A project of the
June 14, 2021
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Russia is preparing to supply Iran with an advanced satellite system that will give Tehran an unprecedented ability to track potential military targets across the Middle East and beyond, according to current and former U.S. and Middle Eastern officials.
The Iranians will receive a Russian-made Kanopus-V satellite equipped with a high-resolution camera that would greatly enhance Iran's spying capabilities, allowing continuous monitoring of Persian Gulf oil refineries, Israeli military bases, and Iraqi barracks that house U.S. troops. Iran would be able to task the new satellite to spy on locations of its choosing, as often as it wishes.
Leaders of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have made multiple trips to Russia since 2018 to negotiate the agreement. This spring, Russian experts traveled to Iran to train ground crews to operate the satellite from a new facility near the northern city of Karaj.
"This capability will allow Iran to maintain an accurate target bank, and to update that target bank within a few hours" every day, said a Middle Eastern official. Equally concerning is the possibility that Iran could share the imagery with pro-Iranian militia groups across the region, including Hizbullah in Lebanon and Shiite militias in Iraq. Pro-Iranian militias have been linked to repeated rocket attacks on Iraqi military bases that are home to U.S. troops. (Washington Post)
See also Putin Denies Russia Preparing to Give Iran Advanced Satellite System (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
The Biden administration lifted sanctions on three former Iranian officials and several energy companies amid stalled nuclear negotiations, signaling Washington's willingness to further ease economic pressure on Iran if the country changes course. The administration said the officials were removed from U.S. blacklists because they no longer held positions in the sanctioned entities. But officials familiar with talks underway in Vienna said the Biden administration has been looking at how it could inject momentum into the negotiations. (Wall Street Journal)
Led by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Mike Rounds (R-SD), both members of the Armed Services Committee, 38 senators have voiced their support for $500 million in military aid for cooperative U.S.-Israel missile-defense programs. "Not only does this critical funding help Israel defend itself and save lives, but it also strengthens U.S. national security, aiding research and development," Gillibrand said. (Jewish Insider)
The Quebec government adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism on June 9, joining 40 sister democracies around the world and hundreds of local governments and institutions. "Anti-Semitism remains present in our society. The violence, threats and attacks suffered by the Quebec Jewish community have deplorably increased in recent weeks, both in our cities and on social networks," Anti-Racism Minister Benoit Charette told the National Assembly. "It is our duty to take all possible means to combat anti-Semitism." (The Suburban-Quebec, Canada)
The tech giant Hewlett-Packard has condemned the "unfortunate and untrue misinformation" being circulated by supporters of the Boycott Israel (BDS) movement over claims they are profiting from "Israel's oppression of Palestinians." The UK National Education Union (NEU) has reportedly moved to remove Hewitt-Packard products as part of the union's hostile position on Israel. The firm has long been targeted by the BDS campaign.
An NEU staff member said: "Who knows how much this anti-Israel obsession is costing members of the NEU, who have to fund this boycott nonsense.... Biggest joke of all is that some of the equipment bought as replacements still uses Israeli technology." (Jewish News-UK)
More than 800 University affiliates signed a Harvard Israel Initiative letter supporting "the right of the Jewish people to self-determination" and Israel's "right to self-defense" against rocket attacks by the Islamic militant group Hamas. The letter denounces the recent rise in anti-Semitic attacks across the U.S. which followed the conflict between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza in May. (Harvard Crimson)
The city of Miami will invest $1 million in Israel government bonds in a move approved unanimously by city commissioners on Thursday. Commissioner Joe Carollo said the investment will serve as a "small token of our support for Israel and our appreciation for the warm friendship and support that we have had from so many Israelis and their contribution to our community."
Carollo told Maor Elbaz-Starinsky, Israel's new consul general in Miami, "We want you to bring back to Israel a little bit of gratitude from the city of Miami." Elbaz-Starinsky said, "I really don't have enough words to express my gratitude.... Just three weeks ago I was sitting in a shelter with my five children."
Carollo responded, "We're very privileged and blessed that...we don't have to worry day-to-day that we're going to be attacked with missiles. The State of Israel recently went through something that we in America cannot even begin to imagine." (Miami Herald)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israel's Knesset on Sunday approved a new government formed by Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid in a 60-59 vote, with one abstention, ending Benjamin Netanyahu's record-breaking term as prime minister. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Naftali Bennett Sworn In as Israel's Prime Minister, Speaks with U.S. President Biden
MK Naftali Bennett was sworn in as Israel's 13th Prime Minister on Sunday; Yair Lapid was sworn in as alternate Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs.
After the ceremony, Prime Minister Bennett spoke by phone with U.S. President Biden. Bennett thanked Biden for his support for Israel during the recent operation in Gaza and noted that he considers him a great friend of the State of Israel. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Israel's new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, said Sunday: "The greatest threat to Israel, the Iranian nuclear project, is reaching a critical point. The Middle East is still yet to recover from the effects of the first nuclear deal, which emboldened Iran to the tune of billions of dollars, and with international legitimacy."
