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August 15, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Some in Saudi Media Criticize Anti-Semitism, Warm Up to Israel (Times of Israel)
    A media campaign in Saudi Arabia is seeking to combat anti-Semitism in the kingdom, apparently in an effort to prepare public opinion for deepened relations with Israel.
    Ehud Ya'ari, a senior analyst at Israel's Channel 2 TV, on Friday read out examples of recent articles by Saudi columnists demonstrating a shift in attitude towards the Jewish state and Jews in general.
    See also Articles in Saudi Press: End the Anti-Semitic Discourse, Learn from the Jews' Success (MEMRI)
    Over the past month, the Saudi press has featured a number of articles harshly critical of the anti-Semitic discourse in Arab and Muslim society.
    The articles argued that Koranic passages against the Jews only applied to specific groups during specific time periods, and should not be applied to Jews in general.
    They added that blind hatred of Jews everywhere has prevented Arabs and Muslims from learning the lessons of Jewish experience and advancement.

Palestinians Running Away from Peace - Ilan Evyatar (Jerusalem Post)
    According to veteran Arab affairs correspondent Ehud Ya'ari, the Palestinians have decided that a statelet in the West Bank and east Jerusalem - a mini-state in their eyes - is not something for which they are willing to make the inevitable concessions they would have to make in order to reach some sort of compromise with Israel.
    "What the Palestinians are saying to us is that it's either runaway statehood - i.e., they get the '67 borders for free just like they got Gaza in 2005 with the Israeli withdrawal, but if it has to be part of a compromise deal with Israel resolving all outstanding issues, then no way."
    "It's either runaway statehood or running away from statehood."

Israel Saves Afghan Baby with Heart Defect - Diaa Hadid (New York Times)
    Two digital acquaintances - a young English teacher in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, and a retired State Department official living in Haifa, Israel - collaborated to save an Afghan baby in Pakistan with life-threatening congenital heart problems.
    The baby's story reached Save a Child's Heart, an Israeli charity, and culminated in an eight-hour surgery on July 30 at Wolfson Medical Center near Tel Aviv.
    About half the charity's 4,000 patients have been Palestinian. This was the first Afghan treated in its 20 years of operations.
    Private Jewish donors provide most of its $3.5 million annual budget and about 70 health care workers volunteer their time.

