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May 20, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Nuclear Terrorism and ISIS: How Scared Should We Be? - Nathalie Guibert (Le Monde-France)
    Western intelligence services know that jihadists have been trying to lay their hands on radioactive material.
    Experts dismiss the possibility of terrorists capturing an existing nuclear missile or manufacturing a military-grade weapon without the support of a state.
    But an attack on a nuclear power station could spew large amounts of radiation, spark a mass panic and render vast swaths of land uninhabitable.
    An even more credible threat is a "dirty bomb" made of radioactive components used in civilian contexts, such as research reactors, medical facilities or industrial plants.
    See also ISIS and the Dirty Bomb Scenario - Dr. Barak Ben Zur (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    According to the 9/11 Commission's report, Osama bin Laden paid $1.5 million to a former Sudanese general who claimed he could provide nuclear material, only to find that the offer was a fraud. But the episode taught us about bin Laden's intentions.
    ISIS, which emerged from al-Qaeda, is much closer to securing and using unconventional weapons. It has access to the Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) installations in suburbs of Aleppo and al-Safirah.
    This scientific institution, functioning since 1969, was fully engaged in the development of chemical and biological agents and a variety of studies in the atomic field.
    We should assume that despite Syrian army efforts in mid-2015 to transport or destroy the laboratories' contents, ISIS may have succeeded in capturing at least some of it.
    To meet this challenge, a secret intelligence effort is needed for tracking, arresting, and/or targeting individuals linked to global terror, including criminal groups offering fissile materiel on the black market.
    Col. (res.) Barak Ben-Zur served as the head of the terrorism branch of IDF Military Intelligence and as head of the research unit of the Israel Security Agency.

Revolutionary Guards: Growing Number of Iranians Demanding Deployment in Syria (Fars-Iran)
    Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) spokesman Gen. Ramezan Sharif announced on Wednesday that a growing number of Iranians have volunteered to be dispatched to Syria.
    "Today, we are facing a growing wave of demands for being sent to Syria and Iraq, and many young people from different parts of Iran and different ethnicities have volunteered."

U.S. Navy Jets Jam Islamic State's Ability to Communicate - Chris Church (Stars and Stripes)
    The Boeing EA-18G Growler - the electronic warfare version of the F/A 18 Super Hornet fighter - is designed to jam radio and cellphone communications that could be used to coordinate ambushes or other forms of attack. It also can disrupt electronics used to set off improvised explosive devices.
    "If you talk on it, we go after it," said electronic warfare officer Lt. Chris Long, who is deployed on the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman in the Persian Gulf.

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Moving Forward from Sykes-Picot - Abdulateef Al-Mulhim (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
    Contrary to general perception, the century-old Sykes-Picot Agreement should not be held responsible for the failure of many Arab states.
    Those failures are caused mainly by poor governance, poor utilization of natural resources, social inequality, weak education system and unnecessarily protracted conflicts.

Anti-Israel Protesters Disrupt Israeli Movie Screening at UC Irvine - Roxana Kopetman (Orange County Register)
    Amid chants of "Long live the intifada," anti-Israel student protesters disrupted the viewing of a film about Israeli soldiers at UC Irvine on Wednesday, leading campus police to escort Jewish students away from the scene.
    About a dozen students from UCI's Students Supporting Israel met inside a classroom to view the Israeli film, "Beneath the Helmet." Outside, some 50 protesters gathered and began profanity-laced chants against Israel and UCI police, according to video from the scene.
    UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman said Thursday the incident "crossed the line of civility....We must shelter everyone's right to speak freely - without fear or intimidation - and allow events to proceed without disruption."

Israel Has 8th Highest Life Expectancy in the World - Itay Gal (Ynet News)
    According to a new World Health Organization report, Israel has the eighth highest life expectancy rate in the world, with an average of 80.6 years for men and 84.3 for women.

