June 19, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Coronavirus in Israel: 349 New Cases over 24 Hours (i24News)
    The Israel Health Ministry reported Friday morning on 349 new Covid-19 cases over the past 24 hours, compared to 257 cases the previous day. There are 4,372 active cases, compared to 4,092 the previous day.
    28 patients are on ventilators, compared to 32 the previous day. 304 people have died. 16,369 tests were administered Thursday.
    See also 87 New Coronavirus Cases in PA in Past Two Days (Times of Israel)
    A spike in cases was also reported in the West Bank, with 87 cases over the past two days - mostly in Hebron, but also in the Nablus and Jerusalem regions.
    There are 220 active cases in the PA and 34 people have died.

Turkey Deploys Troops Against Kurdish Rebels in Iraq (AFP)
    Turkey launched an air and ground offensive against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq on Wednesday.
    Turkey's defense ministry said "commandos" moved in, supported by drones and helicopters, following a bombardment with rocket launchers and artillery guns that hit more than 150 targets.
    It said the operation came after a "recent upsurge in attacks on our police stations and military bases" near the Iraqi border.

Senior Official: UAE Can Work with Israel, Despite Political Differences - Lisa Barrington (Reuters)
    The United Arab Emirates can work with Israel on some areas, including fighting the coronavirus and on technology, while still having political differences, minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash told the American Jewish Committee on Tuesday.
    He said communication with Israel was important and would yield better results than other routes taken in the past.

U.S.: Russian Aircraft Active in Libya (Reuters)
    Russian jets delivered to Libya in May are being actively used, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) said on Thursday.
    At least 14 MiG-29s and several Su-24s were flown to Libya via Syria, where their Russian markings were painted over.
    The Russian aircraft were being used to support private military mercenaries sponsored by the Russian government.

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Turkey's Intrusion into Jerusalem - Nadav Shragai (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Tens of millions of dollars are disbursed by Turkey each year for various projects and to gain influence on the Temple Mount, in the Old City, and eastern Jerusalem.
    The Turks' allies in the city are affiliated with the Israeli Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement and with the Muslim Brotherhood.
    Two recent flashpoints are in the vicinity of the Western Wall and al-Zahra Street in eastern Jerusalem, where the Turkish Cultural Center is located.
    Erdogan is trying to boost "al-Aqsa tourism" by Turkish citizens and Muslims from around the world.
    The Turkey's Our Heritage (Mirasimiz) and TIKA nonprofit associations are at the forefront of Turkish assistance to various Islamic projects in Jerusalem.
    Turkey also funds Hamas activities and harbors Hamas terrorists.
    The writer, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center, has documented Jerusalem for Ha'aretz and Israel Hayom for over thirty years.

Hizbullah's Headache in Lebanon - Itzhak Levanon (Israel Hayom)
    With help from the Iranians and Syrians, Hizbullah is gaining increased control over the Lebanese parliament, government, and presidency.
    Hizbullah is the dominant force in Lebanon, but many are unhappy about it.
    A unified Sunni front has been recently established under the leadership of Radwan al-Sayed, a social activist with ties to Saudi Arabia, that will fight the hegemon of Hizbullah and its allies in the leadership.
    A number of Lebanese army veterans have organized with the same purpose in mind.
    The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt.

No Such Thing as a "Lone-Wolf" Terrorist - Nitsana Darshan-Leitner (Israel Hayom)
    Last week, the federal court of appeals in Washington, D.C., ruled there was no such thing as a "lone-wolf terrorist" - and that behind every act of terrorism were guiding hands that recruited the terrorists, incited them to perpetrate their act, guided them and embraced them after their attacks.
    Those guiding hands belong to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, along with Iran and Syria who support them. The court placed responsibility for the terrorist attacks on these elements.
    Hamas and PIJ use social media as a tool to instruct followers to carry out attacks on Israeli targets. These murderous acts, therefore, are anything but spontaneous.
    The wolf is not alone, and an entire pack of wolves stands behind him.
    The writer is the founder of Shurat Hadin Israeli Law Center.