UK Lawmakers Turn to Israeli Martial Art - Raoul Wootliff (Times of Israel)
    After the murder of British MP Jo Cox on June 16, British lawmakers are learning the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga in order to defend themselves from possible assailants armed with knives or guns, the Daily Mail reported.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Syrian Rebels Break the Siege on Aleppo - Borzou Daragahi
    On Saturday, Syrian rebel forces, including U.S.-backed fighters and jihadi extremists, punched a hole through the blockade around eastern Aleppo in less than 24 hours to break a siege that the regime, backed by Russian airstrikes and Iranian-backed militias, had taken nearly a year to assemble. The rebels also cut the main supply route for the western half of the city, which is controlled by the regime and is now itself in danger of being besieged.
        The cracking of the siege by rebel forces demonstrated the weakness of Assad's ground capabilities without massive Russian air cover or thousands of religiously motivated militiamen organized by Iran and Hizbullah. (BuzzFeed)
  • Syrians Lift Veils and Cut Beards after Liberation from Islamic State Rule - Rick Noack
    After the city of Manbij in the north of Syria was liberated from the Islamic State, residents reacted with spontaneous celebrations on Friday, cutting off their beards and lifting their veils. Manbij, located between Kobane and Aleppo, was ruled by Islamic State for two years before Kurdish and Arab fighters from the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) took control of the city. (Washington Post)
  • France Targets Foreign Funding for Mosques - James McAuley
    After the Nice attack, Prime Minister Manuel Valls called for an outright ban on the foreign funding of mosques in France "for a period to be determined." Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced that since December 2015, 20 Salafist mosques were shut down altogether. There are about 2,500 Muslim "houses of prayer" in France. According to France 24, some 120 are associated with radical Salafism. There are between four and five million Muslims in France. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Rio Olympics: Israel Wins Second Bronze Medal in Judo - Allon Sinai
    Ori Sasson claimed the bronze medal in the judo men's 100+ kg competition on Friday in Rio after defeating a Cuban opponent. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Olympic Crowd Boos Egyptian Judoka for Refusing to Shake Israeli's Hand
    Israeli judoka Ori Sasson, 25, defeated Egyptian opponent Islam el-Shehaby in the 100+ kg division Friday at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Following his defeat, however, el-Shehaby refused to shake hands with the Israeli, which led to booing from the crowd. As he attempted to leave, el-Shehaby was ordered back into the center of the judo mat by the referee and eventually gave a slight bow to Sasson.
        "There is no obligation for shaking hands at the end of the fight, but it is compulsory to bow, that's why the Egyptian was called back," said International Judo Federation spokesman Nicolas Messner. "In the past, it is not sure that a fight between those two athletes would have taken place. This is already a big improvement."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Stabs Israeli Soldier at West Bank Checkpoint - Yoav Zitun and Elisha Ben Kimon
    A female Palestinian came to Shaked Checkpoint in northern Samaria by car. She exited her vehicle, pulled out a knife, and attempted to stab Israeli soldiers. In the struggle to arrest the attacker, a female soldier was lightly wounded. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Hizbullah: Ten Years after the Second Lebanon War - Yossi Melman
    Ten years after the Second Lebanon War there is a growing public perception that the war brought Israel important strategic achievements. Above all there is peace at the Lebanese border. For the last 10 years not a single Israeli citizen was hurt and only four Israeli soldiers were killed. Since that war several top Hizbullah commanders were assassinated, including "defense minister" Imad Mughniyeh and his successor, Mustafa Badreddine.
        In the war in Syria, at least 1,600 Hizbullah fighters have been killed and another 6,000 wounded. Not a small matter for an army - conscripts and reservists combined - of 45,000. On top of this, Hizbullah has financial problems to the point that it delays payments to its members and to bereaved families.
        Yet Hizbullah has accumulated more than 100,000 missiles and rockets, at least a thousand of which are long-range and accurate enough to hit almost any strategic and military site in Israel. Hizbullah is better equipped and trained than it was 10 years ago. It has better intelligence and it has drones.
        But Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah knows the true power balance between the two sides. In case another war breaks out, the Israeli military will crush Hizbullah, kill as many of its troops as possible and destroy its arsenals and bases. The Israeli public knows this and so does Nasrallah. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Weapons, Drugs, and Global Terror: Hizbullah as an International Threat (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Is Israel Saving the Palestinians from the Suffering in the Arab World? - Moshe Arens
    The Palestinians as a national entity would probably not have existed had it not been for the Balfour Declaration. They were not recognized as such at the time, either by the Turks or the British. The Balfour Declaration refers to "existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine."
        Thirty years later, in 1947, the UN partition declaration called for the establishment of a Jewish and an Arab state in a divided Palestine. The non-Jewish population in Palestine was considered by the international community, and by themselves as well, not a distinct nationality but part of the Arab nation. It was the establishment of Israel that gave rise to a separate Palestinian national consciousness and in time international recognition of a Palestinian nation.
        A description of the tragic fate of the Middle Eastern Arab population in recent years is graphically described in Scott Anderson's "Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart" in the New York Times. Had it not been for the establishment of Israel, it hardly seems likely that the Palestinians would have avoided being caught up in this Arab national catastrophe. The writer served as Israel's Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas: Vote for Us or Burn in Hell - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Palestinians will hold municipal elections on Oct. 8 and, unlike the last elections in 2012, this time Hamas will participate. Local elections are supposed to be about who can provide the people with the best municipal services and improve their living conditions. But Hamas has seized the opportunity to wage a massive election campaign on social media to promote its ideology through intimidation. Hamas' message: Vote for us or else you will be considered infidels and you will end up in hell.
        Top Hamas mufti Yunis Al-Astal issued a fatwa (Islamic religious decree) banning Palestinians from voting for any party other than Hamas. "A vote for Hamas is a vote for the resistance and a vote in support of Allah and Islam," reads one Hamas election banner. Other banners posted on social media highlight the fact that most Fatah representatives are not faithful Muslims. In the previous parliamentary election, Hamas used the same propaganda to brainwash and scare Palestinian voters.
        By calling the election and allowing Hamas to participate, Abbas is digging his own grave. Not to mention that he will be presiding over the burial of any peace process with Israel. (Gatestone Institute)

Jewish National Rights Were Internationally Recognized Long Before the Holocaust - Alex Ryvchin (Spectator-UK)

  • For the Jewish people the tiny sliver of land between the Jordan River and the eastern Mediterranean coast has always been their nation's birthplace and homeland, the fountainhead of the Hebrew language and Jewish civilization, thought and culture.
  • Despite the weight of their history, the Jews have never allowed their tragic past to impede the development of their future. Nowhere is this more evident than in the crystallization of the Jewish yearning to return and self-govern, into a coherent national liberation movement rooted in decolonization and indigenous rights, which restored the Jews to their ancestral lands and saw the rebirth of a Jewish homeland.
  • But rather than being a source of strength and purpose from which to build something hopeful and constructive, the Palestinian conception of history has overwhelmingly been a source of bitterness, its manifestations have been frequently destructive, invariably tragic.
  • The resulting wars, terror campaigns, and petulant storm-outs from peace summits have preserved the Palestinian view of history, and sustained the people in a perfect belief in their own victimhood at the cost of achieving a Palestinian state and finally ending the conflict.
  • Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki announced that the Palestinians intend to commence legal action against Britain for proclaiming the Balfour Declaration in November 1917. In fact, the Balfour Declaration gave nothing to anyone. It simply expressed British support for the idea that the Jews, a people indigenous to the land, should be able to return there to reconstitute their national home if they so desired following the collapse of Ottoman colonial rule.
  • It was the League of Nations, the predecessor of the United Nations, and not a solitary British minister, that recognized the "historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine" and the "grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country." It further encouraged "close settlement by Jews on the land."
  • These binding international pronouncements, published decades before the Nazi period, demonstrate that Jewish national rights were recognized long before the Holocaust made the justice of a Jewish homeland not only self-evident but urgent.

    The writer is public affairs director for the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

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