Today’s Top Stories
1. The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process (UNSCO) will not send staff to Gaza until further notice, a source close to the organisation told AFP on condition of anonymity, after Hamas imposed tough new restrictions following the assassination of one of its members. In particular, Hamas’s closure of the Erez border crossing has made it difficult for people and aid materials to enter Gaza. Next time one hears Hamas complain about being blockaded it’s worth remembering that at least in this case, their blockade is self-imposed.
2. Two civilians and a policeman were injured in the second knifing this week in Jerusalem. The teenage terrorist was shot and killed by Israeli police and was celebrated by Hamas as “heroic.” Not surprisingly, the attacker’s death made headlines around the world, while the open praise for his violence from within Palestinian society, did not. Journalist Khaled Abu Toameh shares this Tweet:
Hamas celebrates the ‘heroic’ stabbing attack in Jerusalem carried out by 17-year-old Ahmed Ghazal from Nablus. pic.twitter.com/PPEoAqC8t8
— Khaled Abu Toameh (@KhaledAbuToameh) April 1, 2017
3. Israel’s parliament is considering two bills that would silence mosque loudspeakers, at least during night hours, on the grounds that they cause an unnecessary noise disturbance. In a response typical of Arab criticism of these bills, Talal Abu Arar, a member of the Joint Arab List, the Arab party in Knesset said:
For hundreds of years the call to prayer did not bother anyone, and now suddenly it does? This is part of the incitement against Arabs and Muslims in general. We will not honor this law, and continue calling to prayer as usual.
This begs the question: for exactly how many “hundreds of years” has the Muslim call to prayer been using loud speakers? And would it really violate Islam to do the nighttime calls to prayer the old-fashioned way, with a human voice instead of modern electronics?
Israel and the Palestinians
• Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the leader of the staunchly pro-settlement Jewish Home party, indicated Sunday that he accepts the restrictions on settlement construction approved by the government late Thursday as a goodwill gesture to US President Donald Trump.
• A Palestinian author has fled his home after his book was banned by the Palestinian attorney general and he received death threats. Abbad Yahya, 28, has for several years been writing books that meet with criticism from within Palestinian society for including sex and politically unpopular opinions. Yet the young author says he was surprised to find such serious opposition this time, describing his home of Ramallah to be a “lively, open-minded West Bank city” where he has always felt free to write what he wants.
Around the World
• U.S. policy in Syria is no longer focused on removing Bashar al-Assad from power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told reporters on Thursday, indicating a reversal from the previous administration. “You pick and choose your battles and when we’re looking at this, it’s about changing up priorities and our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out.”
• Five members of the Israeli parliament held a town hall-style discussion in the United States Wednesday night with Jews from Greater Boston to address growing anti-Semitism and strengthen the future of the American-Israeli partnership. Sponsored by the Ruderman Family Foundation, the MKs who took part were Rachel Azaria of the Kulanu party, MK Tali Poskov from Yesh Atid, MK Mickey Levy from Likud, MK Amir Ohana, and Zionist Camp’s MK Ayelet Nahmias Verbin.
• On Friday, White House officials said Mr. Trump did not consider it constructive to air disputes over human rights publicly. His approach, they said, would be to handle such issues in a more discreet way. The topic came up in the context of a question about Aya Hjazi, a humanitarian worker arrested in May 2014 in Egypt, on what have been widely viewed as trumped-up charges of trafficking and child abuse. The US has always walked a delicate balance between supporting necessary allies vs taking an active role in defending human rights around the world and every president seems to struggle with the dilemma in a slightly different way. Does this statement signal an element of Trump’s overall approach to the Middle East?
• According to the UK’s former Senior Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Baroness Warsi, British citizens who volunteer for the Israeli army should be prosecuted. It is currently possible for anyone in Britain to join the Israel Defence Force (IDF) through the “Mahal” program if they meet specific background and age requirements. Comparing the IDF to the forces of Syria’s Bashar Assad, the Baroness said the UK government’s current policy on the issue was not “brave enough.” In 2014, Warsi resigned from her position as a minister in the government’s Foreign Office, saying its policy on the war in Gaza was “morally indefensible”.
• In an article from the Jewish News Service entitled “Stop denying the Israeli consensus on the Palestinians” Jonathan Tobin writes:
The majority of Israelis, including some who vote for the ruling Likud party, would be happy if a two-state solution were possible. Most would probably embrace painful territorial sacrifices resulting in the uprooting of some settlements if they thought it was the required price for actually ending the conflict. But after the last quarter century, during which the Palestinians have repeatedly demonstrated their unwillingness to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders might be drawn, they understand that the kind of withdrawal favored by former President Barack Obama and other Israel critics makes no sense. They have no appetite for a West Bank replication of the Hamas-ruled Palestinian state in all but name in Gaza.
Israel’s critics should pay attention to what Lapid said because it demonstrates that there is a consensus about peace and territorial withdrawal. Those who ignore this consensus are seeking to overthrow the verdict of democracy, and forgetting that the Israeli electorate has a much firmer grasp of the security situation than that of foreign kibitzers who want peace now.
• Alan Dershowitz dissects the impact of “intersectionality” on the Western world. Intersectionality is a popular political philosophy among young adults, which many understand to be a form of opposing racism in all forms. Dershowitz, however, sees links from intersectionality to anti-Semitic and anti-Western views that the millennial generation has deemed justified, for reasons of what they term white, male, and Jewish “privilege.” Dershowitz (a life long liberal Democrat) demonstrates how this newly popular political philosophy actually embodies several forms of racism (including anti-Semitism) while disguising itself as progressive liberalism.
• Here’s what else I’m reading today . . .
Featured image: CC0 geralt;
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