June 29, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Blast Marks Another Setback for Iran - Oded Granot (Israel Hayom)
    The Iranian regime couldn't ignore the gigantic fireball that rose above the mountains east of Tehran on Friday morning. Buildings in Tehran shook over 12 miles away.
    Western analysts believe the site hides a sprawling underground complex for testing and producing ballistic missiles.
    No one in the international community believes Iran's official response that it was a "gas leak."
    Another large explosion, nine years ago, rocked a missile site near Tehran, killing close to 20 senior IRGC officials.
    The writer headed the Middle East desk and was senior commentator at Israel Television - Channel 1 (2001-2017).

Report: Syria Raids Aim to Thwart Iranian Attempts to Develop Precision Missiles (North Press Agency-Syria)
    An Israeli military source told North Press on Sunday that "attacks against Iranian targets in Syria are aimed to thwart a new Iranian attempt to develop precision missiles."
    The source said the intensity of attacks against Iranian targets in Syria stems from reliable information about an Iranian approach to developing a precision missile project in Syria and Lebanon, in conjunction with Iran's withdrawal of its elements from areas near the border with Israel.
    "It is clear from the reports coming from Syria that those who defend these missile... storage sites...are Shiite militias that are operated and funded by Iran," said the source.

Critics' Obsession with Israel Grows More Bizarre by the Day - Michael Deacon (Telegraph-UK)
    A British Labour MP, Rebecca Long-Bailey, tweeted a link to an interview with actress Maxine Peake, who somehow managed to link the death of George Floyd to Israel.
    Later, Ms. Peake conceded that her "assumptions" had been "inaccurate."
    Odd how common such misconceptions are among certain circles - the sheer number of them who appear to find Israel to blame for every injustice under the sun.
    It doesn't matter how far from Israel an injustice occurs, or how scant the evidence. They somehow manage to detect the Zionist hand at work.

Cyberattack Disrupts Israel Philharmonic Virtual Concert - Danielle Berrin (Forward)
    A free virtual concert featuring the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) was disrupted on Sunday by a cyberattack, preventing tens of thousands of viewers worldwide from watching.
    The event was hosted by actress Helen Mirren and featured some of Israel's world-renowned soloists - including Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zuckerman and Yefim Bronfman.
    "The forces against Israel extend to a music program which is really trying to make friends around the world," said Irwin Field, co-president of American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
    Although the live stream was sabotaged, the concert was recorded and will be available for viewing on YouTube for 30 days.
    See also Israel Philharmonic Global Gala 2020 (YouTube)

