Survey: Saudis Consider Iran Their Top Enemy, Not Israel (AP-New York Times)
The Saudi public is far more concerned about the threats of Iran and the Islamic State than Israel, an opinion poll conducted by the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel, has found.
53% of Saudis named Iran as their main adversary, while 22% said it is the Islamic State and 18% said Israel.
A quarter of the poll's respondents said Israel and Saudi Arabia should join forces to fight Iran together.
If Not for Israel, Islamic State Would Control Saddam Hussein's Nuclear Reactor - Guy Bechor (Ynet News)
I received a message from a man who lives in Iraq and wanted to thank Israel for destroying Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor in 1981.
If it were not for that, he wrote, Iraq would have been filled with nuclear facilities; Israel saved the Iraqi people.
Indeed, Saddam Hussein's Osirak reactor, had it remained, would now be in the area occupied by the Islamic State in Anbar province.
The writer heads the Middle East Division at the Lauder School of Government at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.
Israeli Druse Concerned about Brethren in Syria - Ariel Ben Solomon (Jerusalem Post)
"We are worried about the Syrian Druse and demand that the world not stand by and do nothing," Druse and Circassian Local Councils Forum head Jaber Hamoud said Thursday.
Hamoud, who served 25 years in the IDF, said that if the world would arm the Druse, they would be able to defend themselves and help prevent Islamic State from reaching Israel and Jordan.
"The Druse love peace, but they know how to defend themselves. They need the means, not knives and axes," he added.
President Assad's forces are weakening in Druse areas, Israel Channel 1 TV reported this week.
Islamic Temple Mount Preacher: Jews Make Passover Matzah with Children's Blood - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
Sheikh Khaled Al-Mughrabi, who teaches religious classes at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, said on May 29 that Jews make Passover matzah from the blood of children.
He also explained that the Jews were behind the September 11 attacks on the U.S.
Religious lessons in all the mosques are supervised by the PA.
In New Egyptian Ramadan Drama, Jews Are the Good Guys - Elhanan Miller (Times of Israel)
Egyptian soap operas, produced annually to entertain millions of Muslims breaking their fast during the holy month of Ramadan, have often been platforms for anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli vitriol.
But a new drama about the Jews of Egypt scheduled to air this Ramadan, come June 18, promises to be significantly different.
"Haret al-Yahood," or The Jewish Quarter, depicts a love story between Ali, an Egyptian army officer, and Laila, a young Jewish woman.
The romance is marred by the rising wave of Egyptian nationalism and the social tensions brought about by the creation of Israel.
Reflecting current Egyptian thinking, a prominent villain is the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.
Selling the Desert's Water-Conservation Lessons to the Rest of the World - Saki Knafo (Atlantic)
Israeli engineer Simcha Blass invented a button-like valve that emits just the right amount of water in drip irrigation.
Today, the Israeli firm Netafim sells its irrigation systems in 110 countries, with annual revenues of more than $750 million and a workforce of more than 4,000. With a 30% market share, it's the leading drip-irrigation company in the world.
The Indian government is subsidizing a shift away from flood irrigation, paying for half of every system purchased from Netafim and its competitors.
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Saudi Arabia and Israel Share a Common Opposition - David E. Sanger
A new merging of strategic interests between Saudi Arabia and Israel was on display on Thursday as two former officials from those countries appeared on the same stage to discuss their concerns about Iran's actions across the Middle East.
In an appearance at the Washington office of the Council on Foreign Relations, a retired major general in the Saudi armed forces, Anwar Eshki, and a former Israeli ambassador close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Dore Gold, described their common interests in opposing Iran.
"We're both allies of the United States," Gold said after the presentation. "I hope this is the beginning of more discussion about our common strategic problems." Gold will become the director general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday. (New York Times)
See also Israelis and Saudis Reveal Secret Talks to Thwart Iran - Eli Lake
Since the beginning of 2014, representatives from Israel and Saudi Arabia have had five secret meetings to discuss a common foe, Iran. On Thursday, the two countries came out of the closet by revealing this covert diplomacy at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. Anwar Eshki and Dore Gold presented identical messages: Iran is trying to take over the Middle East and it must be stopped. Saudi Arabia and Israel are arguably the two countries most threatened by Iran's nuclear program, but neither has a seat at the negotiations.
Gold said, "Our standing today on this stage does not mean we have resolved all the differences that our countries have shared over the years, but our hope is we will be able to address them fully in the years ahead." The five bilateral meetings over the last 17 months occurred in India, Italy and the Czech Republic. One participant, Shimon Shapira, a retired Israeli general and an expert on the Lebanese militant group Hizbullah, told me: "We discovered we have the same problems and same challenges and some of the same answers."
Saudi Gen. Eshki notably called for an independent Kurdistan to be made up of territory now belonging to Iraq, Turkey and Iran.
- Israel Supporting Gaza Rehabilitation - Oren Liebermann
Col. Grisha Yakubovich, Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, said in an interview:
"Israel is supporting Gaza rehabilitation, and there are more than 1 million tons of building materials that are already in Gaza....83,000 people already got their building materials."
