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February 6, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Uruguay Expels Iranian Envoy Suspected of Helping Place Bomb near Israeli Embassy - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
    Uruguay expelled a senior diplomat in Iran's embassy in Montevideo two weeks ago, following suspicions that he was involved in placing an explosive device near the Israeli embassy in early January, according to senior sources in Jerusalem.

Greek Guerrilla Group Claims Responsibility for Attack on Israeli Embassy - Niki Kitsantonis (New York Times)
    A guerrilla organization called Group of Popular Rebels, known for targeting political and foreign diplomatic sites in Greece, has claimed responsibility for a Dec. 12 assault on the Israeli Embassy in Athens, when gunmen with Kalashnikov rifles raked the building with bullets but caused no injuries, a Greek police official said on Wednesday.

Syrian Air Strikes Kill 82 near Damascus (Reuters)
    Syrian air force strikes killed 82 people in an opposition district outside Damascus following rocket attacks by rebels that hit the government-controlled center of the capital, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday.

Egyptian Military Kills 27 Militants in Sinai (Reuters)
    Egyptian Apache helicopters killed 27 Islamic militants in northern Sinai on Friday, security sources said.

UNESCO Head Nixes "Offensive" Palestine Poster Collection for World Heritage List - Raphael Ahren (Times of Israel)
    The head of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, has vetoed the inclusion of the "Liberation Graphics Collection of Palestine Posters" in the agency's Memory of the World program, arguing that the posters fuel hatred and anti-Semitism.
    Many of the posters feature machine guns and hand grenades, extolling armed resistance and terrorism, and glorifying Palestinian suicide attacks.

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EU Funding Illegal Palestinian Building, Report Claims - Jake Wallis Simons (Daily Mail-UK)
    The EU is acting illegally by funding more than 400 unauthorized Palestinian homes in 17 locations in Area C of the West Bank, which was placed under Israeli jurisdiction during the Oslo Accords, say an NGO, international lawyers and MEPs.
    The Palestinian buildings, which have no permits, have raised concerns that the EU is using valuable resources to take sides in a foreign territorial dispute.
    See also Report: EU Building Hundreds of Illegal Structures for Palestinians in West Bank - Herb Keinon and Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)

ISIS Publishes Handbook for the Modern Jihadi Woman - Taly Krupkin (Ha'aretz)
    The Islamic State has published a guide that lists the rights and responsibilities of women who wish to join it.
    The manifesto condemns the influence of Western culture and values on women in the Muslim world, and emphasizes opposition to science.
    On marriage, it says: "It is considered legitimate for a girl to be married at the age of nine. Most pure girls will be married by 16 or 17."
    After marriage, women will remain in the home and take care of the children, though they are allowed to leave the house - properly covered up - in special cases.
    See also Text: Women of the Islamic State (Quilliam Foundation)

Israel Deployed New Bomb Disposal Robots in Gaza War (Strategy Page)
    Israeli combat engineers used their new Talon 4 bomb disposal robots in combat for the first time in the 2014 Gaza war to deal with roadside bombs and booby traps.
    The Talon carried out over 20,000 missions in Iraq and Afghanistan for American forces. The Iraqi Army ordered over a hundred Talons in 2013.

India's Most-Advanced Warship to Get Israeli-Designed Missiles - Vishnu Som (NDTV-India)
    The Indian Navy's most-advanced warship, the INS Kolkata, is to be equipped with Barak 8 surface-to-air missiles.
    The Barak 8, designed to intercept incoming anti-ship missiles at a range of at least 70 km., was co-developed with Israel and features an advanced target tracking system designed by an Israeli company, and a rocket motor built in India.
    The Barak 8 is designed to destroy any anti-ship missile launched by the Pakistani or Chinese navies.

Israelis and Americans Launch Solar Energy Field in Rwanda - Sharon Udasin (Jerusalem Post)
    The Gigawatt Global company, co-founded by American-Israeli Yosef Abramowitz, on Thursday inaugurated East Africa's first solar energy field in Rwanda.
    The field's 28,360 photovoltaic panels on a 50-acre plot now supply 6% of Rwanda's power supply.
    Gigawatt Global is an American-owned Dutch company with an Israeli research and development arm.
    Abramowitz is also the co-founder of the Arava Power Company, responsible for Israel's first commercial-scale solar field.

