suddenly stabbing the policeman. A security guard employed by the Muslim Waqf was lightly wounded in the incident. (Ha'aretz)
  • Two Israelis Injured in Car-Ramming Attack at West Bank Bus Stop
    Two Israelis were hit by a car on Friday while standing at a bus stop outside Elazar in the West Bank, just south of Jerusalem. A 17-year-old boy was seriously wounded and a woman, 19, was moderately hurt, the Magen David Adom ambulance service said. The driver of the vehicle was shot dead by security forces at the scene. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    Israel Bars Entry to Pro-BDS Members of Congress

  • Tlaib/Omar Trip Was Meant to Promote Israel Boycott Movement - Amb. David Friedman
    U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Thursday: "The United States supports and respects the decision of the Government of Israel to deny entry to the Tlaib/Omar Delegation. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel is not free speech. Rather, it is no less than economic warfare designed to delegitimize and ultimately destroy the Jewish State. Israel properly has enacted laws to bar entry of BDS activists under the circumstances present here, and it has every right to protect its borders against those activists in the same manner as it would bar entrants with more conventional weapons."
        "Initially, Israel had indicated that it would accept the Tlaib/Omar Delegation, and use their visit as an opportunity to engage with and educate the delegation members with regard to Israel's vibrant and robust democracy, its religious tolerance and its ethnic diversity. Unfortunately, the itinerary of the Tlaib/Omar Delegation leaves no room for that opportunity....This trip, pure and simple, is nothing more than an effort to fuel the BDS engine that Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar so vigorously support."  (U.S. Embassy in Israel)
  • Countries Routinely Deny Visas to Those with Extremist Views - Eugene Kontorovich
    As someone one who has argued that Israel should admit Omar and Tlaib, I must also say that the decision to bar them is legitimate and understandable. Countries routinely deny visas to those with extremist views. The U.S. excludes people for ideologies fundamentally hostile to the U.S. (i.e., communism); the UK and others deny entry to public figures with bigoted views as being "not conducive to the public good." Omar/Tlaib qualify.
        One thing the visa denial is not about is hiding from criticism. Israel allows entry to vocal and one-sided critics all the time. See the speakers' series at any Israeli university. This is about avoiding massive public disorder and risk to lives at the Temple Mount and the Gaza fence. The writer is a professor at George Mason University School of Law and a scholar at the Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem. (Twitter)
  • The Long History of Politically Motivated Travel Bans - Liel Leibovitz
    To describe Israel's decision to bar Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from entering the country as a violation of democratic norms is simply bonkers. In 2005, Narendra Modi, now India's prime minister, was to visit New York and address a rally for Indian-Americans in Madison Square Garden. The visit never happened. The State Department argued that, having failed to stop deadly riots years earlier in which Hindus killed Muslims in Gujarat, where he was the top official at the time, Modi shouldn't be allowed in.
        Great Britain has banned a host of individuals whose opinions or actions it found distasteful: In the 1950s, it refused to let future prime minister Menachem Begin in, arguing that he once engaged in violence against Her Majesty's Armed Forces as a leader of the pre-state paramilitary Irgun.
        Exercising their right to defend themselves, democracies reserve the right to keep out anyone they feel might endanger them in any way. Israel argues that avid supporters of a movement, BDS, whose overtly stated goal is the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state, represent a threat to the country. (Tablet)
