POMPEO: L’ANNEXION DE LA CISJORDANIE PAR NETANYAHU NE NUIRA PAS AU PLAN DE PAIX
Times Of Israel 14 avril, 2019
Le secrétaire d’État américain Mike Pompeo a déclaré vendredi qu’il ne pensait pas que le discours du Premier ministre Benjamin Netanyahu sur l’extension de la souveraineté israélienne aux implantations en Cisjordanie puisse nuire au plan de paix que l’administration Trump a élaboré.
Ses propos semblent indiquer que le plan américan ne prévoit pas la création d’un État palestinien, ni même le contrôle palestinien d’un territoire substantiel contigu en Cisjordanie. Interrogé par Jake Tapper, le présentateur de CNN, au cours d’une interview, pour savoir s’il pensait que Netanyahu « promettant d’annexer la Cisjordanie » pourrait nuire à la proposition américaine, Pompeo a répondu « non ». « Je pense que la vision que nous allons présenter constituera un changement important par rapport au modèle qui a été utilisé », a-t-il ajouté.
« Nous d’idées pendant 40 ans. Elles n’ont pas apporté la paix entre les Israéliens et les Palestiniens, a-t-il dit. « Notre concept est de proposer une vision qui a des idées nouvelles, différentes, uniques, qui essaie de recadrer et de remodeler ce qui a toujours été un problème insoluble. »Il a déclaré que l’administration Trump souhaitait « une vie meilleure » pour les Israéliens et les Palestiniens.
Lors d’interviews réalisées quelques jours avant les élections, M. Netanyahu a déclaré qu’il avait l’intention d’appliquer progressivement la loi israélienne à toutes les implantations et qu’il espérait pouvoir le faire avec l’accord des États-Unis. Excluant catégoriquement la création d’un état palestinien qui, selon lui, « mettrait notre existence en danger »,Netanyahu a promis de maintenir en permanence le contrôle sécuritaire israélien global en Cisjordanie et de formaliser la loi israélienne sur les quelque 400 000 Juifs israéliens qui s’y sont établis. Cela s’appliquerait non seulement aux grands blocs d’implantation, mais aussi aux implantations isolées, a-t-il indiqué. M. Netanyahu a également déclaré qu’il avait dit au président américain Donald Trump qu’il n’évacuerait pas « une seule personne » de l’une quelconque des implantations, alors que selon certaines informations, il pense que Trump le soutiendra sur la souveraineté des implantations si les Palestiniens rejettent le plan de paix tant attendu de Trump.
Plusieurs grandes organisations juives américaines, dont les mouvements réformé et conservateur, ont imploré Trump de freiner Netanyahu, disant dans une lettre publiée vendredi que le mouvement de souveraineté « conduira à un conflit accru entre Israéliens et Palestiniens, sapera gravement, sinon complètement, la coordination réussie entre la sécurité et l’Autorité palestinienne, et stimulera les efforts comme le mouvement Boycott, désinvestissements et sanctions qui sont destinés à isoler et délégitimer Israël ».
La Maison Blanche a déclaré qu’elle rendrait publique sa proposition de paix après les élections en Israël, qui ont eu lieu la semaine dernière.
L’Autorité palestinienne a boycotté l’administration Trump depuis qu’elle a reconnu Jérusalem comme capitale israélienne en décembre 2017 et s’est engagée à s’y opposer. L’administration américaine a réduit de plus de 500 millions de dollars l’aide palestinienne depuis le début du boycott palestinien. Les Palestiniens revendiquent Jérusalem-Est comme capitale de leur futur état. Le consensus international est que le statut de Jérusalem doit être négocié entre les deux parties.
NETANYAHU SE DIT PRET A ANNEXER LES IMPLANTATIONS DE CISJORDANIE,GANTZ CONDAMNE
Le centriste, opposé à toute décision “unilatérale”, s’est demandé pourquoi le Premier ministre ne l’avait pas fait “pendant les 13 années durant lesquelles il était au pouvoir”
Par AFP et TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF7 avril 2019, 19:34
Netanyahu se dit prêt à annexer les implantations de Cisjordanie, Gantz condamne
Le centriste, opposé à toute décision “unilatérale”, s’est demandé pourquoi le Premier ministre ne l’avait pas fait “pendant les 13 années durant lesquelles il était au pouvoir”
Le Premier ministre Benjamin Netanyahu a indiqué vouloir annexer les implantations israéliennes de Cisjordanie, une prise de position jugée « irresponsable » par son principal rival Benny Gantz, à deux jours d’élections législatives qui pourraient s’avérer serrées.
Netanyahu a déclaré samedi soir vouloir annexer des implantations israéliennes en Cisjordanie en cas de réélection. « J’appliquerai la souveraineté (israélienne) sans faire de distinction entre les (plus grands) blocs d’implantations et les implantations isolées », a-t-il affirmé sur la Douzième chaîne de télévision israélienne.
Interrogé sur sa propre position dans le cadre d’une interview au site d’information Ynet, Benny Gantz, le meneur de la coalition centriste Kakhol lavan, s’est demandé pourquoi M. Netanyahu n’avait pas annexé la Cisjordanie « pendant les 13 années durant lesquelles il était au pouvoir », si telle était son intention.
« Je pense que s’exprimer sur un choix stratégique et historique dans le cadre d’une campagne électorale (…) est irresponsable », a-t-il ajouté, avant de se dire pour sa part opposé à toute décision « unilatérale ».
« Nous ferons tout possible pour à accord de paix régional et global tout en restant fidèles à », a expliqué chef d’état-major.
Ces principes sont, selon lui : la souveraineté israélienne sur la vallée du Jourdain, dont une partie se trouve en Cisjordanie, ainsi que sur les blocs d’implantations en Cisjordanie et l’ensemble de Jérusalem.
Par le passé, M.Gantz s’est en revanche dit favorable à l’évacuation de certaines implantations. Il a qualifié les remarques de Netanyahu de « déclaration dénuée de sens ».
« C’est dommage de jouer avec des gens comme ça », a-t-il ajouté.
CE REBONDISSEMENT SURPRISE DE LA NATALITE JUIVE EN ISRAEL
Arvil 27 2018
Atlantico Comment renversement de tendance
Laurent Chalard : Effectivement, parmi les pays développés, où la fécondité est quasiment partout en-dessous du seuil de remplacement des générations de 2,1 enfants par femme, Israël, au PIB par habitant équivalent à la France en 2017 selon le FMI, se distingue par une fécondité élevée, qui a augmenté ces dernières années. Après avoir atteint un point bas de 2,85 enfants par femme en 2005, l’indice de fécondité du pays est remonté à 3,11 enfants par femme en 2017. Cependant, Israël étant un Etat pluriethnique, cette singularité pourrait s’expliquer par des divergences d’évolution selon l’origine, avec des populations arabes moins aisées, se caractérisant par une éventuelle plus forte fécondité qui aurait légèrement progressé ces dix dernières années comme cela s’est constaté en Egypte.
Or, dans les faits, ce n’est pas du tout le cas, la hausse de la fécondité israélienne étant uniquement le produit de l’augmentation de la fécondité dans la population juive, qui est passée de 2,59 enfants par femme en 2001 à 3,16 enfants par femme en 2017, alors que la fécondité des populations arabes, qu’elles soient chrétiennes, druzes ou musulmanes s’est sensiblement réduite sur la même période, passant respectivement de 2,46 à 1,93 enfant par femme, de 3,02 à 2,10 enfants par femme et de 4,71 à 3,37 enfants par femme. Au premier abord, cette évolution pourrait être la conséquence de l’accentuation de la fécondité de la minorité juive ultra-orthodoxe, les haredim, plus pauvre que le reste de la population, mais, comme le montre les experts israéliens, il n’en est rien, puisque la fécondité des ultra-orthodoxes s’est légèrement réduite (autour de 6,7 enfants par femme en 2015 alors qu’elle dépassait les 7 enfants par femme auparavant), la hausse s’expliquant essentiellement par les juifs pas ou peu religieux. Par exemple, il est notable de constater que les femmes juives issues de l’ex-URSS ont désormais des indices de fécondité proches de 2 enfants par femme alors qu’à leur arrivée en Israël dans les années 1990, il était beaucoup plus bas, sensiblement inférieur au seuil de remplacement des générations.
Les spécialistes semblent avoir du mal à expliquer cette évolution, mais il est probable que la crainte de devenir à terme minoritaire dans l’ancienne Palestine mandataire, alimentée par les médias et les intellectuels juifs israéliens mais aussi par les discours « guerriers » des leaders palestiniens sur cette thématique, ait joué un rôle non négligeable dans le contexte d’une société accordant une place importante à la famille.
Quelles sont les implications d’une telle progression de la population, notamment dans les relations isréalo-palestiniennes ? N’est-on pas dans une situation diamétralement opposée -démographiquement parlant – au contexte des accords d’Oslo ?
Laurent Chalard : La démographie constitue un facteur, parmi d’autres, qui peut avoir des impacts géopolitiques non négligeables, a minima dans les représentations que se font les leaders politiques d’un Etat de leur force ou de leur faiblesse dans ce domaine. Par exemple, en 1939, le déclin démographique français par rapport au dynamisme allemand fut l’un des facteurs explicatifs du peu d’empressement de la France de s’engager dans la guerre puis de sa capitulation rapide, les dirigeants ne souhaitant pas que le pays subisse une nouvelle hécatombe.
Concernant Israël, les écarts de dynamique démographique entre juifs et arabes sur le territoire de l’ancienne Palestine mandataire ont aussi joué un rôle non négligeable dans la politique des dirigeants israéliens au cours des trente dernières années. Dans les années 1990, dans un contexte de forte expansion démographique des populations arabes aussi bien en Israël que dans les territoires occupés, les dirigeants israéliens se sentaient obligés de faire des concessions aux palestiniens, ce qui s’est traduit par les accords d’Oslo en 1994. A cette époque, étant donné la forte probabilité que les juifs deviennent à terme largement minoritaires sur le territoire de l’ancienne Palestine mandataire, la solution de deux Etats, un Etat juif et un Etat arabe semblait la seule solution viable pour les dirigeants israéliens dans l’optique de maintenir le caractère judaïque de leur Etat. Par contre, aujourd’hui, le regain de la dynamique démographique des populations juives, alimentée en outre par une immigration continue, alors que la dynamique palestinienne semble s’essouffler, du fait de la poursuite d’une émigration, en particulier des populations les plus diplômées, et d’une fécondité se réduisant (4 enfants par femme voire moins ?) même s’il est difficile de la mesurer précisément du fait de la faible fiabilité des chiffres fournis par l’autorité palestinienne, fait que les dirigeants israéliens se sentent beaucoup plus en position de force et qu’ils perçoivent beaucoup moins la solution de deux Etats comme étant inévitable.
Politiquement parlant, cette croissance démographique ne pourrait-elle pas annoncer un durcissement des positions israéliennes, sur la base d’une réalité démographique ?
Ce durcissement des positions israéliennes se constate déjà depuis un certain nombre d’années. La réduction du décalage de croissance démographique entre populations juive et arabe sur le territoire de l’ancienne Palestine mandataire est perçu par les dirigeants israéliens comme un moyen pour reporter ad vitam aeternam la création d’un Etat palestinien, puisque finalement la perspective que les juifs demeurent majoritaires sur l’ensemble du territoire leur permet d’espérer de pouvoir le garder sous le contrôle unique du gouvernement israélien, qui plus est si la dynamique démographique venait à s’inverser totalement (ce n’est pas encore le cas, en démographie, les projections étant toujours hasardeuses). Cette situation explique aussi pourquoi la colonisation en Cisjordanie se poursuit, malgré les pressions occidentales pour qu’elle cesse. En effet, le fort accroissement démographique de la population juive la conduit à avoir besoin de plus en plus de terres, qu’elle trouve en Cisjordanie. La nouvelle donne démographique dans cette région du monde fait qu’il ne faut guère s’attendre à des concessions importantes des dirigeants israéliens quant à la création d’un Etat palestinien dans un futur proche.
LA TENTATIVE D’ALUNISSAGE DE LA SONDE ISRAELIENNE BERSHEET ECHOUE A LA DERNIERE MINUTE
i24News, 14 avril 2019
La sonde a subi une panne de moteur à quelques mètres de la Lune et s’est apparemment écrasée
La tentative d’Israël de réussir un alunissage a échoué à la dernière minute jeudi soir après que sa sonde, la première développée par une organisation privée, a subi une panne de moteur et s’est apparemment écrasée sur la Lune.
“Nous n’y sommes pas arrivés”, a déclaré l’homme d’affaires et philanthrope Morris Kahn, qui a largement financé le projet, par vidéo en direct depuis le centre de contrôle de la mission, près de Tel Aviv. “Je pense que c’est vraiment énorme d’être allés jusqu’où nous sommes allés, je pense que nous pouvons être fiers”, a-t-il ajouté.
Durant ce direct on pouvait entendre des membres de l’équipe expliquer que des moteurs censés ralentir la descente de la sonde et permettre un alunissage en douceur étaient tombés en panne et que le contact avait été perdu.
“Si vous ne réussissez pas la première fois, vous réessayez”, a déclaré le Premier ministre Benyamin Netanyahou depuis la salle de contrôle, dans la ville de Yehud, où il assistait à la tentative d’alunissage en compagnie de l’ambassadeur américain en Israël David Friedman.
Baptisée Beresheet (Genèse, en hébreu), cette sonde de 585 kilos ressemblant à une immense araignée à cinq pattes était un objet de fierté en Israël, qui espérait devenir après les Etats-Unis, la Russie et la Chine le quatrième pays à faire se poser un appareil sur le satellite distant de 384.000 km de la Terre.
Première mondiale, la sonde a été développée par une organisation privée, SpaceIL, qui a travaillé en partenariat avec la société Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI), une des plus grandes entreprises de défense israéliennes.
Morris Khan, patron SpaceIL, a contribué à hauteur de 40 millions de dollars au budget de la mission, d’un montant de 100 millions de dollars.
M. indiqué réfléchissait à lancer spatial national. “Je réfléchis sérieusement à investir dans un programme spatial”, a-t-il dit. “Cela a des implications pour Israël, et pour l’humanité”. Il devait alunir après avoir parcouru quelque 6,5 millions de kilomètres, à une vitesse maximale de 10 kilomètres par seconde (36.000 km/h), selon les partenaires du projet.
Pour Israël, l’alunissage en soi était la mission principale, même si un instrument scientifique avait été emporté pour mesurer le champ magnétique lunaire.
Une capsule dans la sonde contenait également des disques numériques avec des dessins d’enfants, des chansons et des images de symboles israéliens, les souvenirs d’un rescapé de la Shoah et une Bible. ” Israël” ”C’est un grand pas pour Israël, (…) un grand pas pour la technologie israélienne”, avait déclaré M. Netanyahou lors du lancement. “Le véritable carburant de cet engin, ce sont l’audace et le génie israéliens”, avait-il affirmé, et malgré la taille d’Israël, petit pays d’un peu plus de huit millions d’habitants, “nous sommes des géants”, avait-il dit.
Le projet implique d’autres partenaires internationaux : SpaceIL communique avec la sonde grâce à des antennes d’une entreprise suédoise.L’Agence spatiale américaine, la a mis à disposition son Deep Space Network données récoltées par Beresheet et a installé rétro-réflecteur laser la tester son pour la navigation spatiale.
Le a débuté cadre Google Lunar qui, en 2010, récompenser 30 millions de dollars premier privé à avant mars 2018. Aucun candidat n’y est parvenu à temps, mais l’équipe israélienne a poursuivi la démarche et acheté une place dans la fusée de SpaceX.
Regain d’intérêt pour la Lune
Prévue initialement à 10 millions de dollars, la mission en a finalement coûté 100, mais “c’est l’engin le moins cher à tenter une telle mission”, a insisté le groupe IAI.Près de 50 ans après les premiers pas de l’Homme sur la Lune, celle-ci suscite à nouveau l’intérêt.
La Chine a fait en face cachée et encore inexplorée. L’Inde espère devenir au printemps le cinquième pays à s’y poser avec sa mission Chandrayaan-2, qui comprendra un alunisseur et un robot mobile. Le Japon prévoit l’envoi vers 2020-2021 d’un petit atterrisseur lunaire, baptisé SLIM, pour étudier une zone volcanique.
Les Américains sont pour l’instant les seuls à avoir marché sur la Lune : douze astronautes en ont foulé le sol lors de six missions entre 1969 et 1972. Le retour sur la Lune est désormais la politique officielle de la Nasa, selon les directives du président Donald Trump en 2017.
Le secteur spatial privé est en plein boom aux Etats-Unis et pourrait coopérer avec la Nasa pour envoyer des alunisseurs dès la fin de l’année, plus vraisemblablement en 2020.
La Nasa a aussi lancé le projet d’une station en orbite lunaire, censée être terminée en 2026, afin d’organiser le retour d’astronautes sur le sol lunaire en 2028. La Lune est perçue comme une étape en vue de l’envoi d’humains sur Mars, après 2030 au plus tôt.
DES SCIENTIFIQUE ISRAELIELIENS PRESENT UN PROTOTYPE DE COEUR EN 3D A PARTIR DE TISSU HUMAIN 16Avril 2019, i24News
Des scientifiques ont présenté lundi à Tel-Aviv, en Israël, un prototype de coeur humain imprimé en 3D à partir de tissus humains et avec des vaisseaux, une avancée “majeure” selon eux dans le traitement des maladies cardiovasculaires et la prévention du rejet des greffes.
Les chercheurs de l’université de Tel-Aviv ont présenté à la presse ce coeur inerte de la taille d’une cerise, plongé dans un liquide. “C’est la première fois qu’on imprime un coeur dans son intégralité avec ses cellules et ses vaisseaux sanguins, c’est aussi la première fois qu’on utilise de la matière et des cellules provenant du patient”, a dit l’un des scientifiques, le professeur Tal Dvir, qui a dirigé les recherches.
Des scientifiques sont parvenus à produire la structure d’un coeur par le passé, mais avec des éléments synthétiques ou naturels, et ne provenant pas du patient, au risque d’une réaction immunitaire de l’organisme, a-t-il dit dans un laboratoire de l’université de Tel-Aviv.
Dans l’article correspondant publié par la revue scientifique Advanced Science, les auteurs de l’étude disent avoir conçu un procédé permettant non seulement de produire, à partir de cellules prélevées sur le tissu du patient, l’hydrogel servant à façonner des patches cardiaques vascularisés parfaitement compatibles avec le receveur, mais aussi des structures cellulaires entières avec leurs principaux vaisseaux, comme des coeurs.
Cependant, “si l’impression en 3D est considérée comme une approche prometteuse pour concevoir des organes dans leur intégralité, plusieurs difficultés demeurent”, ont-ils relevé.
EXTRAIT DE SEPT ANNEES A JERUSALEM pp141-142
(Julien Bauer, 2012, Éditions du Marais)
La commercialisation de Pâque, qui rappelle la commercialisation de Noël, s’accompagne néanmoins d’une caractéristique proprement israélienne et encore plus yérosélémitaine : un respect général des traditions religieuses. Même si les médias parlent de violation des coutumes, de Juifs qui se font un devoir de manger en public du pain pendant Pessah, les études et sondages sur le comportement des Israéliens vont dans le même sens : l’immense majorité des Israéliens juifs célèbrent de façon le rituel pascal. Contrairement à Kippour, où la circulation automobile est inexistante, le soir de Pâque, surtout dans les quartiers non religieux, la circulation est dense, car des dizaines de milliers de personnes vont célébrer la soirée pascale, le Séder, chez d’autres membres de leurs familles ou chez des amis. Le texte lu, aussi bien les passages qui sont récités que ceux qui sont chantés avant les repas, l’est par plus des trois quarts des gens. J’avais cru que les textes, lus ou chantés après le repas, connaitraient un sort plus limité et seraient plus ou moins oubliés. Il n’en est rien. À nouveau, la majorité des personnes interrogées, même si le pourcentage est plus faible, répondent qu’elles les respectent, au moins en partie.