"[The] Kerem Shalom crossing point is a major crossing where an average of 600 trucks are actually bringing goods into Gaza. The capabilities of this crossing are already adapted to 800 trucks per day and it will be ready to deal with 1,000 trucks per day quite soon. Almost 5,000 people got permits that allow them to go out of Gaza and trade with Israelis or with the West Bank."
"Unfortunately, Hamas is using some of those building materials. They are buying them from the black market inside Gaza - to build new tunnels, to use those building materials for their terror abilities." (CNN)
- ISIS Closes Ramadi Dam Gates in Iraq, Cutting Off Water to Pro-Government Towns
Islamic State jihadis have closed the gates of a dam in the Iraqi city of Ramadi that they seized last month, posing a humanitarian and security threat, officials have said. ISIS fighters have repeatedly sought to control dams in Iraq, in some cases reducing the flow of water to areas under government control or flooding swathes of land to impede military operations. The move lowered the level of the Euphrates River and cut water supplies to the areas of Khalidiyah and Habbaniyah, which are some of the last held by pro-government forces in Anbar. The lower water level has also made it easier for ISIS to carry out attacks. (AFP-Guardian)
See also Jihadist's Selfie Leads to U.S. Airstrike - Brian Everstine
Airmen at Hurlburt Field, Florida, used social media posts to track the location of an Islamic State headquarters building. 22 hours later, three joint direct attack munitions destroyed the target, said Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, on June 1. (Air Force Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- IDF: Hizbullah in "Strategic Distress" - Gili Cohen
According to a senior officer on the Israel Defense Forces General Staff, Hizbullah is in "strategic distress." Some 6,000-8,000 Hizbullah fighters have been deployed in Syria, and Hizbullah has also sent advisers to Yemen. This creates tension over Hizbullah's image as a "defender of Lebanon." Some 700-1,000 Hizbullah fighters have been killed in Syria - about 100 in the last two weeks. (Ha'aretz)
- Christian Arab Arrested for Shavuot Stabbing of Jewish Teens in Jerusalem Confesses to Attack - Daniel K. Eisenbud
The Israel Security Agency released details on Thursday about the May 24 stabbing of two Jewish teens near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City on Shavuot.
John Kakish, 19, a Christian Arab living in the Old City, confessed to carrying out the attack.
Kakish had previously been arrested for assaulting Jews. The two victims were treated for stab wounds to their upper backs.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Kakish was apprehended in his home after police reviewed closed-circuit security footage taken at the scene.
- IDF Fortifies Defenses near Gaza - Yaakov Lappin
The IDF's Gaza Division is fortifying defenses in places like Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, Kissufim, Nahal Oz, and Kerem Shalom. These include new electronic sensor fences linked to IDF control rooms that can scramble forces that are always nearby. Moreover, the IDF has begun deploying components of a new hi-tech underground tunnel detection system.
The IDF has begun receiving new radars that track short-range mortar and rocket fire, and provide longer alert times for local residents, for whom every second counts. The same radars should enhance the IDF's ability to fire back at the sources of attack within seconds. (Jerusalem Post)
- Iran's Uranium Hoard - Editorial
Iran has produced four tons of low-enriched uranium since the interim nuclear agreement came into effect in January 2014, the Institute for Science and International Security reported Tuesday. The agreement required Iran to convert the enriched uranium into an oxide form that cannot be easily turned into weaponizable material. And here is where Iran has failed to comply. As the ISIS report notes, Iran has produced only 150 kg. of uranium oxide, "a mere five percent of what was expected." Since last November Iran hasn't even bothered to convert any enriched uranium into oxide.
Iran has until the end of June to convert the remaining 3,800 kilos into oxide if it's to honor the terms of the deal. Don't hold your breath. The Iranians claim that their efforts to oxidize the uranium have been slowed by technical snafus and fouled by sabotage. Sabotage by whom? It makes no sense for the West to stymie an attempt to reduce Iran's stockpile of weapons-usable uranium.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Iran Is Here - Alex Fishman
Assad has been defeated in battle and has become a marionette. Hizbullah has lost thousands of soldiers and is fighting for its very existence. The Iranians have entered the vacuum that has been created. Their generals are deployed in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and up to Lebanon. Now they are waiting for the removal of sanctions from the U.S. in order to deliver the final blow.
In Israel there is an attempt to persuade the Americans and the Europeans to delay as much as possible the removal of sanctions on Iran. In Israel there is a fear that this money will shoot adrenaline immediately into the ranks of Hizbullah and the Iranian fighters in Syria.
- Business with Occupied Territories, Orange Telecom, and the French Approach to International Law - Eugene Kontorovich
Decisions of important national courts support a fully permissive approach to economic dealings by third-party states or nationals in territories under prolonged occupation. There is no obligation on states to block such activity, or to insist on particular language on product labels, or to ensure that their foreign aid funds do not cross into occupied territory.
