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November 6, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Russian Plane Crash: UK Suspects Bomb (BBC News)
    UK investigators looking at what caused a Russian airliner to crash in Egypt believe a bomb was put in the hold prior to take-off, the BBC has learned.
    The government received intelligence based on intercepted messages between militants in the Sinai peninsula.
    Investigators in the UK's security service suspect someone with access to the aircraft's baggage compartment inserted an explosive device inside or on top of the luggage just before the plane took off.

Many Palestinian Terrorists Aren't on Facebook - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
    Pundits have explained that the current violence is the result of incitement on Palestinian social media. But interrogations of the attackers by Israeli investigators reveal a different picture.
    Many of the attackers do not have accounts on Facebook, or on any other social networks. The online videos urging attacks on Jews have not reached them.
    They were motivated to strike by incitement of the old variety: conversations, coffeehouse chatter, word of mouth. A number of the attackers set out within an hour of hearing a rumor of the "murders" of Palestinians by Israel.
    The most prominent media outlet cited by the attackers as influencing their decision was Hamas' al-Aqsa TV, which has a wide following in the West Bank, along with Islamic Jihad's channel and two others: al-Quds and Palestine Mubasher. All are contributing to the terrorists' sense of mission.

U.S. Hits Hizbullah Procurement Networks with Sanctions - Samuel Rubenfeld (Wall Street Journal)
    The U.S. Department of Treasury said Thursday it placed sanctions on two Hizbullah procurement agents and their companies, and on two companies linked to a third procurement agent, freezing their assets and barring Americans from doing business with them.
    "Hizbullah is a dangerous, destabilizing terrorist group, and Treasury is determined to maintain maximum pressure on this organization by targeting its many revenue streams," said Adam J. Szubin, acting undersecretary of Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence.

Turkey's Kurdish Rebels Return to War Footing - Emre Peker (Wall Street Journal)
    Kurdish rebels said on Thursday they would return to offensive military operations against Turkish forces, a day after Turkish President Erdogan, fresh from an election victory, pledged to eradicate the militants.

Russia Begins to Bleed in Syria - Yoni Ben-Menachem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Reports from Syrian sources indicate that despite massive aerial bombardment by Russian planes on rebel strongholds, rebel forces are fighting stubbornly and still managing to inflict heavy losses in recent days on Hizbullah and Iranian forces.
    Just as the West's coalition failed to defeat ISIS with its air strikes, a victory in Syria may only be achieved by military forces on the ground.
    The writer is former Director General and Chief Editor of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.

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Vietnam, Israel Boost Trade Ties (Vietnam News)
    Deputy Foreign Minister Le Hoai Trung told a conference of Vietnamese and Israeli business leaders in Hanoi on Thursday that the relationship of the two countries has expanded significantly in a wide range of areas.
    Vietnamese Ambassador to Israel Cao Tran Quoc Hai said agricultural technology, shrimp breeding production, medical equipment and drip irrigation technology were capturing the interest of Vietnamese firms.
    Two-way trade increased from $200 million in 2009 to almost $1.1 billion in 2014.

