WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS OF THE WEEK IN REVIEW”

MEDIA-OCRITY OF THE WEEK: TRUMP TO IRAN: AMERICA’S WORD IS WORTHLESS “President Trump is withdrawing the United States from an Iran nuclear deal that has worked, in the name of unrelated demands that are unworkable, at very high cost to America’s alliances and the value of its word, with no viable alternative policy in place and at the risk of igniting the Middle East. Only Trump can believe that makes sense. But believe it he does, with a vengeance. From Day 1, it has been the deal Trump loves to hate. He knows who authorized it: Barack Obama. Whether he knows its content is another matter…Trump was led to this decision not by any serious calculus about the deal, but by his susceptibility to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi fury at Iran, the pressure of conservative American Jews who support him and his iron principle that whatever Obama did must be bad. He succumbed to Iran derangement syndrome, a well-known American condition…Perhaps something can be salvaged by European powers. I doubt it. Trump has done what he likes to do: express his anger, break things and hope for the best. His Iran decision is a reckless gamble, even by his standards, the shredding of a singular diplomatic achievement.” — Roger Cohen. (New York Times, May 8, 2018)

On Topic Links

The Mossad’s Stupendous Achievement in Tehran: Melanie Phillips, Jewish Press, May 7, 2018

Iran Wants To Retaliate Against Israel, But How?: Seth Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 30, 2018

Let Abbas’s Vile Words Be His Last as Palestinian Leader: Editorial, New York Times, May 2, 2018

Meet Two of the Women Leading the Effort to Overhaul Politics in Lebanon: Eric Reguly, Globe & Mail, May 2, 2018

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

“Israel fully supports President Trump’s bold decision today to reject the disastrous nuclear deal with the terrorist regime in Tehran…Israel has opposed the nuclear deal from the start because we said that rather than blocking Iran’s path to a bomb, the deal actually paved Iran’s path to an entire arsenal of nuclear bombs, and this within a few years’ time. The removal of sanctions under the deal has already produced disastrous results…The deal didn’t push war further away, it actually brought it closer. The deal didn’t reduce Iran’s aggression, it dramatically increased it, and we see this across the entire Middle East. Since the deal, we’ve seen Iran’s aggression grow every day — in Iraq, in Lebanon, in Yemen, in Gaza, and most of all, in Syria, where Iran is trying to establish military bases from which to attack Israel.” — Prime Minister Netanyahu. (Algemeiner, May 8, 2018)

“The decision that the president signed today puts sanctions back in place that existed at the time of the deal, puts them in place immediately…No new contracts are permitted…We’re prepared, along with the Europeans and others, to talk about a much broader deal addressing all of the aspects of Iran’s conduct that we find objectionable.” — National Security Adviser John Bolton. Bolton portrayed the deal as “fundamentally flawed” and unable to block Iran’s path to the bomb. “It does not do what it purports to do,” he said. “It does not prevent Iran from developing deliverable nuclear weapons.” Forged in July 2015, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action removed sanctions against Iran in exchange for a series of restrictions on its nuclear program. Since then, both the US intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency have said that Tehran is honoring its commitments under the deal. Speaking about the consequences for countries that do business with Iran, Bolton explained that the firms will have a months-long wind-down period to abrogate existing contracts. There will be a ban on any new contracts, which would be subjected to sanctions. (Times of Israel, May 9, 2018)

“The goal is to put Iran’s rulers to a fundamental choice. They can opt to have a functioning economy, free of sanctions and open to investment, at the price of permanently, verifiably and irreversibly forgoing a nuclear option and abandoning their support for terrorists. Or they can pursue their nuclear ambitions at the cost of economic ruin and possible war. But they are no longer entitled to Barack Obama’s sweetheart deal of getting sanctions lifted first, retaining their nuclear options for later, and sponsoring terrorism throughout. Trump’s courageous decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal will clarify the stakes for Tehran. Now we’ll see whether the administration is capable of following through.” — Bret Stephens. (New York Times, May 8, 2018)

