May 14, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

State Dept. Officials: "We Didn't Fly Halfway around the World to Talk about Annexation" (U.S. State Department)
    In a special briefing on Wednesday, senior State Department officials discussed Secretary Pompeo's visit to Israel.
    Official 1: "The Secretary has said on the record and very publicly we are working with the Israelis to implement the Vision for Peace. The Israelis are working through this. We're supportive of their efforts."
    Official 2: "But I do think that we should dispel the notion that we flew halfway around the world to talk about annexation. That's been reported...incorrectly. That was not the purpose of the trip."

Senate Passes Never Again Education Act (JNS)
    The Senate on Wednesday passed the Never Again Education Act, which authorizes $2 million a year over the next five years to further Holocaust-related programming and educational materials in middle and high schools.
    The House passed the legislation in January and it now goes to the president for his signature into law.

Hizbullah Leader Says Israel Hitting Missile-Making Sites in Syria (Reuters)
    Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah said Wednesday that Israel is now concentrating its attacks in Syria on precision missile manufacturing sites, while denying that Israeli air strikes have pushed either Hizbullah or Iran to retreat from Syria.

Iran Building New Weapons Storage Tunnel in Eastern Syria, Satellite Images Show - Trey Yingst (Fox News)
    Iran is building a new tunnel at the Imam Ali military base in eastern Syria capable of storing advanced weapons systems, according to satellite images.
    Analysts say the construction shows Iran plans to continue operating in this area.

Cargo Planes from Iran Using Russian Airbase in Syria to Avoid Israeli Strikes (Syrian Observer)
    For the second time in two weeks, a cargo aircraft flying from Iran to Syria has landed at the Russian Hemeimeem Airbase in Latakia.
    A source in Damascus said the reason for using the airbase is to avoid Israeli airstrikes, which have previously targeted Damascus International Airport.

New PA Campaign: The Block Is the Weapon - Yoni Ben Menachem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs-Hebrew)
    The killing of IDF soldier Amit Ben-Yigal, who was struck in the head by a block thrown from a Palestinian rooftop early Tuesday, has led to a wave of incitement in Palestinian social media calling for attacks on Israelis with stones and blocks.

