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May 6, 2021
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
U.S. President Joe Biden and Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen met on April 30 for an hour at the White House. Cohen's English is flawless and he projects personal charm and charisma. Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem said Biden greeted Cohen with an outpouring of Zionist sentiment. The two go way back to the time Biden served as vice president and Cohen as Israel's national security adviser.
According to both the Jerusalem diplomatic sources and U.S. officials, Cohen presented Biden with Israel's perception of the Iran threat and provided him with a summary of Israeli intelligence on Iran. Cohen enumerated the 2015 agreement's disregard for Iran's medium- and long-range ballistic missile program, Iran's sponsorship of terrorism, and its destabilization of regional security.
Cohen said the original deal is based on false assumptions that Israel has exposed, especially in the nuclear archives Israel spirited out of Iran in 2018. Cohen suggested that the president delve into the suspicious sites (such as the warehouse in the Tehran district of Turquzabad) that have yet to be explored. Cohen also flagged the scientists operating under Iran's Defense Ministry to develop military nuclear capabilities. It was said that the president listened attentively and complimented the Mossad on its achievements. (Al-Monitor)
Iran's Revolutionary Guards released a chilling propaganda video which depicts the U.S. Capitol being blown up by a missile and Iranian soldiers "liberating" Jerusalem. The video was broadcast on Iranian state-run television on Sunday before a speech by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. (Daily Mail-UK)
Iran made multiple attempts in 2020 to obtain technology for its weapons of mass destruction program and has not stopped its drive to develop atomic weapons, intelligence agencies from the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany recently reported. "Multiple acquisition attempts have been frustrated by the intervention of the services," the Netherlands' General Intelligence and Security Service reported in April.
The Swedish Security Service revealed in its intelligence report for 2020 that "Iran also conducts industrial espionage, which is mainly targeted against Swedish hi-tech industry and Swedish products, which can be used in nuclear weapons programs." (Fox News)
Germany dismissed on Monday a recent Human Rights Watch report that Israel's actions with the Palestinians constitute apartheid. German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Monday: "We don't think that is a correct assessment." (Anadolu-Turkey)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Yehuda Guetta, 19, who was critically wounded in a drive-by shooting in the West Bank on Sunday, died on Wednesday. The Israel Security Agency arrested Muntasir Shalabi, 44, from Turmus Aya. (Ynet News)
See also Palestinians Identify West Bank Shooter as U.S. Citizen - Jack Khoury (Ha'aretz)
Israel will send medical aid to India this week on a series of flights in light of the severe coronavirus crisis in the country, including thousands of group and individual oxygen generators, respirators, medications, and additional medical equipment. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Israel's Baruch Padeh Medical Center (Poriya) in Tiberias has sent a delegation of doctors to Botswana to assist the country in its fight against Covid-19. (Jerusalem Post)
Israel will open its borders to vaccinated or recovered tourists coming in groups from 14 countries starting on May 23, including the U.S., UK, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, Iceland, Denmark, Ireland, Portugal, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong. Tourists will be required to take a PCR test before boarding, as well as a PCR test and a serological test upon arrival. In addition, on Monday Israel banned travel to seven high-risk countries including India, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico and Turkey. (Times of Israel)
The NGO B'Tselem on Thursday tweeted a dramatic photo labeled: "settlers torched Palestinian fields in Burin." The IDF told the Jerusalem Post it had evidence that Palestinians had ignited the fields. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif's apology on Sunday confirms the accuracy of a leaked recording of his remarks for an oral history project. Zarif's confessions show why President Biden should abandon his dream of returning to the 2015 nuclear deal.
In Iran, it is not the negotiators who matter, nor what they say. It's increasingly the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), which control the nuclear-weapons and ballistic-missile programs, command conventional military activities externally, and support terrorists worldwide. This means that Iran's diplomatic "commitments" on nuclear issues are inherently unbelievable and untrustworthy.
With Tehran, we do not face a government where "trust, but verify" makes sense. We have no basis for "trust" in the first place, let alone confidence that verification measures can detect active Iranian violation and concealment.
The writer served as U.S. national security adviser. (Washington Post)
Rushing back into the 2015 Iran nuclear deal would lead to chaos and instability in the Middle East. President Biden has inherited a relatively peaceful Middle East marked by historic peace agreements between several Arab countries and Israel after decades. Yet returning the U.S. to a JCPOA 2.0 could reverse positive momentum by destabilizing the peaceful balance of power Biden inherited.
