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July 15, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

The Nice Attack and the Wider Threat to France - Peter Apps (Reuters)
    Mainland Europe, and France in particular, is facing a vicious, repeated string of attacks that are hard to stop.
    In France, well over 200 civilians have been killed since January 2015.
    The attack in Nice appears to have been at least the fourth politically or militant-inspired "vehicular assault" in France since 2014.
    Two attacks took place with motor vehicles in December 2014 in Nantes and Dijon, killing one person and injuring more than 20. In January this year, an attacker rammed four French soldiers who were guarding a mosque in Valence.

10 Years after Second Lebanon War, Israel Isn't in Hizbullah's Sights - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
    Hizbullah has been investing enormous resources in fighting in Syria. It has garnered no meaningful accomplishments except (together with Russia) keeping Assad alive.
    Israeli officials believe one-third of Hizbullah's fighting force is on Syrian soil, with units rotating to leave the front and return to Lebanon.
    Massive logistics are required to maintain such a force with food, clothing, equipment, and weapons.
    Every day, Hizbullah combat troops are sent back home to Lebanon in coffins covered with yellow flags, and are given state funerals.

Palestinian Doctor Receives Gift for Saving Jewish Terror Victims - Maytal Yasur Beit-Or (Israel Hayom)
    Rescuers Without Borders and the Hatzalah emergency team of Judea and Samaria have gifted Dr. Ali Abu Sherech with a first responder bag containing over a thousand dollars' worth of medical equipment.
    Dr. Sherech cared for the late Rabbi Michael Mark's wife and daughter following an attack in the South Hebron Hills two weeks ago.
    The Palestinian doctor was among the first to arrive on the scene after seeing an overturned car on the side of the road.
    The emergency care Sherech gave Mark's wife Hava and his daughter Tehila is believed to have saved their lives. Mark was killed in the attack.

Two Israeli Arabs Charged with Trying to Join Islamic State - Dov Lieber (Times of Israel)
    Two Arab men from northern Israel - Abed al-Fatah, 24, from Nazareth and Ashraf Arbe'e, 35, from Shfaram - have been charged with supporting the Islamic State, with each separately planning to join the jihadist group in Syria.
    The Israel Security Agency believes that more than 40 Israeli Arabs have joined the Islamic State in the last two years.

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Large-Scale Smuggling to Hamas Thwarted at Gaza Crossing (Israel Ministry of Defense)
    Over the past few weeks, Israeli security officials have uncovered hundreds of smuggling attempts to Gaza via the postal service.
    Among the items discovered were 14 small UAVs, binoculars, laser pointers for weapons, communications equipment, tasers, weapons components, diving gear, GoPro cameras, banned electronic components, satellite communications equipment, surveillance cameras, and motion sensors.

Israelis and Palestinians Who Work Together in Peace - Kate Shuttleworth (Guardian-UK)
    At Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem, a heart attack patient is lying on an operating table. The head technician, Siham Sheble Masarwa, an Israeli Arab, monitors the operation, directing a team of Jewish and Arab medical experts.
    Masarwa runs the catheterization lab in the intensive cardiac care unit. The hospital is a rare island of calm where Jews, Israeli Arabs and some Palestinian staff work together to treat patients.
    Next door to the lab is the cardiology ward where Rashad Rizeq, 32, a Palestinian from Ramallah, has been selected for a residency. At Hadassah, Rizeq does his rounds, speaking to Palestinian patients in Arabic, most of whom are heart attack patients transferred from the West Bank.

The Ninja Who Beat the Boycott - Adam Shay (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    For a brief period, calls for a cultural boycott of Israel managed to make waves and bring about several high-profile cancellations, but this tier of the boycott now seems to be losing momentum.

Ebay Buys Israeli Startup to Better Understand Its Users - Hezi Sternlicht (Israel Hayom)
    Online retail giant eBay announced Monday the acquisition of SalesPredict, an Israeli startup that predicts consumers' buying behavior, for $30-40 million.
    SalesPredict's technology is a form of artificial intelligence that studies consumers' buying habits through database analysis.