J’avais eu une idée de cette attitude, lors de mon premier Pessah à Jérusalem en 1965. J’avais été invité par l’aumônier militaire de Mahanei Shneller, base militaire à l’intérieur de Jérusalem, dans le quartier ultrareligieux de Geoulah, à assister à la soirée de Séder. , permissions. Pour ceux qui devaient rester au camp, l’aumônier avait préparé le Séder. La soirée était organisée pour les soldats, mais également pour les familles : parents, frères et sœurs. , des tablesété préparées. Devant chaque convive se trouvait un plateau avec les symboles requis : pain azyme, vin, laitue, raifort, œuf, pâte brune rappelant les briques que les esclaves fabriquaient en Égypte… L’aumônier commença la lecture du texte. Certains suivaient attentivement, d’autres chahutaient en attentant le repas. Le colonel présent a intimé l’ordre aux perturbateurs de se taire. J’ail’aumônier dire « Laissez- . Ils vont célébrer à leur façon ! » Quelques instants plus tard, quand on est arrivé au texte Ma Nichtana, en quoi cette nuit est-elle différente des autres nuits classiques de la littérature juive dont tous les enfants connaissent la mélodie, la prédiction s’est révélée exacte. Tous les soldats et toutes les soldates, y compris les plus désabusés, ont commencé à chanter et s’en sont donnés à cœur joie. À partir de ce moment, plutôt que de lire lui-même le texte, l’aumônier a choisi de le faire lire, à tour de rôle, par tous les participants. L’atmosphère dans le hall était extraordinaire, aussi bien les parents les plus religieux que les soldats les plus irréligieux se sont trouvés sur la même longueur d’onde, lisant, assez rapidement, certains passages, chantant à n’en plus finir d’autres. Le Séder, pour des raisons de sécurité, s’est terminé relativement tôt, plus tôt que dans les familles. Pour rentrer chez moi, j’ai traversé une bonne partie de Jérusalem de l’époque. Comme il faisait chaud, les fenêtres étaient ouvertes et de toutes les maisons, j’ai entendu soit le bruit des conversations de gens attablés autour d’un bon repas, soit les chants d’après le repas. Jérusalem était en train de célébrer Pâque.
NOUS VOUS SOUHAITONS UNE HEUREUSE PESACH
ISLAMISM: THE INTERRELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ITS POLITICS AND RELIGION
Politics, Theology and Religion in Jihadist Violence: Jonathan Cole, Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2019 — The global proliferation of jihadist violence over the past decades notwithstanding, many educated Westerners still view this phenomenon as a corollary of an extremist misinterpretation of jihad that has nothing to do with the concept’s purported real meaning (i.e., an inner spiritual battle), or indeed with the actual spirit and teachings of Islam.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Global Threat: Hillel Fradkin, Hudson Institute, July 12, 2018 — On July 11, Hillel Fradkin testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Following is the full text of his testimony:
Debating Michael Walzer’s ‘Islamism and the Left’: Michael Walzer, Fathom Journal, Summer, 2015 —Michael Walzer is professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, and one of the democratic left’s foremost political philosophers.
Supposedly “Deradicalized,” They’re Sending Money to ISIS Smugglers: Abigail R. Esman, IPT News, Apr. 9, 2019 — He was a leader of one of Europe’s largest and most dangerous homegrown Islamist terror groups, responsible for the 2004 slaughter of writer and filmmaker Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam.
On Topic Links
Debunking Qanta Ahmed’s Corrosive Claim, ‘Antisemitism Is Profoundly Against Islam’: Andrew G. Boston, PJ Media, Feb. 18, 2019 — Qanta Ahmed is a secular Pakistani Muslim physician, and occasional talking head, who fancies herself “a Muslim expert in Islamism.”
Islamists Infiltrate the US Political System: Oren Litwin: Middle East Forum, Mar. 18, 2019 — Islamists have been attempting for years to gain influence within the US political system. They align themselves with the left wing of the Democratic Party not because they support LGBT rights or abortion, but to gain power through the progressive agenda of intersectionality and multiculturalism.
How and Why Hamas Founded CAIR: Mosaic, Apr. 15, 2019 — Controversy broke out last week concerning remarks Congresswoman Ilhan Omar made at a gathering of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Last week also marked the fifth anniversary since CAIR—widely regarded by American journalists and politicians as a legitimate representative of U.S. Muslims—successfully pressured Brandeis University into canceling its plans to grant an honorary degree to the apostate Muslim and women’s-rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Shocking Video: Rampant Antisemitism in US Mosques: Clarion Project, Mar. 11, 2019 – Watch the rampant antisemitism in US mosques as documented by this undercover reporter
POLITICS, THEOLOGY AND RELIGION
IN JIHADIST VIOLENCE
Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2019
The global proliferation of jihadist violence over the past decades notwithstanding, many educated Westerners still view this phenomenon as a corollary of an extremist misinterpretation of jihad that has nothing to do with the concept’s purported real meaning (i.e., an inner spiritual battle), or indeed with the actual spirit and teachings of Islam. Yet while the overwhelming majority of the world’s Muslims do not actively support the global jihadist movement, this does not make it a hijacker or distorter of Islam. Rather, both the movement’s pronounced goals and modus operandi arise from or reflect Islam’s authoritative texts, traditions, and history. But understanding this requires greater conceptual clarity about the interrelationship among the three Western categories at the heart of controversy: politics, theology, and religion.
The global jihadist movement is political in two significant and uncontroversial respects. For one thing, it aspires to direct and administer states as ISIS managed to do in parts of Syria and Iraq, albeit briefly. Indeed, jihadists possess what they regard as a unique and efficacious Islamic art of directing and administrating states. For another thing, jihadists seek to acquire political power via violent revolutionary means, primarily insurgency, but supported by terrorism and other tactics.
Jihadist violence, whether directed at Muslim regimes or Western governments and populaces, is therefore political as it seeks to bring Islam to power in territorial states and thus implement its political agenda. Jihadists ultimately aim to redraw or remove boundaries between these states currently sovereign under international law and establish a global caliphate.
The founder of the Islamist group Hizb at-Tahrir has declared that Islam “is a complete and comprehensive regime for the totality of human life, which Muslims are obligated to implement and execute completely.”
In line with Islam’s fundamental outlook, jihadists categorically reject a functional separation between the private-spiritual and public-political spheres of both individual and communal life because of their understanding of two fundamental characteristics of Islam: Islam is both “complete” (kamil), which is to say perfect and sufficient, and “comprehensive” (shamil), encompassing all aspects of human life. As the founder of the Islamist group Hizb at-Tahrir, Taqi ad-Din an-Nabhani, put it, Islam “is a complete and comprehensive regime for the totality of human life, which Muslims are obligated to implement and execute completely.”
So where does this complete and comprehensive conception of Islam, which recognizes no distinction or separation between politics and religion—between the secular and the sacred—leave the category of “politics” in jihadist thought? The Arabic language does have a word for “politics”—siyasa—that corresponds to the Western category. But siyasa is not a Qur’anic concept, which might explain why it is not a central concept in jihadist literature. There are, on the other hand, several important Qur’anic concepts that feature prominently in jihadist thought that could be described as political in Western terms. These include khalifa (caliph), Shari’a, and the lesser-known term hukm, which means “judgment” or “rule.” Qur’anic passages involving one or more of these concepts appear often in jihadist writing and together form the theological bedrock of jihadist political theory.
Hukm, from the verb hakama (to judge) has the sense of meaning rule in all its political dimensions. The verb hakama, for example, occurs in three closely related Qur’anic passages in the fifth sura (al-Ma’ida, The Table), which are often cited in jihadist literature, particularly in arguments seeking to substantiate the infidel status of governments in today’s Muslim-majority states… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD’S GLOBAL THREAT
Hudson Institute, July 12, 2018
On July 11, Hillel Fradkin testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Following is the full text of his testimony:
… This subject entails 3 general questions:
First: Is the Muslim Brotherhood a global threat?
Second: If it is a global threat, how successful has it been or might be?
Third: What can be done to address this threat?
In these remarks I will principally address the first two questions. I expect we will address the third in the discussion.
Let me begin with the first and primary question: Is the Muslim Brotherhood a global threat?
Part of the answer is clear: The Brotherhood certainly means to be global and it means to be a threat. More specifically the Muslim Brotherhood is devoted to a political and religious project that in principle, in its essential character and goals, is hostile to other forms of politics, including our own. And it means for this project to be global in extent.
The global intent has been true of the Brotherhood from the time of its founding some 90 years ago by a school teacher named Hassan al Banna. Although an Egyptian, Banna looked to transcend his Egyptian base and establish his organization elsewhere in the world. This was not simple personal ambition. It followed from the character of the project.
What was that project? In response to this question, Banna offered a simple five-fold formulation that has remained the motto of the Brotherhood:
“Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur’an is our constitution. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”
Implicitly this rejected the contemporary political arrangements of his native Egypt that was in the process of becoming a modern nation state. But he also understood his project to apply to all Muslims and the forms of governance under which they lived. That is he rejected as such the nation state as a legitimate form of Muslim governance; he rejected it as a form of governance of alien origin and at variance with the traditional forms and ideals of Muslim governance that were imperial and ultimately global in character. But he also rejected the nation state because it was intimately connected with new modern ways of life that violated a proper Muslim way of life, a way of life, as he put it, constituted by the Qur’an.
Banna’s ultimate goal was a new Muslim state that would embrace all Muslims and would restore the authentic Muslim way of life as well as restore Muslim political powered, military power, and Muslim prestige. To use a term that has recently become familiar it was to be an Islamic and not a national state, or rather The Islamic State.
In accord with this, Banna sought to establish branches of the Brotherhood in other countries and over time partially succeeded. Since Banna’s Brotherhood was based in an Arab country he had to expect some limits to its expansion to other non-Arab Muslims. But he found de facto partners in the form of analogous movements elsewhere – initially in South Asia; subsequently in Turkey.
… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
DEBATING MICHAEL WALZER’S ‘ISLAMISM AND THE LEFT’
Fathom Journal, Summer, 2015
Michael Walzer: Thank you to Fathom for organising this discussion about my essay ‘Islamism and the Left’ which appeared in Dissent earlier in 2015. I know you have all read it, so I am looking forward to hearing your critical responses.
Robert Fine (Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Warwick University): Thanks for your article. The primary explanation that you are using for the Left’s condoning of Islamism is its fear of encouraging Islamophobia. But why should there be such a fear? Firstly, the Left is not afraid in the same way of encouraging anti-Semitism. Secondly, as you showed very well in the article, there is no opposition between being sensitive to Islamophobia and being highly critical of Islamism. So, while I thought your description of the phenomenon was very good, I wasn’t immediately convinced by your explanation that the fear of encouraging Islamophobia is the driving force behind left apologetics for Islamic fundamentalism.
Michael Walzer: You could probably say that the fear of Islamophobia is related to the hostility to Israel. There is this eagerness – I’ve heard this often in the States, I don’t know if it happens here – to describe the Islamic minority in the US, or in Europe, as the ‘new Jews’. Somehow, that gives you license to ignore the ‘old Jews’, and to focus on these ‘new Jews’, and to claim that we must not repeat with them what we did to the ‘old Jews’. But that can lead to any criticism being interpreted as hostility to this minority and a way of targeting this minority. The argument becomes ‘if you are critical of Islam, you are joining hands with the new xenophobes of the West.’
Dave Rich (Deputy Director of Communications, The Community Security Trust): I was also struck that this fear of Islamophobia was the central argument. In our experience this reluctance to tackle Islamist extremism for fear of being seen as targeting Muslims and Islam generally is now quite a mainstream fear. In a funny way, it reflects certain Islamophobic ways of thinking amongst the people who are scared of being accused of Islamophobia. It reflects a lack of knowledge and familiarity with Muslims, and a failure to understand the breadth and depth and diversity of Muslim life.
Michael Walzer: That sounds right to me. The fear of Islamophobia is also present among liberal centrists in the US, not just on the Left.
Eve Garrard (Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Manchester): Thank you Michael. If I’ve understood you rightly, you’re suggesting that some of today’s hostility to Israel and the Jews is driven by ‘anti-imperialism’. What I’m interested in is the asymmetries in the argument. Though I’m sure anti-imperialism is playing some role, if we identify anti-imperialism as the source of the hostility towards Israel, then we have a problem: why is the anti-imperialism so selective? That is, why is it the West’s anti-imperialism that generates so much hostility, and not, say, Russia’s imperialism, and so on? It’s that asymmetry that we need to investigate. Do you have a view about that?
Michael Walzer: The asymmetry you talk about is very clear. For me, the clearest example has been friends of mine on the American left who announced that they won’t visit Israel because of the occupation, but are eagerly soliciting invitations to China, despite what is going on in Tibet. They don’t see any problem with that.
James Bloodworth (Editor, Left Foot Forward): I think we face a ‘racism of low expectations’ on parts of the British left. So-called ‘community leaders’ are held up by the Left, but they are often very conservative, elderly, male figures, with a host of reactionary views on things like women’s rights and homosexuality. There are such low expectations on the Left – as if a Muslim person is ‘supposed’ to uphold these very illiberal views.
I also think that there is an unwillingness on the Left to agree with the establishment in any way. So, if you define yourself in opposition to the establishment, then when David Cameron stands up and starts talking about Islamism, there’s an unwillingness to admit that he may be right, albeit for the wrong reasons. I think if you define yourself in opposition to the so-called establishment, it becomes a posture rather than a well thought through critique. You end up in a mess, simply defining yourself negatively, as in opposition to Israel, the US, David Cameron, whatever… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
SUPPOSEDLY “DERADICALIZED,” THEY’RE SENDING
MONEY TO ISIS SMUGGLERS
Abigail R. Esman
IPT News, Apr. 9, 2019
He was a leader of one of Europe’s largest and most dangerous homegrown Islamist terror groups, responsible for the 2004 slaughter of writer and filmmaker Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam. At the time of his 2006 arrest, Dutch authorities had evidence he was planning attacks on the Dutch secret service and intelligence agency, AIVD.
Seven years into his 13-year sentence, Samir Azzouz was released from prison, despite warnings from prosecutors that the former Hofstadgroep leader remained a danger. Though an ankle monitor and economic sanctions limited any potential efforts at violence, officials also set up a “deradicalization” program for him in the hope it would help him to move beyond his terrorism past. It didn’t.
According to an in-depth investigation by Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, Azzouz, along with fellow Hofstadgroep member Bilal Lamrani, has not only continued to encourage radicals since his release, but has been raising funds for the children and wives of ISIS fighters still living in the former Islamic State. “If you know that children are dying from hunger, you help them,” Azzouz defended himself to the NRC in an interview. “People who don’t help, they’re the ones who should be prosecuted.”
It is true that ISIS children now being held in Syrian and Kurdish prisons are suffering. An investigation by Der Spiegel found hundreds of children desperately in need of medical attention, often malnourished, some suffering from injuries and diseases that range from scabies and pneumonia to tuberculosis. “The children bear obvious traces of neglect,” reports Der Spiegel. “Their heads are shorn, their scalps covered in scabs. Their limbs are scrawny and when they talk, what comes out is seldom more than a faint squeak … Some children lie so still in their beds that you have to look closely to notice the slight rise and fall of their chests confirming that they are still alive.”
But the Hofstadgroep funds are not going through official channels to the hospital at the Al Hawl Kurdish refugee camp that cares for them, nor to the Kurdish Red Crescent, the International Rescue Committee, or other agencies that are helping to save these children. They are going to the families – including, for instance, the widow and children of Dutch terrorist Jermaine Walters, another Hofstadgroep member who was killed fighting for the Islamic State in 2015 – and to smugglers who promise to help women escape the Kurdish camps. According to Lamrani, donations to the fund, channeled through underground networks, have helped bring these women and families to Idlib, an area now in the hands of Hay’et Tahrir al Sham (HTS), a Syrian jihadist rebel group and former al-Qaida affiliate. Some are expected to remain there; others, Lamrani told Dutch daily the Volkskrant in a follow-up report, will continue working with smugglers in hopes of getting home to the Netherlands.
The fundraising doesn’t just take place on the street. An app group called “Support Baghouz” is largely led by someone other members call “Bilal” and who happens to have the same phone number as Bilal Lamrani, the Volkskrant reports. Screenshots of conversations show one member asking, “What is Baghouz?”, to which another replies, “It’s a village in Syria where the kuffar [infidels] are killing our innocent Muslim brothers and sisters.”… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
AS THE MEMORY OF THE HOLOCAUST FADES, GERMANY’S ATTITUDE TOWARDS ISRAEL CHANGES
Germany-Israel Relations: Unique or Normal?: Shimon Stein, INSS Insight No. 1030, Mar. 7, 2018 — Last year’s decision by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to postpone the annual consultations between the governments of Israel and Germany, which was seen as an expression of dissatisfaction with the Israeli government regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; the decision to suspend signing the contract on the sale of submarines from Germany to Israel for reasons that commentators saw as linked to the same dissatisfaction; German votes in the UN in recent years on matters relating to Israel; statements by German officials regarding the future of relations between the two countries; and a speech by German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel at the Institute of National Security Studies (INSS) annual conference in January 2018 – all these indicate a change in Germany’s attitude to Israel.
Berlin Hosts Germany’s Worst Antisemitism: Josué Michels, The Trumpet, Feb. 7, 2019 — Germany’s capital city, Berlin, is plagued by growing antsemitism. Attacks on Jews in Berlin more than tripled in 2018 compared to the previous year.
Germany Promotes Antisemitism and Anti-Israelism: Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, BESA, Mar. 3, 2019 — The German government’s official policy is that it makes efforts to fight antisemitism.
German Prosecutors to Probe Israeli Submarine Deal: Ben Knight, DW, Mar. 26, 2019 — One of the scandals spiraling around Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has caught the attention of German authorities investigating potential use of taxpayers’ money to bribe Israeli officials.
On Topic Links
Germany’s New Antisemitism Commissioner Must Expose the Truth: Abraham Cooper and Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, The Hill, Mar. 10, 2018 — The recent surge of antisemitic incidents in Germany confirms the necessity for Felix Klein’s appointment as the nation’s first antisemitism commissioner.
The Young German Jews Who Left Everything Behind — And Moved to Israel: Dana Regev, DW, Mar. 3, 2019 — People who were born and raised in Israel are not used to hearing that their upbringing is something to be envious of.
German CEO: Israel Should No Longer Rely On Germany for Its Existence: Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 24, 2018 — In an eye-popping commentary in the Die Welt newspaper last week, Mathias Döpfner, the pro-Israel CEO of the Axel Springer media conglomerate in Berlin, wrote that the Jewish state should no longer depend on Germany if it is attacked and its existence is on the line.
France, Germany And UK Say Iran Missiles Can Deliver Nukes: Edith M. Lederer, AP News, April 2, 2019 — France, Germany and Britain expressed concern in a letter released Tuesday that Iran’s latest ballistic missile activities are part of increasing actions to develop missiles capable of delivering a nuclear weapon.
UNIQUE OR NORMAL?
INSS Insight No. 1030, Mar. 7, 2018
Last year’s decision by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to postpone the annual consultations between the governments of Israel and Germany, which was seen as an expression of dissatisfaction with the Israeli government regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; the decision to suspend signing the contract on the sale of submarines from Germany to Israel for reasons that commentators saw as linked to the same dissatisfaction; German votes in the UN in recent years on matters relating to Israel; statements by German officials regarding the future of relations between the two countries; and a speech by German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel at the Institute of National Security Studies (INSS) annual conference in January 2018 – all these indicate a change in Germany’s attitude to Israel. What is this change? Does it reflect a trend, and if so, what can be done to maintain the unique nature of the relationship?
