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January 8, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Arab Tourists Attacked near Egyptian Pyramids, None Hurt (Egyptian Streets-Independent-UK)
    According to Egypt's Ministry of Interior, at least 15 assailants gathered near the Three Pyramids Hotel in Giza before shooting "fireworks" and birdshot at security forces and a tourist bus located outside the hotel.
    A group of Israeli Arab tourists were about to board the bus but none were injured.

Assailants Blow Up Gas Pipeline in Egypt's Sinai (Xinhua-China)
    Assailants believed to belong to the Islamic State in Sinai blew up a natural gas pipeline at Al-Midan, 15 km. from Al-Arish, on Thursday, a security source said.
    The same pipeline, which formerly provided natural gas to Jordan and Israel, has been blown up 30 times over the past few years.

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Automated Driving Solutions from Israel's MobilEye - David Gilbert (International Business Times)
    The Israeli company MobilEye offers automated driving solutions for cars including parking assist, lane departure warnings and crash avoidance.
    By the end of 2016 MobilEye technology will be in 237 car models from 20 manufacturers, including almost all of the world's major automakers.
    At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, MobilEye co-founder, chairman and chief technology officer Amnon Shashua revealed that the company has developed a system which would allow all cars using its technology to effectively map the world and create a "roadbook," a detailed cloud-based map which would be constantly updated in real time.
    MobilEye has already signed up General Motors (GM) and Volkswagen to its Road Experience Management mapping system.

    See also One U.S. City Is about to Get Smarter Buses that Hit Fewer People - Chris Ziegler (The Verge)
    The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that the winner of its Smart City Challenge - a contest to award $40 million to one medium-size American city for next-gen infrastructure - will also get collision avoidance technology for every bus in the city's transit system.
    The tech comes from Mobileye, the Israeli firm that supplies driving sensors to the world's biggest automakers.
    The Mobileye Shield+ system involves an array of cameras retrofitted to existing buses, helping drivers "avoid and mitigate imminent collisions and protect road users including cyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists," according to the DOT.
    Alerts warn drivers when they're about to hit someone, and later the alerts are aggregated to build a map to see where the most dangerous hotspots are, to help city planners make better decisions.

Israel a World Leader in "Smart" Weapons - Ami Rojkes Dombe (Israel Defense)
    Israel Military Industries has switched from a company that primarily manufactured ammunition to the manufacture of state-of-the-art weapon systems for the modern battlefield.
    High-precision "weapons make it possible to hit the target with the first shot, thereby denying the enemy the ability to reorganize. This is a substantial operational advantage," says Avinoam Zafir, IMI's Corporate VP Marketing.
    "Another field we focus on is warheads. IMI is a national excellence center in the field of warheads for different applications: against bunkers, armored vehicles and personnel targets."
    "Following the Second Lebanon War [2006] we identified a phenomenon of unexploded bombs.... You dispatch a fighter aircraft, place the pilots at risk, try to make the most of an intelligence window of opportunity - and the bomb does not work."
    "So we came up with a more effective bomb with 98% reliability....You can use it to knock down a floor in a building, and the next-door building will not be affected in any way."

Palestinians Sabotage Electric Line to Israeli Towns - Elisha Ben Kimon (Ynet News)
    A wire thrown at a power line near a Palestinian village, which provides electricity to Jewish towns in eastern Gush Etzion in the West Bank, caused a six-hour blackout last Friday.
    The Israel Electric Corporation said the electricity line had been damaged on purpose.

Israel's Economy: Steady as She Goes (Wharton-University of Pennsylvania)
    Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics reported economic growth (GDP) in 2015 expanding at 2.3% - slightly down from 2.6% in 2014.
    This growth rate is one that many developed economies, especially in Europe, would be happy to achieve; yet most Israeli economists believe a better performance is possible in 2016 and beyond.

Jerusalem's Waldorf Astoria Ranked 7th Best Hotel in World - Daniel K. Eisenbud (Jerusalem Post)
    Jerusalem's Waldorf Astoria was ranked the seventh best hotel in the world in the Conde Nast Travelers 2015 Readers' Choice Awards Survey, after 128,000 travelers rated the world's top 100 luxury hotels.
    The Waldorf Astoria, which opened in 2014, formerly served as the Palace Hotel during the British Mandate and later as a government ministry.