Free MDA Self-Defense and First-Aid Workshops in Israel - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's Magen David Adom emergency services offered free, two-hour self-defense and first-aid workshops at its first-aid and ambulance stations around the country this week, in cooperation with the Israel Judo Association, which presented fundamentals on self-defense.
    There are many examples of how people wounded in terrorist attacks were saved with basic first aid. The workshops will focus on treating victims stabbed with knives or suffering from gunshot wounds.
    See also Video: How to Defend Yourself from a Frontal Attack - Lior Bitran (Krav Maga Girl)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • 369 House Members Ask Palestinian Leader to Restore Calm - Deb Riechmann
    369 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed a letter asking PA President Mahmoud Abbas not to incite violence, to continue security cooperation with Israel, and to agree to renew peace talks without conditions. The letter was released by House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the top Democrat. (AP)
  • Russia's Syria Force Grows to 4,000 - Jonathan Landay
    Moscow's military force in Syria has grown to 4,000, but this and more than a month of Russian air strikes have not led to pro-government forces making significant territorial gains, U.S. security officials and independent experts said. Yet Washington has had little success as well in affecting the conflict after targeting Islamic State in more than a year of air strikes.
        A U.S. defense official said Russian aircraft are now operating out of four bases, but multiple rocket launcher crews and long-range artillery batteries are deployed outside the facilities. "They have a lot of people outside the wire," he said.
        Government ground offensives have failed to make significant advances, experts said. A key factor appears to be significant losses by pro-government forces of tanks and other armored vehicles to U.S.-made TOW anti-tank missiles that Saudi Arabia has been supplying to the anti-Assad rebels. (Reuters)
  • U.S., Allies to Boost Aid to Syria Rebels - Adam Entous
    The U.S. and its regional allies will increase shipments of weapons and other supplies from the CIA, Saudi Arabia and other allied spy services to help moderate Syrian rebels hold their ground and challenge the intervention of Russia and Iran on behalf of Syrian President Assad, U.S. officials and their counterparts in the region said. "Assad is not going to feel any pressure to make concessions if there is no viable opposition that has the capacity, through the support of its partners, to put pressure on his regime," an Obama administration official said. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • No Israel-Palestinian Solution during Obama Presidency, White House Assesses - Michael Wilner
    The White House has made the "realistic assessment" that a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians will not come to pass during the remainder of President Obama's presidency, senior administration officials said Thursday. Rob Malley, National Security Council coordinator for the Middle East, told reporters: "The prospect of a two-state solution is not in the cards for the time that's remaining." The president's aides indicated that during Prime Minister Netanyahu's meeting with the president in Washington on Nov. 9, Obama will ask him to put forward ideas for a path forward "in the absence of negotiations."
        Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, told the Jerusalem Post that tension between the two governments over Iran amounted to an unavoidable policy disagreement - not a personal one - that both governments hope to put in the past. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Arab Woman Sent by Gazan Terror Group to Spy on Israel, Carry Out Attacks - Yaakov Lappin and Yonah Jeremy Bob
    Security forces arrested an Israeli-Arab woman, Nasrin Hassan Abdullah Hassan, who is married to a Gazan, and charged her on Thursday with having been recruited to carry out terrorist attacks within Israel on behalf of the Katim Al-Muhajadin (Holy Warriors Battalions), a jihadist organization. Being an Israeli citizen, with freedom of access within Israel, she received instructions to gather intelligence on security arrangements at Haifa port, a train station, an Interior Ministry branch, a courthouse, and a synagogue. "She passed on this information to the terror organization, clearly knowing that it will be used to carry out terrorist activities," the Israel Security Agency said. In addition, "she received training in how to prepare an explosive device."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Attempts to Stab IDF Soldier
    A Palestinian man, Malek Talal Sharif, 25, from Hebron, attempted to stab soldiers at a bus stop at Gush Etzion Junction in the West Bank on Thursday and was shot dead. (Times of Israel)
        See also IDF Soldier Shoots Three Terrorists in Nine Days - Elisha Ben Kimon and Yoav Zitun
    Corporal "T," 19, who foiled an attempted terror attack in Gush Etzion on Thursday, had also killed two terrorists during an attempted attack a week ago. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Iran's Clenched Fist to America - Editorial
    So much for the Tehran thaw. In recent days Tehran has arrested two U.S. citizens, bringing to five the number of Americans known to be under Iranian lock and key. The arrests come as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has publicly reaffirmed his regime's commitment to its "Death to America" slogan and set new conditions on the nuclear deal that amount to a unilateral renegotiation.
        When it comes to the Islamic Republic, international goodwill is invariably met with contempt and cruelty. In the wake of the nuclear deal, this is a lesson the West will have to learn all over again. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also In Iran, a Deal and Then a Crackdown - Editorial
    The anti-American backlash in Iran since the nuclear deal was signed has gotten so bad that one Iranian-American businessman in Tehran now likens it to a witch hunt. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is fueling the crackdown. He has denounced the U.S. as Iran's chief enemy and warned against what he says is America's intention to infiltrate Iran and attack the country's revolutionary roots. (New York Times)
  • Iran Never Approved the Nuclear Deal: "The Emperor Has No Clothes" - Yigal Carmon
    The "Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action" (JCPOA) that was concluded on July 14 in Vienna is neither a contract nor even a real agreement between Iran and the P5+1. It is a set of understandings and disputes compiled into a single document. The JCPOA is characterized by bold prohibitions on Iran that peter out in qualifying terms such as "unless," "except if," and the like. As Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei frequently reiterates, Iran agreed to negotiations mainly to get the sanctions lifted.
        In Iran, following discussion in both its Majlis and its Guardian Council, the JCPOA as concluded and announced on July 14 was not approved. The Majlis ratified something else - a set of recommendations to the government of Iran regarding how it should execute the JCPOA. This hardly constitutes approval of the original document. No one in the West has spoken up about the fraud of Iran's alleged "approval" of the JCPOA. Everyone swallowed the lie, in a spirit of goodwill, in order to allow the JCPOA to proceed, for "peace in our time."
        Under the JCPOA, Iran has little time and much to do by Dec. 15. It must dismantle thousands of centrifuges and transfer them to storage monitored by IAEA cameras. It must ship out 9,000 kg. of its enriched uranium to a third country, retaining only 300 kg. It must dismantle and pour cement into the core of the Arak plutonium reactor, and transform the facility into a heavy water reactor. It must notify the IAEA of its voluntary acceptance of the NPT Additional Protocol. And more.
        But now Khamenei, in a letter to President Rohani, has dictated nine new conditions for the JCPOA, and declared that if these were not met Iran would stop the agreement. Yet the entire American media - as well as all the U.S. intelligence agencies and think tanks - claimed that Khamenei had approved the agreement. (MEMRI)
  • Unfinished Business from the Iran Nuclear Debate - Robert Satloff
    The open questions surrounding the Iran deal remain matters of strategic importance. At the same time, Iran's actions since the deal's approval suggest Tehran views the accord not as the pathway to responsible regional behavior but as a license to expand influence, fuel instability, and make trouble for America and its local allies.
        Getting clarity on these issues now - in the months before Iran completes its "core requirements" and the deal's endorsers terminate or waive nuclear-related sanctions - is essential. Key policies and precedents about the deal's implementation and its impact on U.S. strategic posture in the broader Middle East are being set now. Addressing the unfinished business of the Iran deal - correcting the flaws, filling the holes, and solving the problems it raised - is urgent if the U.S. is to avoid shackling itself to problematic policies and troubling precedents for years to come. The writer is executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (American Interest)