Mobile SniffPhone Will Detect Cancer on a User's Breath - David Shamah (Times of Israel)
    The NaNose breathalyzer technology developed by Prof. Hossam Haick of the Technion will soon be installed in a mobile phone - to be called the SniffPhone.
    A tiny smell-sensitive sensor will be installed onto a phone add-on and, using specially designed software, the phone will be able to "smell" users' breath to determine if they have cancer, among other serious diseases.
    The NaNose system can detect the presence of tumors, both benign and malignant, more quickly, efficiently and cheaply than previously possible, said Haick. The system has a 90% accuracy rate.

Technion Prints Parts for Space Industry with Advanced 3D Metal Printer - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    Haifa's Technion-Israel Institute of Technology has installed a million-dollar 3D printer for printing out metal products such as titanium parts for the space industry, dental crowns and implants, bone replacements and more.
    The printer melts metal powder with electron beams and forms it into a customized solid.
    The printer has already been used to print a prototype of a satellite fuel container.
    In the future, the engineers will print engine blades and metal implants for knees.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iranian Commander: Our Missile Program Is Non-Negotiable, U.S. Is No Longer a Superpower
    "Iran's missile programs and defense capability, irrespective of their purpose, are not negotiable in any foreign circle," Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Brig.-Gen. Massoud Jazayeri said Wednesday. "Gone are the days when the U.S. was a superpower, but some still haven't realized it," he added. (Press TV-Iran)
        See also U.S.: Iranian Missile Capabilities Are Part of Negotiations
    State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said Monday: "Iran's missile program continues to pose a dangerous threat to the region and is an issue we monitor closely....One of the issues we are taking up in the negotiations, as you know, is how to deal with the ballistic missile capabilities of delivering nuclear warheads."  (State Department)
  • Jordan Bombs Islamic State Targets in Syria - Ranya Kadri and Anne Barnard
    Jordanian warplanes bombed Islamic State targets in Syria on Thursday after the militant group's brutal killing of a captured Jordanian pilot. The Jordanian military's unusual public announcement of the airstrikes started with the words, "This is the beginning - you will know who the Jordanians are!"  (New York Times)
        See also 35 Islamic State Fighters Said Killed in Jordanian Airstrikes (Times of Israel)
  • Anbar Tribes Form Joint Coalition Against ISIS - Manaf Al-Obaidi
    Tribes in Iraq's western-most province of Anbar have announced a new joint coalition to fight the Islamic State. ISIS is in control of approximately 85% of Anbar, Iraq's largest province, with Sunni tribes seeking to form a unified command structure to fight the jihadist group amid anger at a lack of support from Baghdad and the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition.
        Rafi Abdul Karim Al-Fahdawi, head of the Albufahd tribe, said: "Anbar's tribes have announced a general call to a joint tribal alliance that we are calling Hilf Al-Fudul [League of the Virtuous] in honor of the alliance that was made between various Arab tribes during the era of Prophet Muhammad.... This alliance aims to unite our ranks to fight ISIS which is wreaking havoc in our province." He said more than 3,000 Albufahd fighters had joined the Hilf Al-Fudul.
        On Tuesday, Iraq's cabinet approved creating a National Guard force, which would fall under the authority of each governorate and comprise local forces, a key Sunni demand. It also approved ending a ban on ex-members of the Ba'ath Party from public service. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • UAE Funnels Funds to Gaza through Abbas Rival Dahlan - Avi Issacharoff
    Mohammed Dahlan, PA President Mahmoud Abbas' main political rival, has been working together with Hamas to funnel funds from the United Arab Emirates to Palestinians in Gaza. The UAE has been transferring large sums of money to Dahlan, who has been passing it on to the National Islamic Committee for Social Solidarity to distribute to the needy, in part to boost Dahlan's standing in Gaza. Dahlan holds no official position in Gaza, and the money also reaches Hamas. (Times of Israel)
  • PA Forces Battle Gunmen in Nablus
    Three Palestinian security officers were injured in armed clashes on Thursday with gunmen in Balata, east of Nablus in the West Bank, security sources said. The security officers came under fire as they entered Balata in an attempt to arrest a number of fugitives. (Ma'an News-PA)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • The Emerging Iran Nuclear Deal Raises Major Concerns - Editorial
    As the Obama administration pushes to complete a nuclear accord with Iran, numerous members of Congress, former secretaries of state and officials of allied governments are expressing concern about the contours of the emerging deal. Though we have long supported negotiations with Iran as well as the interim agreement, we share several of those concerns and believe they deserve more debate now - before negotiators present the world with a fait accompli.
        A process that began with the goal of eliminating Iran's potential to produce nuclear weapons has evolved into a plan to tolerate and restrict that capability. In the course of the negotiations, the Obama administration has declined to counter increasingly aggressive efforts by Iran to extend its influence across the Middle East and seems ready to concede Tehran a place as a regional power at the expense of Israel and other U.S. allies.
        Finally, the Obama administration is signaling that an accord that would have far-reaching implications for nuclear proliferation and U.S. national security would be imposed unilaterally by a president with less than two years left in his term. While presidents initiate U.S. foreign policies, it is vital that major shifts win the support of Congress and the country; otherwise, they will be unsustainable. (Washington Post)
  • What's at Stake with Iran? - Abraham H. Foxman
    It is becoming more critical than ever to keep our eye on the ball. Whatever one's view of the decision by Speaker of the House John Boehner to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress, this unnecessary brouhaha should not divert us from the real issue: Will we stop Iran from becoming a nuclear armed power?
        For the State of Israel, this is a life and death scenario. Let's remember that at the heart of the Islamic Republic of Iran is a goal of destroying the Jewish state. In November 2014 the all-powerful Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said that the Jewish state "has no cure but to be annihilated."
        The tragic history of the Jewish people in the 20th century has taught us that we must take seriously threats of annihilation. This is particularly so in the case of Iran which is moving inexorably toward a nuclear weapons capability. The writer is national director of the Anti-Defamation League. (Times of Israel)

