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May 30, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Forces Catch Palestinian Wearing Explosive Belt - Lazar Berman (Times of Israel)
    Border Police forces prevented an attack at Tapuah Junction in the northern West Bank Friday morning, after soldiers noticed a Palestinian man wearing a heavy coat despite the heat.
    The policemen called on the man to stop, at which point he simply lay down in the road.
    Eventually, the suspect removed his coat, revealing an explosive belt.
    IDF sources estimate the man was on his way to an attack.

Arab Attacks on Jews in Jerusalem's Old City on Rise - Daniel K. Eisenbud (Jerusalem Post)
    Nationalistically-motivated crimes against Israelis in Jerusalem's Old City have markedly increased over the past several months.
    There were 157 violent incidents in March, 150 in February, 120 in January, and 140 in December.

Israel Solves Water Woes with Desalination - Josef Federman (AP-ABC News)
    Israel is experiencing its driest winter on record, but thanks in large part to an aggressive desalination program, this perennially parched land has been transformed into perhaps the most well-hydrated country in the region.
    "We have all the water we need, even in the year which was the worst year ever regarding precipitation," said Avraham Tenne, head of the desalination division of Israel's Water Authority. "This is a huge revolution."
    Since 2005, Israel has opened four desalination plants, with a fifth set to go online later this year.
    But reliance on this technology also carries risks, as a key element of the country's infrastructure is vulnerable to attack.
    Missile strikes or other threats could potentially knock out large portions of the country's water supply.

Israeli Arabs Like Israel; Where's the Coverage? (CAMERA)
    According to "The Index of Arab-Jewish Relations in Israel," a study by Professor Sammy Smooha of the University of Haifa, 63.5% of Israeli Arabs consider Israel to be a good place to live in 2013, up from 58.5% in 2012.
    The percentage of Israeli Arabs who accepted Israel's right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state rose to 52.8% from 47.4% the year before. That is a majority.
    Further, the number of Israeli-Arabs who accept their identity as such without identifying as Palestinians increased from 32.5% in 2012 to 42.5% in 2013.

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Saudi Publishing House Under Fire for Translating Israeli Book - Roi Kais (Ynet News)
    The Saudi-owned Madarak publishing house based in Dubai sparked an online campaign that harshly critiqued its "act of normalization," after publishing an Arabic translation of an Israeli researcher's book.
    Saudi Arabia and the New Strategic Landscape by Prof. Joshua Teitelbaum, published in English in 2010, deals with relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, focusing on issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    The London-based Asharq Al-Awsat backed the publishing house, claiming that the Arabic translation of the book promoted mutual understanding.
    It further claimed that books by Israeli authors had been published in the past and distributed in Arab countries, and published an image with covers of books by Israeli authors that were translated to Arabic.

Israeli Businesses in Massachusetts Provided 6,600 Jobs - Josef Federman (AP)
    Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is leading a trade mission to Israel of 120 Massachusetts business leaders this week.
    According to the New England Israel Business Council, more than 200 Israeli-founded businesses based in Massachusetts booked $6 billion in revenue in 2012 and provided 6,600 jobs.

Israeli Businessman Honored for Creating Hundreds of Jobs in Britain - Itamar Eichner (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 27May2014)
    Britain's Queen Elizabeth II has appointed Israeli businessman Michael Federmann, chairman of the board of directors of Elbit Systems, an Honorary Commander of the British Empire (CBE).
    Britain's Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gold said Federmann "is an important partner in building commercial connections between Britain and Israel who has contributed much to the economic success of both nations, including the creation of hundreds of jobs in Britain."

    See also Elbit Systems Wins $133 Million Homeland Security Deal in Latin America (Reuters)
    Israeli defense electronics firm Elbit Systems said on Wednesday it won a contract to supply systems in the amount of $133 million for homeland security applications to a customer in Latin America.

