January 1, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Hanukkah Stabber Searched "Why Did Hitler Hate the Jews," Prosecutors Say - Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post)
    Beginning a month before he charged into Hanukkah celebrations with a machete, prosecutors say, Grafton Thomas used his cellphone to search the Internet four times for "Why did Hitler hate the Jews."
    Officials said there were more online searches, for temples "near me," as well as handwritten journals found in his belongings with the words "Nazi Culture" on the same page as a swastika and a Star of David.
    These FBI discoveries brought Thomas to court Monday on federal hate-crime charges.

Iran's Rouhani Says U.S. Sanctions Cost Country $200 Billion - Amy Teibel (Bloomberg)
    Renewed U.S. sanctions have cost Iran $200 billion in foreign-exchange income and investment, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday.
    Sanctions have deprived the Islamic Republic of $100 billion in oil revenue in the last two years and an equal amount in foreign investment credit, he said.

Palestinian NGOs Reject EU Funds after Being Told Not to Fund Terror (JNS)
    More than 130 Palestinian organizations have refused to sign an EU grant request that stipulates that recipients must refuse to transfer any EU assistance to terrorist groups, claiming such Palestinian groups are merely "political parties."
    Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs reported that EU institutions have awarded millions of euros in financial aid to Palestinian civil society organizations that have ties to terrorist entities.
    The opposition of these organizations to criteria preventing the transfer of funds to terror-related activities proves the report's claim.

Obstacles Still Facing Israel's Leviathan Gas Field - Simon Henderson (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    Israel's Leviathan natural gas field, 80 miles off Israel's coast, has finally begun production.
    Israel's domestic demand for electricity is largely met by gas from the smaller Tamar field. Accordingly, contracts are in place to send Leviathan's gas to Jordan and Egypt.
    The viability of recent discoveries is being tested by persistently low prices for natural gas on the international market.
    Leviathan has already cost $3.75 billion to bring to production, and its second stage of development is being delayed until its profitability is more certain.
    The writer is director of the Program on Gulf and Energy Policy at The Washington Institute.

