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July 22, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

As Israel Pivots to Africa, Top Diplomat Meets Chad President - Raphael Ahren (Times of Israel)
    A senior Israeli official met last week with the president of Chad, a Muslim-majority nation that does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. The meeting is another sign of growing ties with African nations following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to the continent earlier this month. Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold met President Idriss Déby on July 14 at his presidential palace in the city of Fada, in the heart of the Saharan desert, the Foreign Ministry said Friday in a statement.

Israel Aerospace Signs German Drone Deal for Use in Mali - Yuval Azulai (Globes)
    The German Federal Ministry of Defense and the Airbus Defense and Space company have signed a contract with Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) for the operation of Heron 1 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for use by the German air force in Mali in West Africa.
  Airbus will operate the UAVs in a model similar to the one in which it has operated IAI's UAVs for the German air force in Afghanistan since 2010. Under the new agreement, IAI will lease several UAV systems starting in November and until the beginning of 2018 for intelligence gathering purposes. The Heron 1 UAVS used by Airbus in Germany's warfare in Afghanistan have accumulated over 27,000 flight hours, and were involved in thousands of missions.
  Another substantial contract between IAI and the German army is waiting in the wings. This €580 million agreement involves the operation of advanced Heron TP, UAVs IAI's most advanced UAVs. In this deal, the UAVs will be leased until a new European UAV is developed, a program that will be completed only several years from now.

Brazil Arrests 10 for Supporting Islamic State, Preparing "Acts of Terrorism" at Olympics (Reuters/MSNBC)
    Brazil arrested 10 people on Thursday suspected of belonging to a poorly organized group supporting the Islamic State (IS) and discussing terrorist acts during the next month's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The group, described as "absolutely amateur" by Justice Minister Alexandre Moraes, were all Brazilian citizens. Moraes said the individuals detained were being monitored because they had accessed websites linked to IS, but the group had "no preparation at all" and was a "disorganized cell."

Mahmoud Abbas’s Brother Dies in Qatar (Times of Israel)
    The brother of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas died Thursday in his home country of Qatar. Omar Abbas, also known as Abu Loway (76), had been undergoing treatment for cancer in Tel Aviv’s Assuta Medical Center.

