An upcoming event for readers in Israel

Readers based in or currently visiting Israel may be interested in attending a talk by Jonathan Turner of UK Lawyers for Israel which is to be held in Netanya on Monday, November 11th.

 

 

Weekend long read

1) The ITIC looks at the Palestinian Authority policy of rebuilding the houses of terrorists demolished by Israel.

“On the night of October 24, 2019, the Israeli security forces demolished a building under construction in the al-Am’ari refugee camp near Ramallah. The house belonged to the family of Palestinian terrorist Islam Abu Hamid, who killed an IDF soldier in May 2018. Following the destruction Palestinians rioted and clashed with the Israeli security forces. Senior Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah figures rushed to announce that the PA would rebuild the house demolished by Israel. The rebuilding of terrorists’ houses demolished by Israel is a pattern that repeats itself, part of the PA’s consistent policy of providing benefits to terrorists and their families. The PA policy is also a way to challenge the deterrent message Israel tries to convey by demolishing the houses.”

2) Also at the ITIC: analysis of the appointment of a new ISIS leader.

“Beginning on November 2, 2019, in the wake of Al-Baghdadi’s death and the new spokesman’s call to pledge allegiance to ISIS’s new leader, pledges of allegiance from the various provinces and individual operatives and supporters began to appear. It is to be expected that additional pledges of allegiance will be published in the near future.

The first province to issue a pledge of allegiance was the Sinai Province. Operatives of the province posted two photos on Telegram documenting a group of operatives pledging allegiance to ISIS’s new leader (November 2, 2019). A few hours later, a photo was posted documenting another pledge of allegiance from the Bangladesh Province. On November 4, 2019, a photo was published documenting operatives of the Somalia Province pledging allegiance to the new leader.”

3) At the JNS Yaakov Lappin discusses the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.

“PIJ wishes to position itself as the “authentic” jihadist organization in the Strip at the expense of Hamas, which unlike PIJ has to balance out its considerations as a government with its commitment to armed conflict and terrorism. […]

It is more than willing to use its rocket arsenal, which is larger than that of Hamas, to upset the security situation. Iranian funding and rocket-production know-how has helped make PIJ a significant terror army, with some 15,000 armed operates (compared to Hamas’s 25,000-strong military wing).”

4) Emily B. Landau and Shimon Stein of the INSS analyse “Turkey’s Nuclear Motivation”.

“Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently complained about the unfair situation whereby some countries are free to possess nuclear tipped missiles, while others are not – a situation he cannot accept. What might be motivating Erdogan not only to raise the nuclear issue at this time, but for the first time to threaten to develop his own capability? If Erdogan decides to go down the nuclear path, this decision will have implications for Turkey’s relations with NATO/EU, the nuclear nonproliferation regime, and the Middle East.”

Weekend long read

1) Those who read the BBC Middle East editor’s online article titled “Is a new Arab Spring unfolding in the Middle East?” this week may have noticed that the sole reference to Iran in Jeremy Bowen’s 705 word analysis was presented as follows:

“But reports also say that men dressed in black, some masked, have been opening fire [on demonstrators in Iraq]. One theory is that they are from pro-Iranian militias.”

The JCPA’s Iran desk documents how “Iraqis Take to the Streets to Oppose Iran’s Involvement in their Country”.

“Iranian media also refrained from reporting the burning of Iranian flags at the Iranian consulate in Karbala. Hundreds of protesters surrounded the consulate building with the cries of “Iran, Get Out, Get Out from Iraq … Baghdad Will Remain Free.” They burned Iranian flags and caused heavy damage to the consulate building. The protesters also trampled on the pictures of Al-Quds force commander Qasem Soleimani (a grave insult in the Arab world). The Iranian consulate building in the port city of Basra was also set ablaze despite attempts by Shi’ite militias to protect it. With cries of “Stop the Persian Occupation of Arab Iraq,” the protestors set ablaze the building.”

2) Also at the JCPA, Dr Jacques Neriah looks at the protests in Lebanon.

“Observers of the Lebanese political scene have been struck by one significant development. Protests are directed for the first time since the Arab spring in 2011 against Hizbullah and its Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and against Hizbullah’s ally, the Shiite Amal Movement led by Nabih Berri. Protesters attacked the offices and houses of deputies affiliated to these two political factions, burned posters bearing the pictures of Berri and Nasrallah, and expressed their anger over what the demonstrators perceived as Hizbullah and Amal corruption. Specifically, they claim that the organizations are plundering the coffers of the Lebanese state and skimming the budgets allocated to their ministries, at the expense of the Lebanese people.”

