February 16, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

At Least 5 Jews among 17 Killed by Florida Shooter - Ben Sales and Josefin Dolsten (JTA)
    Jewish students and staff were among the 17 people killed when an expelled student entered a high school in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday and began shooting.
    Among the Jewish victims are students Jaime Guttenberg, Alyssa Alhadeff, Meadow Pollack, and Alex Schachter. Geography teacher Scott Beigel, 35, died protecting his students.
    See also Israeli President Rivlin: Israel Stands with America in Grief (Times of Israel)
    "The people of Israel stand with the people of Florida, and all America, in grief this morning. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families," President Reuven Rivlin wrote on his Twitter account on Thursday.

15 Russian Security Staff Killed in Syria Explosion (AFP-Guardian-UK)
    15 Russians employed in Syria by a private security company have been killed after an explosion rocked the company's weapons storage facility at Tabiya Jazira in Deir Ezzor province, said the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Report: Russian Advisers Left Syrian Anti-Aircraft Batteries before Israeli Airstrikes - Dr. Norman Bailey (Globes)
    Russia's military advisers mysteriously vanished from Syrian anti-aircraft battery sites prior to the Israeli strikes on them, according to reports.
    The writer is Professor of Economics and National Security at the University of Haifa.

Oman Minister Visits Jerusalem Holy Site (AFP-Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
    Oman's foreign minister Yusuf bin Alawi visited the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem on Thursday after holding talks with Palestinian leaders in the West Bank.
    An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said he was unaware of the visit. Oman and Israel do not have official diplomatic relations.

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Museum Manager Fired for Plot to Block Israel Celebration - Carl Campanile (New York Post)
    The head of the Queens Museum and a top deputy have been ousted after they tried to prevent Israel from celebrating its 70th anniversary at the facility, the site where the UN actually took the vote that led to the creation of the Jewish state.
    Israel was able to hold the event only after museum officials reversed the decision to reject the request, following a public outcry.
    An independent probe found that museum director Laura Raicovich was a staunch critic of Israel and did not disclose her hostility to the museum's board.
    She co-edited a book that backed the boycott movement against Israel, paid a co-author with museum funds, and even placed the book for sale in the museum's gift shop.

Israel Signs Tenders Agreement with NATO - Tal Schneider (Globes)
    Israel this week signed an agreement with the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) enabling 700 Israeli companies to compete in NATO tenders.

New Israeli Technology Replaces Surgeon's Knife with Enzymatic "Blade" - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    Researchers at Haifa's Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have developed a device that replaces the surgeon's knife with natural biological materials, significantly reducing pain and accelerating tissue restoration.
    The "blade" is based on the intelligent use of enzymes as well as nanoparticles and technology for controlled release of drugs.

Human Bone Tissue Grown in Lab Used to Repair Israeli Man's Leg - Tim Collins (Daily Mail-UK)
    "Game changing" surgery to regrow part of a legbone using human tissue created in a lab has been undertaken at Emek Medical Center in Afula, Israel.
    The man involved lost two inches (five cm.) of his shinbone in a serious car accident.
    For the experimental tissue-engineering technology, fat cells extracted from the patient were used to create constituent parts which were then grown on a biodegradable scaffold over the course of two weeks.
    Semi-solid live bone tissues that resulted were then placed back into the patient's body.
    Because the cells used to grow the bones are from the patient, this helps to minimize the risk of rejection.

Astronauts Prepare for Mars Voyage in Israeli Desert - Alison DeNisco Rayome (Tech Republic)
    Six Israeli astronauts will stay in a specialized structure in Israel's Negev Desert near Mitzpe Ramon that simulates the unique environment of Mars.
    The project, called Desert Mars Analog Ramon Station (D-MARS), is under the guidance of Dan Blumberg, head of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's Earth and Planetary Imaging Facility.
    If successful, more research missions could take advantage of this location.

