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May 1, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

After 5 Days under Rubble, Nepalese Woman Rescued by Israeli-Led Team - Tamar Pileggi (Times of Israel)
    Workers from the Israeli group IsraAID, along with local soldiers and a team of experts from France and Norway, worked into the night for 10 hours to pull a Nepalese woman, Krishna Devi Khadka, 24, out of the rubble in Kathmandu on Thursday, five days after a massive earthquake leveled much of the city.
    She was then hospitalized in the Israeli field hospital.
    See also IDF Hospital in Nepal Treats over 200 (Times of Israel)
    The Israeli field hospital in Nepal has treated nearly 250 patients since Wednesday, with medical staff performing 15 life-saving surgeries on wounded victims of Saturday's earthquake.
    Israeli medical staff were also assisting in local Nepalese hospitals.
    See also Netanyahu Thanks India for Help in Rescuing Israelis from Nepal (Prime Minister's Office)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday spoke with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and conveyed his condolences to the Indian people for the losses suffered in the recent earthquake.
    Netanyahu also thanked Modi for the assistance of Indian helicopters in rescuing Israelis and for Israeli planes' landing in Indian territory.

Israel's Aid Team to Nepal Larger than Any Other Country (Times of Israel)
    Israel's aid team in Nepal is the largest in manpower of any international aid mission - over 260 doctors and rescue personnel, not counting several private aid groups.
    According to figures reported by CNN, the UK delegation numbers 68 people, followed by China's 62, the US's 54 and South Korea's 40. Taiwan sent 20 personnel, Italy 15 and France 11.
    Some 2,000 Israelis were in Nepal when the quake struck Saturday. The vast majority have been rescued, with just one Israeli unaccounted for.
    See also For IDF Mission in Nepal, Nothing Is Impossible - Col. (res.) Dr. Ariel Bar (Ynet News)
    The Israeli rescue force, dispatched by the IDF's Home Front Command and Medical Corps, has a difficult mission: To rescue Israelis who are out of contact and to help helpless Nepalese people whose entire world has been shattered.
    There is a strange potion called Israeliness: It melts the "impossible" and creates resourcefulness and determination even when the odds seem slim.
    If there are no Nepalese drivers at night, they are woken up; if the trucks don't fit, their side panels are removed; when the locals say "we can only do it tomorrow," they are woken up shortly after midnight.

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Israel No Longer Arab World's Major Problem - Evelyn Gordon (Commentary)
    The ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey 2015, conducted annually by the Dubai-based public relations firm, polled 3,500 Arabs aged 18 to 24 from 16 Arab countries in face-to-face interviews, asking, "What do you believe is the biggest obstacle facing the Middle East?"
    Defying a long tradition of blaming all the Arab world's problems on Israel, only 23% cited the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the region's main obstacle.
    In fact, the conflict came in fourth, trailing ISIS (37%), terrorism (32%) and unemployment (29%). In 2012, the figure was 27%.

