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October 30, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Islamic State Planning Mass Attack on Britain, Warns Head of MI5 - Ben Farmer (Telegraph-UK)
    Islamic State terrorists are planning mass casualty attacks in Britain, the head of the MI5 security agency, Andrew Parker, has warned.
    He said the current level of threat was the highest he had seen in 32 years. In the past 12 months his agency has thwarted six terror plots in the UK and another seven abroad.
    He said: "More than 750 extremists from this country have travelled to Syria, and the growth in the threat shows no sign of abating. We are seeing plots against the UK directed by terrorists in Syria; enabled through contacts with terrorists in Syria; and inspired online by ISIL's sophisticated exploitation of technology."
    Moreover, Britons are being rapidly radicalized online and then encouraged to carry out deadly attacks. "On top of that...this year we have seen greater ambition for mass casualty attacks."

Month of Russian Air Strikes on Syria Kill Nearly 600 (Reuters)
    Russian air strikes on Syria have killed 410 fighters from various insurgent groups and 185 civilians since Moscow started its aerial campaign a month ago, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday.

Islamic State on Recruitment Spree in Russia - Arsen Mollayev and Vladimir Isachenkov (AP-Military Times)
    The Russian province of Dagestan, a flashpoint for Islamic violence in the North Caucasus, is feeding hundreds of fighters to the Islamic State in Syria.
    The departures mean that the region itself has become markedly less violent recently, but there are concerns that radical Muslims trained in IS warfare who come back home could lead to greater instability and violence.
    Intelligence indicates that around 700 Dagestan residents have left for Syria, a significant share of an estimated 2,500 Russian citizens with IS.

Saudi Prince Denies Pledging to Support Israel Against Palestinians (News Tribe-UK)
    Saudi Prince al Waleed bin Talal has denied as "completely bogus and untrue" a report by the Kuwaiti media outlet AWDNews that he would side with Israel in case of a Palestinian uprising.

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Israel Accepted to UN Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space - Danielle Ziri (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel was accepted into the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space on Thursday in a 117-1 vote. Voting against was Namibia.
    Hadas Meitzad, of the Israeli Mission to the UN, said: "Israel's advanced capabilities in the field of peaceful uses of outer space, combined with a delicate and complex diplomatic effort, granted Israel's acceptance to this important committee."
    The Committee, which has 84 members, governs the exploration and use of space for peace, security and development.

Olympic Committee Revokes Qualifier Status in Kuwait after Israeli Denied Visa (Reuters)
    The Asian shooting championship, which starts in Kuwait this week, has been stripped of its Olympic qualifying status after an Israeli delegate was refused an entry visa, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Thursday.
    The IOC said the denial of a visa went against the non-discrimination principle of the Olympic Charter which must apply to all qualification competitions.

Israel Airline Orders Boeing 787s for $2.2B - Bill Ruminski (Chicago Sun-Times)
    Boeing Co. and El Al Israel Airlines on Thursday jointly announced an order for up to nine 787 Dreamliners in a deal worth $2.2 billion.
    El Al also will lease six more Dreamliners from independent companies.
    El Al has flown only Boeing aircraft since 1961 and operates 42 jets.

Indians Eager to Enhance Bilateral Relations with Israelis - Greer Fay Cashman (Jerusalem Post)
    The India-Israel Forum, which convened this week in Israel, was founded eight years ago under the auspices of Tel Aviv University.
    Co-chair Jamshyd N. Godrej told Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday, "There is a great need for better connectivity" between the two countries and he would like to see an improvement in flights to India. El Al Airlines flies to India three times a week.
    India is very keen to have Israeli products made in India. Leading figures of Reliance Industries India said they were exploring agreements with Israeli educational institutions for use of their research.

President of Honduras Was in Israel on Young Leadership Program 20 Years Ago - Greer Fay Cashman (Jerusalem Post)
    Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez, currently visiting Israel, first came to the country on a scholarship in the early 1990s to attend a young leadership program sponsored by Mashav, Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation.

