News Roundup for August 28, 2019

August 28, 2019

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Top News and Analysis

As Trump Signals Talks With Rohani, Israel Ratchets Up Tensions With Iran, Haaretz
Amos Harel writes, “The recent series of attacks attributed to Israel throughout the Middle East creates an impression of a planned campaign to deliberately escalate the friction with Iran, Hezbollah and their satellites. Hezbollah has publicly declared that it intends to respond.”

Israel’s shadow war with Iran bursts into the open, AP
Aron Heller writes, “The long shadow war between Israel and Iran has burst into the open in recent days, with Israel allegedly striking Iran-linked targets as far away as Iraq and crash-landing two drones in Hezbollah-dominated southern Beirut.”

Deadly Explosions Target Hamas Police Checkpoints in Gaza, New York Times
Two explosions that ripped through Hamas police checkpoints in Gaza City late Tuesday killed three police officers, security officials said on Wednesday, in an uncommon attack believed to have been carried by forces within the territory. Two of the officers were part of the armed wing of Hamas, the Islamist militant group that governs Gaza. The group has been mostly engaged in cross-border clashes with the Israeli military. But at times it has faced internal opposition from more stringent Islamist militants aligned with Al Qaeda or the Islamic State.


Rouhani backpedals on suggestion of talks with Trump, Al-Monitor
“If someone is merely seeking a photo opportunity with Hassan Rouhani, that is not possible, unless they lift all the unjust sanctions,” said the Iranian president in reference to speculation about a possible meeting with his American counterpart Donald Trump.

Iran to further breach nuclear deal on September 6, Times of Israel
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced on Tuesday that Tehran will further curb its adherence to the international agreement limiting its nuclear program next week unless it can reach an agreement with European powers before then.

Hezbollah planning ‘calculated strike’ against Israel after drones: two sources close to Hezbollah, Reuters
Iran-backed Hezbollah is preparing a “calculated strike” against Israel in response to two drones that crashed in Beirut at the weekend, two sources close to Hezbollah told Reuters on Tuesday.

Beirut Strike Target: Vital Iranian Device for Hezbollah’s Mass Missile Production, Haaretz
The attack in Beirut early Sunday morning, which has been attributed to Israel, hit a central component of Hezbollah’s missile program. It damaged a planetary mixer — an industrial-sized mixer weighing about eight tons, needed to create propellants that can improve the engine performance of missiles and increase their accuracy. The machine was hit, as far as we know, shortly before Hezbollah planned to move it to a secured site.

Harvard Student Says He Was Barred From U.S. Over His Friends’ Social Media Posts, New York Times
A Palestinian student from Lebanon who was set to begin his freshman year at Harvard was denied entry to the United States after immigration officials objected to his friends’ social media posts, he said this week, prompting furor among free-speech advocates.

Israel’s Election Panel Hires Inspectors to Film Inside Polls on Election Day, Haaretz
Three weeks before the September 17 Knesset election, the Central Elections Committee has begun recruiting thousands of inspectors to ensure the integrity of the vote. The formation of the new unit was announced Monday by committee chairman Hanan Melcer, a Supreme Court justice.

Opinion and Analysis

The hype over possible U.S.-Iran talks obscured something much more ominous, Washington Post
The Editorial Board writes, “The hype over a possible diplomatic breakthrough obscured a much more ominous development: another escalation in Iran-related tensions across the Middle East, this time driven by Israel.”

Fighting to Get Out the Arab Vote: A Grassroots Movement in Israel Is Gaining Steam, Haaretz
Judy Maltz writes, “About half a dozen volunteers are positioned outside the Greek Orthodox Church in the Old City of Ramle, waiting for Sunday morning services to end. Once the doors open, they leap into action. ‘Are you planning to vote?’ they ask, as they pounce on the worshippers filing out. ’Is your husband? Your wife? Your mother? Your father? Would you like us to call them? Do you understand why it’s really important this time?’”

The right made the occupation ‘disappear.’ That might cost it the election, +972 Mag
Meron Rapoport writes, “Netanyahu has joined forces with religious radicals who have stopped talking about Palestinians and are instead pushing a homophobic and sexist agenda. It may just might seal his political doom.”

American Jews, Don’t Go on Birthright, Jacobin
Aaron Freedman writes, “Birthright Israel pretends the occupation does not exist and manipulates Jewish heritage and identity into support for an apartheid state. I’ll never go on Birthright, and neither should you.”

By Blindly Supporting Netanyahu, AIPAC Has Betrayed American Jews, The Forward
Gordon Tucker writes, “Where is the fear — that we all should have, and I certainly do — that this dark partnership between America’s and Israel’s current leaders will severely damage Israel’s welfare in ways we have not yet seen or imagined?”