News Digest — 12/4/20

Israel Urged Not To Visit The Gulf States

The National Security Council’s Counterterrorism Bureau urged Israelis on Thursday (3rd) to avoid travel to the Gulf States of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, citing threats of Iranian attacks.

The travel advisory comes as Iran is threatening to attack Israeli targets following the assassination of its top nuclear scientist last Friday (11/27).

Iran accuses Israel of being behind the attack.

Israel in recent months has signed agreements establishing diplomatic relations with the UAE and Bahrain.  The agreements brokered by the Trump administration have generated widespread excitement in Israel and thousands of Israeli tourists are scheduled to travel to the Gulf this month.

“In light of the threats heard recently by Iranian officials and in light of the involvement in the past of Iranian officials in terror attacks on various countries, there is a concern that Iran will try to act in this way against Israeli targets,” said a statement issued by the prime minister’s National Security Council.

It also advised against travel to Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and the Kurdish area of Iraq and Africa.

Iran and its proxies have targeted Israeli tourists and Jewish communities in the past.  Hezbollah agents bombed a bus carrying Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria, in 2012, killing six and wounding dozens,  That year, Israel also accused Iran of being behind attacks targeting Israeli diplomats in Thailand and India.  Iran and Hezbollah also bombed the Israeli embassy and Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1992 and 1994, claiming the lives of scores of civilians.

Concern for the safety of Israelis in Dubai also is not without precedent.  In 2000, an Israeli ex-colonel was kidnapped by Iranian proxy Hezbollah and held captive in Lebanon until he was released in a prisoner exchange in 2004.



‘Made In Israel:’ Bahrain Deals BDS Blow – Refuses Special Labels For Judea And Samaria Goods

Bahrain’s Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism Zayed R. Alzayani told members of the media on Thursday (3rd) that Bahrain would not distinguish between goods made in Judea and Samaria or the Golan Heights and other Israeli products.

All products of Israel will be treated the same, he specified, rejecting a policy adopted by other countries of treating goods and services from Judea and Samaria or the Golan Heights differently than other Israeli products.

Alzayani added that there would be “no restrictions” or “special rules” for these products, explaining that Bahrain sees Israeli companies in the same light as those from Italy, India, China, Germany, or Saudi Arabia.  

Referring to relations with Israel as a “new chapter,” Alzayani appeared to deal a significant blow to entities such as the European Union and the United Nations, which have pursued a labeling policy that ostracizes Israeli goods from Judea and Samaria.

Alzayani told the Times of Israel that goods from Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights can be sold as “products of Israel,” in Bahrain.

In taking this position, Bahrain complies with US guidelines announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that require labeling all goods emanating from places where Israel maintains civilian control as “Products of Israel” or “Made in Israel.”

The stance announced by Alzayani defies EU policy, which requires the aforementioned products to carry special labels distinguishing them from other Israeli products.

It is also a blow to the BDS movement, which in addition to seeking wholesale boycotts of the Jewish state also sees flagging the sale of goods from Judea and Samaria as a positive step.  Labeling them is seen as a step toward banning them completely.

Recently, Pompeo denounced BDS as inherently “anti-Semitic” a charge that has dogged the group since its inception.

Similarly, Bahrain’s position flies in the face of United Nations Security Council resolution 2334, which requires countries to “distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.” 

The UN has also published a “blacklist” of companies that do business in Judea and Samaria.

Alzayani arrived in Israel on Tuesday (1st) to sign trade, tourism, and commerce agreements, meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and various cabinet ministers.



Ted Cruz Reintroduces Muslim Brotherhood Designation Act

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex) reintroduced the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act this week, urging the US State Department to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), his office announced on Wednesday (2nd).

“I am proud to reintroduce this bill and to advance America’s fight against radical Islamic terrorism,” said Cruz.

“I commend the current administration’s work calling terrorism by its name and combatting the spread of this potent threat.  And I look forward to receiving the additional information this new bill requests from the State Department,” he said, referring to the bill’s requirement that the State Department report to Congress about whether the Muslim Brotherhood meets the legal criteria for FTO designation.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates are among the nations that have already designated the group as a terrorist organization, noted Cruz.

“Many of our closest allies in the Arab world have long ago concluded that the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist group that seeks to sow chaos across the Middle East, and I will continue working with my colleagues to take action against groups that finance terrorism,” he said.

The bill is being sponsored by Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).

“Since the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Brotherhood affiliated groups have consistently preached and incited hatred against Christians, Jews, and other Muslims while supporting designated radical terrorists,” said Inhofe.

“I am proud that under the Trump administration we continue to call out and combat radical terrorism and I am glad to join my colleagues today in reintroducing this legislation.  We must continue to condemn Foreign Terrorist Organizations and hold them accountable for the evil they perpetrate,” he said.

Cruz first introduced the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act in 2015 and again in 2017.



Palestinians Push Series Of Anti-Israel Resolutions At UN

The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday (2nd) was able to push a series of anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations but the move garnered less support than usual, perhaps indicating that the international body may be starting to shake off its bias against the Jewish state.

The move, led by Ramallah annually, usually garners massive support from UN member-states, but this year, the vote noted an increase in the number of states that either opposed the resolutions or abstained in the vote.

The resolutions were drafted by the General Assembly’s Palestinian Rights Committee, dedicated to promoting the Palestinian narrative with regards to the regional conflict.

This year, however, they were opposed by Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Switzerland, and Papua New Guinea, as well as other countries that in previous years had abstained.

Iceland, Singapore, Eritrea, and Uruguay, which in the past voted in favor of such resolutions, chose to abstain this time.

In addition, there was also a decline in the support for a resolution condemning Israeli presence in the Golan Heights.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan expressed his appreciation of Israel’s supporters, saying, “This sends a clear message to the UN against its discrimination of Israel.

“No other country in the world is discriminated against in international bodies as Israel is.  It is time for more countries to join our struggle to change the anti-Israel agenda at the UN.”

Erdan stressed that the fact the resolutions passed “changes nothing on the ground.  All it does is perpetuate Palestinian rejectionism and their illusions.”

“If anything, these resolutions reflect the fact that the UN is detached from reality.  Every year the UN member-states repeat the same old slogans touted by the Palestinians and vote for the same resolutions despite the fact they are detached from reality, thus proving they want to appease the Palestinians more than they want to resolve the conflict,” he asserted.



Iranian Jews Afraid To Leave Home

The assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh has shown a spotlight on the plight of the Jewish communities of Tehran and Isfahan.

In these communities, there have been reports in recent days of residents fearing to leave their homes for fear of retaliation for the assassination of Fakhrizadeh.

Since the assassination last week, a number of demonstrations have taken place throughout Tehran, some of which have passed by synagogues.  During the demonstrations, protesters stopped near the synagogues and shouted insults.

After the assassination of Qassem Soleimani in January, the Jewish community was quick to strongly condemn the incident, including a media visit by Tehran’s Chief Rabbi Yehuda Grami, to the home of a senior Iranian official.

This time, however, senior members of the Jewish community are refraining from making statements.

According to the media, it is possible that members of the community are afraid to make statements because this time the Iranian authorities are directly blaming the Mossad and Israel for the assassination, whereas the US was responsible for the assassination of Soleimani.

“When Soleimani was eliminated the finger of blame was pointed at the United States, so we were calm.  Even when the nuclear scientists were eliminated, an accusing finger was never officially pointed at Israel.  Now Israel is really blamed, and the situation is very explosive,” a Jewish source in Iran was quoted as saying.