“We do not trust the three European countries, like we don’t trust the US… Without receiving a strong guarantee from these three European countries, we won’t stick to the nuclear agreement.” — Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iran’s “supreme leader” cast fresh doubts on the survival of the 2015 nuclear deal when he admitted frankly that the Tehran regime views France, Germany and the UK with the same suspicion as it does the U.S. His comment notably undercut the commitment made by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to remain in the JCPOA while “pursuing constructive engagement with the world.” Khamenei warned that any Iranian concessions to the US would inevitably lead to the American government demanding more. “We accepted the JCPOA, but enmities with the Islamic Republic did not end,” he said. “Now they raise the issue of our presence in the region and the issue of missiles. If we accept them too, they will bring up another issue.” Khamenei added that Trump’s “ugly and silly behavior” was no different from that of his predecessors. “Those ex-presidents have died and their bones are rotten, but the Islamic Republic is still there,” he said. As if to underline the Khamenei’s message, a group of Iranian parliamentarians gathered on the podium of their chamber to set fire to a US flag, chanting “Death to America” and stamping on the flag’s ashes. (Algemeiner, May 9, 2018)

“In January 2016, more than two years into the deal that former president Barack Obama had sought to enshrine as his enduring foreign policy legacy, $100 billion in Iranian assets were unfrozen in sanctions relief in return for the Khomeinist regime’s compliance with the terms of the deal. The Iranian people have seen none of the benefits. The Khomeinist regime has not shifted its boot from the necks of the Iranian people. Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has engorged itself with infusions of cash and bolstered its arsenals with new acquisitions of deadly weaponry. The tyranny in Damascus is now a Khomeinist satrapy, underwritten by the Kremlin…Obama’s arrangements invited, facilitated and advanced the greatest refugee catastrophe since the Second World War and the bloodiest upheavals in the Middle East since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago. Say what you like about the thuggish, know-nothing figure of Donald Trump and the uncharted darkness of the world he is dragging us all into. Obama made himself hostage to his own legacy ambitions, and twilight had already fallen over the American epoch long before Trump showed up.” — Terry Glavin. (National Post, May 9, 2018)

“It’s not clear that the Art of the Deal works…Obviously Trump has an appetite for risk that has led him to huge successes and four bankruptcies. This is clearly another example of a hugely risky negotiating strategy that could yield extremely positive results or be a potential disaster.” — Mark Dubowitz, of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Foreign policy experts have warned for months that if Trump backs out of the Iran deal, it will make it harder to convince North Korea that the U.S. will live up to any commitments brokered as part of an agreement to remove nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula. But Trump and his aides disagree. Ditching the Iran deal, in their view, shows North Korea that Trump won’t accept terms that allow it to eventually restart a nuclear program. (Time, May 8, 2018) 

“The United States does not need John Kerry’s possibly illegal Shadow Diplomacy on the very badly negotiated Iran Deal…He was the one that created this MESS in the first place!” —  President Trump, slamming former Secretary of State John Kerry for reportedly working to save the Iran nuclear deal. Trump’s tweet comes after The Boston Globe reported last week that Kerry met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was Kerry’s counterpart when he served as secretary of State, to speak about how to protect the accord. Kerry has also met with other world leaders, including French President Macron and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. (The Hill, May 7, 2018) 

“If people were offended by my statement in front of the P.N.C., especially people of the Jewish faith, I apologize to them…I would like to assure everyone that it was not my intention to do so, and to reiterate my full respect for the Jewish faith, as well as other monotheistic faiths.” — President Mahmoud Abbas of the PA. Abbas apologized for any possible offense caused by a speech he made last week laced with antisemitic tropes, including the claim that the Jews of Europe brought persecution and the Holocaust upon themselves by engaging in usury and banking. He portrayed the Jews as having no genuine historical connection to the land of Israel and as victims not of antisemitism, but of their own behavior. “The Jewish question that was widespread throughout Europe was not against their religion,” he said, “but against their social function, which relates to usury and banking and such.” Citing Oliver Cromwell, Napoleon, Stalin and others, he insisted that Israel had grown out of a European colonial project that had nothing to do with Jewish history or aspirations. (New York Times, May 4, 2018)

“Disgusting anti-Semitic statements from the Palestinian leadership obviously undermine the prospects for Middle East peace…When the Security Council cannot reach consensus on denouncing such actions, it only further undermines the U.N.’s credibility in addressing this critical issue.” — U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki R. Haley. The uproar over the speech by Abbas reverberated on at the 15-member United Nations Security Council, where Haley submitted a statement subject to unanimous approval describing the speech as reprehensible and calling on him to “refrain from anti-Semitic comments.” (New York Times, May 4, 2018)

