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January 20, 2022
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
British terrorist Malik Faisal Akram was able to travel to the U.S. to lay siege to a synagogue despite his significant criminal convictions and known radical views. Akram was branded a "menace" for raving about the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. A senior MP with knowledge of the security services voiced surprise that his background had not been picked up. (Daily Mail-UK)
See also Synagogue Terrorist Was the "Neighbor from Hell" in UK - James Fielding
In 2016, Malik Faisal Akram was arrested after refusing to pay rent and preventing workmen from installing new gas and electricity meters. Residents of Blackburn have described career criminal Akram as the "neighbor from hell" who made their lives a misery with his anti-social and threatening behavior before he moved out. Police visited Akram's former home twice in the last two months looking for him.
A neighbor said: "On one occasion he'd parked his car across one of his neighbor's driveways, blocking them in. The lady went over and knocked on his door and asked him politely if he could move his car but he started to yell and swear at her. He refused to move the car and told her that she could not tell him what to do because she was a woman." (Daily Mail-UK)
See also Texas Synagogue Terrorist Told His Family in UK He Intended to Die (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
See also Texas Hostage Recounts His Experience - Jacob Magid
Jeffrey Cohen told the Times of Israel in an interview on Monday that Texas kidnapper Malik Faisal Akram "had bought into the extremely dangerous, anti-Semitic trope that Jews control everything, that we could call President Biden and have him release" al-Qaeda operative Aafia Siddiqui, who is serving an 86-year sentence at a military prison 15 miles away. "He told us that he chose the closest synagogue to the facility where [Siddiqui was] being held." Cohen expressed gratitude for having taken an active shooter course, which provided him with the "forethought" for how to conduct himself and helped him stay alive.
Akram let the hostages call their families in what they believed would be the final conversations with their loved ones. "I called my wife and children and left them each a very brief message where I basically said 'I'm at the synagogue. We have a gunman here who says he's got a bomb. This may not end well. I love you. Remember me,'" Cohen recalled, overcome by emotion. (Times of Israel)
Yemen's Houthi rebels used cruise and ballistic missiles, in addition to drones, in an attack on Abu Dhabi on Monday that killed three people and set off fires at a fuel depot and an international airport, Yousef Al-Otaiba, the Emirati ambassador to the U.S., said Wednesday.
Al-Otaiba said the UAE is pressing Washington to designate once again the Houthis as a terrorist organization. President Biden revoked the designation of the Houthis as a terrorist group in February.
See also Israel Offers UAE Intelligence, Security Aid after Houthi Attack (Jerusalem Post)
See also Houthi Drones in Yemen Can Reach Israel - Seth J. Frantzman (Jerusalem Post)
See also What Is Behind the Houthi Attacks in the UAE? - Abubakr Al-Shamahi (Al-Jazeera)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
European diplomats have a "Pavlovian instinct to attack Israel without knowing the facts," a senior Israel Foreign Ministry official said on Monday, following criticism of Israel's move to demolish an Arab-owned business illegally constructed on public property in Jerusalem. "The ambassadors that attacked Israel today were confused - instead of protecting the residents, they're protecting criminals."
The evacuation was authorized by the Jerusalem District Court. The Jerusalem Municipality plans to build an educational complex on the property for Arab residents of the capital and would include a school for special-needs children. The Salhia family built a nursery, two storage units, and two temporary homes on the site. The Israeli official lamented that Europe calls on Israel to help Arabs in eastern Jerusalem - like build schools - and then attacks Israel when it does so.
The Jerusalem Municipality noted: "Contrary to the family's claims, the buildings have not been on this territory for decades. Rather, they were built illegally in recent years. The family's illegal takeover of public property prevents hundreds of children with special needs in the area to get basic educational services....The claims that the territory will be expropriated in order to be transferred to Jewish residents is unfounded and baseless." (Jerusalem Post)
See also EU Tries to Twist International Law to Fight Eviction of Squatters in Jerusalem - Israel Kasnett
According to Avi Bell, a professor at Bar-Ilan University's Faculty of Law, "the European Union's accusation that Israel is committing war crimes in Sheikh Jarrah by moving forward with plans to build an Arabic-language special-needs school for...residents of the neighborhood shows that European officials harbor equal contempt for common sense, international law and the Jewish state. There is no international law that forbids Israel taking control of public lands to build a special-needs school" or that "gives Palestinian trespassers the right to block construction of a special-needs school."
