December 13, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Turkey Moves to Stop Israel from Building Undersea Gas Line to Europe - Benjamin Kerstein (Algemeiner)
    Turkey is claiming that a planned Israeli undersea natural gas pipeline, agreed upon with Italy, Greece and Cyprus, infringes on an area claimed by Turkey under an economic agreement it reached with Libya, Israel's Channel 11 reported Thursday.
    Turkey has officially asked the UN to recognize the agreement with Libya as a first step toward preventing Israel from building its pipeline.

U.S. Senate Affirms Turkish Responsibility for Century-Old Armenian Genocide - Matthew Daly (AP-TIME)
    The U.S. Senate on Thursday unanimously approved a resolution that recognizes the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a century ago as genocide.
    Co-sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), the nonbinding resolution affirms that the genocide occurred and that Turkey is responsible.
    The House passed an identical resolution overwhelmingly in October.
    Turkey has lobbied for years against such U.S. recognition.

Senate Committee Approves Turkey Sanctions Bill - Patricia Zengerle (Reuters)
    The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted by 18-4 on Wednesday to approve legislation that would impose sanctions on Turkey after its offensive in Syria and purchase of a Russian S-400 missile system.
    The House passed its own Turkish sanctions bill in October in a 403-16 vote.

Turkey Begins Resettling Refugees in Northeastern Syria - Lara Seligman (Foreign Policy)
    Turkey has begun shuttling Syrian refugees across the border into northeastern Syria despite dangerous security conditions in the border towns.
    Continued reports of atrocities by the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army that now controls the area raise fears that Turkish proxies are committing a form of ethnic cleansing by relocating people of Arab descent into the region while preventing the Kurdish population from returning.
    The people being resettled are largely the families of Turkish-backed fighters who are originally from elsewhere in Syria and are primarily Arab and Turkmen.
    Across the region now controlled by Turkey, human rights groups report that soldiers from the Syrian National Army frequently carry out widespread lootings and summary executions, and soldiers are living unlawfully in residents' homes.
    Meanwhile, government services have deteriorated, and arbitrary arrests and car bombings are commonplace.

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U.S. Concerned about Iranian Attacks in Iraq - Seth J. Frantzman (Jerusalem Post)
    A series of statements by U.S. officials over the last week have indicated the depth of concern in Washington and Baghdad about Iran exploiting tensions in Iraq to fire at U.S. troops.
    Since May, bases in Iraq where U.S. forces are located have come under attack.
    There was a lull in attacks over the summer and then they began again in September. December has gotten worse, with attacks on Dec. 3, 5, 9 and 11.

If Abbas Allows Elections, What If Hamas Wins? - Shlomi Eldar (Al-Monitor)
    The Palestinian Authority has formally asked Israel to allow residents of eastern Jerusalem to participate in elections in 2020 for the Palestinian presidency and legislative council.
    Will Abbas keep his promise and for the first time in 13 years hold democratic elections, even though these could result in defeat and an end to his rule?
    In 2006, the last time elections were held, Abbas' Fatah movement was vanquished by Hamas.
    A Hamas victory in new elections, which would hand it control over the West Bank, too, would present Israel with a far more complicated and complex challenge than the one Hamas currently presents in Gaza.

Visiting UN Ambassadors Tour City of David in Jerusalem (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon brought a group of UN ambassadors to visit the City of David in Jerusalem on Wednesday to demonstrate the Jewish's peoples ancient roots in Israel.
    They toured archaeological excavations including the recently uncovered Pilgrimage Road.
    "Three thousand years ago, this is where King David established his capital city," Danon said. "The land of Israel is our ancestral homeland and Jerusalem is our eternal capital."