"Renewing the nuclear deal with Iran is a mistake that will once again lend legitimacy to one of the most discriminatory and violent regimes in the world. Israel will not allow Iran to be equipped with nuclear weapons. Israel is not party to the agreement, and will maintain full freedom to act." (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
Recently retired Mossad chief Yossi Cohen was interviewed by Israel's Channel 12 on Thursday. Discussing Iran's Natanz underground nuclear facility, where a blast in April tore apart one of its underground enrichment halls, the interviewer - journalist Ilana Dayan - asked Cohen where he'd take them if they could travel there. He said, "To the cellar. Because that is where the spinning centrifuges are located - those that used to spin. Nowadays, the cellar doesn't look like it used to."
Dayan then added, "The man who was responsible for these explosions, it becomes clear, made sure to supply to the Iranians the marble foundation on which the centrifuges are placed. As they install this foundation within the Natanz facility, they have no idea that it already includes an enormous amount of explosives."
They also talked about Israel's operation seizing archival documents from Iran's military nuclear program. Dayan said 20 agents, none Israelis, seized material from 32 safes, then scanned and transmitted a large portion of the documents. Cohen confirmed that the Mossad received most of the material before it was physically taken out of Iran.
Cohen defended the decision to go public with the operation. "It was important to us that the world will see this, but this thing should also resonate with the Iranian leadership, to tell them, 'Dear friends: One, you are vulnerable. Two, we see you. Three, the time of hiding and lies has ended.'" (AP-Washington Post)
See also Transcript: Ex-Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen on Retrieval of Iranian Nuclear Archive
Prior to the operation to retrieve the Iranian nuclear archive, an identical complex is built in a different country; that is where training for the operation takes place. "We understood the internal structure of the site, and the order of containers," Cohen remembers. "Only when we broke into the massive safes and we started getting the images and descriptions in Persian that we read online, we understood that we had what we wanted: we are looking at the Iranian nuclear military plan."
When asked if all the members of the force made it out safely, Cohen replies: "They are all well, they are all alive," but confirms some agents had to be rescued from Iran. (Times of Israel)
In a video interview published Friday, former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the highest-ranking Iranian intelligence official in charge of countering Israeli spies in Iran was himself an agent of Israel. Ahmadinejad attributed the success of Israel's intelligence operations in Iran to the high level of its infiltration in the Iranian intelligence and security agencies.
Referring to the theft of secret Iranian nuclear documents in 2018, he said, "Extremely important documents have been stolen and the country's security has been compromised....They gave several vanloads of documents to Israel....How did they manage to get several vans out of the country with all the checkpoints in this country?"
He also spoke of "documents at the Iranian Space Agency [that] were in a safe that belonged to the agency's chief. The agents pierced the roof, went in through the hole, opened the safe and took the documents." (Iran International-UK)
The fight for the Palestinian cause includes a political fight that often takes place internally between moderates and extremists, with the extremists seeking to perpetuate the conflict and the moderates seeking to end it. The extremists want all or nothing. They are seeking to defeat the enemy, not find a compromise. They don't care about the suffering caused by the conflict, but they do exploit that suffering to distract the public and ensure reason and common sense are lost.
To the extremist, the existence of continued conflict means they have not lost, while peace and especially compromise would mean they have been defeated. Losing would be humiliating for the extremists - and not being humiliated is more important to them than the many lives that are lost in the violence they advocate. The battle between moderates and extremists prevents Palestinians and Israelis from bridging their differences and achieving genuine peace.
The moderates are the majority, but they don't yell or scream the way the extremists do. This means there appears to be fewer of them. The moderates must speak out more loudly. If they fail, the minority of extremists will destroy everything. The extremists cannot be allowed to represent the Palestinian cause. As long as extremists exist as a viable force, there will never be a Palestinian state, Palestinian safety, or peace. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
The New Republic on May 24 branded Israel as a "settler colonial" state engaged in a "never-ending war against Palestinian health." But if that were true, wouldn't these crimes be reflected in the standard health indexes used worldwide to measure overall physical well-being?
In 1967, the year Israel took over the West Bank and Gaza, the average Palestinian could expect to live only 49 years, according to the UN. Today it is 75 years, higher than the global average and higher than in Iran, Pakistan, and many Arab countries including Egypt. Palestinian infant mortality in 1967 was 152-162 per 1,000 births. Today it is 15.6 per 1000, making Palestinian babies safer than those in many other countries.
When Jordan occupied the West Bank, just four out of 708 Palestinian towns and villages had modern water supply systems and running water. By 2004, 96% of the West Bank population enjoyed running water.
Given the extensive media coverage, one might assume that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is among the bloodiest disputes on earth. Yet of the 5 million lives lost in the last 70 years of wars in the Middle East and North Africa, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict encompasses less than 1% of the total. The death toll in Syria's civil war over the last 10 years has been ten times worse than the entire history of Israeli-Palestinian fighting.
The writer is communications director for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA.org). (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
The Baseless Charge that Israel Is an Apartheid State, Again - Dore Gold (Ynet News)
The writer, former director-general of the Israel Foreign Ministry and former ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.