Canadian Institute for Jewish Research
L'institut Canadien de Recherches sur le Judaisme
Strength of Israel will not lie

WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS OF THE WEEK IN REVIEW”

MEDIA-OCRITY OF THE WEEK: AMID ESCALATING VIOLENCE IN THE MIDDLE EAST, SOME GOOD NEWS — “This has been the week from hell in the Middle East. The trend seems to be one of escalating violence…But…there is some good news…Iraq held its first election with almost no violence since the Americans overthrew Saddam Hussein. True, the turnout was very low – around 44 per cent – but the absence of violence and intimidation is encouraging. Second, and even more promising, some of the largest Shia militias are building alliances with Sunni partners. There are early signs of some political conversations around what unites rather than divides Iraq. General Ammar al-Kubaisi, a Sunni who heads the Border Guards along the Syrian border, told a U.S. journalist that “sectarianism is going away…” If he’s right, this is good news for the Middle East. The results of the election are still preliminary but the outcome is a surprise. It seems that Moqtada al-Sadr, once a firebrand militia leader who battled American forces, is the front-runner. He has rebranded himself as a populist fighting corruption in Iraq and has drawn support from Sunni business leaders and from community activists. He presents himself as a proud Iraqi and even though he is Shia, he has distanced himself from Iran.” Janice Stein. (Globe & Mail, May 15, 2018)

 

Contents: | Weekly Quotes | Short Takes   | On Topic Links

 

On Topic Links

Placing an Embassy in Jerusalem is Not a Barrier to Negotiating Peace: Vivian Bercovici, National Post, May 14, 2018

Iran vs. Israel: Is a Major War Ahead?: Avi Issacharoff, The Atlantic, May 11, 2018

Palestinian Nationalism Is at Its Lowest Point Ever: Jonathan Schanzer, Tablet, May 15, 2018

Hamas’s March of Folly: Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet, May 14, 2018

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

“What a glorious day. Remember this moment!…President Trump, by recognizing history, you have made history. All of us are deeply moved. All of us are deeply grateful…Last December, President Trump became the first world leader to recognize Jerusalem as our capital, and today, the United States of America is opening its embassy right here in Jerusalem…Thank you President Trump, for having the courage to keep your promises!”— Prime Minister Netanyahu. Sixty-nine years after Israel declared Jerusalem as its capital, and 23 years after the US Congress passed a law mandating that Washington move its embassy there, the US formally opened its embassy in the city on Monday. In a video address to the assembly, President Trump said the move was “a long time coming,” and that Israel, like all sovereign nations, has a right to name its own capital. Trump mentioned that the US would still be observing the status quo in terms of contested territories. (Jerusalem Post, May 14, 2018)

“When President Trump makes a promise, he keeps it…By moving our embassy to Jerusalem, we have shown the world once again that the US can be trusted. We stand with our friends and our allies, and above all we’ve shown that the US will do what’s right, and so we have…The US stands with Israel because we both believe in freedom. We stand together because we both believe in human rights. We stand together because we both believe that democracy is worth defending. And the US stands with Israel because we know that it’s the right thing to do.” — Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, at the embassy inauguration in Jerusalem. “Jerusalem must remain a city that brings people of all faiths together,” he said. “As Israel turns 70, the search for lasting peace turns over a new leaf: one of realism, and of courage to stand with our allies for what is right and what is true.” Kushner said one day, humanity would look back at this moment and note that “the journey to peace started with America recognizing the truth…If we dream big, if we lead with courage, we can change the trajectory for millions from hopeless to boundless.” (Jerusalem Post, May 14, 2018)

“There hasn’t been an administration whose outlook has been closer to Israel’s, the way it sees the Middle East.” — Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to Washington. Last week, Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal, saying it was one-sided and failed to bring calm to the region. On Thursday, U.S. officials expressed strong support for a massive Israeli military response to Iranian shelling from Syria. And on Monday, the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem—something Israel’s government couldn’t persuade past American presidents to do—presented another, highly symbolic demonstration of how aligned the Trump administration is with Netanyahu. (Wall Street Journal, May 12, 2018)

