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December 11, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Trump Delays Israel Trip, as Netanyahu Criticizes His Muslim Entry Ban Proposal - Rebecca Sinderbrand and William Booth (Washington Post)
    Donald Trump is postponing his trip to Israel, originally planned for later this month, until "after I become President of the United States."
    Netanyahu on Wednesday issued a statement that he "rejects Donald Trump's latest comments about Muslims," and attributed his earlier decision to meet with him to a policy of meeting with all U.S. presidential candidates who visited Israel and ask to speak with him.

Iran Senior Commander Says U.S. Spent $2 Billion to Depose Islamic Regime - Temkin Jafarov (Trend-Azerbaijan)
    The commander of Iran's Basij force, Mohammad Reza Naqdi, claims that the U.S. allocated $2 billion to depose the Islamic regime in Iran, the Iranian Mehr news agency reported on Nov. 27.
    "Some $200 million out of this sum was given personally to [Secretary of State] John Kerry for this purpose," Naqdi said, adding that "Kerry has so far headed 34 projects to depose the Islamic regime."

Hungarian Jews Protest Planned Statue for Anti-Semitic WW2 Politician - Krisztina Than (Reuters)
    Hungary's Jewish community protested against plans to erect a statue to a politician who played a role in drafting anti-Jewish laws during World War Two, saying on Thursday that it would bring back the "dark and menacing shadow of anti-Semitism."
    A private foundation wants to put up a statue in honor of Balint Homan, who served as Hungary's minister of religion and education twice between 1932 and 1942.
    "Balint Homan was a decisive figure of the far-right politics that eventually contributed to the deportation of 600,000 Hungarian Jews," the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities said.
    Its chairman, Andras Heisler, said, "As Hungarian citizens, we protest against the erection of the statue of an anti-Semitic politician in democratic Hungary."

Who Is Stealing Palestinian Land? - Khaled Abu Toameh (Gatestone Institute)
    The Palestinian Islamist Hamas movement is planning to pay its unpaid civil servants with former Israeli settlement land in Gaza.
    The Palestinian Authority and many Palestinians have expressed shock over Hamas' decision to compensate its employees with parcels of land.
    By stealing their people's land and distributing it among their followers, Hamas is further undermining the Palestinian dream of establishing a proper state based on the principles of democracy, accountability, transparency and the rule of law.

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Israeli High School Students Discover Hasmonean Coins from First Century BCE - Yair Altman (Israel Hayom)
    Students from the Handasaim Herzliya High School found three coins minted during the rule of the Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus in the first century BCE while on an archeological dig at Adulam Park.

Four Israeli Medical Apps Win Top International Competition - Sagi Cohen (Ynet News)
    Four Israeli applications are among the 10 winners of the international 2015 Medica App Competition held recently in Dusseldorf, Germany.
    The Voiceitt company's Talkitt app enables people who have speech disabilities communicate using their own voice.
    Mobile ODT's Enhanced Visual Assessment System assists healthcare professionals to conduct smarter visual cervical cancer screenings by managing patient information, consulting with peers for second opinions, and referring patients for proper care.
    iFeel Labs Match3 developed a game which uses a biosensor to help asthma and COPD patients learn how to breathe effectively and improve pulmonary function.
    Doctome developed a telemedicine platform that allows for video calls/chats anywhere around the globe with doctors speaking the patient's language, 24/7, 365 days a year.

Israel Has Most Per-Capita Winners of European Young Research Grants - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel is in first place in Europe in the per capita number of research grants given to young people in 23 European countries this year, according to the Science, Technology and Space Ministry.
    A total of 24 research grants were awarded to Israel out of 291 overall, said Minister Ophir Akunis.
    On a per-capita basis, he said, this means Israel is No. 1 this year.

Japan Turns to Israeli Tech to Treat Radiation Disease - David Shamah (Times of Israel)
    Four years after Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant disaster, radiation poisoning remains a continued risk.
    That is why Fukushima Medical University's Global Medical Science Center has signed a deal with Israel's Pluristem Therapeutics to further develop the company's PLX-R18 cells to treat acute radiation syndrome (ARS).
    Tests have shown that the stem-cell technology developed by Pluristem can prevent damage to cells affected by ARS.