Before the U.S. reimposed sanctions in 2018, Iran's central bank controlled more than $120 billion in foreign exchange reserves. After only two years of the maximum pressure campaign, Iran's reserves were down to $4 billion, while depriving the regime of $70 billion in oil revenues. The regime was forced to cut payments to its regional terror proxies.
The moment Biden ends sanctions, the regime could receive a payday of $90 billion. Meanwhile, reinvigorated oil export would add $50 billion per year to the regime's coffers. Those billions would go a long way for the leading state sponsor of terrorism.
Lindsey O. Graham is a U.S. senator from South Carolina. Morgan D. Ortagus was the spokesperson for the U.S. State Department from 2019 to 2021. (Foreign Policy)
The major threat to U.S. interests in the Middle East is Iran's quest for regional superpower status based on its nuclear program and support for militias and terrorists. America needs oil to flow freely to world markets, the terror threat to stay contained, Israel to remain safe, and for no single power to be able to dominate the Middle East. Iran's drive for regional primacy threatens all of these.
Since 2013, when the talks between the Obama administration and Iran became public, the question of how to manage Tehran's regional and nuclear ambitions has been the most contentious foreign policy issue in U.S. politics. Critics of the Obama approach were right that a weak stance toward Iran creates incentives for aggressive policy in Tehran while driving Israel and its Arab allies toward desperate measures. And Trump critics are right that too rigid an American posture could make the option of an attempted nuclear breakout irresistible to Iran.
Given President Biden's determination to return to some form of the JCPOA, guardedly pursuing negotiations with Tehran while mending fences with allies and strengthening the Arab-Israeli coalition is the most hopeful feasible course. Washington is unlikely to transform Iran into a peaceful and friendly state. Yet focused and determined American policy - aligned with key local allies - can and will frustrate Iranian attempts to overturn the current regional order.
The writer, a fellow in strategy and statesmanship at Hudson Institute, is Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College. (Wall Street Journal)
Significant parts of Iran's economy are controlled by the Office of the Supreme Leader, led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The Supreme Leader and the IRGC will be the first beneficiaries of any extra revenues from sanctions relief. They will most likely use the additional cash to strengthen their military apparatuses to export their revolutionary ideals to other countries, including anti-Americanism.
The billions of dollars that Iran will gain from sanctions relief will be directed towards sponsoring terrorism, funding and arming militia and terror groups across the Middle East, harming U.S. national and security interests, undermining U.S. allies, advancing the regime's clandestine nuclear weapons program, and suppressing the Iranian people. Is this what the Biden Administration really wants as its legacy?
The writer is president of the International American Council on the Middle East. (Gatestone Institute)
President Biden's nascent bid to revive the Iran nuclear deal for a "longer, stronger" diplomatic agreement is already facing deep skepticism and potential hurdles in Congress - including from the president's own party. Fellow Democrats are warning of an increasingly rocky path back to full compliance with the terms of the 2015 deal, particularly after recently leaked audio revealed Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, lamenting the influence of the country's Revolutionary Guard Corps in his diplomatic efforts with the West. The Iranian minister's comments signaled that moderate forces in Iran are taking a back seat to more extremist hard-liners.
Reentering the JCPOA would almost certainly require the Biden administration to lift some Trump-era sanctions - which could be subject to congressional approval, including from Democratic hawks. "If we get reciprocity on the things we care about from the Iranians, there will have to be sanctions relief. But the real question is, what are you giving sanctions relief for?" said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), who opposed the 2015 agreement with Iran. (Politico)
As efforts continue in Vienna to bring the U.S. back into the nuclear deal with Iran, Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, former Director General of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs and a senior fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, told France 24 on Sunday:
"The return of the 2015 agreement means paving a safe path for Iran to achieve the ability to produce nuclear weapons in large quantities - a large arsenal of nuclear weapons - within 10 years. Israel is very worried about this and wants to be very clear that Israel is not bound by this deal and that it will do everything it can to prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons. And I've also heard the Americans say that they understand this. That it is important."
Israel says the deal needs to be vastly improved before it can support it. "The powers have to force Iran to dismantle all of their installations intended for solely military purposes (though in my opinion, all of their nuclear facilities are military), like the enrichment facility in Fordow," Kuperwasser said. (France 24)
Since 2007, Gaza has been controlled by the Islamists of Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel or renounce violence, while in the West Bank, the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has repeatedly turned aside peace initiatives. Abbas opposes violence and has cooperated with Israel to keep the West Bank mostly peaceful. Otherwise, his rule has been a disaster. Elected to a four-year term as president in 2005, he has remained in office and ruled by decree for the past decade, presiding over an increasingly corrupt and unpopular regime.
