March 4, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Willing to Give Turkey Ammunition for Fighting in Syria's Idlib - Tuvan Gumrukcu (Reuters)
    U.S. special representative for Syria James Jeffrey said Tuesday that America will provide the Turkish military with ammunition, as fighting intensified in Syria's Idlib region where Turkey and allied rebels are battling Russia-backed Syrian government forces.
    "Turkey is a NATO ally. We have a very, very big foreign military sales program, much of the Turkish military uses American equipment," he said.
    "We will make sure that the equipment is ready. As a NATO partner we share information, intelligence...and we are going to ensure that they have what they need there."

U.S. Approves Potential Sale of 8 KC-46 Refueling Tanker Jets to Israel (Reuters)
    The U.S. State Department has approved a possible $2.4 billion sale of 8 KC-46 refueling tanker jets to Israel, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said Tuesday.

Oklahoma House Passes Bill Opposing Israel Boycott - Carmen Forman (The Oklahoman)
    The Oklahoma House of Representatives voted 75-20 on Tuesday for a bill that would prevent the state from contracting with companies that boycott goods or services from Israel.
    28 other states have passed such a law in response to the national, pro-Palestinian BDS movement that seeks to boycott, divest and sanction Israel.

List Found of 12,000 Nazis in Argentina with Money in Swiss Bank - Aaron Reich (Jerusalem Post)
    An investigation by Argentine investigator Pedro Filipuzzi revealed a list of 12,000 Nazis in Argentina that apparently have money in accounts at the Zurich-based Credit Suisse investment bank, the Simon Wiesenthal Center said.
    The list was found in an old storage room at the former Buenos Aires Nazi headquarters.
    "We believe it is very probable that these dormant accounts hold money looted from Jewish victims, under the Nuremberg Aryanization laws of the 1930s," the center said in a letter to Credit Suisse Vice President Christian Kung.

Israeli Woman Wins Tokyo Marathon (Israel Hayom)
    Kenyan-born Israeli distance runner Lonah Chemtai-Salpeter won the Tokyo Marathon on Sunday with a time that makes her the sixth-fastest female marathoner of all time.
    In September 2019, Chemtai-Salpeter set a new European women's record for the 10K distance.