Misplaced Trust in the Inherent Power of Democracy - Michael Doran (Wall Street Journal)
    Noah Feldman, Harvard law professor, Middle East expert, and author of The Arab Winter: A Tragedy that analyzes the 2011 "Arab Spring," is a democracy promoter who's been mugged by reality.
    President Obama assumed people power would check the ambitions of America's enemies and thus inadvertently allowed the worst actors in the Middle East to devour the best.
    President George W. Bush, similarly, placed excessive faith in the potential of democracy promotion to stabilize Iraq and safeguard American interests.
    It was a characteristically American miscalculation. Both presidents believed that, in a democratizing moment, the wheels of history will do the work of American foreign policy all by themselves.
    When our leaders allow their trust in the inherent power of democracy to override the basic logic of supporting friends and punishing enemies, they serve neither our values nor our interests.
    The writer is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN Nuclear Watchdog's Board Raises Pressure on Iran over Suspect Sites
    The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) called on Iran on Friday to stop denying the agency access to two suspected former sites and to cooperate fully with it, diplomats said. The resolution raised pressure on Iran to let inspectors into the sites, mentioned in two IAEA reports, that could still host undeclared nuclear material or traces of it. The resolution passed by a 25-2 margin with seven abstentions. China and Russia opposed the measure.
        Israel's seizure of an "archive" of Iran's past work appears to have yielded new clues on old activities. Iran argues that it is inadmissible for the IAEA to seek access based on the Israeli information. (Reuters)
  • U.S. to Reform VOA Persian over Pro-Iran Bias - Adam Kredo
    The U.S. administration is seeking to implement major reforms at Voice of America's Persian News Network after years of complaints alleging a pro-Iran bias in its reporting, senior officials said.
        Critics allege that VOA Persian, whose mission is to counter the Iranian regime's anti-U.S. propaganda, consistently portrays Iran's government in a glowing light. They say it has banned prominent anti-regime voices from appearing on-air and canceled shows that are popular among dissidents and Iranian expats in America.
        Brian Hook, the State Department's top Iran envoy, said the reforms will include a change in leadership, a complete overhaul of programming, and mandates to ensure coverage no longer fetes the Iranian regime. (Washington Free Beacon)
  • Lebanon's Economic Crisis Threatens to Destroy its Middle Class - Chloe Cornish
    Tens of thousands of Lebanese have been thrown from comfortable lives at breakneck speed by the country's worst fiscal and monetary crisis in 30 years. With soaring unemployment, the government has warned that 60% of the population could fall into poverty by the end of 2020.
        Lebanon has for years spent beyond its means, but instead of investing in domestic production, foreign currency attracted to the country's banks with high interest rates has been used to fund the government. Now the value of the Lebanese pound has collapsed, while the price of basic foods has increased 55%. (Financial Times-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Ministry of Intelligence Looks at Timing of Sovereignty Initiative - Ariel Kahana
    A recent analysis by the Israel Ministry of Intelligence determined that now is the best time to implement the sovereignty initiative in parts of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley. An outbreak of violence is not expected and relations with Arab countries are seen to return to normal in short order.
        "[The initiative] improves the starting conditions of future negotiations with the Palestinians for Israel and crystallizes the cost of Palestinian rejection of peace talks, and therefore could spur [the Palestinians] back to the negotiation table in an effort to halt additional phases," the analysis said.
        "After a wave of diplomatic protests, mainly by governments, the extension of Israeli law won't rouse the Arab street against the regimes. The absence of agitation in the streets will make it clear to Arab leaders that the Palestinian issue isn't a threat to them. Internalization of this insight could in the mid-term provide a platform for improving ties with Israel, without waiting for an Israeli-Palestinian arrangement."  (Israel Hayom)
  • Abbas Understands His People Have No Appetite for Another Intifada - Avi Issacharoff
    With the PA's decision to cut ties with Israel, Palestinians no longer have their authorities' help in securing permits to enter Israel. Workers, students, businessmen, medical patients, and others must now apply directly to Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).
