Israeli Firm to Help Safeguard U.S. Borders - Kathleen Miller (Bloomberg)
Israel's Elbit Systems won a $145 million contract for border-surveillance technology, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced Friday.
The program may eventually reach $1 billion if Congress funds the project's expansion in the Southwest.
"It is odd to go offshore for this work, but in extraordinary circumstances, one really wants to employ the best," said Mark Amtower, a partner at Amtower & Co., a government contracting consulting firm.
A company with a track record of doing this work in Israel is "liable to be much further advanced in this particular arena," Amtower said.
The Homeland Security contract calls for surveillance equipment, such as radars and cameras, mounted on fixed towers to help agents detect and track "items of interest" along the border.
Amnesty International Report Ignores Palestinian Violence (Israel Defense Forces)
In its new report on Israel, Amnesty International wholly ignores the substantial increase in Palestinian violence initiated over the past year, and shows a complete lack of understanding as to the operational challenges the IDF faces.
2013 saw a sharp increase in rock hurling incidents, gravely jeopardizing the lives of civilians and military personnel. 132 Israelis were injured, almost double the number in 2012, in over 5,000 incidents.
In 2013 there were 66 other terror attacks including shootings, the planting of IEDs, blunt weapon attacks, and the abduction and murder of a soldier.
See also Israeli Ambassador Criticizes Amnesty Report on Israel - Harriet Alexander (Telegraph-UK)
Israel has reacted angrily to a report by Amnesty International which accused it of being "trigger happy."
Daniel Taub, Israel's Ambassador to the UK, said: "Amnesty's obsessive focus on Israel, and its refusal to recognize the very real threat posed by deliberately-orchestrated violent demonstrations, suggests an agenda that has more to do with politics than human rights."
His embassy in London told the Jewish Chronicle that the report was a mere "stunt" filled with "unverifiable and often contradictory accounts."
"Scores" of Israelis who had been stabbed, shot and terrorized were ignored by the report, the embassy said.
See also Amnesty Shoots Itself in the Foot over Israel-West Bank Report - Marcus Dysch (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
See also Amnesty Report Reflects Lack of Expertise (NGO Monitor)
Israel Concludes Tests of Airliner Protection System - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
Israel's Defense Ministry announced Wednesday that SkyShield, developed by Elbit Systems, had successfully concluded operational tests and is certified for commercial use to counter the growing threat of man-portable surface-to-air missile systems (MANPADS).
SkyShield uses advanced laser technology and thermal imaging to deflect incoming threats.
In a November 2002 attack in Mombasa, Kenya, terrorists targeted an Israeli charter flight with SA-7 missiles that narrowly missed the aircraft and the 261 people on board.
New Thesis on How Stuxnet Infiltrated Iran Nuclear Facility - Mark Clayton (Christian Science Monitor)
It's been fairly well documented that the U.S. and Israel created the Stuxnet worm, which ultimately infected and destroyed about 1,000 fuel-refining centrifuges at Iran's secret Natanz nuclear fuel-enrichment facility. But how did Stuxnet infiltrate Natanz?
Critical Intelligence, a cyber security firm, outlined a new thesis Tuesday at a security conference in San Francisco.
As early as 2004, U.S. intelligence agencies identified an Iranian company, NEDA Industrial Group, that had oversight of the Natanz facility's computerized industrial control systems.
Documents suggest that the U.S. was monitoring NEDA's efforts to procure components that may be needed for a nuclear weapons program, says Sean McBride, director of analysis for Critical Intelligence.
In 2008, the U.S. targeted the Siemens industrial control systems equipment that NEDA had ordered from overseas. Equipment bound for Iran was intercepted, and Stuxnet was installed on it, before it was sent on its way, McBride posits.
Rise in "Honor Killings" of Palestinian Women by Relatives - Mohammed Daraghmeh and Ibrahim Barzak (AP-ABC News)
26 women were slain by relatives in the West Bank and Gaza in 2013 for allegedly shaming the family, twice as many as the year before.