Israel's Economy Grew 3.3 Percent in 2019 - Amiram Barkat (Globes)
    The Israeli economy grew 3.3% in 2019, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Tuesday, compared with 3.4% growth in 2018 and 3.6% in 2017.
    Israel had a $9.8 billion trade surplus in 2019, compared with a $4 billion surplus in 2018.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Pro-Iran Protesters Dig In Outside U.S. Embassy in Baghdad
    Thousands of Iraqi supporters of Iranian-trained paramilitary forces dug in outside the U.S. embassy in Baghdad on Wednesday, throwing rocks and burning U.S. flags a day after making a dramatic incursion into the compound. They had marched unimpeded through the checkpoints of the usually high-security Green Zone. The protesters set up portable toilets and 50 tents outside the perimeter wall, vowing not to leave until U.S. forces quit Iraq. On Wednesday morning, a truck delivered hundreds of mattresses. (AFP)
        See also U.S. Troops Fire Tear Gas at Protesters Outside Embassy in Iraq
    U.S. Marines guarding the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad fired tear gas on Wednesday to disperse pro-Iran protesters who were gathered outside the compound for a second day. (AP-New York Times)
  • U.S. Blames Iran for Attack on Its Embassy in Baghdad - Quint Forgey
    President Donald Trump on Tuesday blamed Iran for a breach of the U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad by Iraqi Shiite militiamen and their supporters. "Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will," Trump tweeted. "Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible. In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy."
        A State Department spokesperson said there has been no breach at the Baghdad embassy, that American personnel are secure, and that there are no plans to evacuate the facility. Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced the Pentagon would send additional troops to reinforce the embassy.
        Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the president has "put the world on notice - there will be no Benghazis on his watch" - referring to the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, in which U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three embassy staff members were killed. (Politico)
  • Turkey Threatens West in New Libya Crisis - Roger Boyes
    The discovery of large undersea hydrocarbon reserves in the eastern Mediterranean is giving shape to a new regional constellation: Egypt and Cyprus, Israel and Greece. But the four main gas beneficiaries have reckoned without the great disrupter, Turkey, which is reaching across the waters to Libya. It has been reviving the old Ottoman idea of the Blue Motherland, which projects Turkey's maritime power from the Black Sea to the Aegean.
        Erdogan and Qatar are pretty much the lone protectors of the Tripoli government. The Turkish leader is likely to deploy several hundred ethnic Turkmen Syrian insurgents to neutralize the Russian mercenaries supporting rebel Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, whose army is heading towards Tripoli.
        If Turkey's influence in Libya grows, then the next big springboard for mass migration to Europe will be under Erdogan's control. That would be a way of recovering Turkey's geopolitical advantage, the threat to turn on the taps of a new wave of migrants. (The Times-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel's Population in 2020: 9,136,000
    At the beginning of 2020, Israel's population stands at 9,136,000, including 6,772,000 Jews (74.1%) and 1,916,000 Arabs (21%). (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Jewish Fertility Rate in Israel Surpasses that of Arabs - Ofir Aderet
    The Jewish Israeli women's fertility rate in 2018 (3.05) exceeded that of Arab Israelis (3.04) for the first time, the Central Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday. In 2019, 177,000 babies were born in Israel - 74% to Jewish women and 23.2% to Arabs. (Ha'aretz)
  • Turkey Joins PA to Undermine Israeli Claims to Land in Jerusalem - Nadav Shragai
    Turkey has transferred to the Palestinian Authority a copy of the Ottoman Empire archives, including tens of thousands of land registries from the territories under its control between the years 1516 and 1917. Attorneys for the PA are using the archives to undermine Israeli claims to land across Israel, primarily in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • How to Protect New York's Jews - Mitchell D. Silber
    I spent the past two years crisscrossing Europe to assess security threats to Jewish communities facing a rise in anti-Semitism. To protect the Jews of greater New York, deterrence is crucial. Increased police patrols, the establishment of fixed posts and even the use of undercover officers, dressed as observant Jews, are tactics that should be deployed for the foreseeable future.
        Data show a third of the recent anti-Semitic attacks in New York are committed by people with histories of psychiatric problems. Rather than being released immediately, those arrested should be formally evaluated to determine whether other intervention is necessary. Failing to treat individuals with documented mental health issues is not an acceptable solution.
        The data also show that almost 2/3 of the attacks in New York City are committed by juveniles who are local residents. City Hall must develop an age-appropriate restorative justice option for those adjudicated as juvenile offenders for their participation in hate crimes. In addition, comprehensive anti-bias education programming needs to be instituted in city schools.
        The need for self-defense by Jews is unfortunate - in part, it's a failure of the American promise of freedom and toleration that a minority group must learn to provide for its own defense; but we must confront the world as it is. The Jewish community must be proactive in protecting itself. We're creating a community security program, a group which I lead, to help secure local Jewish institutions in the New York region. The writer directed the New York Police Department's Intelligence Analysis Unit from 2007 to 2012. (New York Times)
  • The Iranians Escalate in Baghdad - Editorial
    As an Iranian proxy militia surrounded the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday, the real story was Tehran's desire to push the U.S. out of Iraq. The 2015 nuclear deal provided Tehran a $150 billion windfall, and it spent it lavishly arming and training proxy forces throughout the Middle East such as Kataib Hezbollah, a Shiite militia loyal to Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani. Iran now uses these groups to spread its political influence in neighboring countries and to commit terrorist acts while denying responsibility.
        If Iran or its proxies escalate again, the U.S. can't rule out targeting Iran's Revolutionary Guards in Syria. Israel has shown how that can be done. Gen. Soleimani, the orchestrator of anti-American actions going back to the Iraq war, may also be a worthy target. He certainly has the blood of enough Americans on his hands. (Wall Street Journal)

Why Is Anti-Semitism Making a Comeback? - Nita Lowey and David Harris (New York Times)
  • Why, when American Jews have felt unmatched levels of inclusion and equality, is anti-Semitism making a comeback? Anti-Semitism dates back millenniums. Its ability to reinvent itself should never be underestimated. Even here in the U.S., it never entirely vanished.
  • The resurgence of anti-Semitism could be a result, in part, of the vanishing legacy of the Holocaust. Recent surveys reveal abysmal levels of knowledge among young people about what happened to the Jewish people in the Second World War.
  • Social media may also be playing a role. In the past, anti-Semites lived in small ideological circles with limited reach. Now the Internet amplifies the voices and influence of these otherwise marginal groups.
  • We need to recognize the problem for what it is: an epidemic. We are no longer talking about isolated, occasional actions but a regular phenomenon. There are multiple ideological sources feeding this hate; it is not a result of a single political outlook. There is no one-size-fits-all profile for the perpetrators of these attacks.
  • We cannot allow this situation to become the "new normal," as if attacks on Americans because of their religious or ethnic identities are now an expected part of our everyday lives. These attacks violate everything that Americans should hold dear. An attack on any American group is a threat to the pluralistic fabric of our nation.
  • In a survey of American Jews by the American Jewish Committee, released in October, 31% said that they had taken steps to hide their Jewish identity in public, while 25% said they now avoided Jewish sites. This is unacceptable. It is not our America.

    Nita Lowey is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York. David Harris is the chief executive of the American Jewish Committee.