Useful Reference:

National Library of Israel Releases 200 Hi-Res Historical Maps of Jerusalem - Nir Hasson (Ha'aretz)
    The National Library of Israel and Wikimedia have posted 200 historical maps of Jerusalem.
    The collection ranges from hand-drawn maps from the 15th century to survey maps of the British Cartographic Service from 1947.
    View the Maps of Jerusalem (Wikimedia Commons)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Arrests Two Palestinians on Terror Charges - Catherine E. Shoichet
    U.S. federal authorities arrested two Palestinians born in Iraq and living as refugees in the U.S. on terror-related charges, the U.S. Justice Department said Thursday. Both are accused of lying to immigration officials about their ties to terrorist organizations. Omar Faraj Saeed al-Hardan, 24, of Houston, is charged with attempting to provide material support to ISIS. Aws Mohammed Younis al-Jayab, 23, of Sacramento, is charged with making a false statement involving international terrorism. (CNN)
  • Israel Holds Technology Innovation and Investment Summit in China
    Hundreds of businessmen packed the conference hall at the first China-Israel Technology Innovation and Investment Summit on Jan. 5-6 in Beijing. Chinese investors have begun parking their money in world-renowned Israeli high-tech industries at a stunning pace. About 40% of all venture capital flowing into Israel came from China in 2015, according to Ziva Eger, head of the foreign investments and industrial cooperation division at the Israel Ministry of Economy.
        With growing academic cooperation, collaborative programs, and shared vision from both governments, "the golden age for Israel-China innovation cooperation has come," said Yin Hejun, China's Vice Minister of Science and Technology. (Xinhua-China)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Hamas Cell Planned to Kill Netanyahu - Adiv Sterman and Judah Ari Gross
    Hazem Ziad Amran Sandouqa, 22, from Jerusalem's Old City, Fahdi Daoud Muhammad Abu Qaian, 19, a Bedouin Israeli from the Negev, and Hamas activist Ahmad Jamal Mousa Azzam, 24, from Kalkilya in the West Bank, planned to plant explosives in the Jerusalem Payis Arena at a time when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to speak at the site, according to an indictment filed by the Jerusalem District Attorney's Office on Friday. (Times of Israel)
        See also Israel Foils Hamas Kidnapping Plot - Yoav Zitun
    Israel has arrested six Hamas members from Hebron and Jerusalem who planned to kidnap and murder an Israeli, in a similar fashion to the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli youths in June 2014, the Israel Security Agency announced Thursday. The group was headed by Maher Qawasmeh, 36, from Hebron, who had been jailed in the past for terrorist activities. (Ynet News)
  • Four Palestinians Killed in Knife Attacks on Israeli Soldiers Thursday - Tovah Lazaroff
    Israeli security forces killed three Palestinian assailants attempting to stab Israeli forces at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank on Thursday. All three Palestinians were armed with knives. Ma'ariv reported that the three were from the Kawazba family who had engaged in a revenge attack after the death Tuesday of their relative Ahmed Yusef Kawazba, who had stabbed an IDF reservist at the Gush Etzion junction before he was killed.
        Later Thursday security forces killed a Palestinian assailant attempting to stab IDF forces at the Beit Anoun junction near Hebron. (Jerusalem Post)
  • New "Intifada" Has Limited Appeal among Palestinians - Avi Issacharoff
    At the moment, the Palestinian public is not thrilled by the current "intifada." The large refugee camps (Jenin, Deheishe, Askar, Balata), which drove the first and second intifadas, are refusing to join the third. They generally view the latest violence as a passing event, destined to fail, which is not really connected to them. In the eyes of many of the camps' residents, the events of the past three months belong to the urban Palestinians, the "Facebook children."  (Times of Israel)
  • Egypt Asks Israel to Keep Turkey Away from Gaza - Barak Ravid
    In light of recent progress in Israel's reconciliation talks with Turkey, senior officials in Jerusalem told Ha'aretz that Egypt has expressed its opposition to any Israeli concessions to Turkey with regard to Gaza. Over the last two years there has been a serious rift between Egyptian President Sissi and Turkish President Erdogan over Turkey's support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. To this day Erdogan does not recognize Sissi as the legitimate president of Egypt.
        Egypt, which has imposed an almost complete closure on the Strip from the Sinai Peninsula, is interested in maintaining maximal pressure on Hamas and has reservations concerning any easing of restrictions by Israel. A senior Israeli official said that Prime Minister Netanyahu is concerned that any concession to Turkey on Gaza will damage Israel's strategic ties with Egypt. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Solving Major Issues on Palestinian Agenda Requires Working With Israel, Not Against It - Carla Sinclair
    Born in Jordan-occupied Jerusalem, Bassem Eid founded the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group and travels across the world advocating for a more accountable form of Palestinian government, increased transparency and a reconciliation with Israel. Speaking in October at Binghamton University, Eid said the recent violence was a reflection of economic stress and civil unrest that has been caused, at least in part, by the Palestinian Authority's "disengagement" from Israel.