“Abbas’ anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric is the height of maliciousness, and no one can expect to arrive at an agreement with a leader who peddles such anti-Semitic tropes. Abbas perpetuating vile conspiracy theories and falsifying history does nothing for the Middle East peace process. It does, however, elevate hatred to a new level.” — B’nai B’rith International President Gary P. Saltzman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin. (Algemeiner, May 2, 2018) 

“If Assad continues to let the Iranians operate from Syrian soil, he should know that he signed his own death warrant and that it will be his end. We will topple his regime…Assad cannot sit calmly in his palace and rehabilitate his regime while letting Syria be turned into a base for attacks against the State of Israel. It’s very simple.” — Yuval Steinitz, Israeli minister of infrastructure, energy and water resources. Steinitz threatened that Israel could kill Syrian President Assad if his regime doesn’t prevent Iranian forces from launching attacks against Israel from his territory. The warning came amid reports that Tehran is planning a revenge missile strike against Israel.  “Everyone needs to understand that we have red lines,” added Steinitz. “If anybody is interested in preserving Assad’s survival, they should tell him to prevent missile and drone attacks on Israel.” (Times of Israel, May 7, 2018)

“Iran hangs its gay citizens. It persecutes women. It prohibits basic freedoms. It directly supports the Syrian regime’s assault on its own civilians, and its proxies, such as Hezbollah, use civilians as cannon fodder in Iran’s endless, fanatical crusade against Israel. None of this is disputed. The only surprise is coming from Ottawa, where our Liberal government continues to seek a rapprochement with this most deplorable regime. The Globe and Mail reported this week on documents showing the government making plans to welcome Iranian officials at some point for meetings in Ottawa. The documents also reported that “Canadian officials visited Tehran in May and October 2017 to discuss re-engagement and a range of regional and bilateral issues.” We know the character of this regime. We know this kind of evil from history. And yet the Liberal government continues to work to build warmer diplomatic relations with Iran, ending our principled isolation of this rogue state. Why?” — Editorial. (National Post, May 4, 218)

 

Contents

 

SHORT TAKES

REPORT: 8 IRANIANS AMONG 15 DEAD IN SYRIA STRIKE (Damascus) — Israeli jets carried out strikes on Syrian bases on Tuesday, where there is a significant Iranian presence, according to Syrian sources. Two Israeli missiles were downed near Damascus which were targeting a weapons convoy at the base. Syrian sources reported that nine fighters belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps or pro-Iranian militias were killed in the attack. Iran, according to intelligence, is thought to be determined to carry out an attack on Israel, and may soon execute the strike in retaliation for an alleged Israeli strike two months ago on the Assad regime’s T-4 airbase that is used by Iran. (Jerusalem Post, May 9, 2018) 

HEZBOLLAH-LED ALLIANCE RISES IN LEBANON ELECTIONS (Beirut) — Lebanon’s Iranian-backed, Hezbollah-led alliance strengthened its position in the sectarian-riven parliament in the country’s first election in nine years, highlighting Iran’s regional rise. The alliance was on course to win half or more of the seats in the 128-seat parliament, in a power shift that will reduce Saudi Arabia’s influence in the government. While Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a Sunni who was born in Saudi Arabia and who leads the Saudi-backed Future Movement party, is expected to keep his job, the Hezbollah bloc’s rising influence will almost certainly allow it to capture more cabinet seats. (Globe & Mail, May 7, 2018)

TRIPOLI BOMB BLASTS DEAL BLOW TO LIBYA (Tripoli) — Plans for Libya to hold elections and end its civil war were dealt a blow by an I.S. attack on the headquarters of its High National Election Commission. At least 14 were killed when a team of gunmen stormed the headquarters in Tripoli, spraying office workers with gunfire before two of the attackers blew themselves up. The terror group endured a sharp defeat in 2016 when its headquarters in the town of Sirte, Gaddafi’s former hometown, was captured by Libyan militias working in concert with US air strikes. However, that defeat has failed to rid Libya of I.S., which has staged periodic attacks in central Libya in recent months. (The National, May 3, 2018)