So-called "honor killings" are committed regularly in traditional Arab societies that enforce strict gender separation and view an unmarried women's unsupervised contact with a man as a stain on the family reputation.
Syrian Kurds Are Working on a Constitution - Robert Fulford (National Post-Canada)
Kurds are now effectively running parts of Syria. In Qamishli, a northeastern Syrian city of 200,000, the Kurds are working on a constitution. Amidst the chaos of Syria's civil war, they are acting a lot like a small state, creating an autonomous government.
Their police, the People's Protection Units, authorized by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, keep the streets comparatively safe. Their municipal government issues building permits. Schools teach Kurdish.
They expect democracy will come to Syria as a federal system, with a Kurdish province. Looking farther, they dream about a pan-Kurdish nation, uniting them with Kurds from Iraq, Iran and Turkey.
New Zealand Group Aims to Boycott Jewish Culture - John Daly-Peoples (National Business Review-New Zealand)
The spirit of Nazi Germany will be on the streets this Saturday in Wellington, with a protest against the visiting Batsheva Dance Company, which is performing as part of the New Zealand Festival.
Pro-Palestinian groups will be protesting at the St. James Theater as part of the global campaign of BDS (boycott, divestments, and sanctions) against Israel. They will be using the same harassment techniques used by the Nazis to close down Jewish and liberal performances in the 1930s.
The boycotting of cultural events is misguided, as it is cultural activities which have promoted active dialogue and been one of the significant ways in which Israelis and the Palestinians have made some reconciliation.
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News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Kerry Opens Door to Extended Talks for Israeli-Palestinian Deal
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged on Wednesday he hopes at best to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a "framework" for a peace agreement by April 29, but that a final deal could take another nine months or more. U.S. officials appear to have scaled back their ambitions, saying they are trying to forge a "framework for negotiations" as a first step.
See also Palestinians Reject U.S. Push for Peace Talks Beyond April - Nasser Abu Bakr
Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat on Thursday rejected U.S. moves to extend an April deadline for talks with Israel.
Erakat was responding to comments by Secretary of State Kerry on Wednesday that more time would be needed.
- Iran on Nuclear Negotiations: "We Will Not Close Any Program" - Douglas Ernst
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Thursday in New Delhi,
"I can tell you that Iran's nuclear program will remain intact. We will not close any program."
Zarif also said that there were problems "in terms of both substance and approach," by the six world powers attempting to resolve the nuclear dispute.
- Pro-Israel Lobby to Press Obama on Iran - Jay Solomon
The start of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference on Sunday provides a high-profile forum for debate over two of President Obama's key foreign policy initiatives: the Mideast peace process and negotiations to curb Iran's nuclear program.
The group has aggressively pressed Congress in recent months - against the White House's wishes - to pass new and tighter sanctions against Iran, so far unsuccessfully.
AIPAC is also seeking to set terms for international negotiations over Iran's nuclear program that are more stringent than ones Obama administration diplomats have outlined. Ahead of its conference, AIPAC distributed a position paper to congressional offices calling for "an agreement under which Iran dismantles its nuclear infrastructure, including enrichment and reprocessing capabilities and the heavy water reactor and production plant." (Wall Street Journal)
- UN Nuclear Agency Opted Against Sensitive Iran Report - Fredrik Dahl and Louis Charbonneau
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has apparently dropped the idea of a new report on Iran that might have revealed more of its suspected atomic bomb research, but held off as Tehran's relations with the outside world thawed, sources familiar with the matter said. A decision not to go ahead with the new document may raise questions about information that the UN agency has gathered in the last two years on what it calls the "possible military dimensions" (PMD) to Iran's nuclear program.