3) Yoram Schweitzer of the INSS analyses the significance of “The Elimination of al-Baghdadi from the Arena”.

“The death of caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is an important intelligence, operational, and moral achievement for the United States, as well as for its partners in the ongoing international campaign against global terrorist threats. However, the practical significance of this event is less than its symbolic significance. Indeed, the main challenge facing ISIS is far greater than the elimination of its leader, as the organization has struggled in recent months to survive physically and to maintain its position as the dominant organization on the global Salafi-jihadi stage. Thus the elimination of al-Baghdadi from the scene – as important and dramatic as it may seem – is far from heralding the downfall of ISIS or any significant reduction in the dangers posed by the organization, due to the capability attributed to it to recover and to launch terrorist attacks and guerilla warfare in the Levant and beyond.”

4) Jonny Gould sits down with David Collier (alternative links here).

“In this detailed interview profiling his work and background, we get behind the computer screen to reveal more about the man and his mission.

He says his undercover work online has uncovered extraordinary levels of Jew hate at the highest levels of British politics and explains the antizionism he’s encountered as nothing more than antisemitism.

David’s most recent projects have been to lodge a complaint against the publisher, Pearson over a textbook about the Middle East, which he says has been lifted in large part from Wikipedia – and a report into Amnesty, which he believes over obsesses about Israel.

He doesn’t mince his words over the EHRC investigation into the Labour Party either, which he worries will not tell it like it is: that there is a growing alliance between the hard-left and Islamists.”

Weekend long read

1) At the JCPA Dr Jacques Neriah asks “Was the American Decision to Abandon the Kurds a Surprise?”.

“The withdrawal of American troops ordered by President Donald Trump from Kurdish-held territories in north-eastern Syria was no surprise to the Kurds. The Kurds had been expecting this move since mid-summer 2019 and were preparing their options in case of such a prospect. The only surprise came from the timing of Trump’s announcement.

According to sources close to the Syrian opposition, the Syrian-Kurds prepared themselves based on their conviction that Turkey’s goal was to take over the Kurdish-held territories along its southern border under the pretext of combating and eradicating terrorism. Turkey further sought to declare the Syrian city of Aleppo as the capital and headquarters of the Free Syrian Army, a Turkish proxy armed, financed, and trained by Turkey.”

2) At the BESA Center Dr Doron Itzchakov looks at “Turkey’s Invasion of Syrian Kurdistan as Seen from Tehran”.

“Unsurprisingly, President Trump’s announcement that US troops would be evacuated from northern Syria was welcomed in Tehran, which had considered the presence of US troops on Syrian soil a flagrant violation of Syrian sovereignty. However, Erdoğan’s decision to invade Kurdish territory in Syria led his Iranian counterpart, Rouhani, to condemn it on the grounds that it would increase regional instability.

Notwithstanding that criticism, Tehran does not want to risk its relationship with Ankara, which allows it to circumvent US sanctions and constitutes an essential channel for the supply of Iranian gas to major European countries.”

3) The ITIC analyses “Turkey’s Invasion of Syria and Its Influence on ISIS”.

“The dramatic developments weaken the SDF and its ability to continue to play the central role in fighting ISIS it has played so far – not only because of the blow to SDF morale, but because the Kurds lost American political support against Turkey, which had enabled it to turn most of its force and attention to fighting ISIS. In such circumstances ISIS, which has already proved its ability to change its modus operandi and adapt itself to new situations on the ground, can be expected to increase its terrorist and guerrilla attacks in eastern and northern Syria. However, in ITIC assessment, in the short term ISIS will not exploit the new situation to re-establish the Islamic State with territorial borders and control over the population.”

4) Orna Mizrahi discusses “The Mass Demonstrations in Lebanon: What Do They Portend?” at the INSS.

“The demonstrations throughout Lebanon over the last week erupted spontaneously and saw a full range of the population participating and calling on the leaders of all communities to form a new government and change the current order. […] The mass protest reflects the despair and exasperation with a corrupt leadership. On the other hand, there are signs that all components of the leadership, including Hezbollah, are not interested in changing the current system, and therefore supported a “recovery plan” that was hastily drafted by the cabinet. The plan entails placing the tax burden on the stronger socio-economic levels, but implementation is expected to be difficult. Clearly the public, which continues with the protests, has little faith in the plan. It is difficult to assess whether the protest will ebb soon or lead to the cabinet’s resignation or even to anarchy. It seems that Lebanon’s salvation can only be achieved with generous foreign aid, preferably from the West and from Gulf states so as to prevent Hezbollah and its patron, Iran, from assuming complete control over the country.”

