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July 29, 2021
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Defense sources say the Israeli military is planning to change its tactics in Syria to employ long-range standoff munitions as opposed to air strikes on Iran-linked military targets, following a new Russian policy to use its higher-end air defense systems capable of shooting down Israeli jets over Syrian airspace.
Last week, Rear Adm. Vadim Kulit said in a TV interview that Russian forces assisted the Syrians in intercepting four missiles launched by Israeli F-16s - the first time Russian assistance was given to counter Israeli military operations. Kulit said a Russian SA-17 was used, a medium-range advanced defense missile complex (ADMC) used by the Russian Army. The system is operated directly by the Russian military. Israeli sources confirmed that the SA-17 was used for the first time against Israeli missiles, raising fears that Israeli pilots could be targeted as well.
For the majority of the conflict in Syria, Israel and Russia have maintained a hotline that allowed the Israeli military to alert Russian forces of incoming strikes. Generally, sources say, Russia was given two to three minutes of warning in order to remove their personnel in the area, and in some cases missions were aborted over fears of striking Russian forces. However, Russian officials now say the deconfliction line no longer exists, while Israeli sources say communications through the line have effectively stopped.
"Russia has decided to end the Israeli freedom of action over Syria," said Dr. Mordechai Kedar, a senior Israeli expert. Moscow want to portray Syria as a functioning country. "The frequent Israeli air strikes on targets in Syria do not help to build the desired image." (Breaking Defense)
Classified documents from Iran, obtained by Sky News, reveal secret research into how a cyber attack could be used to sink a cargo ship or blow up a fuel pump at a petrol station. The papers reveal a particular interest in Western countries, including the UK, France and the U.S.
A security source said the documents were compiled by a secret, offensive cyber unit called Shahid Kaveh, part of Iran's Revolutionary Guards cyber command. The source said the work is evidence of efforts by Iran to collect intelligence on civilian infrastructure. "They are creating a target bank," said the source. (Sky News-UK)
Protest rallies that initially began in Khuzestan have attracted growing solidarity across Iran. Videos have gone viral of demonstrations in Tehran, Karaj, Kermanshah, Isfahan and Bushehr, where protesters have been chanting slogans against Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, with calls for an end to the clerical ruling establishment.
In most of the rallies, protesters also chanted, "No Gaza, no Lebanon, I sacrifice my soul for Iran," a slogan reflecting sharp criticism of Tehran's support for militant groups in the Middle East. In response to the fast-growing protests, Iranian authorities have severely slowed down internet connections to block the release of user content to foreign media outlets. (Al-Monitor)
At least five states have responded to the decision by Ben & Jerry's to pull its products out of Israeli communities in the disputed territories by triggering measures that restrict government business dealings with companies that boycott Israel. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis asked the State Board of Administration to initiate the process of placing Ben & Jerry's and Unilever on its list of scrutinized companies that violate the state's anti-BDS law.
Other states taking a hard look at their Ben & Jerry's ties include Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Texas. 35 states have passed anti-BDS laws, and "21 of those explicitly include West Bank settlement boycotts in their definitions," according to the Times of Israel. (Washington Times)
Alaa Mousa, a Syrian military doctor accused of torturing opponents of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria a decade ago, was indicted on Wednesday on charges of crimes against humanity by the German federal prosecutor. Mousa, a Syrian government official who sneaked into Germany along with more than a million refugees, killed at least one detainee with a lethal injection and tortured at least another 18, the Federal Prosecutor's Office said. (New York Times)
See also U.S. Sanctions Syrians Linked to Atrocities - Ian Talley (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
84 lawmakers from Israel's 120-member Knesset on Wednesday signed a letter asking Unilever, which owns Ben & Jerry's, to immediately revoke the decision not to sell its products in Israeli communities in the West Bank. The letter, initiated by Yesh Atid MK Merav Ben-Ari, said: "From the left to the right, religious and secular, Druze and Jewish, men and women. We stand together against the outrageous decision."