2015 Sets Record for Israeli Mergers and Acquisitions - Niv Elis (Jerusalem Post)
    2015 has already broken records for Israeli mergers and acquisitions, posting a 52% increase over the same time period last year and reaching $21 billion so far, according to Alain Dobkin, a managing partner of the Catalyst CEL Fund.
    Since 2010 there have been over $10b. worth of such transactions with China.
    French-Israeli Edouard Cukierman, chairman of Cukierman & Co. Investment House and managing partner of Catalyst Funds, which runs the annual Go4Israel investor conference in Tel Aviv, said that this year, more participants came from China than from Europe.

In 35 Years, Israeli Life Expectancy Has Risen by Nine Years - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    In the last 35 years, life expectancy among Israelis rose significantly: 8.8 years for men and nine years for women, Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics reported Thursday.
    The average life expectancy of Israeli women is 84.1, and that of men is 80.3. Israeli men have the third-highest life expectancy among OECD countries.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Defense Secretary Pledges to Boost Israel's Military Edge - Barbara Opall-Rome
    U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter pledged Tuesday to enhance "the entire spectrum" of strategic cooperation with Israel, from cyber defense and high-end attack capabilities down to a joint program aimed at combating terror tunnels. Carter reiterated to visiting Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon the Pentagon's longstanding commitment to maintaining Israel's qualitative military edge. Carter pledged continued U.S. support for Israeli active defense programs against rockets and missiles, including Iron Dome, David's Sling and Arrow.
        "This is one of the most trusted relationships we have in the world and so when we discover something that is critical to both of us, we share it, and we do that from electronic warfare to cyber to all kinds of...tremendous intelligence sharing....The alliance is a two-way street, and we appreciate what we get as well as what we give, and it's an alliance that makes us stronger too."  (Defense News)
  • Iran Arrests Another Iranian-American - Thomas Erdbrink
    Siamak Namazi, an Iranian-American scholar and consultant who has advocated improved relations between the U.S. and Iran, has been arrested in Tehran. Intelligence officers came to his mother's house and took him to Evin Prison in Tehran around Oct. 15. Namazi is at least the fourth American of Iranian descent to be incarcerated by the Iranian authorities and the first since the July nuclear agreement was completed. The political atmosphere in Iran is again taking a turn toward the strident anti-Americanism that prevailed before the talks.
        The arrest coincided with increasingly shrill accusations by some members of Iran's Parliament that one of the other imprisoned Iranian-Americans, Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post's Tehran correspondent, heads a network of spies. Iranian authorities have also imprisoned Saeed Abedini, a Christian pastor, and Amir Hekmati, a Marine veteran. "It's not a good sign for those who want to open Iran to the West and the United States," said Alireza Nader, an Iran specialist at the RAND Corporation. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Opposes Diplomatic Initiative at UN Giving PA a "Prize" for Terrorism - Herb Keinon
    Israel rejects any diplomatic initiative that would allow the Palestinians to avoid direct negotiations, gives them any kind of political benefit from the current violence, and does not demand immediate cessation of Palestinian Authority incitement, a government official said on Thursday in the wake of a proposal to the UN Security Council drafted by New Zealand but not yet presented. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Russia's Air Campaign in Syria Approaches Israeli Border - Yaakov Lappin
    Russian air strikes in southern Syria represent a rise in the potential for inadvertent friction with Israel, Brig.-Gen. (res.) Abraham Assael, an air combat expert and CEO of the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies in Herzliya, said Thursday. International media reported that the Russian air force carried out strikes in Syria's southern Deraa province, near the Jordanian border, on Wednesday - the closest that Russian jets have come to the Israeli border. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Russia-Israel Coordination Mechanism on Syria Is Not Working - Yossi Melman
    When Prime Minister Netanyahu met with President Putin in Moscow a few weeks ago they set up a coordination mechanism to avoid military clashes between their forces. But in practice this mechanism does not exist. Senior sources say that Russia updates Israel after the fact or provides worthless information. That was the case with the most recent Russian attacks on the Golan Heights in Syria. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Ya'alon: Despite the Nuclear Agreement, Iran Continues to View America as the Great Satan
    U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon held a joint news conference at the Pentagon on Wednesday. Ya'alon said: "These are especially turbulent years in our region - with states collapsing and being replaced by various entities and terror organizations, many affiliated with global Jihad and the Islamic State, one fighting against the other, glorifying death and destruction and challenging the entire U.S.-led Western world. Some of these terror entities are funded, armed and trained by Iran - who, despite the nuclear agreement, continues to view America as the Great Satan, and Israel as the small Satan."
        "Iran makes non-stop attempts at harming Israel and its citizens by means of terror along our borders, from north to south and even across oceans. Iran also challenges U.S. interests in the Middle East both directly and by undermining pro-Western Sunni regimes."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Ending a Century of Palestinian Rejectionism - Daniel Pipes
    Every year or two a campaign of violence is spurred by Palestinian political and religious leaders spreading wild-eyed conspiracy theories (the favorite: al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem is under threat). Each round ends with the Palestinians in a worse place in terms of dead and wounded, buildings destroyed and an economy in tatters.
