December 12, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Iranian Missiles in Iraq - Shaan Shaikh (Center for Strategic and International Studies)
    In addition to providing missiles to Lebanese Hizbullah and Yemen's Houthi rebels, Iran is now arming its proxies in Iraq, collectively known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).
    The PMF is composed of 75,000-145,000 fighters, split among 50-plus militias. Those that maintain strong ties to Tehran have steadily risen in size and stature.
    Missile acquisitions by Iran-backed groups have prompted Israel to launch at least seven airstrikes on PMF missile depots in Iraq in 2019, expanding upon the Israeli policy of targeting Iranian missile bases in Syria.
    The emergence of another Iranian proxy armed with missiles risks greater Iranian power projection and wider military escalation across the region.

20 Islamist Terrorism Suspects Arrested in Raids across Denmark (AP-Guardian-UK)
    About 20 people have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in Islamist terrorism after a series of raids across Denmark, said Flemming Drejer, head of Denmark's Security and Intelligence Service.
    "Some have procured things to make explosives and have tried to acquire weapons," said Jorgen Bergen Skov, Copenhagen police's chief inspector.

The New European Initiative for Palestinian Statehood - Yoni Ben Menachem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn is advancing an initiative for all EU states to recognize a Palestinian state in response to the statement by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the settlements.
    The recognition by EU countries of a Palestinian state and the adoption of the Luxembourg foreign minister's initiative requires a unanimous vote of EU members.
    It should be made clear to European countries that recognition of a Palestinian state is a premature determination of an outcome that should come from negotiations and is something that Israel cannot accept.
    The Oslo Accords did not recognize the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and did not stipulate that settlements should be stopped; the PLO signed it and must respect it.
    The writer, a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israel Radio and Television, is a senior Middle East analyst for the Jerusalem Center.