"This is shameful, abusive behavior and above all a decision that excludes large sections of the very public that Ben & Jerry's world management ostensibly seeks to support," referring to the Palestinians who are employed by the company's West Bank distributor. "The cross-party cooperation in the Israeli legislature is proof of how morally distorted Unilever's decision is." (Ynet News)
The Israel Health Ministry's coronavirus vaccination committee voted Wednesday to administer a third shot of the Pfizer vaccine to older people. The ministry will decide the exact age. Pfizer said Tuesday that their research shows that a third dose of the vaccine increased antibodies by 5 to 11 times. As the Delta variant has been quickly spreading across Israel, older people who were vaccinated five and six months ago are getting infected. For people 60 and older, the effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing serious illness has dropped from 97% to 81%. (Jerusalem Post)
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said Wednesday that Israel plans to take a number of steps to strengthen economic ties with the PA. Some 15,000 additional permits to work in Israel will be given to West Bank Palestinians for construction and another 1,000 for the hotel industry. They will augment the 120,000 permits granted for employment in Israel, including 30,000 to work in Israeli West Bank communities. IDF Maj.-Gen. Ghasan Alyan noted that this measure "will largely contribute to the security stability in the area."
Earlier this month, Israel also agreed to help the PA by increasing the amount of goods Jordan can export to the Palestinians from $160 million to $700 million. (Jerusalem Post)
Former German BND foreign intelligence service chief August Hanning told the Jerusalem Post he opposes a return to the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran, saying, "The present Iranian regime is not really in favor of carrying out the necessary steps" to limit itself from developing a nuclear weapon. "Iran's role in the region is not very positive," he said. "So long as the Iranians are carrying out this very ambitious missile program, and there is a very suspicious Iranian background of trying to get access to a nuclear device and nonconventional warheads, I will be very skeptical of the present negotiations with Iran." (Jerusalem Post)
Jordan thwarted an attempt by four Islamic State terrorists to kill IDF soldiers near the border with Israel in February, the Jordanian newspaper Al-Rai revealed Tuesday. The ISIS terrorists planned the attack in the Ghor es-Safi area of the Jordan Valley, near the southern Dead Sea. They planned to first attack Jordanian soldiers near the border before reaching the IDF soldiers. (Jerusalem Post)
Following devastating floods in western Germany, Israeli humanitarian aid NGO IsraAID sent a response team to help with relief distribution, clean-up efforts, and psychological first aid. (Israel21c)
A team of medical specialists from Israel arrived in Manila this week for a five-day mission to share their "best practices" in treating patients infected with Covid-19. The delegation will share their current local clinical guidelines for Covid-19, infection control protocols, and hospital management. (Manila Times-Philippines)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
Ben & Jerry's Israel Boycott
Susannah Levin, a graphic designer for Ben & Jerry's for 21 years, told StandWithUs on Sunday that when she learned that the company was considering divesting from the West Bank, she proposed an alternate plan to a company executive. Levin suggested supporting a grassroots organization that promotes peace and coexistence, or backing Israeli and Palestinian educational organizations fighting hatred and incitement. She also proposed opening a partner shop in Ramallah and Jewish West Bank areas for both Palestinians and Israelis.
Levin quit after the company moved forward with boycotting Israel. Since then, she has been overwhelmed by the support she has received. "People are calling me a hero. I'm just a Jew. I'm a person with some integrity. I decided to start speaking up because...I want people to know that other Jews or other people who care deeply for the Jewish people, you can speak up....Maybe I had an effect. At least I know that they heard something from the other side." (Algemeiner)
The Ben & Jerry's controversy isn't about ice cream. It's about terrorism and bigotry and the worst type of double standards that demonize the Jewish homeland and the people who live there. It's the latest front in the ongoing battle that uses the threat of economic boycott and sanctions to pressure Israel into agreeing to empower its enemies and expose its citizens to an even greater threat of danger and death. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
We're not clear how exactly removing Ben & Jerry's ice cream from grocery stores in the West Bank will benefit the Palestinians. The move appears to be primarily an act of guerrilla theater and a demonstration of base prejudice. The most common expression of anti-Semitism is the application of double standards to Jews and the Jewish state.
There is no comparison between Israeli policy in the West Bank and the practices of the world's greatest human rights abusers. Unilever happily does business in Northern Cyprus, occupied Tibet, and Xinjiang, home to Uyghur concentration camps. We won't hold our breath for the ice cream boycott of China. But hey, there are no Jews in Xinjiang. We urge friends of Israel and the Jewish people to vote with their spoons. (Washington Free Beacon)
Tunisian President Kais Saied fired the prime minister and suspended parliament on Sunday. While some in Tunisia saw the moves against institutions led or supported by Ennahda, a moderate Islamist party, as a coup, others praised the sidelining of political leaders they saw as dysfunctional and repressive.
But the narrative emerging from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt was far more univocal: The events in Tunisia marked the death knell for political Islam. While Ennahda long ago disavowed connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, the semiofficial Saudi newspaper Okaz proclaimed: "Tunisia revolts against the Brotherhood." Egyptian daily Al-Ahram called the events a "loss for the last Brotherhood stronghold in the region."