  • Other Issues

  • An Open Letter to the Professors Boycotting Israel - Yoaz Hendel
    You are calling for a stop to military aid and diplomatic support for Israel by the U.S. because your opinions on diplomacy weren't accepted. You want a peace treaty in which settlements are evicted and a Palestinian state established, and there isn't one - so you apparently need to boycott Israel until your demands are met. Be democratic, you say, accept our opinions as we've decided or you won't exist.
        Here's a suggestion: Look up interviews with Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert, and Tzipi Livni on Google. All three of them ran negotiations, all three believe in territorial compromise. All three wanted peace with the Palestinians at least as much as you do - and failed. Yes, in a theoretical world, Israelis and Palestinians would sit at the negotiation table. Compromise here, compromise there. The Palestinians would establish a democratic state next to the Jewish state. However, all that can only happen in theory.
        This is a long-standing religious and national conflict. A conflict between societies - one free, the other not. The PLO was established in 1964 - three years before the "occupation" - in order to enact terrorism. Palestinian attacks on Zionist Jews who came here started long before that. The writer is a former director of communications in Prime Minister Netanyahu's Office. (Ynet News)
  • The Palestinians' War on History - Dr. Nesia Shemer
    David Ben-Gurion explained to the British Royal Commission of Inquiry (the Peel Commission) in 1937 the basis of the Jewish demand for the right to live in the Land of Israel: "The Bible is our mandate. Our historic right has existed since the dawn of the Jewish people."
        Yet the Palestinian Authority's policy is to rewrite history and replace Jewish history with a fabricated, ancient Muslim-Palestinian history. On Palestinian television programs, the biblical Canaanites are morphed into Arabs who have lived in the land since 7000 BCE. Abraham is turned into a Muslim who built Al-Aqsa mosque. Moses becomes a Muslim who shepherded the Muslims out of Egypt, and Jesus is not a Jew but a Palestinian.
        It is very hard to fight lies, because those who want to believe them will continue to believe them even when presented with historical facts and scientific proof to the contrary. The writer is a lecturer in the Middle Eastern Studies Department at Bar-Ilan University. (Israel Hayom)

