WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS OF THE WEEK IN REVIEW” (September 25, 2019)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman meet before a ceremony marking Israel’s receipt of two F-35 Lightning II jets at Nevatim Air Base, Israel, Dec. 12, 2016. (Source:Flickr)

 

Weekly Quotes     Short Takes    For Further Reference

                                       WEEKLY QUOTES

 “During the election campaign, I called for the establishment of a right-wing government but to my regret, the election results show that this is impossible.  Benny, we must set up a brad unity government, as soon as today.  The nation expects us … to demonstrate responsibility and that we pursue co-operation.” – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaches out to Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to form a unity government following the September 17th deadlocked Israeli election.  (India Today, Sept. 19, 2019)

“We will not enter a coalition led by Netanyahu.” — Blue and White leader Moshe Ya’alon said, rejecting a partnership with Mr. Netanyahu.  He cited looming corruption charges against the prime minister, who denied any wrongdoing. “To form a unity government, you do not come forward with political blocs and spins but rather honesty, statesmanship, responsibility and seriousness.” — Blue and White leader Benny Gantz added, dismissing the political bloc deal Netanyahu reached earlier with the leaders of United Torah Judaism, Shas and Yamina. (NY Post, Sept. 19, 2019)

“However scattered the vote, the bulk of it fell in the broad political center, which unfortunately has lost interest in negotiating peace with the Palestinians, and even more so in a two-state solution to the conflict. … Under Mr. Netanyahu, the Israeli government has overtly sided with Mr. Trump and the Republican right wing, encouraging the president to take provocative actions like recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and the Golan Heights as Israeli territory — both in violation of longstanding American and international positions. At the same time, elements of the Democratic Party have grown increasingly suspicious of Israel, if not hostile to it. Mr. Netanyahu’s exit, should it materialize, may halt this dangerous shift and provide a new Israeli government the opportunity to reclaim broad bipartisan support in the United States.” – Editorial responding to the Israeli September 17th Israeli election that ended in a deadlock.  (NYTimes, Sept. 20, 2019)

“Do they want to fight Iran until the last American soldier?  Is that their aim?” – Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif asked in a CNN interview.  “They can be assured that this won’t be the case … because Iran will defend itself.” The consequence of a US or Saudi strike, Mr. Zarif bluntly said is: “An all-out war. … I’m making a very serious statement that we don’t want war.  We don’t want to engage in a military confrontation.  We believe that a military confrontation based on deception is awful.” (Time, Sept. 20, 2019)

“All nations have a duty to act. No responsible government should subsidize Iran‘s blood lust. As long as Iran‘s menacing behavior continues sanctions will not be lifted, they will be tightened.” — US President Donald Trump said at the UN General Assembly.  He further accused Tehran of trafficking in “monstrous anti-Semitism” and engaging in a “fanatical quest” to obtain nuclear weapons. He added, the rogue regime’s aggression had created newfound regional alliances to counter the Iranian threat. “Thankfully, there is a growing recognition in the wider Middle East that the countries of the region share common interest in battling extremism and unleashing economic opportunity. That is why it’s so important to have full normalized relations between Israel and its neighbors.” (AlgemeinerTimes of Israel, Sept. 24, 2019)

“Our mission set is to avoid war.  You saw what Secretary Esper announced on Friday:  We are putting additional forces in the region for the purpose of deterrence and defense … If that deterrence should continue to fail, I am confident that President Trump would continue to take the actions that are necessary.” – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during an interview with Fox News regarding President Trump’s response to Iran’s attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves.  (Reuters, Sept. 22, 2019)

“On the other hand, Mr. Trump complained that in 2016 he had been cast unfairly as a warmonger who was “going to blow everybody up.”  He said that “people are very surprised” and “thrilled” that he has not employed the military against Iran.  Responding to complaints that he has shown weakness in recent months by not responding to Iranian aggression with force, Mr. Trump retorted, “Actually, in my opinion, it shows strength.” — Journalists Helene Cooper and Michael Crowley wrote in reference to President Trump’s decision to send a modest deployment of troops to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in light of attacks on Saudi oil facilities, which his administration blames on Iran.  (NY Times, Sept. 20, 2019)

“It is clear to us that Iran bears responsibility for this attack. There is no other plausible explanation.”  – A joint statement by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and French President Emmanuel Macron blaming Tehran for the Sept. 14 attack on Saudi Arabia. The European trio also called for Iran “to accept negotiation on a long-term framework for its nuclear programme as well as on issues related to regional security, including its missiles programme and other means of delivery.”  (WSJ, Sept. 24, 2019)

“Iran has responded by a strategy of maximum pressure on its regional environment, on its neighbors. Peace is at the mercy of an incident, of a miscalculation, and the consequences for the region would be very serious.” – French President Emmanuel Macron told the United Nations General Assembly.  (Washington Examiner, Sept. 24, 2019)

