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January 25, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Video Shows Paris Attackers Committed Earlier Islamic State Atrocities - Lori Hinnant (AP)
    New video released by Islamic State on Sunday shows the nine militants who carried out the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris committing atrocities in IS-controlled territory.
    Seven of the attackers - four from Belgium and three from France - spoke fluent French. The two others were Iraqis.
    Seven of the militants were filmed standing behind bound captives who were either beheaded or shot.
    "Soon on the Champs-Elysees," says Samy Amimour, who was raised in a Paris suburb, as he holds a captive's head aloft.
    See also Paris Terrorists in Video: "With Allah's Help We Will Liberate Palestine" - Roi Kais (Ynet News)

The Iranian Penetration of Iraqi Kurdistan - Lazar Berman (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Iran has positioned itself as a reliable military backer of Iraqi Kurdish forces, filling a vacuum the West has left as a result of its tepid support.
    Iranian penetration of Kurdistan allows Tehran to render it less likely that its major adversaries, including Israel and the U.S., will gain a secure foothold in a region that has a 400-mile border with Iran.
    Expectations of Kurdistan becoming an ally of Israel, America, and Europe may be in danger if the West continues to prioritize Iraqi and Turkish interests over those of the Kurds.
    The writer taught at Salahuddin University in Iraqi Kurdistan in 2012-2013.

Israeli Cabinet Appoints Highest Ranking Arab Female in Civil Service - Lee Gancman (Times of Israel)
    The Israeli cabinet on Sunday unanimously approved the appointment of attorney Mariam Kabha, an Arab woman, as national commissioner for equal employment opportunities within the Economy Ministry, the highest ranking Arab female in the civil service.
    Kabha, a graduate from the faculty of law at the University of Haifa, was chosen for the position from among 60 candidates.

El Al Flies with All-Woman Cockpit (Times of Israel)
    Israel's airline El Al made history on Thursday with its first flight with an all-woman cockpit.
    Pilot Smadar Schechter and first officer Merav Schwartz flew passengers from Tel Aviv to Larnaca in Cyprus after a last-minute schedule change.
    The passengers were informed of the historic moment over the plane's intercom before takeoff and responded with a wave of applause.

