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December 25, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Video: Prime Minister Netanyahu's Christmas Greeting - 2015 (Prime Minister's Office)
    From Jerusalem I wish Israel's Christian community, and Christians everywhere, a very joyous Christmas and a happy New Year.
    I am proud to say that Israel is one of the few countries in the Middle East, maybe the only country in the Middle East, where Christians are truly free to practice their faith openly, freely, to celebrate Christmas and other Christian holidays.
    The State of Israel is a beacon of liberty in a Middle East plagued by oppression and extremism.

Islamic State Supporter in U.S. Planned to Blow Up Super Bowl Stadium, Mall (AP-CBS News)
    Prosecutors said Wednesday that Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem of Arizona - already accused of helping plan an attack on a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas - had researched traveling to the Middle East to fight alongside the Islamic State and inquired about the types of explosives that would be needed to blow up a mall and the Phoenix stadium where the 2015 Super Bowl was held.

Israel Files Complaints with CNN and CBS over Slanted Reporting (Ynet News)
    Israel's Government Press Office (GPO) sent an official letter of complaint to CNN and CBS after the two TV networks failed to make a distinction between victims and attackers, simply reporting on four killed in a deadly stabbing attack in Jerusalem on Wednesday.
    CNN reported: "Four Die in Violent Stabbing at Jaffa Gate." CBS went with the headline "2 Palestinians Killed after Stabbing Attack in Jerusalem."
    GPO director Nitzan Chen wrote to CNN: "As this is neither the first nor the second such incident, I have no choice but to contact you regarding this latest example."
    "We believe that combining the two murderers with the two victims into 'Four dead' - is not only dishonest and unethical journalism, but also borders on incitement since the viewer can easily misinterpret it."
    "Reporting 'Four dead' only leads us to conclude that the person who wrote this headline had a clear political agenda."
        See also AP Headline Casts Palestinian Attackers as Victims, Ignores Dead Israelis (CAMERA)
    After a Palestinian stabbing attack and the police response killed two Israelis and two Palestinians on Wednesday, an Associated Press headline ignored the Israeli deaths, and cast the attackers as victims.
    The headline read: "2 Palestinians Killed Following Stabbing Attack in Jerusalem."
    It failed to mention the Israeli victims and neglected to specify that Palestinians were the attackers, and instead conveyed to readers that it was Palestinians who were the victims.
    After CAMERA contacted AP, they revised the headline.

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UK Media Watch Prompts Guardian to Replace Inappropriate Photo of Samir Kuntar - Adam Levick (UK Media Watch)
    The Guardian published a wildly inappropriate photo of Samir Kuntar, the Lebanese-Druze terrorist who was killed in an airstrike, surrounded by smiling children.
    Kuntar had brutally murdered several Israelis, even smashing the skull of a 4-year-old girl.
    Through a Twitter campaign, UK Media Watch caused editors to replace the photo.

IDF Christian Recruits on the Rise (Jerusalem Post)
    The number of Christians drafted into the IDF has steadily increased from 40 in 2012 to more than 100 in 2014.
    In March 2015 alone, 102 Christian Arabs were inducted into the army, through the Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum headed by Father Gabriel Naddaf of Nazareth.
    "I believe Israel's Christian community should integrate more into mainstream Israeli society," Naddaf says. "Why do the Druse serve? Why do the Bedouin serve? But not the Christians?"
    There are an estimated 165,000 Arab Christians in Israel.

Israelis Invent a Solution for Snoring Noise - David Shamah (Times of Israel)
    Israelis Netanel Eyal and Yoni Bazak say they have created a snoring noise solution. "Our Silent Partner smart patch works to suppress snoring noise for all snorers," said Eyal.
    The Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) tech used by Silent Partner senses the amplitude and frequency of snoring noise and broadcasts in real-time a sound wave with an inverted phase that cancels out or reduces the sound.
    "We do not deal with the medical aspects of snoring in any way," said Eyal, "just the noise issue."
    Because it has no medical diagnosis component, Silent Partner has no FDA-approval requirements, and the product - designed in Israel and manufactured in China - will be ready by mid-2016.

