October 10, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

"We Were Ready to Fight": Inside the German Synagogue - Chris Pleasance and Tim Stickings (Daily Mail-UK)
    Jewish worshipers, including 10 Americans, watched on security cameras as the neo-Nazi attacker tried to break into the synagogue in Halle.
    Roman R., 31, told local media that the majority of those inside - including the elderly and children - went to find shelter while Roman and five other men barricaded the door to the prayer room, called police, and then prepared themselves to fight back.
    Fortunately the doors held, explosives that the attacker placed at the doors did not go off, and flammable liquid he sprayed at the building failed to light.
    The shooter's father told Bild that his son was an angry loner who was always online and "always blamed everyone else" for his problems.

German Gunman's Assault Caught on Camera (AFP)
    The camera worn by the German shooter in Halle records how he is discouraged when he sees the massive wooden synagogue doors bolted shut.
    When he fails to force open smaller entrances, he lights the fuse of a home-made bomb and hurls it over the wall.
    After the door resists another bomb, a 50-something woman in a pink shirt and glasses walks by. The shooter fires a short burst into her back.
    After pitching more bombs and a firebomb over the wall, he fires another, longer burst into the lifeless body of the woman.
    When a man stops his van to check on the dead woman, the shooter attempts to fire a new burst but the gun only clicks.
    Attempts to blast the lock off the synagogue door with a shotgun are equally unsuccessful.
    A few streets away, the gunman spots a kebab shop. He tosses one of the bombs inside, firing a final burst with the automatic before it jams. Then he executes one of the men at point-blank range with two shotgun blasts.
    In an exchange of fire with police, he is struck by a bullet in the neck as he attempts to drive off.