The Minister of Internal Security, Omer Bar-Lev, a member of the Labor Party, also acknowledged on Monday that the law is on Israel's side. "The court ruled that this was an illegal invasion [by Arab squatters]. The area is intended for the establishment of classrooms and kindergartens for special education that are for the benefit of the neighborhood's Arab children. It is impossible...both to demand that the municipality act for the welfare of the Arab residents and also to oppose the construction of educational institutions for their welfare."
Moreover, the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood had been confiscated by Jordan in its war with Israel in 1948 and it ethnically cleansed its Jewish residents from the very homes the Arab illegal squatters now claim as their own. (JNS)
See also How the Media and Diplomats Got the Sheikh Jarrah Controversy Completely Wrong - Akiva Van Koningsveld (HonestReporting)
The world has been silent in the face of Palestinian "terror attacks with rocks" against Israelis, Israel's Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan told the Security Council on Wednesday as he held up a large rock that looked like a brick. "Rocks like this are thrown at Israelis in their cars and on buses. They are thrown at Israeli men and women, at Israeli babies and children - every single day. But the world says nothing."
"Would you consider it a terror attack if a rock like this was thrown at your car while driving with your children? Would you at the very least condemn these brutal terror attacks carried out against Israeli civilians by Palestinians?" There were 200 violent Palestinian attacks against Israelis just in the last month, including 143 incidents of rock throwing and 20 grenades and firebombs. In 2021, Israelis suffered 1,775 rock attacks by Palestinians. "When Palestinians attack Israelis, the Palestinian Authority celebrates, congratulates, and rewards," Erdan said. (Jerusalem Post)
The Oslo Accords allotted Area C of the West Bank to be under full Israeli military and civilian control. The European Union has spent $500 million over the last seven years to support a Palestinian Authority plan to control Area C, the Israel Intelligence Ministry reported Tuesday. The EU has spent 170 million euros over the past decade on master plans for Palestinian development. Another 20 million euros is earmarked for Palestinian legal battles against Israeli communities and the security barrier.
The ministry noted EU support for illegal building and a plan to register Palestinian property in Area C. There are 600 PA employees in 100 branches working on the land registration project, based on Jordanian law. Representatives from the Civil Administration and the Justice Ministry said the PA land registration in Area C lacked legal status. (Jerusalem Post)
A Palestinian "assailant got out of a car, armed with a knife, and tried to stab an IDF soldier" at a bus stop in Gush Etzion in the West Bank on Monday. The soldier opened fire and killed the man, identified by the Palestinian Authority as Faleh Mousa Shakir Jaradat, from Sa'ir near Hebron. The driver of the car that transported the assailant to the scene turned himself in to Israeli security forces. (Times of Israel)
Israel conducted a successful test of its Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile system on Tuesday outside the Earth's atmosphere. The trial tested a number of "breakthrough" capabilities which can be used immediately by the Israeli Air Force, the Defense Ministry's Missile Defense Organization head Moshe Patel said Tuesday.
Boaz Levy, president of Israel Aerospace Industries, which manufactures the Arrow 3, said the breakthroughs involved the ways in which the system detects incoming threats and calculates launch trajectories for interceptors. The Arrow system's radar detected the target, the fire management system plotted the interception, "two Arrow 3 interceptors were fired at the target, and they completed their mission successfully," the Defense Ministry said. (Times of Israel)
Israel and Germany's ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems have signed an agreement for three advanced submarines, the Israel Defense Ministry announced Thursday. The price of the three Dakar-class diesel-electric submarines will be 3 billion euros. The German government will fund 600 million euros in accordance with an agreement signed in 2017. The first submarine will be delivered within 9 years.
The two countries also signed an industrial strategic cooperation agreement that amounts to 850 million euros which includes investment in Israeli industries such as defense companies. According to foreign reports, these submarines provide Israel with nuclear second-strike capabilities, carrying long-range cruise missiles with nuclear warheads. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
Critics argue that Iran's nuclear expansion occurred because the U.S. withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement. The U.S. withdrew from the agreement in May 2018. While Tehran took preliminary steps to expand its nuclear program in May 2019, the most significant steps took place after the U.S. presidential election in November 2020. These include enriching uranium first to 20% purity and then to 60% (a stone's throw from weapons-grade), the production of uranium metal for nuclear warheads, the operation of more advanced centrifuges, and massively increasing stockpiles of enriched uranium.
