October 30, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Russia Says Syrian Kurds Complete Withdrawal from Turkish Border (AP-Military Times)
    Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday that Syrian Kurdish fighters have completed their withdrawal from areas along the Syrian border, in line with a recent Russia-Turkey deal.
    He said Russian and Syrian troops have moved into the border zone following the Kurdish withdrawal.

U.S. House Votes to Recognize Armenian Genocide - Catie Edmondson (New York Times)
    The U.S. House of Representatives voted 405 to 11 on Tuesday to formally recognize the Armenian genocide, the first time a chamber of Congress has officially designated the 1915 mass killings of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire as genocide.
    See also A Belated Recognition of Genocide by the House - Samantha Power (New York Times)
    The writer is a former U.S. UN ambassador.

    See also U.S. House Calls for Sanctions on Turkey over Syrian Incursion (Reuters-New York Times)
    The U.S. House of Representatives voted 403 to 16 on Tuesday calling on President Trump to impose sanctions on Turkey and its officials over its offensive in northern Syria.
    See also Erdogan's Sagging Domestic Fortunes Lifted by Turkey's Syrian Offensive - David Gauthier-Villars (Wall Street Journal)

Germany Charges Two Syrians with Crimes Against Humanity (Deutsche Welle-Germany)
    Two former Syrian secret service officers arrested in February have been charged with participating in mass rape, torture and crimes against humanity, German federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.
    Anwar R. headed an investigative unit with its own prison in the Damascus area from April 2011 to September 2012.
    Karlsruhe prosecutors charged Anwar R. on Oct. 22 with "complicity in crimes against humanity" and "murder in 58 cases, rape and aggravated sexual assault" in the jail where 4,000 prisoners suffered "brutal and massive torture."
    Eyad A-G hunted down members of an anti-government protest, imprisoning them in the same unit despite knowing of its torture practices. He aided and abetted two killings and the physical abuse of at least 30 people.