The sources suggested the more recent material concerned extra detail about research and experiments that were covered in the November 2011 report. A new report would have included "updated information on PMD" which could have "reinforced the concern" about Iran, one said. The IAEA's dossier in November 2011 contained a trove of intelligence indicating past activity in Iran which could be used for developing nuclear weapons, some of which it said might still be continuing. Since then the agency has said it obtained more information that backs up its analysis in the 2011 document. (Reuters)
- Iran Still Among World's Worst Human Rights Abusers, U.S. Says - Hannah Allam
Even as they make gestures toward rapprochement with the West, Iran's leaders remain among the world's worst human rights offenders, according to a State Department report Thursday that shows an increase in reported violations since President Hassan Rouhani took office last year.
The report documented Iran's record of floggings and court-ordered amputations, discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, crackdown on press freedoms, and 624 executions - many after flimsy trials.
"We've seen little meaningful improvement in human rights in Iran under the new government, including torture, political imprisonment, harassment of religious and ethnic minorities," said Uzra Zeya, the acting assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor. "Overall the situation remains poor." (McClatchy)
See also Iran: Human Rights Practices for 2013 (U.S. Department of State)
- Jihadists Subjugate Christians in Captured Syrian City
The jihadist group ISIS in Syria has demanded that Christians in the northern city of Raqqa pay a levy in gold and accept curbs on their faith, or face death, but would give Christian residents "protection" if they agreed. The directive from ISIS says Christians must not make renovations to churches, display crosses or other religious symbols outside churches, ring church bells or pray in public.
The group had met Christian representatives and offered them three choices - they could convert to Islam, accept ISIS' conditions, or reject their control and risk being killed. "If they reject, they are subject to being legitimate targets, and nothing will remain between them and ISIS other than the sword," ISIS said.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- White House: Obama Won't Pressure Sides over Framework Deal - Joshua Davidovich
The White House on Thursday pushed back against a report in the New York Times that President Obama would pressure Israeli and Palestinian leaders in upcoming weeks to make progress on peace talks. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is slated to meet Obama on Monday. U.S. officials told Israeli television that the report was false and Obama would decide whether to take a more active role only after the March meetings with Netanyahu and PA President Abbas.
(Times of Israel)
- Israel Kills Palestinian Terrorist in West Bank - Yaakov Lappin
Israeli security forces killed Muataz Washaha, 24, a wanted Palestinian affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, in Bir Zeit on Thursday after he ignored calls to leave his hideout and surrender. Washaha planned and carried out a series of terror attacks across the West Bank, security sources said. Two additional terrorists were arrested in the raid.
- 1,705 African Migrants Left Israel Voluntarily in February - Ben Hartman
1,705 African migrants agreed to leave Israel voluntarily in February, up from 765 in January, Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar said Thursday.
- In One West Bank Palestinian Village, Economics Trumps Conflict with Israel - Tovah Lazaroff
On one side of the highway is Betar Illit, a haredi city of more than 43,000. On the other side, a large wire fence lines a portion of the road on the Husan side to protect against rock-throwing. In front of the Palestinian village of 7,000 is a large red sign in three languages that states, "Entry by Israeli citizens is dangerous." But cars with Israeli licenses streamed into the village.
In his hardware store in Husan, Rabiya Ahmed Sabateen said, "Look outside. You see more Jews than Arabs here." At a garage next door, a Palestinian mechanic, Husan Jabri, explained that almost all his customers are Jews.
Hebrew signs dot the road on which the Palestinian businesses are located. Sabateen said the unofficial ties with the people of Betar Illit grew from the ground up, from individual relationships.
But security officials are wary of the relationship. Shlomo Vaknin, chief security officer for the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria, said that when the two communities have an economic relationship and know one another on a personal level, it does lessen the violence in the area and makes it more secure. But that pales in comparison to the risks, he said. Of particular concern is that Israelis can be easily targeted by terrorists who want to kidnap them.
- Don't Buy the Israel Boycott Hype - David Rosenberg
The media has bought into the notion that a new wave of Western boycotts against Israel is underway. There were countless editorials for and against the boycott in newspapers around the world, strategies offered up on how to stop it and speculation about who would blacklist Israel next.
But as soon as one examines the individual cases, the boycott story melts away. They are either not new, not motivated by the boycott movement or have limited impact.