The Belvoir Fortress in Israel - Josephine Price (National Geographic)
    The mountaintop Belvoir Fortress, a 13th-century Crusader stronghold near the Sea of Galilee, is the best-preserved Crusader fortress in Israel.
    Belvoir is based on the same concentric castle layout as the Tower of London.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Kerry to Attend Paris Meeting to Restart Mideast Peace Talks - Matthew Lee
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday he will attend an upcoming French-hosted meeting of foreign ministers in Paris on June 3 aimed at restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. "I certainly intend to be helpful and cooperative in a cooperative way that makes sense with the parties in order to encourage them to come to the table," Kerry said. (AP-ABC News)
  • Arabs Demand that UN Remove a Panel from Israeli Exhibition
    Arab and Islamic nations are demanding that the UN remove a panel from an Israeli exhibition that calls Jerusalem "the spiritual and physical capital of the Jewish people." A letter from the Palestinian UN mission to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft circulated Thursday expressed "vehement rejection" at the description, echoing protests by Arab nations at the UN and the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
        UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the Israeli mission followed the rules for mounting an exhibition, which includes panels on Israel's Arabs, its technology innovations and other aspects of Israeli life. (AP-New York Times)
  • U.S. "Actively Targeting" ISIS Chemical Weapons Threat - Bridget Johnson
    Abu Sufyan, an ISIS member "responsible for staging chemical attacks in the Euphrates River Valley," was killed on May 13 following the March capture of the group's chemical weapons chief, Abu Dawud, said Col. Steve Warren, speaking by video from Baghdad to reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday. "We were very happy that we killed Sufyan," said Warren. (PJ Media)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon Resigns - Hannah Broad
    Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon announced on Friday that he was resigning from the Knesset after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu replaced him as defense minister with Avigdor Lieberman. According to Israeli media reports, Ya'alon turned down an offer by Netanyahu to serve as foreign minister. Ya'alon said he has no intention to step away from political life permanently.
        The U.S. responded to Ya'alon's departure by saying that it looks forward to working with the next defense minister, adding, "Our bonds of friendship are unbreakable, and our commitment to the security of Israel remains absolute."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Netanyahu Offers Condolences over EgyptAir Plane Crash - Barak Ravid
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on Thursday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and offered condolences over the EgyptAir plane crash. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel to Upgrade West Bank Checkpoints to Reduce Waiting Time - Gili Cohen
    Israel's Defense Ministry said it will invest $78 million to upgrade the checkpoints between the West Bank and Israel to shorten the time Palestinians must spend waiting in line. Some 60,000 Palestinians have permits to work in Israel. In 2015, over 11 million Palestinian crossings into Israel were recorded, up from 8 million in 2014. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Who Will Succeed Mahmoud Abbas and Does It Really Matter? - Khaled Abu Toameh
    "My age and health don't allow me to remain in power," PA President Mahmoud Abbas, 81, reportedly told Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. A "battle for succession" has been raging for weeks among the top brass of the PA leadership in the West Bank and there is no shortage of Palestinians who consider themselves "natural" and "worthy" successors.
        Clearly, Abbas' successor will not be elected through the ballot box. There are no free and democratic elections in the West Bank and Gaza. Therefore, it is up to the ruling Fatah's Central Committee to elect a new president. The Fatah leadership will not hand over the presidency to anyone who is not from its ranks.
        Today, Palestinians point to at least three candidates whose chances of succeeding Abbas are strong: Saeb Erekat, Mohammed Shtayyeh and Majed Faraj. Erekat and Shtayyeh are members of the Fatah Central Committee, while Faraj, who is also a senior Fatah official, heads the PA General Intelligence Force in the West Bank. Abbas relies on Faraj when it comes to protecting the PA regime against Hamas and other political rivals.
        Does it really matter who replaces Abbas? After Arafat died, Arafatism lived on. No real changes should be expected in the Palestinian attitude towards the conflict with Israel after Abbas departs. (Gatestone Institute)
  • France, Israel and the Jews - Manfred Gerstenfeld interviews Freddy Eytan
    "Bilateral French-Israeli relations have significantly improved and are currently the best they have been since Israel's honeymoon with the French socialists in the 1950s. Both countries now have more interests in common. The wave of Muslim terror in Europe requires collaboration and exchange of information between their intelligence services. Military relationships have improved, together with economic interactions. Nowadays several major French companies are represented in Israel including the EDF energy group and the Alsthom transport company."
        "At the same time however, France maintains its 'automatic' favorable attitude toward the Palestinians....In line with this automatic stance, under [President] Hollande's leadership France supported a scandalous motion ignoring the Jewish connection with the Temple Mount in Jerusalem."
        "The French parliament, with its Socialist majority, voted in favor of the recognition of a Palestinian state....Hollande had to take into account here the power of the pro-Palestinian left wing in his Socialist party, as well as the Green party. As Hollande is the least popular post-war French president to date, he will need all the support he can get if he wants to have a chance in the 2017 presidential elections." Former Israeli ambassador Freddy Eytan is an expert on France's Middle East policy. (Tundra Tabloids)
