December 30, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

China, Russia and Iran Hold Joint Naval Drills in Gulf of Oman - Ben Westcott (CNN)
    China, Russia and Iran began a four-day joint military exercise in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman on Friday.
    2nd Rear Adm. Gholamreza Tahani told Iran's Press TV that it was the first time Iran has held a joint exercise with two major world naval powers at this scale, and that the joint drills serve as a signal to the world that relations between Tehran, Moscow and Beijing have reached a "meaningful" level.

ISIS Executes 11 Christians in Nigeria in Revenge for Baghdadi's Death - Ruth Maclean (New York Times)
    The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in Nigeria has claimed responsibility for the execution of 11 Christians in retaliation for the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria in October, and released a video of the killings on Thursday.
    ISWAP, with 3,500-5,000 fighters, left the Islamic militant Boko Haram in 2016.

Moves for Women's Equality in the PA Stir Backlash - Salman Masalha (Ha'aretz)
    Last week, tribal and clan chiefs in the Mount Hebron area of the West Bank held an emergency meeting to protest the Palestinian Authority's ratification of the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW).
    These leaders called on the PA to retract its signature and to ban the activities of all women's organizations.
    They were furious at the treaty's setting the age of marriage at 18, arguing that this contravenes the laws of Islam.
    At An-Najah University in Nablus, the dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts broke up a campus theater production about the state of women in the Arab world. The dean came on stage and stated that the performance did not conform to societal values and culture.

Meet the IDF's Newest Female Pilot (Times of Israel)
    Lt. Tav was the only woman to graduate this year from the Israel Air Force pilot's school.
    She told Channel 12 in an interview aired Friday: "The first thing you'll see is probably my [skin] color, or that I'm a girl or that I have braids. After a conversation of two sentences you'll see that isn't what I bring to the table; there are other things."
    Tav grew up in Jerusalem. Her father is from the Ivory Coast, her mother from France.
    "What really matters is how I am in the cockpit, how I am in working with a team, how professional I am," she said.