  • Palestinians

  • Threat of Violence Silences Palestinian Journalists - Asmaa al-Ghoul
    A late 2014 study by the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms found that 80% of Palestinian journalists in the West Bank and Gaza practice self-censorship of their writing. Journalist Ghazi Bani Odeh, who conducted the survey, "The Official Media and Freedom of Expression," told Al-Monitor that attacks and harassment are the main causes leading journalists to censor themselves. "There is no difference between the violations [against journalists] committed in the West Bank and those committed in Gaza, as journalists are equally suppressed, thus leading them to examine every word they write."
        Mohammed Othman, a freelance journalist who writes for Al-Monitor, was physically assaulted and threatened at the headquarters of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) on Jan. 5 for publishing a report about the killing of people accused of collaborating with Israel during the 2014 war. According to Fathi Sabah, who writes for Al-Hayat,  there is a policeman in the mind of every Palestinian journalist in the West Bank and Gaza. (Al-Monitor)
  • Why Is Hamas Smiling? - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Palestinian Fatah faction is currently embroiled in a bitter and violent power struggle between PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his major rival, Mohamed Dahlan. Abbas and Dahlan, a former PA security commander in Gaza, have been waging war against each other for the past four years. In the past few weeks, the streets of Gaza have become scenes of violent clashes between supporters of Abbas and Dahlan, much to the delight of Hamas. These events are yet another sign of Fatah's failure to get its act together.
        It is time for the international community to wake up and realize that the whole idea of establishing an independent Palestinian state is nothing but a joke. The last thing the Palestinians and the international community want is another Syria or Libya or Yemen in the Middle East. Instead of working to help each other and rebuild Gaza, the Palestinians are busy fighting and threatening each other. This is a fight between bad guys and bad guys - and it is all over money, ego and power. (Gatestone Institute)