The main and in fact the only factor underlying the unique relationship between Israel and Germany is the memory of the Holocaust, and the commitment that Germany consequently made to Israel’s existence and security. This rationale has guided Germany’s decision makers in their conduct with Israel since the start of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The uniqueness found expression in its (almost unshakable) support for Israel at both the bilateral and international levels. It was based on a moral German consideration, while considerations of realpolitik (that did indeed play a part in the considerations of West Germany in the years prior to the start of diplomatic relations and delayed these relations) played a secondary role for a long time. Yet notwithstanding this overriding element in the relations, there have been crises deriving from Israeli expectations that Germany failed to meet. Crises surrounding reparations in the early 1950s, the German scientists in Egypt in the early 1960s, German neutrality during the Yom Kippur War, the Helmut Schmidt- Menachem Begin crisis because of Germany’s intention to supply Leopard tanks to Saudi Arabia, and German assistance to Iraq in the construction chemical industry, which enabled it to develop military chemical capability, are examples of such incidents.
Since the start of the twenty-first century, there have been signs of a crisis of expectations on Germany’s part toward Israel, which derives primarily from Israel’s conduct in the conflict with the Palestinians, which as Germany sees it, is not compatible with international law, which is a basic foundation of German foreign policy. Add to that is the absence of trust that has developed over the years between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chancellor Merkel. Moreover, this crisis is not confined to the German elite. For some years, and even more so lately, polls have pointed to a decline in German public opinion toward support for Israel. A senior German official told me while he does not expect a change on the part of the current elite’s attitudes to Israel, the younger generation may show greater understanding of the Palestinian side and be more critical of Israel’s actions (assuming that the conflict is not resolved).
Against these developments, it appears that in the tension between uniqueness and normalcy, there is a trend that can be characterized as the ritualization of uniqueness, alongside a broadening of normalcy in relations. In other words, if in the past the ritualization of memory of the Holocaust weakened realpolitik considerations for Germany, today it is not enough to counter them.
Since historical memory and consequently Germany’s moral obligation to the existence and security of the State of Israel is what underlay the bilateral relations, the question of the contribution of these relations to German interests in the Middle East was not at the focus of German calculations (although this does not mean that Germany did not derive and continues to derive benefits from its cooperation with Israel). However, the emerging reality was recently summed up by a member of the German government who said that relations are developing in a direction where realpolitik will be the basis of cooperation between the countries. If so, there is no reason to see the topics currently on the agenda of both countries as evidence of a unique relationship or strategic partnership, but as cooperation that is the fruit of shared interests, of the kind that Israel has with a number of countries. After all, strategic partnership is based inter alia on a shared view of threats and ways of dealing with them, as well as on shared values. The widening gaps in recent years between Germany and Israel are evidence that these are not the basis of the relationship between the two countries.
Evidence of these gaps can be found in bilateral meetings of recent years, where discussions of matters of shared interest reveal differences of opinion, some seemingly unbridgeable. There are also official statements from German politicians who no longer feel the “historical” inhibitions against criticizing Israeli positions. Some examples: substantial disagreements over how to handle the Iranian nuclear threat – in particular, against the background of the nuclear agreement to which Germany was a partner, and German assessments of the Iranian threat in general, which differ Israel’s; differences of opinion regarding the overall Middle East situation and its implications – including the Saudi-Iranian crisis and ways of dealing with it (Germany has reservations about the benefits to Israel of greater closeness with the Sunni camp in the struggle against the Shiite camp); and disagreements on the Palestinian issue, which casts a heavy shadow over the future of relations…[To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
BERLIN HOSTS GERMANY’S WORST ANTISEMITISM
The Trumpet, Feb. 7, 2019
Germany’s capital city, Berlin, is plagued by growing antisemitism. Attacks on Jews in Berlin more than tripled in 2018 compared to the previous year. German anti-Semitism is again becoming popular, and the citizens of Berlin are no longer afraid to show it openly, even on camera. Despite various studies and reports, few understand where the hatred originates and where it is leading.
This is not Berlin’s first time at the center of German antisemitism. Nationwide, Berlin has by far the most antisemitic offenses in proportion to its population. About twice as many antisemitic crimes are reported in Berlin as in the state with the second-most crimes.
By mid-December 2018, 295 antisemitic crimes had been reported by Berlin police, a number almost as high as the previous year’s. However, this was but the preliminary figure. The final count is expected to be higher. The number of anti-Semitic violent acts drastically increased in 2018. By mid-December, statistics showed 24 such attacks. In 2017, there were only seven.
The general consensus is that although antisemitism has always been a problem in the capital, it has never been as open as it is today. “I have the impression that antisemitism is becoming louder, more blatant and more aggressive,” Berlin’s first commissioner for antisemitism, Claudia Vanoni, said.
It would be easy to overlook this trend compared to the hundreds of crimes committed every year in Berlin. Many readers following the news reports did just that. Others blamed the increased Muslim population or the comparatively higher number of Jews living in Berlin. None seemed to accept that the blame could be found among their own German neighbors or themselves.
Considering Germany’s history, you might expect a more critical examination of this trend. But it is this history that many Germans want to forget. Some German news analysts and commentators claim that the current antisemitism problem is “mostly imported,” in other words, attributable to the large influx of refugees. While it is true that an increased number of Muslim immigrants has contributed to the overall hatred against Jews in Germany, most offenders are, in fact, Germans.
Tagesspiegel reported last August in regards to the published police report that most of the offenses, 62 at the time, were committed by right-wing antisemites. Only in the case of eight offenses were suspects motivated by a “foreign ideology,” referring to migrants who attack Jews, or people they believe to be Jews, out of hatred for Israel.
Others might think that the increased attacks against Jews are part of an overall trend of increased criminality in Berlin. But this is not true either. Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on March 2, 2018, that, overall, Berlin is becoming a safer place and crimes are decreasing, with one of only a few exceptions being that of xenophobic crimes.
Most of these incidents receive little public attention, but those that do, show a deep-seated hatred for Jews. A recent example of this open hatred was last November’s harassment of Israeli European correspondent Antonia Yamin. While Yamin reported on the streets of Berlin about Brexit, she was suddenly interrupted by passers-by who threw firecrackers at her. The offenders were German adolescents… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
GERMANY PROMOTES ANTISEMITISM AND ANTI-ISRAELISM
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld
BESA, Mar. 3, 2019
The German government’s official policy is that it makes efforts to fight antisemitism. One example is its provision of security services for Jewish institutions. Another is the appointment of a national antisemitism commissioner. It is also official policy that Berlin is friendly toward Israel. One illustration of this is that German ministers visit Israel from time to time to discuss possibilities for collaboration.
Alongside these measures, German policy also promotes antisemitism and anti-Israelism, both directly and indirectly. Since 2015, the German government has welcomed, without any selection, many immigrants from Muslim countries. Hundreds of thousands of these immigrants are antisemites. A study in Bavaria found that more than 50% of Iraqi, Syrian, and Afghan immigrants agreed with the statement “Jews have too much influence in the world.” Among Germans this figure is between 15% and 25%. One might argue that a nation whose grandparents’ generation murdered 6 million Jews should not open its doors to an influx of new antisemites. Doing so cannot be reasonably justified through humanitarian arguments.
A major example of Germany’s ongoing participation in incitement against Israel is its voting record at the UN General Assembly. The German daily, Bild, reported that in recent years the General Assembly has accepted more than 500 resolutions against Israel – and not a single one against the Palestinian terror group, Hamas.
Bild gave examples from the period 2014-2017. In 2014, of all resolutions directed against a specific country, 87% were against Israel. In 2016, the number was 77%. In 2017, 78%. At the UN Human Rights Council, more than half the resolutions were against Israel. Bild pointed out that Germany regularly sides with Israel’s enemies. In November 2018, of 21 General Assembly resolutions against Israel, 16 were supported by Germany and on four it abstained.
In the previous government, the leader of the socialist party, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, was a frequent anti-Israel inciter. Gabriel accused Israel of apartheid and did not apologize for months. While speaking in Tel Aviv in January 2018, he said he was a friend to Israel, adding that his country had a special commitment to Israel’s security. These assertions ring hollow, as Gabriel was responsible for a huge number of German votes against Israel in the UN that undermined its security.
In the current government, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, also a socialist, has often said that Auschwitz inspired him to go into politics. Yet his ministry continues to support the demonization of Israel at the UN. The 16 German votes against Israel in November 2018 took place during Maas’s time in office. Under Maas there has also been increased German support for UNRWA after the US pull-out. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, summarized the issue and Maas’s role in it thus:
Following the US’s move to pull support from the group that brainwashes kids on the many “virtues” of martyrdom, German Secretary of State Heiko Maas announced a “substantial” increase in funds from his country to UNRWA. With 100 million euros in aid money, Germany remains one of UNRWA’s largest benefactors. Yes, support for the Palestinians’ quest for a better future is right and important. But Hamas and Palestinian Authority curricula funded by UNRWA amount to textbook child abuse. Nobody I met with in Berlin could assure me that the German money did not directly benefit Hamas… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
GERMAN PROSECUTORS TO PROBE
ISRAELI SUBMARINE DEAL
DW, Mar. 26, 2019
One of the scandals spiraling around Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has caught the attention of German authorities investigating potential use of taxpayers’ money to bribe Israeli officials. State prosecutors in Bochum confirmed to DW that they have started an investigation into possible bribery and corruption as part of a deal to sell three “Dolphin” class submarines and four corvette ships from German manufacturer ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems to the Israeli military. The deal was approved by the German government in July 2017.
Prosecutors said in an email that after “assessing (international) press reports,” an investigation into unknown persons had begun. German authorities had previously only been “observing” the case.
Israeli police, who have been investigating so-called “Case 3000” for more than two years, filed bribery-related charges against six people last November, including David Shimron, Netanyahu’s family lawyer who also represented ThyssenKrupp’s former agent in Israel, Michael Ganor. Netanyahu himself is not a suspect.
Ganor, himself in custody on bribery charges, had been a state’s witness in exchange for a limited jail term, but dramatically recanted his testimony to police last week. According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Ganor has now denied any payoffs. “I didn’t bribe anyone. All the payments that I made to those involved in the case were for professional services that they provided me,” he said.
A spokesman for ThyssenKrupp told DW that Tuesday’s news had not changed their position, since no ThyssenKrupp employees had been mentioned in the German prosecutors’ statement. The company has said it cut ties with Ganor as soon as the original allegations came to light two years ago and carried out an internal investigation that found no evidence of corruption.
Israeli media last week speculated that, as well as the bribery charges, Netanyahu may have personally benefited from the sale, a charge eagerly taken up by Benny Gantz, his chief opponent in the upcoming Israeli election. That accusation is based on the recent revelation, from Israel’s Channel 13, that in 2007 Netanyahu bought shares in the US company Seadrift Coke, run by his cousin Nathan Milikowsky, that was later acquired by steel manufacturer GrafTech International, a longtime supplier of ThyssenKrupp. Netanyahu recently said he sold those shares to his cousin in 2010, about a year after becoming prime minister.
According to Israel’s Channel 10 news, when bids for the naval upgrade were invited in 2014, Shimron, acting at Netanyahu’s behest, called an adviser for the Israeli Defense Ministry and asked him to support ThyssenKrupp. Later that year, Netanyahu and the National Security Council lobbied to suspend bidding in favor of ThyssenKrupp. Shimron and Netanyahu have denied these allegations.
The deal could yet lead to political fallout in Berlin, because, as part of Germany’s ongoing commitment to contribute to Israel’s defense, the German government agreed to fund a third of Israel’s purchase of the three Dolphin submarines, amounting to €540 million ($610 million) to be spent over 10 years. According to a 2017 report in Haaretz, the German government briefly suspended the deal because of the corruption allegations, though then-Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel pushed for the deal to mend his fraught relations with Netanyahu. In answer to an official information request from a group of Left party Bundestag members, the German government refused to confirm or deny this temporary suspension, though it admitted it was in constant contact with representatives of the Israeli government on defense issues.
One of those MPs, Andrej Hunko, accused the government of evading questions on the issue. “Even though the Israeli police has been investigating corruption for a long time, the German government has given no information on the negotiations and guarantees for ThyssenKrupp,” he told DW in an email. “They have only confirmed that the issue of ‘corruption’ was ‘addressed’ with ThyssenKrupp. We were not told any results.” … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL FRONTRUNNER BERNIE SANDERS’S PROBLEMATIC ATTITUDE TOWARDS ISRAEL
In 2016 Bernie Sanders Pushed the Democrats on Israel. Is He Now Mainstream?: Ben Sales, Times of Israel, Feb. 20, 2019 — This may be hard to remember, but three years ago it was a big deal when Bernie Sanders criticized Israel in public.
Sanders Fills Ranks With Anti-Israel Advocates Tied to Antisemitism Scandal: Adam Kredo, The Washington Free Beacon, Mar. 6, 2019 — Two of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I., Vt.) top advisers have deep ties to the anti-Israel community and were chastised several years ago for their involvement in an antisemitism scandal that gripped a prominent Washington, D.C., think-tank.
Bernie Sanders and the Jews: A Sad Paradox: David Rubin, Arutz Sheva, Feb. 22, 2019 — Senator Bernie Sanders is running again. Most observers consider him to immediately be one of the early front runners, but in a political party seemingly obsessed with identity politics, and ostensibly respectful of ethnic/religious roots, it’s certainly reasonable to explore the roots and connections of this Jewish-American who is now a leading candidate for President of the United States.
Trump’s Love Affair with Israel and the Jewish People: Shmuely Boteach, Algemeiner, Apr. 8, 2019 — As a Jew who travels extensively, I have found that being open about my Jewishness can be lonely.
On Topic Links
A Conversation with Faiz Shakir About Anti-Semitism and Bds: The ACLU Political Director Engages With a Critic: Liel Leibovitz, Tablet, August 10, 2017 — Earlier this week, I wrote a story about the ACLU’s role in opposing the anti-BDS legislation currently discussed in the Senate and about Faiz Shakir, the organization’s national political director.
A Confederacy of Dusses: Adam Kredo, The Washington Free Beacon, Aug.15, 2013 — The recent publication in a blog post of Nazi-era propaganda posters by Center for American Progress (CAP) policy analyst Matt Duss has cast a spotlight on the writer’s controversial views of Israel.
Bernie Sanders Press Aide Apologizes After Asking About American Jews’ ‘Allegiance’ to Israel:
Gregory Krieg, CNN, March 13, 2019 — A new press aide on Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign has apologized for comments online questioning whether American Jews held a “dual allegiance” with Israel.
Admiring Judaism Through the Eyes of a Christian: Paul Socken, Algemeiner, Mar. 29, 2019 — Devout, practicing Christian friends have told me over the years that they respect much about the Jewish faith. I decided recently to ask them what, in particular, they admired.
IN 2016 BERNIE SANDERS PUSHED THE DEMOCRATS ON ISRAEL: IS HE NOW MAINSTREAM?
Times of Israel, Feb. 20, 2019
This may be hard to remember, but three years ago it was a big deal when Bernie Sanders criticized Israel in public. During a debate in New York City with Hillary Clinton, Sanders generated headlines when he said the United States should care about Palestinian rights. Sometimes, he added, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was wrong. “In the long run, if we are ever going to bring peace to that region, we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity,” the long-time Vermont senator said at the April 14 Democratic presidential primary debate. “There comes a time when we pursue justice and peace that we will have to say Netanyahu is not right all the time.”
During the campaign, Sanders also described himself as “100 percent pro-Israel.” He spoke about living on an Israeli kibbutz when he was younger and defended Israel’s right to self-defense. But he also broke norms on Israel. Sanders was the only major candidate not to speak at the annual convention of AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby (he offered to appear on video, but AIPAC said its doesn’t do that). For a hot second, his director of Jewish outreach was a co-founder of IfNotNow, a millennial Jewish group that is deeply critical of Israeli actions (and takes no “unified stance” on Zionism, the boycott Israel movement or the “question of statehood”). He said Israel’s actions were “disproportionate” during the 2014 Gaza war and overstated the number of Palestinians who were killed.
Now, as Sanders announces another presidential run, he looks less like an outlier on Israel. Observers say he has helped make it kosher to criticize Israel within the party. And the landscape has changed as well in ways that make Sanders look more like a centrist. Two freshman congresswomen have endorsed the movement to boycott Israel, which Sanders opposes. Netanyahu has a steadfast bromance with President Donald Trump, whom Democrats detest. Polls show weakening Democratic sympathies with Israel versus the Palestinians.
“Before the last presidential campaign, it was an article of faith that no candidate of any serious stature would go near Israel-Palestine,” said Lara Friedman, director of the Foundation for Middle East Pace. Sanders showed, she said, that “you can engage politically on this issue in a way that differs from the orthodoxy that has defined where politicians can go. Not only does it not hurt you, it makes you stronger as a candidate.”
Since 2016, Sanders has continued to be outspoken on Israel. As Israel clashed with protesters on the Gaza border last year, his team released videos on the coastal strip’s humanitarian crisis, party blaming Israel for the situation. He spoke out recently against a bill that protected states’ rights to outlaw boycotts of Israel.
Sanders still says you can be pro-Israel while opposing Israel’s current right-wing government and supporting Palestinian rights. “As someone who believes absolutely and unequivocally in Israel’s right to exist and to exist in peace and security, as someone who as a young man lived in Israel for a number of months and is very proud of his Jewish heritage … we must say loudly and clearly that to oppose the reactionary policies of Prime Minister Netanyahu does not make us anti-Israel,” he said last year to a standing ovation at the annual conference of J Street, the liberal Israel policy group.
Daniel Shapiro, President Barack Obama’s ambassador to Israel, said that Sanders’ policies on Israel were still pretty mainstream. He said that like all of the major Democratic presidential candidates, Sanders supports Israel’s right to exist and favors a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
SANDERS FILLS RANKS WITH ANTI-ISRAEL ADVOCATES TIED TO ANTISEMITISM SCANDAL
The Washington Free Beacon, Mar. 6, 2019
Two of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I., Vt.) top advisers have deep ties to the anti-Israel community and were chastised several years ago for their involvement in an antisemitism scandal that gripped a prominent Washington, D.C., think-tank.
Sanders, a self-proclaimed Democratic-socialist who has once again thrown his hat into the ring for a 2020 presidential bid, has begun to rely in recent months on two staffers: Foreign policy adviser Matt Duss and campaign manager Faiz Shakir, both of whom faced charges of promoting antisemitic conspiracy theories during their time at the Center for American Progress, or CAP, a liberal think-tank.
Sanders’s dependence on Duss and Shakir has been making waves in the pro-Israel and Jewish community in recent months, given the duo’s prominent role in CAP’s 2012 antisemitism row, which saw several staffers at the organization’s Think Progress blog rebuked for invoking age-old canards about Jewish control of money and politics. Duss has faced additional scrutiny in the subsequent years for publishing Nazi-era propaganda posters and steadfastly standing against the U.S.-Israel alliance
As the matter of anti-Jewish bias in prominent D.C. political circles makes its way back into the news following a series of antisemitic comments by freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), many in the pro-Israel community are beginning to raise questions about Sanders’ choice to fill his ranks with individuals closely tied to some of the most prominent anti-Israel causes.
In 2012, Duss was CAP’s Middle East director, while Shakir served as editor-in-chief of the group’s Think Progress blog, which has since become regarded as a hotbed for anti-Israel activism. During their tenure at CAP, Duss and Shakir emerged at the forefront of a scandal involving several Think Progress bloggers who accused pro-Israel Jews and members of Congress of being “Israel firsters,” a term implying that those who support the Jewish state have dual loyalties.
The scandal rocked CAP for several months and drew condemnation across the board, including from the Obama administration, which distanced itself from Duss, Shakir, and the rest of Think Progress’s former staff. Shakir—who initially remained silent as controversy swirled around Think Progress’s use of antisemitic language—later said in a leaked internal email that his employees used “terrible, antisemitic language” when invoking the “Israel firster” term. Duss also stood on the sidelines at the time, declining to condemn the antisemitic language. Numerous articles penned by Duss and other CAP Action Fund bloggers were said “to be infected with Jew-hatred and discriminatory policy positions toward Israel,” according to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which combats antisemitism.