  • Compensate Iran for 1953 Coup? - Michael Rubin
    In 2000, when Secretary of State Madeleine Albright obliquely apologized to Iran for the CIA role in the 1953 coup against Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, she hoped that it might pave the way for reconciliation. Instead, the Iranian government turned around and argued that, with the U.S. admitting its guilt, that it should then compensate Iran. Hence, the fact that the Iranian parliament is once again demanding reparations now for the 1953 coup should come as no surprise.
        The backdrop to the 1953 coup was Mosaddeq's nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (the forerunner to British Petroleum). After seizing the company in which the British had spent the equivalent of billions in today's dollars, he adamantly refused to negotiate. Moreover, Mosaddeq is depicted as a democrat, but he was only a democrat in the sense that Venezuela's Hugo Chavez was: those who disagreed with him might find themselves subject to mob violence or worse. That and his flirtation with the Soviet Union were among the reasons that not only the U.S. but the Iranian Army and the Iranian clergy cooperated in his ouster.
        As for the popular notion that the coup ousted the democratically-elected prime minister and installed the dictatorial Shah, the Shah had been the leader of Iran since 1941. Mosaddeq was pushing for his ouster. The writer is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. (Commentary)
  • How Independent Is Israel? - Martin Kramer
    Israel has indeed grown dramatically - in population, wealth, and military prowess. But has Israel seen a comparable growth in its independence? Has there been a comparable expansion of its ability to take the independent action it must take if it is to protect its interests and survive as a Jewish state? Or has Israel grown less independent over time, especially with the deepening of its relationship with its principal ally, the United States?
        After 1967, as successive U.S. administrations concluded that leverage could be achieved only by drawing Israel into the American orbit, the first step was to sell it Phantom fighter jets, and the rest followed. Over time, in the race to maintain its "military edge," Israel has been given access to the world's best military hardware. The tradeoff, however, is that in becoming ever more reliant on the U.S., Israel has sacrificed some measure of its freedom of action. This was evident in October 1973, when, deferring to U.S. pressure, Israel desisted from preempting an imminent Arab attack.
        This has been the general pattern ever since: Israel is expected to show "restraint," if not to make concessions, in return for hardware and diplomatic backing. Being independent is a process, not a moment. That process is still unfolding. The writer is president of Shalem College in Jerusalem. (Mosaic)
  • Arabs Blame the West Instead of Promoting Reforms - Eyal Zisser
    After the 2011 Arab Spring, the role of the state as the organizing force in Arab society has been replaced by chaos, the role of Arab nationalism as a leading belief has been usurped by Islam, and the role of the Arab collective as the regional landlord has been seized by Turkey, Iran and other external forces, led by Russia, seeking to reposition themselves as the Middle East's new masters.
        The Arab world is immersed in a past rife with conspiracy theories. As long as the Arabs blame so-called Western conspiracies in collusion with Israel for their problems, they will find it hard to devise solutions. The Arab world's failure to promote unity, political stability and economic prosperity is the result of Arab societies' and rulers' failure to promote internal reforms that can effect true change. The writer, Vice Rector at Tel Aviv University, is former director of its Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies. (Israel Hayom)
  • Political-Legal Theater in the 2014 Gaza War - Gerald M. Steinberg, Anne Herzberg, and Joshua Bacon
    During the 2014 Gaza war and its aftermath, dozens of NGOs claiming human rights and humanitarian aid agendas issued hundreds of statements, the vast majority targeting Israel. However, evidence shows that many NGOs operating in the fields of human rights and the laws of armed conflict (LOAC) lack any standard or methodology for conducting investigations.
        From the first day of combat, NGOs leveled accusations against the IDF in a manner that was generally highly emotive and exaggerated. NGO reporting relies extensively on interviews with residents of conflict zones, and these "witnesses" almost always claim that there were no combatants or military objectives anywhere in the vicinity.
        In addition, the legal analyses and conclusions in NGO reports are generally simplistic, misleading, and reflective of political agendas that ascribe malevolent intent to the actions of the Israeli government and the IDF. Prof. Gerald Steinberg, professor of political science and founder of the program on conflict management at Bar-Ilan University, is the president of NGO Monitor, where Anne Herzberg is the Legal Advisor and Joshua Bacon is the head of the Israel Desk. (Strategic Assessment-Institute for National Security Studies)
  • Has the UN Human Rights Council Become a Nightmare? - Hillel Neuer
    In 2003, dictatorships hijacked the UN Commission on Human Rights, electing the murderous regime of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi as chair. At the initiative of UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, the UN in June 2006 replaced the commission with the Human Rights Council, a reformed body of members committed to human rights, which would address the world's most severe abuses.
        As the new body celebrates its tenth anniversary next month, has the council lived up to the promises of reform? In over 50 sessions, only 14 countries have been condemned - less than what even the discredited commission accomplished. With 62% non-democracies, the council's 2016 membership is the worst ever.
        The council's pathological obsession with demonizing Israelis, and denying their human rights, has never been worse. It has adopted 67 resolutions condemning Israel - six more than for the rest of the world combined. The writer is executive director of UN Watch in Geneva. (Jerusalem Post)