UK Funding Israel-Arab Research Programs (Globes)
    The two programs are promoting cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian researchers on water and medical research. The Stream program finances joint studies by Israeli, Palestinian, and UK researchers on water problems and joint studies by Israelis with residents of Arab countries all over the Middle East and North Africa.
  The Growth program provides UK funding to enable academics from universities in the Palestinian Authority to learn in advanced study programs in laboratories in Israel in water technologies and medicine.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:
  • French President Meets Abbas, Stresses Fragility of Mideast
    President Francois Hollande has stressed the “fragility” of the Mideast situation with mounting violence in a meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. In the meeting Thursday evening, the French president said that “recreating a political perspective is urgent,” a statement from Hollande’s office said. The French statement noted France’s wish for an international conference.
      U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is to meet with Abbas on Friday in Paris. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Killer of 84 in Nice Had Accomplices and Planned Attack for Months - Kim Willsher
    Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, the assailant who plowed a truck into crowds celebrating the July 14 Bastille Day holiday in France, killing 84 and injuring hundreds, apparently planned his attack for months and had accomplices who face terrorism charges, French authorities said Thursday.
      Cellphone and computer searches revealed he had visited the area of the attack several times before July 14. Bouhlel, a Tunisian immigrant, was also in regular contact with five suspects, two of whom — an Albanian-born man and a woman of Albanian-French nationality identified as husband and wife — are accused of supplying the automatic pistol he used against police before they shot him dead.
      The attacker’s telephone contained pictures of the Bastille Day fireworks in July 2015, and an article referring to the “magic potion called Captagon,” an amphetamine-type substance that one official said was “used by certain jihadists preparing terrorist attacks.” (Los Angeles Times)
News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:
  • Over 200 French Jews Immigrated to Israel - Eitan Goldstein
    206 French Jews arrived in Israel aboard a special Aliyah (immigration) flight organized by The Jewish Agency for Israel in partnership with the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and Keren Hayesod-UIA on Wednesday. This is the largest Aliyah flight from France this summer. Half of the new immigrants were teenagers, children, and toddlers who will join the Israeli education system at the end of the summer vacation. The immigrants also include several families in which three generations—grandparents, parents, and children—made Aliyah together.
      French Jewish immigration to Israel has surged since 2012 when only 1,900 people immigrated from France to the Jewish state. In 2015, 7,800 immigrants arrived from France – the most ever. In total, nearly 10 percent of the French Jewish community has immigrated to Israel since the year 2000, half in the past five years alone. (Ynet News)
  • Shimon Peres Launches Israeli Innovation Center
    Former president Shimon Peres launched the new Israel Innovation Center in a special ceremony at the Peres Center for Peace on Thursday morning. He was joined by President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai.
      The Israeli innovation center will present the story of Israel as the “start-up nation” which now stands at the forefront of technology and science and spearheads groundbreaking Israeli inventions which have dramatically changed the lives of millions around the world. The center is expected to officially be opened in 2018 to hundreds of thousands of visitors from Israel and across the world who will be able to view firsthand Israel’s transformation from an arid and desolate desert into an international technological powerhouse. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian and Sudanese Officials Discuss French Peace Initiative and Netanyahu Visit to Africa
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday briefed Sudanese officials on the French initiative to bring back Israeli-Palestinian peace process into international agenda. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said they discussed at length ways to develop a Palestinian strategy to strengthen bilateral relations with the African countries.
      Maliki said that the discussions also touched on the African tour of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to several East African countries. (Sudan Tribune)
        See also "Palestinians, Sudan Working to Restrain Israeli Breakthrough in Africa" - Adam Rasgon (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Israel and the Arab World; As Arab States Warm to Israel, the Palestinians Feel Neglected
    Israel’s warmer relations with Egypt are a sign of a broader rapprochement with the Arab world. Mr Netanyahu may be stretching things when he says that Arab leaders now see the Jewish state as an ally, but their priorities, such as countering Iran and combating Islamic terrorism, are increasingly aligned. The shift has left the Palestinians, whose fate once topped the Arab agenda, feeling abandoned.
      A different sense of betrayal has helped to bring the Israelis and Arabs closer. Barack Obama’s eagerness to pull America back from the Middle East, and his dealings with Iran, resulting in a nuclear accord signed last year, alarmed Israel and the Arab states in equal measure.
      In April, the Israeli army’s deputy chief of staff spoke of an “unprecedented” level of intelligence-sharing between the countries. Israeli drones have been allowed to fire on insurgents in Sinai, where fighters loyal to the Islamic State (IS) have tormented the Egyptian army. Since taking office in 2014, not only has Sisi closed Egypt’s border with Gaza, he has flooded the smuggling tunnels beneath it in order to stop the flow of weapons.
      Some Palestinians worry that Arab states are letting Israel upend the Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for it to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza and agree to a “just settlement” for Palestinian refugees in return for recognition of Israel. This has contributed to a more general sense of unease among the Palestinians.
      Officials in other parts of the Arab world talk more about Iran’s meddling, the wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and their own domestic economic and political troubles. Such issues seem more pressing to their people. And besides, many Arabs are resigned to the stalemate in the peace process. Netanyahu appears intransigent; Palestinian leaders are seen as divided, ineffective and corrupt. (Economist)
  • Whom Do Bigots Blame for Police Shootings in America? Israel, of Course! - Alan Dershowitz
    In response to the tragic deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling at the hands of police officers in Minnesota and Louisiana, respectively, the New York University Chapter of the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) tweeted the following: “In the past 48 hours another two black men have been lynched by the police.... We must remember that many U.S. police departments train with #IsraeliDefenceForces. The same forces behind the genocide of black people in America are behind the genocide of Palestinians."
      Even in moments of national mourning such as these, SJP bigots cannot help but exploit the deaths of innocent Americans to further their own anti-Semitic political agenda, namely to delegitimize and demonize the nation state of the Jewish people.
      The reaction by the SJP is reflective of a broader trend in hardleft politics. Increasingly, groups such as Black Lives Matter, MoveOn, Code Pink and Occupy Wall Street have embraced intersectionality – a radical academic theory, which holds that all forms of social oppression are inexorably linked.
      Black Lives Matter activists have visited Gaza to express solidarity with Palestinians oppressed by so-called racist Israeli self-defense measures. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Since America Won’t Stop Christian Genocide, Israel Should - Luma Simms
    I own a cassette tape of five-year-old me reciting an Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party chant I learned at school in Baghdad. The Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party propaganda taught that its ideals were: the oneness of all Arab countries uniting under one national government against imperialism; freedom, which lies in liberating Arabs from oppression by foreign powers; and socialism.
      This childhood experience of mine came to mind recently when I watched a video of Palestinian children (particularly a little girl at the end) regurgitating vile hatred and violence toward Israelis. The surreal horror of anti-Semitism instilled in Arab children came home to me.
      All Arab indoctrination instills animus for Jews and the state of Israel. Anyone who claims that the Arab world — Muslim and Christian — is not pathologically anti-Semitic is delusional. It is this unspoken, almost unconscious feeling that prevents Iraqi Christians and other Arab Christians in the Middle East from seeking help from Israel.
      Israel is the last hope for Arab Christians; it’s as simple as that. America is not leading on the refugee issue, especially for Iraqi Christians.
      As the genocide of Middle Eastern Christians continues, the only hope of an Arab Christian remnant — a remnant that would keep and pass on its beliefs, traditions, and customs — is through help from the state of Israel. It is the humanitarian thing to do.
      Israel already exemplifies this humane treatment of her enemies. They have hospitals and medical units close to their borders where they discreetly treat the wounded and injured who come to them for medical help.
      If Christians are ever to have a place again in the Middle East, they must unite with Israel. Israel, seeing the genocide of Arab Christians, especially in Iraq, should offer a saving hand to them. If Israel will not act, what’s to be done? It’s hard to find exact numbers, but maybe there are between 200,000 and 400,00 Iraqi Christians left. They will be killed in Iraq, or die trying to escape.
      Israel, rise up and lead that region of the world. You are the hope for Iraqi Christians. Let it always be said: In the dark age of ISIS, when desolation and despair covered the Arab world, Israel was the house of light. (The Federalist)
  • Turkey's Worrying Slide into Tyranny - Editorial
    The imposition of a three month state of emergency in Turkey, together with Ankara’s announcement yesterday that is suspending its participation in the European Convention on Human Rights, will intensify concerns about the increasingly autocratic style of government pursued by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the wake of last week’s failed military coup.
      The more Erdogan indulges in the politics of repression, the more difficult it is for the West to regard him as an ally, especially if he continues with his recent moves towards closer ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The greater fear, though, is that Erdogan’s hardline response will simply create further unrest, thereby causing Turkey to join the long list of Muslim countries afflicted by civil war as a result of authoritarian policies pursued by ruling elites. (Telegraph - UK)