Duss, who was recently hailed as the “progressive” foreign policy mind behind Sanders, has for the better part of the last decade been a driving force behind the far left’s anti-Israel activism. Oftentimes, this criticism waded into antisemitic waters.
In 2013, for instance, after the “Israel firster” scandal ended with the firing and departure of several Think Progress bloggers, Duss again was charged with antisemitism after he published Nazi-era propaganda posters online as part of a campaign to discredit a conservative Israeli advocacy organization. “Given CAP’s disturbing familiarity with, and history of, deploying what leading global antisemitism experts and watchdog organizations identified as actual anti-Semitic language, it is both ironic and troubling to see CAP’s Matt Duss dubiously objecting to imagery that is not being described as such by such experts in his transparent attempt to smear those with whom he disagrees,” one senior Jewish community official told the Washington Free Beacon at the time. A Free Beacon report conducted at that time linked several other members of Duss’s family to vitriolic activism against the Jewish state.
Meanwhile, Shakir also returned to the anti-Israel stage after departing from CAP.As national political director for the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, Shakir led the charge to kill a major piece of pro-Israel legislation aimed at thwarting boycotts of Israel. Shakir and a colleague penned a Washington Post editorial in 2017 in which they argued that congressional efforts to impede the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, or BDS, a global campaign to wage economic warfare on Israel, impeded free speech rights. This argument has been thoroughly debunked by prominent members of Congress and the pro-Israel community as a whole.
Multiple sources from across the pro-Israel and Jewish worlds who spoke to the Free Beacon both on the record and only on background emphasized that Sanders’ promotion of both Duss and Shakir is not going unnoticed…. [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
BERNIE SANDERS AND THE JEWS: A SAD PARADOX
Arutz Sheva, Feb. 22, 2019
Senator Bernie Sanders is running again. Most observers consider him to immediately be one of the early front runners, but in a political party seemingly obsessed with identity politics, and ostensibly respectful of ethnic/religious roots, it’s certainly reasonable to explore the roots and connections of this Jewish-American who is now a leading candidate for President of the United States.
Bernie Sanders, now of Vermont, was born and raised in what has in many ways been the Jewish heart and soul of America – Brooklyn -and has an accent and intonation to match. Sanders was reticent during his previous election campaign regarding matters of his Jewish upbringing. He seemed especially reluctant to discuss his time in Israel, where he traveled with his first wife, Deborah Shiling, who also was Jewish (His second and current wife is not Jewish, nor are his children). Young Bernie had the distinction of volunteering for a few months in the mid-1960s in an Israeli kibbutz of the leftist- Zionist Hashomer Hatzair movement.
The 2016 Sanders campaign usually turned away queries about his Israel stay, as well as his Jewish background, preferring to talk about other ethnic groups, like African-Americans and Muslim-Americans.
Despite the numerous Jewish representatives in Congress, located almost entirely on the Democratic side of the aisle, the Jewish narrative is strangely missing.
In a political party that often seems to thrive on racial, ethnic, and/or religious pride when it comes to other groups, the amazing Jewish narrative seems to be missing. The historical story of the Jews includes a miraculous emergence from slavery in ancient Egypt, the receiving of the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai, the thousand-year kingdom of Israel, two-thousand years of national wilderness, combined with incredibly disproportionate success in the world despite great discrimination, persecution, and even mass slaughter. The reestablishment of Israel in 1948, coupled with the simultaneous achievements of Jewish-Americans are a splendid narrative of positive identity politics that the Democrats should be proud to speak about. Despite the numerous Jewish representatives in Congress, located almost entirely on the Democratic side of the aisle, the Jewish narrative is strangely missing.
When it comes to the absent Jewish narrative, Bernie Sanders may be Jewish, but he is no exception to the Democratic rule. In fact, rather than touting the free-market accomplishments of American Jews, attained not through “days of rage”, but entirely through education and hard work, Sanders has promoted vast and expensive social welfare programs that encourage the opposite.
On the foreign policy front, instead of working to strengthen the United States-Israel relationship, a bonding relationship of values that movingly brought Democratic President Harry Truman to tears, Sen. Sanders has criticized Israel for strongly responding to Hamas terrorist rockets fired at Israeli cities, supported the Iran nuclear deal which most Israelis on both the Right and the Left strongly opposed as an existential threat to the Jewish state’s survival, and opposed the moving of the American Embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s capital for over 3,000 years. At times, he has defended Israel’s need to defend itself, but because of the increasingly strident anti-Israel stands of most of his far-left supporters, he has been more and more reluctant to side with the Jewish state.
Most troubling has been the candidate’s behavior in responding to the blatantly anti-Semitic statements of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who was symbolically condemned by the Democratic House leadership, which nonetheless, allowed her to remain in her influential membership on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
As reported in the Daily Beast, Senator Sanders reached out to Rep. Omar by calling her office to offer his support in the face of sharp criticism from both Democrats and Republicans that she trafficked in anti-Semitic tropes on Twitter. According to Jewish Insider, Sanders was asked about Omar’s tweets on a conference call hosted by James Zogby, founder of the Arab American Institute and a former member of the Democratic National Committee’s executive committee… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
TRUMP’S LOVE AFFAIR WITH ISRAEL
AND THE JEWISH PEOPLE
Algemeiner, Apr. 8, 2019
As a Jew who travels extensively, I have found that being open about my Jewishness can be lonely. Refusing to make compromises on things like wearing a yarmulke in public in countries like France, the UK, Germany, and New Zealand, more and more stares come my way in a world where antisemitism is growing, and Israel is vilified. Even the American Jewish community is feeling more and more isolated as antisemites now openly walk the halls of Congress and parties that have previously been stalwart foes of antisemitism, like the Democrats, cannot muster the moral courage to condemn Jew-hatred specifically and unequivocally.
It was for that reason that I sat in awe this weekend and watched as the president of the United States — and just two hours later the vice president of the United States — spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition and vowed their unalloyed support of the Jewish people, Israel, and their determination to fight enemies of the Jewish people to the bone.
Hearing the most powerful man on earth acknowledge the rise of Jew-hatred all over the globe and his declaration of war against it helped to greatly assuage Jewish feelings of isolation and abandonment. Trump told us we’re not in this fight alone. There will be no modern Masada. There is no Fortress Israel. The most powerful nation on earth is by Israel’s side.
Much has been made of Trump’s failure to fully condemn neo-Nazis in Charlottesville. Far less has been mentioned of how the President has made up for it in spades, becoming easily the most pro-Israel president in history and someone who brought the America-Israel relationship to unimaginable heights.
Trump fulfilled his campaign promises to pull the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal, to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and to move our embassy there. Now he has also recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Israelis and many Orthodox Jews recognize his contributions to the safety and security of Israel, and yet most American Jews remain hostile toward him. I have seen Jews liken him to Hitler and refer to him as an uncommon racist and an abomination to moral values.
These are often the same people who supported President Obama’s catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal, by which $150 billion was given to Ayatollah Khamenei — a real Hitler aspirant — and are so desperate for peace agreements they are prepared to sacrifice Jerusalem to the Palestinians and the Golan Heights to the Syrians.
There is little I can say to those who still fail to recognize how disastrous the nuclear deal was given our knowledge of Iran’s continued steps toward developing a nuclear bomb, its ongoing sponsorship of terror, its development of ballistic missiles, and its destabilizing actions in the Middle East that threaten the United States and Israel. Obama assured us making a deal with Iran and paying them tens of billions of dollars would suddenly cause the mullahs to reverse their hatred of the West and genocidal intentions toward Israel. Proponents of the agreement still won’t admit that Obama’s calculations on this issue wouldn’t have passed a first-grade math test.
Many of these Jews are also mired in the fantasies created by the Oslo agreements that a two-state solution is possible and there is a Palestinian peace partner. Even Yitzhak Rabin was not prepared to give the Palestinians a state and that was at a time when there was still some hope that the Palestinians would agree to a settlement that would recognize the existence of a Jewish state beside a Palestinian one. Now most Israelis recognize this is impossible in the near future, if ever. The never-ending barrage of rockets from Gaza following Israel’s evacuation has shown the folly of the land-for-peace formula as well as of those Jewish leaders who humiliated themselves and betrayed Israel by cozying up to Hamas’ foremost funder, the Emir of Qatar.
But while the world turns virulently against Israel and a tsunami of antisemitism is unleashed around the globe, America has a president who will not feed Palestinian fantasies of dividing Jerusalem. America has a president who has made clear the United States will not subsidize Palestinian terrorism and obstructionism. America has a president who recognizes the route to peace is not one-sided pressure on Israel and that the Palestinians must agree to recognize and live in peace beside the Jewish state. And America has a president who understands that radical Islam is a threat to Western civilization and is unafraid to say so, unlike Obama’s comical “violent extremism,” which was an affront to both its victims and common sense. The critics of Trump on grounds of character forget that public achievement always trumps private action… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
CIJR wishes all our friends and supporters: Shabbat Shalom!
UNE SOIREE RICHE EN REBONDISSEMENTS
A JUBILATION, LE LIKUD EST PASSE PAR TOUTES LES EMOTIONS
Times of Israel, 10 Avril 2019
D’un optimisme à toute épreuve à une anxiété soudaine, en passant par l’incertitude, avant le soulagement et la jubilation, les partisans du Likud réunis au palais omnisports de Kvutzat Shlomo de Tel Aviv sont passés par toutes les émotions dans la nuit de mardi à mercredi alors qu’ils attendaient les résultats des élections. Il semblerait que Benjamin Netanyahu soit en route pour un cinquième mandat de Premier ministre.
Pendant des jours, Netanyahu et d’autres militants du Likud faisaient passer le message que le parti perdrait face à Kakhol lavan de Benny Gantz. Certains présumaient que cette campagne, volontairement alarmiste, visait à siphonner les votes aux autres partis de droite et à renforcer le Likud ; d’autres craignaient que la décennie de gouvernance de Netanyahu soit sur le point de s’achever.
En arrivant dans la salle mardi soir, on ignorait encore s’il pouvait effectivement crier victoire. Il était encore en train de rassembler les électeurs de droite, les exhortant à voter pour éviter que le gouvernement de droite ne s’effondre.
Vers 18 heures, les techniciens ont testé les feux d’artifice installés sur l’estrade où Netanyahu devait apparaître plus tard dans la soirée, mais au regard de la campagne « gevalt » (appel au secours) du Premier ministre, qui donnait la victoire à Kakhol lavan, on pouvait se demander pourquoi ils préparaient une fête de victoire.
Quelques minutes avant que les trois principales chaînes de télévision ne publient leurs sondages de sortie des urnes, certains commençaient réellement à s’inquiéter.Amir Ohana, le premier député du Likud à arriver à la soirée électorale du parti à Tel Aviv a dit avoir été « très optimiste » mais que désormais, « les rumeurs qui circulent ne sont pas bonnes ».Une vingtaine de minutes plus tard, à 22 heures, les premiers résultats donnaient entre 33 et 36 sièges au Likud, et 36 à 37 à Kakhol lavan, même si Netanyahu restait en meilleure position pour former une coalition.
La réaction des personnes présentes dans la salle était silencieuse. Ce n’était peut-être pas la victoire franche qu’ils espéraient. Mais si les militants ont été déçus des résultats face à ceux de Kakhol lavan, ils se sont efforcés de ne pas le montrer.« Je me sens très bien ! », a déclaré Racheli Ben Ari-Sakat, qui dirige la section Likud à Raanana. « Je ne suis pas du tout déçue, j’ai toujours pensé que nous pouvions faire mieux que les prédictions des sondages. »La quasi-totalité des militants du Likud réunis dans la salle mardi soir ont évoqué un sentiment similaire, même si l’ambiance est restée modérée pendant de longues heures, tout particulièrement si on la compare aux soirées électorales du Likud lors des élections précédentes.
En 2015 et en 2013, d’immenses drapeaux fendaient l’air, au milieu d’acclamations à la sortie des premiers résultats. Mardi soir, à l’annonce des premières estimations, tout le monde est resté de marbre.
La musique résonnait dans la salle quasi-vide à l’annonce des résultats. Deux minutes plus tard, un militant du Likud se met à scander « Bibi, Bibi », mais s’arrête quelques secondes après. « Les gars, ce n’est qu’un sondage de sortie des urnes », crie-t-il aux caméras de la télévision qui l’entourent. « En 1996, nous nous sommes couchés avec [Shimon] Peres et nous sommes réveillés avec Netanyahu ».L’assistant d’un député du Likud déambule avec un drapeau du parti enroulé.« Non, je n’ai pas envie de l’agiter, c’est ça le problème », dit-il.
Même à 1 heure du matin, alors que les résultats actualisés étaient favorables au Likud, l’ambiance était presque morose. Quand l’arrivée de Netanyahu, depuis Jérusalem, a été annoncée, la musique s’est amplifiée, et deux guitaristes ont chanté en l’honneur du chef du parti, mais le public ne montrait guère d’entrain.
A mesure que la nuit avançait, de plus en plus de drapeaux du Likud étaient visibles (et même un à l’effigie du président américain Donald Trump avec son slogan de campagne « Make America Great Again ») et certains ont commencé à danser en scandant « Bibi, roi d’Israël ».La plupart des militants affirmaient désormais qu’ils étaient plus que ravis du résultat de ces élections, même si des relents de déceptions ternissaient l’ambiance.« Merveilleusement bien ! » a répondu Moshe Levy, après qu’un journaliste lui a demandé comment il se sentait. « Les résultats définitifs seront encore meilleurs. Les vrais résultats sont toujours meilleurs que les sondages de sortie des urnes pour nous. »
Certains étaient tout de même disposés à admettre que les choses ne s’étaient pas passées comme ils l’avaient espéré. « Je suis émue. J’attends les bonnes nouvelles », a déclaré Yael Weissman, de Givatayim, une banlieue en périphérie de Tel Aviv. « Je pense que Netanyahu finira par être Premier ministre. Si ce n’est pas le cas, Israël aura tout perdu. Il a été le meilleur dirigeant que ce pays n’ait jamais eu. »Le militant pro-implantation Elie Pieprz, de l’implantation Karnei Shomron, a reconnu que « c’est un peu décevant, par rapport à la dernière fois ».
En fait, si le Likud obtient 35 sièges ou plus, ce serait le meilleur résultat pour le parti depuis 2003, lorsqu’il a remporté 38 sièges sous Ariel Sharon.Selon Pieprz, la morosité qui régnait dans la salle n’était pas due aux résultats de l’élection, mais à la mauvaise gestion de la campagne.
« Toute la campagne manquait d’enthousiasme », a-t-il dit. « Ce qui s’est passé, c’est que la gauche a implosé, et nous nous sommes retrouvés avec la droite, et un parti centriste. Et le Likud devait en faire davantage pour contrer Gantz. Mais Gantz n’a pas été impliqué. Il n’a pas dit grand-chose pendant la campagne, n’a pas donné à Netanyahu de quoi l’attaquer. Je pense que c’était intelligent de sa part ».
Ce n’est que vers 1 heure et demie du matin que le porte-parole de Netanyahu a diffusé des vidéos du Premier ministre en route vers Tel Aviv, alors que les chaînes de télévision mettaient à jour leurs résultats, très clairement en faveur d’une victoire du Likud, et c’est alors que l’ambiance a radicalement changé.La fête a commencé quand Netanyahu est entré dans la salle, à 2 heures et une minute, très précisément.
Alors que les projections indiquaient que le Premier ministre – diminué par une campagne difficile et sous la menace de trois inculpations – maintiendrait son parti au pouvoir à la Knesset, Netanyahu lui-même semblait quelque peu désorienté aux côtés de son épouse Sara, après un baiser.
« C’est la nuit d’une incroyable, incroyable victoire », a-t-il dit face à un public en liesse. « Quand avons-nous décroché tant de sièges ? Je ne m’en souviens même pas. »C’était « une immense victoire, presque impossible à obtenir », a déclaré Netanyahu.Et alors qu’il saluait la foule, les pyrotechniciens ont lancé les feux d’artifice derrière lui, signes d’une victoire jubilatoire, exactement comme prévu depuis le départ.
NETANYAHU A GAGNE, TOUS LES AUTRES ONT PERDU- OU PRESQUE
TIMES OF ISRAEL, 10 Avril 2019
1. Netanyahu a gagné, (presque) tous les autres ont perdu.
Alors que l’un des trois premiers sondages télévisés suggérait que le leader de Kakhol lavan Benny Gantz avait réalisé un « bouleversement » historique et était prêt à renverser le Premier ministre Benjamin Netanyahu après 10 années consécutives au pouvoir, les résultats finaux ont montré le contraire. Non seulement le leader du Likud a obtenu les sièges et le soutien dont il a besoin pour diriger la prochaine coalition, mais il a également reçu un certain nombre d’autres cadeaux électoraux.
Alors que le Likud et Kakhol lavan ont obtenu chacun 35 sièges à la Knesset, le bloc de droite composé principalement des membres actuels de la coalition est confortablement en tête avec 65 à 55 sièges lors du décompte final des voix. Mais le succès du Likud s’est fait aux dépens non seulement du principal rival de Netanyahu, Gantz, mais aussi de plusieurs partis de droite qu’il se réjouit de voir affaiblis, même s’il en a besoin pour former une coalition.
Pendant des jours, Netanyahu et d’autres militants du Likud avaient fait passer le message que le parti pourrait perdre contre Kakhol lavan de Gantz. Certains ont supposé que la campagne dite du « gevalt » était un stratagème alarmiste visant à détourner les votes des autres partis de droite et à pousser les électeurs du Likud vers les bureaux de vote, tandis que d’autres craignaient réellement que la décennie au pouvoir du Premier ministre ne prenne fin. En fin de compte, il a empêché une victoire de Kakhol lavan et a sévèrement réduit le pouvoir de négociation de ses partenaires de coalition les plus probables, Koulanou passant de 10 à 4, les huit sièges de HaBayit HaYehudi étant remplacés par les cinq sièges de l’Union des partis de droite, et Yisrael Beytenu passant de 6 lors des dernières élections à 5 cette fois.
De plus, il a vu le parti Zehut de l’ancien membre du Likud Moshe Feiglin – qui avait menacé de ne pas le recommander comme Premier ministre – et HaYamin HaHadash de Naftali Bennett – une épine dans son pied droit – n’ont pas réussi à entrer à la Knesset, avec plus de 97 % des votes comptabilisés. (HaYamin HaHadash espère toujours être sauvée par les votes des soldats.)Les seuls partis autres que le Likud à avoir augmenté leur part de voix sont les partis ultra-orthodoxes Shas et YaHadout HaTorah, qui sont passés de six et sept sièges respectivement à huit chacun. Si Netanyahu peut forger une alliance forte avec Shas et YaHadout HaTorah, sans doute en leur promettant le contrôle des questions religieuses et étatiques, ses petits alliés de droite pourraient être presque neutralisés au sein de la coalition, surtout par rapport au désormais puissant Likud.
2. Gabbay du Parti travailliste devrait-il apprendre de Netanyahu ?
De tous les partis qui ont perdu des sièges et le pouvoir relatif à la Knesset, aucun n’est comparable au Parti travailliste. Le parti qui a gouverné Israël pendant les trois premières décennies s’est effondré, passant des 24 sièges qu’il avait remportés dans le cadre de l’Union sioniste lors des élections de 2015 à seulement six, la pire performance en 71 ans d’histoire.Compte tenu de l’histoire du Parti travailliste qui s’est retourné contre ses dirigeants après des échecs électoraux, le président du parti, Avi Gabbay, est tout à fait certain d’être confronté au même sort que ses 13 prédécesseurs depuis 1992 – sinon immédiatement, voire dans un avenir très proche. Pour le moment, cependant, l’ancien ministre de Koulanou ignore les appels anonymes à se retirer, en imputant le mauvais résultat au parti Kakhol lavan, qui a détourné une partie importante de la base du Parti travailliste. Il a raison. Le Parti travailliste a mené une campagne pitoyable composée de messages confus et extrêmement déroutants, attaquant le Likud et Kakhol lavan de la droite et de la gauche, tout en n’arrivant pas à présenter un message cohérent sur les raisons pour lesquelles les électeurs devraient le suivre. Mais Gabbay n’a pas causé l’effondrement des 18 sièges (même avec son éviction impopulaire en direct de la n°2 du parti, Tzipi Livni, qui a brisé l’Union sioniste). Gantz l’a fait. L’échec de Gabbay a été son incapacité à récupérer le terrain perdu.
S’il y a un espoir pour lui, et en fait pour le Parti travailliste, il pourrait le trouver en s’inspirant de nul autre que Netanyahu. Lors des élections de 2006, le dirigeant du Likud a également conduit son parti au pire résultat de son histoire, passant de 38 sièges à seulement 12. Lui aussi a été accusé d’avoir mené une campagne faible et a dû répondre à des appels à la démission. Mais, comme pour Gabbay, ce n’était pas entièrement la faute de Netanyahu. Il faisait face à un ancien général décoré de Tsahal à la tête d’une faction centriste nouvellement formée qui a balayé la carte politique avec de nombreux électeurs du Likud (à savoir Ariel Sharon et son parti Kadima). Ça vous dit quelque chose ?
Malgré la perte écrasante et personnellement embarrassante de Netanyahu, trois ans plus tard, il remporta 27 sièges et le poste de Premier ministre, qu’il occupe toujours une décennie plus tard. Gabbay n’est pas Netanyahu, et le Likud de 2003 n’est pas le Parti travailliste de 2019. Mais il peut encore y avoir de l’espoir pour le parti jadis vénérable qui a fondé Israël, et même pour son dirigeant en difficulté.
3. Bennett a dit qu’il voulait renforcer Netanyahu. Il l’a endurci
La prédiction la plus curieusement exacte de la stratégie électorale de Netanyahu est venue d’un reportage de Kan publié dimanche soir, selon lequel le Premier ministre était non seulement convaincu de pouvoir gagner le plus de sièges et un bloc majoritaire de droite, mais qu’il souhaitait en particulier écarter un de ses partenaires actuels dans la coalition. La déconfiture de HaYamin HaHadash – tombant apparemment en dessous du seuil électoral alors que d’autres partis qui étaient plus bas dans les sondages pendant la campagne sont entrés au Parlement pour maintenir la majorité de droite – était donc soit une incroyable coïncidence ou une machination politique absolument incroyable parfaitement exécutée à terme par Netanyahu. En rompant avec le parti sioniste religieux HaBayit HaYehudi au début de la campagne pour créer le parti HaYamin HaHadash avec Ayelet Shaked, Bennett a déclaré qu’il espérait renforcer le bloc de droite en attirant des électeurs plus nombreux – et plus divers. Dans un compliment déguisé, il a également dit qu’il espérait renforcer Netanyahu en devenant une force politique importante qui pourrait le pousser vers la droite, tout en le soutenant comme Premier Ministre.
Au lieu de renforcer l’un ou l’autre, il a durci les deux. Alors que HaBayit HaYehudi faisait soudainement face à un effondrement, Netanyahu a élaboré un plan compliqué pour former une liste d’Union des partis de droite qui comprenait la faction extrémiste Otzma Yehudit. Et Rafi Peretz, le dirigeant nouvellement nommé de HaBayit HaYehudi, a été contraint d’accepter Bezalel Smotrich, dirigeant de l’Union nationale, comme son numéro deux. Bennett n’est certainement pas de gauche, mais il commence à ressembler un peu à l’élément kahaniste de l’Union des partis de droite.En même temps, utilisant sa campagne pour attaquer Netanyahu par la droite, lui reprochant d’avoir accepté un cessez-le-feu avec le Hamas deux semaines seulement avant le jour des élections, Bennett est devenu une nouvelle cible de la colère du Premier ministre et, finalement, la principale victime de sa campagne « gevalt » soigneusement dirigée. (Encore une fois, à moins que les soldats ne lui fournissent un coup de pouce de dernière minute).
4. Feiglin a été la surprise des élections – en ne parvenant pas à entrer
Presque tous les chefs de parti ont promis tout au long de la campagne que la leur serait « la surprise des élections ». Au cours du dernier mois de la campagne, la revendication la plus convaincante du titre est venue du parti Zehut de Moshe Feiglin – un parti ultra-nationaliste quasi-libertaire centré sur la philosophie dogmatique de son chef idéologue. Au départ, le parti n’a pas réussi à franchir le seuil électoral dans les sondages qui ont même accepté de l’inclure, mais il a constaté une hausse perceptible de popularité après sa promesse de légaliser le cannabis. Les sympathisants semblaient indifférents aux positions économiques libertaires de Zehut ou à la politique de sécurité radicale et à motivation religieuse, qui demandait expressément l’annexion de la Cisjordanie, le démantèlement de l’Autorité palestinienne, l’encouragement des Palestiniens à partir et l’installation des bâtiments du gouvernement sur le Mont du Temple.
Le parti cherchait également à semer le doute dans les calculs de la coalition, en ne s’engageant ni à soutenir Netanyahu ni à soutenir Gantz. Et alors que les sondages finaux ont révélé qu’il obtiendrait de 5 à 7 sièges dans les derniers jours avant les élections, Feiglin a déclaré qu’il exigerait que lui-même ou un autre membre de son parti soit nommé au poste très convoité de ministre des Finances. En fin de compte, après tout le battage médiatique (et peut-être à cause de cela), la grande surprise de Zehut fut qu’il échoua complètement : à passer le seuil électoral et entrer à la Knesset ; prendre le contrôle du Trésor ou de tout autre ministère ; et, comme son chef l’avait promis, réorganiser la politique israélienne.La défaite de Feiglin démontre la différence entre l’ampleur et la profondeur du soutien : Beaucoup de gens l’ont en quelque sorte soutenu, mais en période de crise, pas assez pour voter pour lui. (Ou peut-être que les sondages se sont trompés sur lui).
5. Les Arabes n’ont pas été emmenés en bus par la gauche. Peut-être qu’ils auraient dû l’être
Le 17 mars 2015, dernier jour des élections, Netanyahu, invoquant sa crainte de perdre l’élection au profit de l’Union sioniste d’Isaac Herzog, a tristement mis en garde contre les Arabes qui « affluent en masse » vers les bureaux de vote, en étant « transportés en bus par la gauche ». Il s’est ensuite excusé pour cette accusation incendiaire, qui a été qualifiée de raciste par la gauche israélienne et dans le monde entier. Au cours de la campagne électorale actuelle, le Premier ministre a de nouveau utilisé l’épouvantail arabe israélien, déclarant à plusieurs reprises qu’un gouvernement de gauche soutenu par des Arabes serait catastrophique pour Israël. Et les bureaux de vote n’étaient ouverts que depuis quelques heures mardi, lorsqu’il est apparu que des militants affiliés au Likud avaient apporté quelque 1 200 caméras cachées dans les bureaux de vote des villes arabes dans ce que le parti a qualifié de tentative pour empêcher la fraude électorale.
L’effondrement de la Liste arabe unie, parti réunissant les quatre principales factions arabes israéliennes qui se sont scindées en deux partis rivaux pour ces élections, a certainement contribué cette fois-ci à une perte totale de trois sièges pour le secteur arabe. Mais beaucoup ont cité le sentiment que, indépendamment de la politique interpartis, leurs votes n’avaient pas d’importance. Les citoyens arabes d’Israël représentent environ 20 % de la population générale, mais dans la politique israélienne, ils sont généralement dépeints comme des traîtres, et leur opposition à un État sioniste est considérée comme irrémédiable. Par conséquent, aucun parti arabe n’a jamais fait partie d’une coalition gouvernementale et, dans cette tradition, pratiquement tous les partis du courant dominant en lice mardi ont exclu de manière préventive un partenariat avec eux, y compris Kakhol lavan.
La mauvaise performance des partis arabes, combinée aux faibles résultats du centre-gauche travailliste et du Meretz de gauche, a effectivement mis fin aux perspectives de Kakhol lavan de former une coalition, et amélioré celles de Netanyahu, donnant plus de sièges à la Knesset aux alliés de droite et ultra-orthodoxes du Likud.Pour que le centre-gauche ait une chance réaliste de remporter les élections en Israël aujourd’hui, il faudrait peut-être qu’il accepte au moins certains des partis arabes comme de véritables partenaires et qu’il ne se plaigne pas seulement des injustices auxquelles le secteur arabe fait face. Politiquement, un tel partenariat pourrait potentiellement égaler le soutien de facto de la droite par les partis ultra-orthodoxes (qui s’opposent aussi, soit dit en passant, à l’idée d’un État sioniste). Après tout, cette alliance ultra-orthodoxe de droite de longue date, dans ces élections, comme dans beaucoup d’autres auparavant, garantit à la droite une voie plus facile pour former une coalition. D’autre part, certains députés et ex-députés arabes se sont farouchement et activement opposés aux principes fondamentaux d’Israël (ce qui n’est pas le cas des politiciens ultra-orthodoxes). Toute alliance de ce type devrait donc être examinée très attentivement, faute de quoi l’attrait du centre-gauche serait encore réduit, au lieu d’être renforcé.
LES DIRIGEANTS DU MONDE FELICITENT NETANYAHOU POUR LE RESULTAT DES ELECTIONS
I24NEWS, 10 Avril 2019
Le président américain Donald Trump a estimé mercredi que les résultats des élections législatives israéliennes, qui donnent l’avantage à son “ami” Benyamin Netanyahou, augmentaient les chances d’aboutir à la paix au Proche-Orient. “Je pense que nous avons une meilleure chance d’aboutir maintenant que Bibi a gagné”, a déclaré M. Trump, en évoquant le plan de paix sur lequel ses équipes travaillent depuis son arrivée au pouvoir et dont le contenu est à ce jour tenu secret.
Le chancelier autrichien Sebastian Kurz a tenu mercredi à être un des premiers dirigeants à féliciter le Premier ministre pour son succès aux législatives de mardi.”Les résultats officiels doivent encore être publiés mais une chose est claire: vous avez – une nouvelle fois – recueilli la confiance du peuple d’Israël avec des nombres records”, a-t-il indiqué sur son compte twitter.
“Félicitations au Premier ministre Netanyahou pour l’excellent résultat aux élection nationales d’hier”, a-t-il ajouté. M. Kurz, qui comme le dirigeant israélien appartient au camp conservateur, gouverne l’Autriche depuis fin 2017 en coalition avec le parti d’extrême droite FPÖ.
Le Premier ministre de l’Inde Narendra Modi a lui aussi félicité son « ami Bibi » en anglais et en hébreu sur les réseaux sociaux. “Mon cher ami Bibi, Félicitations! Vous êtes un grand ami de l’Inde et je suis impatient de continuer à travailler avec vous pour porter notre partenariat bilatéral vers de nouveaux sommets”, a-t-il écrit.
Le ministre italien de l’intérieur, Matteo Salvini, a été le troisième à féliciter Benyamin Netanyahou avec son message “Bon travail de l’ami Bibi et je salue le peuple d’Israël”. Matteo Salvini, est à la tête de la Ligue, un parti politique italien d’extrême droite, était venu en Israël pour une visite officielle de deux jours en décembre dernier, où il avait rencontré le Premier ministre.
LES PALESTINIENS DENONCENT LA DECISION DE AIRBNB DE RENONCER A SE RETIRE DES IMPLANTATIONS DE CISJORDANIE
i24NEWS 11 Avril 2019
“Cette décision signale la négation systématique du droit inaliénable du peuple à l’autodétermination” La décision d’Airbnb de ne pas exclure les implantations juives de Cisjordanie de ses listes de logements a été condamnée mercredi par les Palestiniens qui ont accusé la start-up de contribuer à la “perpétuation du régime israélien”. “Cette décision signale la complicité de la société avec la négation systématique du droit inaliénable du peuple palestinien à l’autodétermination”, a déclaré le négociateur en chef palestinien Saeb Erekat dans un communiqué. La plateforme de location saisonnière Airbnb a annoncé mardi qu’elle revenait sur sa décision d’opérer dans les implantations juives de Cisjordanie, ce qui a eu pour effet notamment la fin des poursuites engagées contre elle.
“Nous comprenons la complexité de ce sujet”, a souligné dans un communiqué Airbnb, qui peu après l’annonce de sa décision l’année dernière avait été traduit en justice en Israël et aux Etats-Unis, où des plaignants juifs américains l’accusaient de discrimination religieuse. Si la plateforme va donc continuer à accepter des offres de location en Cisjordanie, elle a en revanche indiqué qu’elle ne tirerait “aucun bénéfice” de l’activité dans l’ensemble de la Cisjordanie et que l’argent serait reversé à une organisation humanitaire à but non lucratif opérant dans différentes parties du monde.
TRUMP LOUE LE << TRES BON TRAVAIL>> DU PRESIDENT SISSI EN EGYPTE
Times of Israel, 10 Avril,2019
Je pense qu’il fait un très bon travail », a lancé Donald Trump, interrogé dans le Bureau ovale sur les efforts de son homologue égyptien Abdel Fattah al-Sissi pour se maintenir au pouvoir après la fin de son deuxième mandat en 2022. L’ex-chef de l’armée égyptienne a destitué son prédécesseur islamiste Mohamed Morsi en 2013 avant d’être élu à la présidence un an plus tard.
« Les relations entre l’Egypte et les Etats-Unis n’ont jamais été aussi bonnes », a assuré M. Trump, sans mentionner à aucun moment la question des droits de l’homme.
C’est la deuxième fois que l’homme fort du Caire était reçu par M. Trump à la Maison Blanche. Il n’avait jamais été invité par Barack Obama.
Plusieurs amendements à la constitution égyptienne de 2014 doivent être prochainement soumis à référendum. Cette réforme permettrait de renforcer les pouvoirs de l’exécutif et de l’armée, et au chef de l’Etat de se maintenir à la tête du pays au-delà de 2022, année de la fin de son deuxième mandat.
Avant la rencontre, l’ONG Human Rights Watch (HRW) avait exhorté les Etats-Unis à ne pas donner leur feu vert à ce projet de réforme constitutionnelle « qui accorde à l’armée des pouvoirs très abusifs et institutionnalise davantage l’autoritarisme ». Amnesty International a également appelé les alliés de l’Egypte, en particulier les Etats-Unis, à ne pas « rester silencieux » face à ce projet.
BIBI NETANYAHU’S TRIUMPHANT ACHIEVEMENT
Why Israel Still Loves Netanyahu: Shmuel Rosner, NYT, Apr. 10, 2019 — There are more than a few reasons to dislike Benjamin Netanyahu.
What Americans Need To Understand About Israel’s Election Results: Liel Leibovitz, Tablet, April 10, 2019 — The votes have yet to be counted in full—more than 200,000 are still to be tallied, which could make a big difference for parties like the New Right struggling to make it into the Knesset—but a few truths about Israel’s election are hard to ignore:
IsraelVotes2019 | What Should Be the Priorities for the New Government?: Yossi Kuperwasser. Fathom Journal, April 2019 Includes Video. — Governing is first and foremost about prioritising, so when Israelis go to the polls, they are in fact choosing between priorities, a product of ideology, values, capabilities, challenges, political constraints and leadership.
Ultra-Orthodox Parties Were This Year’s Real Winners, Here’s Why: Aaron Rabinowitz, Haaretz, Apr. 11, 2019 — Just before midnight on Tuesday, Shas chairman Arye Dery entered a Jerusalem auditorium, evoking an ecstatic response among the hundreds of activists waiting for him.
On Topic Links
Netanyahu’s Remarkable Achievement: Editorial, The New York Sun | April 10, 2019 — The likelihood that Prime Minister Netanyahu will be given the mandate to form the next government in Israel is a remarkable achievement.
Netanyahu’s Triumph: Editorial, WSJ, Apr. 10, 2019 — The veteran Prime Minister ran as a statesman indispensable to Israel’s security.
How Israel’s Election Could Impact U.S. Diplomacy in the Middle East: Gerald F. Seib, WSJ, Apr. 10, 2019, Video — Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu faces an important election Tuesday. If he wins, there will be some changes in the path forward for the U.S. diplomatic effort in the region.
With Netanyahu’s Lawyers Still Unpaid, Pre-indictment Hearing Likely to Be Delayed: Revital Hovel, Haaretz, Apr 10, 2019 — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pre-indictment hearing is likely to be delayed, as his lawyers are refusing to pick up the evidence from the prosecution until they get paid.
WHY ISRAEL STILL LOVES NETANYAHU
NYT, Apr. 10, 2019
There are more than a few reasons to dislike Benjamin Netanyahu. He can be smug and vindictive. He can be ruthless when going up against political enemies. He is likely to be indicted on corruption charges related to three separate cases, which, if they are accurate, indicate that he is greedy, vain and manipulative.
And yet last night, this dislikable prime minister appears to have won his fifth — yes, fifth! — term in office. If he forms a government in the coming weeks, as he is expected to, Mr. Netanyahu will surpass Israel’s founder David Ben Gurion as the country’s longest serving prime minister. How is this possible?
To be fair, this was a close race. The main opposition party, Blue and White, is expected to get as many seats in the Knesset as Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party. The coalition that he forms will probably have little more than the minimum 61 seats behind it.
Given Mr. Netanyahu’s unsavory qualities, many people were intent on defeating him. Just a few months ahead of the election, Blue and White, a new centrist alliance led by three decorated generals and a former security minister, came together with little purpose other than to present an alternative to Mr. Netanyahu, who has been in power since 2009. They campaigned fiercely — but civilly. At rallies, General Benny Gantz, the head of Blue and White, made it a habit to thank the prime minister for his service to the nation; this was a mirror image of Mr. Netanyahu’s and Likud’s name-calling and personal attacks. But civility and centrism weren’t enough to carry the day.
Mr. Netanyahu may be cynical, but he doesn’t rig elections. He wins fairly, often against great odds, including, this time, the coming indictments against him and an understandable fatigue with his decade-old leadership, not to mention various other inter- and intraparty squabbles. But he seems to have succeeded again this time for the same reason he has dominated Israeli politics for most of the past 25 years: because when it comes to Israel’s national security, he is a leader with strategy and vision. And that is what many voters want.
In the mid-1990s, during his first term as prime minister, Mr. Netanyahu rejected the assumptions underlying the peace process with the Palestinians. At the time this was considered daringly right wing. Today, it is considered common sense in Israel, including by Mr. Netanyahu’s political rivals. Likewise, Mr. Netanyahu was one of the first politicians to recognize Iran as the main threat to Israel’s survival, and fought fiercely in international forums to get the world’s attention to this problem. Today, this view is also widely appreciated across the Israeli political spectrum.
The list goes on: In 2005, he warned that withdrawing Israeli troops from Gaza would end in disaster — and it did. He successfully resisted eight years of the Obama administration’s pressure to offer concessions to the Palestinians. He quickly forged an alliance with President Trump that has already proved to be of great benefit to Israel. In two years, Mr. Trump has moved the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, withdrawn from the nuclear agreement with Iran, recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and on Monday, designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization.
Blue and White tried to make this election a referendum on Mr. Netanyahu. Its campaign focused largely on the prime minister’s personal failings, the corruption accusations against him, and exhaustion with his leadership. But in Israel, security trumps all other issues. (A poll ahead of the election found voters rated security as their No. 1 concern.)
Blue and White thought that by placing former Israel Defense Forces chiefs of staff at the top of the party list, it could counter Mr. Netanyahu’s image and experience as a defender of Israel, diplomatically and militarily. But the public still showed that it trusts the incumbent more.
Has Mr. Netanyahu ever been wrong when it comes to security? The truth is, many Israelis will find it hard to think of an example. And this goes not just for voters for the Likud party, or even the right-wing parties that are expected to join Likud in the next government, but even for Blue and White, which largely echoed Mr. Netanyahu’s positions on important foreign policy and national security questions.