  • Weekend Features

  • How Israel Is Turning Part of the Negev Desert into a Cyber-City - Ellen Nakashima and William Booth
    In Beersheba, Israel, in the middle of the Negev Desert, a cyber-city is rising to cement Israel's place as a major digital power. Israel is a nation of 8 million people with little in the way of natural resources. But in global private investment in cybersecurity firms, it is second only to the U.S.
        In Israel, different sectors of society - that in the U.S. do not have a tradition of collaborating - appear willing to work closely together. "The United States has more capabilities than Israel in cyberspace," said Gabi Siboni, director of the cybersecurity program at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. "But we are small. We are very anxious, and it's the difference between a speedboat and an aircraft carrier. We go very fast."  (Washington Post)
        See also Inside Israel's Secret Startup Machine - Richard Behar
    In the early 1990s Avishai Abrahami found himself assigned to a crack IDF cybersecurity and intelligence team. He was assigned to break into the computers of a country that remained in a state of hostility with Israel. He broke into the computers of two other hostile countries and hijacked their processing power to suck out the data held by the first target - without leaving his chair in Tel Aviv.
        After leaving the army, Abrahami, now 45, cofounded Wix, currently one of the world's leading cloud-based Web-development platforms. (Forbes)
  • Calling Israel an Apartheid State Insults Black South Africans - Leon Jamaine Mithi
    I am from Zimbabwe and grew up under the strictest regime of apartheid in South Africa. I used to support the BDS movement, but I withdrew my support after I visited Israel and the West Bank. Having been there, having seen what the BDS movement calls "apartheid," I have to say that calling Israel an apartheid state is an insult to black South Africans who suffered under the now-defunct system of strict racial segregation. And I feel a terrible loss of the true black South African apartheid narrative, because the term has been appropriated to wrongly label Israel.
        For Israel to be an apartheid state, it would have to be a colonial entity. It is ahistorical to consider a people, with ties stretching over thousands of years to an area, as a colonizer after being expelled in 1948 and returning home 19 years later, in 1967. Israelis are not some colonizers from Europe. They are a community that is nation-building in an area where they have always lived.
        Another difference is that - unlike South Africa, where oppressed blacks were mostly peaceful - Israel has faced multiple wars started by its neighbors and faces ongoing attacks against Jewish Israelis by a significant segment of the Palestinian people. This war-zone environment sets true apartheid apart from the Israel-Palestine conflict. The writer, a law student at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, is ranked first in Africa and fourth globally in the World Universities Public Speaking Championship. (The Oregonian)
  • El Salvador Diplomat Saved Tens of Thousands of Jews from Nazi Persecution
    Jose Arturo Castellanos, an army colonel who served as El Salvador's consul general in Geneva, helped save tens of thousands of Jews from Nazi persecution during World War II by providing them with false Salvadoran identity papers. Castellanos, who was recognized posthumously as Righteous Among the Nations by the Israeli Holocaust memorial and museum Yad Vashem in 2010, was honored last week by Germany's Ministry of Foreign Relations and the Berlin Jewish Center.
        During World War II, Castellanos befriended George Mandel, a Hungarian-Jewish businessman whom he appointed as the consulate's first secretary, a fictitious title. They issued passports or visas identifying thousands of European Jews as citizens of El Salvador. At least 25,000 Jews were saved due to these efforts. (JTA)

The Next Anti-Israel Temper Tantrum - Lawrence J. Haas (U.S. News)

  • Two dozen well-known novelists are writing a book about Israel's occupation of the West Bank that will lack context, ignore reality, give Palestinians a pass for their terror and Jew-hating, and do nothing to end the very occupation they deplore.
  • Readers won't learn that Palestinians leaders have rejected peace with Israel that would end the occupation multiple times, most recently in 2008 when Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered Palestinians 93.7% of the West Bank, land to almost fully compensate for the other 6.3%, a link to Gaza, Israeli withdrawal from Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, and international control over the Old City.
  • They won't learn that Palestinian leaders reject peace with Israel because Palestinians largely reject the vaunted "two-state solution" - that is, the reality of a Jewish state in the historic Jewish homeland.
  • They won't learn that Palestinian leaders indoctrinate their people in the ethos of endless war and boundless hostility to Israel; that "moderate" PA President Mahmoud Abbas pays homage to Palestinian "martyrs" who spill Jewish blood; and that Palestinian media feed their people a steady diet of "resistance" - to kill Jews and oust Israel from its land.

    The writer is a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council.
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