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Knockin’ on Israel’s Door, The Favorite Refugee, 120 Herzl’s


Netanyahu Accuses Iran of Building Missile Production Sites in Syria

Peter Beaumont, The Guardian, August 28th 2017

Recap:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of building sites to produce missiles in Syria and Lebanon during a meeting with United Nations (UN) Secretary General António Guterres. Netanyahu suggested earlier this month that Israel is prepared to act unilaterally to prevent Tehran from establishing a foothold on its doorstep.

The Context:

  • Tehran’s influence in the region has steadily increased since the start of the Syrian Civil War. Iran currently operates through its own Revolutionary Guard forces as well as through Hezbollah, Shi'ite militias from Iraq, Afghani and Pakistani volunteers and local Syrian militias [1]. Israel has long held that Iran poses a greater threat to international stability than the Islamic State [2].

  • Last month, Israeli media broadcast images of a site in northwest Syria, claiming it is used for missile storage. Under Resolution 1701, the UN is responsible for preventing weapon shipments to Hezbollah, however Israeli officials accuse UN monitors of turning a blind eye to the “tens of thousands of weapons [smuggled] into Lebanon [3].” The UN Security Council is presently debating whether to renew Resolution 1701 [4].

  • Iran currently has 70,000 combatants in Syria [5] and is Hamas’ “largest backer financially and militarily [6].”

  • Israeli leaders from across the political spectrum took the opportunity to bombard Guterres with a laundry list of complaints about his organization [7]. This year alone saw multiple UN resolutions denying Jewish claims to Jerusalem and Hebron.

Conversation Points:

  • What would the region look like today if the US intervened in the Syrian Civil War prior to Russian and Iranian interference?

  • Would Iran have the ability to finance its destabilizing operations in the region without the funds gained from the Iranian Nuclear Deal?

  • Why isn’t the UN concerned about an increasingly hostile and active Iran?

UN Spends 4 Times More on Palestinian Refugees per Person

Itamar Eichner, Ynet News, August 27th 2017

Recap:

A Palestinian refugee receives a budget four times larger than any other refugee according to a study conducted by the Abba Eban Institute of International Diplomacy.

The Context:

  • The UN is currently facing its largest refugee crisis in history with roughly 68 million people worldwide seeking shelter. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) provides assistance to refugees around the world while the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) provides assistance only for Palestinian refugees.

  • In 2016, UNRWA spent an average of $246 for each of the 5.3 million Palestinians it defines as refugees, while UNHCR spent only $58 per refugee. UNRWA employs 30,000 people while the UNHCR, which handles tens of millions worldwide, employs only 10,000.

  • Former Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor formulated a plan to merge UNRWA into the UNHCR to “[unite] the resources of the two agencies and enable more quality and efficient assistance." Prosor intends to present his ideas to the UN in the coming months.

  • A host of US politicians do not support funding Palestinian initiatives as long as the Palestinian Authority (PA) continues to divert funding from its own budget to compensate terrorists and their families [8]. This week Canada pledged $5 million to UNRWA's Syria Emergency Appeal [9].

  • The UN definition of a Palestinian refugee differs from that of any other refugee group since the descendants of Palestinian refugee males, including adopted children, are also eligible for registration. When UNRWA began operations in 1950, it responded to the needs of 750,000 people while today over 5 million people are eligible for UNRWA services.

Conversation Points:

  • Why didn’t Jews expelled from Arab lands as a result of Israel’s founding also receive preferential treatment by the UN?

  • How effective is UNRWA if, instead of naturalizing its refugees, it has managed to grow its number of dependents by 700%?

  • Does UNRWA stand in the way of Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation by enabling the Palestinian refugee problem instead of trying to solve it?

120 Herzl’s Gather in Herzliya

JTA, August 27th 2017

Recap:

In a year marked by significant milestones in Israeli history, 120 men and women named after Israel’s ideological forbearer, Theodore Herzl, gathered in Herzliya to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the first World Zionist Congress.

The Context:

  • On August 29th 1897, Herzl, a Hungarian journalist, convened 200 participants from 17 countries, including 69 delegates from various Zionist societies for the first ever World Zionist Congress. The gathering is widely regarded as a watershed moment in the effort to create a Jewish state.

  • Herzl died in 1904 and, though he did not live to see his dream fulfilled, his remains were moved to Jerusalem in 1949 and buried alongside Israel's greatest statesmen and military leaders [10]. Herzl has no direct descendants today.

  • In a nod to Herzl, Buzzfeed ranked him as the owner of the best beard of all the participants of the First Zionist Congress.

Conversation Points:

  • What might go through Herzl’s mind looking back on the 120 years since the 1st World Zionist Congress?

Notes:

  1. Iran Commands 70,000 Combatants in Syria, Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz, August 28th 2017

  2. Netanyahu: Iran building missile production sites in Syria, Lebanon, Heidi Levine & Jeffrey Heller, Reuters, August 28th 2017

  3. NETANYAHU TO UN CHIEF: WE WON’T LET IRAN SURROUND US, HERB KEINON, JERUSALEM POST, AUGUST 28TH 2017

  4. Netanyahu: Iran building missile sites in Syria, Al Jazeera, August 28th 2017

  5. Iran Commands 70,000 Combatants in Syria, Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz, August 28th 2017

  6. Hamas leader in Gaza: Ties with Iran now ‘fantastic’; we’re preparing battle for Palestine, Times of Israel, August 28th 2017

  7. NETANYAHU TO UN CHIEF: WE WON’T LET IRAN SURROUND US, HERB KEINON, JERUSALEM POST, AUGUST 28TH 2017

  8. US WORKING BEHIND THE SCENES TO HELP FUND UNRWA, TOVAH LAZAROFF, JERUSALEM POST, AUGUST 28TH 2017

  9. Canada to donate $25 million to UNRWA, Elad Benari, Israel National News, August 25th 2017

  10. Israel's Birth Remembered on Zionist Congress Anniversary, Julie Stahl & John Waage, CBN News,


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