The true story is that after nearly 10 years of campaigning, the global BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement has not had the slightest economic impact. Its victories have consisted of coaxing a handful of pop stars and academics to cancel appearances in Israel, and winning empty, sanctimonious declarations of support from the likes of student governments, cooperative grocery stories and leftish church groups.
Far from being isolated, Israel's exports are reaching record highs and it attracts billions of dollars in foreign investment.
For now the boycott is nothing more than a creature of the media's imagination.
(Wall Street Journal)
See also Countries Worldwide Seek Increasing Relationships with Israel - Michael Curtis (American Thinker)
See also China Looks to Israel for Investment, Acquisitions
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz are promoting a deal whereby China Communication Construction Company (CCCC) will be entrusted with the construction of the Eilat railroad line - a massive project estimated at $6.5 billion.
"Chinese investments in Israel are something new; only three years ago, there was no such thing," says Director of the Foreign Trade Administration at the Ministry of Economy Ohad Cohen. "It is the product of years of work aimed at awareness raising....We are going to see an ever-growing flow of investors coming here." (Al-Monitor)
- Some Questions for BDS Campaigners - Ant Katz
On Feb. 6, a "Solidarity Conference in support of the people of Palestine, Cuba and Western Sahara" took place at the South African Parliament.
Vivienne Myburgh, an activist Christian Zionist, was shocked to find that the declaration under consideration was all about BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions), and that nobody had been invited to make the case for Israel. So, when the chair briefly opened a window of opportunity for comments from the public gallery, Vivienne promptly jumped in.
"Will BDS also consider a BDS campaign against Lebanon, where apartheid laws legally ban Palestinians from owning property and working in most professions?" she asked. "Will BDS consider a campaign against Kuwait, which expelled a quarter of a million Palestinians?" "Will BDS consider sanctions against a potential future Palestinian state if they practice apartheid, as Mahmoud Abbas has stated: 'I would not agree...that there will live among us even a single Israeli on Palestinian land.'" "What alternatives are BDS offering the 15,000 Palestinians employed in the...West Bank who are presently employed by Israeli companies?" (South African Jewish Report)
- The Complex Israeli-German Relationship - Gil Yaron
The German media feel free to criticize Israel more harshly than ever. A new generation of German politicians has shed their predecessors' fear of speaking freely because of the Holocaust. As a result, some people argue that bilateral relations have reached an unprecedented low. But this conclusion is simplistic and wrong.
Germany continues to be Israel's third biggest trading partner, after the U.S. and China, and Israel is Germany's second most important customer in the Middle East, after Saudi Arabia. More than 6,000 German companies have business ties with Israel. Bilateral trade rose nearly 5% last year, to $6 billion. Large German corporations such as SAP AG, Siemens, Daimler and Henkel have opened branches in Israel.
Growing up in tranquil Europe that is busy erasing political borders, young Germans are nearly incapable of comprehending the existential threat facing Israel. Yet the relationship between the two peoples and the two countries has never been stronger or deeper. The writer reports on Middle Eastern affairs in the German media.
- Israel's Game Plan with Hizbullah and Syria - Joyce Karam
For 29 years, Israel did not once directly strike Syria outside the Arab-Israeli war of 1973. Now Israel has launched more than five strikes in the last two years, and one on the Lebanese border this week targeting a Hizbullah weapons transfer. According to Jeffrey White, a defense fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, "part of the policy and the red line they (Israel) have established is they will not allow Hizbullah to acquire sophisticated weapons from Syria or from Iran through Syria."
The deep involvement of Hizbullah in the fighting in Syria has heightened Israeli and U.S. concerns about the risk of the Assad regime passing sophisticated weapons to the Lebanese group. The frequency in Israel's strikes is a product of "a larger capability for Israel to operate with reduced risk against Syria or Hizbullah, and hence a greater ability to act," says White. Both Assad and Hizbullah have promised to respond, but "fighting on two fronts at the same time is not on the table," given a "constrained Hizbullah" and a degraded Syrian army. The writer is the Washington correspondent for Al-Hayat (London). (Al Arabiya)
- Popping Hizbullah's Resistance Bubble - Michael Young
Hizbullah has sought for years to position itself as a protector of the Lebanese state - hence its insistence on retaining its weapons. With the car bombs in Beirut, Hizbullah has been utterly incapable of even defending its own community.