Israeli Scientists Invent Robot that Would Fit in Your Hand - Michael Casey (Fox News)
    Israeli scientists have developed a robot that is only five inches long and weighs less than an ounce. The scientists printed out the body of the robot on a 3D printer.
    It can jump 11 feet high and cover a horizontal distance of 4.5 feet in one leap.
    Tel Aviv University's Amir Ayali, who developed the robot with Ort Braude College, said, "Miniature robots are of special interest in the robotics field, attracting a lot of attention and research. The manufacture of tiny robots is cheap and efficient; their small size allows them to traverse difficult and unknown terrain; and many can be used in any given situation."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • "Martyr-Mania" in Palestinian Society - William Booth and Ruth Eglash
    Young Palestinians with kitchen knives are waging a ceaseless campaign of near-suicidal violence. There have been about 120 attacks and attempted assaults by Palestinians against Israelis since early October, an average of more than one a day. At least 20 Israelis have been killed; more than 80 Palestinians have been shot dead by security forces and armed civilians during the assaults.
        While the past cycles of violence, the first and second intifadas - the stone throwers in the 1980s and suicide bombers in the 2000s - were embraced by the Palestinian leadership and steered by armed factions, the current uprising appears to be leaderless. Palestinian officials have been reluctant to publicly encourage the attacks, but they have not condemned the killings or called for them to stop.
        The attacks appear to be spontaneous and opportunistic, poorly planned and badly executed - although often deadly. The most common weapon is a kitchen knife. The second most common is the family car. If the death of an Israeli is what the Palestinian assailants seek, the attacks are often failures; most victims survive.
        Israeli parliamentarian Anat Berko, a criminologist who has written extensively about the motivations of suicide bombers in the Palestinian conflict, sees the "normalization of violence" among youths in Palestinian society, a phenomenon she called "martyr-mania." A survey released Monday by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah found that 2/3 of Palestinians support the knife attacks. (Washington Post)
  • Two Islamic Radicals Arrested for Christmas Tree Arson in West Bank
    Palestinian security forces say they arrested two Islamic radicals who set fire Wednesday to a Christmas tree in Zababdeh, a Christian majority village near Jenin in the northern West Bank. A Palestinian security officer said Friday that security forces also arrested a dozen radical Islamists in Bethlehem on Wednesday. (AP-New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Man Was Killed as He Took on Terrorists Unarmed - Stuart Winer
    Ofer Ben Ari, 46, a married father of two daughters, was hit by gunfire Wednesday outside the Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem's Old City as two Border Police women shot at the Palestinian terrorists who were attacking Israeli passersby. An initial police investigation found that Ben Ari accosted the terrorists and struggled with them. The Border Police officers, who arrived shortly after the attack began, fired at the terrorists and a stray bullet hit Ben Ari. Police said Ben Ari acted as a citizen should and displayed "great courage."
        Rabbi Reuben Birmajer, a father of seven and member of the faculty at the Aish Hatorah yeshiva, also died after suffering deep stab wounds in the attack. (Times of Israel)
  • Two Israeli Arabs Charged with Planning Attack on Soldiers - Hassan Shaalan and Yoav Zitun
    Mohammed Hassan 20, and Ahmad Saida, 23, residents of northern Israel, were charged on Thursday with supporting the Islamic State and planning a terror attack in the Galilee. They traveled to Turkey last May, where they met with an ISIS operative and tried to enter Syria. Then they met refugees who told them of the horrors happening in Syria, which led them to return to Israel. The two then started planning a terror attack in Israel on IDF soldiers and, to that end, Saida sought to purchase arms. (Ynet News)
  • Netanyahu Blasts Video of Those Celebrating Murder of Arabs - Efrat Forsher
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sharply condemned on Wednesday a video showing wedding guests celebrating the murder of an Arab family in an arson attack this summer. "The shocking images broadcast this evening reveal the true face of a group that constitutes a threat to Israeli society and to Israel's security," Netanyahu said. "We will not accept people who violate the state's laws and do not see themselves as bound by them."
        Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau said, "Behavior like this is not the way of Judaism. This is the rejection and disavowal of the values of the Jewish people, the Torah and the singularity of the Jewish nation."  (Israel Hayom)
        See also Netanyahu Condemns Jewish Terror, But Says No Comparison in Scope to Arab Terror - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, referring to a video of Jews at a wedding celebrating with guns and knives, dismissed them as part of an extremist fringe. "That is not the proud religious Zionism that contributes to the state, and whose sons serve in the elite units in the army," he said. "It is also impossible to compare the scope of that terror with Arab terror. In the last month they [Arabs] carried out hundreds of attacks against us, and we saw just a few Jewish terrorist attacks."
        Nevertheless, he said, Israel will not tolerate any type of terrorism, from any side. "Israel is a land of the rule of law. We will not tolerate a situation where a particular group refuses to accept the laws of the state, and carries out acts of murder."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Israel's Homegrown Enemies - Caroline B. Glick
    Jewish terrorism exists, support for Jewish terrorism exists, and both need to be dealt with. Are Jewish terrorists who seek Israel's destruction different from Muslim terrorists who seek Israel's destruction? In two key ways they do differ. First there are the numbers. Whereas there may be a few hundred Israelis who have joined terrorist cells, tens of thousands of Palestinians are members of terrorist groups in Judea and Samaria alone. Gaza is governed by a terrorist group.
        Second, there are their support bases. Jewish terrorists are condemned and rejected by every major and minor political force in Israel. Their support base numbers no more than a few thousand people. In stark contrast, the Palestinian Authority and all private and public Palestinian institutions of note lionize Palestinian terrorists. Jailed terrorists and their families receive generous governmental compensation. The general public views them as national heroes and children are taught from preschool on to follow in their footsteps and kill Jews in order to destroy Israel.
        On Wednesday, as Israel's entire rabbinical and political leadership stood as one and condemned the wedding guests who glorified Jewish terrorists on a video, Fatah - the terrorist group and political party led by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas - published a Facebook post praising the terrorist murderers who the same day killed two Israelis and critically wounded a third outside Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post)
  • How Israel Fights Islamist Terror - Adam Cohen
    Destroying a radical Islamist enemy in cities and towns without killing innocent people is complicated. I know this because - as an officer in an Israel Defense Forces ground unit and a coordinator of close air support for soldiers - I was part of a military that embarked on a number of missions to execute precisely this task. In the interest of warning and preparing my American friends, I want to share what I learned from our previous campaigns against terrorist entities such as Hamas and Hizbullah.
        Combating such an enemy begins with intelligence. Today, you need drones in the air, tapped wires and undercover personnel on the ground to keep tabs on moment-by-moment movements. Intimate knowledge, acquired over decades, of the enemy's leadership hierarchy, language, culture and habits helps us go after killers and spare the lives of innocents.
        But ultimately, nothing can prepare a soldier for the new urban battlefield. I have been shot at by men in plainclothes and have seen a woman approach with a child on her hip, hands raised as though to surrender, only to reveal a grenade mere steps from my men. I have seen terrorists in plainclothes firing among kids in a playground and behind a school. Hamas deliberately fights among civilians with the certain knowledge that they will get killed or wounded. They know that this will help mobilize worldwide support. ISIS is likely to employ a similar strategy. The writer is a captain in the reserves of the Israel Defense Forces. (New York Daily News)
  • Impartial EU Labeling Would Inspire Israeli Trust - Dan Diker
