Saudi Arabia Turns Up the Heat on Hizbullah - Bruce Riedel (Brookings Institution)
The Saudis have initiated a major campaign to undermine Iran's ally Hizbullah, which they believe is vulnerable today.
The Saudis branded Hizbullah a terrorist organization earlier this year and then persuaded their Gulf Cooperation Council allies to do the same on March 2.
The Arab League formally agreed to label Hizbullah a terrorist group at a foreign ministerial meeting in Cairo later in the month.
The current Saudi campaign dates to last summer when Crown Prince Nayef's spies captured the mastermind of the Khobar Towers attack, Ahmed Ibrahim al-Mughassil.
The June 25, 1996, attack on an American military barracks in Saudi Arabia killed 19 U.S. Air Force personnel and 372 were wounded.
The FBI identified the bomb maker in the Khobar attack as a member of Lebanese Hizbullah.
It is likely that Mughassil gave the Saudis considerably more details on Hizbullah's role in the operation after his detention.
The writer was a senior advisor on South Asia and the Middle East to the last four U.S. presidents.
Video Shows Anti-Israel Indoctrination of Palestinian School Children (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
The Hamas-affiliated Shihab news agency posted a video on March 26 entitled "The Palestinian Alphabet," showing a class of young Palestinian children being indoctrinated with "the fundamental Palestinian national principles."
They learn that the Arabic letter alif is for Asra [prisoners]; the letter ayn is for Awda [the return of the refugees]; the letter mim is for muqawama ["resistance," i.e., terrorism], while in the background there are pictures of armed terrorists.
Palestinian Video Claims Israel Digging under Al-Aksa Mosque - Maayan Groisman (Jerusalem Post)
A new Palestinian propaganda video claims that Israel has been excavating a network of tunnels underneath the Temple Mount complex in Jerusalem.
The 17-minute documentary, titled "Underneath Al-Aksa," was released on Monday by the Islamic Movement in Israel.
See also The "Al-Aksa Is in Danger" Libel: The Lie that Won't Die - Nadav Shragai (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Moody's Confirms Israel's A1 Stable Rating - Sonya Gorodisky (Globes)
International credit rating agency Moody's, the most conservative of the three major international rating agencies, on Thursday confirmed Israel's A1 rating with a stable outlook.
Moody's economists explained that the rating was supported by the great effectiveness of the government, which is constantly working to improve Israel's debt and financing figures. Were it not for Israel's geopolitical risks, its credit rating would be higher.
Moody's describes Israel's economy as very strong, with growth supported primarily by high-tech exports.
This sector rests on a highly educated population and high R&D expenditure.
Israel's debt is low by international standards, and Israel dealt effectively with the crisis that engulfed the world's economies.
IAI Announces New Defense Deals with India - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced on Thursday that it had concluded new sales in India worth hundreds of millions of dollars in the past quarter for drones, air defense and radar systems and other products.
The announcement came at the end of India's Defexpo 2016 exhibition in Goa, which saw 28 Israeli defense firms exhibit at the Israeli pavilion.
Raytheon Commits to $9.5 Million in Reciprocal Procurement in Israel - Yuval Azulai (Globes)
U.S. arms manufacturer Raytheon will make $9.5 million in reciprocal procurement in Israel over the next five years, in an agreement signed Wednesday in the U.S.
The agreement was sparked by cooperation between Raytheon and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. in the development and production of the new David's Sling anti-missile defense system.
Rafael makes the interceptor missile for the system, while Raytheon produces the launchers, chassis, and other accessories for it.
Raytheon's procurement in Israel will focus on electronics and semiconductor enterprises, many of which are already subcontractors for Rafael.
Israeli Content Platform Playbuzz Raises $15 Million - Tova Cohen (Reuters)
Playbuzz, a platform for distributing online content, has raised $15 million in funding led by Saban Ventures, with participation from Walt Disney Co.
Playbuzz is used by thousands of publishers to create content in new formats to boost audience engagement.
"Traditional media is usually long-form articles or video and they don't make sense in an era where people discover content on a four-inch screen," said Shaul Olmert, Playbuzz's New York-based CEO.
While quizzes are the most shared format on social media, Playbuzz also provides publishers with slideshows, flip cards, galleries and lists.
Olmert said the average time spent looking at a traditional news article is less than 15 seconds compared with 3-4 minutes for Playbuzz-powered content.
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- U.S. Moves to Give Iran Limited Access to Dollars - Jay Solomon
The Obama administration is preparing to give Iran limited access to U.S. dollars as part of looser sanctions on Tehran. The Treasury is considering how to issue licenses to offshore dollar clearing houses for specific Iranian financial institutions, according to congressional officials. Treasury action on Iran's access to the dollar wouldn't require congressional approval.