        See also U.S. Barred Entry to Israeli Knesset Member in 2012 - Editorial
    We don't recall objections when the Obama administration banned a member of Israel's Knesset, Michael Ben Ari, from coming to the U.S. in 2012. (New York Sun)
  • Israel Has Every Right to Block Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar - David Harsanyi
    What principle of democracy states that you have to issue visas to foreigners who are actively engaged in efforts to harm your citizens? If Republican Steve King were denied an entry visa into Mexico, not a single congressperson would stand up for him, not a single presidential candidate would claim that Mexico had insulted the honor of the United States, not a single Democrat would argue that it reflected poorly on Mexican democracy, and not a single pundit would contend that the Mexican-U.S. relationship was being hurt.
        Would any American be bothered if the State Department denied an entry visa to a foreign elected official who actively worked toward the economic destruction of the U.S. while being an apologist for anti-American terrorist groups?
        Tlaib and Omar aren't mere "critics" of Israel. Critics have been traveling to Israel forever. Critics of Israel serve in the nation's parliament and openly and freely take positions against the ruling government. Tlaib and Omar actively support a movement with the strategic aim of rallying the world to challenge Israel's right to exist. They aren't critics, they're enemies. (The Federalist)
  • Israel Was Right to Ban Tlaib and Omar - Ari Hoffman
    The decision to deny Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib entry to Israel was the right call. Omar and Tlaib were visiting Israel to do it harm. Their visit was not one of critical engagement.
        Tlaib and Omar demand both their cake and the right to consume it: Yes to boycotting, and yes to visiting. Yes to indulgence in anti-Semitic tropes and fellow travelers, and yes to unfettered access to the State of the Jews. Yes to their Congressional prerogatives, and no to joining a bi-partisan group that just visited Israel, and spent time in Ramallah considering both sides in the conflict.
        In truth, they were not visiting Israel at all. Their itinerary was to a fantasy where Israel does not exist yet is simultaneously an oppressor and catastrophe, where Palestinians are endlessly victimized and nuance and complexity is not on the agenda. The organization funding their trip, Miftah, was founded by Hanan Ashrawi, who has slandered Israel as a hotbed of "colonialism, apartheid, and racism." [In May, Ashrawi was denied a visa to enter the U.S. (CNN)]
        Building Israel is a project, and there is a simultaneous project to destroy Israel. If you cannot speak our name, and you treat us as a pariah, and you refuse to talk to our leaders, you are not welcome. (Forward)
  • Boycott Backers Have No Right to Visit Israel - L. Todd Wood
    If you have ever spent time in Israel, or even studied its history in an intellectually honest way, you have no choice but to acknowledge the entire BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement is a huge lie meant to further the destruction of Israel and has nothing to do with helping the Palestinian people. The Palestinians have been offered a peace deal many times and refused; they don't want peace. They want to rid the region of Jews.
        Israel is the only country in the Middle East where Arabs are free, can vote and can live in peace. I've been there many times and have seen it with my own eyes. I've seen parents scrambling to get their children to safety. I've seen teachers herd their kids into the school bathroom in hopes the rockets won't harm the children. At one point, Sderot was hit by 2,500 rockets during a 12-month period.
        I'm sure that both congresswomen, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, were planning to scream "racist" and find only "facts" that support their hateful boycott effort. The Israeli government is well within its rights to stop these two charlatans from entering the country. (Washington Times)