  • Other Issues

  • Another UN Human Rights Fraud: The Head of a Gaza Inquiry Was on the Palestinian Payroll - Editorial
    Canadian law professor William Schabas, who resigned this week as chairman of the UN Human Rights Council's Commission of Inquiry into the 2014 Gaza conflict, should never have been tapped for the job. His public statements on Israel made clear he wouldn't be an unbiased fact-finder.
        The inquiry was formed to investigate war crimes during last summer's Gaza conflict, which broke out after the Gaza-based terror group Hamas fired rockets at Israeli population centers. Yet the UN wanted to investigate only Israel. That's a problem, because genuine rights abuses worthy of investigation include Hamas' placement of rocket launchers in schools and hospitals and its strategy of firing on Israeli civilians. Schabas' departure won't salvage the credibility of a commission that has been politicized from the start. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Turkey's Eroding Democracy - Fethullah Gulen
    Not long ago, Turkey was the envy of Muslim-majority countries: a viable candidate for the EU on its path to becoming a functioning democracy that upholds universal human rights, gender equality, the rule of law and the rights of Kurdish and non-Muslim citizens. This historic opportunity now appears to have been squandered as Turkey's ruling party, the AKP, clamps down on civil society, media, the judiciary and free enterprise. AKP's leaders now depict every democratic criticism of them as an attack on the state.
        The director of one of the most popular TV channels, arrested in December, is still behind bars. Public officials investigating corruption charges have also been purged and jailed for simply doing their jobs. The core tenets of a functioning democracy - the rule of law, respect for individual freedoms - are also the most basic of Islamic values bestowed upon us by God. No political or religious leader has the authority to take them away. The writer is an Islamic scholar, preacher and founder of the Hizmet movement in Turkey, who lives in exile in the U.S. (New York Times)
  • In Islamic State Stronghold of Raqqa, Foreign Fighters Dominate - Yaroslav Trofimov
    In Islamic State's de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria, few Syrians hold positions of power. Running the show, residents say, are the thousands of foreigners who have converged to establish an Islamic utopia they believe will soon conquer the planet. "What we have is a foreign occupation," said Sarmad al-Jilane, a resident of Raqqa now in Turkey. "Those who are paid by them, like them, of course. But most others hate them because of all these killings and beheadings." Around 20,000 foreign fighters have joined Islamic State in Syria and Iraq over the past two years, Western intelligence officials estimate. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Standing with Israel, Again - Editorial
    Last week the Islamist terrorist group Hizbullah fired missiles at an Israeli military convoy near the Israel-Lebanon border, killing two Israeli soldiers. Canada has officially labelled Hizbullah a terrorist group since 2002. According to Public Safety Canada: "One of the most technically capable terrorist groups in the world, Hizbullah is a radical Shia group ideologically inspired by the Iranian revolution. Its goals are the liberation of Jerusalem, the destruction of Israel, and, ultimately, the establishment of a revolutionary Shia Islamic state in Lebanon, modeled after Iran."
        An emboldened Hizbullah means an emboldened Iran. Hizbullah is a proxy for Iran and receives funding from them. When Hizbullah thrives, Iran thrives. And when the current Iranian regime wins, everybody else loses. It's important that principled democracies around the world stand up against terrorist thugs like Hizbullah.
        Israel is the closest thing to a Western liberal democracy in the Middle East. It's the closest thing to being a country like ours. And it's under attack in part for that very reason. This latest aggression should not be tolerated by the international community. Certainly not by Canada. It's time again to stand with Israel. (Toronto Sun-Canada)
  • How the UN Mixes Anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, and Israeli War Crimes - Anne Bayefsky
    In 2014, the General Assembly adopted 20 times more resolutions condemning Israel for human rights violations than any other country, and only seven such resolutions on all of the other 192 UN member states combined. Half of all emergency sessions of the General Assembly in its history attack Israel. The Assembly did not hold one emergency session about genocide in Rwanda or Sudan.
        One-third of all the resolutions and decisions ever adopted by the UN's top human rights body, the UN Human Rights Council, condemn only Israel. In advance of every regular session, regardless of the facts, the Council sets aside time specifically to condemn only one state - Israel. 38% of the special sessions and urgent debates ever held by the Council have been convened to condemn Israel. Not a single such session has been held on countries violating the rights of millions - like China, Iran, Saudi Arabia or Russia. The writer is Director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, and President of Human Rights Voices. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Harvard, Israel, and Academic Freedom - Lawrence H. Summers
    In the "Global Engagement" section of the Harvard University website, I was surprised to see an op-ed by a research fellow at Harvard's Middle East Initiative proclaiming without qualification that "what is certain is that Israeli-Lebanese-Syrian-Iranian tensions and active warfare would not be a recurring problem, as in fact they are, had Israel responded to the Arab peace plan." While I find this assertion absurd, others would disagree, and it would, of course, be wrong for the university to censor either opinion in any way.
        Unfortunately, the official showcasing of a patently anti-Israel article is not an isolated example. Late last year, through some failure of administrative oversight, Harvard University Dining Services altered its procurement policy to avoid purchasing soda machines originating in the West Bank. The failure to maintain controls sufficient to prevent activists from hijacking the university's name and reputation in support of their objectives is a very serious issue. When Harvard allows its reputation to be attached to pernicious ideas, it raises the risk that they will be seen as legitimate.
        If Harvard is to lead on academic freedom, it is essential that we all feel free to assert our views but that our university protect with ferocity its reputation by preventing views demonizing Israel or any other country. The writer is President Emeritus of Harvard University. (Harvard Crimson)

