October 7, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Paris Police Attacker a Radicalized Islamist, Says French Prosecutor - Kim Willsher (Guardian-UK)
    A police administrator who stabbed and killed four people at Paris police headquarters on Thursday was a radicalized Islamist who slit the throat of at least one of his victims, France's national anti-terrorist prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard revealed on Saturday.
    Witnesses have told police the attacker, Mikhael H., expressed support for Islamist actions, justified the 2015 attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, and changed his dress several months ago from "Western clothing to that suitable for the mosque."

Syrian Opposition Leader: Iranian Activity Inside Syria Has Reached Dangerous Level - Hollie McKay (Fox News)
    "Iranian influence is getting bigger and bigger. They are the ones controlling the State of Syria, the Army of Syria, the security of Syria, and are infiltrating the society such as the schools and religious sites," top opposition figure Nasr Al-Hariri, president of the Syrian Negotiation Commission (SNC), told Fox News last week. "The troops on the ground are controlled by Iran."
    Hariri added that many who oppose the government have little choice but to align with Iranian militias for survival. He asserted that there are more than 60 militias in Syria that are either Iranian or affiliated with Iran.

China Pulls Out of Iran's South Pars Natural Gas Project (Radio Farda)
    Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh says China's national petroleum company has pulled out of a $5 billion deal to help develop Iran's giant South Pars natural gas field in the Persian Gulf.

PA Removes Mention of Agreements with Israel from Textbooks - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
    The Palestinian Authority removed all trace of agreements signed with Israel from its textbooks.
    The only agreement still mentioned is the 1993 Oslo accords, but even those are mentioned less favorably and in less detail than in earlier versions of the books.

Turkey Bans Books to Silence Dissidents - Zvi Bar'el (Ha'aretz)
    In August, the Turkish Education Ministry reported that since 2016, the year of the attempted coup against President Erdogan, more than 300,000 books have been confiscated and destroyed.
    Tens of thousands were fired from their jobs in government and at universities, the courts, the media and even kindergartens on suspicion of support for dissident exiled Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen.
    Last week, eight Kurdish singers, members of two bands that appear at weddings, were arrested for singing in Kurdish. In Turkey it is against the law to study the Kurdish language as part of the official curriculum.