American law still prohibits U.S. and foreign banks from dealing in dollars with Iran, despite the July nuclear agreement. The Treasury Department designates Iran's entire financial system as a "primary money laundering concern" due to Tehran's nuclear and missile programs and support for international terrorist groups such as Hizbullah and Hamas.
Executives at European and Asian banks have said they remain reluctant to conduct any financial transactions with Iran due to fears they might run afoul of U.S. Treasury regulations that ban dollar dealings with Iranian firms. Most major international trade, particularly in oil and gas, is conducted in U.S. dollars. (Wall Street Journal)
See also Plan to Grant Iran Dollar Access Draws Concerns in Congress - Adam Kredo
Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) expressed concerns Wednesday in a letter to Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew over a plan to provide Iran an expanded package of sanctions relief that would include access to the U.S. dollar. "Any such effort would benefit Iran's financiers of international terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic missile threats," the lawmakers wrote. (Washington Free Beacon)
- Abbas Says He's Working to Curb Palestinian Attacks - Dan Williams
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Israel's Channel 2 TV on Thursday he was working to stop Palestinian knife attacks.
"Our security forces go into the schools to search pupils' bags and see if they have knives. You don't know this," he said.
"In one school, we found 70 boys and girls who were carrying knives. We took the knives and spoke to them and said: 'This is a mistake. We do not want you to kill and be killed. We want you to live, and for the other side to live as well.'" (Reuters-Daily Mail-UK)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- IDF: Palestinian Terror Wave Decreasing - Gili Cohen
According to a security source, March saw fewer Palestinian attacks than the 155 in February. In October, when the wave of terror began, there were 620 attacks.
- Israel Electric Cuts Supply to Jericho over Debt - Daniel Douek
The Israel Electric Corporation on Thursday cut electricity supply to the Palestinian city of Jericho in half, after the Palestinian Authority and the Jerusalem District Electric Company's debt swelled to over NIS 1.7 billion ($451 million). After several attempts to negotiate a debt settlement proved unsuccessful, the power was finally cut. Israel's decision took into account that the city receives half of its electrical supply from Jordan, which means the power can be made up from other sources without blacking out customers.
(Times of Israel)
- Two Israelis Wounded in Brussels Attack Flown to Israel
Two Israelis in their 20s who were injured in Brussels' airport last week while they were waiting to board a flight to Israel were flown to Israel Thursday. (Times of Israel)
- Video: Israeli Navy Trains in Red Sea - Yoav Zitun
This week the Israeli Navy conducted an exercise involving anti-tank and rocket fire from Egypt towards Eilat and a hijacking of a civilian vessel by a group of terrorists.
- Israel's Gaza Border Region Enjoys Quiet - Yaakov Lappin
Israel's border region opposite Gaza is experiencing its quietest period in years. The area has seen record numbers of new residents moving to villages and kibbutzim that were once considered war zones. Farmers work their lands right up to the Gaza border, and a recent festival in the area drew over 100,000.
The IDF remain on high, discreet alert, investigating every suspicious activity it detects, multiple times a day. And Hamas holds its fire and rebuilds its capabilities.
- Imaginary Iran - Michael Rubin
Never before in recent history has the U.S. faced a country that has so persistently sought to kill or attack Americans. These include
the 1979-1981 hostage situation,
assassinating an Iranian dissident in suburban Washington, the 1983 Marine barracks bombing,
seizing American hostages in Lebanon,
the 1996 Khobar Towers attack, the facilitation of transport for the 9/11 hijackers to and from al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, smuggling explosively-formed projectiles into Iraq and weaponry to the Taliban to kill Americans, and plotting to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington.
For none of the listed events has anyone in Iran faced any consequence. Rather, there is a consistent and bizarre effort to whitewash Iranian excesses and to depict a fictional and imaginary Iran.
Until the U.S. calibrates its policy to the reality of the Islamic Republic's ideological prerogatives, terror sponsorship, animosity toward the U.S. and incitement to genocide against Israel, the more likely it is that U.S. policy objectives will fail spectacularly and Iranian leaders will continue to pursue their aims successfully.
The writer is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
- Don't Be So Quick to Do Business with Iran - Rep. Peter J. Roskam
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani is currently on an international tour to convey a simple message to the West: The Islamic Republic is open for business. Employees, shareholders and executives at firms considering entering the Iranian market should not be tempted. If you wouldn't do business with Islamic State, you shouldn't do business with the Islamic Republic.
Iran isn't simply an emerging market with untapped potential. It's also the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. It's the patron and partner of Bashar Assad in the slaughter of innocents in Syria. Iran is a dangerous geopolitical foe led by a cult of extremists hell-bent on Western civilization's annihilation. It should not be considered open for business.