These nuclear moves took place after it was clear to Iran that the U.S. was abandoning its "maximum pressure" campaign by easing sanctions enforcement and leaving military options off the table, thereby strengthening Iran's economy and negotiating position.
Mark Dubowitz is chief executive of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Matthew Kroenig is a professor of government at Georgetown University and a former senior policy adviser at the Pentagon (2017-21). (Wall Street Journal)
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told the Davos World Economic Forum on Tuesday: "Iran is an octopus of terror and instability. Their head is in Tehran and they send their arms all across the Middle East and get involved in Lebanon with Hizbullah, in Iraq, in Syria, in Yemen with the Houthis."
"The last thing you want to do with this sort of octopus is pour tens of billions of dollars into this apparatus. Because what will you get? You'll get terror on steroids. Right? Everything we've seen will be doubled and tripled because they'll be much stronger." (Prime Minister's Office)
Former Iranian national soccer team captain Mehdi Mahdavikia has been condemned by Iranian regime news outlets for wearing a jersey at an international exhibition soccer match arranged by FIFA, the international soccer federation, in Qatar that featured the flags of all 211 FIFA members, including Israel. The Israeli flag, like all the other flags, was so tiny it was almost unrecognizable.
However, there was public support for Mahdavikia inside Iran, including from the captain of Iran's national team, other top players, and the Iranian soccer federation. (Middle East Institute)
See also Iran Sentences Boxer to Death for Protesting Corruption - Benjamin Weinthal
The Iranian regime has sentenced boxing champion Mohammad Javad Vafaei, 26, to death for protesting the state's economic corruption in November 2019. (Jerusalem Post)
As the Israeli-Palestinian conflict drags on, it has become increasingly clear to me that the Palestinian leadership deserves much of the blame for the lack of progress. In Israel, Dr. King would have been proud to see the progress Israel has made toward making his dream of a free, equitable society a reality in the Middle East. Israelis - be they Jews or Arabs - can practice their religion freely, serve in government, and raise their children without fear of retribution. Every day, thousands of Palestinians are allowed to cross the border into Israel to work side by side with Israelis.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian leadership has rejected this vision for decades, to the detriment of our people. Rather than use his position to improve life for ordinary Palestinians, Mahmoud Abbas has spent his nearly two decades in office enriching his cronies. He has blocked fair elections, hindered peace with Israel, and done nothing to create jobs and opportunity in the West Bank. Things are even worse in Gaza, where a terrorist group runs the show.
When I started the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group in 1996, I sought to follow Dr. King's example. In his "Letter to an Anti-Zionist Friend," Dr. King referred to Israel as "one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy." If Palestinian leaders truly seek to make life better for our people, they should follow the example of Dr. King and build a society rooted in diversity, equality, freedom, and opportunity - as Israel has done.
The writer is a Jerusalem-based Palestinian political analyst and human rights pioneer. (Newsweek)
Writing in the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam on Dec. 8, 2021, Ashraf Al-'Ajrami, former PA minister of prisoners' affairs, warned that the West Bank is in complete chaos, manifested in violent clan and tribal conflicts that are threatening public security. This situation results from the failure of all the Palestinian institutions which have not managed to build a national civil infrastructure divorced from clan and tribal loyalties.
He added that the PA is losing its ability to govern because the public relies more and more on local and tribal frameworks to protect it and handle its affairs. He stated that the discourse of resistance, which glorifies weapons, only intensifies the phenomenon of citizens taking the law into their own hands and using their weapons to settle personal and local scores. (MEMRI)
The Palestinian Authority committed 2,578 violations against Palestinians in the West Bank during 2021, the Committee of Families of Political Detainees announced on Friday. The violations included oppression of people, raids of mosques, dispersing protests in public squares, cancelling elections, and using clubs to beat anti-corruption protesters.
592 Palestinian detainees experienced "the worst, psychological, verbal and physical torture inside the PA prisons." This pushed 43 to go on hunger strikes in protest against their detention conditions. (Middle East Monitor-UK)
The IDF has issued a demolition order for the home of Hamas activist Fadi Abu Shkhaydam, who in November murdered Eliyahu Kay and injured four others in Jerusalem's Old City. The Biden administration disagrees with Israel's policy of house demolitions, which seemingly involves a punitive act against those not accused of any wrongdoing who share a common dwelling with a terrorist. The Israeli government counters that the requirements of effective counterterrorism necessitate the selective use of procedures that may fall outside conventional judicial practice.