Archeology Proves Israel's Jewish Roots - Micah Halpern (Jerusalem Post)
    For Israelis, archeology is a national pastime. The level of interest would never occur in the U.S. or Europe.
    Archeology offers proof that Jews belonged in the area. Rocks and ancient buildings provide necessary evidence that Jews resided in Israel from the time of Abraham until today.
    Archeology is a bridge connecting the love of Israel from the past to the present. It's something they feel in their heart and know in their kishkes.
    Everywhere one digs in Israel, one can find history. That is why before any construction, a salvage dig is performed to make certain no damage to the past takes place.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. House Passes Bill Sanctioning Hamas for Using Human Shields - Benjamin Kerstein
    The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill which sanctions the terrorist group Hamas and its collaborators for deliberately putting innocent people in harm's way as a military tactic. Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), who introduced the Hamas Human Shields Prevention Act, said, "The world must face the threat of Hamas terrorists, as they continue to perpetrate atrocities against civilians and use them as human shields....I believe this legislation will help ensure the lives of innocent Palestinian civilians are spared by proactively imposing strong sanctions against Hamas."
        "Hamas is a terrorist organization, formed and wholly-dedicated to the destruction of our ally Israel," said Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. "This legislation condemns Hamas' barbaric use of human shields and imposes sanctions on those responsible....The bill's unanimous passage shows Congress' continued strong, bipartisan support for Israel."
        The bill finds that "Hamas forces have repeatedly fired rockets...from civilian areas...putting Palestinian lives at constant risk." The bill also condemns Hamas' use of child labor to build its attack tunnels. (Algemeiner)
  • Tillerson Says Hizbullah's Growing Arsenal a Threat to Lebanon - Yara Bayoumy and Lisa Barrington
    U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in Beirut on Thursday that Iran-backed Hizbullah's growing arsenal and involvement in regional conflicts threatened Lebanon's security. (Reuters)
  • IRGC Commander: Zionist Regime of Israel Not to Survive
    There are indications suggesting that the Zionist regime of Israel will not survive, Iran's Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani said Thursday. "There is no night we sleep without thinking about the enemies. The conduct of the regime shows that it will not last, as there are no signs indicating its survival." Soleimani spoke at a conference in Tehran to mark the 10th anniversary of the martyrdom of Imad Mughniyeh, a top Lebanese Hizbullah commander. (Islamic Republic News Agency-Iran)
        See also Hamas Deputy Chief Attends Iranian Commemoration for Hizbullah Commander - Adam Rasgon (Jerusalem Post)
  • American Jewish Leaders Find Budding Ally in United Arab Emirates - Alex Traiman
    A delegation of American Jewish leaders spent two days in the United Arab Emirates this week in search of moderate Arab counterparts to fight against radical Islamic extremism, and who are willing to improve private and public relations with Israel. "The United Arab Emirates are a country that can have an expanding role with the State of Israel. They are a country that is trying to counter the forces of extremism," said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
        B'nai B'rith executive vice president Dan Mariaschin said, "The UAE seems very much a part of the solution - and not part of the problem - in the region." Cheryl Fishbein, chair of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, said, "The Emirates' openness to other cultures, and their priority to bringing tolerance throughout their society, was truly a welcome eye-opener."  (JNS.org)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Intelligence Report: West Bank Stabilized, Gaza on Edge - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    After a spike in violence following President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem in December, the West Bank has stabilized, but Gaza remains on edge, a Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center report says. It also contends that PA President Abbas and his Fatah movement have indirectly supported some of the wave of violence against Israelis, calling it "popular resistance."
        The report cites the Palestinian Authority's custom of paying funds to terrorists who attacked Israelis, seen as "martyrs" - naming locations after them, undertaking honorary visits to family members, hospitalization and burial services, and giving speeches honoring them - as helping to create an atmosphere for violence.
        While in 2016 there were 134 serious violent incidents, in 2017 there were only 82. However, 18 Israelis were killed in 2017 compared to 17 in 2016. 31 rockets were fired at Israel in 2017, including 22 from Gaza and 9 from Sinai. 15 rockets were fired at Israel in 2016. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Abbas Refuses Reconciliation until Hamas Cedes Control of Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PA President Mahmoud Abbas has vowed not to lift the sanctions he imposed on Gaza last year until Hamas completely cedes control including over its weapons, Frieh Abu Medien, a former PA minister of justice, said Thursday. Abu Medien wrote in the London-based Rai al-Youm that Abbas told him, "Hamas needs to understand that if it wants reconciliation, it must completely relinquish its rule over Gaza and allow the Palestinian government to govern and control everything, including money and weapons."
        "I won't lift the sanctions and I won't present any new initiatives unless Hamas meets my conditions and Gaza becomes like a ring on my finger." Abbas' sanctions include cuts in salaries of civil servants, suspension of social assistance to hundreds of families, and the forced retirement of thousands of employees. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    Iran in Syria