        Further, their immoral and barbaric actions harden Israeli opinion, making the prospect of concessions and compromise that much less likely. Only when Palestinians realize they will not be rewarded for homicidal conduct will they stop their campaign of violence and start to come to terms with the Jewish state. The writer is president of the Middle East Forum. (Washington Times)
  • Palestinians Refuse to Recognize the Jews' Right to a State - Zalman Shoval
    The goal of the terror war being waged across the country is the same goal held by Jerusalem Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, his student Yasser Arafat, and Abbas as well (and of course Hamas and other Islamist groups): the removal of the Jews from their country. Even within U.S. administration circles, some are beginning to understand that neither the settlements, nor Al-Aqsa, are the reason for the failure to secure peace or calm; rather the Palestinian refusal to come to terms with the permanent existence of the State of Israel. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. (Israel Hayom)
  • The Hidden Hand Behind the Palestinian Terror Wave - Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi
    The wave of Palestinian terror against Israel is winning open support from all the Palestinian institutions including the PLO, the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, and the Hamas authorities who control Gaza. The green light was given by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in his speech to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 30, in which he lauded Palestinian terror and threatened political chaos - that is, a descent into an all-out intifada-type conflict.
        By unleashing Palestinian terror, Abbas hopes to bring about greater international intervention in the conflict, meant to pressure Israel to withdraw from the West Bank without negotiations. The Palestinian struggle against Israel will then continue from the new borders under improved circumstances. The writer is a senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Terror Wave Will Subside When Palestinian Leadership Stops Incitement - Boaz Ganor
    Israel is in the throes of a nationalist and religion-driven wave of terror fueled by incitement falsely accusing it of desecrating the al-Aqsa Mosque. This kind of propaganda had been disseminated for years, but these inflammatory messages received a tailwind when senior Palestinian Authority officials joined the chorus, urging Israel not to "contaminate" the Temple Mount. This mainstream voice was the catalyst that drove inflamed young people to randomly wound and kill Israelis.
        The current wave of terror will only subside after the incitement abates and the messages from the Palestinian leadership to the Palestinian public change. Prof. Boaz Ganor is founder and executive director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Latest Intifada: A Sense that Palestinian Opposition to Israel Has Failed - Haviv Rettig Gur
    The latest wave of Palestinian terrorism has broad support neither among the people nor among the elites. One of the most remarkable facts about the stabbings and protests that dominate the headlines is how few Palestinians are actually participating in them: a few hundred, and, at moments of dramatic mobilization, perhaps a few thousand. The simple arithmetic is undeniable: the Palestinian people are not lashing out at the Israelis. They are staying home.
        The attackers of Israelis, who are often dying almost instantly in the attempt, are battling, too, the growing Palestinian realization that their national movement has no answers, no narrative or political vision that offers a way forward to better days. Few Palestinians now expect or even seriously fantasize that any sort of victory might flow from these new suicides.
        Israelis who ultimately brushed off the suicide bombings of the Second Intifada by continuing with their daily lives will not be cowed by stabbings in the street. The quick deaths the attackers meet time and again only bring the collapse of Palestinian solutions and self-respect - and Israeli unflappability - into sharper relief. If the Jews can't be made to leave, then what is the value of Palestinian sacrifices made on the altar of this misbegotten strategy? (Times of Israel)
  • Stabbing at a West Bank Supermarket - A Blow to Coexistence? - Pinhas Inbari and Lenny Ben-David
    A Palestinian stabbed an Israeli woman outside the Rami Levy supermarket in the Etzion Bloc on Oct. 28. According to Western logic, including that of Israelis, Palestinians have a vested interest in keeping their jobs in stores and factories near the Jewish settlements in the territories. But some Palestinians - including the Palestinian Authority (PA) - see things differently. They fear that being involved in economic cooperation with Israelis will alienate the Palestinian people from "the struggle" and therefore must be prevented. This includes the Rami Levy supermarket chain.
        The PA is also opposed to workers who work in Israeli industrial zones in the West Bank. Therefore, Israel's policy of positive economic gestures may convince the West of its good intentions, but the PA itself is opposed to these gestures.
        Five years ago, a Palestinian official in charge of boycotting economic cooperation with Israel visited the Rami Levy market to view her enemy. She found all her relatives, neighbors and acquaintances there purchasing their needs for the week. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The Economic Costs of Palestinian Unrest in the West Bank - Dani Rubinstein
    There are 14 Israeli industrial zones in the West Bank, including Adumim near Jericho with 330 factories, Barkan in Samaria with 160 factories and the zone between Jerusalem and Ramallah. The factories are involved in food processing, textiles, printing, furniture manufacturing, construction and plastics. More than 30,000 Palestinians are employed in these industrial zones, with some 20,000 more working in construction, transport, supply and agriculture. In total, more than 200,000 Palestinians make a living from activities in contact with Israel and represent more than one-quarter of the Palestinian workforce. (Calcalist-Hebrew-Worldcrunch)

