Israel’s Latest (Possible) Strike in Syria Shows That It Won’t be Cowed by Russia

Early Saturday morning, it appears that Israeli jets destroyed an Iranian base located in Syria. Jerusalem, as a rule, does not take credit for such strikes, but to Ron Ben-Yishai there is little reason to doubt its responsibility. He explains the logic behind the attack:

Israel will not allow an Iranian military presence of any kind in Syria. The fact the Russians and the Iranians ignored that message in talks that Vladimir Putin held with the leaders of Iran and Turkey was likely what prompted Israel to reinforce its message [with action]. . . .

[The Iranian] base, which is near the town of al-Kiswah, fifteen kilometers southwest of Damascus, was supposed to house some 500 militia fighters operating in Syria on Iranian orders. The base is some 50 kilometers from the Golan Heights, and while it’s not close enough to pose a direct threat to Israel, it certainly constitutes an important and clear component in Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria. . . . [W]hile the al-Kiswah base has yet to be populated, it is safe to assume there was already Iranian “representation” there at the time of the strike—a few Iranian military and Revolutionary Guards personnel, no more. It was apparently enough for Israel.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, recently said that Iranian (and Russian) military presence in Syria was “legitimate,” because the Assad regime, which is the legal government, invited them. But Jerusalem is not bound by Moscow’s declarations. For Israel, as recent events and declarations make clear, a permanent Iranian military presence in Syria is a red line that will not be accepted, even in its initial stages. The obvious conclusion is that it’s better to handle a problem when it is still small than to bomb this facility when it is fully manned, causing many casualties.

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Russia, Syrian civil war

A University of Michigan Professor Exposes the Full Implications of Academic Boycotts of Israel

Sept. 26 2018

A few weeks ago, Professor John Cheney-Lippold of the University of Michigan told an undergraduate student he would write a letter of recommendation for her to participate in a study-abroad program. But upon examining her application more carefully and realizing that she wished to spend a semester in Israel, he sent her a polite email declining to follow through. His explanation: “many university departments have pledged an academic boycott against Israel in support of Palestinians living in Palestine,” and “for reasons of these politics” he would no longer write the letter. Jonathan Marks comments:

We are routinely told . . . that boycott actions against Israel are “limited to institutions and their official representatives.” But Cheney-Lippold reminds us that the boycott, even if read in this narrow way, obligates professors to refuse to assist their own students when those students seek to participate in study-abroad programs in Israel. Dan Avnon, an Israeli academic, learned years ago that the same goes for Israel faculty members seeking to participate in exchange programs sponsored by Israeli universities. They, too, must be turned away regardless of their position on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. . . .

Cheney-Lippold, like other boycott defenders, points to the supposed 2005 “call of Palestinian civil society” to justify his singling out of Israel. “I support,” he says in comments to the [Michigan] student newspaper, “communities who organize themselves and ask for international support to achieve equal rights [and] freedom and to prevent violations of international law.”

Set aside the absurdity of this reasoning (“Why am I not boycotting China on behalf of Tibet? Because China has been much more effective in stifling civil society!”). Focus instead on what Cheney-Lippold could have found out by using Google. The first endorser of the call of “civil society” is the Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine, which includes Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and other groups that trade not only in violent “resistance” but in violence that directly targets noncombatants.

That’s remained par for the course for the boycott movement. In October 2015, in the midst of the series of stabbings deemed “the knife intifada,” the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel shared a call for an international day of solidarity with the “new generation of Palestinians” who were then “rising up against Israel’s brutal, decades-old system of occupation.” To be sure, they did not directly endorse attacks on civilians, but they did issue their statement of solidarity with “Palestinian popular resistance” one day after four attacks that left three Israelis—all civilians—dead.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Read more at Commentary

More about: Academia, Academic Boycotts, BDS, Israel & Zionism, Knife intifada