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March 25, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

France Foils Terror Plot; Six Detained in Brussels Investigation - Griff Witte and Steven Mufson (Washington Post)
    French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Thursday that police had foiled a terrorist plot with the arrest of a man at "an advanced stage" of planning an attack on French soil.
    The Belgian prosecutor's office announced six arrests in Brussels in its investigation into the attacks at Brussels Airport and a subway station near EU headquarters.
    Rob Wainwright, chief of Europol, told the BBC on Thursday, "We are faced by a more dangerous, a more urgent security threat from so-called Islamic State. It threatens not just France and Belgium but a number of European countries at the same time."
    "It is certainly the most serious threat we have faced in at least a decade."
    See also Brussels Bombers Were on U.S. Terror Watch Lists (Reuters)
    Khalid El Bakraoui and Brahim El Bakraoui, two brothers who carried out suicide bombings in Brussels this week, were both on U.S. government counterterrorism watch lists.

Islamic State Terrorism Is "Going Global" - Matthew Levitt (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    According to the latest Europol counterterrorism report, the Islamic State has shifted toward "going global" in its terrorism campaign.
    The Islamic State has developed an "external action command" which "trained for special forces-style attacks in the international environment."
    The writer is director of the Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute.

Yemeni Authorities Jail Jewish Man over Airlifted Torah - Sandy Rashty (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    A Jewish man has been jailed in Yemen after being accused of helping smuggle an 800-year-old Torah scroll out of the country into Israel this week. A Muslim airport worker was also arrested.
    Jewish Agency spokesman Avi Mayer said, "The ancient Torah scroll brought from Yemen to Israel this week is the property of the Raydah Jewish community, of Yemenite Jewry, and of the Jewish people."
    "The rabbi of Raydah, who came to Israel this week along with the last remaining members of his community, brought the Torah with him."
    "The notion that the Torah should have been left, without protection, in a country torn apart by a violent civil war involving several parties that are viciously hostile to Jews, is preposterous. The Torah is part of the proud heritage of Yemenite Jewry and that heritage will live on in the State of Israel."

Hamas Sentences Two Palestinians for Spying for PA - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    A Hamas court in Gaza on Thursday sentenced Sami Nisman and Naim Abu Ful, who had previously served as officers in the PA security forces, to 12 and 15 years in prison for spying for the Palestinian Authority.
    The court also sentenced another three PA security officers to prison terms of one to three years.

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Jewish-Themed TV Series Wins Prize at Bahrain Festival (Al-Ahram-Egypt-Albawaba-Jordan)
    The Egyptian TV series Haret Al-Yahoud (The Jewish Quarter) scooped the Best TV Series award at the 14th Gulf Radio and Television Festival on 14 March in Bahrain.
    The series, which aired during Ramadan 2015, traces how particular events in modern Egyptian history - the 23 July Revolution and the 1956 War - affected the everyday lives of Egyptian Jews.
    It is the story of a Jewish girl who falls in love with a Muslim man, a love story that becomes impossible due to the changing political environment in Egypt in the 1950s.

The Most Successful Israeli Startups - Ethan Dunwill (Times of Israel)
    ZUtA Labs has created a pocket sized printer. Rather than feeding the paper through the printer, the tiny printer is placed on top of the page, printing directly onto the paper.
    Pixie can help locate any missing object. Pixie Points can be attached to virtually anything that a person owns. Then, a mobile app can be used to locate any object that has been pixified.
    If you misplace your keys and they have been tagged, the Pixie app will use the camera on your smartphone to show the location of the missing item.
    Lightricks is the maker of the popular photo-editing app, Facetune. It gives people the ability to make their selfies look more polished and improves the functionality of cameras.
    SkySaver has created an emergency backpack that residents living in high-rises can use to help them escape in the event of a fire.

Israelis Make an Outsized Contribution to America's Tech Sector - Inbal Orpaz (Ha'aretz)
    Seven Israelis founded or co-founded American tech companies worth over $1 billion each.
    The combined valuation of their six companies (one of them has two Israeli co-founders) exceeds $22 billion, the National Foundation for American Policy reported last week.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • In Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State Is In Retreat on Multiple Fronts - Liz Sly
    In the latest setbacks for Islamic State militants on Thursday, Syrian government troops entered the outskirts of Palmyra after a weeks-old offensive aided by Russian airstrikes, and U.S. airstrikes helped Iraqi forces overrun a string of Islamic State villages in northern Iraq. The militants have not embarked on a successful offensive in nine months. Their leaders are dying in U.S. strikes at the rate of one every three days, according to U.S. military officials.
        Front-line commanders speak of Islamic State defenses that crumble within days and fighters who flee at the first sign they are under attack. "They don't fight. They just send car bombs and then run away. And when we surround them they either surrender or infiltrate themselves among the civilians," said Lt. Gen. Abdul-Ghani al-Assadi, commander of Iraq's counterterrorism forces. "Their morale is shaken. We listen to them on their communications devices. Their leaders are begging them to fight, but they answer that it is a lost cause. They refuse to obey orders and run away."
        "As time goes on, as our systems mature, we're becoming more effective," said Col. Steve Warren, the U.S. military's spokesman in Baghdad. "We've become much better at spotting them. Anytime they try to move, we're able to find and finish them."
        In eastern Syria last month, the Kurdish YPG - aided by U.S. Special Forces - seized the town of Shadadi. "Shadadi was going to be a major six-week operation," a senior U.S. official said. "The ISIS guys had dug trenches and everything. Instead, they completely collapsed. They're collapsing town by town."
        Plans for an operation to capture Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State's caliphate in Syria, are on hold because of tensions between Kurds and Arabs over who would participate and how to govern the city after it has been taken. Likewise, preparations for an offensive for Mosul, the biggest Iraqi city under Islamic State control, are being held up by disputes over who should take part and how to govern the city. "We could probably liberate Mosul tomorrow, but...a lot of work needs to be done to ensure an orderly transition of power," said Michael Knights of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Sanctions Iranian Defense Firms, Revolutionary Guard Units for Missile Tests - Jay Solomon
    The Obama administration on Thursday imposed new sanctions against Iranian defense firms and units of the Revolutionary Guard for their role in supporting the country's recent ballistic-missile launches. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also U.S. Indicts 7 Iranians in Cyberattacks on Banks and a Dam - David E. Sanger
    The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday unsealed an indictment against seven computer specialists who regularly worked for Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, charging that they carried out cyberattacks on dozens of American banks and tried to take over the controls of a small dam in a suburb of New York.
        Intelligence experts have long speculated that the cyberactions directed at four dozen financial institutions - including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Capital One and PNC Bank - were intended to be retaliation for an American-led cyberattack on Iran's main nuclear enrichment plant which employed the Stuxnet virus.
        It is doubtful that any of the named Iranians will ever appear in an American courtroom. But the administration argues that such indictments make it difficult for those who are indicted to travel, for fear of extradition. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Soldier Filmed Shooting Neutralized Attacker - Elisha Ben Kimon and Itay Blumental
    After two Palestinian terrorists armed with knives stabbed a soldier in the Hebron neighborhood of Tel Rumeida on Thursday, the two attackers were shot and neutralized. A few minutes later, one of the soldiers can be seen in a video shooting one of the terrorists, Abed al Fatah a-Sharif, who was lying on the ground. (Ynet News)
        See also Soldier Who Shot Subdued Terrorist: "I Did the Right Thing, at the Right Time" - Noam Amir and Tovah Lazaroff
    The IDF soldier who was filmed shooting a Palestinian terrorist Thursday while he lay on the ground said: "I did the right thing at the right time in order to prevent anything else bad from happening." The soldier added that he feared that the terrorist, who had already succeeded in stabbing another soldier, was going to try to attack other soldiers. "He wore a thick coat and therefore I feared that he would stand and detonate an explosive belt."
        IDF Spokesperson Moti Almoz said the soldier had been detained and will remain in custody until the conclusion of the investigations being conducted by military police. Almoz also emphasized that until proven guilty, the soldier would be regarded as innocent. (Maariv Hashavua-Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Condemns UN "Blacklist" of Israeli Firms Operating in West Bank - Barak Ravid
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday after it voted to draw up a list of all Israeli and international firms operating directly or indirectly in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. "The UN Human Rights Council has become an anti-Israeli circus, attacking the only democracy in the Middle East and ignoring the gross violations in Iran, Syria and North Korea. The absurdity is that instead of dealing with Palestinian terror attacks or ISIS terror attacks in Europe, they decide to condemn Israel. Israel calls on responsible governments not to honor the decisions of the Council that discriminate against Israel."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also U.S. Denounces UN Resolution on Database of Settlement Businesses
    The U.S. government is decrying a resolution passed by the Human Rights Council that calls on the UN human rights chief to set up a database of businesses operating in settlements in the West Bank and Golan Heights. U.S. Ambassador Keith Harper denounced the "especially disturbing" resolution that "only serves to reinforce the council's one-sided actions against Israel" and said it exceeded the council's authority. (AP)
  • President Rivlin: BDS Is Anti-Semitism - Itamar Eichner
    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said Wednesday: "BDS is an expression of clear anti-Semitism, manifested in a desire to harm Israel and to question its very existence. One cannot cast any doubt on our historic connection with the Land of Israel, with our country and our homeland. The boycotts are motivated by an opposition to Israel's existence."
        "One of the important things in making peace between us and our neighbors, the Palestinian Arabs, is creating and building trust, and the importance of that is everyone's ability to live well in this land and to cooperate. Joint enterprises in which Jews and Arabs work together are an example of creating this trust, and this is expressed not only in Jerusalem and Haifa, but also in Judea and Samaria."  (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Islamist Terror Threat

  • ISIS: Jihad in Palestine Does Not Take Precedence over Jihad Elsewhere
    An article published on March 15 in the official Islamic State mouthpiece Al-Naba states that the fight against Israel does not take precedence over jihad against the infidels elsewhere, and that the fight against the infidels within Islam - against the Muslim rulers and governments - is even more important. Since the entire world except for the ISIS-controlled areas is ruled by infidels, the article asks why war against the Jews is being prioritized over the war against other infidels. In ISIS's view, if there is to be any prioritization of jihad, then it should be to liberate the Islamic holy sites of Mecca and Medina from the Saudi royal family.
        The article posits that fighting Israel should be left to the Palestinians. However, ISIS calls on Muslims worldwide to help them, including by attacking the Jews and their allies wherever they can. The article harshly criticizes those in the Arab world who sanctify the Palestinian cause and depict it as the Muslims' main issue. (MEMRI)
  • How Hard Is It to Understand that Radical Islamist Jihadis Have Declared War on the West? - Raheel Raza
    The Islamists have pinpointed the West to be "Dar al Harb" (land of war), a concept that allows them to justify killing anyone on this land. You, me and everyone in between - from the USA across to Canada, the UK and Europe. These attacks are all the result of a dangerous, violent and sick ideology. Time and again, many of us concerned Muslims have highlighted the dangers of political Islam/Islamism which stems from one of three sources: the Muslim Brotherhood, Wahhabi-Salafism or Khomeinism. This ideology has been on the rise for 35 years while the West has been asleep at the wheel.
        This violence will continue and get much worse unless all of us stand up and denounce and condemn armed jihad as a seventh-century construct, not applicable in this day and age. Countering this armed jihad is our responsibility because the problem emanates from the House of Islam and the lives of our next generations are at stake here. The writer is president of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow and founding member of the Muslim Reform Movement. (Gatestone Institute)
  • Make No Mistake, the World Is at War - Mike Strobel
    46 nations have been attacked by Islamist terrorists since 2010, and that does not even include Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. More countries are entangled with the Islamists than were involved on both sides in the Second World War. ISIS harbors no doubt it is in a world war with us. Nor should we. (Toronto Sun-Canada)

  • Other Issues

  • The Pax Americana Is Dead in the Middle East - Eyal Zisser
    The fact that the civil war in Syria continues to rage is clear evidence of the impotence of the international community, which has shown even less capacity in the matter of punishing those responsible for the crimes committed during the fighting. Outside intervention came from Moscow, which put Russia on the path to becoming the region's new policeman. This situation makes manifest the end of American hegemony in the region that endured for nearly a quarter of a century.
        The political vacuum that developed served as an invitation to regional godfathers like Iran, Turkey, and Russia to enter the field. The major Arab countries remaining intact are Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Because these states now have very little confidence in Washington's readiness to assist and protect them in times of crisis, they have become more inclined to resort to force. For example, Saudi Arabia has used force directly in Yemen, and indirectly in Syria as well, mainly because it no longer trusts its American backer.
        Under the circumstances, one can expect the use of force to become commonplace and one can expect greater use of non-conventional weapons. The effort to acquire nuclear weapons, or at least nuclear capability, will also continue to expand from Iran to other players in the region. Waves of refugees, which will only increase, are knocking on Europe's gates, while radical Islamic ideology is seeping deeply into Muslim communities all over the world, especially in Europe, and even in the U.S.
        The U.S. is destined to discover what Israel discovered in Lebanon and Gaza: that it is possible to disengage from the Middle East, but the Middle East will not disengage from you. The writer is the Vice Rector of Tel Aviv University. (Tablet)
  • Russian Intervention in Syria - Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman
    Russia's intervention in Syria was driven by Russian foreboding over what seemed at the time to be the immediate risk of the collapse of Bashar al-Assad's army under the steady pressure of the Islamic State's military success. Putin was also adamant that the mistake of abandoning Qaddafi would not be allowed to repeat itself. By the late winter of 2016, everything had changed beyond recognition and the Syrian regime was no longer in immediate danger.
        Another remarkable achievement for Putin's policy is the new note of respect with which Russia is now being treated by U.S. diplomacy. Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman is a former deputy for foreign policy and international affairs at Israel's National Security Council. (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • Watch Out, Jewish Students: The Anti-Israel Movement Will Boycott You Next - Jared Samilow
    Janet Mock, a transgender woman of color, was invited to speak at Brown University by "Moral Voices," a social justice group that operates under the auspices of the local Hillel group. Students for Justice in Palestine organized a campaign urging Mock to disavow Hillel's sponsorship since Hillel International is pro-Israel. Mock cancelled her appearance due to the controversy.
        The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is no longer content to just target Israeli institutions. It is now targeting individuals and organizations that are aligned with Israel. Jews and Jewish organizations - all of which have ties to Israel, the country where 40% of all Jews live - are to be ostracized unless they expressly distance themselves from Israel.
        Campus BDS cells are experimenting with a secondary boycott: a boycott of those who don't fall in line with an anti-Israel position. The writer, a student at Brown University, is a graduate of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs' fellowship program in Israel-Arab studies. (Ha'aretz)

  • Weekend Features

  • Yemeni Jews Seek New Future in Israel - Shira Rubin
    In the past few years, 200 Yemeni Jews have been airlifted from Yemen to Israel, including 19 this week. Yemeni Jews have left a "failed state that has fallen through the cracks, where al-Qaeda, IS and a whole supermarket of radical Islamists are taking advantage of the chaos and bringing about a new level of ethno-religious divisions," said Uzi Rabi, director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies.
        The remaining Jews in Yemen have increasingly become the target of animosity, harassment and hostility, largely from Shia Houthi rebels who overthrew the government last year and operate under the slogan: "God is great, death to America, death to Israel, curse on the Jews, victory to Islam."
        While many in the Jewish community feared that identification with Israel would endanger them, "at a certain point, more recently, they realized that they should start thinking about coming here, that even though they're leaving behind an ancient civilization, the situation is simply too dangerous," said Rabi, adding that the dozens who have stayed behind are likely elderly people. (Middle East Eye-UK)
  • Israel's Medical Pioneers
    Brainsway has pioneered a treatment for clinical depression known as "deep transcranial magnetic stimulation," using a helmet to aim magnetic fields at a patient's brain tissues. Unlike other treatments, such as drugs or electroconvulsive therapy, the patient suffers no major side effects or significant pain. "It's the first time in neuroscience we have a technology that non-invasively influences the deep structures of the brain," said Ronen Segal, vice-president of research and development at Brainsway.
        EarlySense makes sensors that can be placed under a mattress to allow doctors and nurses to monitor a patient's vital signs remotely. The company claims its sensors have so far saved the lives of 300 people and have reduced hospitalization days by 20,000. Israel is home to 700 medical device companies and has the most medical device patents per capita in the world. (Financial Times-UK)

The Link Between BDS and Jew-Hatred on Campus - Barbara Kay (National Post-Canada)

  • In a Feb. 25 Facebook post, McGill student Molly Harris recounted her experience in a mandatory, three-hour workshop on "oppression, privilege, consent and race" designed to create a "safe space" for fellow dorm students. Molly described an incident when, singled out negatively for being Jewish, she felt unsafe. The facilitator responded that Molly could feel victimized for being female, but "being Jewish didn't constitute grounds for systematic oppression."
  • On campuses with an active anti-Zionist presence, like McGill, hatred of Israel has a trickledown effect into the general "social justice" agenda - feminism, Black Lives Matter, LGBT and others - which has hardened many progressives' hearts against all Jewish pain, and shamed Jewish students into suppressing or denying it.
  • And so it has become commonplace even for Jewish students well-versed in their people's history to accept the mantle of "privilege" rather than insist that 60 years of success in North America isn't a patch on 3,000 years of exclusion, religious persecution, second-class status and wholesale massacre, not to mention ethnic cleansing from 94 countries (with the alleged sins of the only one from which they cannot be expelled the hysterical, single-focus obsession of "human rights" activism).
  • Today's BDS campaigns are inherently Judeophobic, and denial of "safe spaces" to Jews when they are exposed to identity-based hostility is an inherently anti-Semitic impulse. Let's finally acknowledge that and deal with it as we would any other offensive manifestation of intolerance.
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