A "Quantum Leap" in Egypt-Israel Relations (Mada Masr-Egypt)
    After popular protests against Egyptian President Sisi in the last two weeks, it was Israel that stood up for Cairo when criticism of the Egyptian government began to circulate in Western capitals, according to two Western diplomats.
    One said that for Israel, "supporting Egypt is extremely important because it is fighting terrorism, developing its economic sector, and is staunchly fighting against irregular migration."
    According to government officials, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has frequent phone calls with the Egyptian president and they meet at least twice a year.
    The New York Times revealed in 2018 that Israel has been carrying out airstrikes against militants in Sinai for years in coordination with the Egyptian government.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Two Dead in German Synagogue Attack on Yom Kippur
    A gunman in Halle, Germany, killed two people and injured several others near a synagogue on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. The German Federal Prosecutor's office said the attack appeared to have been motivated by "extreme far-right and anti-Semitic" views. German authorities have arrested the perpetrator, Stephan Balliet, 27, a German neo-Nazi.
        A video posted online appeared to have been filmed by a camera mounted on the helmet of the attacker. In the video, the gunman is heard launching into an anti-Semitic rant and claiming that the Holocaust never happened. The video shows the gunman trying to break down the synagogue doors, cursing in frustration before driving away. Some 70 to 80 people were inside at the time. A witness said he saw a man dressed in army clothing and a steel helmet, holding what appeared to be a machine gun. (CNN)
  • Turkey Launches Military Offensive Against U.S.-Backed Militia in Syria - Chloe Cornish
    Turkish ground troops entered northeast Syria early Thursday, hours after a Turkish aerial bombardment sent waves of civilians fleeing for safety. Towns on the Turkish side of the border were also reportedly hit by shelling as Kurdish forces responded.
        The U.S. military has already moved some foreign ISIS fighters who were being held by U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in northeast Syria out of the country, concerned that they might escape in the wake of the Turkish military incursion. (Financial Times-UK)
        See also U.S.-Backed Syrian Forces Halt Counter-Islamic State Operations - Phil Stewart
    U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters have halted operations against Islamic State in Syria as Turkey launched a military offensive against them. "The SDF stopped the anti-ISIS operations because it's impossible to carry out any operation while you are being threatened by a large army," a Kurdish military source said. The U.S. military had hoped to train the SDF to create a stabilization force of 50,000-60,000 fighters to help prevent a resurgence of Islamic State. As of last month, the U.S. military estimated it was halfway toward that goal. (Reuters)
        See also Syrian Kurds Outgunned by Turkish Army - Ellen Francis
    The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) - which the Kurdish YPG militia spearheads - is heavily outgunned by the Turkish army, NATO's second-largest military. While the SDF received no heavy weapons from the U.S. to counter Turkish aircraft or tanks, Kurdish fighters have sourced anti-tank missiles on their own, a YPG source said. "This is the Middle East and the black market is in full swing," the source said.
        Another YPG source said the border strip which is Ankara's current focus may ultimately be lost. But YPG forces were bent on making the battle as difficult and long as possible for Turkey, relying in part on fortifications at the border and fighters ready to die for the Kurdish cause, he said, promising "a never-ending insurgency" against Turkish forces. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Nears Completion of New Gaza Border Fortifications
    Israel is nearing completion of new defense works on the Gaza border in response to weekly border riots, threats from anti-tank missiles and other terror attacks, Channel 13 reported Wednesday. The project includes defenses against missiles and improved sniper posts, which have been better fortified, placed higher up and in more strategic locations. Large berms have been built to conceal troop movements. These are in addition to the underground barriers to protect against terror tunnels, and a high fence which is expected to be completed in mid-2020. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Turkey Battles Syria's Kurds near Tal Abyad - Jared Szuba
    A Turkish ground assault began near the town of Tal Abyad after Turkish aircraft and artillery pounded Syrian towns along the border throughout Wednesday. (Defense Post)
        See also Tal Abyad: Achilles Heel of the Syrian Kurdish Belt - Fabrice Balanche
    The border district of Tal Abyad may well be the Turkish army's main target. The district's Arab-majority population rejects the YPG, the U.S.-backed Kurdish force currently in control of the area. The Arab militias in the YPG-led Syrian Defense Forces are no doubt unwilling to help the Kurds stop the Turkish army and its local proxies. To the contrary, they could use this opportunity to break with the YPG and its unsustainable domination of Arab-majority areas. The district is 70% Arab and 25% Kurdish.
        The writer is an assistant professor and research director at the University of Lyon 2. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • New York Times Misinforms on Palestinians in Jordan Valley - Gilead Ini
    The New York Times has misinformed readers about Palestinians in the Jordan Valley. A Sep. 10 piece by Ben Hubbard, citing the Israeli advocacy group B'Tselem, told readers Palestinians are "barred from entering or using about 85%" of the Jordan Valley. In fact, Israeli communities and their lands, which sit within Area C that is administered by Israel, take up 8-15% of the Jordan Valley.
        The Times itself has frequently documented that Palestinians can enter these areas. A separate Times story published on the same day noted that nearly all the male population of Fasayil, a Palestinian village in the Jordan Valley, are employed in the neighboring Israeli community of Tomer.
        Thousands of Palestinians live in Palestinian communities and tend Palestinian fields throughout the Israeli-controlled section of the Jordan Valley. They also access the same parks and open spaces that Israelis do and they swim at the Dead Sea's Kalya beach.
        Some 46% of the Jordan Valley is designated as an IDF firing zone and another 9% is the buffer zone along the border with Jordan. These areas are restricted for all civilians, Israeli and Palestinian alike. (CAMERA)

To the Arab World, Jewish Sovereignty Is a Rebellion Against Islam - Shmuel Trigano (Tel Aviv Review of Books)
  • Between 1945 and 1970, the Jews of the Arab and Islamic world, most of whom had lived there since long before the arrival of Islam, saw their civilization collapse. 900,000 people from 11 countries stretching from Iran to Morocco underwent this ordeal.
  • The creation of a Jewish national home in Palestine under the British Mandate was seen as sacrilegious to the Islamic conscience. The destruction of Jewish communities and institutions was the starting point of a process that has now seen the slow destruction of Christian communities and institutions in the Arab world.
  • It is less the existence of Israel as a sovereign state, but rather the Jewish nature of this sovereignty, that troubles the Arab-Islamic conscience. In these terms, Jewish sovereignty is understood as nothing short of a rebellion against Islam.
  • Islamic society is carefully demarcated. Non-Muslims were conferred the status of dominated nations: segregated in special quarters, their members clearly marked as outsiders. Contesting this is seen as a declaration of "war" on Islam, to which the legitimate response is all-out jihad.
  • In parallel with the formation of the State of Israel, pogroms and exclusionary laws were carried out against Jews in almost every Arab state, holding them accountable for the "rebellion" of Israel. If the Jews of these countries were not fundamentally considered as foreigners and pariahs, they would not have been held responsible for the creation of Israel.
  • In comparing the Jewish refugees from the Arab world and the Palestinian refugees, the Palestinians were made refugees as a result of the defeat of the war of extermination launched by the Arabs, whereas the Jewish refugees were innocent of all aggression towards them.

    The writer is professor emeritus of sociology at Paris Nanterre University.