AP Corrects: There Is an Egalitarian Prayer Space at Jerusalem's Western Wall (CAMERA)
    A Dec. 10 AP article incorrectly reported that there is no egalitarian prayer area at Jerusalem's Western Wall.
    In fact, such a prayer area was established in 2013 and is still functioning.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. President Explains Executive Order: "We Will Not Permit Anti-Jewish Bigotry"
    President Trump said at a Hanukkah reception in the White House on Thursday: "A few hours ago, I signed a groundbreaking executive order to combat anti-Semitic prejudice....My executive order prohibits federal funding to any college or university that spreads, promotes, tolerates, or supports anything having to do with anti-Semitism. We're delivering a powerful message to American academia....'If you want to receive federal dollars, you must reject anti-Semitism.' And if they don't, they don't get hundreds of millions of dollars."
        "We will not permit anti-Jewish bigotry on our college campuses. And if they want to do that, it's going to be extremely costly. It will be amazing how quickly they stop."
        "My administration also forcefully condemns the so-called Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement - the BDS. My administration will not stand for these malicious attacks upon the State of Israel. Discrimination against members of Jewish faith and the Jewish faith, it has to be confronted at every turn."  (White House)
        See also below Observations: Executive Order on Jews Has Firm Legal Grounding - Prof. Daniel Hemel (New York Times)
  • Jeremy Corbyn Defeated by Large Margin in British Elections - Cnaan Liphshiz
    Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party has defeated Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party by a large margin in Britain's general elections on Thursday. Labour was left with its fewest number of seats since 1935.
        Many British Jews have said the elections are particularly fateful for them because they believe that the Labour Party has become institutionally anti-Semitic under Jeremy Corbyn, who was elected to lead the party in 2015. The Labour Against Antisemitism group has documented thousands of cases of anti-Semitic hate speech by members since 2015. (JTA-Telegraph-UK)
  • New Jersey Attackers Linked to Anti-Semitic Fringe Movement
    The deadly shooting rampage at a Jersey City kosher market Tuesday has cast a spotlight on a fringe movement known for its anti-Semitic street preaching and its role in a viral-video confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial this year. David N. Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50 - who killed three people at the grocery, in addition to gunning down a police officer - hated Jews and law enforcement and had expressed interest in the Black Hebrew Israelites movement, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said Thursday.
        Many Black Hebrew Israelites subscribe to an extreme set of anti-Semitic beliefs, viewing themselves as the true "chosen people," said Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism. J.J. MacNab, a fellow at George Washington University's Program on Extremism, said the Black Hebrew Israelites "take pride in confronting Jewish people everywhere and explaining that they are evil, that they are heathens."  (AP-New York Times)
  • UN Unable to Verify that Weapons Used in Saudi Oil Attack Were from Iran - Michelle Nichols
    The UN is "unable to independently corroborate" that missiles and drones used in attacks on Saudi oil facilities in September "are of Iranian origin," Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council on Tuesday. The U.S., European powers and Saudi Arabia have blamed the Sept. 14 attack on Iran.
        Yemen's Houthi group claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Guterres noted that the Houthis "have not been shown to be in possession, nor been assessed to be in possession," of the type of drones used in the attacks. (Reuters)
        See also Saudi Arabia Seeks to Ease Tensions with Iran - Benoit Faucon
    Saudi Arabia is quietly trying to mend fences with Iran and other regional foes as officials in the kingdom have grown more worried about the risks conflict poses to its oil-dependent economy. Saudi calculations changed after a cruise-missile and drone strike - blamed on Tehran - temporarily disabled a large portion of the country's crude production earlier this year. "The Sept. 14 attack was a game-changer," one Saudi official said.
        Representatives of Saudi Arabia and Iran have directly exchanged messages in recent months and also communicated through intermediaries in Oman, Kuwait and Pakistan, according to Saudi, European and U.S. officials. According to Iran's ambassador to Paris, Bahram Ghasemi, Tehran has floated a peace plan to the Saudis that includes a mutual pledge of nonaggression and cooperation, aimed at securing oil exports following a spate of tanker attacks.
        Saudi Arabia doesn't "trust the Iranians," said a Saudi official, but Riyadh hopes it "can at least come to an agreement to stop possible attacks in the future."  (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Corbyn's Loss Is Jews' and Israel's Gain - Herb Keinon