The policy preference must always be the prevention of terrorism in the first place. A lengthy prison term is unlikely to be a practical deterrent for many terrorists. If the terrorist has no qualms whatsoever about murdering innocent civilians, they will at least be forced to consider the possible ramifications of their actions upon their family. Israel's policy of demolishing the homes of terrorists serves to even out the playing field and to discourage and de-incentivize terror.
Of course, no house can be destroyed without giving its inhabitants adequate opportunity to seek a reprieve from Israel's High Court of Justice. The internationally respected court assesses each demolition on a case-by-case basis. Moreover, the Israel Security Agency, the key agency dealing with Palestinian terrorism, attests to the policy being a proven deterrent to potential terrorists as well as having encouraged numerous family members to pro-actively take steps that prevented attacks. It would be folly to remove from the counterterrorism toolbox a means that, according to security professionals, saves lives.
The writer, formerly an adviser to the prime minister, is a senior visiting fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies. (Jerusalem Post)
The Texas hostage-taker, Malik Faisal Akram, was one of many violent jihadists and Islamist organizations who have been demanding the release of "sister" Aafia Siddiqui. Jihadist/Islamist groups, including al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIS, have honored Siddiqui. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has been campaigning for her release for a long time.
Siddiqui revealed herself to be an inflamed Jew hater. She reportedly wrote to President Obama that the "cruel, ungrateful back-stabbing of the Jews...caused them to be mercilessly expelled from wherever they gain strength. This is why 'holocausts' keep happening to them repeatedly!"
The writer is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies at the City University of New York. (Investigative Project on Terrorism)
In December, Israel and Jordan signed an agreement to facilitate an increase in Jordanian exports to the West Bank from $150 million to $700 million a year. In July, Israel agreed to increase its annual supply of water to its eastern neighbor by 50 million cubic meters, doubling the previous figure. In November, the UAE brokered a deal in which Jordan produces solar energy for the Israeli market, and Israel reciprocates by desalinating Mediterranean water for supply to Jordan.
Hussain Abdul-Hussain is a research fellow and Enia Krivine is the senior director of the Israel Program and National Security Network at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (The Hill)
The hostage-taking at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, on Saturday came to a safe conclusion. A friend told me that whenever she walks into a synagogue she makes a mental check of the nearest exit and figures out where the safest place to hide is. Under a pew? In a storage closet? Behind the ark, which holds the sacred Torah scrolls? She was shocked when I said I don't do that. Yet.
For decades, when I got directions to synagogues in countries outside my own, I didn't have to know the precise address. I was told I should just look for the police officers with the submachine guns. That's where the synagogue would be. Now American Jews like myself experience it at home - in our own synagogues. We look across the street at the big church and can't help but notice that there are no guards there.
Jews are contemplating going underground. We are shaken. We are not OK. But we are resilient because we cannot afford not to be. Without that resilience, we would have disappeared centuries ago. We refuse to go away. But we are exhausted. This week we wonder if the eyes of our non-Jewish friends and neighbors, particularly the ones who didn't call to see if we were OK, have been opened just a bit. We are standing tall and we are standing straight. But we are checking for the exits.
The writer, professor of modern Jewish history and Holocaust studies at Emory University, has been nominated to be the State Department special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism. (New York Times)
Most people do not realize that Jews make up just 2% of the U.S. population and 0.2% of the world's population. This means simply finding them takes a lot of effort. But every year in Western countries, including America, Jews are the No. 1 target of anti-religious hate crimes. The congregants at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, were attacked in the first place because Jews played a sinister symbolic role in the imagination of Malik Faisal Akram, who traversed an ocean from the UK to America to accomplish his task.
The notion that such a minuscule minority secretly controls the world is comical, which may be why so many responsible people still do not take the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory seriously. The FBI made an official statement declaring that the actions of the assailant were "not specifically related to the Jewish community." But the gunman did not travel thousands of miles to terrorize some Mormons. He sought out a synagogue and took it hostage, believing that Jews alone could resolve his grievances. That's targeting Jews.