        "If you would come to any ordinary Palestinian, and ask him what are the three priorities he is seeking, he would say a job, to secure the education system and health system for my children. Nobody's talking about settlements, war - no one's even mentioning the foundation of the Palestinian state." According to Eid, many Palestinians prefer to work in Israel, with more than 92,000 Palestinians crossing the border each day because monthly salaries in Israel are $1,500 to $2,000, much higher than the average $400 in the PA.
        He also warned against the boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) campaign to cut ties with Israel financially. "I think BDS is a prelude of genocide to the Palestinians. I want to see a BDS [proponent] go to a refugee camp and call to boycott Israel. Trust me, they'll get thrown [out]." According to Eid, solving current issues requires a more receptive Palestinian government, which would mean working with Israel and not against it. (Pipe Dream-SUNY Binghamton)
  • How Not to Help Palestinian Children - Andrew Percy
    I have a knitted children's doll of a masked Palestinian with a rock in his raised hand, sitting on my desk. Last month, Israel intercepted four thousand of these dolls in Haifa port, bound for the Palestinian Authority. The dolls encourage Palestinian children to throw rocks at Israelis. Incitement to violence is commonplace in the Palestinian territories and amounts to psychological abuse of children.
        Quite perversely, the PA nurtures an environment where children learn that attacking Israelis is somehow a noble cause. Palestinian youths grow up in streets bearing the names of Palestinian killers, and attend football stadia named after terrorist murderers. As many as 25 schools have been named after Palestinian terrorists who murdered Israeli civilians.
        Those who ignore these issues are not helping Palestinian children. These children will continue to be subjected to a poisonous stream of incitement and hate that manifests itself in 13- and 15-year-old Palestinians walking the streets of Jerusalem with knives intent on stabbing innocent Israelis. This is an ideology that teaches children that if they die trying to killing innocent Israelis then they will be heroes, and possibly honored with a school in their name. The writer is a British Member of Parliament from the Conservative Party. (Times of Israel)
  • The Koran Praises the Jewish People - Omer Salem
    Isn't it time for the Muslim people to manifest the Koranic truth about the status of Qaum Mousa (the Jewish people)? The Koran (5:21) is clear as to whom God granted the holy land. My dissertation topic for a PhD in Islamic Studies from Al-Azhar University in my native Egypt was "The People of the Book in the Koran." Peace with the Jews would herald peace and prosperity for all people in the Middle East. The writer is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy. (Jerusalem Post)
  • BDS: A Weapon of Islamic Warfare - Dan Diker and Harold Rhode
    Arab and Muslim leaders publicly declare the same goals as BDS activists: to eliminate Israel as a non-Muslim entity from lands that "belong" to Islam. The Palestinian issue is an Islamic issue because, according to Islamic law, once a territory is captured by Muslims, it remains Muslim forever. Spain, for example, was captured in 712 and remained under Muslim rule until 1492. From a Muslim point of view, Spain will remain Islamic territory forever and will ultimately be ruled by Muslims.
        Israel was conquered by the Muslims in 637. Therefore, from a Muslim point of view every inch of pre-1948 British Mandate Palestine is Muslim, irrespective of 1948 or 1967 "borders." Notably, Arab Muslim powers insisted that the 1949 lines be labeled only as "armistice lines" because the Muslims could not recognize Jews as having rights to one inch of Islamic territory. Dan Diker is project director, Political Warfare, at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Dr. Harold Rhode served as an Islamic affairs analyst at the U.S. Department of Defense for 28 years. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Is the U.S. Still Promoting Democracy in the Middle East? - Michael Crowley
    President Bush refused to deal with Iran, denouncing it in his 2006 State of the Union address as a nation "held hostage by a small clerical elite that is isolating and repressing its people." He implored Iranians to "choose your own future and win your own freedom." To that end he established an Iran Democracy Fund, with a budget of as much as $66 million, to support the country's political opposition.
        Obama came to office determined to engage, not overthrow, Iran's regime. The Iran Democracy Fund is no more; it has been renamed the Near East Regional Democracy Program, and Obama's budget requests have shrunk by nearly a quarter. The nuclear talks that culminated in last year's deal excluded questions like human rights and political reform, although Obama has expressed hope that they may begin a diplomatic thaw that could gradually liberalize Iranian society.
        "What's missing in the Obama administration is the clear moral argument that this is an evil regime" in Iran, says Elliott Abrams, a Bush White House aide who worked on the Middle East and democracy. "We ought to be clearer that of course we want regime change."  (Politico)

