November 27, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Pompeo Calls on Arab States to Engage with Israel and End Boycott (Middle East Monitor-UK)
    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Arab states on Monday to engage with Israel and end their boycott.
    Pompeo tweeted: "It's time for Arab countries to abandon boycotts and engage #Israel. #MiddleEast divisions = instability. Arab thinkers who risk their lives to bravely advocate a regional vision of peace and coexistence shouldn't face retribution. We need dialogue."

UN Adopts Israeli Resolution, Arab League Abstains - Omri Nahmias (Jerusalem Post)
    The UN General Assembly adopted an Israeli-led resolution on Tuesday promoting agricultural technologies for development.
    147 countries voted in favor. Arab League countries, which usually vote automatically against Israeli resolutions, abstained.

Israel Hosts Arab Journalists, Bloggers (Middle East Monitor-UK)
    Arab journalists and bloggers from the Gulf and Iraq took part in a series of meetings and events in Israel this week, following an invitation from the Foreign Ministry.
    Some of the journalists were from countries which do not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel, the ministry said.
    The visit marks the latest development in growing ties between Israel and the Arab world.
    In March, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt rejected a statement by the Union of Arab Parliaments calling for an end to normalization with Israel.
    See also Journalists from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and Egypt Tour Israel - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    This is the second such delegation in four months. It toured Israel for five days.

Iranian Foreign Minister Phones Islamic Jihad Leader to Express Support - Seth J. Frantzman (Jerusalem Post)
    Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif phoned Islamic Jihad leader Ziyad Al-Nakhalah this week to express support for the group's "valiant resistance in confronting the Zionist aggression against Gaza," according to Palestinian and Iranian reports.

Pro-Iranian Iraqi Militia: "We Will Fight Israel alongside Hizbullah" - Daniel Salami (Ynet News)
    A spokesman for the pro-Iranian Iraqi militia Al-Nujaba said Tuesday:
    "War against Israel is a religious duty. I see no other way except fighting Israel. We will join the fight against the Zionist entity. If Hizbullah and Syria declare war on Israel, we will be at the frontlines to restore the rights of the Arab and Muslim people."