  • Weekend Features

  • A Converation with Israeli Arab Christian Diplomat George Deek - Lee Smith
    I strongly encourage readers to watch the recording of Israeli diplomat George Deek, an Arab Christian, at the Hudson Institute in Washington. Deek explained that Israel sees the conflict as one between two separate national identities - with a possibility for the two to accommodate each other's claims.
        However, the Arabs don't see it like this at all. Rather, they see Israel as a foreign interloper that doesn't belong in the region, and one that will eventually be rooted out. But because Israel has the military and political power, it can make the case that: you don't have to accept us, but we're not going anywhere. (Tablet)
  • Wounded IDF Vet Knows No Bounds - Tess Cutler
    Adi Deutsch, an IDF veteran, stepped on an antipersonnel land mine in 1979 while returning from a mission in Lebanon. The explosion ultimately took his right leg; he was 20 years old. Deutsch, now 56, will run in the New York City Marathon for the first time. Ever since 2000, Deutsch has been cycling competitively. He has participated at the Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia, in a triathlon in Roth, Germany, and an Ironman in Frankfurt. In Israel, he took first place at the Tiberias Marathon.
        At one point, Deutsch considered running to be his weakest athletic skill, opting instead to focus on cycling and swimming. In 2012, Deutsch was among 12 participants who received athletic prosthetics thanks to the Friends of the IDF (FIDF) Strides Program, an initiative that provides special sports prosthetics for wounded IDF veterans. (Tablet)
  • Druse Teenagers Express Their Love for Israel - Across America - Danielle Ziri
    Growing up, Faten Naseralden, Einav Halabi and Marwan Kheir were taught to love the country they were born in and stand up for its right to exist. They are part of a group of seven young Israeli Druse visiting the U.S. on a speaking tour. "We speak Arabic, we can understand the other side, but we see ourselves as Israelis," said Halabi.
        "If Zionism means to love Israel, to love the Jewish people and to protect the country, then I am the most Zionist of all," Naseralden said. Many of her family members have served in the army and many died in the service of the country. "I told myself that even if I managed to influence only 1% of people, I have completed my mission," she said. (Jerusalem Post)

Denounce the Hooligans Who Shouted Down a Visiting Israeli Professor at the University of Minnesota - Oren Gross (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

  • On Tuesday, the University of Minnesota Law School hosted Prof. Moshe Halbertal - a world-renowned philosopher, political theorist and historian of Jewish thought, as well as one of the world's leading military ethicists.
  • As my colleague, Prof. Dale Carpenter, described the scene: "[O]ne by one...protesters stood up to shout denunciations of Israel and were escorted from the hall by university police. One young woman came screaming back into the lecture after having been ejected. Outside the hall, the protesters chanted so loudly that it was difficult to hear Halbertal."
  • These acts of cultural hooliganism present a real threat to free speech and the free exchange of ideas. As Carpenter noted, "there is no right to shout down a speaker at an academic lecture" and that "members of a university community have an obligation to consider opposing viewpoints and, if not always a duty to listen to them, then at least a duty to allow others to listen to them."
  • The affront to free speech in the appalling conduct of the protesters should be disturbing to anyone. So too should be the overtly anti-Semitic attitudes demonstrated. It is absolutely legitimate to criticize the State of Israel and the policies of its government. Unfortunately, much of the anti-Israel discourse is but a thin disguise for anti-Semitic sentiments.
  • To call for the utter destruction of the Jewish state and for a Jew-Free Zone between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, as the protesters repeatedly chanted, is anti-Semitic.
  • To single out Israel as the only country for such criticism while maintaining a deafening silence (and at times even support) for Arab and Muslim regimes that brutally murder their own citizens and harbor genocidal plans against the Jewish state is anti-Semitic.
  • Had the invited speaker been anyone other than an Israeli and a Jew we would not have seen the protests that we witnessed on Tuesday. The protests occurred because the speaker was an Israeli and a Jew. That, too, is anti-Semitism.

    The writer is Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School.

        See also Israeli Academic Shouted Down at University of Minnesota - Dale Carpenter
    Moshe Halbertal is a professor at NYU Law School and a professor of Jewish thought and philosophy at Hebrew University. His lecture was entitled, "Protecting Civilians: Moral Challenges of Asymmetric Warfare." The talk did not directly address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, though Halbertal drew in part on his experience helping to draft the Israeli army's code of ethics.
        When he was finally able to speak, Halbertal argued that in fighting "asymmetric wars," professional combatants should err on the side of protecting noncombatants from casualties, even when they thereby increase risks to themselves or to their cause. But the protesters had no interest in hearing the lecture or in allowing the audience to hear it. The writer is Professor of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law at the University of Minnesota Law School. (Washington Post)
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