Israel to Train Doctors for China (Xinhua-China)
    In 2016, doctors from the underdeveloped southwestern provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou will have opportunities to study medicine in Israel, Amir Lati, Israel's consul general in Chengdu, said Friday.
    China still needs state-of-the-art technology to better treat patients, said Dr. Moris Topaz, a plastic surgeon from the Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera.
    Topaz is widely respected by his Chinese colleagues for helping treat victims of an earthquake in Sichuan Province in 2008. He introduced technology that spared many patients from amputation and reduced antibiotic dosages and inflammation risks.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Russia Demonstrating Its Newly Restored Military Prowess in Syria - Reid Standish
    Earlier this week, Russia hit targets near Raqqa, the Islamic State's capital in Syria, with cruise missiles launched from an advanced stealth submarine in the Mediterranean Sea. Moscow previously fired missiles from warships in the Caspian Sea in October and November. By using the military campaign in Syria as a testing ground for new weaponry and hardware, the Kremlin is alerting Western powers of Russia's newly restored military prowess after decades of decay.
        "The missiles launched from the submarine were more of a political weapon aimed at Washington, rather than a military one aimed at ISIS," said Chris Harmer, a senior naval analyst at the Institute for the Study of War. "There is no tactical reason for Russia to fire a cruise missile. They are using these to show the world that they can." "It's also about showing potential customers that Russian weapons can do impressive things," said Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University. (Foreign Policy)
        See also Russia Bogging Down in Syria - Michael Crowley
    U.S. and Israeli officials say Putin's intervention in Syria is showing slower results than he had hoped. "The Russians thought they would make a lot more progress on the ground fast," said one administration official. "They haven't made really any....It's measured by low-digit kilometers at the most." "The whole idea of the Russian presence in Syria is to launch an offensive," Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon told the Brookings Institution's Saban Forum last Friday. "It seems to be a failure."
        Russian planes and cruise missiles began striking Syrian rebel forces in late September as Assad's army began a ground offensive, assisted by 2,000 Iranian-led fighters, including religious militias and Revolutionary Guard troops. But that ground offensive has mostly sputtered, with indications that Iran - which has taken significant casualties - has withdrawn more than half of its forces. (Politico)
  • FBI Says It Is Refocused on Movement of Islamic State Recruits into U.S. - W.J. Hennigan
    FBI Director James B. Comey told a Senate hearing Wednesday that Islamic State remains intent on sending militants into the U.S. as well as inspiring Americans and visa holders already here to conduct attacks. "They are trying to do two things: They are trying to motivate people already in the United States to become killers on their behalf, and they would very much like to, as they aspire to be the leader in the global jihad, send people here to the United States to launch attacks." Europeans trained by Islamic State in Syria were largely if not entirely responsible for the attacks in Paris on Nov. 13.
        Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said the National Counterterrorism Center also has identified people "with ties to terrorists in Syria who are attempting to enter the United States through the refugee program." U.S. officials estimate that 30,000 people - including about 4,000 with European passports and dozens of Americans - have joined the conflict in Iraq and Syria over the last four years and could pose a long-term danger to the U.S. and its allies. The total is almost double the number of foreign fighters who flocked to Afghanistan in the 1980s to fight in a war that spawned al-Qaeda. (Los Angeles Times)
  • New Vatican Document: Catholics Should Not Seek to Convert Jews
    The Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews released a document on Dec. 10 that emphasizes the Jewish roots of Christian faith, and stresses that God first revealed himself to the Hebrews. "The Church is therefore obliged to view evangelization to Jews, who believe in the one God, in a different manner from that to people of other religions and world views," the document says. "In concrete terms this means that the Catholic Church neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards Jews." The Vatican document also says: "A Christian can never be an anti-Semite, especially because of the Jewish roots of Christianity."
        At a press conference introducing the Vatican document, Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee expressed satisfaction with the forthright statement that Catholics should not engage in programmatic efforts to convert Jews. (
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Four Soldiers Wounded in Car-Ramming Attack in West Bank - Gili Cohen
    Four Israeli soldiers were wounded in a car-ramming attack at the Beit Arye junction in the West Bank on Thursday. The driver escaped but the car was later found by the IDF in the nearby village of Al-Lubben. Inside the vehicle, security forces found an M-16 rifle that belonged to one of the soldiers. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Palestinian Driver in Car-Ramming Arrested
    Israeli security forces arrested the perpetrator of Thursday's car-ramming attack in the West Bank, Hamas member Mahmoud Abd al-Halim Abd al-Hamid Salam, 37, the Israel Security Agency announced Friday. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinian Car Attack Thwarted near Hebron - Elisha Ben Kimon
    A Palestinian attacker tried to ram his car into Israelis at the Halhul junction north of Hebron on Friday afternoon. Israeli troops shot and neutralized the attacker. No Israelis were hurt. (Ynet News)
  • Expelled Shalit Deal Prisoners Forming Militant Cells in West Bank - Elior Levy
    Palestinian security prisoners released as part of the 2011 Shalit deal and expelled to Gaza, Qatar and Turkey have been working to form militant cells in the West Bank and east Jerusalem to launch attacks against Israel, Hamas sources told Ynet on Thursday. The expelled Hamas prisoners use connections they made before they were arrested, providing their contacts in the territories with funding and guidance. These operations are led and financed by the head of Hamas' West Bank Division, Saleh al-Arouri, located in Turkey.