  • Other Issues

  • Israel to UN Human Rights Council: We Shall Exercise Our Right to Life - Amb. Eviatar Manor
    Israel's Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Eviatar Manor, said Wednesday: "How is it that, when the citizens of Israel undergo a vicious terrorist assault, my country is accused of murdering children, summarily executing attackers and using excessive force. What is the difference between the behavior of the security forces in Paris and Trollhattan, and the actions of Israel's security forces? In Sweden, last Friday, a young assailant armed with a sword murdered two people and wounded two others and was shot and killed by the police....Was the attacker summarily executed as well or was he shot in order to prevent further killings of innocent people?"
        "When are victims confused with perpetrators of terrorist attacks and when is maintaining public security confused with carrying out terrorist attacks? Let me make it clear: Israelis stabbed or run over by a car while walking in the street or waiting for a bus are victims; Palestinians shot while actively attempting to stab civilians are terrorist perpetrators."
        "Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's said on Oct. 19: 'I also understand the anger many Israelis feel. When children are afraid to go to school, when anyone on the street is a potential victim, security is rightly your immediate priority.'"
        "The days of spilling Jewish blood without Jews allowed to defend themselves are long gone. The Human Rights Council has forgotten that the right to life is a basic human right and that it is universal. Jews in Israel have it, too. And we shall exercise our right to life."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Western Wall Rabbi Condemns UNESCO for Declaring Forefathers' Tombs as Islamic Sites - Jeremy Sharon
    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the Supervisor of the Western Wall and the holy places, strongly condemned UNESCO for asserting in a resolution that the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and the Tomb of Rachel on the outskirts of Jerusalem are an integral part of Palestine. The Cave of the Patriarchs is the most ancient Jewish shrine in the world and the second holiest site of pilgrimage in Judaism.
        Regarding the Tomb of Rachel, Rabinowitz wrote to UNESCO that "Centuries of documented history prove not only the deep and strong connection between the Jewish nation and this tomb, as is evidenced by the pilgrimage made to it even during hard times and at great personal risk, but also that there has never been a Muslim claim to the site."
        "Anyone with eyes can see the despicable act of utilizing religion and faith in God for territorial gain and harming the sacred sites of another people. I find it hard to understand how a body like UNESCO, whose stated purpose is preservation of cultural and heritage values of the nations of the world, takes such a clear stand behind such an imaginary claim....Is this the way to build peace? By strengthening lies and fanning the flames?"  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Ottoman Sultan Recognized Jewish Rights at Rachels Tomb (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Weekend Features