  • Iran's Moves in Syria Threaten Region - Peter Brookes
    In its reaction to an Iranian UAV which violated Israeli airspace, Israel's signal to Syria and Iran is quite clear. It won't brook a growing Iranian threat from Syria. For the mullahs, Syria is a fundamental building block - in addition to Iraq and Lebanon - in Tehran's plans to cobble together a swath of power from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea.
        With a persistent military presence in Syria, Iran would be able to project power against Israel from just across the Syrian border courtesy of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Quds force, offensive weapons, and intelligence capabilities.
        Having Iran in Syria also endangers neighboring Lebanon. Iran could more efficiently and effectively support Hizbullah's effort to dominate the country as well as threaten Israel to the south. Think of it: The mullah's missiles on the Mediterranean. The writer, a retired naval intelligence officer, is a Senior Fellow, National Security Affairs at the Heritage Foundation. (Boston Herald)
  • Israel's Engagement in Syria - Carmit Valensi, Zvi Magen, and Sima Shine
    Israel has expressed its operational determination to prevent Iran's entrenchment in Syria. After Iran sent an advanced drone with a low radar signature via Jordan into Israel, Israel's intelligence and operational capabilities made it possible to destroy the drone and attack the site from where it was launched, deep inside Syria.
        The Israeli response was extensive, and included attacks on Syrian and Iranian targets, causing widespread damage to Syrian air defenses. The scope of the Israeli response reflects prior preparation for the possible need to carry out such an operation with little advance warning, and perhaps Israel was waiting for an opportunity to launch such a response. The Israeli response sends a strong message about its willingness to maintain its red lines.
        Dr. Carmit Valensi is a research fellow at INSS. Lt.-Col. Zvi Magen, who served in IDF Military Intelligence, is a former Israeli ambassador to Russia and Ukraine. Sima Shine was head of the Mossad's research division. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)