In January, he called for elections for the Palestinian legislature and presidency, but indefinitely postponed the elections last Thursday as polls showed he could lose the presidency. Neighboring Arab states and the U.S. were quietly relieved; none wished to risk a Hamas takeover of the West Bank. Yet Abbas' retreat will likely leave him weaker and less popular than ever - and the Palestinians still stuck with a failed political system. (Washington Post)
Successive Israeli governments have been willing to make reasonable compromises for peace. The actual problem is the ideological inflexibility of the Palestinians and the corruption of their leaders. Those of Hamas are notoriously extremist. This is why progress toward peace requires empowerment of a new Palestinian leadership.
The world incentivizes Palestinian leaders to perpetuate the conflict with Israel. Because they are widely celebrated as embodying an important, as-yet-unfulfilled national cause, those leaders are granted extraordinary diplomatic attention and generous financial aid, much of which they divert improperly for the huge houses they have built for themselves in Ramallah and Gaza. Were they to settle the conflict, reducing themselves to mere functionaries in a state in poor condition, they would lose much international solicitude and money.
Israel's new friends in the Arab world have an interest in changing the economic and political landscape of Palestinian politics. They may be able to empower Palestinians who are not enmeshed in the perverse incentive system that requires perpetuation of the conflict against Israel. Therein lies the best hope for progress toward peace. If the Biden team has its eye on the prize, it will direct its energies not at recreating the old "peace process" but at working with Arab states to encourage the rise of new Palestinian leaders.
The writer, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute, served as U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy (2001-2005). (Ezri Center for Iran & Gulf States Research-University of Haifa)
There is nothing that boosts Palestinian leaders' popularity like their leading terror campaigns against Israel. This is why suddenly, after months of relative quiet, Jerusalem Arabs and Palestinians throughout Judea and Samaria started attacking Israeli citizens and soldiers.
Official PA TV suddenly raised its incitement to violence to levels not seen in more than a year, starting on "The Tune of the Homeland," a quiz show broadcasting highly violent, pro-terror songs during the 4:00-5:00 p.m. time slot for children's programming. From March 13 to March 17, the song "My Machine Gun is in My Hand" was broadcast at least 10 times: "I want to continue marching; my machine gun and my bullets are the path to salvation."
As Ramadan approached, from April 2 to April 10 the show broadcast, on at least 20 occasions, a clip in which Palestinians declared, "I fired my shots, I threw my bomb, I detonated, detonated, detonated my [explosive suicide] belts." Primed by this PA incitement, soon after Ramadan started, Palestinian youth and Jerusalem Arabs started indiscriminately attacking Jews.
The official Fatah Facebook page declared on April 24: "Millions of Martyrs are marching to Jerusalem; with spirit, with blood, we will redeem you Al-Aqsa Mosque....A blessing for the Molotov cocktail."
Itamar Marcus is founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch, where Lt.-Col. (res.) Adv. Maurice Hirsch is head of legal strategies. (JNS-Israel Hayom)
Former CIA director John Brennan, writing in the New York Times on April 27, blamed the Israeli government for the sorry status of the two-state solution. Yet Brennan failed to mention that PA President Mahmoud Abbas chose to sit out U.S.-sponsored peace talks in 2020, when the Trump administration promised an eventual Palestinian state as well as $50 billion in immediate international investment. The "moderate" Abbas has similarly rejected every offer made by Israel or any third party for the past 15 years.
Most Palestinians simply want to lead dignified lives, enriching and enjoying their families and communities. The fact that many can't, however, is not the fault of Jerusalem or Washington. With the Abraham Accords, a coalition of prominent Arab states has publicly and unreservedly given up on the rejectionism that still drives the sclerotic ruling cadre in Ramallah, and embraced Israel's dynamic economy, society, and military as models and partners. (Tablet)
I find it particularly distressing to see self-proclaimed human rights activists demonizing the world's most frequently threatened Jewish community. Human Rights Watch has just published a report, "A Threshold Crossed," declaring that Israel is committing "crimes of apartheid," which it calls "crimes against humanity" which "should trigger action."
Apartheid regimes are illegitimate. Illegitimate regimes should be abolished. HRW is therefore providing justification for those whose goal is the abolition of the world's only Jewish-majority state, the refuge for Jews persecuted in or expelled from Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere.