Israeli Exports Soared 68% over Past Decade - Eyan Halon (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli exports of services and goods will reach a record $114 billion in 2019, a 4.5% increase over 2018, the Foreign Trade Administration said on Monday.
    This figure is 68% higher than 2009, when Israeli exports totaled $67.7 billion, fueled by soaring hi-tech services.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Targets Iranian-Backed Shi'ite Militia in Iraq and Syria
    U.S. F-15 fighter jets carried out air strikes in Iraq and Syria against the Iranian-backed Shi'ite Kataib Hezbollah militia in response to the killing of a U.S. civilian contractor in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base, U.S. officials said on Sunday. The Pentagon said it targeted three sites in Iraq and two in Syria with precision-guided weapons, including weapons storage facilities and command and control locations used to plan and execute attacks on coalition forces. The U.S. said the militia fired more than 30 rockets on Friday which killed the U.S. civilian contractor and injured four U.S. service members near Kirkuk. (Reuters-New York Times)
        See also U.S. Strikes Shiite Militia Targets in Iraq and Syria - Michael R. Gordon
    A Kataib Hezbollah official said 25 members had been killed and at least 20 wounded in the U.S. strikes along the Iraq-Syria border. The Pentagon described the action as defensive and intended to deter future attacks by Shiite groups against U.S. troops. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said, "We will take additional actions as necessary to ensure that we act in our own self-defense and we deter further bad behavior from militia groups or from Iran." Sunday's operation marked the first time the U.S. has undertaken a major military action against a Shiite militia group.
        Gen. Abdul Kareem Khalaf, a spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, said Defense Secretary Esper had called half an hour before the strikes to inform Abdul-Mahdi that the U.S. was about to bomb Kataib Hezbollah. Abdul-Mahdi strongly objected and demanded the U.S. call the strikes off. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Five Hasidic Jews Wounded in Hanukkah Stabbing at New York Rabbi's Home - Rebecca Liebson
    An intruder with a large knife burst into the home of a Hasidic rabbi in Monsey, New York, on Saturday, stabbing and wounding five Hasidic Jews as they were gathering to light candles for Hanukkah. After the attacker fled, he tried to enter a synagogue next door, but people inside heard the screams and locked the door. (New York Times)
        See also Witness Describes Fighting Machete-Wielding Assailant - Peter Hutchison (AFP-Times of Israel)
        See also Hanukkah Stabber Arrested in New York City - Christina Maxouris
    Grafton Thomas, 37, who attacked a Hanukkah celebration at a rabbi's Monsey, New York, home, was arrested in Harlem with "blood all over him," a law enforcement source said Sunday. Of the five stabbing victims, one remained hospitalized with a skull fracture. There were at least 100 people in the home at the time, as the rabbi was lighting candles on the seventh night of Hanukkah. Thomas' pastor, Rev. Wendy Paige, said that he had struggled with mental illness for two decades. (CNN-New York Times)
        See also Series of Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes in New York - Leah Asmelash
    The New York Police Department will increase its presence in several Brooklyn neighborhoods after at least eight anti-Semitic incidents last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Friday. There have been 166 anti-Semitic incidents from January through September of this year, the NYPD reported. Anti-Semitic incidents make up 53.7% of all reported hate crimes in the city. (CNN)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel to Withhold More Funds to PA over Payments to Terrorists
    Israel's Security Cabinet on Sunday approved withholding an additional $43 million from the funds it collects on the PA's behalf over the payment of salaries to attackers and their families during 2018. Israel says the Martyrs' Fund rewards and encourages violence. (Times of Israel)
        See also Israel: We Won't Accept PA Payments to Terrorists - Tovah Lazaroff
    Responding to Israel's decision to continue its actions against PA payments to terrorists, Deputy Defense Minister Avi Dichter said, "We have allowed the PA to pay salaries to terrorists for far to long. That party is over."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Continued PA Payments to Terrorists in 2018 Underscore Need to Implement New Israeli Law - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Electrical Equipment for Israeli Gas Pipeline Torched in Jordan - Tzvi Joffre
    Two electrical transformers servicing a gas transfer station for a new pipeline from Israel were torched in Irbid in northern Jordan on Saturday. Gas flow through the station was expected to start in the next few days. In March, the Jordanian House of Representatives requested that Jordan's purchase of natural gas from Israel be "canceled at any cost." In July, Jordanian parliamentarian Tariq Khoury called on Jordanians "to blow up the gas pipeline from Israel."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • U.S. Finally Fires Back at Iran - Editorial
    It's about time. Finally, after multiple attacks on U.S. bases and allies, President Trump approved a military response against Iranian-allied militias in Iraq and Syria on the weekend. Kataib Hezbollah is a proxy arm of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani's Quds Force and would not have acted against U.S. forces without his approval. The group is responsible for 11 rocket attacks in two months on bases where American soldiers were present. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Iran-Backed Kataib Hezbollah Has Long Targeted U.S. Forces - Sune Engel Rasmussen (Wall Street Journal)
  • Jews Are Going Underground - Deborah Lipstadt
    In Europe and the U.S., Jews have been repeatedly assaulted on the street. Anti-Semites seem to think it is open season on Jews. And maybe, given the many incidents, they are right.
        Most Jewish students on American campuses have not been subjected to overt acts of discrimination or verbal abuse. But many among them feel they have something to lose if they openly identify as Jews. If they are active in Hillel, the Jewish student organization, they may be informally barred from being active in progressive causes. Those who want to be elected to student government are learning to scrub their resumes clean of any overtly Jewish or pro-Israel activities. They are not abandoning their Jewish identity; they are hiding it.
        When Jews feel it is safer for them to go "underground" as Jews, something is terribly wrong - for them and for the society in which they live. Jews are taking anti-Semitism very seriously. Non-Jews must do the same. No healthy democracy can afford to tolerate anti-Semitism in its midst. It is one of the long-term signs of rot in that democracy. If you care about democracy, you should care about the Jews among you, and the anti-Semites too. The writer is professor of Holocaust history at Emory University. (Atlantic)

Hanukkah: A Trust Deed to the Birthplace of Jewish History - Judea Pearl (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
  • Hanukkah is our trust deed to the birthplace of our history, more solid even than the ancient synagogues they are excavating in Israel. A continuous collective memory, passed on over 110 generations, is unassailable proof that no one can fake.
  • My mother arrived in Israel in 1935. She said: "The first day after my arrival, I met a neighbor, a teacher who invited me to visit her kindergarten. There I experienced one of the happiest days in my life. Scores of children were standing there loudly singing Hanukkah songs, in Hebrew, as if this was the most natural thing to do, as if they were singing those songs for hundreds of years."
  • "Didn't your family celebrate Hanukkah in Poland?" I asked. She said: "Yes, we lit the candles, but it was in a dark corner, with my father whispering the blessings....You see, the neighbors were Gentile, and he did not feel comfortable advertising that we celebrated a Jewish holiday."
  • Only those who have gone through the exhilarating experience of a people returning to its homeland could truly appreciate the gift that history has bestowed upon the Jews: singing songs of the Maccabee heroes in the language used in Jerusalem 2200 years ago.
  • The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem understood that the Jewish immigrants were no crusaders, nor Mongolian invaders, but the original owners of the place. The tragedy is that the Palestinians chose to reject mutual recognition.

    The writer is Chancellor's professor at UCLA and president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation.