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February 5, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Dozens of Islamic State Militants Entered Europe as Refugees - Matthew Dalton and Inti Landauro (Wall Street Journal)
    The presumed leader of the Islamic State operatives who attacked Paris in November, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, boasted that he slipped into Europe among refugees from Syria as part of a team of dozens of militants, according to a key witness.
    The woman accompanied Abaaoud's cousin, Hasna Ait Boulahcen, to a hidden encampment north of Paris in the days after the attack to meet Abaaoud.
    Abaaoud told them that he arrived in Europe among the refugees, along with 90 other operatives, including French, British, German, Iraqi and Syrian citizens.
    The investigation into the Paris attacks has raised questions about Europe's ability to screen refugees for potential threats.

Video: Father of Terrorist Who Murdered Israeli Policewoman Celebrates Son's Martyrdom (Palestinian Media Watch)
    The father of terrorist Muhammad Kmeil, who murdered Israeli border policewoman Hadar Cohen before being killed, told official PA TV on Feb. 3:
    "We received this with joy. He's a martyr. Our Creator chose him from among the people to be a martyr."

On Gaza Border, Islamic State Flag Flies Alongside Palestinian Flag - Matan Tzuri (Ynet News)
    A year and a half after the 2014 Gaza War, Hamas has built a line of military posts, fortified with concrete and sandbags, only dozens of meters from the border fence, about 500 meters from one another.
    Opposite one of the Israeli communities on the Gaza border, a fortified post was erected flying the black flag of the Islamic State alongside the Palestinian flag.

Two Arrested for Planning ISIS Attacks in Germany (AP-Boston Globe)
    German police arrested two suspects on Thursday in an investigation of four Algerian men who are suspected of planning attacks in Germany and having ties to the Islamic State.
    One of the suspects is believed to have received military training in Syria.

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EU: €155M in R and D Deals Proves There's No Boycott of Israel - David Shamah (Times of Israel)
    The European Union does not boycott Israel, EU ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen told Uriel Lynn, head of the Federation of the Israeli Chambers of Commerce, on Tuesday.
    "It is possible that our economic ties with Israel are stronger than they are with any other non-EU country."
    Faaborg-Andersen's office said Israel has signed 240 agreements with the EU as part of the Horizon 2020 research and development program, with grants to Israeli start-ups and research groups worth up to €155 million ($170 million).
    Israel has provided the EU with top-notch technology in a wide range of areas, Faaborg-Andersen said.
    Lynn said Israel-EU cooperation could be advanced even further if "Europe would just disconnect politics from the economy, and not use economic policy as a tool to achieve political purposes."

Egypt's Tourism Collapse - Ahmed Feteha (Bloomberg)
    Suspicions that a bomb sent a Russian passenger plane crashing into the Sinai Peninsula are damaging Egyptian tourism.
    A million tourists visited Egypt in November and December, down 41% from last year and the lowest number during these peak months since at least 2005.
    "You cannot call what's happening a drop, it's a collapse," said Amani El-Torgoman, board member of the Egyptian Tourism Federation.
    "Sharm El-Sheikh has become a ghost town."

The Americans Who Volunteer to Fight ISIS - Roc Morin (Atlantic)
    While thousands of Europeans and North Americans have joined ISIS, at least a hundred Westerners have enlisted as fighters against the terrorist group.
    Compelled by reports of the Islamic State's gruesome activities, the first volunteers came in the fall of 2014 and have enrolled in a number of regional militias including the peshmerga - the government-backed army of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Israeli, South Korean Firms Form Joint Venture for UAV Production - Richard Tomkins (UPI)
    Israel Aerospace Industries and Hankuk Carbon of South Korea are forming a joint venture for the development, manufacture, and marketing of vertical-takeoff-and-landing unmanned aerial vehicles for Korea's domestic market.