Those Israelis who do want Mr. Netanyahu gone — and yes, there are many — want him gone because of his personality, his coarsening of Israeli political discourse, his pettiness and, maybe, his corruption. Those Israelis who want Mr. Netanyahu to stay — and the election makes clear that there are many — want him to stay despite those same characteristics. They can forgive the prime minister for often being a small man, because they appreciate him as a great leader.
WHAT AMERICANS NEED TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT ISRAEL’S ELECTION RESULTS
Tablet, April 10, 2019
The votes have yet to be counted in full—more than 200,000 are still to be tallied, which could make a big difference for parties like the New Right struggling to make it into the Knesset—but a few truths about Israel’s election are hard to ignore:
The Polls Really Don’t Work: At 10 p.m. on election night, Mina Tzemach, Israel’s most prominent pollster, unveiled her eagerly anticipated prediction, putting Benny Gantz far ahead of Benjamin Netanyahu. It didn’t take long to realize the extent of her error, or, for that matter, the stunning inaccuracy of nearly every other poll that shaped and informed the debate leading up to election day. Moshe Feiglin, whose Zehut party was slated to score as many as seven seats, was out; Avigdor Lieberman, who was left for dead by most prognosticators, won bigly. The reason may be as much technological as it is political: Reaching most of their respondents online or via cellphone, pollsters are inherently biased toward overrepresenting the sort of people who are comfortable taking an online survey or chatting to a stranger about politics. As Tuesday’s results showed, vast swaths of the population—Haredis, say, or immigrants from the former Soviet Union—had far less in the pre-election pas-de-deux of opinion surveys, which is why they ended up turning out in far larger numbers than anyone predicted, reelecting Lieberman and giving haredi parties a very strong showing with 16 seats. This fact is unlikely to change, making polling, long a staple of the political game, an increasingly questionable tool in a society where many reject technology’s pervasive reach.
Tel Aviv Really Is a Bubble: In Ramat Aviv, the city’s posh northern neighborhood—home to its university and much of the media class who edit newspapers, anchor newscasts, and publish books—the center-left bloc, comprised of Blue-White, Meretz, and Labor, won a whopping 80% of the votes. Four point three miles to the southeast, in the city’s struggling Shchunat Hatikvah neighborhood, Likud and Shas won 64% of the votes, a much more accurate reflection of the national zeitgeist. The same is true in virtually every other corner of the country: In Caesarea, the wealthy seaside town where the Netanyahus have a home, most people voted for Gantz; in Rosh Ha’Ayin, the working-class small town where Gantz lives, most people voted for Netanyahu.
The Old Labor-Left Really Is Dead: In 1992, the year before the Oslo Accords were introduced with much fanfare, Labor and Meretz, the twin pillars of the Zionist left, won a staggering 66 seats in the Knesset, giving them a strong mandate to pursue their peace plans. This week, Labor and Meretz eked out a combined 10 seats, far less than the haredi parties, which won 16, and exactly the same as the two Arab parties, Hadash-Ta’al and Ra’am-Balad. Considering the fact that Gantz’s party, Kachol-Lavan, had very few, if any, substantive disagreements with Netanyahu’s Likud, the meaning of this is stark and simple: The left, as it has existed for generations, is thoroughly, unequivocally, and irreversibly dead. Having run for decades on poses rather than policies, it failed to produce a coherent answer to the question that was foremost in most Israelis’ minds, namely what to do when the so-called partner for peace, the Palestinian Authority, giddily and unabashedly cheered on and paid for the murder of innocent Israelis. Instead, the left talked about identity politics—a favorite of Meretz’s new leader, Tamar Zandberg—and invested more and more of its communal resources in addressing audiences in Berlin, London, and New York but not in Netanya, Petach Tikva, and Be’er Sheva. It’s likely that the slew of NGOs that make up the contemporary left’s beating heart—many with robust funding from European governments and other foreign sources like George Soros’ Open Society Foundations—will continue to campaign anywhere but at home, with the political parties that support them continuing to pay the price… [To read the full article, click thee following LINK – Ed.]
ISRAELVOTES2019 | WHAT SHOULD BE THE PRIORITIES FOR THE NEW GOVERNMENT?
Fathom Journal, April 2019
Governing is first and foremost about prioritising, so when Israelis go to the polls, they are in fact choosing between priorities, a product of ideology, values, capabilities, challenges, political constraints and leadership. Whereas the Right and the Left in Israel try to shape the debate as if it is between different priorities regarding the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the new Blue and White party has no coherent policy on the issue. It claims that there is no Right or Left anymore and that the debate is about the kind of leadership Israel needs rather than where it will lead. In fact, most of those who intend to vote for “Blue and White” come from the centre-Left circles so they likely oppose the Right’s approach about priorities.
The Israeli government’s priorities after the election will of course reflect their results, mainly in the Palestinian context, where Israel will have to examine the American peace proposal and adopt a policy towards it. And while prioritising has historically been centred on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in this election, even as the new US peace plan is about to be presented to the parties, the new ‘Blue and White’ party seemingly has no coherent policy on that issue.
THE TRUMP PEACE PLAN AND THE PALESTINIAN ARENA
Israel’s response to the plan will reflect its commitment to seek a peace that guarantees its security and so will probably be ‘Yes, but’. At the same time, Israel will have to:
Clarify its red lines, namely that no lasting peace can be reached without: a Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people (with a democratic regime); a security plan that leaves the Jordan valley under Israeli responsibility and allows the IDF to deal with threats from the West Bank; and ending the hate indoctrination and incitement that inculcate support for terror and commitment to a Palestinian state ‘from the river to the sea’ in Palestinian minds.
If the Palestinians reject the plan, Israel together with the US administration should continue conveying the message that there is a price for Palestinian intransigence. They should seek to try and convince the Palestinians for the need to change their erroneous narrative and accept the existence of a Jewish people that has a sovereign history in this disputed holy land as well as accepting the need to share this land with them.
Continue with the current policies vis-à-vis Gaza and the status quo in the West Bank These are solid and reasonable policies in light of the complexities of the situation. If the threat from Gaza rises Israel will have to be prepared to take harsher measures to protect its citizens, including forcing Hamas to give up its control of the Strip.
Refrain from moving towards unilateral concessions disguised as ‘separation’ from the Palestinians. This is a dangerous idea as it ignores the Palestinian narrative and may lead to greater Palestinian terror while simultaneously causing higher tensions within Israeli society. The probability that any new government will support such policy is very low… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
ULTRA-ORTHODOX PARTIESWERE THIS YEAR’S REAL WINNERS, HERE’S WHY
Haaretz, Apr. 11, 2019
Just before midnight on Tuesday, Shas chairman Arye Dery entered a Jerusalem auditorium, evoking an ecstatic response among the hundreds of activists waiting for him. They roared out his name, making it difficult for him to reach the stage. Exit polls were predicting that Shas had won seven Knesset seats, an impressive achievement for the Mizrahi-based party, particularly in light of earlier predictions that it would be significantly reduced in strength. At that point there were also some optimists who predicted an even sweeter final outcome.
“A few months ago, there was a second round of municipal elections and we were very tense,” Dery said in his speech. “I met [religious authority] Chacham Shalom Cohen a few hours before the end, when the polls were predicting that [secular mayoral candidate] Ofer Berkovitch had won. The rabbi told me to wait, that things would change, and indeed, Moshe Leon won in the end. I was with him now, and he said that in the end we’ll get more than seven seats.” Indeed, when the real rather than the predicted results started coming in, Shas seemed to have won eight seats, in what seems to be one of the greatest achievements the party’s almost legendary leader has pulled off since the party was founded.
The party’s Ashkenazi sister party, United Torah Judaism, woke up to a wondrous morning, having garnered, as of this writing, eight seats, two more than in the outgoing Knesset. The achievement of the two ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) parties is notable in light of the alarm campaign waged by the Likud, which was trying to wrest voters away, and in light of concerns about voters slipping away to support Moshe Feiglin.
Looking at the numbers shows that there are several key reasons for this success. One is the large number of votes that were lost to parties not passing the electoral threshold, another being the return home of voters who had previously supported Dery’s rival Eli Yishai and his Yahad party. Moreover, the success reflected the growing Haredi population. An examination by Dr. Gilad Malach of the Israel Democracy Institute showed that the number of votes given to parties that did not pass the threshold doubled from 4 percent to 8 percent of the total in this election, which strengthened the Haredi parties. “This lowered the number of votes required per Knesset seat, with Haredi parties gaining,” Malach told Haaretz. This still depends, however, on the final tally and the fate of the New Right party.
The percentage of voters choosing United Torah Judaism was 5.9 percent, up from 5 percent in the last election, which should be translated into one more seat, but due to the large number of lost votes it actually amounted to two more seats. In absolute terms, the party garnered tens of thousands more votes than previously, increasing from 210,000 to 240,000, possibly rising by another 5,000 by the end of vote counting. Shas increased by 0.5 percent, reflecting half a seat, but here too the lost votes gave it one additional Knesset seat. In the last election Shas had 240,000 supporters, while this time it’s expected to finish with 260,000.
This increase is impressive in light of the reduction in voter turnout among Haredi communities. Thus, for example, turnout in the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak dropped from 80 to 77 percent; in Elad it dropped from 88 to 84 percent; in Beitar Ilit it went down from 84.5 to 81 percent while in Modi’in Ilit it went from 89 to 84.5 percent this election.
Another number Malach points to is the return of Yahad voters to Shas. Estimates are that this amounted to 20,000 votes, split between Shas and UTJ. In the last municipal elections in Bnei Brak, Yahad garnered 7,500 votes, but overall, in Haredi cities there is a decline in the number of voters for parties that are not Shas or UTJ.
In Bnei Brak, this number declined from 17 percent in the last election to 12 percent this time. The corresponding figures in Elad were 25 percent and 17 percent; in Beitar Ilit they were 17 percent and 10 percent, and in Modi’in Ilit the number dropped from 7 percent to 2 percent. According to Malach, these numbers correspond to the numbers of Yahad voters in the municipal election.
Further analysis showed that the number of votes for secular parties in Haredi centers remained the same or slightly increased, but, in contrast to forecasts, the absolute majority of Haredi voters voted for UTJ or Shas, testifying to the strengthening of the rabbis. The increase in Shas’s strength came mainly in Haredi cities, not among non-Haredi communities in Israel’s periphery. Malach found that in Ofakim, Be’er Sheva, Beit Shean, Bat Yam, Tiberias and Migdal Ha’emek, Shas maintained its power, although in some places it declined somewhat. “In light of Likud siphoning off voters, this is quite an achievement,” notes Malach.
The natural growth among these communities also contributed to these numbers. Malach’s calculations show that in each election, UTJ should grow by 0.5 percent. In fact, it grew from 5 to 5.9 percent of the total.
The bottom line is that the cries of alarm among both Haredi parties in the last days of the campaign succeeded in increasing voter turnout. “They said Arye Dery was finished but we showed everyone that we’re stronger – it’s inconceivable,” said a Shas source. He added that Dery’s warnings as well as the tight embrace of Netanyahu, with the line that a vote for Dery is a vote for Netanyahu, were effective. “If I hadn’t taken this line, we would have ended up with four seats,” said Dery. “Were it not for Bibi’s campaign we would have had 11 seats.”
The pressure he was under during these last months was evident in something he said at the end of the event. “If I had brought only four or five seats I would have resigned.” It seems he’s learned the lesson and is already planning for the next election. “Everything has been difficult for us since the beginning. We have to be active on the ground over the next four years, with branches everywhere, being receptive to people so that next time we don’t have to work so hard.”
WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS OF THE WEEK IN REVIEW”
Contents: | Weekly Quotes | Short Takes | On Topic Links
AFTER YET ANOTHER ELECTION WIN,
WHAT’S NEXT FOR BENJAMIN NETANYAHU?
Spectator USA, Apr. 10, 2019
Benjamin Netanyahu has done it again, discreditably but indubitably. If Tuesday’s Israeli election was a referendum on his character as well as his competence, Netanyahu’s campaign tactics explained why. When his erstwhile allies to his right challenged him as the New Right, he manufactured an even newer set of allies from even further right, and invited Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) into his next coalition. When the Blue and White centrists challenged him on his left flank, he derided Blue and White’s leader, ex-general Benny Gantz, as a mentally unfit leftist, and promised to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
In the small hours of Wednesday morning, with 96 per cent of the vote counted, Netanyahu and the Likud looked set to grow their share of the vote from 30 to 35 seats. Though Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party also stood to win 35 seats, the coalition arithmetic favors Netanyahu. A Likud-led coalition with the religious and hard-right parties, softened a little by the center-right Kulanu, will give Netanyahu a solid 65 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. A Blue and White-led coalition with left-wing parties including the rump of once-mighty Labour, reduced to a mere 6 seats, and Arab parties would only gather 55 seats. In a possible further boost to Netanyahu’s control of the next Knesset, with the last votes to be counted, the New Right were still 0.1 per cent short of the threshold for Knesset representation
Netanyahu’s victory derives not just from skullduggery and scaremongering, or even last-minute assists from Donald Trump, who recognized Israel’s claim to the western watershed of the Golan Heights … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
On Topic Links
Netanyahu Remains Israel’s Indispensable Man: Jonathan S. Tobin, National Post, Apr. 10, 2019 – – Can a national leader win re-election despite voter fatigue with his long tenure and with corruption indictments hanging over him?
AG Bill Barr: “Spying On A Political Campaign Is A Big Deal”: RealClearPolitics, Apr. 10, 2019, Video and Transcript — Speaking to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, Attorney General Barr said he would investigate the origins of the Mueller probe and that he believes “spying did occur” on the Trump campaign in 2016.
Designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps: U.S. Department of State, Apr. 8, 2019 — The State Department intends to designate as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in its entirety, including the Qods Force. This is a historic step to counter Iran-backed terrorism around the world.
Labour’s Hate Files Expose Jeremy Corbyn’s Antisemite Army: The Sunday Times, Apr. 2019, Video. — The Labour Party has failed to take disciplinary action against hundreds of members accused of antisemitism under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, according to internal documents leaked to The Sunday Times.