Ennahda garnered the most votes in Tunisia's first democratic election following the 2011 revolution. But its popularity has declined and anger has mounted over the past year as the pandemic ravaged the country and its economy and a movement against police brutality gained steam. Calls grew for the dissolution of parliament, helmed by Ennahda's highly unpopular leader Rachid Ghannouchi. (Washington Post)
Palestinian "refugees" are considered a unique breed of displaced humans, utterly different from the tens of millions who were displaced since World War II. Yet Palestinian exceptionalism remains the biggest obstacle to a better Palestinian future. The status of Palestinian refugees is treated as an extraordinary problem, the likes of which the world has never known. The international community established a unique body, UNRWA, to deal with Palestinian refugees, an honor not granted to the most impoverished and crushed refugees from significantly more destructive conflicts.
The Western righteousness industry seems to be deeply interested in democracy, freedom of speech, and human rights violations in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but is disinterested in the same issues within Palestinian society. Their magical exceptionalism turns appalling acts of violence by Palestinians from terrorism into resistance.
The Palestinian cause is waning among Arab nations, while ironically getting brighter in the West, because we don't see the Palestinians as exceptional anymore. The story of the Palestinians fits with the stories of people of most Arab countries, where Arab society is struggling through its transition to modernity against tribalism, factionalism, Arab despotism, chauvinism, and the total lack of a social basis for democracy or modern notions of human rights, of a society whose most important struggles are within itself.
The writer, a Muslim Arab imprisoned by the Egyptian military for his activities to combat anti-Semitism, is a full time educator and speaker for StandWithUs. (Hussein Aboubakr)
During the 2021 Gaza War, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) concluded, "at least 253 Palestinians have been killed, 129 of whom were civilians." That means 124 of the dead were combatants, close to a 1:1 ratio, an unprecedentedly low ratio in terms of civilians killed in urban warfare. At least 680 Palestinian rockets fell short or misfired, landing inside Gaza. According to the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, 9 children and 10 adults were killed by Palestinian rockets.
Hamas is known to blur the lines between those who died of natural causes and those who died in the war. About 16 Gazans die of natural causes each day. Since Hamas tightly censors information, it is difficult to know if some natural deaths were falsely attributed to deaths from the conflict, especially during the time of the coronavirus pandemic. Moreover, some of those executed by Hamas as spies and collaborators with Israel may also be included in the civilian casualty toll.
Eli Nirenberg is a student at Washington University in St. Louis. Lenny Ben-David served 25 years in senior posts in AIPAC in Washington and Jerusalem, and as Israel's Deputy Chief of Mission in Washington. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
See also Gaza Terrorists Falsely Listed as Civilian Casualties
NGO Monitor has identified 50 incidents in which Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives killed in Gaza during the May 2021 conflict were falsely labeled by NGOs as civilian casualties. (NGO Monitor)
Which Middle Eastern country offers the best life for Arabs? Take any measure - democratic representation, women's rights, lack of corruption, freedom of speech, the protection of sexual minorities - and Israel comes out on top. While Palestinians have been blocked again and again from casting a vote for over a decade, Israeli Arabs have made it to the ballot box four times in the last two years. In June, their efforts produced an Arab minister in the cabinet.
A portion of Israel's Arab population is indelibly hostile to the state, cleaving to Palestinian nationalism or religious fundamentalism. But the majority does not strongly share these feelings. Last week, I visited Acre, a scene of recent rioting, with an old city that is 95% Arab. Residents told me they attributed the unrest more to the disaffection of local youngsters than some bold, political statement.
Ze'ev Jabotinsky, Netanyahu's intellectual forebear and hardly a shrinking violet when it came to Jewish self-determination, wrote: "All of us, all Jews and Zionists of all schools of thought, want the best for the Arabs of Eretz Israel. We want them to prosper both economically and culturally. We envision the regime of Jewish Palestine as follows: most of the population will be Jewish, but equal rights for all Arab citizens will not only be guaranteed, they will also be fulfilled."
The writer is deputy editor of the Jewish Chronicle (UK). (Spectator-UK)
The Royal Air Force has taken part in the first Western military exercise on drone warfare, held in Israel, where they trained on Hermes 450 drones, simulating joint operations with fighter jets and attack helicopters, together with teams from the U.S., France, Germany and Italy. For the Israelis, it was an opportunity to show their counterparts how they have been using unmanned aerial vehicles in combat for nearly 50 years.