  • Other Issues

  • Palestinian Bid for UN Recognition of Little Value - Israel Kasnett
    PA President Mahmoud Abbas has announced that the Palestinians would seek full membership at the UN, while declaring that the U.S. is no longer an "honest broker" in the Middle East peace process. Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, explained how Abbas' current effort to apply for state recognition at the UN is worthless.
        "The UN doesn't recognize states. A newly created state declares independence. The second step is when other countries recognize the new state bilaterally. And the third step in the birth of a state is that it then requests UN membership. It sounds like Abbas is trying to implement step three before step one....In any event, a unilateral declaration of statehood or seeking UN involvement is a material breach of the Oslo commitments."  (JNS.org)
  • Israel, the Palestinians, and the Administration's Peace Plan - Ghaith al-Omari
    Current political realities in both the Palestinian Authority and Israel make it difficult to envisage a peace plan that will meet the minimum needed substantively and politically by both parties to reengage in negotiations. Presenting a plan with a high likelihood of failure could trigger sharp deterioration. Instead, the U.S. should develop more modest objectives for the immediate term, with attention turned toward creating practical, positive developments on the ground.
        On the Palestinian side, Abbas' margin for maneuvering is extremely limited. Failure of the peace process, corruption, and poor governance combined have severely eroded the PA's legitimacy among its public. Recent polls show that 77% of Palestinians believe that the PA is corrupt, and 70% want Abbas to resign. Add to that the split between the West Bank and Gaza. Thus, Abbas currently lacks the political credit needed to be able to engage with a peace plan that requires significant compromise.
        The U.S. should impress upon the PA the need to stop threatening to sever security cooperation, as such threats delegitimize the PA security forces and demoralize its members.
        The writer is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute. He testified before the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa on Feb. 14, 2018. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Abbas Rejects Jerusalem Suburb Solution for a Palestinian Capital - Nadav Shragai
    On Jan. 14, 2018, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas publically confirmed that the U.S. offered the Jerusalem suburb of Abu Dis to the Palestinians as a capital, which he rejected out of hand. When Mahmoud Abbas (as Arafat's deputy) and Yossi Beilin (a minister in the government of Yitzhak Rabin) drafted the "Beilin-Mahmoud Abbas Agreement" of 1995, Abu Dis was represented as an alternative capital for the Palestinians.
        However, after two Israeli prime ministers, Ehud Barak in 2000 and Ehud Olmert in 2008, placed on the negotiating table far-reaching proposals for the division of Jerusalem itself, Abbas today refuses to even talk about anything less than what was offered to him then.
        In the past, both Palestinians and Israelis accepted that Abu Dis could play a key role in resolving the conflict. It is located precisely on the route of a planned corridor to connect to the Temple Mount. Abu Dis developed in the late 1990s as a Palestinian governmental center. Dozens of PA offices were established there, including the Palestinian Local Government Office, the headquarters of the Palestinian security services, and the office of the Palestinian Governor of the Jerusalem District. Above all, rising five floors high, was the Palestinian parliament building.
        The writer, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center, is a journalist and commentator who has documented the dispute over Jerusalem for 30 years. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Weekend Features