        This is bad news for Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the General Authority of Civil Affairs of the Palestinian Authority, which had handled such affairs. Al-Sheikh's office used to get a commission on each permit handled. Now, his revenues have evaporated. The office also provided one of the best ways for PA leadership to settle scores with rivals in Hamas or Fatah - delaying or rejecting permits as a pressure tactic.
        Dr. Michael Milstein, head of the Palestinian Studies Forum at the Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, said, "Abbas has initiated processes that were supposed to jump-start something. But the public has not pitched in, and the international community is not there yet either. The threat of dissolving the Palestinian Authority is a gun with an empty chamber."
        "Last Friday, only 5,000 people attended an anti-annexation protest in Az-Zubaidat in the Jordan Valley. When Abbas looks at the public, he realizes he has failed."  (Times of Israel)
  • "An Intifada Should Have Erupted Years Ago Against Corrupt PA Officials" - Zvi Bar'el
    For many Palestinians, the idea of dismantling the PA has become a meaningless one which, if implemented, would mean doing away with the Palestinians' greatest achievement in the Oslo Accords. Dismantling the PA means firing tens of thousands of people, inflicting mortal economic damage on the West Bank and, mainly, losing the power of representation.
        According to Jordanian journalist Ziyad Fahim al-Atari, there is little likelihood of a third intifada because the Palestinian public is preoccupied with more immediate, existential matters and with maintaining its economic achievements. And, at present, widespread public activities could be curtailed by fear of the coronavirus.
        The PA is currently mired in a severe economic crisis following Abbas' announcement that he would refuse to accept tax revenues from Israel accruing to the Palestinians. As a result, the PA did not pay salaries last month. "The PA resembles a country that imposed sanctions on itself without examining their implications or creating an exit or rescue plan, and is now sitting on the window ledge and waiting for the world's mercy," says a Palestinian journalist.
        Anyone concerned about an intifada is invited to be even more concerned about a revolt sparked by economic difficulties of the sort that erupted in Lebanon and Iraq. The journalist explains, "Even if someone wanted to initiate activity...who would lead it? The PA? An intifada of this kind should have erupted years ago - not against Israel, but against our corrupt officials."  (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Europe Must Join the Fight Against the Iranian Regime - Daniel Schwammenthal
    Ayatollah Khamenei is the "supreme leader" of a clerical regime whose repeated genocidal threats against Israel are backed up with an advanced nuclear program and a four-decade-long military and terrorist campaign against the Jewish state. Europe has a historical and strategic duty to back U.S. diplomatic efforts at the UN to prevent Tehran from buying advanced weapons from Russia and China.
        The Islamic Republic and its proxies have already caused untold deaths and destruction throughout Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Gaza, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Israel. Imagine the threat Iran would pose if it could add state-of-the-art conventional weapons to its considerable ballistic missile arsenal, unconventional warfare capabilities and nuclear program. A militarily upgraded Iran would be a strategic game-changer smack in Europe's southern neighborhood.
        European leaders ought to be clearly on the U.S. side on this issue. They should play hardball with Moscow and Beijing and announce diplomatic, if not economic, consequences if the two countries block a new Security Council resolution to extend the arms embargo.
        Would Europe really stand with Moscow, Beijing and Tehran against Washington and use its diplomatic power not to stop, but to ensure, that a radical, anti-Western regime can rearm? The writer is director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute in Brussels. (Newsweek)
  • The West Bank's Status Quo Is More Dangerous than Applying Sovereignty - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen
    Thinking that Israel's current strategic position in the West Bank is riskless and hence preferable to the partial application of sovereignty is a misrepresentation of reality. If Israel misses the opportunity presented by the U.S. peace plan to apply sovereignty, the risks to Israel multiply; they do not decrease.
        The prime minister's plan to apply sovereignty would have no effect on the vast majority of Palestinians living in Areas A and B, which have been under PA control since January 1996.
        Israel has been given an opportunity - one that may well never return - to promote the country's vital national interests and bolster its future. This is also an opportunity to reposition Israel as a nation that will dare to act on its own behalf even in the face of threats. That is the embodiment of sovereignty: political power and independence.