        The Hamas source also said that Gaza's rulers are pushing for suicide bombings in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, but so far these attempts have been unsuccessful. The expelled prisoners have also formed a shadow organization to lead protests, marches and clashes with Israeli security forces, as well as encourage incitement. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • We Are Being Deceived on Iran - Alex Fishman
    Following the signing of the nuclear deal in July, the sanctions against Iran will be lifted on Dec. 15. But Iran is not meeting its obligations to dismantle its nuclear capability as per its agreement with six world powers. According to the agreement, Iran has until Dec. 15 to dismantle two-thirds of its active centrifuges, so that it will not have more than 6,000 old-generation centrifuges in its possession. All the advanced centrifuges will be taken apart, the stockpiles of enriched uranium up to 3.6% will be reduced to 300kg and the medium-grade enriched uranium will be destroyed. The Iranians are also obligated to make engineering changes to their Arak reactor. None of these clauses have been fulfilled.
        Yediot Ahronot has received information from Western intelligence officials showing that at the pace the Iranians are working, they will only meet their obligations sometime during the second half of 2016 - and perhaps even later. (Ynet News)
  • What the U.S. Can Learn from Israel on Facing Domestic Terror - Danny Danon
    Like all democracies, we stand with our friends in America and France during these tragic times. Israel owes a special debt of gratitude to these great countries, which were our earliest supporters from the moment that we declared our independence in 1948.
        After the tragic attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, we are fully committed to fight shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies in this common battle against Islamic terrorism. Israel's security and intelligence forces are already working closely with their U.S. and French counterparts in a variety of ways.
        It's time for liberal democracies to learn from Israel's proven track record and implement anti-terror policies that succeed in keeping innocent civilians safe. Intelligence capabilities must be improved. No country should be waiting for an attack, but rather ensuring that eyes and ears on the ground enable security services to apprehend potential terrorists before they attack.
        Good intelligence allows for cutting off funding to terrorists, apprehending the heads of the organizations instead of lowly foot soldiers, and stopping hateful incitement breeding another generation of terrorists. The writer is Israel's Ambassador to the UN. (New York Post)
  • Social Media Companies Step Up Battle Against Militant Propaganda - Joseph Menn
    Facebook, Google and Twitter are stepping up efforts to combat online propaganda and recruiting by Islamic militants, but the Internet companies are doing it quietly to avoid the perception that they are helping the authorities police the Web. Twitter revised its abuse policy to ban indirect threats of violence, in addition to direct threats, and has dramatically improved its speed for handling abuse requests, a spokesman said. Facebook said it banned this year any content praising terrorists.
        Google's YouTube has expanded a little-known "Trusted Flagger" program, allowing groups ranging from a British anti-terror police unit to the Simon Wiesenthal Center to flag large numbers of videos as problematic and get immediate action. (Reuters)
        See also Expert: Twitter, YouTube Doing the Minimum to Deal with Jihadi Content Online - Ariel Ben Solomon
    Twitter and YouTube are "doing the minimum to deal with the problem of jihadi content online," said Steven Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), who charts terrorist use of social networks. He said Twitter was " the main social media used by jihadis - and when jihadi accounts are removed, they are immediately relaunched." Stalinsky said Facebook has been extremely successful in stopping jihadis from using its services, but that YouTube has done considerably less well in this task. (Jerusalem Post)
  • How the Israel Fixation Feeds Terror - Evelyn Gordon
    Europe grants tens of millions of dollars a year to Israeli NGOs for the ostensible purpose of promoting "democracy" and "human rights" in the one Middle Eastern country that already does a reasonable job of protecting both. In 2010, the British government gave £600,000 to Israeli NGOs; if you exclude Iraq, that's six times as much as it gave NGOs in all other Arab countries combined. No other democracy gets nearly as much foreign government funding as Israel does. These funds go almost exclusively to organizations striving in some way to get Israel to adopt ever more concessions to the Palestinians.
        While Western countries believed the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was the Mideast's main problem, recent events have amply proven that this belief was simply false. This conflict had nothing to do with any of the real problems now preoccupying the West. But those problems might not be the metastasizing crises they are had the West not spent decades ignoring all the region's other patent ills in order to obsess over the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Diverting those millions of euros from Israeli NGOs to all the countries that really do need help with democracy and human rights might be an excellent way to focus on the Mideast's real problems. (Commentary)
  • Denmark Funding NGOs with Anti-Peace Agendas
    Danish funds earmarked for humanitarian and development aid are transferred to NGOs promoting damaging anti-peace agendas, Shaun Sacks of NGO Monitor told Danish lawmakers Wednesday. While Denmark's Parliament has called for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the normalization of ties between Israel and Arab countries, and an acceptance of Israel's right to peace and security, Danish funds have gone to groups acting against normalization.
        For example, Badil, a group that envisions the creation of "a de-Zionized Palestine of a single state" and supports boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel - both directly contradicting Danish policy - receives funding of $260,000 from the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat, one of Denmark's key channels for transferring development aid to NGOs. (NGO Monitor)