Live Tel Aviv Beach Cam (Municipality of Tel Aviv-Yafo)
    The Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality launched a new website which features nonstop, live-streaming of Tel Aviv beaches.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Army Commander: Iran to Enhance Missile Capabilities Despite UN Resolutions
    Commander of Iran's Army Maj.-Gen. Ataollah Salehi says the country will enhance its missile capabilities despite U.S.-led efforts to curb them. The U.S. government imposed fresh sanctions on Iran over its missile activities, a day after Tehran and the West agreed to implement the nuclear accord (JCPOA). Washington argued that Iran's missile activities violated a UN Security Council resolution which bars the Islamic Republic from developing missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads.
        On Thursday, Gen. Salehi said, "We are neither paying any attention to the resolutions against Iran, nor implementing them....We are doing our job and our missile program for the future will be stronger and more precise." He added that Iran's weapons are "a threat to the enemies of this establishment. Israel should fully realize the meaning of this concept."  (Press TV-Iran)
  • Syrian Rebels Are Losing Aleppo - Liz Sly and Zakaria Zakaria
    Syrian rebels battled for their survival in and around Syria's northern city of Aleppo on Thursday after a blitz of Russian airstrikes helped government loyalists sever a vital supply route from the Turkish border. The onslaught against rebel positions in Aleppo coincided with the failure of peace talks in Geneva. The rebels had maintained control of much of Aleppo, Syria's largest city, since 2012.
        Most of the pro-government forces now fighting in northern Aleppo province are Shiite militias from Iraq and Afghanistan recruited by Iran. The intervention by the Russian air force has mostly targeted moderate rebels, tilting the military balance in favor of Assad and enabling the government's spurt of gains in recent weeks.
        In its determination to see peace talks get underway, the U.S. had pressured the rebels' allies, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, to curtail supplies of weapons, leaving the rebels vulnerable to the new offensive, according to rebel commanders. (Washington Post)
  • New U.S. Intelligence Report Says Islamic State Weaker - Jonathan Landay
    Islamic State has 25,000 fighters in Syria and Iraq, down from a previous estimate of 31,000, according to a U.S. intelligence report revealed by the White House on Thursday. "The decrease reflects the combined effects of battlefield deaths, desertions, internal disciplinary actions, recruiting shortfalls, and difficulties that foreign fighters face traveling to Syria," said Emily Horne, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: "Islamic Terrorism Is Inundating the World"
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday visited the border policewoman who was wounded in Wednesday's terrorist attack at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. He said: "I just visited with the border policewoman who - along with her comrades - acted with heroism and resourcefulness. Together with their commander, they prevented a much greater disaster. I was impressed by her courage, tenacity and steadfastness....Of course, we all grieve over the death of Hadar Cohen, a genuine hero. We all embrace her family."
        "We are in a very major effort against terrorism...and we will defeat it. It will take time; this is a protracted struggle. Islamic terrorism is inundating the world and inciting millions in many countries, from Jakarta to Africa to California. We are part of this turmoil, it is not skipping over us, and we are fighting it with great strength and will continue to do so."
        The border policewoman told the prime minister, "We are here to protect civilians....This is why we are here. I have no doubt that Hadar knew this and acted in this light. I understood that Hadar saved my life."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Two Minors Convicted of Abu Khdeir Murder Sentenced to Life, 21 Years - Nir Hasson
    The Jerusalem District Court sentenced the two Israeli minors convicted of the July 2014 murder of Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir. One received a life sentence and the other was sentenced to 21 years because the court determined he didn't take part in the actual murder. The court convicted the main adult defendant, Yosef Chaim Ben David, who is undergoing psychiatric evaluation. At their trial, the perpetrators admitted that their acts were in revenge for the kidnapping of three Israeli students in the West Bank on June 12, 2014. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli Customs Find Phones, Gold Bars in EU Rep's Vehicle
    Customs officers at the Allenby Crossing between Israel and Jordan seized tens of kilograms of gold bars and jewelry, over 700 smartphones, and steroids in the SUV of a political adviser to the EU mission to the Middle East, the Israel Tax Authority reported Thursday. (Globes)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Israel Has Not Occupied Another People's Land - Melanie Phillips
    The "occupation" does not cause Palestinian violence. It is unending Palestinian violence that prolongs the "occupation." The Palestinians aren't driven by despair at the absence of their state. They have turned down repeated offers of such a state since the 1930s. The relentless incitement which tells them that their highest calling is to kill Jews and conquer the whole of Israel has rather more to do with it. Moreover, Israel has not occupied another people's land, because the disputed territories never belonged to another people.