 

Weekend long read

1) At the BESA Center, Professor Efraim Karsh addresses ‘Distorting Ben-Gurion’.

“By ignoring millions of declassified documents from the period of the British Mandate (1920-48) and Israel’s early days that show the claim of premeditated dispossession of the Palestinian Arabs to be completely unfounded, “revisionist” journalist Tom Segev’s rewrites David Ben-Gurion’s personal story, and, by extension, the story of Israel’s creation, in an image of his own making in which aggressors are transformed into hapless victims and vice versa.”

2) At the same site, Dr Alex Joffe looks at ‘BDS, Antisemitism and Class.

“Contemporary antisemitism has the ability to graft itself onto a variety of causes and movements. But the social and information environment in the US and Europe is strongly conditioned by virtue-signaling among elites and increasingly among portions of the middle class. Antisemitism, in part through BDS-fueled antipathy toward Israel, is becoming a signal of middle class respectability. At the same time, though left-wing Western elites remain strongly anti-national, the working classes and other parts of the middle class are becoming renationalized. These and other class conflicts will shape antisemitism in the next decades.”

3) Michael Walzer discusses ‘Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism’ at the Fathom Journal.

“Anti-Zionism is a flourishing politics today on many university campuses and on parts of the left, and the standard response from many Jewish organisations and from most of the Jews I know is to call it the newest version of anti-Semitism. But anti-Zionism is a subject in itself; it comes in many varieties, and which ones are anti-Semitic — that’s the question I want to address here. I take ‘Zionism’ to mean a belief in the rightful existence of a Jewish state, nothing more. Anti-Zionism denies the rightfulness. My concern here is with left-wing anti-Zionism in the United States and Europe.”

4) David Collier has been examining a Middle East history textbook used in British schools.

“From the opening sentences, when the book called Jewish people 3300 years ago ‘settlers’ until the final chapters – it is almost impossible for the untrained eye to pick apart fantasy from fiction.

The book spends three pages explaining the Oslo Peace process – and then asks the students to explain the failure of the process – but never once mentioned the exploding buses in Israel’s streets – and only mentioned a single terror attack during this period. How can a student possibly explain the failure of Oslo if you don’t mention the 100s of Israelis slain in Israeli streets?

The book doesn’t avoid violence. Whilst the book drums Jewish violence into the heads of students – through repetitive use of keywords such as ‘Irgun’, Lehi’, ‘the King David Hotel’ and ‘Deir Yassin’ – The Mufti of Jerusalem – a man responsible for much of the violence in the 1920-1939 Mandate – is not mentioned anywhere in the book.” 

Weekend long read

1) Jonathan Spyer shares ‘Some Further Thoughts on the Situation in Northern Syria’.

“The fate of the 60,000 ISIS prisoners currently held by the Syrian Democratic Forces, should also be considered.  The Kurdish-led SDF was holding these captives as part of their alliance with the US. That alliance has just been pronounced dead. The SDF looks set to be about to fight an advancing Turkish army – a project for which, it may be presumed, it will be in need of all available personnel.

Can Turkey, whose own relationship in recent years with ISIS  included verified episodes of collusion, be trusted with the task of holding these individuals in continued captivity, pending some future legal process?  The record would suggest otherwise.”

2) At The Hill, Behnam Ben Taleblu is ‘Making sense of Iran’s nuclear moves’.

“Things are about to get worse on the Iran nuclear front. That’s essentially what Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei promised in a speech on Wednesday before commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country’s most infamous military force. Per Khamenei, Iran is slated to continue reducing its adherence to the 2015 nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), until “the desired result” is achieved.

Khamenei’s comments help frame recent technical developments, confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, about Iran’s latest nuclear violations. The country is now using advanced centrifuges, fragile machines that spin at high speeds, to enrich uranium. […]  Earlier in September, an Iranian government spokesman had warned that Iran would grow its nuclear research and development aptitudes by installing and testing a series of advanced centrifuges.”

3) At the INSS Ofir Winter and Orit Perlov analyse recent events in Egypt.