The 20% of Israeli citizens who identify as Palestinians or Israeli Arabs vote, run for office, hold seats in the Israeli parliament, serve as judges including on Israel's Supreme Court, work as doctors in (not segregated) hospitals, attend (not segregated) universities, eat in (not segregated) restaurants, and relax on (not segregated) beaches. The same is true for Israeli Druze, Christians, Bedouins, Circassians, and other minorities about which HRW appears ignorant. To call that apartheid requires twisting the meaning of the word beyond recognition.
In no other countries of the broader Middle East do ethnic and religious minorities enjoy similar rights and freedoms. This means HRW has chosen to apply a separate and unequal standard to Israel. That alone constitutes anti-Semitism.
What's more, states throughout the broader Middle East proudly proclaim themselves Arab and/or Muslim. It is only Jewish identity and self-determination that HRW deems a "crime against humanity." It is HRW, not Israel, that has crossed a threshold.
The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Washington Times)
See also Fact-Checking the Human Rights Watch Report (Kohelet Policy Forum)
In San Remo, Italy, on April 25, 1920, a resolution on the emergence of a national home for the Jewish People in Palestine was approved by the prime ministers of Britain, France, Italy, and Japan. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, states were born through great international conferences. The San Remo Resolution was a formal international treaty that was legally binding. Israel is the only state whose legal foundation was rooted in acts of the League of Nations and the United Nations.
Why do French people have a right to France, but the Jewish people have no right to a state of their own? Double standards are one of the indicators that anti-Semitism is present. And the apartheid charge by Human Rights Watch is yet another form of anti-Semitism that ignores the reality of modern Israel.
Amb. Dore Gold, President of the Jerusalem Center, was interviewed by Professor Ugo Volli of Turin University in Shalom Magazine, published in Italy on April 29, 2021. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
The recent formal recognition by President Biden of the genocide of one-and-a-half million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks in 1915-1923 corrects a century-old historic anomaly by acknowledging a factual situation that, due to political pressure from Turkey, had been deliberately ignored or overlooked over the years.
By the same moral and historical logic that brought the U.S. to finally recognize the Armenian genocide, one might expect similar acknowledgment of the officially-stated genocidal intentions voiced by senior Iranian politicians and military commanders against Israel. The 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide determined that incitement to genocide is a crime under international law.
There cannot exist a double standard that, on the one hand, acknowledges and condemns past occurrences of genocide, while, on the other hand, overlooks, ignores, downgrades and sidelines genuine, ongoing threats by the Iranian leadership to destroy the State of Israel.
The writer, former legal counsel to Israel's foreign ministry and former ambassador to Canada, heads the international law program at the Jerusalem Center. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Anti-Semitism is a very serious allegation. An article on the Jerusalem Post website charged Fox News commentator Sean Hannity with using what it described as "an anti-Semitic trope" in a tweet he wrote.
In an era in which Israel is under assault in international bodies, attacking Hannity is not only untrue, it is an act which undermines one of Israel's greatest allies on television. Having spent a number of days with Hannity showing him the basis of our nation's connection with Jerusalem, I saw his motivation. The man is determined to get to the root of historical truth. Sean Hannity is worthy of our praise and certainly not our condemnation.
The writer is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Jerusalem Post)
Several leading American-Jewish organizations have begun to fight back against efforts to incorporate new definitions in the U.S. government's fight against anti-Semitism. Rabbi Andrew Baker, the American Jewish Committee's director of international Jewish affairs, told Ha'aretz that the current IHRA working definition has proven to be a useful and effective tool for identifying anti-Semitism. Baker said the new "Jerusalem Declaration on Anti-Semitism" largely serves to shield any anti-Zionist expression from being labeled as anti-Semitic. (Ha'aretz)
A new documentary, "Truus' Children," tells the story of Dutch-born Truus Wijsmuller, who helped rescue more than 10,000 Jewish children from the Nazis during the Second World War. 23 of the children she rescued help tell her story. "Truus never slept. She kept travelling everywhere to pick children up from Germany, Poland and the rest of Europe and to bring them back to the Netherlands, before transporting them to England or Palestine," said film-maker Pamela Sturhoofd. (Jewish News-UK)
Why Iran Poses Such a Serious Threat - Jonathan A. Greenblatt (Times of Israel)
The writer, who served as Special Assistant to President Obama, is CEO and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League.