Moroccan Activist Arrested for Protesting Against Israel's Participation in Exhibition (Middle East Monitor-UK)
    Moroccan Observatory Against Normalization head Ahmed Wehman was arrested "after his protest at the international dates' fair, organized by the Moroccan Ministry of Agriculture, last Saturday, against the participation of an Israeli company, which prompted the authorities to intervene and halt the protest," general secretary of the group Aziz Hanawi told the Anadolu news agency.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Hizbullah Supporters Attack Protesters in Beirut
    Hundreds of Lebanese supporters of Hizbullah attacked a protest camp set up by anti-government demonstrators in central Beirut, burning some tents and dismantling others Tuesday. Dozens of other Hizbullah supporters attacked a roadblock set up by the protesters on a main thoroughfare in the capital. (AP-VOA News)
        See also Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri Resigns, Defying Hizbullah
    Saad al-Hariri resigned as Lebanon's prime minister on Tuesday. His departure defies Hizbullah, which was part of his coalition and wanted him and the government to stay on. Lebanon has been paralyzed by an unprecedented wave of protests against the rampant corruption of the political class. (Reuters)
        See also Is Lebanon Sliding Again into Civil War? - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
    Protesters in Lebanon have attacked the offices and houses of deputies affiliated with Hizbullah and its ally, the Shiite Amal movement, claiming that the organizations are plundering the coffers of the Lebanese state and skimming the budgets allocated to their ministries at the expense of the Lebanese people. The writer is former Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Protests in Iraq and Lebanon Pose a Challenge to Iran - Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Joseph Krauss
    The day after anti-government protests erupted in Iraq, Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani flew to Baghdad and surprised a group of top security officials by chairing a meeting in place of the prime minister. The arrival of Soleimani signaled Tehran's concern over the protests, which had included calls for Iran to stop meddling in the country. The protests in Iraq and Lebanon are fueled by local grievances, but they also pose a challenge to Iran, which closely backs both governments as well as powerful armed groups in each country.
        "We in Iran know how to deal with protests," Soleimani told the Iraqi officials. "This happened in Iran and we got it under control." The day after Soleimani's visit, the death toll soared as unidentified snipers shot demonstrators in the head and chest.
        Impoverished Iraqis complain that powerful Shiite militias tied to Iran have built economic empires, taking control of state reconstruction projects and branching into illicit business activities. Overnight Tuesday, masked men opened fire on protesters in Karbala, killing at least 18 and wounding hundreds. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Protests in Iraq: Against Domestic Corruption and Iranian Influence - Azhar Al-Rubaie (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Two Charged in U.S. for Providing Drones to Hizbullah
    Usama and Issam Hamade, charged with shipping drone parts to the Iranian-backed Hizbullah militia in Lebanon, were recently extradited to the U.S. from South Africa. The men entered not guilty pleas Tuesday in federal court in St. Paul, Minnesota. (AP-Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Knesset Speaker: Time to End Absurd Claims Regarding Israel's Responsibility for Economic Situation in Gaza - Allison Kaplan Sommer
    Israeli Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on Tuesday slammed claims that Israel was responsible for economic conditions in Gaza. Edelstein said he told visiting EU representatives on Monday that Hamas leaders in Gaza "have all the necessary means - they use the money earmarked for the public benefit in order to attack the State of Israel" and he blamed Hamas for poor living conditions in Gaza.
        The tunnels Hamas has built to infiltrate Israel clearly "cost millions," as does their weaponry. "Every time I see a Hamas rocket launched towards Israel, I see food and diapers and medicine flying in the air," Edelstein said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli Jet Shoots Down UAV over Gaza - Lilach Shoval
    Israeli Air Force fighter jets were scrambled on Tuesday to intercept a UAV that was flying over Gaza at an altitude of 4 km. (12,000 feet), the IDF Spokesperson reported. (Israel Hayom)
  • Palestinian Stabbing Attack Thwarted in Hebron
    A Palestinian woman approached an Israeli border police officer with a knife at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron on Wednesday and attempted to carry out a stabbing attack. The terrorist was shot and neutralized. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, Iran, and Muslim Brotherhood All Believe in "Death to America!" - Clifford D. May
    The death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi deals a devastating blow to the Islamic State. His skills and stature will be difficult to replace. Moreover, in the theology to which he subscribed, it is Allah who decides the outcome of battles and wars. That the caliph could be taken down by Delta Force operators and Army Rangers suggests to the faithful that his mission lacked divine endorsement.
        The ideology which Baghdadi espoused and the goals for which he fought do not significantly differ from those of al-Qaeda, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Muslim Brotherhood. The strategies these factions employ are not identical. However, all believe in the imperative of Islamic supremacy, envisioning a world ruled by and for Muslims, one in which infidels are at least relegated to an inferior status. All believe in "Death to America!" And all are prepared to wage an "endless war" to achieve their objectives. The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Washington Times)
  • Normalization: 166,000 Palestinians Work with Israelis Every Day - Neville Teller
    "Normalization" has been adopted as a term of abuse by the Palestinian leadership to stigmatize any form of joint Palestinian-Israeli activity. The elephant in this room is that every day, 130,000 Palestinians cross into Israel from the West Bank to work for some 8,100 employers. Their employment is an important part of the West Bank economy. Palestinians working in Israel bring home $1.4 billion. Their average salary is 2 1/2 times the average salary in the Palestinian autonomous areas.
        In addition, 36,000 Palestinians are employed in Israeli firms in the West Bank, many earning up to 3 times the average Palestinian wage. Israel has established several industrial zones there, comprising around 1,000 businesses. This ongoing demonstration of Palestinian-Israeli joint activity on a massive scale is rarely referred to by the anti-normalization activists. (Jerusalem Report)

Video: The Attempt to Revive the False Charge that Israel Is Racist - Dore Gold (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Every few years a voice emerges which seeks to brand Israel or its leaders as racist. The most famous case was the decision of the UN General Assembly in 1975 to brand Zionism, the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, as racism.
  • Israel's ambassador to the UN, Chaim Herzog, speaking in the name of the Jewish people, responded by saying that the resolution was based on hatred, falsehood, and arrogance, as he tore the resolution in half. In 1991, the General Assembly formally revoked the resolution, largely as a result of diplomatic efforts of the United States.
  • Tragically, the issue has been reawakened in the context of the 2020 American presidential campaign, with the charge by Senator Bernie Sanders that the Israeli government under Prime Minister Netanyahu is racist. Israel does not want to get drawn into American domestic politics. But Israel cannot, indeed Israel must not, let such lies stand without a response.
  • It is Israel which reached out into Ethiopia during the 1980s to assist 120,000 of their Jewish brothers and sisters to cross Sudan and start new lives in Israel. During the Syrian civil war, it was Israel that quietly opened its borders to Syrian refugees in order to provide them with urgent medical care. Anyone visiting Hadassah Hospital, or for that matter any Israeli hospital, will witness how thousands of Arab and Jewish patients are cared for by Arab and Jewish doctors.
  • Israeli medical teams led the effort to defeat Ebola in West Africa, with mobile clinics which were flown in. Ironically, it was Prime Minister Netanyahu who put Africa at the top of Israel's priorities, with his repeated visits to the continent, starting in 2016.
  • Peace will eventually prevail in the Middle East, but it will be delayed if falsehoods about Israel continue to be spread and the Jewish state is defamed by those who should know better.

    The writer is president of the Jerusalem Center.