Lancet Medical Journal under Attack for "Extremist Hate Propaganda" over Coverage of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - Jeremy Laurance (Independent-UK)
    The Lancet medical journal and its editor, Richard Horton, have been targeted over what an international group of more than 500 doctors claims is the "grossly irresponsible misuse of [the journal] for political purposes."
    The protesting doctors, including five Nobel laureates, accuse the journal of publishing "stereotypical extremist hate propaganda" and threated to boycott the journal if publisher Reed Elsevier does not "enforce appropriate ethical standards of editorship."
    The trigger was an article published last July during the Gaza fighting, which included eyewitness accounts of the medical impact on civilians but did not include an acknowledgement of Hamas' role in the war.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Navy Starts Accompanying Ships in Strait of Hormuz - Dion Nissenbaum and Asa Fitch
    The U.S. Navy has begun accompanying American-flagged ships in the Strait of Hormuz, defense officials said on Thursday, in response to Iran's seizure of the Marshall Islands-flagged Maersk Tigris on Tuesday in the gateway to the Persian Gulf. "Because of the unpredictability of our Iranian friends, we're now positioned so that, should the Iranians decide that they're going to be stupid, we're ready to respond," said one U.S. official. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Iranian Opposition Leader: Tehran Is Force Behind Extremism - Deb Riechmann
    Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, testifying before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee via videoconference from France on Wednesday, said Tehran wants nuclear weapons to foster Islamic extremism. She warned against giving Iran too many concessions, saying it would embolden its leaders to be more aggressive in meddling in other nations.
        "None of the sanctions should be lifted before an agreement has been signed that effectively and definitively denies the mullahs the bomb," Rajavi said. "Otherwise, the regime will spend billions of unfrozen assets to buy weapons, including advanced missiles from Russia." "The ultimate solution to this problem is regime change," she said. (AP)
        See also Opposition Leader: Iran Is "Godfather" of IS Jihadists (AFP)
  • Netanyahu Seeks to Defuse Obama Spat with Action on Palestinians - Jonathan Ferziger
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to reset Israel's relations with the White House. His decision to release hundreds of millions of dollars his government withheld from the Palestinians was a bid to lower the flames, a confidant said. Israel also agreed to give greater freedom of movement to Palestinians on its roads, enable a new West Bank city to receive its first residents and increase the flow of water to Gaza.
        "We would like to do what we can to remove the unnecessary hindrances in our relationship with the U.S.," Zalman Shoval, an adviser to Netanyahu and former ambassador to the U.S., said in an interview. An Israeli government official confirmed that repairing relations was a factor in decisions concerning the Palestinians.
        "Neither side wants to have an open conflict, but Netanyahu will certainly continue to criticize the Iran talks and there isn't much he can deliver on the actual peace process," said Robbie Sabel, a former Israeli diplomat and professor of international law at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. (Bloomberg)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Congressional Committee Approves Aid to Israel for Tunnel Detection - Ran Dagoni
    With continued tunnel digging in Gaza after the summer 2014 war, the U.S. Congress is initiating a joint U.S.-Israel R&D program for the development and testing of technologies to combat the threat of tunnels. On Wednesday the House Armed Services Committee unanimously approved an amendment to the annual defense bill laying the groundwork for the program. Israel exposed 32 tunnels during the Gaza war, half of which penetrated into Israel. Hamas has spent almost $100 million on digging tunnels.
        Rep. Douglas Lamborn (R-Colo.) emphasized the usefulness of the program for the U.S. "Tunnels are a threat to American bases and embassies around the world, and are already a serious threat on our own southern border....It only makes sense to partner with Israel, like we have done on missile defense, to learn with them about how to defend against tunnels."  (Globes)
  • Hizbullah Seeking to Recruit Druze for Golan Heights Front - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira
    The failed attempt by four terrorists to plant explosive devices in the northern Golan Heights on April 25 revealed Hizbullah's efforts to recruit fighters from Druze villages in areas controlled by the Syrian army. Hizbullah activities among the Druze are led by Samir Kuntar, a Druze, who replaced Jihad Mughniyeh, killed in a January air strike, as head of Hizbullah's new "Hizbullah Syria" organization. The expansion of Hizbullah's military actions within the Druze community presents a new challenge to Israel. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Israel Lets 14,000 Tons of Building Material into Gaza
    Israel allowed 354 trucks carrying 14,000 tons of building material into Gaza on Wednesday, the defense ministry said. (AFP-Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Focus on North Korea to Stop Iran - John Bolton