    After exit polls from the British election showed the Conservatives defeating the Labour party led by Jeremy Corbyn, for the Jewish people, a headline reflecting their reaction would be: "Corbyn loses, Jews world-over heave a huge sigh of relief." For the vast majority in Britain, this election had to do with Brexit. But for Jews in the UK, it was about whether anti-Semitism would be mainlined and an anti-Semite would become Britain's prime minister. That he didn't is a reason for celebration among Jews, and not only in Britain.
        The UK is currently Israel's largest trading partner in Europe, a major intelligence partner, and an important friend of Israel on the international stage. All that would have been in jeopardy had Corbyn won. He would have been a significant advocate for Palestinian maximalist positions on the world stage had he taken the reins of power. (Jerusalem Post)
  • British Voters Didn't Trust Corbyn - David Horovitz
    After a landslide win for the Conservatives, the danger that Britain would be led by a lifelong opponent of Israel, a party leader who has allowed anti-Semitism to flourish in Labour, had been averted. Were Labour to have been narrowly defeated, some Corbyn supporters might have blamed the Jewish community. But most of Corbyn's most fervent supporters know that responsibility for a defeat so overwhelming can only be ascribed to the party leader himself.
        In an interview on Sky News on Friday, presenter Kay Burley asked Labour chairman MP Ian Lavery whether it all came down to voters' belief that "Your leader is an anti-Semite, and as a result they didn't trust him on the security and safety of the nation."  (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • U.S. about to Sanction Assad, Russia and Iran for Syrian War Crimes - Josh Rogin
    The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, which is about to be passed by Congress as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020, authorizes sanctions on top Syrian government officials, military leaders and anyone else responsible for Assad's mass atrocities, war crimes against innocent civilians, and crimes against humanity.
        It also would extend sanctions to several major sectors of Syria's economy and to any government or private entity that aids Syria's military or contributes to the reconstruction of Syria - until there's accountability and justice for Assad's victims. That means the Russian military, its contract mercenaries in Syria, and its energy companies seeking Syrian oil business could be sanctioned, as well as Iranian paramilitary forces assisting Assad.
        The legislation is named after "Caesar," a Syrian military photographer who defected in 2013 and released 55,000 photographs of the torture and murder of thousands of civilians in Assad's prisons. (Washington Post)
  • Iranian Gen. Soleimani's Multi-National Army Is Destabilizing the Mideast - Yaakov Lappin
    The commander of Iran's overseas Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Quds Force, Maj.-Gen. Qassem Soleimani, has built up Iranian proxy forces throughout the Middle East. The Quds Force was formed in 1990 for the stated mission of "exporting" the Iranian revolution abroad.
        "Although he's not the commander of the IRGC, he's stronger than the new IRGC commander, Major General Hossein Salami," said Doron Itzchakov, an Iran specialist from the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. With the Iranian Foreign Ministry responsible for dealing with Europe, Soleimani runs Iran's activities in the Middle East.
        Soleimani has created a multi-national army made up of pro-Iranian, largely Shi'ite, militias such as Ansar Allah in Yemen, the Popular Mobilization Front in Iraq, Hizbullah in Lebanon, and an assortment of militia forces in Syria. "He outlines the doctrine of that army. He connects it to the objectives of Iran and the IRGC," said Itzchakov. "Soleimani draws lots of power from the Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei], who supports his operations outside of Iran's borders."  (Israel Hayom-JNS)
  • Deconstructing the Nakba Myth: The Palestinian Aggressors Became the Victims - Prof. Shmuel Trigano
    Nakba Day (lit. "Day of Catastrophe") has become the most actively performed ritual of the Palestinian myth. Hidden behind the exodus of the Arab population of Mandatory Palestine during the 1948 war, which this ritual commemorates, is the war of extermination launched by many Arab countries against the Jews in the young state of Israel. The Palestinians were the allies of these countries. The defeat of their armies and their political failure in opposing the partition of Mandatory Palestine are thus rewritten, with the Nakba as a congenital injustice in which the Palestinian aggressors became the victims.
        Before the British Mandate this territory had been part of the Ottoman Empire, and "Palestine" was neither a geographical nor a political entity. Furthermore, the population that was there was not completely "indigenous." At the end of the 19th century, Arabs from all of the countries within the Ottoman Empire migrated to the territory, attracted by the economic hub created by the Jews. Yasser Arafat and Prof. Edward Said, for example, were not Palestinians but rather Egyptians. During the British Mandate, the Jews were dubbed "Palestinians." It was only after the 1967 war that the Arabs of Palestine were presented as "Palestinians."
        The writer is professor of sociology at the University of Paris-Nanterre and director of the College of Jewish Studies at the Alliance Israelite Universelle. (Jewish Political Studies Review)