Hizbullah has imported the Syrian war into Lebanon and has become a hostage to the grinding, open-ended battle on behalf of a Syrian regime delighted to have fresh, non-Syrian bodies to feed into the battle. Even as it seeks to impose a form of hegemony inside Lebanon, Hizbullah has been shown to be no better than an auxiliary force regionally for both the Iranian and Syrian regimes.
- Egyptian Field Marshal Sisi: A Profile - Jacques Neriah
Egyptian Field Marshal Sisi enjoys unprecedented popularity in Egypt. He is viewed as a superhero who saved Egypt from anarchy, civil war, and the despotism of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Sisi is not a newcomer in Egyptian politics. In his capacity as a member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), for two years he was the liaison officer between SCAF and the different political parties on the Egyptian scene. This enabled him to learn the intricacies of politics in Egypt and become personally acquainted with every political faction. Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence.
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- The Temple Mount in Jerusalem - Editorial
On Tuesday the Knesset examined the prohibition against Jews and other non-Muslims entering the Temple Mount area to pray or perform any other outwardly religious act. Though no resolution was passed and no actions were taken, the very fact that the Knesset dared to discuss the issue was enough to rile up the Arab world. The Jordanian Parliament passed a non-binding resolution to expel Israel's ambassador.
Today, Hamas and Palestinian Authority flags are flown over the area. The Israeli flag is not. Muslim authorities have unilaterally undertaken construction and excavation projects.
Jews are prevented from praying on the Temple Mount, the holiest place in the world for the Jewish people. Jews who go up to the Temple Mount on the few days and times designated for non-Muslim visitors are accompanied by a Waqf official and an Israeli policeman. If the visitor displays outward signs of prayer - such as moving of lips or reading from a prayer book - he or she is immediately and forcefully removed, and sometimes even arrested. It is incomprehensible to us why the quiet reciting of prayers incenses Muslims so.
Maintaining the status quo is the official policy of the Prime Minister's Office. Still, the controversy surrounding the Temple Mount is just one of many obstacles that need to be overcome before peace is achieved.
- Origin of the Palestinian Claim of a "Right of Return" - Richard Schifter
In 1948, following the establishment of the State of Israel and the war launched immediately thereafter by the Arab states, many Arabs fled from the territory of Israel, quite a number of them encouraged by radio messages from the Arab states, urging them to get out of the way of the invading Arab armies. While Arabs were fleeing from Israel, Jews, whose ancestors had lived in Arab states for centuries and in some instances for millennia, fled or were forced out of their homes in the years since 1948.
Following World War II, approximately 12 million Germans fled or were expelled from the former German areas. In 1947, the creation of India and Pakistan involved 14 million refugees. The millions that engaged in forced migration in the late 1940s were all resettled long ago, except for one group.
In 1949, the UN created the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), whose only mandate is to "provide direct relief and works programs" for these refugees. No provision was made for their resettlement.
A year later, when the position of UN High Commissioner for Refugees was established, UNRWA was not merged with it. As resettlement of refugees is high on the list of responsibilities of the High Commissioner, Palestinian refugees are the only refugees worldwide for whose resettlement the UN has made no arrangements. It was the Arab states that opposed the resettlement of Palestinian refugees. They had not accepted the existence of the State of Israel and wanted the refugees from Israel to stay nearby and, when called upon to do so, help liquidate the Jewish state.
The number of survivors of the refugees of 1948 is today down to less than 50,000. But the number of persons on the UNRWA assistance rolls is now about 5 million, all of whom are claiming the "right of return."
Former Ambassador Richard Schifter is chairman of the board of the American Jewish International Relations Institute.