    While EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini insists that the EU labeling of products from the West Bank fits with its policy of "engagement" on the peace process, Israel, for its part, has lost trust in the EU, with unprecedented condemnations of EU policy encompassing both government and opposition leaders. To regain Israeli trust by adopting a fair and impartial approach, the EU should label products impartially, reflecting the claims of both sides over the disputed territory in the West Bank. The current EU labeling guidelines are inaccurate and partial to Palestinian demands.
        The current EU labeling protocols fail the impartiality test. They neglect to recognize any Israeli rights in the disputed former West Bank of Jordan, which all Israelis recognize by the historical name "Judea and Samaria." These territories have constituted the heart and soul of three Jewish sovereign entities over the past 3,000 years. Today, these territories also constitute an essential natural barrier against possible Islamic State, Hamas and Islamic Jihad attacks on Israel's strategic interior from the hills overlooking Ben-Gurion Airport. In short, these lands ensure that Israel's narrow borders are defensible. The writer, former secretary general of the World Jewish Congress, is project director of Political Warfare at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Jerusalem Post)
  • AP Eviction Story Spotlights Journalistic Failure - Gidon Shaviv and Tamar Sternthal
    "They (Israelis) are trying to uproot us from Jerusalem, they are stealing the houses, the trees and the stones of the city," laments Nura Sub-Laban, a Palestinian woman featured in a Wednesday Associated Press article, reflecting a narrative of supposed Jewish encroachment at the expense of blameless, dispossessed Palestinians. It is also based on grossly misrepresented basic facts about the Sub-Laban case.
        As the article correctly states, the Sub-Labans were never the owners of the property, but rather enjoyed "protected tenant" status. That status can be lost if the tenant abandons the property without intention of returning - and it is irrelevant whether the tenant is Jewish or Palestinian.
        The court found in 2014 that the Sub-Labans have been living with their extended family in another apartment for 30 years, since 1984. From 2010 until 2014, they only "pretended" to live in the apartment. Electricity and water bills for the property during this period showed virtually no usage, and a neighbor living in the apartment opposite testified that no one had lived in the apartment. (CAMERA)
  • Samir Kuntar Is No Hero, and Hizbullah Is No Resistance - Abdulrahman al-Rashed
    Samir Kuntar, one of Hizbullah's stars, was recently killed in Syria. Hizbullah hailed him as a martyr and held a massive funeral for him. No one really cares about who killed him because he died defending Iran, the Syrian regime and Hizbullah.
        It is time for Hizbullah to end this black comedy of resistance against Israel and defending occupied Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian territory. No one believes this narrative anymore. The image that Hizbullah drew for itself, which most Arabs and Lebanese believed, is now shattered.
        In the 1980s, Iran and Syria decided to engage in the narrative of confronting Israeli aggression. It is in the name of Palestine that Iran and Syria dominated Lebanon, and opened camps to train other Arab nationals to fight in Iraq, the Gulf, Yemen and Syria. This was the beginning of Iran's regional plan. (Al-Arabiya)
  • Facing Death Chants and Hate Crimes, Sweden's Jews Live in a Climate of Fear - Josefin Dolsten
    In Sweden's third largest city, Malmo, at an October pro-Palestinian rally, the protesters screamed "Death to the Jews" and "More stabbings," Jehoshua Kaufman, head of communications for Malmo's Jewish community, recalls. "Right now, a lot of Jews in Sweden are scared. Parents are scared to drop off their kids at the Jewish preschool," says Johanna Schreiber, a Jewish journalist who lives in Stockholm. "People of all ages are scared of going to synagogue."
        Expressing public support for Israel can be dangerous. During a 2009 rally in Malmo, organized by Kaufman, the small crowd of Israel supporters was forced to abandon the event after police were unable to stop thousands of pro-Palestinian backers from storming the barricades and running towards the group.
        The Swedish government is known for its staunch support of the Palestinian cause and criticism of Israel. Statements such as those made by Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom have created a climate where constant criticism of Israel is the norm. Pro-Palestinian groups are eligible to receive governmental funds to conduct lobbying activities. (Times of Israel)
        See also A Very Merry Anti-Semitic Christmas from Sweden - Anna Berg (Times of Israel)

