New and Noteworthy in Arab and Islamic Affairs, 9-6-17

A Qatari port to bypass Gulf sanctions, a massive war exercise in Israel’s north, and Israeli and Egyptian government spending on Jewish diaspora institutions. To subscribe to this daily roundup, click here.

A new Qatari port inaugurated Tuesday aims to circumvent sanctions on the country by its GCC neighbors. “Closure of the Saudi border with Qatar and disruption to shipping routes via the UAE slashed Qatar’s imports by over a third from year-earlier levels in June and July,” Reuters reports. “Institutions in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have begun pulling money out of Qatari banks, threatening their balance sheets. … Hamad port spans 26 square kilometers and will have a capacity of 7.5 million containers a year with terminals built to receive livestock, cereals, vehicles and coastguard vessels.

Israel is in the midst of the largest military exercise on its northern border in two decades. The ten-day exercise, reports the Jewish Chronicle, “involves dozens of divisions and thousands of reserves and includes land, air and sea forces. .. [It will] include a scenario of instant escalation, in which the army has to defend Israel against multiple terrorist infiltrations in the north. The army will also practice an attack on Lebanon and practice an evacuation of Israeli towns by the border in anticipation of heavy missile attacks from Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, the governments of Egypt and Israel are each pledging funds to the Jewish diaspora. Cairo, reports The Guardian, has pledged over $70 million to restore eight Egyptian Jewish monuments, including the 14th-century Eliyahu Hanavi synagogue in Alexandria. The Israeli government, for its part, has pledged $1 million in relief aid to the Jewish community of Houston, Texas, to repair Jewish communal infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Harvey. Eliot Abrams observes in Newsweek, “It is logical to expect Israel to show, in ways such as this, that it is steadily becoming the largest and most important Jewish community in the world. Once upon a time, the center of world Jewish life was in Israel; then it moved to Europe; then to the United States; and now it is moving back to where it all began.”

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