November 25, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Judge Orders Iran to Pay $180 Million to Washington Post Reporter and Family - Christopher Mele (New York Times)
    Federal judge Richard J. Leon on Friday ordered Iran to pay Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and his family nearly $180 million in damages after the reporter was imprisoned for almost 18 months during which he was psychologically tortured and physically abused.
    Rezaian, an accredited journalist arrested in Iran on July 22, 2014, was subjected to solitary confinement, sleep deprivation and aggressive interrogations and was denied basic medical care for illnesses and infections.
    While it is highly unlikely that Iran would pay any damages, they could be paid from a fund established by Congress in 2015 to pay victims of terrorism, said Rezaian's lawyer, David W. Bowker.
    The fund, which has paid out more than $2 billion, has been augmented with money collected in sanctions.

For Iraq's Protesters, Victory Is Still Elusive - Zvi Bar'el (Ha'aretz)
    After more than a month of anti-government demonstrations, 300 Iraqis have been killed and more than 15,000 wounded are still hospitalized following weeks of shootings and beatings by national security forces and Shi'ite militias acting at Iran's behest.
    Every day, social media spread the news of more wounded civilians.
    An image of Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force, along with the caption "Throw Khamenei and Soleimani out of Iraq," has gained popularity on social media.

University of Cape Town Rescinds Motion to Boycott Israel - Ilanit Chernick (Jerusalem Post)
    The University of Cape Town (UCT) on Friday rescinded a motion for an academic boycott of Israel, Wendy Kahn, national director of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, reported.
    In March, the university's senate initially voted in favor of such a motion by 62-43 with 10 abstentions. However, the UCT Council, which governs the university, blocked the boycott motion.
    Following months of investigations by the senate, a motion to rescind the boycott was approved by 68%.

Report: Law Requires Israel to Withhold More Funds from PA to Offset Payments to Families of Terrorists - Maurice Hirsch, Itamar Marcus, and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
    In July 2018, Israel passed a law to deduct the amount that the PA spends to reward terror from the tax money Israel collects and transfers monthly to the PA.
    The Israeli law demands that the government deduct the amount the PA transfers to "terror activists" and their families.
    Since February 2019, the Israeli government has been deducting the money the PA paid to terrorist prisoners.
    However, it has not not deducted money to offset the millions of dollars that the PA pays monthly to wounded terrorists and to the families of dead terrorists.

