WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP

 

 

 

 

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

 

On Topic Links

                    

Pence ‘Inspired’ by Visit to Western Wall: Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, Jan. 23, 2018

Far From Being the Disaster His Critics Predicted, President Trump's World Strategy is to Lead From the Front: Nile Gardiner, Telegraph, Jan. 15, 2018

Donald Trump’s Greatest Gift Is His Enemies: David Harsanyi, New York Post, Jan. 22, 2018

Erdogan’s Fire and Fury: Robert Ellis, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 22, 2018

 

 

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

“In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem — and the embassy will open next year…By finally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the United States has chosen fact over fiction — and fact is the only true foundation for a just and lasting peace.” — U.S. Vice President Pence. Pence made the announcement to the Israeli parliament on Monday. Israeli Arab lawmakers staged a walkout at the beginning of Pence’s speech, resulting in a small scuffle, while Palestinian officials also snubbed Pence’s visit. Instead of meeting with Pence, President Mahmoud Abbas flew to Brussels for talks with European foreign ministers to press for recognition of a Palestinian state. Abbas also hopes that Europe could take an expanded role in the peace process.   (Washington Post, Jan. 22, 2018)

 

“We won’t accept this…Not from Trump, not from the United States, and not from anyone else. Jerusalem is our capital…Jerusalem would be a gate for peace, only when it’s the capital of Palestine. But it is also a gate for war, insecurity and instability if it isn’t [the capital of Palestine]. Trump has to choose.” — PA leader Mahmoud Abbas. The PA leader reiterated his howls of outrage from the podium over President Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy from to Jerusalem – which he referred to as a “sin” – vowing never to allow the U.S. to broker peace between Israel and the PA ever again. He said the PA demands “only 22 percent of historical Palestine” and rejected out of hand the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. “We are confronting a great conspiracy… It is a colonial conspiracy to plant a foreign body in Palestine for the benefit of the West…We’ve been here for 5,000 years, from the days of the Canaanites who built Jerusalem. We are the Canaanites,” he insisted. (Jewish Press, Jan. 18, 2018)

 

“Damn your dollars!” …Abbas railed at the United States and President Trump during his recent maniacal tirade. Well, OK: On Tuesday, Team Trump took him at his word, cutting $65 million of the $125 million Washington sends to the UN outfit that handles Palestinian aid, (UNRWA). Hey, Trump had warned Abbas long ago that PA funding was at risk if its leaders refused to engage in peace talks with Israel. And Abbas’ 2 ½-hour rant in Ramallah pretty conclusively showed that he’s not remotely ready to do that. First, he again specifically rejected any thought of playing along with the latest US effort to restart negotiations: “We told Trump we will not accept his project, the ‘deal of the century,’ which has become the ‘slap of the century’ ” — referring to US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. More, he denied the Jewish state’s legitimacy, claiming, “Israel is a colonialist project that has nothing to do with Jews.” How can Israel bargain with a guy who insists the Jews have no links at all to the Holy Land?” — Editorial (New York Post, Jan. 19, 2018)

 

“We’re not going to reward bad behavior…Here you’ve got the Palestinians who are basically saying they’re going to cut the US out of the peace process. They’re saying they no longer want to have anything to do with us…We need to start being smart about the way we spend…We need to start really looking at foreign policy and seeing what the US goals are and where we want to go. We want a peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians. We want to make sure that that moves forward. By the Palestinians cutting us out of the peace process, it shows that they weren’t serious, that they’re not serious in truly getting to peace.” — US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. (Jerusalem Online, Jan. 18, 2018)

 

“For Abbas to blame Trump is just the most recent iteration of blaming everyone else for a situation on which he could have acted. To suggest that President Trump’s comments are to blame for what Abbas says just plain misses the point. Abbas was never a real negotiating partner, and… Netanyahu couldn’t really move the process forward with such a tenuous state of the coalition.” — Rabbi Andrew Paley, a veteran peace process backer with J Street. (Jewish Press, Jan. 23, 2018)

 