Israel's "Virus" Hotels Start Closing Down - Michal Raz-Chaimovich (Globes)
    Israel's Defense Ministry has begun closing down 19 of the hotels for Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms and Israelis returning from abroad. Four hotels will remain open.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Ready to "Snap Back" Sanctions on Iran - Brian H. Hook
    The 13-year-old arms embargo on the Iranian regime will expire in October, leaving the world's foremost state sponsor of terrorism and anti-Semitism free to import and export combat aircraft, warships, submarines and guided missiles. To prevent this, the Security Council must pass a resolution to extend the arms embargo. If this effort is defeated by a veto, the Trump administration is prepared to exercise all legally available options to extend the embargo.
        The regime plans to upgrade Iran's aging air force, improve the accuracy of its missiles, and strengthen its ability to strike ships and shoot down aircraft. Letting the arms embargo expire would make it considerably easier for Iran to ship weapons to its allies in Syria, Hamas in Gaza, and Shiite militias in Iraq.
        The U.S. will press ahead with diplomacy and build support to extend the embargo. Russia and China have more to gain from Mideast stability than from selling weapons to Iran for its sectarian wars. If American diplomacy is frustrated by a veto, however, UN Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015) created a legal mechanism for exclusive use by certain nations to snap sanctions back. The arms embargo is one of these sanctions. The writer is U.S. special representative for Iran and senior adviser to the secretary of state. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Congress Calls to End ICC Investigations of U.S., Israel - Adam Kredo
    262 House members and 69 senators signed a letter calling on the administration to stop the International Criminal Court's "politically motivated investigations" of war crimes cases against the U.S. and Israel. The lawmakers said the ICC is unfit to carry out any investigation of the U.S. or Israel and expressed concern "that those pressing for action seek a court judgment in place of a negotiation process between Israelis and Palestinians. The ultimate sustainable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies in the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian direct negotiations in pursuit of a two-state solution - not in the pursuit of cases at the ICC."  (Washington Free Beacon)
        See also Over 300 U.S. Lawmakers Respond to ICC: Palestinian Authority Is Not a State - Omri Nahmias
    A congressional letter signed by over 300 U.S. lawmakers calling for a halt to ICC investigations of the U.S. and Israel argued that the court should only be a "last resort for the prosecution of the most serious international crimes." It noted that the Palestinian Authority is not a state, and therefore "does not meet the criteria to qualify" to bring allegations against another country.
        Reps. Elaine Luria (D-VA) and Mike Gallagher (R-WI) spearheaded the House version of the letter. Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) led the Senate version. (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel: EU Funding for Palestinian "Civil Society Organizations" Ends Up Supporting Terrorists - Ariel Kahana
    Money donated by European governments and private individuals to Palestinian "civil society" organizations is making its way into the coffers of terrorist organizations, a new report from the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs warns. In the past two years, the Israel Security Agency has exposed a number of incidents in which Hamas took control of money belonging to aid organizations that are active in Gaza, and in some cases used it for military purposes against Israel.
        European donations went to fund terrorists involved in the murder of Rina Schnerb, 17, in the summer of 2019. Samar Arbid, head of the cell that killed Schnerb and wounded her brother in the attack, played a key role in Addameer, a "human rights" organization. (Israel Hayom)
        See also Terrorists in Suits - Tzachi Gabrieli
    The writer is the director general of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel's Coronavirus Death Toll Is 264
    Israel's coronavirus death toll is 264 (up from 262 on Wednesday), the Israeli Health Ministry said Thursday morning. 62 people are in serious condition, of which 52 are on ventilators. 3,939 people are currently ill with the virus (compared with 4,104 on Wednesday) and 12,364 people have recovered (compared with 12,173 on Wednesday). (Ynet News)
  • 10 Israelis Die of Coronavirus in Morocco, 26 Returned Home - Tamar Beeri
    26 Israelis out of an original 36 were brought to Israel on Thursday in a "philanthropic aerial operation" from Morocco after being stranded there for two months and after the other 10 died of coronavirus. A private aircraft belonging to philanthropists Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson was used, together with secret diplomatic work with Morocco to get the proper permissions to achieve the mission. The Israelis were flown home through Paris. The Moroccan government had blocked previous efforts to return the group. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • U.S. Supreme Court Revives Potential $655.5 Million Judgement Against PA - Sander Gerber and Ezra Husney
    On April 27, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a little-noticed order in the Sokolow v. PLO case, in which American victims of the Second Intifada in Israel and their families sued the Palestine Liberation Organization and Palestinian Authority under the Anti-Terrorism Act. The victims initially won a significant monetary judgment at trial, only to lose it when an appellate court reversed the decision in 2016.
        Congress passed the Anti-Terrorism Act in 1992, after an elderly, wheelchair-bound Jewish man, Leon Klinghoffer, was shot, killed and thrown off a ship by Palestinian terrorists. The law was explicitly designed to allow American citizens who are victims of terrorist attacks abroad to sue the perpetrators in U.S. courts.
        The Supreme Court has now overturned the appellate court's decision and instructed that court to revisit the case in light of new amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Act. In December, Congress passed the Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act of 2019. The act subjects to the authority of U.S. courts any entity that offers monetary rewards to those who commit terrorist attacks that kill Americans. The PA provides monthly salaries to those convicted of terrorist attacks.
        Sander Gerber is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Ezra Husney is a student at Yale Law School and a former legal clerk to the Supreme Court of Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Resilience, Stringency of Restrictions and Psychological Consequences of Covid-19 in Israel: Comparing Jewish and Arab Samples - Dr. Irwin J. Mansdorf with Drs. Michael Weinberg, Jacob Weinberg and Muhammad Mahajnah
    The professional literature has found that the psychological effects of quarantine can be significant, especially if isolation continues beyond 10 days. We conducted a study of 196 Jewish (64% female) and 131 Arab Muslim (76% female) citizens of Israel between April 1 and May 4, 2020. The data shows that both Jewish and Arab Muslim citizens demonstrate good levels of psychological resilience, despite being under strict social distancing regulations that included extended periods of quarantine.
        When we looked at fear and concern over coronavirus that people felt, we found significant differences. While 38.8% of the Jewish sample felt a "high" level of concern for one's family, in the Arab Muslim sample the percentage was 64.9%. Differences were also noted in concern for one's community, with only 20.9% of the Jewish sample claiming "high" concern versus 64.1% of the Arab Muslim sample. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • The greatest tragedy of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict today is that while the Arab world is moving on from the war against the Jewish state, the West is still encouraging Palestinian rejectionism by giving legitimacy to a fictitious "right of return" that would flood Israel with millions of refugees, former Knesset member Dr. Einat Wilf said Tuesday.
  • Her new book, The War of Return, co-authored with Adi Schwartz, posits that this "right" essentially does not exist anywhere in international law and in fact violates international norms regarding the treatment of refugees everywhere else in the world.
  • The Palestinians, however, show no sign of giving up on the right of return because it is the one way they may still be able to convert Israel into an Arab state by sheer weight of demographics.
  • Wilf said, "You're beginning to hear voices in the Arab world...who are beginning to say, the Palestinians have made a mess of things, they made a mistake."
  • "The way they're speaking, no Westerner would dare speak. They're saying very hard truths: That it's over. That it's time to move forward."
  • "The tragedy is that as the Arab world is slowly moving away from their support for the Palestinian vision that the war of 1948 is not over and could still be undone, we have Western countries giving a billion dollars to UNRWA, thereby continuing to fuel the Palestinian vision...that the outcome of 1948 could still be rolled back."

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