Israel to Help Boost Farming in Kenya - Karen Kandie (The Star-Kenya)
    Despite more than half of Israel being a desert, and only 20% is naturally arable, it produces 95% of its food requirements and is an exporter of agricultural produce.
    Biological pest control is a key method of managing pests, instead of chemical pesticides.
    This year in Makueni county, exports of mangoes were severely affected by fruit flies, and such a biological solution may provide relief.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • 84 Killed in Terror Attack on Bastille Day Crowd in Nice, France - Phil Helsel
    A truck slammed into revelers during Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, France, on Thursday, leaving at least 84 people dead and dozens more injured in what French President Francois Hollande called "obviously a terrorist attack." "All of France is under the threat of Islamic terrorism," he said. Christian Estrosi, president of the region that includes Nice, told French media that the driver also "fired on the crowd" and that guns and explosives were found in the truck. (NBC News-Washington Post)
        See also Israel Condemns "Horrific" Nice Terror Attack, Offers Assistance (Times of Israel)
  • Iran Testing New Centrifuges 15 Times More Powerful
    Spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Behrouz Kamalvandi announced Wednesday that the country's experts are now testing newly-designed IR2 and IR2M centrifuges. Iran in January unveiled the latest generation of its centrifuges that are 15 times more powerful than its currently operating IR1. Kamalvandi underlined Iran's capability to resume the frozen part of its nuclear activities and warned that the speed at which Iran can bring its frozen operations back into action would surprise the opposite party.
        In December, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani announced that the country will gain access to modern nuclear technology to upgrade its centrifuges. He said, "The new generation of Iran's centrifuges will be of a much higher quality as compared with the previous ones."  (Fars-Iran)
  • House of Representatives Votes to Toughen Iran Sanctions - Cristina Marcos
    The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation Tuesday to block Iran's access to the dollar and impose sanctions for its ballistic missile program. A day earlier, the House approved a measure to stop the federal government from buying heavy water from Iran. "Deal or no deal - good or bad deal - we always agreed to hold Iran accountable for terrorism, for its development of ballistic missiles, and for its human rights abuses committed against its own people," said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). President Obama has threatened to veto the measures. (The Hill)
  • Jewish Baby Boom Alters Israeli-Palestinian Dynamic - Yaroslav Trofimov
    When the Oslo peace process began in the 1990s, fertility among Israeli Jews stood at 2.6 children per woman, compared with 4.7 among Muslims in Israel and east Jerusalem and 6.0 among Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. Yet over the past decade, a demographic revolution with long-lasting political consequences has occurred. Jewish birthrates in Israel have spiked while Arab birthrates in the Palestinian territories and elsewhere in the Middle East have declined. This unlikely baby boom has made many Israeli Jews a lot less afraid of being outnumbered.
        The Jewish fertility rate in Israel was 3.11 per woman in 2014, while among the Arab citizens of Israel and east Jerusalem residents it was 3.17, according to Israel's statistics bureau. Palestinian fertility rates have fallen to 3.7 in the West Bank from 5.6 in 1997, and to 4.5 from 6.9 children in Gaza, according to the Palestinian statistics bureau. "Birthrates in the Arab and Jewish sectors will continue converging," said Israel's defense minister Avigdor Lieberman.
        Regardless of its political implications, Israel's baby boom represents a puzzling exception to the world's demographic trends. Usually, as countries become wealthier and as women become more integrated in the workforce, fertility rates plummet. But in Israel, families began having more children, giving the country the highest fertility rate among the world's advanced economies. Israeli Jews nowadays have more children, on average, than Egyptians, Iranians or Lebanese. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Arab Countries View Israel as an Ally, Not an Enemy - Lilach Shoval
    "Countries in the region understand that due to the rise of radical Islam, whether it be the Shiite Islamic extremism of Iran or the Sunni Islamic extremism of the Islamic State group, Israel is not an enemy, but rather an ally...against this common threat that endangers us all," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday at the National Security College. "The normalization or advancement of relations with the Arab world could help to promote a sober and stable peace between us and the Palestinians." Netanyahu said there has been a "revolution" in Israel's relations with "important Arab countries."  (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel to EU: Voting to Recognize Temple Mount as Solely Muslim Ignores Christianity - Tovah Lazaroff
    Israel warned the European Union on Thursday that supporting a UNESCO resolution which views the Temple Mount as a solely Muslim site is akin to ignoring Europe's Christian roots. "If the Europeans have a hand in a UNESCO decision that rejects or does not deal with the Jewish people's relationship to the Temple Mount and Jerusalem, are they not rejecting their own identity?" asked Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon. "There is no Christianity without Judaism and there is no Jesus without a Jewish Jerusalem and the Temple Mount." Jordan and the Palestinians are pushing for approval of such a resolution at UNESCO's World Heritage Committee, currently meeting in Istanbul. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel: EU Diplomatic Office in Iran a "Grave Mistake"
    Israel on Thursday warned that the European Union was making a "grave mistake" by opening a diplomatic office in Iran. The Israel Foreign Ministry noted that the Iranian regime "is the world's worst state sponsor of terror. It funds murder throughout the Middle East. It hangs gays and brutally represses its own people. Iran brazenly violates its international obligations while literally emblazoning its missiles with 'Israel will be wiped out.'...Iran should not be rewarded as it spreads murder and mayhem across the world."  (Times of Israel)