“The technology really is groundbreaking…The message to Hamas is: ‘We now have this system which can detect and destroy terror tunnels that violate Israeli sovereignty.” — IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus. The IDF is forging ahead with an ambitious subterranean barrier to detect and prevent attack tunnels from reaching southern Israel from Gaza. Israeli military officials touted the secretive project as a major deterrent against what Israel has seen as a strategic threat since the last war against Hamas exposed the extent of the tunnels. Israel has made uncovering the tunnels a priority and in recent months has demolished at least three. (National Post, Jan. 18, 2018)

 

"Our relations with Iran and Hezbollah have returned to their natural path and we intend to develop these relations…We will expand our ties with Iran and Hezbollah." — Senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar. Al-Zahar confirmed that Hamas is seeking to bolster its ties with Iran and its Lebanon-based proxy, Hezbollah. Iran has expressed support for Hamas' efforts to establish terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank, with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stating that arming Hamas in the area was "necessary for confronting the Zionist regime." (Israel Hayom, Jan. 22, 2018)

 

“We cannot allow history to repeat itself in Syria…ISIS has one foot in the grave, and by maintaining an American military presence in Syria until the full and complete defeat of ISIS is achieved, it will soon have two.” — Secretary of State Tillerson. U.S. troops will remain in Syria long after their fight against I.S. to ensure that neither Iran nor President Assad of Syria take over areas that have been newly liberated with help from the U.S., Tillerson said. Staying in Syria, Tillerson said, will help ensure that the Trump administration does not repeat what he described as the mistakes of Obama, who withdrew troops from Iraq before the extremist threat was doused and failed to stabilize Libya after NATO airstrikes that led to the overthrow of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. Tillerson said the military commitment to Syria was “conditions-based” and not indefinite. (New York Times, Jan. 17, 2018)

 

“The Muslims inside the occupied land must kill every Jew, by running him over, or stabbing him, or by using against him any weapon, or by burning their homes…Every Muslim must know that the Americans and the disbeliever West, and on top of them Britain and France, are the original reason behind the existence of the Jews in Palestine.” — Khaled Batarfi, believed to be the number two man in AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula). Batarfi also warned in a recording entitled “Our duty towards our Jerusalem,” that no Muslim had the right to cede any part of Jerusalem. Trump enraged Muslims when he announced US recognition of Jerusalem as capital and said he intended to transfer the embassy there. Batarfi was one of some 150 jailed AQAP members who were freed when the terrorist group captured the Yemeni city of Mukalla in 2015, where he was held. Batarfi said Muslims were obliged to target the interests of Jews and Americans. “They must be eager to prepare themselves as much as possible, and to carry out jihadi operations against them,” he added. (Algemeiner, Jan. 23, 2018)

 

“Zionism is simply self-determination for the Jewish people in the world’s only Jewish state.” — Joan Ryan MP, chair of Labour Friends of Israel. The British parliamentarian urged the Labour Party to adopt a zero-tolerance attitude toward anti-Zionism, which she called “the new antisemitism” in remarks made to university students. She encouraged students to confront the BDS campaign for “demonizing and delegitimizing the only Jewish state,” noting that “inevitably” there will be an overlap “with calling out antisemitism.” “It is racism, obviously, but we mustn’t avoid the issue by saying, ‘We abhor all forms of racism,’” Ryan observed. “Of course we do, but the issue has been antisemitism, and whilst you’re not identifying the issue, then you’re not able to effectively tackle it.” The issue of antisemitism in Britain has drawn increasing concern from advocates and elected officials. The government announced £144,261 in funding for a new program to help universities combat the trend. The measure will allow 200 students and campus leaders to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, before participating in a seminar on identifying and addressing antisemitism. (Algemeiner, Jan. 17, 2018)

 

“Aggressive anti-Semitism, from verbal hostility on the Internet and in the analogue world to desecration and destruction to physical attacks are commonplace in Germany…Jewish life can only take place in public under police protection and the strictest security precautions, or it must be completely cancelled for security reasons.” — Charlotte Knobloch, former leader of the German Council of Jews. Knobloch referred to several recent incidents of antisemitic crime, including the vandalism of a Menorah in the city of Heilbronn, and the cancellation of a public Menorah lighting in Mülheim because of security issues. (Daily Mail, Dec. 30, 2017)