Media Misidentifies Palestinian Rocket as Israeli Missile - Tamar Sternthal (CAMERA)
    An Agence France Presse photograph appearing on the Nov. 15 front-page of the International New York Times was captioned: "An Israeli missile streaking over Gaza City this week."
    However, Israeli missile expert Dr. Uzi Rubin maintains that the picture shows a Palestinian rocket being fired from Gaza at Israel.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Strengthens Response to Protests - Farnaz Fassihi and Rick Gladstone
    Authorities in Iran strengthened their reprisals on Tuesday over the protests that engulfed the country last week, arresting 100 "ringleaders and masterminds" and penalizing Iranian journalists overseas who publicized the mayhem. Mobile phone access to the Internet remains blocked. Videos and photos were posted showing street clashes, burning buildings, and shootings of unarmed demonstrators. (New York Times)
        See also Iran: A Deliberate Display of Brutal Repression - Amos Harel
    Western and Israeli intelligence agencies believe that the regime in Tehran is on the verge of containing the protest wave which is thought to have taken around 300 lives, including a few members of the security forces. More than 4,000 people have been wounded. Intelligence agencies describe the events in Iran as a deliberate display of brutal repression. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Received 20,000 Messages from Iranians on Abuse of Protesters
    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that Washington has received nearly 20,000 "messages, videos, pictures, notes" from Iranians depicting "human rights abuses" in Tehran's response to anti-government protests. Pompeo said the U.S. would sanction Iranian officials responsible for their actions related to the protests. (Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty)
        See also Videos of Iran Protests Reveal Regime Crackdown - Jiyar Gol
    One video shows a woman looking at a teenage boy lying in a pool of blood on a pavement, as a riot policeman swings a baton at people running past him. Another shows a crowd trying to help a motionless man on the ground, as other people retreat amid sounds of screaming and gunfire. Videos appearing on social media paint a picture of a brutal and bloody government crackdown.
        Hospital staff said security officers are going to hospitals to look for wounded protesters. One doctor said the officers were removing bandages to check whether they had bullet wounds and arresting anyone who had them. Military barracks, sports venues and schools have been converted to detention centers. Despite the assertion by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei that the protesters had "roots outside of the country," the Ministry of Intelligence told parliament that most of those held were unemployed youth from poor families. (BBC Persian)
  • Archbishop of Canterbury Says Britain's Jews Feel "Fear" - Gregory Katz
    The archbishop of Canterbury has said an unusual electoral intervention by Britain's chief rabbi should alert the country to the unease felt by many Jews. Justin Welby tweeted Tuesday after Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis wrote in The Times of London that Britain's Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn have been deeply tarnished by anti-Semitism. Welby said Mirvis' statement "ought to alert us to the deep sense of insecurity and fear felt by many British Jews."
        It is very rare for the chief rabbi to express his thoughts on party politics during an election campaign. Mirvis wrote, "The way in which the (Labour) leadership has dealt with anti-Jewish racism is incompatible with the British values of which we are so proud."  (AP-Washington Post)
        See also What Will Become of Jews in Britain If Labour Forms the Next Government? - Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis (The Times-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Dore Gold: Congressional Letter about Settlement Illegality "Seriously Flawed" - Herb Keinon
    The letter 107 Democratic representatives sent to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling for him to reverse his declaration that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are not illegal "contains serious flaws," and implies that Israel's moral standing is in question and does not share America's values, Dore Gold wrote on Wednesday to those who signed the letter.
        "Let's be clear: Israel adheres to international law," wrote Gold, a former director-general of the Israel Foreign Ministry. "We do not view our settlements in the West Bank, many of which date back some 50 years, as a violation of international law." Gold enclosed an opinion on the legality of settlements written by former Foreign Ministry legal adviser Alan Baker, who is now a colleague at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs that Gold heads. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also The Legality of Israel's Settlements: Flaws in the Carter-Era Hansell Memorandum - Amb. Alan Baker (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Israel Hits Hamas Targets after Rocket Fire from Gaza - Gadi Golan
    In response to rocket fire from Gaza, Israeli aircraft attacked several Hamas sites early Wednesday including a weapons manufacturing facility. The IDF said two rockets were fired from Gaza, with missile defenses intercepting one, in the second such incident this week. (Israel Hayom)
  • Egyptian Tank Shell Hits Israeli Yeshiva, No Casualties
    An Egyptian tank shell hit the dining hall of a yeshiva in the Israeli border community of Bnei Netzarim on Tuesday, Maariv reported. The hall was empty at the time and no injuries were reported. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Iran's Transnational Terrorist Array: Tehran's Offensive Arsenal Against the U.S. and Its Allies - Dr. Yossi Mansharof
    The Islamic Republic of Iran considers terrorism an effective tool for promoting its foreign policy. Accordingly, Tehran has established and nurtured an array of transnational terror networks. The U.S. could end up in some sort of military escalation against Tehran if the IRGC or one of its proxies kills American troops or diplomats stationed in the region, or if Iran takes steps that achieve a breakthrough in military nuclear capabilities.
        Moreover, if the Iranian focus on Hizbullah's precision guided missile project is not restrained, the chances of a confrontation increase since Israel can't accept threats of this level. In any such military escalation, Iran's transnational terrorist array is expected to spearhead Tehran's offensive toolbox against the U.S. and its allies. The writer is a researcher at the Ezri Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies at the University of Haifa. (Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security)
  • The Decline (and Fall?) of the "Fourth Persian Empire" - Hassan Mneimneh
    The "Fourth Persian Empire" is in decline through the weight of its own unsustainability. The U.S. measures taken against it have merely accelerated the rate of erosion. Now that an increasing scarcity of resources, a heightened avidity of the kleptocratic class, and a self-ignited public awareness have converged to create a storm of protest, it is hard to imagine how this bankrupt model of external domination can prevail in the long term. In Lebanon, Iraq and Iran, there is an asymmetrical confrontation between unarmed protestors driven by concrete interests and universal values, and armed proxies of an ideological regime driven by illusions of supremacy.
        The world - which has accommodated, accepted, or condoned the imperial impulses of Iran's ideological elite - ought to consider the blood of the protestors the red line in the face of violence by Iran and its proxies. The writer is a contributing editor with the Washington Institute's Fikra Forum and a principal at Middle East Alternatives in Washington. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

Strategic Deterrence Has Its Limits - Prof. Daniel Schueftan (Israel Hayom)
  • It is important not to develop unrealistic expectations from Israel's impressive success with strategic deterrence.
  • Given the massive motivation of Israel's enemies to harm it, one should not expect existing deterrence to ward off the constant provocations by radical Arab elements, nor can it prevent the development of serious threats.
  • Israel's efforts to generate and maintain deterrence have succeeded in ensuring wide gaps between rounds of hostilities, as well as in minimizing the damage they inflict, but they have not and cannot produce a constant lull.
  • Arab societies have chosen to deny the legitimacy of Jewish sovereign existence. The radicals among them are addicted to violence and are worshiped for inflicting terror and agony. Even among themselves, Arabs in the region tend to resort to violent measures. They have no qualms about using violence against Israel and are only reluctant to do so when they fear its retaliation.
  • The problem is that irresponsible radical elements in the region enjoy the support of millions of people. Many "get a kick" out of these radicals' ability to harm Israel. Iran is more than happy to back anyone who is willing to inflict harm.
  • In the coming generations, Israel can expect repeated flare-ups on its borders. Israel and its public will have to develop increased resilience to near-constant, low-intensity provocations.

    The writer is chairman of the National Security Studies Center at the University of Haifa.