Behind the Rocket Attacks from Gaza Could Be the Hand of Iran

July 11 2018

Backed by Moscow and Tehran, Bashar al-Assad has begun an offensive against the rebel strongholds in southwestern Syria that will inevitably place Iran’s forces directly on Israel’s border. Meanwhile, groups in Gaza—including Islamic Jihad, which is all but an Iranian proxy—have persisted in firing rockets at Israeli communities. Tony Badran sees a “coordinated Iranian strategy” at work:

Iran’s assets don’t stand a chance against Israel in a full-on war. But low-intensity conflict can work to [Tehran’s] advantage. . . . The purpose of all the activity in Gaza, therefore, is to tie down and distract Israel, and then try to divide its forces between two active fronts in the hope of deterring them from truly acting on either. If successful, Iran will have set up fronts on Israel’s borders with Gaza, Lebanon [in the form of Hizballah], and Syria.

So long as Iran is able to avoid high-intensity conflict in these arenas, it can press ahead with its plan. [For the time being], the Israelis have made clear they will not accept low-intensity conflict on their borders as a norm, and will not allow the Iranians to entrench themselves not just on the Golan but in Syria more broadly, no matter the cost.

There is debate in Israel about whether the time has come to hit Gaza hard. Notwithstanding all the chatter about a deal with Russia [to keep Iran and Hizballah out of the Syrian Golan], there is equal need for Israel to intensify its targeting campaign against Iran’s infrastructure, personnel, and logistical lines in Syria. . . .

Israel will need to carry out its strikes with a posture signaling readiness to go to full war. Normalizing protracted low-intensity war, akin to the situation with Lebanon between 1996 and 2006, will prove to be a costly mistake. As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put it recently, “if there needs to be” conflict with Iran, “it is better now than later.”

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hizballah, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, 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.

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