 

“Media bias during Trump’s first year in office is a continuation of the bias that exploded during the 2016 campaign. The press tried to defeat him then and now is trying to hobble his presidency if not drive him from office. The real scandal is that nothing has changed. The Get Trump mob reached parody levels last week when the White House doctor declared him in excellent health, physically and cognitively. That wasn’t the answer the press corps wanted, so it badgered Dr. Ronny Jackson, a decorated naval admiral and the physician who examined the president. Jackson, who was White House physician under ­Barack Obama, gave no ground. Yet both the New York Times and CNN nonetheless declared that Trump suffers from heart disease. Notably, both organizations previously featured shrinks declaring Trump mentally unfit, too.” — Michael Goodwin. (New York Post, Jan. 21, 2018)

 

Contents

 

 

SHORT TAKES

 

SIEGE IN KABUL CAPS A VIOLENT 24 HOURS IN AFGHANISTAN (Kabul) — The Taliban’s bloody, 14-hour siege on a major hotel in Kabul ended after six assailants terrorized much of the city. At least 22 people were killed after nearly 15 hours of fighting. Local media put the number of dead at 43. The siege capped a violent 24 hours across Afghanistan, where about 50 people were killed in four provinces as the 16-year war continues to spiral more violently. The attack was the second in eight years at the Intercontinental Hotel. On Wednesday, gunmen stormed the office of Save the Children in the Afghan city of Jalalabad after an explosion, killing at least one person. I.S.’s affiliate in Afghanistan claimed responsibility for the attack. (New York Times, Jan. 21, New York Times, Jan. 24, 2018)

 

AT LEAST 33 DEAD AFTER TWIN BOMBINGS IN LIBYA (Benghazi) — A double car bombing in the east Libyan city of Benghazi on Tuesday left at least 33 people dead and dozens more wounded, including senior security figures and civilians, officials said. The twin explosions shattered the relative calm that had recently returned to Libya's second city, scene of more than three years of warfare from 2014 until late last year. It was not immediately clear who was responsible. (Globe & Mail, Jan. 23, 2018)

 

TURKISH TROOPS ADVANCE ON KURDS IN SYRIA (Damascus) — Intense fighting flared as Turkish troops advanced on a Kurdish enclave in northwestern Syria, the third day of Ankara's offensive to oust a U.S.-allied Kurdish militia. The Turkish offensive on Afrin, codenamed "Operation Olive Branch," began Saturday, raising tensions in the Syrian conflict and threatening to further strain ties between Turkey and the U.S., both NATO allies. The U.S. has offered support to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces that spearheaded the fight against IS in Syria. The U.S. said it would create a 30,000-strong border force of SDF members. (Globe & Mail, Jan. 22, 2018)

 

AMNESTY BOYCOTTS UK JEWISH EVENT TO SUPPORT BDS (London) — Amnesty International cited support for BDS in its withdrawal from an event it had organized with the Jewish Leadership Council. The event, a panel discussion on Israel and the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), was scheduled to take place in London. Human rights lawyer Danny Friedman was slated to chair the panel, with speakers Fred Carver of the UN Association and Hillel Neuer of UN Watch joining the discussion. Amnesty cited its campaign “for all governments around the world to ban the import of goods produced in the illegal Israeli settlements.”  “We do not, therefore, think it appropriate… to host an event by those actively supporting such settlements,” the group stated. (United With Israel, Jan. 23, 2018)

 

GERMANY TO APPOINT COMMISSIONER TO COORDINATE FIGHT AGAINST ANTISEMITISM (London) — German lawmakers voted to appoint a commissioner to coordinate the government fight against antisemitism, and to implement tougher laws on antisemitism. The measure created the commissioner post to develop and implement a strategy to root out anti-Jewish sentiment and crime as part of a 17-point proposal. The far-right AfD party backed the proposal. Antisemitism is rising in the country and incidents were seen at recent pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Berlin, among other sites. An increasing number of antisemitic incidents taking place in Germany are being carried out by migrants from the Middle East and North Africa, according to the bill. (Jewish Press, Jan. 18, 2018)