“Hamas has attacked the Kerem Shalom crossing, the biggest entry point in Gaza for fuel, food, and medical supplies. This is how determined they are to make the lives of the Palestinian people miserable. They light Molotov cocktails attached to kites on fire and attempt to fly them into Israel to cause as much destruction as possible. When asked yesterday why he put a swastika on his burning kite, the terrorist responded, ‘The Jews go crazy when you mention Hitler.’ This is what is endangering the people of Gaza. Make no mistake: Hamas is pleased with the results from yesterday…” — U.S. Amb. to the UN Nikki Haley. Haley also said the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem “reflects the will of the American people…It reflects our sovereign right to decide the location of our embassy…Importantly, moving our embassy to Jerusalem also reflects the reality that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. It has served as Israel’s capital since the founding of the state. It is the ancient capital of the Jewish people. There is no plausible peace agreement under which Jerusalem would no longer remain the capital of Israel. Recognizing this reality makes peace more achievable, not less.” (Algemeiner, May 15, 2018)

“The assault on the Gaza protesters exposed Israel’s ugly visage, as one who carries out genocide in Gaza…two people responsible: US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu…I will speak to other leaders and call on them to raise their own voices against this injustice…As leaders of the Islamic world, we will not allow to lose Jerusalem on this day. We shall continue standing with our Palestinian brothers.” — Turkish President Erdoğan. Turkey announced it was recalling its ambassadors from the U.S. and Israel “for consultations,” and has followed the P.A’s lead in announcing three days of mourning following the deaths of protesters in Gaza. Erdoğan also called Israel a “terror state.” Thousands protested in Istanbul against the U.S. decision. Protesters burned Israeli and American flags. South Africa announced that it was recalling its ambassador after denouncing “violent and destructive incursions into Palestinian territories.”  (Ynet, May 15, 2018)

“In reality these demonstrations are far from peaceful, but are carefully planned and orchestrated tactical operations by a terrorist organization intending to break through the border of a sovereign state and commit mass murder in the communities beyond, using their own civilians as cover.” — Col. Richard Kemp — a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan. Palestinian demonstrations on the Israel-Gaza border have been deliberately engineered by Hamas to portray as a peaceful protest movement what has in fact been a military strategy to fatally undermine Israel, Kemp said. “Hamas’s use of actual smoke and mirrors to conceal its aggressive maneuvering on the Gaza border is the perfect metaphor for a strategy that has no viable military purpose but seeks to deceive the international community into criminalizing a democratic state defending its citizens,” he wrote. The strategy pursued by Hamas “includes creating situations which compel the IDF to respond with lethal force so that they are seen to kill and wound ‘innocent’ Palestinian civilians,” Kemp said. “In some cases, including during the current wave of violence, we have seen Hamas present their fighters as innocent civilians; numerous fake incidents staged and filmed which purport to show civilians being killed and wounded by Israeli forces; and films of violence from elsewhere, eg. Syria, portrayed as violence against Palestinians,” Kemp said. (Algemeiner, May 14, 2018)

“When you have weapons that are being wielded by men who were able to prevent the strongest army in the region from entering the Gaza strip for 51 days, and were able to capture or kill soldiers of that army — is this really ‘peaceful resistance?…When we talk about ‘peaceful resistance,’ we are deceiving the public,” he said. “This is peaceful resistance bolstered by a military force and by security agencies, and enjoying tremendous popular support.” — Hamas co-founder Mahmoud al-Zahhar. Al-Zahhar called allegations that the terrorist group was employing “peaceful resistance” against Israel “a clear terminological deception.” Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007, has actively encouraged Palestinians to participate in the series of border riots dubbed the “Great March of Return.” The campaign was launched in March with the aim of pressuring Israel to allow Palestinian refugees and their five million descendants into Israel. Around 40,000 Palestinians participated in the riots on Monday, when the US opened its embassy in Jerusalem. Sixty people were killed by Israeli forces, including several minors, the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry announced. More than 2,500 others were reported injured, among them a Canadian-Palestinian doctor and over a dozen paramedics. (Algemeiner, May 15, 2018)