BOMBING AT VOTER REGISTRATION CENTRE IN AFGHANISTAN KILLS 14 (Kabul) — A bomb blast inside a mosque in eastern Afghanistan that was being used as a voter registration centre killed at least 14 people and wounded 33. Afghanistan plans to hold elections in October, the first since 2014. Both the Taliban and a local I.S. affiliate reject democratic elections and have targeted them in the past. Last month, an I.S. suicide bomber attacked a voter registration center in Kabul, killing 60 people and wounding at least 130 others. The Taliban and IS have launched a relentless wave of attacks since the start of the year, killing scores of civilians in the capital, Kabul, and elsewhere.  (CTV, May 6, 2018)

IN SYRIA, AIRSTRIKES KILL AT LEAST 23 (Damascus) — Airstrikes killed at least 23 civilians last week in one of the last pockets of I.S.-controlled territory in Syria, as U.S.-backed forces in the area announced they have resumed their campaign against the extremists. It was not clear if the airstrikes were carried out by the U.S.-led coalition or the Iraqi air force. The strikes reportedly killed 10 children, six women and seven elderly people. The Syrian News Agency said 25 civilians were killed in the airstrikes south of the town of Shadadi, blaming the U.S-led coalition. The strikes took place in an area where the U.S.-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces are battling I.S. (National Post, May 1, 2018)

IDF BOMBS HAMAS POSITION THAT LAUNCHED BURNING KITES INTO ISRAEL (Tel Aviv) — The IDF bombed a Hamas position in Gaza that was responsible for launching burning kites into Israel. In recent weeks, during the violent riots by Gazans along the border, the rioters have flown kites with firebombs attached to them into Israeli territory with the purpose of burning down fields belonging to Israeli farmers. To date, these “firebomb kites” have caused damage of several million shekels .On Thursday, one such kite caused an enormous forest fire, which ten firefighting teams fought for hours to put out. Earlier in the week, another kite burned an entire wheat field. (Arutz Sheva, May 6, 2018)

ISRAELI ARAB POET CONVICTED OF INCITEMENT TO TERRORISM (Nazareth) —  Nazareth’s Court convicted Arab poet Dareen Tatour of inciting to violence and supporting a terrorist organization, over her posts on social networks. Tatour, 36, from Reina, near Nazareth, was arrested two years ago after she published the poem “Resist, My People Resist Them,” and two other publications. The indictment contains the translation of the poem, which contains the lines: “I will not agree to a peace solution / I will never take down my flag / until I remove them from my homeland.” Tatour said after the hearing that she did not regret anything and would appeal the ruling. (Jewish Press, May 3, 2018)

DJERMANE AND JAMALI AGREE TO PEACE BOND (Montreal) — The young couple acquitted in December on charges alleging they were preparing to leave Canada to join I.S. in Syria agreed to sign a peace bond acknowledging Canadian authorities have reasonable grounds to suspect they might carry out a terrorist act. Sabrine Djermane and El Mahdi Jamali, both 21, appeared at a Montreal courthouse and agreed to follow a series of conditions for a period of 12 months. Some of the conditions are similar to those imposed on anyone released on bail when charged with a crime, including that they “keep the peace” and “be of good behaviour.” (Montreal Gazette, May 4, 2018)

BOEING TO LOSE $20B AS TRUMP WITHDRAWS FROM IRAN PACT: REPORT (Seattle) — Boeing will reportedly lose billions of dollars in deals with Iranian airline companies after President Trump announced that the U.S. will be withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal. Boeing is losing a $17 billion contract to deliver 80 aircraft to Iran Air, according to The Washington Post, which added that deliveries were expected to be completed by 2025. That is in addition to another 30-airplane agreement between Boeing and Iran’s Aseman Airlines for $3 billion, the newspaper said. (The Hill, May 9, 2018) 

TEL AVIV DEDICATES MIDEAST’S 1ST OLYMPIC-STANDARD INDOOR VELODROME (Tel Aviv) —Tel Aviv is officially home to the Middle East’s first indoor velodrome cycling racetrack. The municipality held an event on-site at the Yarkon Park, hosting a group of professional cyclists, city officials, and journalists at the dedication ceremony for the cycling arena. The velodrome’s dedication ceremony took place a few days before the opening of the Giro d’Italia, one of cycling’s three grand tours, which kicked off in Jerusalem last week. (No Camels, May 2, 2018)