 

ARAB LEADERS: WE CAN RESUME PEACE TALKS (Amman) — Arab leaders in Davos expressed optimism about the possibility of renewing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, despite controversy over the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. King Abdullah II of Jordan told Maariv during the Davos conference that, following Trump's announcement and intention to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, he would rather see the glass half full and focus on relations with Israel and how these ties can promote peace. At the same time, on the sidelines of the conference, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, Swiss President Alain Berset and the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 24, 2018)

 

WHITE HOUSE SAYS NO CONTACT WITH PALESTINIANS SINCE JERUSALEM RECOGNITION (Washington) — Trump administration officials have not spoken with Palestinian leaders since the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last month, a White House official said. The official also said the US is aiming to present its peace plan this year, but both sides needed to be willing to engage in talks.  Since Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem, Mahmoud Abbas has refused to engage in American-led peace talks, saying the US is not an honest broker. (Times of Israel, Jan. 23, 2018)

 

KERRY TO ABBAS CONFIDANTE: 'DO NOT GIVE IN TO TRUMP' (London) — Former US Sec. of State John Kerry met in London with Hussein Agha, one of Abbas's closest associates and a veteran peacemaker with Israel. During the conversation, Kerry reportedly asked Agha to convey a message to Abbas and ask him to "hold on and be strong." Tell him, he told Agha, "that he should stay strong in his spirit and play for time, that he will not break and will not yield to President Trump's demands." According to Kerry, Trump will not remain in office for a long time. It was reported that within a year there was a good chance that Trump would not be in the White House. (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 24, 2018)

 

POLL: DEM. SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL, PALESTINIANS NEARLY IDENTICAL (Washington) — Democrats are almost as likely to sympathize with the Palestinians as they are with Israel in the peace conflict, while support for the Jewish state among Republicans is nearly three times higher than Democrats, according to a poll. Twenty-seven percent of Democrats told the Pew Research Center they sympathize with Israel over the Palestinians, compared to 25% who said their sympathies lie with the Palestinians. Among Republicans, those numbers were 79% and 6%, respectively. The survey said the partisan divide in support for Israel was “wider than at any point since 1978,” when 49% of Republicans and 44% of Democrats sympathized with Israel over the Palestinians. (Times of Israel, Jan. 23, 2018)

 

SURVEY SHOWS ISRAELI PUBLIC AMONG TOP TRUMP SUPPORTERS (Washington) — A Gallup survey finds that Trump is not well liked in the Americas and in Europe, but has a solid following in Asia and Africa. Israel stands out as one of the top most pro-Trump nations. In response to the question, “Do you approve or disapprove of the job performance of the leadership of the United States?” Trump’s highest approval in the Americas came from the Dominican Republic – 42%, with 41% disapproving, a stunning drop of 18% from former president Barack Obama’s numbers. Israel tops Trump’s fan club in Asia and Oceania, with 67% supporting Trump and 24% opposing. (Jewish Press, Jan. 23, 2018)

 

US KILLS 150 I.S. FIGHTERS IN SYRIA (Damascus) — The Pentagon says it killed 150 I.S. fighters in an airstrike in eastern Syria, while the U.S. federal government was shut down Saturday. The airstrike took in one of the last remaining pockets of I.S. control along the Euphrates River near the border between Syria and Iraq. While I.S. has lost 98 percent of its territory, the remaining 2 percent held by the terror group includes an area around the Syrian city of Al-Shaafah, where the strike took place.  Top U.S. military officials believe the head of I.S., Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is hiding in the area. (Fox News, Jan. 23, 2018)

 

HAMAS EXECUTES ALLEGED COLLABORATOR WITH ISRAEL (Gaza) — Hamas executed a Gaza man, Ahmed Sa’id Barhoum, in Rafah. The man was accused of collaborating and spying for Israel. The man, also a member of Hamas, was accused of assisting Israel with the assassination of three senior Hamas terrorist commanders: Al-Attar, Abu Shamala and Barhoum (related to the executed man), by supplying Israel with their location. Family members demanded that Barhoum be executed. Barhoum was taken out and shot. (Jewish Press, Jan. 19, 2018)