        Nor is Israel there out of an aggressive colonial impulse. The Jews are entitled to hold and settle the territories under international law several times over, both as a legally permitted defense against continuous belligerence and from their never-abrogated entitlement to do so - as the only people for whom this was ever their national homeland - under the terms of the Palestine Mandate. The writer is a columnist for The Times (UK). (Jerusalem Post)
  • Protesters Silencing Speakers Like Me Won't Solve the Israeli-Palestinian Problem - Ami Ayalon
    I came to the UK two weeks ago, at the invitation of the British Jewish organization Yachad, to present my ideas for how Israel and Palestinian people might create a step-change that may bring about the forging of a political agreement. At King's College London, where I was speaking at an event jointly hosted by the KCL and LSE Israel societies along with Yachad, I was met with violence. A window was smashed, students were pushed and the event was cut short due to the disruption.
        It is the slogan of the protesters that bothered me most: "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free." Their chant means an end to a State of Israel, which also exists between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea. This is an extremist position and not shared by the majority of Palestinians or Israelis, nor the international community, which is committed to a two-state solution. Gen. Ami Ayalon is a former head of the Israel Security Agency and Commander of the Israel Navy. (Guardian-UK)
  • Salafism on the Rise in China - Jonathan Kaiman
    About 60% of the 250,000 people in Linxia, in northern China's Gansu province, are Muslim. They include mainstream Muslims as well as Salafis, followers of an ultra-conservative school of thought within Sunni Islam espousing a way of life and prayer that harks back to the 6th century. The growth in the Salafi movement here has rattled China's government, which finds any expression of religious fervor to be unnerving, especially when it carries associations with foreign extremists. The Chinese public increasingly associates Islam with terrorism, and many other Chinese Muslims see Salafis as fanatics.
        Estimates of the number of Chinese Salafis range from thousands to tens of thousands. Yet experts and Linxia Muslims agree that the movement is gaining traction in China. "I've been studying Muslims in China for the past 30 years, and it's only over the past four or five that we see young Han men converting to a radical, conservative Islamic ideology," said Dru Gladney, an expert on Chinese Muslims at Pomona College. (Los Angeles Times)
  • The Moral Relativism of the United Nations - Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld and Jamie Berk
    Many states use moral relativism to accuse Israel of alleged "crimes" while whitewashing their own behavior, which is often similar in nature to their accusations against Israel or even far worse. They frequently also ignore or whitewash elements of the huge criminality inherent in large parts of the Muslim world. This may include mass murders, racial and other discrimination, extreme abuse of women including honor killings, as well as slavery, incitement, and other major violence.
        Although UN member states are legally committed to the idea of universal and sovereign equality, in practice this has not been the case. Instead the UN has become a repeat abuser of moral relativism, particularly in actions regarding Israel.
        Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, former Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Jerusalem Center, is the author of The War of a Million Cuts: The Struggle Against the Delegitimization of Israel and the Jews, and the Growth of New Anti-Semitism (2015). Jamie Berk is a researcher working toward an MA in political science at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Columbia University "Apartheid Divest" Divests from Peace - Daniella Greenbaum
    Earlier this week, members of Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace teamed up to form "CU Apartheid Divest" (CUAD). The name is a creative, albeit manipulative, method aimed at ensuring that the allegation of apartheid enters campus discourse as an uncontested fact.
        Instead of valuing coexistence and the two-state solution, the divestment movement simply calls for the destruction of Israel. The movement's co-founder, Omar Barghouti, stated, "definitely, most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine."
        At Columbia, the broader campus community frequently grapples with the concepts of microaggressions and safe spaces, but the petition to divest is a tactic that marginalizes Jewish and Israeli students on campus. It is no different than any other exclusionary initiative. By encouraging polarization, discouraging negotiation, and misrepresenting the political landscape, CUAD abandons the aspiration for peace and embraces perpetual mutual hostility.
        We need to work constructively toward a plausible solution, not waste time doing what Journalism School professor Todd Gitlin described as "a stamping of the collective foot." We must work together as a student body - not to divest from Israel, but to invest in peace. The writer, a Barnard College junior, is president of Aryeh: Columbia Students Association for Israel. (Columbia Spectator)