RINGO STARR BRINGING ‘MORE LOVE’ TO ISRAEL (Tel Aviv) — Beatles drummer Ringo Starr is coming to Israel for the first time ever to perform as part of his “Give More Love” world tour. Starr added another show a day after his June 24 performance sold out. In addition to hits by the Beatles, the 77-year-old Starr — who doesn’t come close to looking his age — will be performing his own solo pieces as well, together with his All Starr Band. Fellow Beatle legend Paul McCartney preceded Starr with a night-to-remember performance in Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park in 2008. (Jewish Press, May 7, 2018)

JERUSALEM WELCOMES US EMBASSY SIGNS (Jerusalem) — As part of the Jerusalem Municipality’s preparations for the US embassy relocation on May 14, road signs in Hebrew, English and Arabic directing the public to the new embassy location were installed today. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat had the honor of putting up the first sign. The US consulate building in south Jerusalem will be used as the temporary location for the embassy while the permanent embassy building is under construction. “This is not a dream – it’s reality! Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people – and the world is beginning to recognize this fact,” Barkat said. (Jerusalem Online, May 7, 2018)

MCGILL TO AWARD HONORARY DOCTORATE TO HILLEL NEUER (Montreal) — McGill University will award an honorary doctorate to Hillel Neuer, Director of Geneva-based UN Watch, former CIJR student intern and editor of CIJR’s Dateline M.E. student magazine. Cocktail and award ceremony to be held on Monday, June 4, 2018 at the Mount Royal Club in Montreal. (McGill, May 2018)

TRUDEAU TO APOLOGIZE FOR FATE OF MS ST. LOUIS (Ottawa) — Prime Minister Trudeau will deliver an apology in the House of Commons over the the MS St. Louis. Trudeau said that while an apology can’t change history or bring back those who lost their lives, acknowledging the result of the decision to turn away the MS St. Louis is key to learning from the past. In 1939, the St. Louis left Germany carrying 907 Jewish passengers fleeing the Nazi regime. The ship was turned away from Cuba and the U.S. before Canadian PM King’s government refused to let them disembark, the ship returned to Europe. About 500 of them went back to Germany, where 254 were killed in the Holocaust. (CBC, May 8, 2018)

EXHIBITION TRACES THE MARK MADE BY JEWS IN MONTREAL (Montreal) — Shalom Montreal — Stories and Contributions of the Jewish Community is a new exhibition at the McCord Museum. Through personal reminiscences, photos, text panels, objects and multimedia installations, it highlights ways in which Jews have participated in the city’s growth and development. Occupying about 4,000 square feet in five distinct zones on the second floor of the social history museum, the exhibition is at once comprehensive and intimate. The exhibition, which opened May 3 and runs to Nov. 11, features dozens of multimedia installations and will be accompanied by activities including film screenings, concerts and an evening of Jewish food, art and humour. (Montreal Gazette, May 3, 2018)

On Topic Links

The Mossad’s Stupendous Achievement in Tehran: Melanie Phillips, Jewish Press, May 7, 2018—What was the real target audience of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s extraordinary presentation this week of the secret Iranian nuclear archive raided by the Mossad?

Iran Wants To Retaliate Against Israel, But How?: Seth Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 30, 2018 —Syrian dictator Bashar Assad met with Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of the Iranian parliament’s Committee for Foreign Policy and National Security, on Monday. They seemed cheerful as rumors mounted that Iran would retaliate for air strikes in Syria that have allegedly killed Iranian personnel.

Let Abbas’s Vile Words Be His Last as Palestinian Leader: Editorial, New York Times, May 2, 2018—Feeding reprehensible anti-Semitic myths and conspiracy theories in a speech on Monday, the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, shed all credibility as a trustworthy partner if the Palestinians and Israelis ever again have the nerve to try negotiations.

Meet Two of the Women Leading the Effort to Overhaul Politics in Lebanon: Eric Reguly, Globe & Mail, May 2, 2018—There are only four women in Lebanon’s female-unfriendly parliament, where even the women’s affairs minister is a man. A record number of female candidates – 84 to be precise – are trying to correct that jarring imbalance in Sunday’s election.