  • Weekend Features

  • Gaza War Hero: "I Dragged My Friends to Safety While Firing Back at Terrorists" - Yaakov Lappin
    IDF Paratrooper St.-Sgt. Ceirgio Albarran, 21, who moved to Israel from Venezuela in 2006, has been cited for extraordinary bravery under fire during the 2014 Gaza war. On July 23, on the outskirts of Khan Yunis, he suddenly heard a blast nearby and found members of his unit under the rubble from a wall that had collapsed on them. "I started evacuating them all, one by one," said Albarran.
        As he rescued his fellow soldiers, Albarran saw terrorists emerging from a tunnel shaft behind the collapsed wall and opened fire. At the same time, terrorists on the second floor of a nearby building fired at him as well. "In one hand, I dragged them, and in the other, I shot back," he recalled. "I rescued a total of eight, including the company commander....He was a big guy, and the hardest to evacuate." As Albarran dragged his commander to safety, a bullet pierced his ankle, but he completed the last 50 meters to safety. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Decorated Army Medic Saved Commander's Life - Rotem Elizera
    During the war in Gaza last summer, Sgt. Erez Halfon served as an army medic. On July 19, 2014, "I saw a soldier lying on the ground in need of immediate treatment," he said. The soldier had a piece of shrapnel lodged under his neck. "I saw the blood shooting out through the shrapnel's entry hole and realized that if I didn't take care of it urgently, there's an immediate risk to his life." He created a pressure point - pressing the artery to the bone with his hand to block the blood flow. Doctors later said that had Halfon arrived a minute later, the soldier would not have survived.
        Despite the explosions all around him, Halfon did not leave the wounded soldier's side. When the soldier was evacuated, Halfon continued pressing the wound with his hand. "It was only when I was in the vehicle that I realized this was my commander."  (Ynet News)
        See also IDF Awards Decorations to Gaza War Heroes - Yoav Zitun
    IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz granted decorations, citations and awards on Monday to over 50 soldiers who fought in the Gaza war. Six of the soldiers being decorated fell in battle. Three women soldiers received letters of commendation for spotting terrorists who had infiltrated into Israel. (Ynet News)
  • The Unsung Jewish Resistance in Algeria during the Holocaust - Eliezer Hayon
    "The Night of Fools," screened last week on Israel's Channel 1 television, tells the story of "Operation Torch" - the code name for the American landing in French-ruled North Africa, and the central role in it played by the Algerian underground, which was almost entirely made up of Jews. Just before the Americans landed, the underground presented "orders" from a high-ranking colonel in the Vichy General Staff allowing hundreds of Jewish members of the underground to be deployed in the central institutions of the army - the post office, situation room, communications room.
        At midnight on Nov. 8, 1942, when he heard the first shots, Jacques Zermati, one of the commanders of the underground, turned to the base commander walking alongside him and delivered the news of the Allies' arrival. The collaborationist Vichy commanders - including Vichy France leader Philippe Petain's deputy General Alphonse Juin - were taken into captivity without incident. (Ynet News)

Is Iran an Existential Threat to Israel? - Toby Greene interviews Dore Gold (Fathom-BICOM)


  • "The Iranian...Shahab-3 ballistic missile...has a 1,300 kilometer range and puts Israel in striking distance from Iranian territory. That missile became operational in 2003. In 2012, reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) suggested, on the basis of information they had, that Iran was seeking to remove the conventional warheads from its Shahab-3 missiles and replace them with what the IAEA described as a spherical nuclear device."
  • "How are we to understand Iran's intent?...For that, one has to look at Iranian military parades over the last decade, and what one sees are the Shahab-3 missiles being paraded on missile carriers. Draped on the side of those very same missile carriers are mottos in Farsi which say, 'Israel must be wiped off the map,' an expression used by Iranian leaders quite frequently. So you have Iranian capabilities pointing towards missiles which can strike at Israel, eventually with nuclear warheads, and you have Iran juxtaposing with those capabilities its own intent to destroy the Jewish state. Only a blind person would ignore the gravity of the threat which is emerging."
  • "Israel is not helpless, it has its own deterrent strength. It has worked with the United States on the only operational missile defense program in the world...and the Israeli government will defend its population. It must also sound the alarm of the dangers emerging from Iran, not belittle them....Both the U.S. and Israel have the ability to fend off the Iranian challenge, but unless you know there is a challenge out there you can make terrible mistakes."

    The Peace Process

  • "There had been a very carefully negotiated framework agreement worked out between the U.S., Israel and the Palestinians to set the stage for resuming negotiations. The framework agreement was very carefully drafted to allow each party to accept the framework with reservations. Under those terms, Israel accepted Secretary Kerry's framework proposal."
  • "In March of 2014 when the same framework proposal was presented by President Obama in the Oval Office to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian answer was, 'I'll get back to you.' In other words, Israel said 'yes' to peace and unfortunately the Palestinian leader said 'no.'...The fact of the matter is that Israel has been on board in trying to make the peace process yield positive results. Unfortunately, we do not have cooperation from the Palestinian side."

    Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, is President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
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