Columbia University’s decision to host Malysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed was “consistent with the double standard against Jewish people, which would never be tolerated with someone who spoke similarly against people of color, gay people or other minorities.” – World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder wrote in a letter sent to Columbia University President Lee Bollinger. Lauder went on tell Bollinger he would be encouraging his friends to “immediately cease any of their contributions to your institution until such a time anti-Semitic despots are no longer welcome on your campus.” Prime Minister Mohamed has a long record of antisemitic statements. (Algemeiner, Sept. 24, 2019)

“So we are all clear what’s happening. House Democrats are supposedly beginning an impeachment inquiry, and building it on an anonymous secondhand complaint they haven’t seen… which describes a call transcript that they haven’t read. You can’t make it up.” — Republican North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows scoffed at House Democrats for moving forward on an impeachment inquiry against President Trump without having seen the evidence. (Washington Examiner, Sept. 25, 2019)

  SHORT TAKES

UN RELEASES ‘UNPRECEDENTED’ REPORT LINKING ANTISEMITISM TO BDS MOVEMENT (NYC) — The report, “Combatting Antisemitism to Eliminate Discrimination and Intolerance Based on Religion or Belief,” that was released by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed, defines antisemitism as a global phenomenon—not one largely confined to the United States and Europe—as has been the case in many previous UN reports. The Special Rapporteur recognizes that the sources of antisemitism are varied, coming from the far right, from members of radical Islamist groups and from the political left. Additionally, the report “notes claims that the objectives, activities and effects of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement are fundamentally antisemitic.” (Algemeiner, Sept. 24, 2019)

SHOCK AND OUTRAGE GREETS MAN SYMPATHETIC TO SYRIAN DICTATOR BASHAR AL-ASSAD PICKED TO BE AN HONORARY CONSUL IN MONTREAL (Ottawa) — Waseem Ramli — whose duties will include providing services to people who fled Assad’s bloody civil war —  appears to have made no secret of his loyalties to Bashar Al – Assad. More than 50,000 Syrian refugees  have arrived in Canada since 2015, many of whom now live in Montreal, and likely wouldn’t have had time to get their documents in order before fleeing the country. (National Post, Sept. 25, 2019)

SECRET F.B.I. SUBPOENAS SCOOP UP PERSONAL DATA FROM SCORES OF COMPANIES (Washington) — The F.B.I. has used secret subpoenas to obtain personal data from far more companies than previously disclosed, newly released documents show. The documents, obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit shed light on the scope of the demands — more than 120 companies and other entities were included in the filing — and raise questions about the effectiveness of a 2015 law that was intended to increase transparency around them. (NYTimes, Sept. 20, 2019)

U.S. DRONE ATTACKS ISIS FIGHTERS IN SOUTHERN LIBYA (Libya) — The United States military carried out an airstrike against Islamic State fighters in southern Libya in a reminder of the terrorist group’s continuing operations and resilience far from its main guerrilla strongholds in Iraq and Syria. The strike killed eight militants in a compound in Murzuq, Libya, nearly 600 miles south of Tripoli, the capital. It was the first American airstrike this year in Libya against Islamic State or Qaeda fighters, after the military conducted six aerial attacks last year, most recently in November 2018. (NYTimes, Sept. 20, 2019)

WASHINGTON DENIES VISA ENTRY TO HEZBOLLAH’S MINISTER (Washington) — Washington refused to grant a travel visa to Lebanon’s Health Minister Jamil Jabak, the representative of Hezbollah in the government.  This was ahead of a scheduled visit to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly as part of the official delegation accompanying President Michel Aoun. His demand was rejected because he belonged to the ministers named by Hezbollah in the current government, which is headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri. (Asharq al Awsat, Sept. 20, 2019)

AUSTRIA TO GIVE CITIZENSHIP TO DESCENDANTS OF NAZI VICTIMS (Vienna) — Under a new law, Austria will grant citizenship to claimants who can prove that one of their ancestors was forced out of the country by the Nazi regime. A broad majority voted for the law in parliament, with the local Jewish community also expressing their approval. “With this decision, the Republic of Austria is living up to its historic responsibility,” said Oskar Deutsch, president of the Jewish Community in Vienna organization (Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien). (DW, Sept. 20, 2019)

ISRAEL BLASTS TURKEY’S ERDOGAN FOR COMMENTS AT UN LIBELING JEWISH STATE (Jerusalem) — A report from Turkey’s Anadolu news agency said that Erdogan told a delegation of American Muslims on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly that “when we look at the Nazi murder of the Jews, we see the massacre in the Gaza Strip from the same perspective.” Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz hit back, tweeting, “There is no other way to interpret Erdogan’s crude and vile words — it is anti-Semitism, clear cut. This is proof that the responsibility of #HolocaustRemembrance is more relevant now than ever.” (Algemeiner, Sept. 24, 2019)