  • Weekend Features

  • The Rise of Anti-Drone Tech - Oliver Holmes
    Responding to the drone threat, a host of companies have developed products that can detect, track, jam, destroy or even commandeer rogue drones. In September, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) released its Popstar system, which can detect and track drones up to 4 km. away in day or night.
        IAI sells drone defense to foreign governments to place along their borders or around sensitive sites, and also provides equipment to shoot down military drones. And it is increasingly finding interest from airports who want to protect against shop-bought drones.
        Israel, with its history of drone warfare, has become a key producer of anti-drone products, especially as members of the military intelligence services often transfer their knowledge to start hi-tech companies after they leave the army.
        Vorpal, another Israeli company, has compiled a database of signals emitted by 95% of drones that are available to buy. During this year's Eurovision song contest in Tel Aviv, Israeli police used the system and caught more than 20 people who were operating drones in no-fly zones over venues.
        Once detected, drones can be taken control of with a remote cyber-attack or, more straightforwardly, shot out the air with net guns. Radio frequency jammers are also used, although not in airports. Vorpal's system also allows users to locate the people flying the drones. (Guardian-UK)
  • An Egyptian-Born Muslim Zionist - Dudi Caspi
    Egyptian-born Muslim Hussein Aboubakr, 30, defines himself as a Zionist. His sympathy for Israel forced him out of Egypt and in the last seven years he has been living in Los Angeles. He said in an interview that he grew up to believe that Jews were the source of all evil, but at age 14 he began to search the Internet and "discovered that reality was totally different and that Israel has values such as tolerance and humanity. It was a difficult moment. I discovered the moral gap between my background and Western culture, especially with respect to Israel. All of a sudden, you realize that there is nothing to the stories that were drilled into you, that there's no one in Israel who gets up in the morning and thinks up ways to harm Egypt."
        After receiving asylum at the American Embassy in Cairo, he was able to leave Egypt for the U.S. In 2018, he visited Israel for the first time. "It was the first time I was in an environment that was very similar to the one I knew in Egypt," he said. "For the first time, I experienced the culture I came from - the food, the smells, the atmosphere, the noise, the mentality - with an atmosphere of freedom. It made me want to explain to the Arabs how it feels to live their life, only with freedom. Israel is what the Arab world can be but is unable to be."  (Israel Hayom)
  • The Campaign to Hunt Down and Deport Nazi Killers Living in the U.S. - Renee Ghert-Zand
    Jack (Jakob) Reimer, a retired potato chip salesman and restaurant manager living in New York, was also a war criminal who had been trained by the SS at the Trawniki camp near Lublin, Poland, to help the Nazis eradicate Jews. The U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Special Investigations (OSI) worked for decades to prosecute Reimer and revoke his naturalized U.S. citizenship, only to see him die on American soil in 2005. Among the obstacles, most critically, was a lack of cooperation from Germany, which refused to accept him back.
        The OSI's efforts to identify, prosecute and deport Reimer and other Nazi guards trained at Trawniki (including the infamous John Demjanjuk) are chronicled in investigative journalist Debbie Cenziper's excellent new book, Citizen 865: The Hunt for Hitler's Hidden Soldiers in America. Reimer is "Citizen 865," referring to his identification code on Nazi rosters from Trawniki. At Trawniki camp the SS trained over 5,000 Soviet POWs and Ukrainian civilians (some of ethnic German heritage) between 1941 and 1944.
        Cenziper told the Times of Israel: "The idea that these Nazi perpetrators could be living on U.S. soil in peace, raising families, collecting pensions and social security, and easing into quiet retirement after everything I knew about the war - what American soldiers sacrificed, and what happened to Jews - was incomprehensible."  (Times of Israel)

Executive Order on Jews Has Firm Legal Grounding - Prof. Daniel Hemel (New York Times)
  • President Trump signed an executive order instructing federal agencies to use Title VI of the Civil Rights Act - the law that bars federally funded programs from discriminating on the basis of "race, color, or national origin" - to combat anti-Semitism.
  • His interpretation of Title VI as applying to anti-Semitism is neither new nor troubling. The characterization of anti-Semitism as a form of racial or national-origin discrimination has a secure place in American law.
  • In 1982, after Shaare Tefila synagogue in Silver Spring, Md., was spray-painted with swastikas, Ku Klux Klan symbols and other anti-Semitic messages, the synagogue and several members responded by suing those who had vandalized their house of worship. The plaintiffs cited the Civil Rights Act, arguing that even though Jews are not a racially distinct group, the vandals viewed Jews as a distinct race and were motivated by racial animus. The case ultimately reached the Supreme Court, which voted unanimously in the synagogue's favor. Jewish groups cheered the ruling.
  • The Shaare Tefila case teaches that placing a group within a racial category for purposes of civil rights protection does not require us to endorse the idea that the group is racially distinct. Anti-Semitism can be racism for legal purposes even though Jewishness cannot be reduced to racial terms.
  • Jews do not fit neatly into categories of "race," "religion" and "national origin" that took their present shape millenniums after the Jewish people came into existence. The nuances of Jewish identity do not, however, shield Jews from attackers who see Jews as a nation apart. Jews can suffer national-origin discrimination regardless of whether Jewishness is a nationality.
  • The Education Department under President George W. Bush recognized that anti-Semitism could constitute racial or national-origin discrimination within Title VI's ambit. The Justice Department under President Obama reaffirmed that view. President Trump's executive order is consistent with those interpretations.

    The writer is an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School and a visiting professor at Harvard Law School.
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