German Car Maker Audi Reveals Nazi Past (DPA)
    The carmaker Audi's predecessor company was deeply entangled with Germany's Nazi regime, putting thousands of concentration camp inmates to work in its factories, a study released Monday showed.
    The study, commissioned by Audi and compiled by historians Martin Kukowski and Rudolf Boch, shows that Auto Union forced inmates to work under inhumane conditions, resulting in the deaths of 4,500.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Abbas Seeks a New Government that Would Seal Alliance with Hamas - Isabel Kershner
    President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority asked Rami Hamdallah, the prime minister, on Thursday to form a "government of national consensus" that would unite warring Palestinian factions for the first time in seven years and could send Israeli-Palestinian relations into a tailspin. The new government, made up of politically independent professionals, would formally ally Abbas' Palestine Liberation Organization, which is dominated by the mainstream Fatah faction, and its rival, Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza, under the terms of a unitypact reached last month.
        Hamas has refused to recognize Israel, which, like the U.S. and the EU, classifies Hamas as a terrorist organization. The EU, which gives substantial aid to the Palestinian Authority, has said it will support a new government of technocrats and continue direct financial assistance so long as the government upholds international principles of nonviolence, accepts previous agreements with Israel and recognizes Israel's right to exist.
        Israeli officials have said they received a specific commitment in the past from the American administration that it backed Israel's position of not negotiating or dealing with a government in which Hamas played a role unless Hamas accepted those international principles. But more recent signals from Washington raise doubts about the Israeli assertions.
        "Clearly there are differences of opinion between Israel and the United States," said Michael Herzog, a fellow of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former Israeli military official. "Even if there were such understandings," he said, referring to a past U.S. commitment, "the U.S. is not there today."  (New York Times)
        See also Palestinians Say Hamdallah to Visit Washington in June - Lazar Berman
    Palestinian sources said PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, slated to serve as premier in the anticipated unity government, will visit Washington, D.C. in June, Israel Radio reported. Hamdallah will meet with lawmakers and senior administration officials, according to the sources. (Times of Israel)
        See also Israel Warns It Will Hold Abbas Accountable for Hamas - Tovah Lazaroff and Khaled Abu Toameh
    An Israeli official said Thursday that Israel would hold PA President Mahmoud Abbas "accountable for and responsible for [Hamas] violence against Israel" after the reconciliation agreement between that group and Fatah. "If, after this marriage is consummated, there is fire from Gaza into Israel, Abbas will have to understand that the government of Israel will be fully entitled to hold him and his Palestinian Authority accountable for such attacks."
        The official added: "Israel is concerned that Hamas will use this pact with the PA to strengthen its presence in the West Bank and in so doing, become a graver threat to Israel and the future stability of the Palestinian Authority."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Syria's ISIS Is Crucifying Opponents - Jonathan Spyer and Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi
    The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is systematically committing atrocities in eastern and northern Syria. Public executions are a regular weekly occurrence in Raqqa city, the provincial capital controlled by ISIS. In a number of verified cases, the bodies of executed people have been "crucified" - placed on crosses in public areas after execution by other means, to act as a deterrent to others. The practice then spread to other ISIS strongholds, most notably the Aleppo provincial towns of Maskanah and Manbij. Those subjected to crucifixion are suspected of having had ties to rival underground rebel groups. (PJ Media)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Hamas Pays Palestinians to Harass Jews at Temple Mount in Jerusalem - Gavriel Fiske
    Israel arrested Mahmoud Toameh, a "top-ranking overseas operative of Hamas," on May 14 as he attempted to infiltrate from Jordan via the Allenby Bridge, the Israel Security Agency revealed Thursday. During his interrogation, Toameh revealed that Hamas pays hundreds of young Israeli Arabs to harass Jews seeking to enter the Temple Mount area. Hamas works with the Islamic Movement in Israel, paying a monthly salary of NIS 4,000 to NIS 5000 ($1,150-$1,440) to young men to harass and throw stones at Jewish visitors.
        Hamas maintains close ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, Toameh said, and noted that eight members of Hamas' guiding Shura Council were members of the Brotherhood's international arm. He said that Turkey and Qatar are major centers of Hamas activity abroad, operating with the tacit approval of those governments. (Times of Israel)
  • PA Says No Peace Without Jerusalem as Palestinian Capital - Khaled Abu Toameh
    In response to Jerusalem Day statements by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Jerusalem would remain the eternal and undivided capital of Israel, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas, said that there would be no peace agreement with Israel without east Jerusalem becoming the capital of the Palestinian state. He cautioned that Israel's refusal to accept this position would have "grave consequences," and warned that Netanyahu's remarks about Jerusalem would place obstacles before American efforts to revive the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Nuclear Experts Warn: Iranian Concessions Are Easily Reversible - Michal Margalit
    "Everything (the Iranians) did so far will not prevent them, if they want, to change direction," Prof. Meir Litvak, the director of the Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University, said Thursday. He asserted the Iranians were only fulfilling their obligations because sanctions imposed on the country have yet to be removed.
        Dr. Emily B. Landau, head of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the Institute for National Security Studies, noted: "It all comes down to their commitment to stop 20% uranium enrichment, and diluting the existing stockpile of 20% enriched uranium....[But] you have to remember these processes are reversible. Meaning, you can turn the diluted uranium back to 20%. So while they are complying with the interim agreement, they continue 5 percent uranium enrichment."
        Iran also continues research and development of new and advanced centrifuges that can spin at very high speeds. "The moment you have centrifuges that spin at much higher speeds, you can enrich the 5% uranium to levels higher than 90% much faster," Landau explained. "It neutralizes the importance of limiting enrichment to 20%."  (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • The American Intelligence Community Has Never Accurately Predicted When States Have Gone Nuclear - Gabriel Scheinmann
    Israelis and Arabs alike worry that by the time America is certain that Iran is within reach of possessing a nuclear weapon, Washington's ability or willingness to stop it will be out of reach. The major Iranian nuclear facilities of Natanz, Arak, and Fordow were discovered only belatedly by Western intelligence.
        Not once has the American intelligence community accurately predicted when hostile states have gone nuclear. Six weeks before the Soviets tested their first bomb in August 1949, U.S. intelligence confidently assessed that a Russian test was at least two years away. The CIA estimated that China would not have the necessary amount of fissionable material for a nuclear weapon until mid-1965. China tested its first nuclear bomb on October 16, 1964.
        Most recently, the Bush Administration was blindsided by Israeli intelligence showing the existence of a Syrian plutonium reactor. The writer is the Director of Policy at the Jewish Policy Center. (National Interest)
  • Oil Companies Returning to Iran Face Challenge in Form of Revolutionary Guards - Benoit Faucon
    Any oil firms that return to Iran will find a new force to be reckoned with: the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. In particular, oil companies will find it necessary to come to an accommodation with engineering contractor Khatam ol-Anbia. With up to 40,000 employees, the company has become one of Iran's largest conglomerates.
        Although sanctions on Iran have been eased for the first six months of this year, U.S. and EU companies still are barred from dealing with Khatam, which the U.S. has accused of being involved in Iran's nuclear program. If that ban remains after other sanctions are permanently lifted, that could prove an impediment to Western companies' plans to return. (Wall Street Journal)
  • What's Wrong with Investing in Iran? - Saeed Ghasseminejad and Emanuele Ottolenghi
    Investing in Iranian stocks means, primarily, casting your lot with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a U.S.-designated terrorist entity. The IRGC presently controls 21% of Tehran Stock Exchange's market value. Investing in a company controlled by a terrorist organization whose record includes murdering Western military personnel and countless civilians isn't just in bad taste. It can also invite serious consequences under anti-terror regulations. Western investors granted exemptions would still be vulnerable to lawsuits by victims of terrorism and their families.
        Bureaucratic corruption, legalized state robbery and nonexistent rule of law combine to make the Islamic Republic intolerably risky. Investment in Iran isn't just morally dubious and politically problematic. It's also financially unsound. Mr. Ghasseminejad is a doctoral candidate at the City University of New York. Mr. Ottolenghi is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also U.S. Investors Begin to Imagine a Return to Iran - Jason Rezaian (Washington Post)
  • Iran Benefits from Arab Chaos - Michael Young
    With all the attention focused on a nuclear deal between Iran and the West, there has not been much discussion of the expansion of Iranian influence in the Middle East. Iran has a finger in several Arab pies. Tehran's influence over Iraq and its government is said to be significant. In Lebanon, its ties with Hizbullah have given it a major role in deciding the fate of the country. In the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Iran has re-established ties with a financially strapped Hamas. And in Syria, Tehran has played an essential part in bolstering Bashar Assad's regime. (Daily Star-Lebanon)