        See also Iran's Extremism Persists Despite Nuclear Deal (AIPAC)
        See also The Nuclear Deal's Fatal Flaws: An Emboldened Iran and Diminished American Deterrence - Mark Dubowitz and Annie Fixler (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Islamic State Threat in the Golan Heights - Fabrice Balanche
    Israel has so far managed to prevent attacks against the Golan, but the rise of jihadist movements in southwestern Syria is steadily increasing the danger level. Ever since large contingents of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) withdrew from the demilitarized zone separating the Israeli and Syrian portions of the Golan, various radical groups have taken over much of the area, including the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra (JN). And while Druze villages in the area remain under the Assad regime's control, Hizbullah has repeatedly tried to establish its own foothold there.
        While JN has no more than 1,500 fighters in the area, and IS less than a thousand, they are enough to play a substantial role inside a very fragmented southern rebellion. According to the IDF, about 150 independent rebel groups are now present in southern Syria. Some have united under the "Southern Front" umbrella, reportedly with substantial support from a U.S.-backed military operations center in Jordan. The writer, an associate professor and research director at the University of Lyon 2, is a visiting fellow at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Egypt Warms Up to Israel - Mohamed Hamama
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said Monday the visit by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Israel was the first from an Egyptian foreign minister in a decade, underscoring how the meetings with Shoukry represent a "change in Israeli-Egyptian relations." The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the talks spanned more than two hours and continued over a dinner Netanyahu hosted in his home.
        The location of the meetings was also significant. Egypt let go of a long-lasting protocol to refuse to conduct state visits in Jerusalem as Netanyahu hosted Shoukry there. It is also important to note that the Foreign Ministry led the recent visit, not the General Intelligence Services, which have been handling diplomacy with Israel for years. (Mada Masr-Egypt)
  • Egyptian Foreign Minister's Visit to Israel a Significant Strategic Move - Hussein Haridy
    The visit by the Egyptian foreign minister to the Israeli capital has placed Egypt once again at the center of Middle Eastern politics. The visit indicates that Egypt remains a regional and Arab power to reckon with. Decisions concerning war and peace pass through Cairo.
        This message, indeed, needed to be sent, particularly after the Israeli-Turkish agreement of last week to restore normal diplomatic relations. The visit by the Egyptian foreign minister to Israel would, hopefully, send a clear message to all parties that the Egyptian role in peace-making in the Middle East is second to none. In sum, the trip by the Egyptian foreign minister to Israel aimed at securing peace and averting war. The writer is former assistant to the foreign minister. (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
  • Why Fayyad Will Fail Again - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Once there was a moderate Palestinian leader who pointed the way toward genuine peace with Israel as well as democracy and development for the Palestinians. His name was Salam Fayyad, an American-educated economist who was named prime minister of the Palestinian Authority in 2007. But Fayyad's promise was unfulfilled. A man without a party, he was powerless to change a Palestinian political culture that revolved around death and hate. Both Fatah and its Hamas rivals despised him, and few Palestinians mourned when he resigned in 2013.
        Fayyad is back now with a new plan that would both ease a path to peace with Israel as well as end the logjam between Fatah and Hamas. It's no surprise that the same forces that worked to ensure he would fail as Palestinian PM don't like it. The reason is it's based on a truce with Israel that would end all terrorism. If Fayyad had any sort of constituency, his proposal might encourage hope for progress toward peace. But his fan base is largely composed of Americans and Europeans. Israelis will continue to stand their ground and wait for the day when someone like Fayyad will speak for more than just himself. (Commentary)
  • Can't Have It Both Ways in Iran - Reuel Marc Gerecht and Ray Takeyh
    Last summer, as the administration unveiled its nuclear agreement with Iran, Secretary of State John Kerry assured skeptics that the U.S. would sustain essential sanctions that punish Tehran for its aid to terrorists, regional aggression, and human rights abuses. But Washington can either accommodate or confront the clerical regime. It can't do both. And confrontation is made difficult, if not impossible, by the nuclear agreement and a war-weary public that is eager to be free of the Middle East.
        In the year since the nuclear agreement was concluded, Tehran has continued its development of long-range ballistic missiles, a historic signpost of a state with atomic weapons ambitions.
        The Gulf is simmering with Iranian intrigue. Tehran is busy fortifying Shia groups in Yemen and exploiting widespread anger against the Sunni princely class. Gulf Arab internal security services are probably not lying when they tell of increasing Iranian covert aid to violent radicals.
        Accommodation with the Iranian regime isn't pretty. Morally and strategically, it diminishes, if not cripples, the U.S. in the Muslim world. Reuel Marc Gerecht is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Ray Takeyh is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Foreign Affairs)
  • Assessing the Iran Nuclear Deal One Year Later - Carol Morello
    By virtually all accounts, Iran has done everything it is required to do under the nuclear agreement. But the best-case scenario, that the deal would exert a moderating influence on Iran's behavior, has yet to be realized. Human rights abuses have piled up and Tehran has conducted missile tests that UN chief Ban Ki-moon has called inconsistent with "the constructive spirit" of the deal.
        David Albright, a nuclear expert with the Institute for Science and International Security, says, "The deal has been a real success in getting deep reductions in Iran's nuclear capability. But now Iran is trying to push back and get new capabilities."  (Washington Post)

