• irvsafdieh

Guate’ Get Out of TLV, Endangered Wolves, Oh Lorde


Guatemala Follows U.S. Lead, Will Move Its Israel Embassy To Jerusalem

Doreen McCallister, NPR, December 25th 2017

Recap:

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales declared Guatemala would move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The announcement makes Guatemala the first country to follow the U.S. decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Czech Republic and Romania are said to be considering such a move as well.

The Context:

  • President Trump's decision to move the US embassy in Israel reversed decades of U.S. policy and sparked international uproar. Guatemala stood alongside the U.S. and Israel in a United Nations (UN) vote against Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, and Togo also voted against the UN resolution.

  • Nikki Haley, America’s Ambassador to the UN, invited those who voted alongside the US as well as the 56 no-vote nations to a January “friendship” party. The U.S. also announced it would slash $285 million of financial support to the UN in 2018 [1].

  • Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said the government was in talks “with more than ten countries” planning to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move their embassies there. Lebanon, Malaysia, and Turkey announced potential plans to open embassies in East Jerusalem, which they declared the capital of a Palestinian state [2].

  • A new high-speed rail station in the Old City of Jerusalem will be named after President Donald Trump. "I decided to call the new train station in the name of President Donald Trump, because of his historical and brave decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel," said Israeli Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz [3].

Conversation Points:

  • Will more countries follow Guatemala’s lead and move their embassy to Jerusalem, Turkey’s lead and move its embassy to East Jerusalem or keep the status quo and remain in Tel Aviv?

  • Should the US cut funding to the UN just because a vote didn’t go its way?

  • Is the Israeli government overvaluing Guatemala’s decision to move its embassy?

Israel Foiled 400 Major Terror Attacks in 2017, Shin Bet Chief Says

Jonathan Lis and Yaniv Kubovich, Haaretz, December 24th 2017

Recap:

Israel foiled 400 major terror attacks in 2017, Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman disclosed during a briefing to the Knesset. Argaman also predicted that the Hamas-PA reconciliation is “not going to succeed.”

The Context:

  • The attacks thwarted include planned suicide bombings, kidnappings, and 1,100 lone wolf attacks. There were 54 attacks carried out in 2017, a decrease from 108 carried out in 2016.

  • According to Argaman, Hamas is poised to take over the West Bank from the “very weak” Mahmoud Abbas, who controls the Palestinian Authority (PA), citing 148 Hamas cells that the Shin Bet broke up in the West Bank in 2017. Argaman added that the Palestinian front, in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, is very unstable, "particularly after Trump's declaration on Jerusalem [4]."

  • Israel's prevention of lone wolf attacks grew from 400 in 2016 to 1100 in 2017. While Israel is a pioneer in stopping potential lone wolf attackers, it has been criticized for crossing the fine line between apprehending those using free speech on social media and those inciting violence. Argaman attributed much of his organization’s success to the Shin Bet’s cyber unit [5].

Conversation Points:

  • How does a country balance free speech and incitement?

  • Will a US embassy move to Jerusalem serve as a catalyst for Hamas to dismantle its reconciliation accord with the PA?

Lorde Cancels Israel Show, but Russia Dates Remain

Shirley Halperin, Variety, December 24th 2017

Recap:

Lorde canceled her Tel Aviv concert following pressure by anti-Israel activists.

The Context:

  • The BDS movement, which stands for boycott, divestment, and sanctions, organizes social media campaigns to discourage artists from performing in Israel. Elvis Costello & Lauryn Hill have canceled performances in Israel as a result of BDS however far more have resisted including Radiohead and Britney Spears.

  • New Zealand activists wrote an open letter to Lorde urging her to avoid “supporting the policies of the Israeli government [6]” and cancel the event. Lorde took to social media saying she “didn't make the right call on this one" [7] and canceled her performance in Tel Aviv.

  • Israel's ambassador to New Zealand requested a meeting with Lorde and wrote an open letter urging her to “contribute to the spirit of hope and peace in the Middle East [8]” and reinstate the concert.

  • Performances in two Russian cities — St. Petersburg and Moscow — remain on Lorde’s tour schedule.

Conversation Points:

  • Does Lorde’s cancellation punish Israel’s government or its citizens?

  • Wouldn’t Russia be the first to go if Lorde truly cared about human rights violations?

Notes:

  1. ISRAEL SAYS “MORE THAN 10 COUNTRIES” MAY JOIN TRUMP IN MOVING EMBASSY TO JERUSALEM, BUT OTHERS FIGHT BACK, TOM O'CONNOR, NEWSWEEK, DECEMVER 26TH 2017

  2. Ibid.

  3. Israel plans a Trump station as Trump-naming frenzy sweeps country, Oren Liebermann, CNN, December 27th 2017

  4. Shin Bet warns Hamas may be plotting West Bank takeover — report, JUDAH ARI GROSS, TIMES OF ISRAEL, DECEMBER 24TH 2017

  5. SHIN BET CHIEF TELLS KNESSET: OVER 400 ATTACKS THWARTED IN 2017, ANNA AHRONHEIM & YONAH JEREMY BOB, JERUSALEM POST, DECEMBER 24TH 2017

  6. LORDE CAVES TO BDS PRESSURE, CANCELS ISRAEL CONCERT, Amy Spiro, Jerusalem Post, December 24th 2017

  7. Lorde: Israel Ambassador Requests Meeting With Singer Over Canceled Show, Rich Fury, Rolling Stone, December 27th 2017

  8. Ibid.