Israel Reports Surge in Cyber Sales, Investment - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
    Israeli exports of cyber-related products and services in 2015 were $3.5 billion, $500 million more than in 2014 and more than all other nations combined apart from the U.S., the government announced Thursday.
    Private investment in the Israeli cyber sector attracted $500 million in 2015, double the previous year.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Khamenei Lauds Naval Forces that Promptly Captured the Americans "with Their Hands Behind Their Heads"
    Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei met with the Revolutionary Guards Navy unit that detained 10 U.S. sailors in the Persian Gulf earlier this month and praised their brave and swift reaction to the incident. "You did an excellent job....Certainly, it was the divine job that sent the Americans straying into our territorial waters only to be promptly captured with their hands behind their heads."  (Fars-Iran)
  • Merkel Warns of Growing Anti-Semitism in Wake Influx from the Arab World
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday urged citizens to beware of anti-Semitism, especially when directed by people coming from "countries where hatred of Israel and anti-Semitism is widespread." "We have observed in several schools and meeting places (anti-Semitic) events (led) by young people, against which every adult has to act," Merkel said. Anti-Semitism "has no place in our society...we must simply put clear limits."  (Sputnik-Russia)
        See also Report: 40 Percent of EU Citizens Hold Anti-Semitic Views - Maud Swinnen
    More than 40% of EU citizens hold anti-Semitic views and agree with the claim that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians and behaving like the Nazis, according to a report presented Sunday to the Israeli cabinet by Israel's Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27. The report added that in the U.S., 75% of Jewish college students say they have either experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism. (European Jewish Press)
  • China Deepens Its Footprint in Iran after Lifting of Sanctions - Thomas Erdbrink
    On Saturday, Iran's leaders and China's visiting president, Xi Jinping, agreed to increase trade to $600 billion in the coming decade. A strategic pact between the two countries has given China a much-needed western gateway to Middle Eastern markets and beyond, while saving Iran from international isolation and economic ruin. "Where we had to stand on the sidelines, the Chinese have been filling the void," said a European diplomat. "They are way ahead of all of us." China has been Iran's biggest trading partner for the past six years. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Opposition Leader Herzog Tells French President: No More Moves Against Israel; Two-State Solution Currently Unrealistic - Moran Azulay and Itamar Eichner
    Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) met with French President Francois Hollande and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Friday at the Elysee Palace, and urged them to stop promoting international moves against Israel. Herzog was referring, among other things, to a French plan to push a resolution at the UN Security Council to force negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. "Decisions of this nature serve as a reward for terrorism and for BDS," Herzog said. "Israelis would not accept diktats from the world."
        Herzog added, "The attempt to try and reach a Palestinian state now is unrealistic. A Palestinian state cannot be established now because the Palestinians currently do not have a leadership that controls all of their territories and could lead such a move." He stressed while he is "a big supporter of the two states vision, we have to be realistic. It can't become a reality now. The hatred and incitement among the Palestinians is just too great."  (Ynet News)
  • Israel: Dafna Meir Killer Influenced by PA TV
    Prior to stabbing Israeli mother-of-six Dafna Meir to death last week in her home in Otniel, Morad Adais, 15, watched "Palestinian television broadcasts which portrayed Israel as 'killing young Palestinians,'" the Israel Security Agency said Sunday. Adais confessed to the attack and told interrogators it was nationalistically motivated. The killing, in front of Meir's children, shocked the nation.
        "On the day of the murder, while under the influence of the programs he had been exposed to on Palestinian television, the minor decided to commit a stabbing attack with the goal of murdering a Jew," the ISA said. "The difficult results of the attack indicate, once again, the severity of the threat of wild incitement against the State of Israel and the Jews on Palestinian media, which influences lone attackers to murder and carry out serious terror attacks."  (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian Terrorist Killed by Bomb He Was Carrying near Jerusalem Saturday
    A Palestinian terrorist was killed by his own bomb which exploded prematurely as he approached a security outpost near Abu Dis next to Jerusalem on Saturday. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also PA Intelligence Officer Arrested for Attack on IDF Soldier - Yaakov Lappin
    Israeli security forces arrested two members of a terrorist cell from Danabe, near Tulkarem, on Friday who shot and injured an IDF soldier on Jan. 20. A third Palestinian arrested, Ala Barkawi, 32, a member of the PA's General Intelligence Service, was accused of aiding the gunmen after the attack and hiding the firearm they used. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israeli Treated for Shock after Drive-By Shooting in West Bank Sunday - Judah Ari Gross
    An Israeli man in his 50s came under fire Sunday night and his car was struck by at least one bullet while driving near Dolev in the West Bank. He was treated for shock by paramedics. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Misunderstanding Israel's Pro-Democracy Efforts - Anat Berko
    Israel's proposed law requiring transparency from political organizations in our country funded by foreign governments is an effort to actually preserve and strengthen Israeli democracy from the forces that seek to weaken it. About $66 million flows into these groups from European governments. The EU itself, Norway and Germany are the largest such donors.
        Let's set the record straight: The proposed law doesn't prohibit any activity whatsoever. Even entities funded entirely by foreign governments will still be free to do and say whatever they want in Israel. But groups that claim to be nongovernmental but are actually instruments of foreign governments will be acknowledged as such.
        The bill does one thing only: When more than half of an entity's funding comes from foreign governments, it must disclose that fact and the amount of funding from those governments. That's it. It's similar to several statutes in the U.S., such as the Foreign Agents Registration Act enacted in 1938.
        Israel's proposed law is, in fact, milder than existing U.S. law in important ways: In the U.S., these are criminal statutes - punishable by up to five years in jail. Israel's law has no criminal component. Dr. Anat Berko is a member of the Israeli Knesset and a Lt. Col. (res.) in the Israel Defense Forces. (New York Post)
  • Iran Remains America's Greatest Strategic Challenge - Gen. Hugh Shelton
    The single greatest strategic challenge the U.S. faces in 2016 remains the Islamic Republic of Iran. It remains a source of terror that keeps the region in a continuous and growing death spiral. There is a yawning gap between U.S. words and actions toward Tehran that has been noted by the regime in Tehran and has, in fact, empowered its bad behavior. Across the board, the U.S. has shown leniency in the face of belligerence and used half-measures to confront adversaries who define extremism in both word and deed.
        It is bewildering that Western governments including the U.S. have continued to keep the Iranian opposition at a distance as agents of Iran's fundamentalist regime have continued to murder these brave people who advocate democracy and tolerance. The Iranian regime, including President Rouhani, should be held accountable for their belligerent domestic and international conduct. Period. The writer is former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (1997-2001). (Washington Times)

Where Does All that Aid for Palestinians Go? - Tzipi Hotovely (Wall Street Journal)

  • There seems to be broad agreement about the importance of extending development aid to help the Palestinians build the physical and social infrastructure that will enable the emergence of a sustainable, prosperous society. But such assistance will only promote peace if it is spent to foster tolerance and coexistence.
  • If it is used to strengthen intransigence, it does more harm than good - and the more aid that comes in, the worse the outcome. This is exactly what has been transpiring over the past few decades. Large amounts of foreign aid to the Palestinians are spent to support terrorists and deepen hostility.
  • For years the most senior figures in the Palestinian Authority have supported, condoned and glorified terror. Countless Palestinian officials and state-run television have repeatedly hailed the murder of Jews. The Palestinian regime in Ramallah pays monthly stipends of between $400 and $3,500 to terrorists and their families. In 2014, the PA's annual budget for supporting Palestinian terrorists was $75 million, amounting to 16% of the foreign donations the PA received annually.
  • This situation is particularly disturbing given the disproportionate share of development assistance the Palestinians receive, which comes at the expense of needy populations elsewhere. In 2013 the Palestinians received $176 of assistance per capita, by far the highest in the world. Syria, where more than 250,000 people have been killed and 6.5 million refugees displaced, received only $106 per capita.
  • The remaining eight countries in the top 10 - Sudan, South Sudan, Jordan, Lebanon, Somalia, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo - received an average of $15.30. The Palestinians, who are more than twice as wealthy on average as these eight countries, receive 11 times as much foreign aid per person.
  • Donors to the Palestinians who support peace would do well to rethink the way they extend assistance. Money should go to economic and civic empowerment, not to perpetuate a false sense of victimhood and unconditional entitlement. It should foster values of tolerance and nonviolence, not the glorification and financing of terrorism.

    The writer is the deputy foreign minister of Israel.

        See also Luxury Alongside Poverty in the Palestinian Authority (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

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