Former Palestinian Minister: PA Failed to Establish a State Anchored in Democracy and the Rule of Law (MEMRI)
    Former PA Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Ziad Abu Zayyad wrote in Al-Quds on Oct. 27, 2019, that the PA had built a state "from the top down," focusing on its outward characteristics, such as a flag and anthem, instead of building it "from the bottom up," i.e., caring for the citizens by granting them security, prosperity and a sense of belonging.
    He called to rebuild the Palestinian state upon the principles of the rule of law and democracy, lest it turn into yet another corrupt, failing and tribal Arab regime.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel to Hold New Elections - Lahav Harkov
    Israel's Knesset missed its deadline on Wednesday to nominate a candidate for prime minister, officially launching a third election in less than a year. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Highest Ranking Muslim in Israel Police Addresses UN Conference on Discrimination and Racism - Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman
    Maj.-Gen. Jamal Hakroosh of the Israel Police, a Muslim Arab, addressed the UN World Conference against Discrimination and Racism in Geneva on Dec. 4. Having served in the police for 40 years, he said, "I was the commander of three big police stations, providing policing services to Arab and Jewish citizens alike....The Israel Police is a decent institution that opens doors before every citizen in the country, regardless of their background or religion."
        "Not only did the Israel Police open doors to an Arab citizen, but also my friends and colleagues of my generation can now be found among directors of medical wards in Israeli hospitals, and lecturers in Israeli universities."
        In 2016, the government created a special unit to improve policing services in Arab society and Hakroosh was asked to command this unit. He said that in the last two years, eight police stations have been added in Arab communities, and more than 600 Arab men and 55 Arab women have joined the police. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • White House Executive Order Makes Clear that Anti-Semitism Is Not to Be Tolerated - Jared Kushner
    For the first time, a president is making clear that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act's prohibition against discrimination based on race, color or national origin covers discrimination against Jews. The executive order does not define Jews as a nationality. It merely says that to the extent that Jews are discriminated against for ethnic, racial or national characteristics, they are entitled to protection by the anti-discrimination law.
        This new order adopts as its definition of anti-Semitism the language put forth in 2016 by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. For example, the alliance defines "the targeting of the state of Israel" and those who deny "the Jewish people their right to self-determination" or those who compare "contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis" as examples of anti-Semitism. The writer is a senior adviser to the president. (New York Times)
        See also Text: Executive Order on Combating Anti-Semitism (White House)
  • Protecting America's Most Targeted Minority Is a Moral Imperative - Liel Leibovitz
    The executive order designed to fight anti-Semitism extends the same protections afforded to minorities under our existing civil rights laws to Jews as well. It is nothing more than an extension of the Obama White House's own legal guidance about the treatment of Jews under existing U.S. civil rights law. Jews make up about 2% of the American population, yet were the victims of 58% of all religious bias crimes last year, according to the FBI. As long as Jews remain America's most targeted minority, affording them the same legal protection enjoyed by other minorities isn't just right; it's a moral and physical imperative. (Tablet)
  • Why Was the New Executive Order on Campus Anti-Semitism Necessary? - Evan Gerstmann
    The charge that the new White House executive order on anti-Semitism will marginalize American Jews by defining them as un-American is completely baseless. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance, including educational institutions such as universities. It does not include discrimination based on religion. As a result, there is controversy over whether it applies to discrimination against Jews.
        There have been several attempts in Congress to pass a new law clarifying that Title VI does apply to Jews. These attempts have had broad bi-partisan support (one version passed the Senate unanimously) but have never become law. The executive order applies Title VI to anti-Semitism via executive authority.
        Critics claim that the executive order promotes the bigoted idea that American Jews are not American. This makes no sense. Title VI refers to "national origin," not "nationality," and Jews are certainly an ethnicity. The writer is a Professor of Political Science at Loyola Marymount University, California. (Forbes)
  • No, the Administration Is Not Redefining Judaism as a Nationality - Mark Joseph Stern
    The New York Times claimed Tuesday that a new executive order interpreted Judaism "as a race or nationality" under the Civil Rights Act. That turned out to be untrue. The text of the order does not redefine Judaism as a race or nationality. It does not claim that Jews are a nation or a different race. The order's interpretation is entirely in line with the Obama administration's approach.
        It only deviates from past practice by suggesting that harsh criticism of Israel - specifically, the notion that it is "a racist endeavor" - may be used as evidence to prove anti-Semitic intent. (Slate)

  • Israel's recent emergence as one of the world's most powerful industrial democracies has never been more important to the U.S.  And the value to U.S. interests of Israel's world-class military, intelligence prowess, and cutting-edge science and technology sector is only likely to grow in the future.
  • Even as the U.S. seeks to reduce its burdens in the Middle East, it still has important interests that need defending. It wants to contain Iranian aggression, combat Islamist terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, deter the outbreak of major war, and ensure Israel's security. Logic dictates that doing all that with less U.S. involvement means someone else will have to step up to help fill the void.
  • That puts a premium on reliable local allies that have both the will and the capability not just to defend themselves without the U.S. riding to the rescue but also to act effectively on their own. It's patently obvious that only one country comes close to meeting those criteria today: Israel.
  • Israel has, by an order of magnitude, the most powerful and operationally effective military in the Middle East. Its intelligence services rank among the world's best. It's a technological superpower with leading research and development capabilities in priority national security areas for the U.S., including cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, unmanned systems, missile defense, space, and anti-terrorism. Israel's assessment of the most serious threats to Middle East security is nearly identical to Washington's. And its government and population are unwaveringly pro-American.
  • Since at least 2017, Israel has been the only power in the world conducting regular military operations to push back successfully against Iranian forces and their expansionist designs. Iran's goal of replicating in Syria the same level of military power and threat that it built in Lebanon through Hizbullah has been almost completely thwarted by a sustained campaign of discreet Israeli military attacks and intelligence activities - all without triggering a larger war.
  • To jeopardize such a strategic asset on the altar of a Palestinian conflict that has dragged on chronically for decades, with no resolution in sight and the issue's relative geopolitical significance in steep decline, would be a huge unforced error.

    The writer, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, served as national security advisor to former Vice President Dick Cheney.