On Wednesday the CEO of the French telecom firm Orange announced that he sought to "drop" his business in Israel because the Israeli affiliate has some cellular antennae across the Green Line. Even if settlements are illegal, there is no ban on business in the territories, or with settlers. Certainly there is no tertiary obligation to not do business with businesses that have some tangential business in such territory.
France's own courts in recent decisions involving Israel held the Geneva Conventions flatly inapplicable to private companies. The French oil giant Total is active in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara against the vociferous protests of the indigenous Sawahari people. (There are many other examples, like Michelin in Turkish-occupied Cyprus.) The writer is a professor at Northwestern University School of Law.
- The Unrealistic European Peace Offensive - Efraim Inbar
The Europeans have decided that the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Holy Land, now over one century long, must finally end. France has signaled its intention to bring the matter to the UN Security Council in order to delineate the parameters for conflict resolution within 18 months. European intentions may be laudable, but seem far removed from Middle Eastern realities.
Ethno-religious conflicts usually end when at least one of the sides displays great weariness. But Israeli and Palestinian societies still have energies to fight for what is important to them. Europeans have difficulty understanding that peace is not necessarily the most important value for Israelis and Palestinians.
As long as Hamas plays a central role in Palestinian affairs, no real Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation is possible. What happened in the Palestinian territories reflects a phenomenon widespread in the Arab world - the collapse of statist structures. The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is not that different from Arab political entities such as Libya, Iraq, Syria, or Yemen, which are unable to effectively govern their territories.
The writer is director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.
(BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
- Jibril Rajoub: How Quickly We Forget - Nadav Shragai
Jibril Rajoub, who boasts the title of "Palestinian Football Association President," so "kindly" deigned to withdraw the motion to remove Israel from FIFA, the international soccer federation. Rajoub is a former terrorist and former security prisoner who received a life sentence, and previously served as head of the PA's Preventive Security Force in the West Bank. This current darling of the media has supported, planned, and carried out terrorist acts.
In his view, "Israel is a cancer in the region and every grain of historical Palestine from the river to the sea will be given back to the Palestinians." He has sworn that if the Palestinians had a nuclear weapon, they would have used it against Israel.
- Islamic State's Global Expansion - Seth G. Jones
Even as the U.S. struggles to combat Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria, IS is now expanding in a dozen countries across Africa, the Middle East and Asia. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, IS leaders reached out to disaffected Taliban commanders. In Nigeria, IS aids cash-strapped Boko Haram. IS is now linked directly or indirectly to attacks in Paris, Ottawa, Brussels, Copenhagen, Sydney and Garland, Texas. There have also been arrests of individuals affiliated with IS in New York and Minneapolis. The writer is director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corp. (Wall Street Journal)
Contextualizing Israeli Concerns about the Iran Nuclear Deal - Michael Herzog (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- As a global power, the U.S. does not feel directly threatened by Iran but rather sees some of Iran's behaviors as threatening or challenging to U.S. interests and allies in the Middle East. By contrast, Israel views Iran as its most serious and direct strategic threat. Specifically, Israel considers Iran a regional
power that expresses its revolutionary ideology - an ideology that negates Israel's right to exist - in both nuclear and hegemonic ambitions.
- On Israel's border with Lebanon to the north, Israel has watched Iran arm its proxy Hizbullah with more than 100,000 rockets aimed at Israel. Facing such an enemy, Israel naturally sees greater risks than does the U.S. - and tends to attach more weight to these risks than to potential opportunities.
- Israel regards the Lausanne framework as essentially legitimizing Iran's status as a nuclear-threshold state. In other words, Iran will ultimately be allowed to reach the critical breakout point associated with the
production of weapons-grade enriched uranium, facilitating an unimpeded move to the bomb. The long-term implications of this status for Israel's national security are profound, including the possibility that other regional actors would seek a similar status, triggering a dangerous cascade of regional proliferation.
- The administration's constant refrain that "the only alternative to this deal is war" only reinforces Israeli doubts about U.S. deterrence. Why
would Iran rush forward, risking a U.S. military response, unless it believed the U.S. was unwilling to use military force? Israeli ears hear "any deal is better than no deal."
- Instead of deterrence, Israel and the Sunni Arab states see that, for the sake of reaching a nuclear deal, the U.S. has granted Iran considerable room to pursue destabilizing policies toward its goal of regional hegemony. Regional actors give no credence to Washington's optimistic assessment that in a post-deal era Iran will change priorities and overwhelmingly direct the significant funds released as sanctions are relaxed toward fixing the economy and other internal reforms
- From an Israeli perspective, the U.S. has essentially shifted the focus of its policy from prevention of a nuclear-armed Iran to containment of a nuclear-threshold Iran. It is hard to find anyone in Israeli decision-making or policy circles who believes that the current U.S. administration would actually stop Iran militarily if faced with an imminent Iranian bomb. Israel's basic instinct of self-reliance on critical national security matters has only been reinforced throughout the diplomatic process.
Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Michael Herzog, an International Fellow at The Washington Institute, served as head of IDF strategic planning and as senior military aide and chief of staff to four Israeli ministers of defense.
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