(Washington Jewish Week)
- How a Principled Hollywood Screenwriter Defied an Anti-Israel Boycott - Rafael Medoff
In autumn 1948, the British declared a boycott of Ben Hecht, the highest-paid screenwriter in Hollywood, for his fiery newspaper ads denouncing England's Palestine policy. Hecht's career included 65 film scripts (including "Gone With the Wind"), 25 books, 20 plays, and hundreds of short stories and magazine articles.
"The German mass murder of the Jews...brought my Jewishness to the surface," Hecht later recalled.
After the U.S. entered the war, he forged an alliance with the maverick Jewish activists known as the Bergson Group. Employing tactics that are commonplace today but seemed shocking back then, the Bergsonites used rallies, newspaper ads, and Capitol Hill lobbying to plead for the rescue of Jewish refugees from the Nazis. Hecht authored memorable newspaper ads with headlines such as "Time Races Death-What Are We Waiting For?" and "Help Prevent 4,000,000 People from Becoming Ghosts."
After the war, Hecht drew national attention to the Zionist cause with his Broadway play "A Flag Is Born" (starring 22-year-old Marlon Brando), which compared the Jewish revolt to colonial America's own rebellion against England. Popular syndicated columnist Walter Winchell defended Hecht's ads for exposing the British, who, he wrote, were harshly suppressing [Jewish] "Palestinian patriots" who were no different from "our Minute Men." The writer is director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies in Washington.
- High-Tech Israelis - Inna Lazareva
At a tech conference in London last year, Keren Elazari, 32, an Israeli cyber security expert, hacked into hundreds of mobile phones, demonstrating the devices' lack of security.
Armed with a PC from the age of ten and encouraged by her inventor parents, Keren trained herself through online forums, got a part-time job in a computer store and later, during her compulsory military service, talked her way into working on internet security in the Israeli army.
Today, she has job offers from all over the world and advises start-ups and the government back home.
In the 1980s, Avi Loeb, a graduate of an elite army unit, developed a way to make projectiles travel more than ten times faster. Now a professor of science at Harvard, Loeb was only 21 when he presented his project to the head of President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, the missile-defense program which became known as Star Wars.
Israel is now Britain's largest trading partner in the Middle East - thanks to high-tech. (Standpoint-UK)
- Sisters in Arms: The Burgeoning Defense Trade between Israel and India - Amos Harel
Even though India continues to maintain extensive relations with the Arab world, its commitment to the Palestinian cause seems to have slackened in the past two decades and its leaders have stopped clashing with Israel over the subject. At the same time, the areas of dialogue with Israel are expanding, and include fighting terrorism, security-related deals, and Israeli aid in agriculture and water desalination.
India is the no. 1 export target of Israel's defense industries, including radar, sea-to-sea missiles, warning planes, communications systems, and ammunition. Israel is held in high regard in India, thanks to methods and technologies it has developed in intelligence and the war on terrorism.
The Meaning of Israel as the State of the Jewish People - Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- Decades before the founding of the state in 1948, the international community recognized the Land of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish nation.
The core of the conflict remains the Palestinian refusal to accept the existence of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.
- The international community should encourage recognition by the Palestinians of the Jewish state, in order to ensure the realization of the vision of two states for two peoples.
- Since their emergence in antiquity, the Jewish people have constituted a nation, a people, and a civilization, anchored in basic aspects of their identity, such as Judaism and the Hebrew language.
- Israel is to the Jewish people what France is to the French people, Ireland is to the Irish and Japan is to the Japanese. Just as Egypt defines itself as the Arab Republic of Egypt, so too, Israel defines itself as the Jewish state.
- Archaeological findings and historical records demonstrate that Jews have lived continuously in the Land of Israel for the past 3500 years. The right of the Jews to self-determination was acknowledged by the international community already in the 18th and 19th centuries.
- World leaders such as Napoleon, as expressed in his letter to the Jewish people as "The Rightful Heirs of Palestine," and numerous American presidents, including John Adams and Abraham Lincoln, exemplified this recognition of the ties between the Jewish people and their homeland.
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