“Election Day should be applauded as an example of Israel’s democracy and the long way it has come since the 1940s in establishing a robust system and institutions that support democracy. While many express concerns about various laws and mentalities in Israel that are accused of being “undemocratic,” the reality on the ground is that in turnout and diversity of parties, there is a very healthy democracy in Israel. The different parties express themselves in different languages and official campaign adverts were also in Arabic and Russian.” – Editorial (Jerusalem Post, Apr. 10, 2019)
“After 37 years you have come home to our Land, to Jerusalem. To our soldiers in the past, present and future – you must know that we will not rest until everyone has been returned home. Today we can finally tell [Zachary’s father] that even though you didn’t live to see this day, the mission to bring Zachary has been completed.” — said President Reuven Rivlin at the funeral of IDF Staff Sgt Zachary Baumel, who went missing at the Battle of Sultan Yacoub in 1982. The remains of some 19 other Israelis were also returned together with the body of Baumel. Sadly, Baumel’s fellow soldiers who fell together with him – Yehuda Katz and Zvi Feldman – were not among those who returned. (Jewish Press, Apr. 4, 2019)
“My vision [of Israel victory]: no concessions…Everything I do, I do from a position of strength. Great strength and power. Israel will survive, and already flourishes and thrives as a result of a policy of strength.” — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an interview on Galey Israel radio with Daniel Seaman, director of Middle East Forum (MEF). The prime minister cited the U.S. recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights and Brazilian president Javier Bolsonaro’s visit to the Western Wall as recent fruits of this principle. (Middle East Forum, Apr. 9, 2019)
“Whoever supports Hamas under the mantle of providing humanitarian aid disregards the fundamental values of our constitution. This also discredits the commitment of the many aid organizations that have committed themselves to neutrality under difficult circumstances.” – German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said. Police carried out raids across Germany targeting charities suspected of providing “financial and propaganda” support to Hamas. (DW, Apr. 10, 2019)
“There’s a crucial distinction between the acquisition of territory through aggression and acquiring it through legitimate self-defense.” — Honest Reporting Canada responded to writer Mark Mackinnon’s article featured in the Globe and Mail on April 8 (print and online) that challenges Israel claims that President Trump’s recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s campaign vow to annex settlement blocs in Judea & Samaria (the West Bank), comports with international law, specifically UN Resolutions 242 and 338. (Honest Reporting Canada, Apr. 9, 2019)
“Some people might think that all of a sudden, the Democracy Party is uniform in its opposition to Israel, but that is far from the truth. You just have splinters, pockets that are bubbling up… [But as relatively small as those putrid bubbles might be,] we need to extinguish them immediately.” — Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) fifth district speaking to an audience at Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley in Woodcliff Lake. (Jewish Standard, Mar. 14, 2019)
“When the bus drivers saw our Israeli passports, they immediately became aggressive and humiliated us. I wanted to stow our food in my luggage, but one of the bus drivers suddenly told me that we had to throw it away. He was very aggressive and angry.” — tour guide Itamar Eli told the German publication Welt. The youngsters — all of whom hail from economically disadvantaged families in Haifa — traveled to Germany to see UEFA Champions League regulars Borussia Dortmund play at their famous BVB Stadion, thanks to a financial gift from the Israeli branch of the German soccer team’s fan club. But when the group boarded a bus to Amsterdam airport, their Israeli identification documents attracted the hostility of staff onboard. (Algemeiner, Apr. 8, 2019)
“Notorious Islamist activist Linda Sarsour appears an earnest advocate of Islamist-progressivism, calling for (an ostensibly non-violent) “jihad” against Donald Trump, and quipping: “You’ll know when you’re living under Sharia Law if suddenly all your loans & credit cards become interest free. Sound nice, doesn’t it?” In 2014, praising the fact that Saudi Arabia reportedly provides women with ten weeks of paid maternity leave, Sarsour denounced opponents of Saudi’s ban on female drivers (which has since been lifted) and claimed that Saudi put the U.S to shame. Sarsour is a harbinger of a broader trend. Whether American Islamist movements intended to embrace progressivism authentically or not, many Islamist groups are now so firmly entrenched in the progressive movement that a generation of young American Muslims is growing up convinced that the progressivist social justice and sexual identity narratives are intrinsic components of the Islamist agenda. No wonder some traditional Islamists speak out so forcefully against “liberal ideology,” or caution against too tight an embrace of progressivist allies – their own radicalism is being supplanted.” – Sam Westrop writes in an article entitled, “Creeping Theo-Progressivism.” (City Journal, Mar. 12, 2019)
“But we must counter with stubborn questions. Can one really distinguish a “softer” antisemitism from a more virulent kind? In other words, did those “saved” Jews ever feel completely at ease? Isn’t being uprooted, separated from family and incarcerated in French labor camps, rather than sent east, still antisemitic? Finally, the most obvious question: How did the authorities—German and French—still manage to murder 80,000 Jews, including 11,000 children? This debate will persist.” – Ronald C. Rosbottom writes in a review of Jacques Semelin’s book “The Survival of the Jews in France 1940-44.” Mr. Rosbottom is the author of “When Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation, 1940-1944” and the forthcoming “Sudden Courage: Youth in France Confront the Germans, 1940-1945.” (WSJ, Apr. 10, 2019)
“The hearing today is not about “white nationalism” or “hate crimes.” It’s about fear-mongering, power and control. It’s a preview of the 2020 Democrat election strategy… what they want to say is that brown people need to be scared which seems to be the narrative that we hear every four years right ahead of a presidential election.… White supremacy, racism, white nationalism, words that once held real meaning, have now become nothing more than election strategies… My point is that white nationalism did not do any of those things that I just brought up. Democrat policies did.” – Conservative commentator and activist Candance Owens’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. Owens is the founder of Blexit, a campaign to encourage African Americans to abandon the Democratic Party and register as Republicans. (The American Spectator, Apr. 10, 2019)
WITH ALMOST ALL VOTES IN, NETANYAHU-LED RIGHT WINS DECISIVELY (Jerusalem) — With some 97 percent of votes in Tuesday’s contest counted, his Likud party was tied with Blue and White, but his right-wing/ultra-Orthodox bloc held a decisive lead and Netanyahu was thus safely en route to forming a majority governing coalition. # of Knesset Seats (compared to 2015) (Times of Israel, Apr. 10, 2019)
DRUZE WOMAN SET TO ENTER KNESSET IN ISRAELI FIRST (Jerusalem) — Gadeer Mreeh of the Blue and White party will become the first woman of Druze ethnicity to become a Member of Knesset. A former news anchor, the 34-year-old mother of two is from the northern Israeli town of Daliyat al-Karmel. The Middle-Eastern Druze people regularly serve in the IDF and other aspects of Israeli society. Other Druze politicians include Likud’s Ayoob Kara, also from Daliyat al-Karmel. (Jerusalem Post, Apr. 10, 2019)
TRUMP DESIGNATES ELITE IRANIAN MILITARY FORCE AS A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION (Washington) — Administration officials said the move is a response to Iran’s destabilizing behavior across the Middle East. Formed after the Islamic revolution in 1979, the IRGC is not only Iran’s most powerful military institution, it holds deep influence over domestic politics and the economy, with interests extending to and beyond the construction, telecommunications, auto and energy industries. (CNN, Apr. 8, 2019)
LEADING JEWISH, PRO-ISRAEL GROUPS PRAISE TRUMP’S DESIGNATION OF IRAN’S REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS AS TERRORIST ORGANIZATION (U.S.) – The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, American Jewish Committee, AIPAC, and former senator Joseph Lieberman and ambassador Mark D. Wallace of the watchdog United Against Nuclear Iran all applauded President Trump’s administration for its decision to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization. (Algemeiner, Apr. 8, 2019)
AIRBNB BACKS DOWN THANKS TO SHURAT HADIN – ISRAEL LAW CENTER (Washington) –This dramatic announcement comes in the wake of negotiations between the Shurat HaDin Law Center and AIRBNB in recent weeks to rescind the company’s decision to delist the properties of Jewish homeowners in Judea and Samaria and as result of a federal lawsuit filed by the Shurat HaDin organization against the AIRBNB on behalf of Israeli-American homeowners. (Eye on Antisemitism, Apr. 4, 2019)
ISRAEL’S BERESHEET SPACE PROBE PREPARES FOR HISTORIC MOON LANDING (Cape Canaveral) — The Beresheet space probe is scheduled to touch down between 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. et., settling on a vast lava plain on the lunar nearside known as mare serenitatis, or the sea of serenity. the landing will be livestreamed by Spaceil, the Israeli nonprofit organization behind the mission, and Israel aerospace industries, the company that built the four-legged spacecraft. in the history of space exploration, only the U.S., Russia and China have landed a spacecraft on the moon. (MACH, Apr. 9, 2019)
Honourary Col. David Hart, Dieppe vet, dies at 101 (Montreal) — Honorary Colonel David Hart, MM, CD of the 34th signals regiment, a veteran of the World War II battle of Dieppe and Canada’s oldest and longest serving officer, was laid to rest following his death at the age of 101. Col. Hart “had been awarded the military medal for bravery on the battlefield as a young sergeant at the battle of Dieppe in 1942 before being commissioned as an infantry officer,” the RMR announcement said. (Suburban, Mar. 31, 2019)
ALGERIA’S PRESIDENT, ABDELAZIZ BOUTEFLIKA, RESIGNS (Algiers) –The president’s resignation followed weeks of huge anti-government demonstrations in Algiers, the nation’s capital. He’d lost the support of the judiciary, the military, and even his own long-ruling party, the National Liberation Front, which had a lock on power since the 1990s following a disastrous civil war that expunged the NLF’s primary challenger at the time, the Islamic Salvation Front, at the cost of over 100,000 lives. (National Post, Apr. 3, 2019)
THE INTERSECTIONAL, ANTISEMITIC ‘DEADLY EXCHANGE’ CAMPAIGN COMES TO CAMPUS (U.S.) – A new antisemitic “Deadly Exchange” campaign is making its debut on various campuses during this year’s Israel Apartheid Week (IAW). The campaign traffics in tropes and canards about Jewish power in order to accuse Israel and US-based Jewish organizations, like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), for conspiring to harm and oppress American black and brown people. They claim that the ADL funds and sponsors American-Israeli police exchange programs and counter-terrorism seminars where US law-enforcement officials allegedly learn “worst practices.” (Algemeiner, Apr. 8, 2019)
MADONNA TO PERFORM AT EUROVISION FINALS IN ISRAEL (Tel Aviv) — The Michigan-born music icon Madonna will perform two songs, including one from her upcoming album, at the Eurovision Song Contest grand finale in Tel Aviv on May 18. Israeli-Canadian billionaire Sylvan Adams will cover the $1.3 million cost to bring in the superstar, who last performed in Israel in 2012 when she kicked off her world tour in Tel Aviv. (Jewish Press, Apr. 9, 2019)
FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN ISRAEL JUMPED 30 PERCENT BETWEEN 2015 TO 2017 (Jerusalem) — Foreign investment in Israel jumped 30 percent in two years, according to a new report from the Central Bureau of Statistics. The report states that foreign investments in Israel totaled $129.1 billion for 2017, a 20.2 percent increase compared to 2016 and 30 percent higher than 2015, which saw foreign investment of under $100 billion. (Jewish Press, Apr. 8, 2019)
‘JEWS HAVE TO DIE!’: RABBI RECOUNTS ANTISEMITIC ASSAULT ON SYNAGOGUE WORSHIPPERS FOLLOWING FRIDAY NIGHT SERVICES (Buenos Aires) — Rabbi Uriel Husni of the Mikdash Yosef synagogue in the Palermo district of Buenos Aires that was attacked following Shabbat services has called on the Argentine authorities to step up security at Jewish institutions around the country. According to Husni, between 10 and 15 congregants were talking on the sidewalk outside the synagogue when a man and a woman began showering them with antisemitic abuse. As the woman began yelling “Jews have to die! Kill the Jews!” the man accompanying her threw stones and glass shards at the stunned synagogue congregants. (Algemeiner, Apr. 8, 2019)
ISRAELI ISLAMIC STATE FIGHTER STRIPPED OF CITIZENSHIP IN ABSENTIA (Jerusalem) — Interior Minister Aryeh Deri instructed ministry officials to take action in absentia against Abdallah Hajleh at the recommendation of the Shin Bet security service. Deri’s office also asked the Central District Court to bar Hajleh from ever returning to Israel. It wasn’t clear where Hajleh is, or if Israeli authorities know his location. (Times of Israel, Apr. 5, 2019)
GERMANY TO END FUNDING OF EXTREME PRO-IRAN-REGIME GROUP AFTER MEDIA EXPOSÉS (Hamburg) — After a series of exposés in Germany’s top selling paper Bild, the newspaper reported that the interior ministry announced the stoppage of funds for the Shi’ite umbrella organization. Germany’s intelligence agency classifies the Islamic Center in Hamburg – a member of the Shiite organization – as an “instrument” of Khamenei in the federal republic. The association is funded by Germany’s family ministry and the European Union. (Jerusalem Post, Apr. 7, 2019)
POLL: A LARGE MAJORITY OF PALESTINIANS REJECTS LAND SWAPS, SECURITY CONTROL OR CUSTOMS UNION IN FUTURE STATE (West Bank and Gaza) — 78.4% of Palestinians polled said they would not accept any Peace Agreement that included land swaps between Israel and the State of Palestine. Furthermore, 83.9% said they would not accept any future Peace Agreement that includes continued Israeli security control over parts of the Palestinian state. 63.4% said it was not acceptable for any future peace deal to include the integration of Palestinian refugees in neighboring Arab countries. (JMCC Jerusalem, Apr. 8, 2019)
INTERNATIONAL UNION OF MUSLIM SCHOLARS URGES IMAMS TO PREACH ARMED JIHAD AGAINST ISRAEL TO SAVE AL-AQSA (Beirut) — On April 1, 2019, the International Union of Muslim Clerics (IUMS) proclaimed Friday, April 5, 2019 as “Day of Support for Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa and Gaza,” and urged Muslim preachers worldwide to devote their sermon on that day to this topic. The IUMS also posted a sermon it advised the preachers to deliver on that date, which calls for armed jihad against Israel and includes antisemitic motifs. (MEMRI, Apr. 4, 2019)
CANADA’S ABILITY TO MONITOR RETURNING FOREIGN FIGHTERS IS ‘ON THE MARGINS,’ EX-CSIS CHIEF SAYS (Ottawa) – The former director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Richard Fadden said in an interview that 60 to 75 so-called “foreign fighters” have returned to Canada and it’s not immediately clear in all cases what they were involved in overseas. That means they may need to be tracked upon their return and that requires a lot of resources. (National Post, Apr. 2, 2019)
SAUDIS ESCALATE CRACKDOWN ON DISSENT, ARRESTING NINE AND RISKING U.S. IRE (Riyadh) — Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia escalated his crackdown on even the mildest forms of dissent with the arrests this week of at least nine intellectuals, journalists, activists and their family members. Many of the detainees are suspected of having complained to Western journalists and rights groups about the treatment of imprisoned women’s activists. (NYT, Apr. 5, 2019)
U.S. PULLS FORCES FROM LIBYA AS FIGHTING WORSENS AROUND TRIPOLI (Libya) — The United States has temporarily withdrawn some of its forces from Libya due to “security conditions on the ground,” said Marine Corps Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the head of U.S. Africa Command as a Libyan commander’s forces advanced toward the capital of Tripoli and clashed with rival militias. A small contingent of American troops was in Libya in recent years, helping local forces combat Islamic State and al-Qaida militants, as well as protecting diplomatic facilities. (National Post, Apr. 7, 2019)
AS SYRIA STABILIZES, WILL ISRAELI ATTACKS ON SYRIA BECOME MORE DANGEROUS?
How Putin Benefits from the Israeli-Iranian Struggle in Syria: Yaacov Lappin, BESA, Apr. 8, 2019 — Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin have been engaged in a flurry of discussions recently, at least some of which are likely tied to Iranian activities in Syria.
Israeli Strategy in Response to Changes in the Syrian Arena: Ron Tira, INSS Insight No. 1131, January 22, 2019 —
In “’The Culminating Point of Success’: Risk Overload in the Campaign between Wars in Syria” (INSS Insight, January 6, 2019), Brig. Gen. (ret.) Itai Brun argues that new circumstances in the Syrian arena have led to an “overload” of intensifying risks, and therefore the objectives, need, and ability to implement the campaign between wars strategy that Israel has pursued in Syria should be reexamined.
Middle East Nightmare: Could Israeli Strikes in Syria Trigger War With Russia?: Michael Peck, The National Interest, Apr. 6, 2019 — Could Israeli air strikes in Syria trigger war between Israel and Russia?
Washington Is Still Thinking About A New Border Force in Syria: Seth J. Frentzman, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 7, 2019 — The US is still trying to thread the needle between its alliance with Turkey and its partners in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in eastern Syria.
On Topic Links
The Ambassadors Series: A Discussion with Ambassador Danny Danon: Hudson Institute, Mar. 25, 2019 — Hudson Institute hosted Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon for a discussion on U.S.-Israeli relations and Israeli foreign policy.
Israel’s Dilemma over Syrian Reconstruction: Anat Ben Haim, Udi Dekel, INSS Insight No. 1132, Jan. 27, 2019 — In 2018, the Assad regime essentially completed its victory in Syria and shifted its focus from fighting to efforts to rebuild the country.
Middle Israel: How Syria Lost the Golan: Amotz Asa-El, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 29, 2019 — Syria has been partitioned. This is the bottom line of the gruesome civil war that – after eight years, half-a-million fatalities and 10 million refuges – is finally coming to an end.
Russian Special Forces Train Palestinian Militia in Syria: Caleb Weiss, FDD, Mar. 6, 2019 — In a video released yesterday by the Russian propaganda news channel RT, Russian special forces were shown training members of Liwa al Quds, a pro-regime Palestinian militia group in Syria.
HOW PUTIN BENEFITS FROM THE ISRAELI-IRANIAN STRUGGLE IN SYRIA
BESA, Apr. 8, 2019
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin have been engaged in a flurry of discussions recently, at least some of which are likely tied to Iranian activities in Syria.
The meetings come in the shadow of recent reports of a major Israeli airstrike on March 28 that targeted an Iranian weapons warehouse near the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. The strike reportedly resulted in large blasts and casualties.
Russia leads a pro-Assad military coalition in Syria, of which Iranian forces are a central part. It also maintains a deconfliction channel with Israel to avoid unintended clashes between its air force and the Israeli Air Force, both of which are active in the Syrian arena. Putin has also attempted to play the role of mediator between Israel and Iran, seeking to douse the shadow war raging between them on Syrian soil. Israel, for its part, is determined to disrupt Iran’s plan to turn Syria into a war front against it.
Netanyahu flew to Moscow last Thursday for a meeting with Putin, just five days before Israel’s April 9 elections. On April 1, Netanyahu and Putin held a phone conversation to talk about “military cooperation issues,” according to the Kremlin, as well as “pressing bilateral issues” and “the situation in the Middle East region.”
On February 27, the two leaders met in Moscow to discuss Syria. Netanyahu said the two sides reached an agreement on how to coordinate between their militaries. They also apparently agreed on a goal of getting “foreign troops” to leave Syria, according to Netanyahu.
While Russia will not be able to satisfy everyone, it does understand that it will need to leave each side with “half of its desires,” Professor Uzi Rabi, director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, said. To achieve this, Moscow will get every actor to spell out “what is really important to it, and here, Israel has an opportunity to define the range and perimeter of Iran’s actions in Syria,” he added. “In general, this is a new situation that the region is not used to. The Russians are managing this game with many bargaining chips, and Israel will have to adapt itself to the new rules of the game.”
Doron Itzchakov, a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, agreed that the current situation is good for Moscow. “The Russian interest is to position itself as the ‘final judge’ in Syria, and this situation, in which Netanyahu runs to Putin and the Iranian side runs to him, is comfortable for them. They are comfortable with being the ones balancing the scales,” he said.
Iran, for its part, will be closely monitoring Israel’s contacts with Russia and will adapt its policies in Syria accordingly. “The Iranians will be watching out for Russia’s policy in Syria, to see how they need to change their tactics. Iran has no plan to release its grip on Syria, but it will change tactics so as not to lose momentum,” Itzchakov said.
One recent example of how Iran has adapted its takeover efforts in Syria is the way it has embedded its military personnel and weaponry in sites run by the official Syrian Arab Army. This has not stopped Israel from reportedly striking such targets when it detects them.
Itzchakov stressed that Iran’s decisions in Syria cannot be disconnected from Tehran’s wider geopolitical ambitions or from internal power struggles that are raging inside the Islamic Republic. He cited a visit in March by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to neighboring Iraq as an example of this linkage. The goal of that visit was to develop an economic corridor to bypass American sanctions, said Itzchakov… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
ISRAELI STRATEGY IN RESPONSE TO CHANGES IN THE SYRIAN ARENA
INSS Insight No. 1131, January 22, 2019
In “’The Culminating Point of Success’: Risk Overload in the Campaign between Wars in Syria” (INSS Insight, January 6, 2019), Brig. Gen. (ret.) Itai Brun argues that new circumstances in the Syrian arena have led to an “overload” of intensifying risks, and therefore the objectives, need, and ability to implement the campaign between wars strategy that Israel has pursued in Syria should be reexamined. Although he does not call for a halt to the campaign between wars, he prepares the case for reduced and more focused activity. The purpose of this article is to broaden the factual background surveyed in Brun’s article, and then present another thesis regarding the conclusions to be drawn from the analysis.
Brun’s article indicates a number of possible objectives of the campaign between wars that are cited frequently by the Israeli political echelon, including preventing the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah; blocking Iranian entrenchment in Syria; frustrating attempts by Hezbollah, Iran, or Shiite militias to establish a foothold on the Syrian Golan Heights and turn it into a “hot” border; and foiling Hezbollah’s “precision missiles project.” These objectives can be ranked according to their importance to Israel’s national security. However, not every objective represents a vital Israeli interest, and accordingly, as levels of risk and costs change, it is appropriate to reexamine them. Yet it is also possible to argue that foiling the deployment of precision weapons by Iran and Hezbollah in Syria and Lebanon is a vital Israeli national interest that must be secured, even at the cost of assuming a higher level of risk than was assumed in previous years.
In some senses, Israel is an exception in its vulnerability to precision weapons. On the one hand, it is a Western country with advanced critical infrastructures; on the other hand, it is a small country with highly concentrated critical infrastructures and limited redundancy. If we look at electricity production in Israel, for example, out of a national capacity of about 17.6 MW, 28 percent is produced in only two sites (with ten turbines), while the six largest electricity production sites in Israel account for 51 percent of national capacity (with only 26 production units). The picture is similar or even more severe for other critical systems, such as water desalination, gas infrastructure, civil aviation, and certain other civil and military systems.
Israel has an offensive and defensive response to the precision missiles threat, but this response can never be hermetic. Therefore, even the threat posed by a small number of precision missiles that manage to penetrate Israeli defenses could be unprecedented
The establishment of a precision missile echelon by Iran and Hezbollah in Israel’s “first circle” (jargon in Israel for the bordering regions) could give these actors the ability to deliver a paralyzing blow against civil and military systems, causing enormous damage and changing the strategic equation in the theater. To be sure, this threat is not as severe as the one that the Begin Doctrine was designed to prevent, but neither is it akin to the threat posed by a buildup of weapons intended for warfare between armies or statistical weapons aimed at the home front. This is a new category of threat, and because of its severity, the overarching counter idea must be one of prevention and not delay, containment, preemptive strike, or active and passive defense.
The Israeli political echelon uses the language of prevention rather than delay. Yet as Brun states, Israel’s operations until now limited and hindered Iranian entrenchment in Syria and the transfer of weapons to Hezbollah but did not prevent them. Indeed, Israeli strategy in the years 2013-2017 became a victim of its own success: it was so surgical that its strategic footprint was limited, and thus it did not cause the relevant actors to reexamine their policy on this matter.
It is possible to agree that as Syria stabilizes, Israeli attacks within its territory will become less routine and more dangerous. At that point, however, what will be the end states in the campaign against the buildup of a bordering precision weapons echelon by Iran and Hezbollah? Iran will remain in Syria in one way or another; it will have access to the airports, and it seems that once the American forces withdraw, Iran’s overland corridor through Iraq will be even more accessible. Thus, Iran and Hezbollah will have the technical/physical capability to continue transferring high quality weapons to Syria and Lebanon… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
MIDDLE EAST NIGHTMARE: COULD ISRAELI STRIKES IN SYRIA TRIGGER WAR WITH RUSSIA?
The National Interest, Apr. 6, 2019
Could Israeli air strikes in Syria trigger war between Israel and Russia? Israel remains determined to continue pounding Iranian forces in Syria in a bid to keep Tehran’s forces away from Israel’s northern border. At the same time, Russia has thousands of troops in Syria that could be caught in the crossfire—or even become belligerents if Moscow tires of its Syrian ally being pummeled.
And if Israel and Russia come to blows, would Israel’s big brother—the United States—feel compelled to intervene? Not that Jerusalem or Moscow are eager for such a fight. “Neither of us desire a military confrontation,” a senior Israel Defense Forces (IDF) official told me during a recent interview in Jerusalem. “It would be detrimental to both sides.”
Yet Israel’s policy boils down to this: it will do whatever it sees as necessary to eject Iranian forces from Syria. And if Russia doesn’t like it, then that’s just the price of ensuring that Syria doesn’t become another Iranian rocket base on Israel’s border.