“Iran is a danger to us, to our allies, to freedom…An Islamist and revolutionary regime, such as the one that controls Tehran today, must never be allowed to possess a nuclear option, not a bomb, not a path to a bomb, not a nuclear program with the slightest doubt of its extent and military applications.” — Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, along with other former world leaders, in a full-page New York Times endorsement of Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and his reinstatement of U.S. sanctions. “None of the promises that supporters of the deal made have proven correct…Iran’s regime has used this time to upgrade its long-range ballistic missile program and expand its violence against the people of Yemen, Syria, Iran and Lebanon while heading a list of state sponsors of terrorism.” The endorsement by Harper, whose government severed diplomatic relations with Iran in 2012, stands in contrast to the position taken by PM Trudeau. (CBC, May 10, 2018)

“We know that standing firmly in support of the JPCOA with our NATO allies and others is extremely important…We regret the decision by the United States to pull out, but we are still hopeful we are going to be able to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons… We will respect the capacity of individual countries to make their decisions about foreign policy…But for Canada’s purpose, we make our decisions around foreign policy here in Ottawa, not in Washington, not elsewhere.” — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trudeau said he expects the Iran decision to be a topic of discussion when he hosts Trump and their G7 counterparts in Quebec at their annual summit next month. The major European countries, China and Russia are all continuing to express their support for the agreement. (Globe & Mail, May 9, 2018)

“The holy system of the Islamic Republic will step up its missile capabilities day by day so that Israel, this occupying regime, will become sleepless and the nightmare will constantly haunt it that if it does anything foolish, we will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground.” — Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a prominent Iranian cleric. The comments by Khatami followed a week of escalating tensions that threaten to spill over into a wider conflict between the two bitter enemies, who have long fought each other through proxies in Syria and Lebanon. Israeli airstrikes struck Iranian military installations inside Syria last week — its biggest coordinated assault on Syria since the 1973 Mideast war — in retaliation for an Iranian rocket barrage on Israeli positions in the occupied Golan Heights. It was the most serious military confrontation between the two rivals to date. (New York Times, May 11, 2018)

“As long as Iran continues the current status quo of its forces and rockets operating in the region, any country — including Israel — has the right to defend itself by eliminating the source of danger.” — Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, foreign minister of Bahrain. In an extremely rare expression of support for an Israeli military operation, Al-Khalifa said Israel’s attack on Iranian targets in Syria was legitimate in light of Tehran’s increasing aggression. (Times of Israel, May 10, 2018)

 

Contents

 

SHORT TAKES

IDF DESTROYS TERROR TUNNEL IN LATEST AIR STRIKE (Jerusalem) — The IAF destroyed a Hamas offensive tunnel in advanced stages of building mere meters from the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. The tunnel, which Hamas dug in the security parameter, originated in Beit Hanun and stretched over a kilometer, and was intended to reach Israeli communities. The tunnel was destroyed following weeks of surveillance. It was the ninth tunnel to be located with advanced technology, which pinpointed its exact location, as part of Israel’s commitment to destroy all underground terrorist infrastructure. (Jerusalem Post, May 12, 2018)

IDF MODEL PLANES ARMED WITH KNIVES TAKE DOWN GAZAN FIREBOMB KITES (Jerusalem) — The IDF has been dealing for many weeks with Hamas’ new weapons – the firebomb kites that land in Israeli agricultural land, igniting fires and inflicting severe damages on local farmers. On Friday, the IDF began to use a new weapon against the kite threat – radio-controlled model airplanes with knives attached to their wings. During the day there were violent riots in five locations along the Gaza border, with the participation of some 15,000 Arabs, who torched tires and threw stones at IDF forces. The Arabs also sent firebomb kites into Israeli territory. (Jewish Press, May 12, 2018)