  • Weekend Features

  • Female IDF Combat Soldiers Who Enlisted Despite the Odds - Etti Abramov
    Cpl. Inbar Shimshon remembers the day in February 2016 when she was at Shuafat checkpoint next to Jerusalem. "A [Palestinian] girl came in, she looked about 20. She put her things into the X-ray machine, and we saw that she had left one bag outside. I asked her to put that in the machine, too, and then we identified a sharp object inside a gallon of yogurt....When I poured the container out in the sink, we found the knife....Suddenly you catch somebody your own age that's coming to murder and kill people. It's painful to comprehend that they don't have a problem killing."
        Few knew that Shimshon had to struggle to enlist and then to become a combat soldier, as she had suffered from cancer in her childhood. "It really moved me," she said, "that I can save lives in return like my own life was saved. People could have been hurt, and I prevented it."  (Ynet News)
  • Female IDF Paramedics Who Treat Syria's Wounded - Ahiyah Raved
    Sgt. Rotem Einav, a paramedic with the IDF Medical Corps on the Golan Heights, has treated over 100 injured Syrians in the past five months. The IDF Medical Corps provides first aid to the wounded Syrians, many times saving their lives. "I wasn't trained to treat Israelis, Jews, or Syrians," she says. "I was trained to treat people. If I see someone who needs help, someone who is in distress, my moral obligation is to help them. I don't even think about it."
        2nd Lt. Leshem Shirgaouker said, "This is the greatest place to find yourself as a medical professional. You're here saving lives. It doesn't matter if they're Jewish, Arab, or an enemy. They're here and they're injured, and I will do everything I can for them....When I help send them back to Syria and see that their condition has improved - there's no greater feeling."  (Ynet News)
  • What Did the German People Know about the Holocaust? - Ed Timms
    In The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939-1945, historian Nicholas Stargardt methodically tears down any pretense that Germans weren't aware of war atrocities and the Holocaust. "Many of the soldiers who witnessed such events across Poland took rolls of photographs, which they sent home to be developed and printed. In this way, a visual record passed through the hands of parents, wives and photographic assistants before being returned to the 'execution tourists' in Poland."
        Later in the war, Soviet soldiers "found thousands of images of killing sites in the uniform pockets of German prisoners and dead." Germans began opining as early as 1943 that Allied bombing raids on their cities were retaliation for the murder of Jews. (Dallas Morning News)

Why Critics of Israel's New NGO "Transparency Law" Are Wrong - Eugene Kontorovich (Tablet)

  • Israel this week passed a law requiring domestic organizations that are primarily funded by foreign governments to disclose this connection. While the law is totally neutral with regard to the activities of the funded organization, European governments that fund political groups have denounced it. The U.S. has had similar rules for decades, and imposed new ones a few years ago without a peep of international objection.
  • Governments have foreign policies and they use the groups they fund in Israel to produce documents that they then invoke when taking action. As a matter of basic democratic integrity, groups that depend largely on government funds should not be able to advertise their "NGO" status without at least some small-print clarification.
  • Israel is unique in the sheer scale of the foreign government sponsorship of domestic political groups. There is a unique secrecy concerning the processes by which funding is granted to Israeli non-profits by the EU and many individual governments.
  • Under Article 15 of the EU's special guidelines for funding Israeli groups, organizations dealing with the territories are only eligible for funding if they declare that their activities promote EU foreign policy. These groups get the bulk of their funding from the EU, but only if they promote Brussels' interests - the very definition of a foreign agent.
  • The U.S. House of Representatives requires from those who testify before it a disclosure of monies received specifically from foreign governments - just like the Israeli law, which is clearly aligned with the American Foreign Agents Registration Act.

    The writer is a professor at Northwestern University School of Law.

        See also An NGO that Gets Most of Its Funding from a Foreign Government Isn't "Nongovernmental" - Evelyn Gordon
    Israel passed a law mandating new reporting requirements for NGOs that are primarily funded by foreign governments. An organization that gets most of its funding from a foreign government isn't a "nongovernmental" organization at all, but an instrument of that government's foreign policy.
        If an organization is an instrument of a foreign country's foreign policy, it seeks to pressure Israel into adopting the foreign government's preferred policies. Israelis might be less willing to trust an organization's assertions once they realize it has a not-so-hidden policy agenda. (Commentary)
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