  • Weekend Features

  • "If I Leave the Country, the Terrorists Win," Says American Victim of Palestinian Attack - Allison Kaplan Sommer
    Jake Laznik, an American Jew from Florida, had been in the IDF for five days when he was mowed down by a Palestinian terrorist at a bus stop in a car-ramming attack on Nov. 27. "Suddenly a car came out of nowhere, hit my friend and me - and then it stopped. My left leg was under the tire and I couldn't move," recounted Laznik. "After a few seconds, the terrorist came out of the car. And I realized it was a terrorist attack. My friend was also under the car but there weren't any tires on him. So once the terrorist got out, he was able to stand up somehow. The terrorist didn't see me because I was on the other side of the car that he was - I was on the passenger side."
        "There was someone in the area who had a pistol and shot him....I just lay there and watched everything unfold." The leg under the car had been badly bruised but not broken - his other leg was broken from the impact of the car and his upper body badly scraped - he broke a bone in his hand as well. He was released to recuperate at a relative's home.
        "Even though this has happened, I'm still a hard-core Zionist, and I feel like if I left [the terrorists] would win and that's what they want us to do - just leave. Now I know better than most people that this is the reality....This showed me the purpose of why I'm doing this [serving in the IDF], why this country needs so much protection."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Tennessee Governor Finds "an Entire Country on a Mission" - Jordan Buie
    Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam told members of the Nashville Jewish community on Tuesday about his trade mission this summer to Israel with his family and members of the Nashville business community. "If somebody said, 'What's the main thing that impressed you about Israel?' It would be this: It is an entire country that is on a mission," Haslam said.
        "It is an entire country that understands, 'Here's why we are here, and here's why it matters.' It is the only place I have ever been where everyone, from that person driving your van to your waiter in your restaurant to a businessperson you talk to, understood that there was a bigger purpose going on for everyone in Israel, rather than just what's happening with their family and their job."  (The Tennessean)
  • Soldiers with Autism Take on Key Roles in IDF - Ben Sales
    Sitting in front of a computer at the center of Israel's largest army base, a soldier stares at the screen, moving pixel by pixel over a satellite photograph, picking out details and finding patterns. More than a year into his army service, N.S. spends eight hours a day using his exceptional attention to detail and intense focus to analyze visual data ahead of missions. Soldiers with autism can excel at this work because they are often adept at detecting patterns and maintaining focus for long periods of time.
        N.S. is among some 50 soldiers and trainees in the "Seeing Far" program for army-age Israelis diagnosed with autism. Others learn to be army electricians, who deal with devices like night vision goggles, or optics technicians, who work with binoculars. (JTA)
  • No-Hands-Needed Smartphone to Be Made Available for Free - David Shamah
    Thanks to a joint effort with Google and Beit Issie Shapiro, an Israel-based global advocacy group for people with disabilities, Sesame Enable, the inventor of the first smartphone designed for people who are largely paralyzed, is offering a free device to anyone who needs it. "The Sesame Phone empowers people with limited or no use of their hands to gain independence and privacy and become digitally connected," explains Sesame Enable CEO and co-founder Oded Ben Dov.
        The device is designed for individuals with ALS and other debilitating diseases in which victims are unable to move their limbs. The device uses voice commands and slight gestures for apps that usually require touch. (Times of Israel)