        The writer, a senior research fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, served in the IDF for 42 years, commanding troops in battle on the Egyptian and Syrian fronts. (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • Jordanian Tanks Crossed the Jordan Valley in the 1967 War Against Israel - Lenny Ben-David
    Those insisting on Israel's retention of the strategically vital Jordan Valley say it serves as Israel's most important defense line against potential attacks from the east. The Jordan Valley showed its crucial importance in 1967, when the Jordanian army moved U.S.-supplied M-47 and M-48 Patton tanks, long-range "Long-Tom" artillery, and mechanized infantry (M-113 APCs) into the West Bank to face Israel, and the Iraqi army sent armored divisions toward the Jordan-Israel border.
        According to Yitzhak Rabin's memoirs, Israel had dropped its objections to the U.S. provision of offensive weapons to Jordan after King Hussein pledged that the U.S.-supplied tanks to Jordan would not cross the Jordan River to threaten Israel. When the war broke out, Jordanian artillery and tanks blasted the Jewish side of Jerusalem and the Ramat David military airbase in Israel's north. Jordanian Hunter aircraft bombed Kfar Sirkin, Netanya, and Kfar Saba.
        On June 5, 1967, Jordan dispatched its crack 40th Armored Brigade with 90 M-48 tanks across the Jordan Valley and into the West Bank. A major tank battle ensued in the Dothan Valley where the IDF, equipped with inferior Sherman tanks, lost 33 soldiers before the Israeli tankers and the Israeli air force won the day.
        In another battle on June 6, the IDF's Duchifat Special Forces were sent to block Jordanian reinforcements with 30 Jordanian Patton tanks coming up toward Jerusalem from the Jordan Valley. Israeli ground and air forces stopped them at Tel el-Ful, where King Hussein was building a palace to overlook Jerusalem. The Jordanian armored unit was commanded by King Hussein's cousin, Brig. Sharif Zayd bin Shaker, a graduate of the U.S. Army Staff College.
        The writer, former deputy chief of mission at Israel's Embassy in Washington, is the author of American Interests in the Holy Land Revealed in Early Photographs. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Poll: Factors Driving Migration of Palestinian Christians - Dr. Khalil Shikaki
    The PSR conducted a public opinion poll among 995 Palestinian Christians in the West Bank and Gaza between January 27 and February 23, 2020. Palestinian Christians are Greek Orthodox (48%), Latin Catholic (38%), Greek Catholic (6%), Evangelical, Episcopal and Lutheran Protestants (4%), Syriac Orthodox (2%), and Syriac Catholic (1%). Two-thirds (66%) live in an area with a Christian majority.
        48% in Gaza and 35% in the West Bank are considering emigrating. 80-87% are worried about crime and theft in Palestinian areas from the absence of the rule of law, as well as corruption in the PA. 77% are worried about the presence of religious Salafist groups and 69% are worried about the presence of armed Palestinian factions such as Hamas. 2/3 said they are worried about the fact that the Palestinian Basic Law refers to the principles of the Islamic Sharia as a main source of legislation.
        27% say that they have been exposed to racist curses and/or epithets like "kafir" or non-believer or Crusader. 43% feel that most Muslims do not wish to see them in this land. 44% believe there is discrimination against Christians when they seek jobs in the private sector. 70% believe that one cannot obtain a job without a "connection." 70% have heard a Muslim say that Christians will go to Hell.
        2/3 say they do not trust or have little trust in the PA government. Trust in the judiciary and the courts stands at 16%, and in the PA police at 22%. (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research - PSR)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • The New Anti-Semitism: The Delegitimization of the Jewish People - Dr. Steven Windmueller
    In the post-Second World War era, the new anti-Semitism is collective in character, as it seeks to address the actions and outcomes created by Jews as a people and the role of the Jewish State. "Whiteness" and "Delegitimization" are the new standards by which Jews are being judged. For the anti-Semite, Israel serves as the collective embodiment of the "international" Jew.
        The new anti-Semitism reintroduces the issues of "race" and "nationality" into the mix, as Jews are being challenged in connection with their "whiteness" as well as their legitimacy as Americans. The far left classifies Jews as "too white," while the far right defines Jews as seeking to "replace" authentic white people.
        In the aftermath of the George Floyd incident, various groups have sought to link Israel's military as a responsible party. BDS groups and the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights began falsely posting on social media about how Minneapolis police are "trained" by the IDF. Yet the IDF has never been involved in the training of the Minneapolis police force. The writer, Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Service at HUC-JIR, Los Angeles, is a Fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (eJewish Philanthropy)