  • Weekend Features

  • Israeli Kids Talk about Living near Gaza - Noa Amouyal
    A year of indiscriminate rocket attacks, riots along the border fence, and incendiary balloons has put children in Israel's Eshkol Regional Council on edge, making even those as young as five hyper-aware of their surroundings. But an afternoon with campers reveals that although they may be bruised, they love their home and will not allow Hamas to ruin their childhood. "We try not to let the security situation change our lives. As soon as we are scared to get out of our own home, they've won," said Adam Russell, 16, a camp counselor. "I love living here. I would love to raise a family here, despite what's happening."
        "It's sad, but this is our life," said Amit, a sixth-grader. "It's been quiet lately. But even that's stressful because we don't know when the next Red Alert will be." Naya, also in sixth grade, said, "I sometimes ask myself why do I need to know about Red Alerts? Why does a small kid need to think he or she is under attack?"
        A new school that will be completely fortified is opening for these children at the beginning of the academic year, supported by the region's partner, Jewish National Fund-USA. Limor Eilat, Resources Development Coordinator for the Eshkol Region, said, "For the first time, when a Red Alert blares, the children won't have to drop everything and run to a bomb shelter. For an entire generation of children, that was their 'normal.'"
        "People from the center of the country always ask us why we don't leave," said Or, a sixth-grade girl. "We don't want to move. Our friends are here. Our life is here. We just want to be safe."  (JNS)
  • Camp Koby: Fun and "Therapy Lite" for Bereaved Children - Linda Gradstein
    At Camp Koby, every child has lost a first-degree relative to terror, illness, or an accident. "Everywhere else, I felt people see me only as a headline, as a 'bereaved brother,'" says Noam Armoni, whose brother was killed in an army training accident last year. "Here I'm just a regular kid and that makes me feel more normal." 400 kids will attend the eight-day overnight camp this year for free, thanks to the Koby Mandell Foundation. Koby Mandell was a 13-year-old boy from Tekoa who was murdered along with his friend, Yosef Ishran, by Palestinian terrorists in 2001.
        "It's 'therapy lite,'" says Seth Mandell, Koby's father and a former Hillel rabbi at the University of Maryland. "Most of the real therapy happens at night, when the counselors and kids just talk to each other....Psychologists say that one of toughest parts of bereavement is the sense of isolation. Here one seven-year-old walks up to another and says, 'What happened to you?'"  (Jerusalem Report)
  • Jewish Nurse in Sweden Brought 60 Refugee Children to Mandatory Palestine during World War II - Dina Kraft
    In March 1941, Ilse Ganz Koppel, 22, a Swedish Jewish nurse, boarded a train in Stockholm with 60 Jewish refugee children and three other adult chaperones and set out for Mandatory Palestine. Now 100 and living in Jerusalem, she shared her account of the rescue mission that took 16 days and covered 3,500 miles. The children had arrived in Stockholm through Copenhagen from Germany, Poland, Austria and Czechoslovakia, sent by parents desperately hoping they would reach safety.
        Their route took them to northern Sweden, then to Helsinki and Leningrad, and then southward to Odessa. They crossed the Black Sea by boat, stopping in a Bulgarian port before reaching Istanbul. They then took a train through Syria to Beirut in Lebanon, where cars were waiting to take them to kibbutzim in Palestine.
        Just before the trip, Ganz Koppel married Hans Schuman, one of the adults accompanying the youngsters. She did not know him before the fake marriage, but needed to share his resident status in Mandatory Palestine in order to legally travel there. She lost contact with Schuman after the trip ended. (Ha'aretz)
  • Eleanor Roosevelt and the Jewish Refugees She Saved: The Story of the SS Quanza - Cathryn J. Prince
    The documentary film "Nobody Wants Us" tells the story of the 317 people aboard the SS Quanza. On August 9, 1940, it sailed from Lisbon, Portugal, to New York carrying more than 300 passengers, most of whom were Jewish. 196 passengers disembarked. However, as per orders from the U.S. State Department, the remaining 121 people weren't allowed off. The ship sailed on to Veracruz, Mexico, where only 35 people were allowed off. Authorities forced the remaining 86, mostly Belgian Jews, to stay on board. The passengers were then told they'd be sailing back to Europe.
        On its return voyage the ship stopped for fuel in Hampton Roads, Virginia. American Jewish leaders rushed to press the refugees' case. It was brought to the attention of first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who appealed to her husband. She insisted that the men, women and children aboard the Quanza were "future patriotic Americans" and not potential Nazi spies or Communist sympathizers.
        "When the SS St. Louis was sent back [in 1939], [Eleanor Roosevelt] vowed it will never happen again....She knew their lives were at stake," said Blanche Wiesen Cook, author of Eleanor Roosevelt, a three-volume biography. On September 11, the refugees were allowed entry.
        The president's intervention so outraged assistant secretary of state Breckinridge Long that he intensified efforts to halt immigration. By mid-1941 virtually no wartime refugees were allowed into the U.S. (Times of Israel)

A Ha'aretz Columnist Mangles History, Facts, and International Law - Amb. Alan Baker (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • On August 9, 2019, Ha'aretz featured an op-ed by Shaul Arieli entitled, "The Ignorance of Trump Envoy Greenblatt Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg." He criticizes Greenblatt's assertions, in a speech to the UN Security Council on July 23, that the accepted bases of the world order - international consensus, international law, and UN Security Council resolutions - had proven to be unsuccessful in seeking an end to the Israel-Arab conflict.
  • Arieli's reverence for international consensus and UN resolutions as a core base of the international order is utterly mistaken. While international consensus may reflect a prevailing political viewpoint of some states in the international community and may appear in the form of non-binding UN resolutions, it cannot serve to impose itself on sovereign states including Israel that have the prerogative to act in their own sovereign interests. UN resolutions are not international law and those adopted in the context of the Israel-Arab dispute are not obligatory.
  • Non-binding General Assembly Resolution 194 of 1948 did not grant any legal or other right of return for displaced Arab refugees. It stated, "Refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date." The resolution conditioned any consideration of the return of Arab refugees on their willingness to "live at peace with their neighbors."
  • Arieli accuses Greenblatt of trying to blur the legal terminology that applies to occupied territories by using the term "disputed territory." The truth is that the term "occupied territory" has become a distinctly politicized expression used only in the context of Israel, despite many other situations in the world in which territories are being occupied. The accurate description of the territories is indeed "disputed," which is a factual description of the situation, devoid of political cliches.

    The writer, former legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians.
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