  • Weekend Features

  • Sadat in Jerusalem: Behind the Scenes - Menahem Milson
    At the time of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's 1977 visit to Israel, I was head of the Department of Arab Affairs for the military government of Judea and Samaria and served as military aide-de-camp for the visiting president. One of the most sensitive issues was the problem of Sadat's safety during his prayer at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The security services recommended barring all worshippers from the Al-Aqsa compound during Sadat's visit, except for his entourage and the heads of the Muslim Waqf which administers the mosque. In 1951, King Abdullah I of Jordan (the great-grandfather of the present king of Jordan) had been assassinated in the Al-Aqsa Mosque by a Palestinian gunman.
        Although I understood the security considerations, barring worshippers from the Al-Aqsa compound struck me as deeply misguided. Showing Sadat on TV screens across the Arab world praying at the mosque in isolation would in itself be a victory for those who opposed the visit. It was extremely important, I said, that the images of Sadat's prayer at Al-Aqsa showed him surrounded and applauded by many Palestinian Muslim worshippers.
        According to our inquiries, there were thousands of Palestinians who would be willing to come and pray with Sadat, and we were given permission to invite 1,500 people. When President Sadat and his entourage arrived at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, it was full of Muslim worshipers. When he entered the compound, a cheer went up: "Long live the hero of peace, we shall sacrifice our blood and life for you, O Sadat." Sadat's face lit up as press and TV cameramen captured the moment. Upon his return to Egypt, he declared: "In Jerusalem I met the real Palestinians."  (Jewish Review of Books)
  • Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Nazis and the Holocaust: The Origins, Nature and Aftereffects of Collaboration - Jeffrey Herf
    While Haj Amin al-Husseini, the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, did not have an impact on Hitler's decisions to murder the Jews of Europe, after his presence in Berlin from 1941 to 1945 Husseini left a legacy of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism that remains an enduring element of Palestinian and Arab politics. He played a central role in shaping the political tradition of Islamism by offering an interpretation of the religion of Islam as intrinsically anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist and in connecting that version to the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories of modern European history.
        Husseini's importance to the Third Reich in 1942 and 1943 lay primarily in his contribution to Nazi propaganda toward North Africa and the Middle East. This author's study Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World draws upon German archives, State Department files and U.S. intelligence reports to present the most extensive documentation available about the vast Arabic language propaganda radio broadcasts and printed leaflets that the Nazi regime sent to Arab societies during World War II.
        Husseini played a central role in those broadcasts. He became internationally famous for his incitement on the radio to "kill the Jews" in the summer of 1942 as Rommel's Afrika Korps threatened to overwhelm the British at El Alamein, occupy Egypt and capture the Jews of pre-state Palestine. Thus, Husseini joined Goebbels as one of the first political actors to use means of mass electronic communications to support genocide.
        The writer is Distinguished University Professor, Department of History, University of Maryland, College Park. His publications on modern German history include Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World (Yale University Press, 2009). (Jewish Political Studies Review)
  • Awed by His Grandparents' Lives, Japanese Man Joins IDF - Danny Brenner
    Daniel Tomohiro's Hungarian grandparents survived the Holocaust, made aliyah, and fought in Israel's War of Independence, but they then moved to Australia, where his mother met and married a Japanese man and moved to Japan. Now Tomohiro has come full circle and is serving in the IDF. "My parents married and moved to Japan, but at home they kept talking about Israel," Tomohiro said. "My family is very pro-Israel and loves the state, and I believe the Israel Defense Forces is the most moral military in the world."
        "I arrived here for the first time only when I was 18, with my parents and younger brother. My older brother had already made aliyah and was in the IDF Spokesperson's Unit."
        "The service means a lot to me and my family. My grandmother was in Auschwitz. She survived only because a German nurse covered her with a blanket when Dr. Josef Mengele came to visit. He thought she was dead and this saved her life, because he didn't perform experiments on her....The Holocaust happened because there was no State of Israel. I am happy to contribute to the security of the state, to make the IDF and Israel strong, and to prevent another Holocaust."  (Israel Hayom)