I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining additional means, financial or otherwise, to bolster its support for terrorism. My colleagues and I will use all the tools at our disposal to name and shame the individuals and businesses that pursue short-term profit at the expense of innocent lives. These companies will need to choose between doing business with the U.S. and doing business with Iran.
The writer is chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight of the U.S. House of Representatives.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Europe's Muslims Hate the West - Leon de Winter
Belgian intellectuals have argued that Belgium must have done something terrible to its Muslims to deserve the Brussels massacres. There is poverty in Brussels' infamous Molenbeek neighborhood, but that poverty is relative. There is no starvation, no homelessness, no lack of medical infrastructure, no lack of schools, and the unemployment figure is comparable to that in southern European countries or the Arab world.
Compared to average living standards in Morocco or Egypt, the average living standard in Molenbeek is comfortably middle-class, and opportunities for success and to study and become a respected member in society are countless. Life in Belgium is exceptionally good and safe for migrants - if they are willing to integrate into their new cultural environment. But as a December 2013 study of Muslim immigrants by Professor Ruud Koopmans of the Berlin Social Science Center found, "65% say that religious rules are more important to them than the laws of the country in which they live," and 54% believe that "the West is out to destroy Islam." (Politico-Europe)
- The British Still Don't Understand - Melanie Phillips
Israel is no longer seen as the world's major flashpoint; the TV news is instead showing images of Syrian atrocities and floods of displaced migrants.
Security officials repeatedly warn of the likelihood of coordinated Islamist attacks in Britain.
In Britain, there is virtually no reporting of the murderous Palestinian attacks on Israelis. There was no mention of last year's report by the committee of high-level military folk from nine countries, including the U.S., France and Germany, which stated that the standard the IDF set in protecting innocent Arab civilians during the 2014 Gaza conflict was too high for any of their own countries to match.
The media has begun to pay attention to the contribution made by British and EU taxpayers to Palestinian Authority backing for terrorism. The British still don't understand, though, that the UK and Europe have long funded and connived at not just Palestinian terrorism, but the incitement that causes it.
By indulging the lies, intimidation and moral inversion of Palestinian Jew-hatred, Britain and Europe have made it impossible to fight off the Islamist threat to themselves. They will only start to defend themselves properly when they start treating Israel as their indispensable ally rather than a cosmic foe. The writer is a columnist for The Times (UK). (Jerusalem Post)
- "Excuses" for Terrorists - Douglas Murray
The day after the Brussels terror attack, landmarks in the UK were lit up in the colors of the Belgian flag. But after 67 years of terror, the UK still has not found the blue and white lights it would need to project the flag of Israel onto any public place. When Israel is attacked, the steps of the Israeli embassies in London and other European capitals are not littered with flowers, teddy bears or candles, or scrawled notes of sympathy. Indeed, whenever Israelis are attacked and murdered, the response at Israel's embassies tends to consist more of crowds roaring in rage against Israel.
When Israel is attacked by terrorists, it is seen by a great number of people in the West not to be an innocent victim. It is seen as a country which might have in some way brought the violence upon itself.
Supposed excuses for this view may include Israeli "settlements" in the West Bank, while at the same time disregarding that to most Palestinians all of Israel is one big "settlement" - to be exterminated, as openly set forth in both the Hamas and PLO charters. If you look at any map of "Palestine," it is actually a map of Israel. This piece of land, however, has been home to the Jews for nearly 4,000 years.
If you allow an "excuse" for one false narrative of Islamic extremists, you will have to allow it for the others. You will, for example, have to accept the word of ISIS that Belgium is a "crusader" nation, deserving to be attacked. You will have to accept that Islamic extremists have the right to attack the people of Belgium, France, Sierra Leone, Canada, the U.S. and Australia.
You will have to accept that Europeans can be killed for publishing a cartoon, simply because a foreign terrorist group says so, and then accept that the cartoonists brought it on themselves.
The enemies of Israel and the enemies of the rest of the civilized world have some minor differences, but there is far more that they have in common. It may take a while to realize it, but we are all in the same boat. The writer is associate director of the Henry Jackson Society in London.
- Jordan's Way of Dealing with Terrorists - Daoud Kuttab
Jordan's methodology in dealing with the scourge of violent extremism and terror is largely preventative.
It depends much on human intelligence efforts focused on the individuals that are believed to pose a particular threat.
It requires its security and intelligence personnel to clock many hours in painstaking search for the bad apple in a community without causing harm to the relationship with the larger group.
Jordan has its own ways of "knowing" the community, often through tribal and community leaders. And this system often produces recommendations for certain economic and political improvements and reforms. The Jordanian state looks at potential terrorists as sons gone astray and thus needing discipline, rather than punishment.
The late King Hussein is known to have turned around many of his harshest critics, offering them senior positions in the government. However, while co-opting may have worked with secular opponents, it does not work the same way with jihadists. With them, the carrot and stick method is used effectively, weighing prison time against restricted freedoms.