Brig.-Gen. Amir Lazar, commander of the Israel Air Force Air Division, said: "All the countries participating in this exercise have had combat experience with drones over the last couple of decades, in Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries. But they usually use a drone operating at long range." Gaza and other battlefields over which Israel uses drones are much closer to its borders, sometimes only a few minutes' flight time away, and the Israeli doctrine is to use at least two drones in tandem to sweep potential targets and to ensure before an airstrike that the correct target has been identified.
Over recent years, close ties between the Israeli and British armed forces have come out in the open. Last month, a joint exercise involving the British, Israeli and U.S. air forces was held in Israel's Negev Desert, with each nation using its F-35 stealth fighters. A British officer involved in the latest exercise said: "It's also a sign of how Britain's attitude towards some of its strategic alliances is changing after Brexit." (The Times-UK)
The early Zionists shared the idea that the Jews must be liberated from their otherness by becoming a nation like all other nations. Normalize the Jews and you'll end or at least "normalize" anti-Semitism, transforming it to mere banal prejudice. Jewish nationhood and self-reliance would end the world's obsession with the Jew.
But the problem is that "anti-Semitism is something entirely unique and that it has nothing to do with the Jews," said Ruth R. Wisse, a now-retired Harvard historian of Yiddish and Jewish history. Jews became stand-ins for the fears and anxieties of competing political camps in a fast-changing world, first in Europe and later in the Arab and Muslim worlds. They became a vocabulary for distracting populations from their troubled leaderships.
When the white supremacists marching in Charlottesville in 2017 chanted, "Jews will not replace us," they were explaining away real anxieties by misdirecting them onto a nefarious Jewish power. To European conservatives of the 19th century, Jews were communist agitators. But in the Soviet sphere in the 20th century, they quickly became the regime's favorite target, depicted as a capitalist vanguard.
Anti-Semitism isn't simply a dislike of Jews. It involves the role Jews are forced to play in the political imaginations of non-Jews as the incarnation of and explanation for their deepest fears and most vexing social ills. It is not the idea that Israel is doing wrong, but the idea that Israel is what is wrong with the world. It is the political device that brought Adolf Hitler to tell the Reichstag in January 1939 that if a world war was coming, it was the Jews who will have started it. No other people and no other country serves a similar role as the go-to culprit for malaises they can't possibly have caused. (Times of Israel)
By any and all metrics at our disposal - archeology, history, theology, even DNA tests - Jews are the indigenous people of the Land of Israel. Still, to the zealots who shout that Jews are white, all that matters is that for the last few decades, American Jews have benefited from the rewards that come with being among our society's most educated and best compensated few.
Yet the argument of privilege ignores the unique nature of anti-Jewish bigotry, a highly resistant viral strain that feeds precisely on the difficult truth that Jews don't really fit comfortably into any of the common categories. Jews are just Jews, a difficult realization that has driven haters to distraction throughout the generations. It's why we alone have been singled out for a steady stream of suspicion and persecution throughout history, even here in America. In 2019, nearly 2/3 of all religious-based hate crimes in America targeted Jews.
Some Jews may have more melanin in their skin or fewer dollars in their bank accounts, some may dress in black and some drape themselves in the colors of the rainbow, but all belong to an extended family that stayed a family because it insisted on the display of collective behaviors.
The creative genius of Jew-hatred has always been its ability to imagine the Jew as the embodiment of whatever it is that polite society finds repulsive. The Jew takes the shape of whatever the Jew-hater fears and loathes most. And if you decide that there's such a thing as "whites" and that they are uniquely responsible for all evils perpetrated on the innocent and downtrodden, well, the Jews must be not only of them but nestled comfortably at the top of the white-supremacist pyramid. (Commentary)
Anti-Zionism is distinct from critique or criticism of the State of Israel in that it posits that the State of Israel is fundamentally illegitimate and must ultimately be dismantled. Anti-Zionism holds that the Jewish national movement is unlike any other nationalist movement. Anti-Zionism frequently employs classical anti-Semitic tropes and attaches anti-Jewish stereotypes to the State of Israel, its citizens and supporters. Yet there is an inherent fallacy in separating Jewish identity and Zionism.
In addition to their religious aspects, Jews are simultaneously a people. Zionism is a modern reformulation of Jewish national identity, which has formed an integral part of Judaism since its inception. Anti-Zionism forms part of a long tradition that demands Jewish assimilation and the abandonment of their national identity as a price for equality.