  • Other Issues

  • The Crumbling Deal on Syria's Chemical Weapons - Paul Wolfowitz
    Syria will miss the June 30 deadline for the destruction of its chemical weapons under an agreement brokered by the U.S. and Russia. Moreover, the regime is now using chlorine gas as a chemical weapon. The chemical-weapons agreement has also distracted attention from the regime's continuing killing by "conventional" means, leaving Bashar Assad free to keep killing citizens with impunity. The writer, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, served as deputy U.S. secretary of defense. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Is Narendra Modi, India's New Prime Minister, Israel's New Best Friend? - Jeff Moskowitz
    When Narendra Modi, the head of the Hindu nationalist BJP party, is sworn in as prime minister, he will become the only Indian premier to have ever visited the Jewish state. He has close relationships with Israeli business leaders, and his victory has left many anticipating a great leap forward in Indian-Israeli relations - and with it, a billion new customers and allies.
        In Gujarat, the state where Modi has served as chief minister for the past 13 years, Israeli industry was not only welcomed but actively pursued. Huge tenders for a semiconductor plant, a new port, and a desalination plant were awarded to Israeli bidders. Israeli agriculture, pharmaceutical, alternative energy, and information technology companies have flourished there. Modi's campaign was based on replicating his economic success in Gujarat on a national scale, and much of that success was tied up with Israel. (Tablet)
  • Must a State Have a Neutral Religious Indentity? What Does Europe Do? - Alexander Yakobson
    In the discussions about Israel as a Jewish state, we see that many European countries have constitutions that are not religiously or culturally neutral at all. The Irish constitution starts with "in the Name of the Holy Trinity." That of Greece states: "The prevailing religion in Greece is that of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ."
        According to the constitution of Denmark, the Evangelical Lutheran Church "shall be the Established Church of Denmark." In Norway, "The Norwegian Church, an Evangelical-Lutheran Church, remains Norway's Church." In both Denmark and Norway, the monarch must belong to the Lutheran Church. The sign of the cross on these nations' flags is by no means "neutral." In Bulgaria, the constitution proclaims that "Eastern Orthodox Christianity is the traditional religion in the Republic of Bulgaria."  (Ha'aretz)

