June 15, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

French Jews Decry European Court's Ruling in Favor of BDS Activists (Algemeiner)
    France's main Jewish organization on Friday decried a ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that a French criminal conviction against activists involved in a campaign to boycott products imported from Israel violated their freedom of expression.
    Francis Kalifat - president of CRIF - warned of the growing concern "that the Strasbourg court decision will entice a significant increase in hate speech and acts against French Jews."

Appeal of ISIS Fades among Europeans Who Returned Home from Syria - Souad Mekhennet (Washington Post)
    The former jihadist known as Abu Aicha, a Brussels native who traveled to Syria in 2013, says he rejects the Islamic State and prefers studying to fighting.
    Of all the returnees from Syria he has met since coming home, most "do not want to have anything to do with the Islamic State."
    His words, echoed by other returnees in Europe, are cause for cautious optimism as European officials had been bracing for new waves of terrorist attacks as young men returned home from the former caliphate.
    Despite initial fears, an overwhelming majority of returnees are so far shunning extremist causes and many reject the Islamic State.

Israel's Ambassador to Romania Attends Commemoration for 13,000 Jewish Iasi Pogrom Victims (Agerpress-Romania)
    Israel's ambassador to Romania, David Saranga, attended a ceremony in Iasi on Friday in commemoration of at least 13,000 Jews tortured and killed in the Iasi pogrom.
    The Iasi pogrom was the greatest massacre in the modern history of Romania.
    See also The Iasi Pogrom (Wikipedia)
    Under Romanian prime minister Ion Antonescu, government forces launched a series of pogroms in Iasi from June 29 to July 6, 1941, in which 13,266 people - 1/3 of the Jewish population - were massacred.
    After the war, Antonescu was convicted of war crimes and executed.