GUATEMALA INAUGURATES EMBASSY (Jerusalem) — Guatemala’s President Jimmy Morales inaugurated his country’s embassy in Jerusalem on Wednesday, following in the footsteps of the U.S., which opened its own embassy in the capital earlier this week. The walls of Jerusalem’s Old City were illuminated with the flags of Guatemala and the US and a message thanking Morales for the embassy opening. Guatemala was one of only a handful of countries that backed Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital, and it was the first country besides the U.S. to set a date for moving its embassy there. Paraguay has said it will move its embassy from Jerusalem by the end of May. (Ynet, May 16, 2018)

TURKEY EXPELS ISRAELI CONSUL (Ankara) — Turkey temporarily expelled Israel’s consul-general in Istanbul after expelling the Israeli ambassador to Ankara earlier in the day in protest of the clashes on the Gaza border. In response to the expulsion from Ankara of Israeli Ambassador Eitan Na’eh, the Israeli Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish Consul in Jerusalem and asked him to leave the country until further notice. Ankara had already recalled its ambassadors from the U.S. and from Israel “for consultations” in response to the Gaza border clashes and called for an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which Turkey currently chairs. (Ynet, May 16, 2018)

INDONESIA POLICE STATION ATTACKED IN WAKE OF CHURCH BOMBINGS (Surabaya) — An Indonesian family brought its eight-year-old daughter to a suicide bomb attack on the police headquarters in Surabaya, a day after another family conducted suicide bombings on three city churches that killed 12 people. The attack came just hours after police said the family that carried out the church bombings included girls aged nine and 12. The attacks have raised concerns that terrorist networks in the Muslim-majority nation have been reinvigorated by the return of some 1,100 Indonesians who went to fight with I.S. in Iraq and Syria. I.S. claimed responsibility for the church bombings. (CBC, May 13, 2018)

TALIBAN CLAIM THEY’VE TAKEN CONTROL OF WESTERN AFGHAN CITY (Farah) — The Taliban claimed to have captured the capital of the western province of Farah on Tuesday, the first to be overrun by the militants in two years. The fighting was part of a recent increase in the tempo of attacks by the insurgents, since their announcement of a spring offensive late in April and their explicit rejection of Afghan government peace initiatives. Farah, a city of 50,000, would be the second Afghan city to fall to the insurgents since the war began. The northern city of Kunduz fell twice to the Taliban, in 2015 and 2016, but was retaken by the government both times. (New York Times, May 15, 2018)

ONE KILLED SEVERAL INJURED IN ISLAMIC PARIS KNIFE ATTACK (Paris) — A knife-wielding man killed one person and injured at least four more in central Paris on Saturday while yelling, “Allahu Akhbar” (Allah is greater). Police shot and killed the assailant. Two victims are in serious condition. French prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters the police’s anti-terrorism unit would launch an investigation, given the aggressor’s “mode of operation.” I.S. claimed responsibility for the attack in a post via its Amaq news agency but provided no proof for its claim. France has suffered from several terror attacks and approximately 250 people have been killed since 2015. (Breaking Israel News, May 13, 2018)

RUSSIA NOT DISCUSSING S-300 SUPPLY TO SYRIA (Damascus) — Russia is not in talks with the Syrian government about supplying advanced S-300 ground-to-air missiles and does not think they are needed, a top aide to President Putin said. His comments came days after Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow, where he held talks with Putin. The Kremlin, however, played down the idea that it had performed a U-turn on the missile question or that any decision was linked to Netanyahu’s visit. Russia and Syria signed a deal in 2010 for the S-300 system but the missiles have yet to be delivered. (Arutz Sheva, May 12, 2018) 

ISRAEL WINS EUROVISION SONG CONTEST (Lisbon) — For the fourth time in its four decades of participating in the Eurovision song contest, Israel has won the international competition. The song “Toy” by Netta Barzilai, 24, secured Israel’s victory at the Eurovision contest this year at the Finals Saturday in Lisbon, Portugal. The victory means Israel will host the event next year. Barzilai’s song is a warning to a boy not to treat her like a toy. Israel’s song, which is performed in English, has consistently been ranked on betting sites in first place or at least in the top three at the festival, a hugely popular phenomenon in Europe that combines elements of “American Idol”-style song competitions and the Olympic Games. (Jewish Week, May 14, 2018)