Led by High Tech, Israeli Exports to Hit Record $114 Billion in 2019 (Reuters)
    Israel's export are expected to grow to a record $114 billion in 2019 from $109 billion last year, government data showed on Sunday.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Commander Warns of Iranian Attack in Middle East - Eric Schmitt
    The deployment of 14,000 additional American troops to the Persian Gulf region since the spring has probably not dissuaded Iran from planning a major attack, Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, head of the U.S. Central Command in charge of U.S. forces in the Middle East, said Saturday. After Iran's recent missile and drone assault on Saudi Arabia's oil fields, McKenzie said, "My judgment is that it is very possible they will attack again. It's the trajectory and the direction that they're on."  (New York Times)
  • U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Iran's Information Minister
    The U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran's information minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi on Friday for his role in "widescale Internet censorship" involving a nationwide Internet shutdown meant to help stifle protests in the country. The Internet blockage by the former intelligence official made it difficult for protesters to post videos on social media to generate support and also to obtain reliable reports on the extent of the unrest. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinians Declare "Day of Rage" Against U.S., Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Palestinian factions have called for a "day of rage" on Tuesday to protest U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's recent announcement that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are not inconsistent with international law. Senior PLO official Ahmed Majdalani said the protests will continue throughout the week. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arab Israeli Cleric Raed Salah Convicted of Incitement to Terrorism
    Arab Israeli Islamic cleric Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel which was banned in 2015 over links to terror groups, was convicted Sunday of incitement to terrorism over a 2017 speech in which he praised a deadly attack at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City.
        Salah was arrested for praising three Arab Israelis who shot dead two Israeli police officers in the attack. Salah has previously been convicted on a number of occasions for terror charges and in 2017 was released from prison after serving a nine-month sentence for incitement to violence. (Times of Israel)
  • Honoring the Life of Sarah: 50,000 Jews Gather in Hebron for Shabbat - Aaron Reich
    Some 40,000-50,000 Jews from around the world converged on the city of Hebron and its adjacent sister city, Kiryat Arba, over Shabbat in honor of Sarah, the biblical matriarch of the Jewish people. It coincides with the biblical reading of Chayei Sarah (the Life of Sarah), in which Abraham purchases the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron in which to bury Sarah.
        The Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs is a large edifice built atop the cave by King Herod over 2,000 years ago. Despite Jewish history at the location going back thousands of years, the Tomb was declared a Palestinian World Heritage Site in 2017 by UNESCO. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israel Sends a Message to Tehran, Damascus and Moscow - Ron Ben-Yishai
    The IDF airstrikes in Syria last week were a direct response to the four Iranian-made heavy rockets fired at Israel on Tuesday. The rockets were launched from south of Damascus by a Syrian Shi'ite militia from an area where Russian President Putin promised Prime Minister Netanyahu there would be no Iranians nor Shi'ite militias operating. Had the rockets not been intercepted, they could have caused civilian casualties and great damage.
        The Israeli counterattack was intended to serve as a warning to the Iranians and their proxies operating in Syria, Syrian President Bashar Assad, and the Kremlin, who did not meet their commitment to Israel to ward off the Iranians and their proxies from the Israeli border.
        The message for the Iranians is that Israel won't hold back, and will not be deterred from engaging in a large-scale campaign if Iran continues to establish a front against it in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. (Ynet News)
  • A Syrian Refugee's View of the Unrest at York University - Aboud Dandachi
    When I came to Canada two years ago from Syria, I wanted one thing above all else: not to be singled out. Not to be made to feel different from anyone else. The fact that I could live my life in Toronto like any other inhabitant was a miracle I cherished every day.
        On Nov. 20, I went to York University to attend an event with members of the Israeli NGO Reservists on Duty, soldiers who have served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Back in Syria, socializing with any Israeli was the ultimate taboo. But I was in Canada now. I could meet whom I pleased. Or so I thought.
        A large group of people waving Palestinian flags and shouting anti-Israel slogans through megaphones began to bang on the doors to the auditorium and to use megaphones to drown out the event being held inside. Several times, hateful, angry individuals came in to disrupt. The event turned into a discussion on how unsafe the attendees felt as Jews. They felt singled out, unsafe in their own city because of who they are.
        It was decided that the attendees would require police escorts back to their cars. In 2019, in Toronto, Jews are not safe enough to walk alone back to the parking lot at one of the city's institutes of higher education. (Canadian Jewish News)
        See also Hatred at Canadian Universities - Editorial
    While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford have condemned the latest incidence of violence, hatred, racist chants and anti-Semitism at York University, hatred of Jews masquerading as criticism of Israel has been going on for years on university campuses. On Nov. 20, York Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) attempted to shut down a university-authorized panel discussion with former members of Israel's Defense Forces, sponsored by a York student group.
        York University President Rhonda Lenton promised to review ways to encourage vigorous but civil debate on controversial subjects, but such promises amount to little when one group of students is determined to disrupt the lawful assembly of students with opposing views. There would have been no confrontation had not one side come to the event with the intent of not allowing it to proceed.
        Universities need to stop pretending they don't know this as they talk about the importance of preserving free speech and maintaining civil discourse on controversial issues. When demonstrators come to an event with no other purpose than to silence the views of those who oppose them, they are violating the constitutional right of their opponents to free speech. All universities should be reading the riot act to any student group which engages in such tactics, rather than allowing students to run amok without consequences. (Toronto Sun-Canada)
        See also An IDF Reservist at York University - Sgt. (res.) Corey Feldman (Times of Israel)

Israeli Settlements Are a Political, Not a Legal Issue - Douglas J. Feith (National Review)
  • In his statement about the legality of Israel's West Bank settlements, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made four main points.
    • First, the settlements are not "inherently illegal."
    • Second, the West Bank's fate should be determined through negotiations.
    • Third, international law "does not compel a particular outcome" in favor of Israel or the Palestinians.
    • Fourth, the issue is political in nature, not legal, and attacking the settlements' legality "hasn't advanced the cause of peace."
  • For 35 years U.S. administrations refrained from repeating President Carter's criticism of Israeli settlements as illegal, Pompeo recounted, but President Obama broke with this policy by taking the Carter position at the UN. President Reagan, who followed Carter, had rejected Carter's view.
  • President Carter had a strained relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and condemnation of Israeli settlements as illegal was supported by a five-page letter dated April 21, 1978, by State Department legal adviser Herbert Hansell.
  • That letter ignored entirely the rights of Jews under the 1922 Palestine Mandate, which called for "close settlement by Jews on the land." From ancient times until 1949, Jews could lawfully live in the West Bank. Hansell didn't explain when that right was terminated.
  • As a Middle East specialist on the National Security Council staff, I was asked for a short note on the subject for President Reagan. I said, "The issue is properly a political question, not a legal question." The sovereignty issue "is open and will not be closed until the actual parties to the conflict formally consent to a peace agreement." In the meantime, "there is no law that bars Jews from settling on the West Bank" and no one should be excluded from living there "simply on account of his nationality or religion."
  • What fuels the conflict is the notion that Israel is a vulnerable, alien presence that lacks roots, legitimacy, and moral confidence. Israel's enemies know that asserting that the Jews have no right to live in the West Bank - an important part of the Jewish homeland - calls into question the Jews' right to have created Israel in the first place.

    The writer, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute, served as U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.