 

NYT BLAMES IRAN PROTESTS ON ‘CLIMATE CHANGE’ (Washington) — The New York Times has finally discovered the cause of the protests in Iran: global climate change. A Times news article reports, “Iran is the latest example of a country where a water crisis, long in the making, has fed popular discontent.” It warned, “Climate change is projected to make Iran hotter and drier.” Lower down, the article grudgingly concedes, “Water alone doesn’t explain the outbreak of protests that began in early January and spread swiftly across the country.” The article appears under the print headline, “Warming, Water Crisis, Then Unrest: Iran Fits a Pattern.” (Algemeiner, Jan. 23, 2018)

 

MEF OFFERS ONE MILLION US TO UNRWA (Philadelphia) —The Middle East Forum announced a donation of one million dollars to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). After the U.S. partially withheld funding, UNRWA's head called on "people…to "join us in responding to this crisis and #FundUNRWA."  MEF has responded: "The Forum's contribution requires UNRWA to end the automatic registering in perpetuity of (1) the descendants of refugees, (2) those who hold a nationality, and (3) those who live in their purported homeland, the West Bank and Gaza. Making these technical changes puts it in line with all other refugee agencies and reduces the number of Palestine refugees from 5.3 million to around 20,000…" (Middle East Forum, Jan. 18, 2018)

 

PUTIN MOVES MUSEUM VISIT IN DEFERENCE TO SABBATH (Moscow) — Russian President Vladimir Putin was slated to visit the largest Jewish museum in the country, located in Moscow, in honor of International Holocaust Day, which falls on January 27 — but he has postponed the visit until January 29. The date for International Holocaust Day falls on the Jewish Sabbath. Russia’s head of state moved the date of his visit to attend the ceremonial opening of a special exhibition at the Jewish museum. The exhibit marks 75 years since the sole successful uprising in a concentration camp – that of Sobibor – where some 170,000 Jews perished. (Jewish Press, Jan. 23, 2018)

 

RESEARCHERS DECIPHER ONE OF LAST TWO UNDECODED DEAD SEA SCROLLS (Haifa) — Scientists at Haifa University have reconstructed the contents of one of the last two undeciphered Dead Sea Scrolls. The scroll, which is written in encrypted language, consists of 60 tiny fragments, some of them smaller than one square centimeter. Most of the 900 Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by Bedouin in the 1940s and ’50s in caves adjacent to the ancient Jewish settlement known as Qumran near the Dead Sea, where an ascetic Jewish sect called the Essenes are believed to have lived. Most scrolls were subsequently deciphered. (Ha’aretz, Jan. 21, 2018)

On Topic Links

 

Pence ‘Inspired’ by Visit to Western Wall: Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, Jan. 23, 2018—U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen were on the clock Tuesday afternoon when they arrived for a quick visit to Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Far From Being the Disaster His Critics Predicted, President Trump's World Strategy is to Lead From the Front: Nile Gardiner, Telegraph, Jan. 15, 2018—When Donald Trump was elected America’s 45th president in November 2016 the world took a collective deep breath. This was a man derided by his critics as an isolationist, woefully out of his depth on foreign policy matters, and imbued with a supposedly dangerous and reckless nationalism.

Donald Trump’s Greatest Gift Is His Enemies: David Harsanyi, New York Post, Jan. 22, 2018—Every morning, it seems, President Donald Trump's most determined opponents awake to find out what sort of obnoxious, fact-challenged, puerile, norm breaking thing he has offered that day and say to themselves: "Oh, that's nothing. We can do something dumber than that!"

Erdogan’s Fire and Fury: Robert Ellis, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 22, 2018—Under the bizarre name “Olive Branch,” Turkey has launched an offensive against the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northwestern Syria. This operation had been expected for the past week and only needed Moscow’s blessing to begin.