ISRAEL’S NATIONAL BASEBALL TEAM WINS BIG VICTORY OVER SOUTH AFRICA TO QUALIFY FOR 2020 OLYMPICS (Jerusalem) — Israel’s national baseball team made history when it qualified for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. In the final game of the qualifying tournaments, Israel defeated the South African national team 11-1, winning a spot for Israel’s burgeoning Olympic delegation. (Algemeiner, Sept. 22, 2019)

POLL:  65% OF ISRAELI ARABS ARE PROUD OF THEIR CITIZENSHIP (Jerusalem) — The Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research at the Israel Democracy Institute found that most Arab Israelis are in favor of the Arab parties joining the government, but do not recognize Israel’s right to define itself as the nation-state of the Jewish People. Additionally – 65% of Arabs are proud to be Israeli – the highest since 2003. (The Israel Democracy Institute, Sept. 22, 2019)

TILLERSON ACCUSES NETANYAHU OF LYING TO TRUMP, CONVINCING HIM ‘ISRAEL ARE THE GOOD GUYS’ (Cambridge, Mass.) — Former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says “it’s always useful to carry a healthy amount of skepticism” when talking to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Speaking at Harvard University, Tillerson charged that despite the close relationship with Israel, Washington had to be wary of its close ally because of a tendency on Israel’s part to share “misinformation” to persuade the U.S. that ‘We’re the good guys, they’re the bad guys,” reports The Harvard Gazette. (WIN, Sept. 20, 2019)

FRUSTRATION IN TRUMP RANKS: ISRAEL FRITTERING AWAY GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY (Washington) — Trump administration officials have expressed “great frustration” at the current political struggles in Israel. “Senior officials in the U.S. government, knowledgeable about the contacts between Israel and the U.S., said in private conversations that the political stalemate leads to the loss of a meaningful opportunity for the State of Israel,” the daily Yisrael Hayom says. (WIN, Sept. 24, 2019)

ABBAS VOWS: BOYCOTT OF TRUMP WILL CONTINUE UNTIL US REVERSES POLICIES (NYC) – At the UN General Assembly, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas wasted no time taking shots at President Donald Trump, calling him “biased” towards Israel and saying that his decisions have been “destructive to the peace process.” Among the moves by the Trump administration as being particularly harmful to peace negotiations, Abbas cited the transfer of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and the administration’s freeze on financial aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA). (WIN, Sept. 24, 2019)

COLUMBIA JEWISH STUDENTS CALL FOR PROTECTION AHEAD OF UPCOMING SPEECH ON CAMPUS BY ANTISEMITIC MALAYSIAN PM (NYC) — A Change.org petition protesting an upcoming Sept. 25 speech at Columbia University by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad — who has a long record of antisemitic statements — had received more than 800 signatures by Friday afternoon. “Universities should present divergent and radical opinions, but they are not environments in which absolutely anything goes,” the petition — an initiative of the Students Supporting Israel (SSI) chapter at Columbia — says. “A language that encourages racism, bigotry and hate speech has no place in academic discourse.” (Algemeiner, Sept. 20, 2019)

ANTI-SEMITIC HARASSMENT AT U.S. COLLEGE CAMPUSES HITS HISTORIC LEVELS (Washington) — Harassment of students who expressed pro-Israel ideologies jumped 70 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to a new report by the AMCHA Initiative, a campus organization that monitors anti-Semitism on more than 400 college campuses and that has recorded some 2,500 anti-Semitic incidents across the U.S. since 2015. AMCHA found in its latest report that while examples of classical anti-Semitism decreased overall, there has been a major spike in students being targeted for hate speech and violence due to their open support for the state of Israel. (Jewish Press, Sept. 22, 2019)

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ORDERS DUKE, UNC TO ADDRESS ALLEGED PRO-ISLAM BIAS OR LOSE FUNDING (Washington) — The Trump administration is threatening to cut funding for a Middle East studies program run by the University of North Carolina and Duke University, arguing that it’s misusing a federal grant to advance “ideological priorities” and unfairly promote “the positive aspects of Islam” but not Christianity or Judaism. An Aug. 29 letter from the U.S. Education Department orders the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies to revise its offerings by Sept. 22 or risk losing future funding from a federal grant that’s awarded to dozens of universities to support foreign language instruction. The consortium received $235,000 from the grant last year, according to Education Department data. (NBS News, Sept. 20, 2019)

                                FOR FURTHER REFERENCE:

Don’t Cheer on the Joint List:  Liel Leibovitz, Tablet, Sept. 23, 2019 — When the Joint List, the Arab party that emerged as Israel’s third largest in the recent round of elections, endorsed Benny Gantz as its candidate for prime minister on Sunday, pundits took to every available perch to declare the moment historic.