    Recent Chinese estimates that North Korea might already possess 20 nuclear warheads, and could double that in 2016 should have shattered our complacency about Pyongyang's proliferation threat. North Korea's sizeable nuclear arsenal imperils East Asia, but also the U.S. Its ballistic-missile program is rapidly nearing the capability of reaching our West Coast. And North Korea's deep poverty gives it every incentive to sell virtually any weapons or technology to anyone with hard currency, including terrorists or other rogue states.
        Numerous reports have emerged of Iranian and North Korean scientists exchanging visits and potentially valuable information. What if Pyongyang is already hosting a deeply buried, extensive Iranian-enrichment program? What if some of the estimated 20 warheads are actually Iran's property, having been manufactured and now stored far from Tehran to avoid detection? No Iran deal is acceptable until the North Korean connection is fully exposed and understood. The writer is a former U.S. ambassador to the UN. (New York Post)
  • Welcome to the New Head of the Joint Arab List in the Knesset - Moshe Arens
    As a former MK, I can permit myself to extend a Knesset welcome to Ayman Odeh, who has just been elected and heads both the Hadash party and the Joint Arab List. I hope this does not sound patronizing, but I think he has made an auspicious start as a legislator. He and the other Hadash MKs from the JAL did not walk out of the Knesset session during the singing of the national anthem when other members of the Joint List walked out demonstratively. It is to his credit that he realized that walking out would be a blatant demonstration of disrespect for Israel.
        It is understandable if some of Israel's Arab citizens have difficulty identifying with the words of our national anthem. Many people around the world do not identify with every word of their national anthem but would not think of walking out while it is being sung. "God Save the Queen," "La Marseillaise" and "Das Lied der Deutschen" are just a few examples.
        Many Israeli Arabs, like Odeh, have made an effort to understand why, especially in light of the Holocaust, Israel's destiny is to be a haven for Jews who need a haven. This is not racialism - it is the direct outcome of the Jewish people's tragic fate since they were exiled from their ancient homeland.
        Unlike some Arab Knesset members, Odeh believes in the integration of Israel's Arab citizens into the fabric of Israeli society. It is a worthy aim that should receive top priority. The writer served as Israel's Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs. (Ha'aretz)
  • World Turns a Blind Eye to Palestinians If Israel Is Not Involved - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Western journalists regularly focus on the "plight" of Palestinians, but often turn a blind eye to the daily killings of Palestinians in Syria and the fact that Palestinians living in Lebanon and other Arab countries are subjected to apartheid and discriminatory laws. A report said that 83 Palestinians died of torture in Syrian prisons during March this year.
        Similarly, the international media ignores the "plight" of Palestinians living under Palestinian Authority (PA) rule in the West Bank and Hamas rule in Gaza. Last week, the Palestinian General Intelligence Service arrested Khalil Afaneh for "slandering" Yasser Arafat on his Facebook page. On April 25, the PA arrested journalist Ahmed Abu Elhaija of Jenin as he was on his way to attend a conference in Jordan involving Palestinian journalists and bloggers. Jihad Salim was arrested by Palestinian security officers shortly after the Hamas-affiliated Islamic Bloc, of which he is a member, won the student council election at Bir Zeit University. The situation in Gaza is not much different.
        The continued obsession of the media with Israel allows the Arab countries, as well as the PA and Hamas, to proceed with their systematic violations of human rights and freedom of speech. (Gatestone Institute)
  • Israeli Arab Receives Messages of Peace from Across the Arab World - Shlomi Eldar
    M. is an Israeli Arab Muslim who served in the IDF. Last year, he came across a series of billboards sponsored by the Balad Party as part of its campaign against the recruitment of Israeli Arabs into the IDF, and decided to fight back. He decided to respond on Facebook, and made a page called "Tzahal bistaha" ["The IDF is worth it"].
        "But instead of getting responses from the young Arabs to whom I was directing my personal campaign," M. said, "I started to get photos and texts from young people around the Arab world. My jaw dropped." Lots of photos and video clips were sent in from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan and other countries with messages of peace and love.
        One young woman from Saudi Arabia filmed a message for the people of Israel: "I know it is surprising that a Saudi Arabian citizen sends a message to the people of Israel....I hope the Arabs will be sensible like me and recognize the fact that Israel also has rights to the lands of Palestine." One Egyptian police officer wrote, "We love, love, love Israel and its army." He even added a picture of a heart with a Star of David in the middle of it.
        A young man from Iraq sent a video with the message: "True, we are two countries that do not have friendly relations, but that doesn't matter. I believe that the number of people who support Israel here will grow consistently." "After I got the video from Baghdad, I asked the person who sent me the clip what it was that caused him to express support for Israel," M. said. "He responded...'There are a lot of young people here who think like me. Everything that is happening to us here in Iraq - the killings, the terrorism, the veritable bloodbath - showed us that Israel has nothing to do with it.'"  (Al-Monitor)