  • Weekend Features

  • Israeli Healer Treats Parkinson's with Alternative Therapy - Simona Weinglass
    Alex Kerten, the developer of a mind-body therapy for Parkinson's called Gyro-Kinetics, has authored a new book with David Brinn, managing editor of the Jerusalem Post, titled Goodbye Parkinson's, Hello Life! The book is a combination of medical and psychological insights into the Parkinson's condition as well as practical exercises that involve breathing, relaxation and dance.
        While many researchers believe the cause of Parkinson's is a combination of genetics and environment, Kerten believes that, in addition, the condition is brought on when a patient wears out their nervous system through anxious states of mind and body repeated over many years. Dr. Marieta Anca-Herschkovitsch, head of the Movement Disorder Clinic at Wolfson Hospital, wrote in an introduction to the book that "many alternative methods have been developed to treat Parkinson's using movement, but nobody has succeeded like he [Kerten] has."  (Times of Israel)
  • Minerva Labs: A Cybersecurity Start-Up that Gets Ahead of the Game - Ruth Starkman
    Minerva Labs won the prize for the Most Innovative Cyber Startup at Tel Aviv's 2016 Cybertech convention and won first place at the 2016 Berlin Cyber Security Bootcamp. Minerva Labs has developed novel software that protects systems from focused attacks, co-founder and CEO Eddy Bobritsky explains.
        Almost all security products are based on a "Detection and Response" paradigm. But the Minerva Armor product neutralizes viruses before the installation phase, before it even starts. "We make the packed malware to 'believe' it is always inside a secure environment, so it refrains from execution and the attack is prevented."
        Minerva's unique patent-pending solution protects an organization from the deadliest attacks without the need to detect them first or for any prior knowledge and before any damage has been done. Dr. Ruth Starkman teaches at Stanford University. (Times of Israel)
  • Remembering the Muslim "Schindlers" Who Saved Jews from the Nazis - Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt
    In 1940, Iranian diplomat Abdol Hossein Sardari had just taken over the Iranian consulate in Paris after the Nazi invasion. France's Iranian-Jewish expatriate community was included in Nazi racial purity laws, they were forced to wear a yellow patch and carry stamped documents.
        Sardari argued that Iranian Jews, like Persians, were part of the Aryan race. "By virtue of their blood, their language, and their customs," he wrote, "Persian Jews are assimilated into the indigenous race and are of the same biological stock as their neighbors, the Persians and the Sartes (Uzbeks)." Sardari issued new Iranian passports for the Iranian-Jewish community that allowed for freer travel across Europe and saved over 2,000 lives.
        Other Muslims included Albanian King Zog I (1895-1961), who opened the borders of Albania to all Jewish refugees - thus making Albania one of the only European countries with more Jews at the end of the war than before it. Khaled Abdul Wahab, a Tunisian, ferried two dozen Jews to safety as the Nazis took over the town of Mahdia, and then protected them for the next two years. Si Ali Sakkat, a former mayor of Tunis, was approached by 60 Jewish-Tunisian laborers escaping a labor camp; Sakkat brought them into his farm southwest of Tunis. Mohamed Helmy, an Egyptian-born doctor living in Berlin, personally hid four Jews throughout the war years, and was recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 2013. (Ha'aretz)

Rooms to Rent by Israelis? Washington Post Recycles the "Palestinian Narrative" - Eric Rozenman (CAMERA)

  • The Washington Post's page one feature "For travelers to Israeli settlements, rooms with a view - and controversy" (Feb. 2, 2016) reports that Airbnb, the popular online site that matches travelers with renters, connects tourists to Israel not only with apartment owners in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv but also rooms to let in the West Bank. In the report, the Palestinian Authority alleges "offering vacation rental properties in Jewish homes in the occupied West Bank, through U.S.-based sites such as Airbnb, and TripAdvisor, violates international law." Which ones? The Post doesn't say.
  • As CAMERA's Ricki Hollander has written, "[T]he late Professor Julius Stone - considered one of the premier legal theorists - maintained that the effort to designate Israeli settlements as illegal was a 'subversion...of basic international law principles.'...In Israel and Palestine: An Assault on the Law of Nations, which dealt with the legal aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict...Stone set forth the central principles of international law upon which Israel's right to settle the West Bank is based and discussed the inapplicability of Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the case of Israeli settlement."
  • Eugene Rostow, U.S. Undersecretary of State and a co-author Security Council Resolution 242, which outlines requirements for Arab-Israeli peace and calls for negotiations to reach it, concluded: "The Jewish right of settlement in the area is equivalent in every way to the right of the existing Palestinian population to live there."
  • Supporting Israeli claims is the basic applicable international law in this case, the League of Nations Palestine Mandate. Article 6 calls for "close Jewish settlement" on the land west of the Jordan River. The League's mandate continues under the UN Charter. But without this context, which The Post never provides, Israel's insistence that the West Bank is disputed territory seems eccentric at best.
  • The paper refers to "the occupation" but does not remind readers that there's nothing illegal about the occupation. Israel conquered the West Bank from Jordan, not any separate Palestinian Arab entity, in successful self-defense in 1967 and retained it similarly in 1973. That makes Israel the obligatory military occupational authority, responsible for minimum standards of law and order, health, etc. of the inhabitants pending a final, negotiated settlement.
  • As Rostow put it, "Security Council Resolutions 242 and on two principles, Israel may administer the territory until its Arab neighbors make peace; and when peace is made, Israel should withdraw to 'secure and recognized borders,' which need not be the same as the Armistice Demarcation Lines of 1949."
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