Anti-Semitism is not merely a social prejudice; it is a conspiracy theory about how the world operates. Thanks to centuries of material blaming the world's ills on the world's Jews, conspiracy theorists inevitably discover that the invisible hand of their oppressor belongs to an invisible Jew. One attack on one synagogue is not just a hate-crime statistic. It is also a warning. We must find a way to confront the conspiratorial currents that threaten to overtake our society. (Atlantic)
From Morocco to the Gulf, a surprising number of Arab countries are welcoming back Jews and embracing their Jewish heritage. The failures and excesses of Arab nationalism and Islamism have forced many countries to rethink chauvinist dogmas.
"The Arab world has too many problems to still care about Palestine," says Kamal Alam, an expert on Syria. "Instead, they look at Israel and Jews as models for running a successful country that feeds itself without oil."
Most Arabs have no memory of the big Arab-Israeli wars of last century. Milder opinions have been encouraged by leaders who see the Jewish state as a potential trade partner and ally against Iran.
Saudi Arabia has not formally made peace with Israel, but the kingdom - once one of the world's most closed and intolerant countries - now welcomes Jews, even Israelis (travelling on foreign passports). Hebrew can be heard at fairs and festivals. An Israeli mentalist performed at a recent royal party. Anti-Jewish calumnies have been culled from Saudi textbooks. Muhammad bin Salman, the crown prince and de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, has defied the clerics by sponsoring archaeological digs of Jewish sites in the hopes of one day attracting Jewish sightseers.
In Egypt the government of Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi is renovating Jewish cemeteries and what was once the biggest synagogue in the Middle East. The regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria is restoring synagogues and has reached out to the many Syrian Jews in New York, hosting a delegation of them in Damascus. (Economist-UK)
Ohad Cohen, director of the Foreign Trade Administration at Israel's Economy Ministry, discussed the rise in Israeli exports with JNS, noting that "The average growth of Israeli exports in the last decade was about 5-6%." Driving export growth are software and R&D. "If you look back to 2015, software exports from Israel were about 12% of the overall exports. Six years later, in 2021, it's 24%."
"There are so many high-tech companies that do not produce products, but rather technologies - applications, web services, etc. - and that's dominating Israeli exports today." Cohen also noted that Israeli industry is not dependent on manufacturing and so didn't suffer from the supply-chain problems that have plagued other countries.
Arie Reich, vice rector at Bar-Ilan University and an expert on international trade law, said Covid-19 likely gave a boost to Israel's service exports, noting that the pandemic led to a rise in e-commerce, as well as financial technology (fintech). "All that financial activity attracts hackers, which in turn creates a greater demand for information security," in which many Israeli companies specialize. (JNS)
SS General Hans Kammler, one of Nazi Germany's top Holocaust perpetrators, traded rocket-making secrets for freedom after the war. Kammler oversaw construction of the concentration camp system, including the killing facilities at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where 1 million Jews were murdered. "The Holocaust would not have been as 'efficient' were it not for Kammler," said Dean Reuter, author of The Hidden Nazi: The Untold Story of America's Deal with the Devil, recently published in paperback. "He was integral to the evolution of mass murder."
Reuter's book demonstrates that Kammler was "delivered" to U.S. authorities by rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, who feared Kammler's secrets - and colleagues - would fall into Russian hands. "Kammler and the Americans created the deal wherein he gave them the rocket team and they erased his past," Reuter told the Times of Israel. "As part of that deal, we covered up his death and the world accepted that he died."
Kammler partnered with SS head Heinrich Himmler on the construction of "secret weapons," especially the V-2 rocket. Supersonic in speed, the rockets were churned out in massive quantities and could travel up to 300 miles, landing in London with terrifying explosions. Fortunately, Germany's V-2 rockets were not ready for use until October 1944, four months after the D-Day invasion.
Beginning in 1945, 5,000 German scientists and technicians were brought to the U.S., including "severely tainted men who were involved in the Holocaust and the use of slave labor," said Reuter. German scientists helped the U.S. build intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and outpace Russia to land on the moon. (Times of Israel)
Turn on the Light, Extinguish the Fire: Israel's New Way of War - Brig.-Gen. Eran Ortal (War on the Rocks)
The writer commands the Dado Center for Interdisciplinary Military Studies, a department of the Israel Defense Forces.