  • Weekend Features

  • Israel Featured on Popular Chinese Reality Show - Yael Einav
    Tourist sites in Israel are about to become really popular in China, predicts Chinese television producer Yin Junjie. That's because Chinese celebrity couples will be filmed at those sites as part of a popular reality show, "Luyu's Presents," viewed by 300 million people. (Ha'aretz)
  • New Technique Keeps Veggies Fresh for a Month - David Shamah
    New technology invented by Dr. Rivka Elbaum of Hebrew University extends the life of vegetables for weeks without refrigeration. For leafy vegetables, it entails dipping the cut leaves into a patented solution. The solution has been shown to delay senescence and chlorophyll loss. It will work with lettuce, celery, spinach, cabbage, kale, parsley, basil, cauliflower, and broccoli.
        "The solution is still under development, but we're almost finished with it," said a spokesperson for Yissum, Hebrew University's technology transfer company, which is commercializing the invention. (Times of Israel)
  • Israeli Startup Partners to Advance Human Rights - Dennis Mitzner
    SaferVPN's software allows users to circumvent local restrictions and access websites, while simultaneously allowing users to keep their personal information safe and encrypted for anonymous browsing. The company partnered with Advancing Human Rights, a global non-profit, to launch "Unblock The Web," a crowdfunding campaign to give dissidents anti-censorship tools. "People in the Free World can play a key role in helping activists get information out to alert the world to their regime's brutality," said David Keyes, the executive director of Advancing Human Rights. (The Next Web)
  • $10 Million Donation to Tel Aviv U. Film School - Debra Kamin
    In March, producer Steve Tisch ("Forrest Gump") donated $10 million to the Tel Aviv University School of Film and Television. "Every student I met at Tel Aviv U., every class I sat in on - the passion, the desire and the creativity of those students was tangible," Tisch says. "These are filmmakers who really have a vision, and to me that's exciting."  (Variety)

Why America Needs Israel - Eric R. Mandel (Jerusalem Post)

  • For years, Israeli and American interests have been virtually identical: stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the Muslim world, fighting Iranian hegemonic ambitions and opposing state sponsorship of terror.
  • With the American withdrawal from many theaters of operation in the Middle East, Israel's vital strategic location and human intelligence have become indispensable for U.S. security. According to the Washington Free Beacon, Israel "is providing significant intelligence support in the U.S.-led campaign against...ISIS. Israeli satellites overfly the battle area at angles and frequencies unavailable to American satellites."
  • Because of repeated wars of self-defense, Israel has unfortunately become a test track for American munitions and treatment of wounded in combat. America's armed services have utilized this battlefield experience that has saved our soldiers' lives, while increasing the chance of success of future American military missions. American anti-missile defense is greatly enhanced by the Israeli experience.
  • According to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, "Israel's military research and development complex has pioneered many cutting-edge technologies that are transforming the face of modern war, including cyber weapons, unmanned vehicles (land robots and aerial drones, sensors and electronic warfare systems), and advanced defenses for military vehicles."
  • At home, our homeland security and counter-terrorism efforts would be dramatically weaker in strategy and effectiveness if we did not have the Israeli experience and know-how. Moreover, the threats to American interests in the Middle East would be exponentially greater if Israel hadn't destroyed the Iraqi and Syrian nuclear reactors. Imagine Islamic State today with captured nuclear material.
  • The Israeli defense and political leadership unanimously show a profound appreciation of America's generosity in supplying military aid. But it is not a one-way street. Most of the military aid allocated to Israel is spent in the U.S., creating nearly 70,000 jobs in America.
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