  • Weekend Features

  • Palestinian MD Lauds Israel for Saving Children - Janice Arnold
    Palestinian doctor Wafiq Othman is an anesthesiologist who completed six years of training at Save a Child's Heart (SACH), an international humanitarian program based at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon. He returned to the West Bank and is now coordinator for all the Palestinian doctors and other medical professionals who come to the program to upgrade desperately needed skills. Othman told a Montreal audience how the program saved his younger brother's life. The boy had congenital heart disease and was operated on in the Palestinian territories, but was not doing well. The SACH team performed further surgery and the 14-year-old is now well enough to be back at school.
        "When I came to SACH in 2006, it was very hard at the beginning to get used to working with Israelis, finding a way to trust and understand them. But the Wolfson team embraced me, and I quickly became part of the SACH family," he said. Today, five Palestinians are training at SACH, which since its founding in 1996 has treated - free of charge - more than 3,400 children from 48 countries, over half from the Palestinian territories and other neighboring countries including Iraq, Jordan and Syria. "SACH is saving the hearts of children, but it is touching the hearts of all of their families," Othman said. (Canadian Jewish News)
  • Untold Stories of Israeli Innovation - Jim Fletcher
    Marcella Rosen, a marketing professional from New York, created Untold News about Israel ( that disseminates news stories about the myriad ways Israeli innovation brings help, hope, and healing to the world. "It's true: Israel is a barrier-breaking dynamo of a kind never before witnessed in history. Acre-for-acre, citizen-for-citizen, no place is churning out more ideas, more products, more procedures and devices and technologies.... And the work that Israel is turning out is saving and improving lives around the world, every day," she says.
        Visit the Dead Sea region, and gaze upon acre-after-acre of palm groves, rising from what was once a moonscape. A chemist at the Bar-Ilan University Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials, Aharon Gedanken, created an anti-bacterial "coating" for hospital gowns, sheets, and pajamas to fight hospital infections. In 1965, a standard drip irrigation system used from two to four liters of water per hour. Today, a Netafim system from Israel uses only a half-liter per hour.
        "Israel has quietly become the little country that changed the world - and your life - for the better...without you even knowing it," says Rosen. "Imagine what it could achieve - if it were released from the shackles of warfare. If this little country of fewer than eight million souls could focus the entirety of its energy and resources and resilience on the problems and puzzles facing us all, how much better a place would this world be?"  (FrontPageMagazine)

This Is What's Wrong with University Divestment - Editorial (Chicago Tribune)

  • There are divestment campaigns on Israel at dozens of campuses around the country, though most schools have rejected the divestment option, and with good reason. If Israel bears some of the blame for the plight of Palestinians and the failure of peace negotiations, so does the Palestinian Authority and the people living under it.
  • In April, the president of the student government at Loyola vetoed a resolution to divest from companies operating in Israel. The Rev. Michael Garanzini, the president of Loyola, said the measure would be impossible to implement because most of the school's investments are in funds, not individual corporations. Worse, he said: "It is one-sided, it is focused on one party in a complex international situation. It is felt as extremely unfair by our Jewish faculty, staff and students."
  • Nor is it likely that spurning targeted companies would make much difference. The government of Israel has plenty of experience at rebuffing outside pressure to take steps it sees as dangerous.
  • UCLA economist Ivo Welch says the vaunted success of the South Africa divestment program is mostly a myth. His research indicates that divestment by universities and state pension funds "had no discernible effect on the valuation of companies that were being divested, either short-term or long-term."

        See also Why BDS Can't Win - Mitchell Bard
    There are approximately 2,000 four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. Of those, 17 schools considered divestment resolutions in the current school year. Twelve resolutions were defeated and only five were adopted. On the five campuses where student governments adopted divestment resolutions, the chances of the university administration acting on the votes are nil. Consequently, the BDS movement has had zero impact on the policies of universities toward Israel. The writer is executive director of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. (Jerusalem Post)
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