Relations between Jerusalem and Moscow are far warmer than during the Cold War. The result is a strange embrace reminiscent of the U.S.-Soviet detente of the 1970s. On the surface, a certain friendliness and desire for cooperation. Yet beneath the smiles is wariness, suspicion and a clash of fundamental interests. “No one in Israel is confused about who the Russians are and who they are aligned with,” said the IDF official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The Russians are not our allies, to put it mildly. We have one ally, and that is the United States. The Russians are here for totally different objectives. They are supporting a regime [Syria] that has an outspoken goal of annihilating Israel if it only could. They are also part of a coalition that supports Iran.”
Just how easily Israeli military operations can trigger an incident became evident during a September 2018 strike on ammunition depots in western Syria. Anti-aircraft missiles launched by Syrian gunners accidentally shot down a Russian Il-20 surveillance aircraft, killing fifteen people. Israel denies Russian accusations that it deliberately used the Russian plane as cover or failed to give Moscow sufficient warning of the raid. Yet Russia still blamed Israel for the mishap and retaliated by supplying advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Syria.
Nonetheless, Israel sees value in Russia as a potential restraint on Iran, and a possible lever to get Iranian forces out of Syria. After a February meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Vladimir Putin to mend fences after the Il-20 incident, Israeli officials claimed Putin had agreed that foreign forces should withdraw from Syria. For Moscow, friendly relations with Israel offer more influence in the Middle East even as America may be scaling down its presence in the region… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
WASHINGTON IS STILL THINKING ABOUT A NEW BORDER FORCE IN SYRIA
Seth J. Frentzman
Jerusalem Post, Apr. 7, 2019
The US is still trying to thread the needle between its alliance with Turkey and its partners in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in eastern Syria. The hope is that a border force or “safe zone” can reduce tensions after the defeat of Islamic State.
Since the US announced its withdrawal from Syria in December last year and then reversed that decision, Washington and Ankara have been discussing what comes next in eastern Syria, where the US has been working with Kurdish and Arab fighters to defeat ISIS.
Jared Szuba, of The Defense Post news site, spoke to Aldar Xelil, a diplomatic relations official from the Movement for a Democratic Society. Xelil’s views reflect the larger thinking of the SDF and Kurdish forces in eastern Syria. The US-led coalition and the SDF declared the defeat of ISIS in its last “caliphate” foothold in the Euphrates Valley in late March. The defeat came three months after US President Donald Trump announced that the US was withdrawing from Syria, which cast a huge question mark over what comes next in the region.
With the support of the US and the coalition, the SDF liberated a huge swath of Syria from ISIS. But this has also increased tensions with Turkey. Ankara has accused the US of working closely with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, which it says is linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). From Ankara’s perspective, this means the PKK has come to control areas of eastern Syria while fighting ISIS with US support.
Turkey has been fighting the PKK since a 2015 ceasefire broke down. It launched operations in Syria in the fall of 2016, and then again in January 2018. In the latter case, it took over the area of Afrin along with Syrian rebel groups, promising that hundreds of thousands of mostly Syrian Arab refugees would return. Kurds fled, and the YPG was defeated in Afrin. Turkey has vowed to launch an operation in eastern Syria to remove the YPG, and Ankara says it will return Kurdish areas to their “true owners.”
From the Kurdish perspective, eastern Syria is a recipe for disaster, as all their gains fighting ISIS will be lost and the relative stability they have brought since 2015 will be scuppered. The US is also concerned. In a recent New Yorker article, Robin Wright sketched out how the US is seen as having “betrayed” its allies in eastern Syria. SDF commander Mazloum Kobani asked, “How could a great country behave like that and abandon its allies in the middle of the fight? … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
TURKEY – IRAN – QATAR: AN EMERGING BLOC
New Middle East Alliance Shakes World Powers: Yossef Bodansky, Yahoo Finance, Mar. 28, 2019 — A new bloc is emerging in the greater Middle East with the declared objectives of dominating the entire Arab world, confronting and containing the US and its allies; and controlling and benefiting from the entire hydro-carbon economy, from production to transportation.
How Saudi Arabia Lost Out To Iran And Turkey Over Failed Qatar Blockade: Mohammed Nuruzzaman: Informed Comment, Aug. 6, 2018 — The 5th of June was the first anniversary of the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar. Imposed on the accusation that Qatar was sponsoring terrorism and destabilizing the Middle East region, the blockade came as a big shock, a bolt from the blue for the Qataris but they have managed to survive it well.
Qatari Ties to Ira
n, Turkey Undermine Regional Security: Iman Zayat, The Arab Weekly, Dec. 16, 2018 — Qatar made a surprise announcement December 3 that it would pull out of OPEC, a move seen as aimed at provoking Saudi Arabia, the organisation’s top exporter.
Oman Will Bend, But Not Break, From Gulf Pressure: Stratfor, Aug. 31, 2018 –The Sultanate of Oman often gets tagged with the cliche of “sleepy” — in part because it has chosen to sit out nearly every major Middle Eastern war since gaining independence in 1971.
On Topic Links
Oman: Between Iran and a Hard Place: Camille Lons, European Council on Foreign Relations, May 3, 2019 — Oman doesn’t like to take sides. In an increasingly polarized region, the oft-ignored Sultanate stands out for its efforts to seek common ground, finding paths to peace that sometimes elude larger powers. small size and its strategic location on the Strait of Hormuz makes it vulnerable to regional tensions and to the ambitions of its more powerful neighbours.
Turkey-Iran-Qatar Entente to Replace US-Israel-Saudi Arabia?: Mordechai Stones, Arutz Sheva, Mar. 1, 2019 — The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported that pro-Putin, anti-liberal Russian think-tank Katehon published an editorial stating a new axis, represented by Iran, Turkey, and Qatar, has been formed.
Is Oman Mediating Between Iran And Israel?: Hossein Alizadeh, Radio Farda, Nov. 12, 2018 — Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu received a warm welcome during his surprise visit to Oman in late October.
Qatar Is in An Uneasy Position as Iran Sanctions Bite: Nick Butler, Financial Times, Nov. 12, 2018 — The next stage of the 30-year dispute between the US and Iran is beginning with the imposition last week of a new round of sanctions on the Islamic republic.
NEW MIDDLE EAST ALLIANCE SHAKES WORLD POWERS
Yahoo Finance, March 28, 2019
A new bloc is emerging in the greater Middle East with the declared objectives of dominating the entire Arab world, confronting and containing the US and its allies; and controlling and benefiting from the entire hydro-carbon economy, from production to transportation. The leading members of the new bloc are Turkey, Iran, and Qatar; with Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan submitting to the new bloc. Russian experts call the new bloc “the Middle Eastern Entente”.
The key to the success of the bloc is the emerging correlation of influence of the great powers in the
aftermath of the wars in Syria and Iraq. Russia and the People’s Republic of China are ready to compromise with the regional powers in order to secure their vital and global interests, while the US, Saudi Arabia and, to a lesser extent, Israel, are the nemeses of the bloc.
The roots of “the Middle Eastern Entente” are in Doha. Qatar in Summer 2017 initiated a myriad of bilat-eral and trilateral discussions with Iran and Turkey after Saudi Arabia and the GCC allies imposed the siege on Qatar in June of that year. However, it was not until the second half of 2018, with the initial impact of the siege largely ameliorated, that the long-term post-war posture of the greater Middle East became a major priority.
It was then that Doha, Tehran, and Ankara started talking about forming a coherent strategic bloc. According to Iman Zayat, the Managing Editor of The Arab Weekly, in late November 2018, the three coun-tries struck a deal in Tehran to create a “joint working group to facilitate the transit of goods between the three countries”. This was the beginning of a profound realignment of the three regional powers. “Qatar has irrevocably joined with Ankara and Tehran against its former Arab allies. It has conclusively positioned itself in a regional alliance that pursues geopolitical dominance by driving instability,” Zayat noted.
It did not take long for the three powers to realize that for such a bloc to succeed it must focus on security issues and not just economic issues. Hectic negotiations followed. In mid-December 2018, the three foreign ministers — Muhammad bin Ab-dulrahman al-Thani, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and Mevlut Çavusoglu — signed the protocols and agreements for the new bloc on the sidelines of the 18th Doha Forum. In the Forum, Qatar formally called for “a new alliance that would replace the four-decade-old Gulf Cooperation Council”. Since then, specific and concrete negotiations on the consolidation of the bloc have been taking place. The final modalities for joint actions and common priorities, particularly the integration of the Arab states, were formulated in early March 2019.
Iran was the dominant force in this phase. The last decisive push for the Arab integration took place during Bashar al-Assad’s visit to Tehran on February 25, 2019. There, he submitted to the demands of the Iranian mullahs and to tight supervision by Tehran. Significantly, during his stay in Tehran, Assad was constantly escorted by Qassem Soleimani, Mahmoud Alavi, and Ali Akbar Velayati, who attended all his meetings with Iranian leaders. In Tehran, Assad committed to supporting the new bloc and to support the greater Middle East the bloc members were trying to create.
The geo-strategic and geo-economic objectives of the bloc are huge, and, as things stand in late March 2019, largely attainable. The first objective of “the Middle Eastern Entente” was to quickly consolidate strong influence, if not hegemony, over Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan before the Fertile Crescent of Minorities could re-emerge as a viable geo-strategic and political entity. The primary rôle of the revived Fertile Crescent of Minorities was to constitute a buffer containing the upsurge of the Sunni Arab milieu and blocking the access of both Iran and Turkey to the heartlands of al-Jazira.
The greatest fear of the bloc members, however, was the possible ascent of the Kurds as a regional power once they internalized the US betrayal and were ready to strike deals with Moscow and Damascus. The overall susceptibility of the four Arab countries to the new regional posture was evident from their blatant disregard of the US sanctions on Iran. Hence, this region would soon become the key to a new grand-strategic and grand-economic posture for the entire greater Middle East… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
HOW SAUDI ARABIA LOST OUT TO IRAN AND TURKEY OVER FAILED QATAR BLOCKADE
Informed Comment, Aug. 6, 2018
The 5th of June was the first anniversary of the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar. Imposed on the accusation that Qatar was sponsoring terrorism and destabilizing the Middle East region, the blockade came as a big shock, a bolt from the blue for the Qataris but they have managed to survive it well. Qatar’s capacity to make quick diplomatic and economic adjustments to weather the impact of the blockade has saved it from a possible collapse. The Gulf state now looks stronger than what it was before the June 2017 diplomatic standoff, even after incurring a huge financial cost of US $43 billion, according to Bloomberg.
In early February this year, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani dubbed the boycott a “futile crisis” manufactured by the neighboring Arab quartet of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt. He claimed that Qatar successfully “preserved its sovereignty” by diffusing the crisis – a claim it is difficult to reject. In the past one year, Qatar neither accepted the 13-point demands of the blockaders, including the shutting down of state broadcaster Al Jazeera, scaling back relations with Iran, and expelling Turkish troops stationed on Qatari soil nor bowed to the pressures of its powerful Arab opponents. Rather, in a tit-for-tat, Qatar has recently banned Saudi, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt-made products in its domestic markets. Boycott blowback is in the offing!
The Saudi-led bloc aimed to coerce Qatar into submission under the financial stress of land, air and sea boycott. But Qatar’s two-pronged diplomatic and economic strategy to fight back the boycott has paid off. It quickly pursued deft diplomacy to find friends outside the GCC and was equally quick to make skillful economic policies to largely neutralize the impact of the Arab commercial siege.
Qatar, despite being a tiny Gulf state, is known for its high-profile foreign policy in and outside the Middle East. It has had a diplomatic reputation of “playing all sides”, including both friends and foes, to its benefits. Being a member of the GCC (created in 1981 primarily to stand up to the so-called Iranian threats) Qatar has maintained good relations with Saudi Arabia’s regional nemesis Iran, allowed Iran’s principal enemy the US to establish the Al-Udeid air base, the largest in the Middle East, outside Doha and even permitted Israel to open and operate a trade outpost in Doha in 1996, first closed down in 2000 due to Iranian and Saudi boycott threats of OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) summit Qatar was hosting at the time and finally in 2009 after the Hamas – Israel winter war of 2008–2009. In an attempt to impress the Obama administration and the Europeans, Qatar also militarily participated in NATO’s 2011 air operations in Libya to dislodge the Gaddafi government, raising eyebrows in Riyadh and Tehran.
The policy of “playing all sides” proved useful for Qatar to seek powerful friends to meet new powerful foes. The old diplomatic adage – the enemy of my enemy is my friend soon came into full play. Doha’s overtures to Saudi opponents Iran and Turkey for political and diplomatic bail out did not go unheeded. Turkey was already enjoying strong ties with Qatar, partly influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood factor and partly influenced by the Erdogan government’s geopolitical drive to reach out to wealthy Gulf region. Capitalizing on a previous defense agreement with Qatar, concluded in the wake of the 2014 diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia and the UAE (the two countries withdrew their ambassadors demanding Qatar stop interfering in their domestic affairs) the Turks sent military contingents to defend Qatar against foreign aggressions (read possible Saudi and UAE military attacks).
Iran, in a similar way, beefed up actions to aid the political and economic defense of Qatar. It buried the hatchet with Qatar as well as Turkey over Syria, where they back up opposite sides and still maintain simmering differences. For Iran’s decision to side with Qatar, a host of strategic considerations, particularly a crack in the GCC bloc to weaken Saudi standing in the Gulf neighborhood and to foil President Trump’s bid to shore up Sunni Muslim support for military actions against Iran played a critical role. Tehran readily offered all-out help – the shipments of food items, the use of Iranian airspace by the Qatar airways and the transition facilities for Turkish goods and services transferred to Qatar through Iran. Iran’s support was no doubt highly critical to Qatar’s survival at the initial “shock and awe” stage. A friend in need is a friend indeed!
On the economic front, Qatar did not experience any crack or crisis so far due to its enormous oil and gas resources, and successful rerouting of trade links with Iran, Turkey and Oman, in particular. It is the world’s largest exporter of LNG (liquefied natural gas) and has access to a nearly infinite gas reserve in the Persian Gulf, which it shares with Iran. With a 77 million tons of LNG production per annum, Qatar is a vital player in the world energy markets and plans to hike its LNG output to 100 million tons between 2022 and 2024 – a factor that discouraged LNG-dependent countries not to cut off diplomatic relations with Doha, notwithstanding the Saudi-led bloc’s campaign to isolate the Gulf state. Its sovereign wealth fund, a huge financial cushion of $320 billion managed by the Qatar Investment Authority, provided the Qatari government with the required liquidity to keep its financial institutions floating and to contain the economic costs of the blockade… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
QATARI TIES TO IRAN, TURKEY UNDERMINE REGIONAL SECURITY
The Arab Weekly, Dec. 16, 2018
Qatar made a surprise announcement December 3 that it would pull out of OPEC, a move seen as aimed at provoking Saudi Arabia, the organisation’s top exporter. A week later, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani skipped the annual Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Riyadh, shunning an invitation from Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Not only did the Qatari moves underline simmering tension within the Arab Gulf region, they demonstrated Doha’s risk of breaking away from the Arab-Sunni orbit.
While the Qatari moves have been depicted as “symbolic” by Doha and as “insignificant” political manoeuvres by its embittered neighbours, they reflect Qatar’s shifting foreign policy that has been dubious and counterintuitive.
Boycotted by a quartet of Arab states — the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt — over its alleged support for terror groups, Doha has gradually slid into an unofficial yet open alliance with Iran, the arch-rival of Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, one of the few remaining havens for Islamist groups, notably the Muslim Brotherhood.
Iran, Turkey and Qatar quietly struck a deal in late November in Tehran to create a “joint working group to facilitate the transit of goods between the three countries.” While the agreement seemed like a modest effort to streamline trade flow to Qatar, which can no longer access air, land and sea routes to neighbouring Arab countries, it has proven to be a mechanism to further the agendas of Ankara and Tehran, which are at loggerheads with Saudi Arabia.
It showed that the Qatar-Iran entente, previously concealed, is out in the open. To put it simply: Qatar has irrevocably joined with Ankara and Tehran against its former Arab allies. It has conclusively positioned itself in a regional alliance that pursues geopolitical dominance by driving instability.
Relations between Iran and Turkey are more complicated. The two countries’ foreign policy agendas have sometimes collided, including in Syria, and they each aim to preserve the glory of their former empires.
While Tehran has tried to resurrect a Persian Shia empire through supporting proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq and elsewhere, Ankara has struggled to rediscover the glory of the Ottoman Empire by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups as they sow division in Arab countries and weaken their social fabric.
However, economic interests and a shared antipathy to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, brought Iran and Turkey closer together. The two countries’ trade volume topped $8 billion over the May-October 2018 period and is expected to rise to $12 billion by March next year, Chairman of Iran-Turkey Chamber of Commerce Reza Kami said… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
OMAN WILL BEND, BUT NOT BREAK, FROM GULF PRESSURE
Stratfor, Aug. 31, 2018
The Sultanate of Oman often gets tagged with the cliche of “sleepy” — in part because it has chosen to sit out nearly every major Middle Eastern war since gaining independence in 1971. Bolstered by its reputation for neutrality, it has become an effective diplomatic go-between for bigger powers, including the United States, Iran and Saudi Arabia, allowing it to become friendly to all and foe to none.
But that might be about to change: An assertive Saudi Arabia, under the direction of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and a resentful Abu Dhabi, led by ambitious Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, sense a chance to reel in Oman and force Muscat to adopt policies that align more closely with their own. Benefiting from a high point in relations with Washington, both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have a window of opportunity to challenge Oman’s neutrality. But to succeed, the Gulf giants’ strategy must be subtle — and there are various ways in which Muscat can resist.
The Big Picture
The United States is pursuing a policy of maximum pressure against Iran that includes reducing support for Tehran elsewhere in the world. One of the weak links in the U.S. sanctions campaign against Iran is Oman. Historically, the United States has tolerated and benefited from Oman’s neutrality, but that tolerance will come under pressure, especially from the Saudis and Emiratis, who bear historical grudges against Muscat. Oman is therefore about to face its biggest challenge to its neutrality since the 1970s.
Oman’s Balancing Act
Situated on the southeastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman has one of the longest histories of any Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) state. Thanks to its location on the trade routes between east and west, Oman has centuries of experience balancing great powers — whether Turkish, Portuguese, British, Persian or Saudi — against one another to preserve its unique identity and independence. Its small size and relatively small resource base in comparison to its Saudi and Emirati neighbors have provided Muscat with a moderately sized economy. That may limit Oman’s ambitions, but it has also endowed it with just enough wealth to maintain its social contract.
Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the reigning monarch since 1970, took the throne just as the United Kingdom exited the Persian Gulf. His early years saw him battle communist rebels in the Dhofar Rebellion of 1962-75, and he worked assiduously to unify, both physically and politically, Oman’s restive interior provinces with its more cosmopolitan coast. As a result of the sultan’s experiences, Oman became risk-averse and focused on stability. Muscat, accordingly, has refrained from picking sides as often as possible — a stance that has enabled the sultanate to become a useful interlocutor among Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United States.
The Costs of Neutrality
The country’s overall commitment to neutrality has, however, meant keeping its Arab neighbors at arm’s length — to the particular chagrin of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Oman has consistently hampered Saudi-Emirati efforts to create a tighter GCC and even killed a 2013 proposal to symbolically become part of a Gulf Union. Muscat also refused to join its more powerful Gulf neighbors in imposing a blockade on Doha last year, choosing instead to retain its links with Qatar and maintain its healthy trade and diplomatic relationship with Iran.
Saudi and Emirati officials have also accused Muscat of giving too much influence to Yemen’s Houthis, even as Oman uses its contacts with the rebel group to facilitate negotiations between them and a Saudi-led coalition seeking to reinstall the Red Sea state’s ousted government. Oman and the United Arab Emirates are also competing for influence in Yemen’s eastern al-Mahrah governorate, which was an exclusively Omani sphere of influence prior to the Emirati intervention in the current Yemeni civil war… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]