Israeli Tech Companies Raise $1.5 Billion in First Two Months of 2020 (Globes)
    Israeli tech companies have raised $1.5 billion in the first two months of 2020, compared with $1 billion in the corresponding period of 2019.
    Israeli tech companies raised a record $8.3 billion in 2019, surpassing the record $6.4 billion raised in 2018.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN Agency: Iran Nearly Triples Stockpile of Enriched Uranium - Kiyoko Metzler and David Rising
    Iran has nearly tripled its stockpile of enriched uranium since November in violation of its deal with world powers and is refusing to answer questions about three possible undeclared nuclear sites, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN atomic watchdog, said Tuesday.
        The agency said as of Feb. 19, Iran's total stockpile of low-enriched uranium amounted to 1,020.9 kg. (1.1 tons), compared to 372.3 kg. noted in its last report on Nov. 3, 2019. The current stockpile puts Iran within reach of the amount needed to produce a nuclear weapon. The nuclear deal allows Iran only to keep a stockpile of 202.8 kg. (AP-ABC News)
  • As Iran's Coronavirus Death Toll Rises, Secrecy and Paranoia Are Driving the Nation's Response - Farnaz Fassihi
    Iran is being battered by coronavirus infections that have killed 77 people, among the most outside of China, officials said Tuesday. But instead of receiving government help, overwhelmed doctors and nurses say they have been warned by security forces to keep quiet. Some say Tehran is understating the true extent of the outbreak because it will be viewed as a failure that enemies will exploit.
        Telephone interviews and text messages with more than a half dozen Iranian medical workers have revealed that security agents are stationed in each hospital who have forbidden staff members from disclosing any information related to the coronavirus.
        The health minister, Saeed Namaki, on Sunday announced a plan to dispatch 300,000 Basij militiamen to go house to house to screen residents and disinfect their homes. Iranian doctors immediately criticized the plan, saying that untrained militiamen were more likely to spread the virus than to contain it. While the streets of Tehran are deserted as residents fear contagion, in the holy city of Qom, mosques and shrines are still holding mass worship services for visiting pilgrims. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Arabs Gain in Knesset Elections - Judy Maltz
    In Monday's Knesset elections, the Joint List (an alliance of four Arab-led parties) appears to have won 15 seats. There will be 17 Arabic-speaking members - an all-time record: 14 from the Joint List (the Hadash faction has one Jewish member), along with a member of the Arabic-speaking Druze community in each of the Likud, Blue and White, and Yisrael Beiteinu parties.
        The Joint List has four women. Iman Khatib, a representative of the Islamist United Arab List faction, will be the first hijab-wearing woman to serve in the Knesset. Blue and White has one female Druze lawmaker (Gadeer Mreeh).
        According to preliminary estimates, nearly 65% of the electorate in Arab towns voted, the highest turnout since 1999. The Joint List captured 88% of the Arab vote, up from 81% in the September vote. Voter turnout was especially high in a cluster of 10 Arab towns known as "The Triangle," where 350,000 Arab citizens live. The U.S. peace plan raised the possibility that this area could be part of a land swap, leaving them under the rule of the Palestinian Authority. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF, U.S. Military Launch Joint Air Defense Drill - Judah Ari Gross
    The Israel Defense Forces and U.S. military launched a 10-day joint missile defense drill on Tuesday, with thousands of soldiers taking part around the world. The Juniper Cobra exercise has been held every other year since 2001. It simulates a large-scale missile attack on Israel, with air defense units from the IDF and the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) working together to intercept incoming missiles and the IDF Home Front Command practicing responses. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Where Is the Arab Bloc that Championed the Palestinian Cause? - Jonathan Spyer
    The U.S. peace plan won't bring peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but it may expose deeper processes of change underway in the Middle East. Both the Palestinian cause and the broader Arab political bloc that long championed it are in disarray, while the Palestinians are divided geographically.
        Viewing the power edifice that stood behind the Palestinian cause, Saddam Hussein's Iraq is a distant memory. Bashar Assad presides over rubble in Syria. Moammar Gadhafi's Libya is broken up. Egypt is Israel's strategic partner, enforcing its own partial blockade of Gaza.
        It has fallen to Iran and Turkey to continue the Palestinian fight. That non-Arab states must take up the Arab world's traditional banner of the Palestinian cause confirms that the old Arab order is gone. The writer is director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Egyptian Author: The Palestinians Must Focus on Living, and Strive for Peace with Israel
    In a Feb. 24, 2020, article headlined "If I Were Palestinian" in Asharq Al-Awsat, Egyptian journalist Khalid Al-Bari compared the Palestinians' perception of their cause to the misdiagnosis of a disease, which not only fails to solve the problem but actually aggravates it. He called on them to assess their situation objectively in order to attain a solution that will afford them a dignified life.
        In seeking a solution, he said, the Palestinians must take into consideration that Israel is powerful, that Arab support for the Palestinian cause is not unlimited, and that all those who market old and erroneous solutions to the conflict do not have the Palestinians' interests at heart. He urged them to give up the idea of armed struggle and self-sacrifice, strive for peace with Israel, and focus on establishing vibrant communities and effective self-government in part of historic Palestine, in order to start living their lives. (MEMRI)
  • Hizbullah's New Strategy to Survive Lebanon's Financial Crisis - Hanin Ghaddar
    Unemployment in Lebanon has hit 40%, the lira has slumped by 60%, and the country may not be able to pay a $1.2 billion debt in Eurobonds this month.
        Hizbullah has been taking advantage of the economic crisis to promote Iranian products in Lebanon, which are brought in tax free and are therefore very cheap. After the group launched its campaign to boycott American products last month, many of its social media outlets started promoting Iranian goods as replacements. Tehran has been flooding the Lebanese market with products for years. Between 2017 and 2019, for example, Iranian steel imports to Lebanon reportedly jumped from $13,000 to $1.4 million. To maintain the flow of Iranian goods, Hizbullah recently increased its smuggling operations.
        When Lebanese banks began limiting the withdrawal of U.S. dollars in October, many depositors decided to take out as many dollars as they could in cash. An estimated $5 billion has been withdrawn in the past four months. Hizbullah is trying to benefit from this unofficial public cash reserve, encouraging people to use Hizbullah financial institutions - especially al-Qard al-Hassan, that has become the default bank replacement for the Shia constituency. The writer is a visiting fellow at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

  • Standing up to contemporary anti-Semitism means taking up arms in the war being fought over Israel's legitimacy. To win the global war against anti-Semitism, strong, clear voices are essential.
  • The politically correct "anti-Semitism" spoken of by the EU and UN, bundled together as it is with all other forms of bigotry, is easy to declare oneself against. It's easy to vow "never again" when you don't have to confront Palestinian rejectionism and terrorism, or the criminalization of the Jewish state.
  • The sole motivation for all the resolutions condemning "illegal settlements," the blacklists, the discriminatory labeling, the trade barriers, the repeated interventions with regard to construction in the disputed territories, and indeed for the entire "two states for two peoples" paradigm, has been to generate international support for the Palestinians and contempt for the Jews and Israel.
  • It is these efforts that have led to all the accusations of criminality, human rights violations, racism, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid against Israel and, in short, to the portrayal of Jews as evil.
  • When certain political leaders attack Israel, they are merely seeking dividends from this internationally institutionalized policy that denies the legitimacy of the State of Israel and criminalizes all Jews.

    The writer, a member of the Italian Parliament who established and chaired the Committee for the Inquiry into Anti-Semitism at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.