News Digest — 1/6/20

Editorial: Don’t Mourn Soleimani

The decision by US President Donald Trump to kill Qassem Soleimani, leader of Iran’s Quds Force, should not be considered a controversial move but rather a welcome one that rid the world of an arch terrorist, responsible for the deaths of thousands of people across the globe.  Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force is embedding itself in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere, realizing the dream of the Islamic Republic to set up a crescent of power throughout the region, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea. Wherever Iran has power, it uses it for terrorism.  The targets range from the horrific attack on the AMIA Jewish community building in Buenos Aires, which left 85 people dead in 1994, to the ongoing rocket attacks from Yemen on Saudi Arabia and the attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf; the occasional firing of Katyushas onto the Israeli side of the Golan Heights; and the storming of the US Embassy in Baghdad and attacks on US military bases in Iraq.

The Jerusalem Post’s Herb Keinon correctly described the move to eliminate Soleimani as hitting an octopus, with far-reaching terrorist tentacles, on the head.

It was a bold decision by the US president – and it was the right one.  Soleimani had crossed American redlines, openly and boastfully. Had Trump ignored this – not only would American deterrence have been completely lost – but in all likelihood the attacks would have continued and worsened.

The targeted killing sent out a clear message to Iran and the terrorist organizations and murderous regimes it supports.  No more. It is true that Iran is expected to respond and it is not known when, where and at what price. But what’s also clear is that had Soleimani continued fostering terrorism unrestrained, this too would have resulted in the death of innocent victims.

Trump’s decision to kill Soleimani is in keeping with his principles of putting pressure on Iran and follows his withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Comprehensive Plan of Action, which granted Iran a flush of money to prop up the regime and fund terrorism in return for a temporary delay in reaching its goals of achieving military nuclear capability.

It is however, no secret that the American president has an unpredictable style of diplomacy.  In this case, it could be useful. The regime of the ayatollahs in Iran should now be extra cautious about how they respond to Soleimani’s death.  They cannot know how Trump will respond to anything they do.

Meanwhile this should not be seen as the US carrying out Israel’s dirty work for it.  It’s true that Israel, across the broad political spectrum, including some of the Arab parties, welcomed the removal of Soleimani.  So, too, did Saudi Arabia. As did many people struggling against Iran’s pernicious and spreading control in the region.

Iran might want to turn Soleimani into a martyr, but he was no saint.  He should not be mourned or missed by anybody with a sense of moral decency.



Members Of Gaza Terror Groups Flock To ‘Mourning Tent’ For Soleimani

Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, who served as commander of the Quds Force, was mourned on Saturday (4th) in the Gaza Strip, where hundreds of Palestinians endured the cold and rain to burn American and Israeli flags.

Iran has long provided aid to the Hamas terror group and to the smaller Palestinian Islamic Jihad as part of its strategy to eliminate Israel.

The killing of Soleimani was deemed “a loss for Palestine” by senior Hamas official Ismail Radwan.

Soleimani was eliminated in Baghdad, Iraq by an American drone early Friday morning (3rd) along with several Iraqi militia commanders.

On the streets of Tehran on Saturday (4th), supporters of the Islamic Republic regime mourned Soleimani and demanded revenge.

“I don’t think there will be a war, but we must get his revenge,” said one man, identified as Hojjat Sanieefar.  Another man on the street said he was “worried,” and added, “if there is a war, I am 100% sure it will not be to our betterment – the situation will certainly get worse.”

Iran’s leadership was clearly caught off-guard by Solelimani’s dramatic killing.  Iran declared a three-day period of mourning. Soleimani’s body will go to Tehran and Qom on Monday (6th) for public mourning processions.  He will be buried in his hometown of Kerman on Tuesday (7th).     



Petraeus: US Soleimani Strike More Important Than Bin Laden Killing

Former CIA director and US General David Petraeus stressed that the assassination of IRGC Quds Force commander Qassen Soleimani is more important than the killings of Osama bin Laden or ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, according to Foreign Policy.

“It is impossible to overstate the importance of this particular action,” said Petraeus.  “It is more significant than the killing of Osama bin Laden or even the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”

The former CIA director stressed that Soleimami was the “architect and operational commander” of Iran’s efforts to establish control over the region.  The Quds Force commander provided arms and munitions that killed over 600 American soldiers and many other coalition partners in Iraq, Syria and other countries.

Petraeus told Foreign Policy that it seems the airstrike was carried out to show that the US “is just not going to allow the continued violence,” including rocket attacks on US bases and attacks on shipping routes and unarmed drones, “without a significant response.”

The former general called the assassination a “very significant effort to reestablish deterrence,” which had not been built up by the “relatively insignificant” responses that have been carried out before.

The former general stressed that Iran doesn’t know where things will go from here any more than anyone else does.  “There could be actions in the gulf, in the Strait of Hormuz by proxies in the regional countries, and in other countries where the Quds Force have activities,” said Petraeus.  “There’s a very considerable number of potential responses by Iran, and then there are any number of potential US responses to those actions.”

Meanwhile, on Sunday (5th), US President Donald Trump warned that “If Iran Strikes any Americans, or American assets, we will target 52 sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago). Some sites are at a very high level and are important to Iran and the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.”



NBC Article Blames Jews For Spike In Anti-Semitism In New York

An NBC news article, which claimed on Thursday (2nd) that the growth of the ultra-orthodox neighborhoods in certain areas of New York state were to blame for the recent uptick in violent anti-Semitism there, has drawn harsh criticism in Israel and the US Jewish community.

“The expansion of hassidic communities in New York’s Hudson Valley, the Catskills, and northern New Jersey has led to predictable sparring over new housing development and local political control.  It has also led to flare-ups of rhetoric seen by some as anti-Semitic,” the NBC report said.  Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lior Haiat lambasted NBC for running the article, which implies that Jews were to blame for the recent attacks against them.

The “outrageous NBC New York article blames the Jews for the rising of anti-Semitism in the New York area.  Once again, the victim is blamed for the attacker’s racism. Instead of explanations and excuses, we need unequivocal action against racism and anti-Semitism,” Haiat wrote on Twitter.



Hundreds Rally In Solidarity With ‘No Hate No Fear’ March

Hundreds of people gathered in Jerusalem Sunday (5th) for a rally in solidarity with the “No Hate, No Fear” march in New York.

Taking place in The Jewish Agency’s courtyard, the event was in support of the US march organized by the UJA-Federation of New York, which comes in light of the recent wave of hate crimes against Jews in the New York area.

The Jerusalem rally, held parallel to the march in New York, was organized by The Jewish Agency for Israel, World Zionist Organization (WZO) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

The Israeli solidarity event was initiated to send a clear message of support to US Jews, particularly following the most recent attacks in Monsey and Jersey City.  Sunday’s (5th) No Hate No fear march in New York began in Lower Manhattan and followed with a march across the Brooklyn Bridge. Thousands of New Yorkers of all backgrounds attended, along with hundreds of Jewish Agency emissaries serving in US communities, as well as a special ADL delegation.

A number of Jewish leaders spoke out at the event including UJA-Federation of New York’s Executive Director of its Israeli office, Uri Leventer-Roberts, who said: “New York Jews have marched in the past to demand the freedom of Soviet Jews who were behind the Iron Curtain.  Every year thousands of them march on Fifth Avenue to show their support for Israel. The wave of anti-Semitism has now led them for the first time, to march for themselves. As a representative of Israel in the New York community I am proud to see that in this moment – we, in Israel, are coming out to stand with New York’s Jewish community in a clear message of support and solidarity.”