  • Weekend Features

  • On International Refugee Day, Jews Expelled from Arab States Also Ask for Justice
    June 20 marks international refugee day. Etti Shlomo, who lives in Israel, was only eight when her parents fled Egypt after anti-Jewish sentiment rose in many Arab countries following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
        Between June and September 1948, a series of bombings that rocked Cairo's Jewish neighborhoods killed 70 and injured more than 200 others. Etti's family was terrified but chose to stay until one day a mob of Muslim rioters burst into her house. "All our property and money was left in Egypt...but we had no other choice, as we knew a threat was looming," she said.
        In November 1956, Egypt's ministry of the interior required all Jews, regardless of their citizenship, to report to the government body. Those who held foreign passports were asked to leave, while Egyptian citizens could choose between deportation or a concentration camp. Most Jews opted for the first option. All their property, estimated at $2 billion, was left behind. (Sputnik-Russia)
  • Diaries Reveal British Officials in Palestine Wanted to Go Home - Steven E. Zipperstein
    Sir John Chancellor led British Mandatory Palestine from December 1928 through September 1931, a period that included the Hebron massacre on August 24, 1929. Chancellor's top deputy was chief secretary Sir Harry Charles Luke. Both kept meticulous diaries, recording their observations and commentary on the conflict between Palestinian Arab nationalism and Zionism. The writer is a senior fellow at the UCLA Center for Middle East Development and a visiting professor of law at Tel Aviv University. (Times of Israel)
  • Unearthing the Unvarnished Truth about Lithuania's Holocaust - Neville Teller
    Ruta Vanagaite describes herself as "a typical, average Lithuanian." She is a journalist and best-selling author who sought out the secret case file on her grandfather, and discovered that during the German occupation he compiled lists of Jews, while a neighbor transported them to an execution site and received in compensation a Jewish house and 11 acres of land.
        She met Efraim Zuroff, director of the Jerusalem branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, whose grandparents were born in Lithuania and who is named after a great-uncle murdered in Vilnius. Together they visited 13 locations where Jews had been massacred. Their book, Our People: Discovering Lithuania's Hidden Holocaust, became a best-seller in Lithuania, but has now been removed from its bookstores.
        Of the 212,000 Lithuanian Jewish victims, only 5,000 were deported to death camps in Poland. Most were marched out to a local forest or beauty spot, brutally shot, and buried in mass graves. In most cases the massacres were carried out by Lithuanians. Sometimes no Germans were present.
        One Lithuanian soldier described his wartime experience in an interview in 1998: "The local police went through apartments and collected Jews, then herded them onto the square." The Germans kept back anyone likely to be useful to them, and the rest were marched by the Lithuanian unit, in a column four people wide, to pits already dug beyond the city limits.
        "They were herded into the pit, laid on the ground, and then we shot them." They forced the next group to lie down on top of the corpses before firing on them, then the next. "The small children were carried, the others were led. We murdered them all....The Germans shot rarely; mostly they used to shoot photographs."  (Jerusalem Post)

The Attorney General of Israel issued the following statement on June 17, 2020:
  • For several years now, the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been conducting a preliminary examination further to a request submitted by the Palestinians.
  • The principled legal position of the State of Israel, which is not a party to the ICC, is that the Court lacks jurisdiction in relation to Israel and that any Palestinian actions with respect to the Court are legally invalid.
  • Only sovereign states can delegate criminal jurisdiction to the Court. The Palestinian Authority clearly does not meet the criteria for statehood under international law.
  • Israel has valid legal claims over the same territory in relation to which the Palestinians are seeking to submit to the Court's jurisdiction.
  • Israel and the Palestinians agreed, with the support of the international community, to resolve their dispute over the future status of this territory in the framework of negotiations.
  • By approaching the ICC, the Palestinians are seeking to breach the framework agreed to by the parties and to push the Court to determine political issues that should be resolved by negotiations, and not by criminal proceedings.
  • The Court was not established for such purposes, nor does it have the authority or capacity to determine such matters, especially in the absence of the consent of the parties.
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