Seaside Vendors Decry Gentrification of Gaza Beach - Tareq Hajjaj (Middle East Eye-UK)
    Dotting the Gaza coastline, hundreds of young Palestinians set up carts to sell coffee, tea or corn to passers-by.
    But now the Hamas leadership in Gaza City has ordered that all mobile carts along the seafront be replaced by municipality-owned cement booths.
    Would-be vendors will have to pay the municipality $2,500 in rent per year for a booth - $1,500 up front before 20 June and another $1,000 over the course of the year.
    Those unable to afford the rent have been threatened with confiscation of their carts.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Report: U.S. Targets Senior al-Qaeda Figures in Airstrike in Syria - Thomas Joscelyn
    Two al-Qaeda leaders were reportedly killed in a drone strike in Syria's Idlib province on Sunday, according to jihadists on social media. One was Abu al-Qassam al-Urduni, whose jihadist career dates back to the 1990s. He was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's brother-in-law and one of his closest companions. (Long War Journal)
  • Cash-Strapped Iran Struggles to Maintain Sway over Iraq Militias
    Iraqi militia factions failed to receive the usual cash handout when the new head of Iran's Quds Force, Esmail Ghaani, made his first visit to Baghdad earlier this year, succeeding the slain Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Ghaani told them, for the moment, they would have to rely on Iraqi state funding, Iraqi officials said, a sign of Iran's economic crisis. Without Soleimani to unify disparate factions, divisions have emerged in the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), the umbrella group of mainly Shia fighters. (AP-Al Jazeera)
  • Golan Druze Join Protests Against Syria's Assad - Kaamil Ahmed
    Anti-government protests in the southern Syrian Druze town of Sweida have been met with solidarity demonstrations from Druze on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights. Sweida has seen seven days of protests calling for the fall of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Protesters in the Golan town of Majd al-Shams joined in on Saturday, carrying Syrian opposition flags and shouting anti-Assad slogans. (Middle East Eye-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Coronavirus in Israel: Two More Deaths
    The number of cases of coronavirus in Israel went up by 114 in the last 24 hours, the Israel Health Ministry said Monday morning. There are 3,430 active cases, including 31 in serious condition, among them 23 who are ventilated. Two people died, bringing the country's death toll to 302. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Will Palestinians React with New Intifada to Application of Israeli Law in Parts of West Bank? - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Palestinian Authority won't allow scenes of anarchy and lawlessness, if and when Israel implements its plan to extend sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, PA officials in Ramallah said on Sunday. A PA security official said the increased cooperation between the PA security forces and Fatah armed groups, including the Tanzim and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, "should not be interpreted as a green light" for carrying out armed attacks against Israel. "The Palestinian Authority won't allow any group to carry out armed attacks against Israelis. We believe that such attacks would benefit the Netanyahu government and cause damage to the Palestinian cause."
        Palestinian political analyst Ahmad Eid said that the general feeling is that there won't be an eruption of large-scale protests or armed attacks even if Israel proceeds with its plan. "The Palestinian public is not ready for another intifada. People seem to be more worried about the economy."
        Abdel Qader Sulieman, a veteran Fatah activist, said, "An intifada would be counterproductive. If we return to the armed struggle, we will lose the sympathy of the international community. We don't want to repeat the mistakes we committed during the Second Intifada."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Riots in Jaffa over Land Once Used as Muslim Cemetery - Alon Hochmon
    Riots occurred in Jaffa on Friday night over the city's plan to build a center for the homeless on a site that had once been an old Muslim cemetery. An Israeli court decision from January ruled that the project could continue because the Muslim community, with the approval of then-Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Amin al-Husseini, removed the bodies and turned the grounds into a soccer field 80 years ago.
        The Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality responded: "The perpetrators are a small handful of people who do not represent most Jaffa residents....Keep in mind, the site of the homeless shelter has not been a cemetery for more than 100 years and served as a soccer field for the city's Muslim soccer club."  (Maariv-Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The IAEA Did Its Part regarding Iran, Now It's Time for the World to Act - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Jacob Nagel and Andrea Stricker
    The new report of the global nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), on Iran's implementation of its agreements under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) paints a disturbing picture of Tehran stonewalling the agency on an investigation into alleged undeclared nuclear materials and activities directly related to the development of nuclear weapons.
        Iran, an NPT member, is party to legally binding accords - which are separate from the 2015 nuclear deal - that require Tehran to provide complete declarations about its use and production of nuclear material and to permit immediate and unrestricted inspections by the IAEA at any site the agency deems necessary to visit. Since the end of January 2020, Tehran has refused the IAEA access to two nuclear sites of concern and declined to answer questions about a third.
        The IAEA can go only so far in investigating and reporting on its findings. It has done its job to report Iran's non-compliance, and it is now up to the board of governors to act. The board can support the agency by passing a resolution by 2/3 of its 35 members finding Tehran in breach of the NPT. It is past time for the world to unite around the threat of Iran's nuclear program. This should start with the IAEA's board of governors recognizing that Tehran's nuclear program is not peaceful.
        Brig.-Gen. (res.) Jacob Nagel, a senior fellow at FDD, served as head of Israel's National Security Council. Andrea Stricker is a research fellow focusing on nonproliferation at FDD. (Newsweek-Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
  • Is Assad about to Fall? - Charles Lister
    It has become commonplace to declare Assad the victor of the civil war in Syria. He has managed to survive nearly a decade of rebellion by brutally suppressing dissent and exploiting the support of Russia and Iran to keep his grip on a burning country. Assad may have crushed the opposition to his rule in 60% of the country, but in 2020, every single root cause of the 2011 uprising has worsened.
        In recent months, Syria's economy has collapsed, resulting in hyperinflation, mass business closures, widespread food shortages and increasing unemployment. An average monthly salary in Syria now buys roughly one watermelon. Beyond the economic sphere, the Assad regime's failure to stabilize former opposition areas and its continued brutal and corrupt practices are driving intensifying instability. The writer is a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute. (Politico)

Applying Israeli Law in West Bank Is Not Illegal - Jason Greenblatt (Jerusalem Post)
  • On Friday, an opinion piece by Yousef al-Otaiba, UAE ambassador to the U.S., was published in an Israeli newspaper. I spent three years at the White House working to bring Israel and its Arab neighbors closer, and I commend Otaiba for writing it. I am glad he spoke directly to an Israeli audience.
  • I strongly disagree with parts of the op-ed. For example, I don't agree that the extension of Israeli sovereignty to the areas being contemplated would be an illegal seizure of land. The U.S. government also does not believe so.
  • I also strongly disagree with his use of the term "Palestinian land." It is not Palestinian land. It is land that is disputed, and the only way to resolve this is if the two sides can negotiate a settlement of the dispute directly together.
  • The leadership in Ramallah rejected the vision for peace before it was even published. Indeed, they rejected, again and again, plans and ideas put forward by prior U.S. administrations. Our view was that the leadership in Ramallah should no longer have a veto on what happens to this land and to the Israelis living there.
  • After spending countless hours throughout the Arab capitals over three years, I came to learn that we agree on far more than we disagree on. Despite our deep differences on some of these issues, I will forever be grateful that in some capitals in the region the leadership was always willing to have frank, sincere, and in some cases very surprising conversations.
  • These difficult discussions and debates, including the topics covered in the op-ed by my friend Yousef, have to happen to make meaningful progress.

    The writer was the White House's Middle East envoy for nearly three years.

Daily Alert was founded by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs in 2002.
Unsubscribe from Daily Alert.