  • Israeli Tech to Protect Planes at Seattle's Airport - David Shamah
    Technology developed by Israel's Xsight Systems is set to protect planes at Seattle-Tacoma Airport. After tests and evaluation by the Port of Seattle, Xsight's RunWize will be installed - a system that automatically detects runway "junk" (foreign object debris) and alerts pilots. The system's GPS alerts ground crew as to exactly where the debris is located, enabling them to quickly remove it.
        The system also includes Xsight's BirdWize, which helps protect planes from birds that get sucked into jet engines. BirdWize scans the area for birds and emits a tone to chase the birds away, with the system supplying specific tones and sounds determined by biologists to be annoying to specific breeds of birds. Wildlife management teams at the airport are dispatched to deal with any birds still around. (Times of Israel)
  • World's Biggest Tech Firms Use Israeli Chip for High-End Video - David Shamah
    The Israeli firm Valens will get the 2015 Technical/Engineering Achievement Award at this year's Emmy awards on Jan. 8 for its HDbaseT connectivity technology. "The HDbaseT cable protocol we invented and popularized allows the transmission of high-quality uncompressed video, electricity, USB power, and just about everything else on a single cable of up to 100 meters, and that efficiency and neatness has made HDBaseT very popular in the TV business," said Valens senior vice-president Micha Risling.
        "Today, the standard for video production is 4K (4000 pixels horizontal resolution), which is high definition. Most of the cables that can transmit HD video are limited to just a few meters in length; longer ones are very expensive. So a studio ends up spending a great deal of money on cables." Or, studios - as well as businesses, offices that do videoconferencing, and even high-end home theaters - can use equipment with chips made by Valens. (Times of Israel)
  • Meet Miss Israel - Curt Schleier
    Avigail Alfatov, 19, the reigning Miss Israel who will compete this month in the Miss Universe Pageant in Las Vegas on Dec. 20, is a national fencing champion who dreams of being a diplomat. Born in Israel to parents from the Ukraine, she is the national youth fencing champion in Israel and hopes to be part of Israel's 2020 team in Tokyo. She is currently doing national service in the Israel Air Force. (JTA)

The Formulation of a Counterterrorism Strategy - Boaz Ganor (Jerusalem Post)

  • Even if Islamic State is defeated, its ideology will live on in whatever organization takes its place, unless the dangerous tenets of Islamist jihadism are dissolved.
  • The Israeli-Palestinian conflict (as well as the causes of poverty, occupation, oppression and lack of education) was not the root cause of the Paris attacks, nor of other terrorist attacks by Islamist jihadist organizations. Israel is not the root cause of processes of radicalization in the Muslim world.
  • The root cause is the radical religious ideological worldview based on a dangerous interpretation of Islam.
  • The annihilation of Israel would accelerate the establishment of an Islamic caliphate throughout the Middle East, add fuel to the fire of radical Islam, and reinforce the global jihadist struggle. Israel is the long arm of the Western world, stemming the tide of radical Islam and acting as a buffer between it and Europe.
  • The moderate Muslim majority must rise against the loud and dangerous minority that is hijacking Islam, because if they do not, these moderate Muslims are the ones who will pay the price, both in Muslim countries and in the West.

    The writer is dean of the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya and executive director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism.
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