  • Why I've Made My Home at a Kibbutz near Gaza - Amir Tibon
    The Israeli border with Gaza is dotted with 21 agricultural communities located less than 3 km. from the actual border fence. Nahal Oz is the closest to Gaza (800 meters), and for the last 15 years, has also been one of the most bombarded places in Israel. During the 2014 Gaza war it was under nonstop fire. After a visit there as a diplomatic correspondent for the Walla News website, I said we will know who won the war only in half a year when we see how many people will leave the border communities, and how many new ones will arrive there. "If places like Nahal Oz will be half-empty a few months from today, Hamas will be able to declare victory," I said.
        On August 22, as residents of the kibbutzim along the border began returning to their homes, a mortar killed four-year-old Daniel Tragerman. In Nahal Oz, at least 17 families (out of 80) decided to leave the kibbutz. Two weeks after the end of the war, I received a call from Nir Meir, the national chairman of the kibbutz movement. "I want to talk to you about Nahal Oz," he said. "I heard you speak about it during the war. Talking and writing is good, but if you really want to do something, why don't you move there? They need young people right now. If you move there from Tel Aviv, it will be more significant than any article you publish about it." While my first reaction was that it's a crazy idea, over the next weeks my thoughts began to move from a firm "no" towards a curious "maybe."
        After a number of visits together with my fiance, who had lived in Tel Aviv most of her life, we finally settled on coming to Nahal Oz. Before we came, a number of new families had already moved to the kibbutz and since our arrival last fall, 10 other families have joined. (Times of Israel)
  • Reconnecting with Descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jews - Amanda Borschel-Dan
    This week Lisbon began bestowing Portuguese citizenship upon descendants of Sephardic Jews who were persecuted on the Iberian Peninsula some 500 years ago. Since Oct. 2 in neighboring Spain, 4,302 people have begun the bureaucratic citizenship process based on similar laws, as a way of making amends for the historical crimes committed during the Inquisition. This month, the new Knesset Caucus for the Reconnection with the Descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jewish Communities was launched, directed by Ashley Perry, a longtime adviser to the Foreign Ministry.
        To Perry, a Sephardi Jew born in England, the descendants of Jews who were expelled during the Inquisition could instinctively be natural supporters of Israel. Perry recently founded Reconectar, an organization whose mission is to facilitate this reconnection. MK Robert Ilatov noted these descendants "stand in the tens of millions around the world" and that "many of them are interested in exploring their Jewish roots....Our to assist them in this task."  (Times of Israel)
        See also The Jewish and Portuguese People - Ashley Perry (Perez) and Pedro Vargas David
    According to genetic studies, 20-25% of Portuguese people alive today have Sephardic Jewish ancestry. Furthermore, tens of millions of Latinos and Hispanics in North and Latin America and Europe are also descended from Portuguese Jews. (Jerusalem Post)

Why Israel Helps Worldwide When Disaster Strikes - Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan (Times of Israel)

  • From the earthquake in Mexico City in 1985, to the flooding in the Philippines this year, for 30 years the State of Israel has been sending relief delegations abroad. Almost everywhere we go, we are the first to arrive, and in most cases, our contribution is the greatest in the period closest to when the disaster occurs. The Israeli temperament is well suited to functioning in disaster areas: we reach a site that is in complete chaos, and we know how to manage pretty well. We are able to handle authority, we know how to improvise, and we are good problem-solvers.
  • In Haiti after the earthquake, our staff numbered 240. It included nurses who had left their children behind at home, doctors, hospital department heads. Their readiness to help - to just drop everything and come work under difficult conditions - was amazing, living in tents, treating patients in intense heat and humidity, and with earthquake aftershocks all the time.
  • Our offering help to those wounded in the Syrian civil war - it's not for the public relations. Providing help makes us feel human. We've had our own disasters throughout history, and we were not always offered help. It is our responsibility, therefore, to be a "light unto the nations." We're talking about realizing a human obligation. Yes, they come from an enemy country, and we do not give them a pre-test to find out what they think about Israel, even while the hospitalizations cost us millions.
  • We know that it doesn't change Israel's image in the world. But we are creating ties with the enemy that are of a different nature. We are saying to them: you can live alongside us without fighting. If, one day, there will be a government there, and on both sides of the border there will be people who will say to themselves, "We know from the past that we can gain from these mutual ties," that will be our reward.
  • We, the Jewish people, must seek out the added value in life. It was the Zionist vision that insisted on revival through building. The Zionist perspective chose not to wallow in tragedy and in playing the victim. The highest expression of this value is the ability to help. We've been through it, we understand it, and we know how to help.

    The writer is Deputy Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces.
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