The Temple Mount's Treasure Trove - Nadav Shragai (Israel Hayom)
    In recent years, archaeologists have excavated 60 meters (200 feet) of the foundations of the Western Wall in Jerusalem, yielding an endless treasure trove.
    Dr. Eli Shukron and Prof. Ronny Reich have determined that, in contrast to popular belief, the Western Wall was not built by King Herod but by Agrippas I, Herod's grandson.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. to Step Aside for Turkish Assault on Kurds in Syria - Zeke Miller and Lolita C. Baldor
    The White House said Sunday that U.S. forces in northeast Syria will move aside and clear the way for an expected Turkish assault. U.S. troops "will no longer be in the immediate area" in northern Syria, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said. There are about 1,000 U.S. troops in northern Syria, and a senior U.S. official said they will pull back from the area - and potentially depart the country entirely should widespread fighting break out between Turkish and Kurdish forces.
        The announcement followed a call between President Donald Trump and Turkish President Erdogan. The White House said Turkey will take custody of foreign fighters captured in the campaign against the Islamic State who have been held by Kurdish forces in Syria. (AP)
        See also U.S. Troops Start Pullout from Turkey's Border in Syria - Bassem Mroue
    U.S.-backed Kurdish-led forces said American troops began pulling back Monday from positions along the border in northeast Syria ahead of an expected Turkish invasion. A video posted by a Kurdish news agency showed a convoy of American armored vehicles heading away from the border area. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also U.S. Worried about Turkish Foray into Syria - Gordon Lubold and Nancy A. Youssef
    U.S. officials said they harbor deep misgivings about leaving their Kurdish allies to an uncertain fate, a move that would send a conflicting message about U.S. reliability to other current and prospective U.S. partners worldwide. (Wall Street Journal)
  • PA Agrees to Accept Tax Funds from Israel, Ending Stand-Off over Terror Payments
    The Palestinian Authority will once again accept tax revenues collected on its behalf by Israel, after rejecting the money for months following Israel's withholding of 5% of the funds - a sum equal to the stipends paid by the PA to the families of Palestinian terrorists killed or jailed by Israel. The tax transfers made up half of the PA's budget, and its refusal to accept the remainder of the funds had led to a deepening financial crisis. (Reuters)
  • German Anti-Semitism Commissioner Calls for EU Sanctions on Iran - Benjamin Weinthal
    Uwe Becker, commissioner for Jewish life and the fight against anti-Semitism in the German state of Hesse and a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party, told Fox News that Germany and the EU should pull the plug on the Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Tehran. "The current escalation with Israel should be reason enough for Germany to advocate the...Iran nuclear agreement, which has been undermined by Iran...[as] dead, and for the necessary sanctions against Tehran to become effective again in their entirety."
        "It is not a question of a policy aimed against the Iranian people, who are deprived of important rights to freedom by their own government, but of a clear position directed at the political leadership in Tehran."  (Fox News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Israel Needs Air Defense System Against Iranian Cruise Missiles - Tzvi Joffre
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday that Israel needs a massive air defense system to defend against Iranian attacks, especially cruise missiles like those used in attacks on a Saudi Arabian oil facility last month, Israel's Channel 11 reported. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Netanyahu: Iran Believes It Can Make Israel Disappear
    Prime Minister Netanyahu said Thursday at the swearing-in of the new Knesset that Israel's security challenges demanded political stability. "This isn't spin, it's not a whim, this is not 'Netanyahu trying to scare us.' Anyone who knows the situation knows that Iran is getting stronger and is attacking around the world, saying clearly, 'Israel will disappear.' They believe it, they are working toward it, we need to take them seriously."  (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Discussing Plan for "Non-Aggression Pact" with Gulf States - Raphael Ahren
    Foreign Minister Israel Katz confirmed on Sunday that he has been "promoting, with the backing of the prime minister, a diplomatic initiative to sign 'non-aggression agreements' with the Arab Gulf states. It's a historic move that will end the conflict and enable civilian cooperation until the signing of peace agreements." Katz said he presented the plan to several Arab foreign ministers during his visit to the UN in New York last week. (Times of Israel)
  • Bomb Explodes near IDF Forces in West Bank
    A bomb exploded next to an Israel Defense Forces position near the town of Beit Ummar in the West Bank on Friday evening, the military said. A second device was discovered and neutralized. (Times of Israel)
  • Two Rockets Fired from Gaza on Friday Failed to Reach Israel - Yaniv Kubovich
    Two rockets fired from Gaza at Israel on Friday night failed to reach Israel, the Israeli army said. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Turkey Rewrites International Law with "Safe Zone" Invasion Doctrine - Seth J. Frantzman
    Turkey has rewritten the rules of international law in Syria, declaring that when there is a presence of what it views as a "terrorist organization," it has a right to invade and create a "safe zone" along the border. Turkey has already done this in northern Iraq. Now Turkey says it has a right to take over eastern Syria, redraw property lines and settle a million people there, regardless of the local population's views.
        This is a new step in international law. According to this view, Israel could argue that it is setting up a "safe zone" to remove Hizbullah from the border. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Authority Continues to Pay Salaries to Terrorists - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser
    In his annual speech to the UN General Assembly, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the U.S. peace plan as well as the possibility of Washington serving as a mediator in talks between Israel and the Palestinians, attacked recent moves by Israel and the U.S., and promised his people would continue its fight with all means at its disposal.
        Abbas stated his enthusiastic commitment to continue to pay salaries to Palestinian terrorists and their families. According to the PA budget implementation report for 2019, the PA transferred $79 million in salaries and another $22 million in "social" payments to families, family expenses, medical insurance coverage, and legal expenses. In total, the PA Prisoner Affairs Ministry spent $105 million on these terrorist payments, a figure similar in scope to those made the previous year.
        The writer, former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Research Division, is director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Israel Hayom)

  • David Ben-Gurion's stature as Israel's founding father would seem to be eminently secure, given his crucial, perhaps indispensable, role in salvaging the Jewish people from political oblivion and reinstating it in its ancestral homeland. Tom Segev's A State at Any Cost: The Life of David Ben-Gurion is an effort to tarnish his reputation and reinterpret Israel's founding period.
  • On May 14, 1948, Ben-Gurion proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel, becoming its first prime minister and defense minister, posts he held until 1963 (with a brief retirement from office in 1953-55). Segev casts Israel's founding father as the destroyer of Palestinian Arab society - deeply implicated in what Segev and his fellow revisionists see as the "original sin" of Israel's creation: the supposedly deliberate and aggressive dispossession of the native Arab population.
  • The truth is that, far from seeking to dispossess the Palestinian Arabs as claimed by Segev, the Zionist movement had always been amenable to the existence of a substantial Arab minority in the prospective Jewish state.
  • No less than Ze'ev Jabotinsky, founder of the faction that was the forebear of today's Likud Party, voiced his readiness (in a famous 1923 essay) "to take an oath binding ourselves and our descendants that we shall never do anything contrary to the principle of equal rights, and that we shall never try to eject anyone." And if this was the position of the more "militant" faction of the Jewish national movement, small wonder that mainstream Zionism took for granted the full equality of the Arab minority in the prospective Jewish state.
  • In December 1947, shortly after Palestinian Arabs had unleashed wholesale violence to subvert the newly passed UN partition resolution, Ben-Gurion told his Labor Party that "in our state there will be non-Jews as well" and all of them will be equal citizens; equal in everything without any exception; that is: the state will be their state as well."
  • The Haganah's operational plan - adopted in March 1948 to reverse then-current Palestinian Arab aggression and rebuff the anticipated invasion by the Arab states - was predicated, in the explicit instructions of the Haganah's commander in chief, on the "acknowledgment of the full rights, needs, and freedom of the Arabs in the Hebrew state without any discrimination, and a desire for coexistence on the basis of mutual freedom and dignity."

    The writer is emeritus professor of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at King's College, London, and director of the Begin-Sadat Center at Bar-Ilan University.