  • Meet the Official IDF Arabic Spokesman - Elhanan Miller
    Avichay Adraee, 35, first discovered his love for the Arabic language as a child watching old Egyptian movies on Israeli TV with his grandparents. He aced his Haifa high school Arabic exams and went on to serve as a linguist in the intelligence corps. Just shy of his 23rd birthday, he became IDF spokesman to the Arabic media. His Arabic Facebook page boasts over 1.2 million followers, with 177,000 followers on Twitter, and he has become a household name across the Arab Middle East.
        There are a number of satire programs about him on television and online, which he takes as proof of his acceptance. Another yardstick for success is the growing use by Arab media of the term "Israel Defense Forces" when referring to the Israeli army, instead of "the enemy army."
        Adraee believes he may be successful thanks to the military uniform he wears on media interviews. "In the Arab world, my nonacademic impression is that a uniform exudes prestige and credibility. When Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi inaugurated the new Suez Canal, he came in uniform, even though it wasn't a military ceremony."  (Tablet)
  • Ahmadi Muslims, a Persecuted Mideast Minority, Find Religious Freedom in Israel - Eliana Rudee
    The Ahmadiyya community, a small Islamic sect numbering 20 million people, is a persecuted minority across the Middle East. But at the southern entrance to Haifa is Kababir village, home to 2,000 residents, 70% of whom are Ahmadi Muslims. In Kababir, Ahmadis enjoy full religious and cultural freedom and pray in the only Ahmadi mosque in the Middle East, opened in 1934. The safe haven they have found in Israel, as compared to the broader Middle East, mirrors that of the Druze, Bahai, and Christians.
        The Ahmadis are considered to be pro-Israel and leaders in coexistence efforts. Israeli Ahmadiyya community leader Muhammad Sharif Odeh says, "I am a Muslim, Palestinian, and I am here. It is a good thing that there is an Israeli state." "We are creating fanaticism in the West Bank and Gaza. It has become a greenhouse for terrorism and radicalism. Palestinians play with plastic and wood guns while Israelis play with dolls. Barbarism isn't the solution, we must respect peace agreements. You can't send people to kill others and say you want peace."  (JNS.org)
  • Israeli-Developed Bandage that Stops Bleeding within Seconds Now Sold Globally - Ido Levy
    In September 2016, two Israeli police officers were stabbed in a terror attack in Jerusalem. One was bleeding profusely from a stab wound to the neck, which hit a major artery. A paramedic at the scene applied a new, Israeli-developed bandage that stopped the bleeding in under a minute. The WoundClot bandage is a plant-based cellulose gauze that stimulates the body's coagulation process.
        The bandage can absorb over 2500% of its own weight and can be applied in situations in which compression can be harmful, such as with stab wounds and head and neck injuries. It remains biologically active for 24-36 hours and breaks down naturally in the body within a week. The Israeli medical company behind it, Core Scientific Creations (CSC), now sells WoundClot in 32 countries. (NoCamels-Israeli Innovation News)
  • Israel Develops Pocket-Size Device to Test for Heart Attacks - Ian Lee
    According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "many people with heart disease do not act on early warning signs." The longer a heart attack goes undetected, the greater the damage to the victim's heart.
        A device developed in Israel could radically change how we detect heart attacks by making the process simpler, quicker and cheaper. Emil Katz, founder and CEO of Israeli medical products company Novamed, has developed a device called SensAheart, roughly the size of a USB stick, which tests a drop of blood for antibodies that are produced in the event of a heart attack.
        The test can identify heart attacks that have occurred as recently as an hour ago, or as long ago as several days. Existing blood tests can take up to six hours to deliver a result. I waited five minutes for the result of my test. Moreover, Dr. Chaim Lotan, director of the Heart Institute and Cardiovascular Division at Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center in Jerusalem, discovered that SensAheart is more accurate than the current available test. The device is available in Europe and Israel, but not yet in the U.S. (CNN)
  • Swiss Honor Diplomat Who Saved Thousands of Jews
    Carl Lutz, who worked as vice consul for Switzerland in Budapest during the years of World War II, together with colleagues Harald Feller, Gertrud Lutz-Fankhauser, Ernst Vonrufs and Peter Zurcher, helped save the lives of over 60,000 Jews from Nazi extermination camps.
        When the Germans occupied Hungary in 1944, the diplomat hammered out an agreement with them to provide safe passage for 8,000 Jews. He then applied the diplomatic letters of protection he obtained to whole families instead of individuals. When the 8,000 documents were used up, he simply began the numbering series again.
        Lutz and his colleagues also set up safe houses around the Hungarian capital where thousands of Jews took shelter. Lutz was honored by Israel with the title Righteous Among the Nations. (The Local-Switzerland)

The Coming Conflict between Iran and Israel - Danielle Pletka (American Enterprise Institute)
  • The significant escalation on the part of the Iranians in Syria sharpens the challenges Israel faces not just with Hizbullah, the Iranian-controlled terrorist group on its border in Lebanon, but now with a substantial Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) presence in Syria as well.
  • The steady escalation by Iran on Israel's border belies the notion that Tehran is feeling any heat from the departure of the more pro-Iran Barack Obama and the arrival of Donald Trump, with his pledge to take the Iranian threat more seriously. Rather, Iran has continued to cut a wide swath throughout the Middle East.
  • The U.S. government appears determined to ignore the Lebanese Armed Forces' increasingly obvious cooperation with Hizbullah, as well as Hizbullah's swelling arsenal throughout Lebanese territory.
  • Somehow, both Centcom and the State Department have persuaded themselves, despite ample evidence to the contrary, that Lebanon is somehow independent despite massive Iranian infiltration through Hizbullah.
  • The U.S. has not availed itself of sufficient soft or hard power options vis-a-vis Iran in Syria, Yemen, or anywhere else in the region.
  • Iran is rising inexorably, and inevitably, at least for Israel, there will be no choice but conflict.

    The writer is senior vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI.
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