Petraeus: "Roll Back Iran's Malign Activities" - Amir Oren (Ha'aretz)

Former CIA director Gen. David Petraeus told Ha'aretz in an interview:

  • "We live in a world where we must combat non-state actors, like the Islamic State, that have genocidal and totalitarian ambitions, while simultaneously countering nation-states that have hegemonic ambitions and that seek to overturn key tenets of the existing international order, like the Iranian government."
  • "I think there is a perception in a variety of geographies today that the U.S. over the past few years - particularly after the frustrations of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars - has been weary of war; and, in turn, this has probably emboldened some actors to try their luck at challenging the international order. It is going to be very important for the U.S. to address this problem and to restore a sense of certainty and confidence - among friends and foes alike - in America's security commitments."
  • "I think it would be a significant mistake to assume that the Iranian nuclear program will be dormant under the JCPOA. Perhaps the Iranians really will adhere to their obligations under the agreement. But if they do so, it will be among the few times in a quarter-century that they haven't tried to cheat on their nuclear commitments."
  • "That is why it is so important for the United States and our allies to use the JCPOA to pursue the most robust possible inspections and verification, and for us also to signal clearly to the Iranians that any violations - especially on the margins of the deal, which is where such activity will inevitably begin - will prompt a very firm and credible response."
  • "We must recognize that it has been Iranian expansionism that has helped fan the flames of Sunni extremism - whether by enabling Bashar Assad's campaign of slaughter in Syria or backing sectarian elements in Iraq or Yemen. That is why, at the same time that we step up our campaign to combat the Islamic State, we also need a reinvigorated effort to counter and roll back Iran's malign activities across the region."
  • "I think it is increasingly clear that the old notion that the path to peace and stability in the Middle East runs through a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is mistaken. There are multiple interlocking conflicts unfolding across the region right now - and to be blunt, the Israeli-Palestinian issue is peripheral to all of them."
  • "I think we also need to be very clear that - whatever the frustrations and disappointments of the current situation - there is simply no excuse or rationalization for terrorism, nor for moral equivalence between those who set out to kill innocent civilians and those trying to prevent attacks. Beyond that, clearly, incitement and glorification of violence against civilians constitute a moral and strategic dead end. This is, frankly, a lesson that should have been learned long ago."
  • "From an American perspective, Israel has proven itself to be an exceptionally capable, resourceful and valuable ally to the United States in a very important and treacherous region. We share many fundamental interests, and we face enemies that wish to do both countries harm."
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