- The Aftershock of the Nazi War against the Jews: Could the 1948 War Against Israel Have Been Prevented? - Matthias Kuntzel
An Arab war against the UN decision in favor of the partition of Mandatory Palestine was not inevitable. Even though the Arab world rejected the Partition Plan, there was at the same time a general reluctance to go to war, not only among the Arabs in Palestine but also among the governments of major Arab League states such as Egypt. It was the mobilization of the Muslim Brotherhood that caused the Arab League to embrace the Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin el-Husseini, a Nazi-collaborator and war criminal, as leader of the Palestinian Arabs.
By staging destabilizing mass demonstrations and a murderous campaign of intimidation, el-Husseini and the Muslim Brotherhood dragged Egypt and other Arab states into a full-scale war against the Jews of Mandatory Palestine. The inability of key Arab actors to stand their ground, combined with the cowardice of the Western powers who tacitly anticipated a Jewish defeat, paved the way for the 1948 war. The writer is a German political scientist.
(Jewish Political Studies Review)
- Why More Ukrainian Jews Are Fleeing to Israel - Katie Engelhart
A woman, accompanied by her elderly mother and young daughter, had come from Mariupol, on the southern edge of Ukraine's war-ravaged Donetsk Oblast, to Dnepropetrovsk to take a one-way flight to Israel, where they plan to live forever more. "Sure, we are very sad to go and leave our friends behind. It's all very sad," the woman said. "It's fear and thinking about the future of our children." In 2015, 7,500 Jewish people left Ukraine for Israel, up from 6,000 in 2014.
None of the Ukrainians I spoke to at the Jewish Agency shelter in Dnepropetrovsk so much as mentioned anti-Semitism. Rather, they told me that life is bad in Ukraine - and that they are moving to Israel because it's their only viable way out. It's not that anti-Semitism is absent from the Ukraine war. This is Eastern Europe, after all.
- Dubai Woman Delivers Baby in Israel, Names Him after IDF Officer Who Helped Her - Maayan Groisman
An Arab woman from Dubai who delivered her baby at the Israeli-Jordanian border crossing on Tuesday named the infant after the IDF officer who helped her give birth. The Israeli, a Druse officer who serves in the Israeli Civil Administration, gave her initial medical treatment and then accompanied her to a hospital in Jericho. (Jerusalem Post)
- Israel Sees Tourism Growth from China, India
Israel is looking east to China and India to help drive tourism, Tourism Ministry Director-General Amir Halevi said. In 2015, tourism grew 43% from China to 50,000 visitors and will be helped by the start of nonstop flights next month by Hainan Airlines from Beijing to Tel Aviv that will add 35,000 extra seats to Israel a year. Tourism to Israel from India rose 13% last year to nearly 40,000. (Reuters)
- Israel-Uganda Relations Are at a New High - Ronald Musoke
Israel is one of the major contributors to Uganda's national security and intelligence.
Israeli companies are also heavily involved in agriculture, water management, and health. Israel hosts up to 200 Ugandan undergraduate agriculture students every year who learn modern agricultural skills.
The most visible Israeli firm in Uganda is Solel Boneh International (SBI) which has constructed some of Uganda's modern highways. SBI is also working on the 3,000-housing-unit project at Lubowa, just outside Kampala. SBI also built Entebbe International Airport and played a key role in Israel's 1976 hostage rescue mission by providing blueprints of the airport to the rescuers. (Independent-Uganda)
Colleges Have Become Hypersensitive to Racial Prejudice. Why Not Anti-Semitism? - Lawrence H. Summers (Washington Post)
- A vast double standard regarding what constitutes prejudice exists on American college campuses. There is hypersensitivity to prejudice against most minority groups but what might be called hyper-insensitivity to anti-Semitism.
- In my view, a proper liberal education should cause moments of acute discomfort as cherished beliefs are challenged. But, if comfort is elevated to be a preeminent value, the standard should be applied universally. Unfortunately, there is a clear exception made on most university campuses for anti-Semitic speech and acts.
- The State Department has made clear that it regards demonizing Israel or "applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation" as anti-Semitism.
- Instances of anti-Semitism by this standard are ubiquitous in American academic life. Nearly a dozen academic associations have enacted formal boycotts of Israeli institutions and in some cases Israeli scholars. Student governments at dozens of universities have demanded the divestiture of companies that do business in Israel or the West Bank.
- Yet, with very few exceptions, university leaders who are so quick to stand up against microaggressions against other groups remain silent in the face of anti-Semitism. Indeed, many major American universities, including Harvard, remain institutional members of associations that are engaged in boycotts of Israel.
The writer, President Emeritus at Harvard University, served as Secretary of the Treasury for President Clinton and Director of the National Economic Council for President Obama.
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