BDS Harms Palestinian Interests - Gershon Baskin (Jerusalem Post)

  • It has become increasingly difficult for organizations and individuals working on peace building projects to bring Israelis and Palestinians together. The popular campaign among Palestinians to boycott Israel and Israeli organizations makes it difficult for Palestinians who wish to participate to do so.
  • Throughout their history, the Palestinians have been waiting for someone to deliver their liberation and freedom. In the past they waited for the Arab League and Muslim countries, then they waited for the USSR and the non-aligned states, then they waited for the EU and the U.S., and now they are waiting for the UN and the International Criminal Court. While waiting for others to solve their problem they are also advancing the anti-normalization campaign, which really only hurts Palestine and Palestinians. Quite frankly, most Israelis couldn’t care less that Palestinians refuse to engage them.
  • I have no idea how the “anti-normalizers” intend to advance their goal by not talking to me. It is such a foolish idea and needs to be rejected by Palestinians all over, by the Palestinian leadership and by the whole world.
  • Palestinian textbooks clearly state that the occupation began in 1948 and then expanded in 1967. No map in Palestinian textbooks indicates Israel’s existence. The Palestinians need to engage with Israeli society and this engagement must be legitimized by the Palestinian leadership and by Palestinian civil society.
  • The anti-normalization campaign is an anti-Palestine-freedom campaign and should be labeled as such. It is time for Palestinians who still understand that the Palestinian cause must be won inside of Israel to stand up and speak against the anti-normalization campaign.
  • The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is doing more harm to Palestine and Palestinian interests than a concerted, direct and strategic campaign to engage Israelis would. There is no liberation, end of occupation or peace for Palestinians without Israelis agreeing. There will never be an imposed solution to the conflict.

    The author is founder and co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Creative Regional Initiatives.

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