“Over recent weeks, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was confronted was with his gravest public crisis since taking office. Mohamed Ali, a former Egyptian military contractor, posted videos on social media accusing the top military and political echelons of a range of corruption offenses and encouraged the public to protest against the President. Despite the wide dissemination of the videos, only a few thousand people responded to Ali’s call and took to the streets. But the regime’s success in containing the protests is no cause for nonchalance on its part, as the fundamental economic and political problems that sparked the public anger remain in place. Many of the regime’s supporters see in the protests a wake-up call and an opportunity to embark on measured policy amendments from a position of strength, hoping to prevent another wave of protests. Initial announcements on behalf of regime spokesmen promised economic, political, and media reforms, but these have yet to be translated into action on the ground.” 

4) Seth Frantzman takes a look at ‘Smoke signals in the next Middle East war’ for Tablet Magazine.

“Taken all together, the Israeli strikes in Lebanon last month and in Syria and possibly Iraq as well, the attack in Saudi Arabia, and the statements from Iranian and Hezbollah officials form part of a larger pattern in which Israel and Iran are locked in an escalating conflict playing out across the region. In the long term, Iran’s land bridge strategy connecting Tehran to the Mediterranean coast through a chain of contiguous client states in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, points directly at Israel.

Israeli officials have repeatedly warned about this Iranian encirclement and “entrenchment,” but the warnings have not been enough to stop the advance. The Abqaiq attack, like the Israeli airstrikes that preceded it, was both another salvo in this war and a challenge to the U.S. and the Gulf Arab states, testing their reactions as Iran ramps up its next phase in the war against Israel.”

Weekend long read

1) Writing at Tablet Magazine, Howard Jacobson asserts that “the reaction to a rescinded European literary award exposes the hypocrisy of cultural boycotts”.

“Whatever BDS means to achieve it is not subtle in its grasp of the rights and wrongs, the causes and the consequences, of Israel’s conflict with its neighbors. Not subtle in its penetration of how things stand for all parties. Not at pains to be evenhanded where evenhandedness might prove fruitful. And not far-seeing in securing the political well-being of actual Palestinians. But these are practical, and some would say desperate, considerations and as such might just be permitted to slip past the vigilance of moral rectitude and intellectual rigor.”

2) Reuel Marc Gerecht of the FDD discusses “The Israeli–Palestinian Struggle, Continued”.

“There is no chance of a “peace party” returning to Jerusalem unless Israelis see that Palestinians have unequivocally denounced the past, that the celebrations of those who’ve died killing Israelis are rejected.   That is impossible to envision in the near-term:  neither Fatah, nor Hamas, nor the Israelis, nor Washington want the Palestinian people voting.  All fear the worst—the wrong side winning.  Perhaps most perversely, the Israelis are invested in a security status quo with Fatah that likely negates the chance of any Palestinian change, and surely makes Hamas more popular on the West Bank than its tyranny in Gaza has earned.  But it’s possible that if there were a free vote among Palestinians the hostility towards Israelis—the fundamental rejection of the legitimacy of a Jewish state—could be the common denominator among Palestinians who otherwise loathe Fatah’s and Hamas’ dictatorships.  Palestinians again voting could lead to intense violence, among Palestinians and against Israelis.  Nonetheless, Palestinian popular sovereignty is likely the only way out of this cul-de-sac.”

3) Also at the FDD, David Adesnik and Andrew Gabel report on the opening of a border crossing between Syria and Iraq. 

“Syria and Iraq on Monday formally opened a key border crossing that lies along the principal route of Iran’s emerging land bridge to the Mediterranean via Baghdad and Damascus. The opening threatens to increase the volume of weapons and materiel that Iran can move across the bridge as part of its effort to establish a dominant position in the Levant. […]

The al-Qaim-Albu Kamal border crossing has unique strategic value for Iran, since the other two official crossings between Iraq and Syria are under the control of U.S. or U.S.-aligned forces. To the southwest, U.S. troops and local partners have secured al-Tanf, while Ya’rubiyah to the northeast is in the hands of Washington’s Syrian Kurdish allies.”

4) At the BESA Center, Dr. Doron Itzchakov takes a look at the Iraqi militias.

“The recent assaults on the militia bases of al-Hashd al-Sha’abi raise questions about Iraq’s future. Despite the Iraqi PM’s ultimatum demanding that the militias, which operate under the Iranian umbrella, integrate into the Iraqi military apparatus, a number of them are not complying, which could have implications for Iraqi sovereignty.”