  • Weekend Features

  • How a One-Armed American Soldier Fought His Way Back into the Israeli Army - Ben Sales
    IDF 1st Sgt. Izzy Ezagui, 27, moved to Israel with his family in 2007 and enlisted in the IDF in 2008. While stationed on the Gaza border, a mortar shell hit him, ripping off his dominant left arm. He says the most challenging element of his recovery was convincing the army to let a one-armed soldier back in. Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yoav Galant, then head of the IDF Southern Command, took Ezagui's aspirations seriously and pushed his request through IDF bureaucracy.
        About a year after his injury, the IDF agreed to reinstate Ezagui on one condition: that he pass all the tests combat soldiers take during their training. Ezagui had to complete tasks ranging from climbing a rope to throwing a grenade. To unpin his grenade with one hand, Ezagui wrapped scotch tape around the pin and pulled it out with his teeth. Ezagui passed all the tests without a hitch and served as an active duty combat soldier for another two years. He still does reserve duty every year. (JTA)
  • The Bedouin Arabs Who Fight alongside Israel - Jake Wallis Simons
    Mohammad Ka'abiyah, 25, like almost all the men in his Bedouin village in northern Israel, volunteered to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. He was the first one from his clan to join the Air Force, where he served in a helicopter unit. Today a political science student at Haifa University, he says, "I am proud of being Bedouin, Arab, Muslim and Israeli." About 1,700 Bedouin soldiers currently serve in the IDF, although there is no obligation on them to do so.
        "Arabs are victims of the terrorist organizations," Ka'abiyah says. "Some people call us traitors, but Israel is a democracy where all cultures and colors have the same rights. The ones who refuse to serve are the real traitors." At his family home, Ka'abiyah shows off a picture of his warrior grandfather, Rashid al-Ka'abi, posing alongside the renowned Jewish fighter Alexander Zaid, who was killed by local Arabs in 1938. "The Bedouin and the Jews made a blood pact," he says. "It will never be broken."  (Daily Mail-UK)
  • Israel's BrightStar to Launch Solar-Powered UAVs - V Rishi Kumar
    The Israeli firm BrightStar is set to launch its first in a series of solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) early next year. "Apart from internal security, they can be used for border surveillance and telecommunications in rural areas," Jonathan Lison, Managing Director of BrightStar Group, explained. They could be deployed over a city, over a rural area, and for military surveillance over a border of 1,000 km. back and forth, and can carry a payload of up to 50 kg.
        Lison said these UAVs could possibly fly for a few years without having to land since they are solar-powered. The power generated is used in flight during the day and stored in batteries for use at night. The only time they are required to land is for maintenance. "We believe they can fly for up to 5 years without any difficulty," he said. (The Hindu-India)
  • Chinese Investment Flooding into Israel - Rebecca Fannin
    Chinese investment is flooding into Israel's venture capital funds and high-tech companies. As many as 80 Israeli companies and 11 Israeli venture capital funds have raised money from China sources, mostly since 2011, the IVC Research Center reports. China-Israeli tech deals totaled $300 million in 2014, according to Israel's National Economic Council. (Forbes)
  • Israeli Bubble Tech to Clean Up Australian Wastewater - David Shamah
    On Sunday, Israeli firm Mapal Green Energy announced a major contract to supply beverage maker Schweppes in Australia with its aeration recycling system to clean up industrial waste from its bottling plants. In a Mapal system, bubbles - water infused with air - are used to clean water as part of aeration systems, removing pollutants and separating sludge from water. The treatment removes nearly all the solid waste and pollutants.
        Mapal's CEO, Zeev Fischer, says: "We have a well proven technology in use at over 40 sites around the world, including in the pulp and paper sector and by leading utility companies in the UK."  (Times of Israel)

"Moderate Islam" Isn't Working - Cheryl Benard (National Interest)

  • Over the past decade, the prevailing thinking has been that radical Islam is most effectively countered by moderate Islam. As director of the RAND Initiative for Middle Eastern Youth, I was an early proponent of this approach.
  • It assumed, first, that because of a lack of education, or poverty or other handicaps, many Muslims had developed an incomplete or incorrect understanding of their own religion; and second, that the extremists were so much louder and had backing from various sources, and therefore were gaining larger audiences. The task therefore was to help moderate Muslims spread the word.
  • With a track record of well over a decade, it does not seem as though this is working. Things are getting worse. We now have ISIS, a magnification of al-Qaeda, with vicious branches springing up in nearly every part of the world. We have thousands of radical recruits streaming into Syria from Europe and the U.S. We have Paris. We have San Bernardino.
  • If we take a closer look at "moderate Islam" we find that one slice of it - the "aggressive traditionalist" slice - incites not violence against the West, but rejection of Western values, modern life and integration. It demands of its followers that they maintain emotional, social and intellectual separation. This describes Farook and Tashfeen in San Bernardino, who went to great pains to harden their hearts against the people in whose midst they lived.
  • What is the remedy? Several steps come to mind:
    1. Establish a vetting and a certification process for Muslim clerics in the U.S., as a requirement before someone can head a mosque, run a religious education or a youth program, officiate at religious ceremonies, or term himself an imam.
    2. Require new immigrants and refugees to formally accept some basic "rules of the road" that describe daily life and values in the U.S. This ranges from language acquisition to acceptance of women’s equality and non-segregation, and tolerance of (though not, of course, mandatory participation in) the modern Western lifestyle.
    3. Find ways for true Muslim moderates, progressives and secularists to have a larger voice in expressing the views and values of the community.
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