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Calls to Renew Iran Arms Embargo - Jon Gambrell
    An arms embargo on Iran set to expire in October must remain in place to prevent it from "becoming the arms dealer of choice for rogue regimes and terrorist organizations around the world," U.S. special representative for Iran Brian Hook said Sunday in Abu Dhabi. "If we let it expire, you can be certain that what Iran has been doing in the dark, it will do in broad daylight and then some," Hook said. (AP-Houston Chronicle)
        See also Israel Supports Call to Extend UN Arms Embargo on Iran - Omri Nahmias (Jerusalem Post)
  • Lebanese Judge Bans Media from Interviewing U.S. Ambassador after Anti-Hizbullah Comments - Sarah Dadouch
    On Saturday, Lebanese Judge Mohammed Mazeh ordered local media to stop interviewing U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea after she criticized Hizbullah in an interview Friday with Saudi state-owned broadcaster al-Hadath. The Iranian-backed militant group, designated a terrorist organization by the U.S., holds political office in Lebanon.
        Shea accused Hizbullah of obstructing economic reforms and siphoning billions of dollars from government coffers. She also voiced concern about "threatening language" against the U.S. in a recent speech by Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah. (Washington Post)
        See also Lebanon's Currency Takes a New Dive, with No End in Sight - Liz Sly
    Lebanon's currency hit new lows Friday as the country's financial and economic collapse accelerated. The Lebanese pound traded on the black market at 7,000 to the dollar, a slide of 40% in the past week. The currency has now lost 78% of its value since October. Businesses are closing by the day, unemployment is rising and prices are soaring. The cost of food has nearly doubled so far this year. (Washington Post)
  • Palestinian Leaders Struggle to Mobilize Street Against Israel
    With loudspeakers mounted, Palestinian flags unfurled and civil servants allowed off work, everything appeared set for a large protest in Ramallah against prospective Israeli moves in the West Bank. But only 200 people turned up for the June 8 demonstration, in a sign of the struggles the Palestinian Authority (PA) has faced generating outrage on the street.
        There was a larger rally in Jericho last week, brought to the protest site on buses chartered by the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Fatah party, but many left even before the speeches began. (AFP-Daily Mail-UK)
        See also Nepotism in the Palestinian Authority Angers the Public - Yoni Ben Menachem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Standing By Its Peace Plan - Lahav Harkov
    The arrival in Israel of special adviser to the President Avi Berkowitz and Scott Leith of the U.S. National Security Council conveys the message that the U.S. is ready for Israel to apply Israeli law in parts of the West Bank in line with the U.S. "Vision for Peace." The administration has no interest in walking away from the plan that it spent years preparing, and any moves Israel makes in accordance with that plan will have U.S. support. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Coronavirus in Israel
    Currently, there are 6,556 active coronavirus cases in Israel - an increase of 492 in the last day, the Israel Health Ministry said Monday. 46 people are in serious condition and 319 have died. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Sharp Rise in Palestinian Coronavirus Cases in West Bank
    The Palestinian Authority reported 67 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday. There are 1,237 are active cases, including 1,162 in the West Bank, with 11 people in serious condition including two on ventilators, said PA Health Minister Mai al-Kaila. Hebron is the epicenter of the outbreak, while 33 people were diagnosed in the Bethlehem district. The village of Deir al-Hatab near Nablus had 100 cases. (Times of Israel)
  • Rockets Fired at Israel from Gaza, IDF Responds - Elior Levy
    Two rockets were fired at Israel by Palestinians in Gaza on Friday night. In response, Israeli planes struck targets in Gaza. Palestinian sources said members of Islamic Jihad were behind the rocket fire. (Ynet News)
  • Gaza Man Arrested after Trying to Swim to Israel
    A Palestinian man from Gaza was arrested Sunday evening after he tried to swim to Israel, the Israel Defense Forces said. He was detained by the navy 200 meters from shore after being seen crossing the maritime border. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Undocumented Foreign Funding of American Universities: Implications for Education and Rising Anti-Semitism - Dr. Charles Asher Small
    Autocratic Middle Eastern regimes, organizations, foundations, and affiliated private corporations have funneled billions of dollars of unreported funding to American universities in order to encourage the demonization of Israel and the Jewish people within the curriculum and on campus, ISGAP's seven-year "Follow the Money" research project has found. Federal reporting requirements and procedures have been inadequate in keeping track of academic funding coming in from abroad. This includes more than $3 billion gifted by Qatar and the Gulf States that were not reported by universities to the IRS or the Department of Education.
        These funds have a significant impact on attitudes, anti-Semitic culture, and BDS activities. Our research found a direct correlation between the funding of universities by Qatar and the Gulf States and the active presence at those universities of groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which foster an anti-Semitic and aggressive atmosphere on campus. (Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy-ISGAP)
  • Expert: Treating West Bank as Palestinian Is Historically Incorrect
    Prof. Abraham Sion, former chair of the Center for Law and Mass Media at Ariel University, said critics of plans to extend Israeli law to parts of the West Bank are ignoring the fact that it was the international community that authorized the Jewish state's control over the currently disputed territories. After World War I and the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, "the powers decided to give Palestine to the Jews, whereas Arabs would receive the rest of the Middle East." He noted that at the time, the Arabs "considered themselves as Syrians rather than Palestinians."
        "It is wrong to say that Israel occupied this land [when it conquered it from Jordan in 1967]. We only claimed back what originally belonged to the Jewish people," explained Sion. "Some people...know the facts but choose to ignore them."  (Sputnik-Russia)
  • The Battle over BDS: Trends, Lessons and Future Trajectories - Asher Fredman
    While the anti-Israel BDS movement continues to be highly active, the counter-BDS network is succeeding in disrupting BDS momentum. Increasingly, the BDS movement finds itself on the defensive as it faces exposure of its terror links, credible accusations of anti-Semitism, and national and municipal legislation and resolutions that attack its legitimacy.
        Nevertheless, it would be a grave mistake to assume that the battle is over. The BDS movement has shown itself to be highly adept at pivoting to new strategies, building influential alliances, and identifying emerging opportunities. There continue to be numerous arenas in which it faces little effective resistance. The writer served as Chief of Staff and International Affairs Advisor to Israel's Minister of Strategic Affairs. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Christians United for Israel (CUFI) in a video message on Sunday night that "applying Israeli law to areas of Judea and Samaria that will remain part of Israel in any future peace deal will not set back the cause of peace, it will advance peace."
  • "I encourage the Palestinians not to lose another opportunity, not to waste another century, trying to destroy Israel. They should sit down and negotiate in good faith. They should be prepared to negotiate a historic compromise that can bring peace to Israelis and Palestinians alike."
  • Netanyahu noted that the U.S. plan "doesn't uproot a single Jew or Arab" from their homes. He added that the plan "confronts a great lie head on - the lie that the Jewish people are foreign colonialists in our own ancestral homeland. It makes clear that the Jewish people have a valid, legal, historic and moral claim to Judea and Samaria. And it supports Israel's sovereignty over the Jewish communities there."
  • "After all, we're called Jews because we're the people of Judea. But these areas are also an integral part of Christian identity. They're a part of your heritage. They're a part of our common civilization. And under Israeli sovereignty, our common heritage will be forever protected. In a region where Christians are on the run and live in fear, Christians in Israel are on the rise and they live in freedom."