GERMAN DAILY DRAWS OUTRAGE WITH ‘ANTISEMITIC’ IMAGE (Berlin) — The Süddeutsche Zeitung, the largest German daily, came under fire for publishing a cartoon, regarded by some readers as antisemitic, depicting Prime Minister Netanyahu celebrating Israel’s Eurovision win while holding a missile adorned with a Star of David. The paper subsequently published an apology, but the caricaturist said the publication’s statement did not represent his views. The German cartoon depicted Netanyahu in Barzilai’s dress and in military-style boots, while holding a missile emblazoned with a Star of David and with a speech bubble saying “next year in Jerusalem.” (Times of Israel, May 16, 2018)

INTEL SUBMITS DETAILED PLAN FOR $5-BILLION PLANT EXPANSION IN ISRAEL (Kiryat Gat) — Intel announced it has submitted a plan to the Israeli government for a $5-billion expansion of one of its local chip manufacturing plants. The company’s Fab 28 facility is located in Kiryat Gat, a small town in the southern part of the country. Built in 2008 next to an older Intel plant, Fab 28 manufacturers chips for servers, workstations, mobile computers, and desktops. Intel said it was responsible for $3.6 billion of Israel’s exports in 2017, which represents about 8% of the country’s total tech exports. (Calcalist, May 15, 2018)

JERUSALEM SOCCER TEAM TO ADD ‘TRUMP’ TO ITS NAME (Jerusalem) — Israeli soccer team Beitar Jerusalem announced on Sunday that it has decided to add American President Donald Trump’s name to the team’s name to honor the US President for moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem. Despite Beitar’s announcement to officially change the club’s name, it will require approval from the Israel Football Association, a process which is far from straightforward. In addition, Donald Trump has been a registered trademark in Israel since 2008, and should Beitar try to add it to its name, it may be sued, as it hasn’t received permission to use it. (Jerusalem Post, May 13, 2018)

WINERY CREATES SPECIAL WINE BLEND FOR U.S. EMBASSY MOVE (Jerusalem) — On the morning of the U.S. embassy opening in Jerusalem, U.S. and Israeli Leaders made their first public statements at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel over breakfast and a wine tasting of the new red wine, blended specially for the occasion. Ella Valley Vineyards created the special commemorative edition wine honoring the historic relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, as is written on the label of the wine with the secular date and Hebrew date, along with the flags of Israel and the U.S. The 2014 wine includes a blend sourced from the Adulam region of the Judean Hills. (Breaking Israel News, May 16, 2018)

On Topic Links

Placing an Embassy in Jerusalem is Not a Barrier to Negotiating Peace: Vivian Bercovici, National Post, May 14, 2018—On a glorious sunny day, several hundred guests assembled Monday afternoon at the American Embassy in Jerusalem for the official opening ceremony.

Iran vs. Israel: Is a Major War Ahead?: Avi Issacharoff, The Atlantic, May 11, 2018—These are uneasy days for citizens of Israel. Almost everywhere, one hears anxious questions: Will there be war? How bad will it be? Should we prepare the bomb shelter at home? And what should we tell the children?

Palestinian Nationalism Is at Its Lowest Point Ever: Jonathan Schanzer, Tablet, May 15, 2018—The riots on the border of the Gaza Strip could be the beginning of a new round of Middle East violence. Yet, they are also an indication that Palestinian nationalism is at its lowest point since the “Nakba,” the Israeli victory in the 1948-1949 War of Independence.

Hamas’s March of Folly: Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet, May 14, 2018 —It was a symbolic day, as an event in Jerusalem bolstered and advanced the State of Israel’s sovereignty and legitimacy, while at the same time dozens of Palestinians were killed and injured on the Gaza border in an ostentatious and suicidal move that had no practical purpose.