The writer is an Israeli lawyer at the International Legal Forum. (Fathom-BICOM-UK)
Lt.-Col. Golan Vach, commander of the Israel Defense Forces National Rescue Unit, said he personally found 20 victims from the Surfside, Florida, condo collapse and that his team recovered 81, 84% of the nearly 100 victims. He knew where to look because he studied photographs of the missing, learned about their possessions, learned about their habits, and even knew in which room each likely would have been during the collapse. While U.S. authorities said there were 159 missing, his team met with the families and determined there were 98.
Using expertise developed from responder missions in wars and catastrophic events in Israel and around the world, the team developed a 3-dimensional computer model to determine where each room was located both before and after the collapse. That way, rescuers could search with purpose. (Palm Beach Post)
Gymnast Estella Agsteribbe was one of five Jewish women to participate in the Olympic Games in Amsterdam in 1928. In 1943, Estella and her two children were murdered at the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp - simply because they were Jewish. On the occasion of the opening of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, is promoting two online exhibitions to commemorate both Jewish and non-Jewish athletes during WWII.
One is entitled "Jews and Sports before the Holocaust: A Visual Retrospective." It includes the story of cousins Gustav and Alfred Flatow, who represented Germany at two Olympic Games but were murdered during the Holocaust for being Jews. The second online exhibition, "The Game of their Lives," tells the stories of a dozen brave non-Jewish athletes recognized as Righteous Among the Nations who risked their own lives to rescue their Jewish compatriots from Nazi persecution. (Yad Vashem)
A recent article in Ha'aretz accused Zionists of "cultural and culinary appropriation" by presenting Palestinian foods as Israeli cuisine. Yet, as was proven by Prof. Menachem Felix and many others, there is almost no vegetable, fruit, spice or cooking method now ascribed to the Syrian-Palestinian kitchen that is not mentioned in the Bible or the Mishnah, and that didn't migrate with the Jews when they were exiled from their land.
For example, in southeastern Turkey, kubbeh, the glory of the Palestinian kitchen, is called "Jewish kofta" - that is, Jewish meatballs. Jews invented kubbeh because it was their custom to eat meat on Shabbat, but it is religiously prohibited for them to slaughter animals or cook on that day. Before the refrigerator was invented, the solution was to wrap ground meat in dough and fry or bake it on Friday, so it wouldn't spoil.
Similarly, eggplant and hummus, also ostensibly from the Palestinian kitchen, are mentioned in the records of the Spanish Inquisition as characteristic Jewish foods that could be used to identify people who formally converted to Christianity but secretly remained Jews. Moreover, olive oil, which has become a symbol of the Palestinian people, is one of the seven species the Bible cites as acceptable offerings in the Temple. It was used to anoint kings and priests and to light the menorah in the Temple.
It was the ancient Jewish cuisine of the Land of Israel that turned into one of the cuisines appropriated by Muslim nomads after they conquered the region in the seventh century. (Ha'aretz)
On July 22, 1946, the pre-state Jewish underground destroyed the center of the British Mandatory administration at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, an act which helped accelerate the British decision to withdraw from Palestine two years later.
The bombing took place less than a month following Operation Agatha, a British round-up of 2,700 officials of both the mainstream Jewish Agency and the Haganah, carried out on June 29. The Haganah leadership was under the mistaken impression that the British police had taken large numbers of sensitive confiscated files to the King David, where both the British civilian government and its military leadership in Palestine were headquartered.
The proposal to blow up the southern section of the hotel came from Menachem Begin, later Israel's prime minister but then, head of the Irgun Zvai Leumi (National Military Organization), also known as Etzel. But approval for the operation came from top officials of the Haganah - Moshe Sneh, the chief of general headquarters, and Yitzhak Sadeh, commander of the Palmach. Begin is the one who insisted that a warning be given before the blast, so that the hotel could be evacuated, though there was concern within the Haganah that too much warning might allow the British to remove the incriminating documents the attack was intended to destroy.
There is no doubt that Irgun gave a warning of the impending explosion. An initial call to the hotel switchboard, about 15 minutes before the blast, was ignored. Ten minutes later, the French consulate, on the hotel's northern side, received a call, alerting it to open its windows, so as to reduce damage from the impending blast. A third warning came via the Palestine Post (predecessor to today's Jerusalem Post), which passed on a warning to both the hotel and the police. (Ha'aretz)
Open a U.S. Consulate to the PA in Ramallah, Not in Israel's Capital - Elliott Abrams and Dr. Amanda J. Rothschild (The Hill)
Elliott Abrams, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, is a former Deputy National Security Advisor.
Dr. Amanda J. Rothschild, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, is a former Special Assistant to the President.