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August 26, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

The Threat of "Swarming Boat" Attacks Is Real - Stephen Bryen and Shoshana Bryen (U.S. News)
    Iran is harassing American naval warships in the Persian Gulf while Washington still entertains the idea that Iran can be a friend of America.
    Top Iranian political and military leaders proclaim their total hatred of the United States.
    The attack on the USS Nitze on Tuesday was a test of an Iranian tactic called the "swarming boat" attack to destroy U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf: a number of fast boats equipped with missiles and torpedoes attack enemy ships from multiple angles to damage or destroy them as quickly as possible.
    Fast patrol boats are hard to hit. They are built mostly of fiberglass, so they are not so easy to locate with radar. In addition, the defensive weapons on board most U.S. naval ships are inadequate.
    The old Mark 45 five-inch guns fire too slowly and are linked to aged fire control and radars that probably won't pick up the patrol boats until they are in range to fire their missiles.
    Stephen Bryen is senior fellow in defense studies at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington. Shoshana Bryen is senior director of the Jewish Policy Center.

Why Turkey Went to War in Syria - Faysal Itani (Foreign Policy)
    Turkey entered the Syrian war directly for the first time Wednesday, sending tanks and special forces to support a rebel offensive on the Islamic State's only remaining stronghold on the Turkish border.
    The campaign may launch a new era of U.S.-Turkish cooperation in Syria.
    The U.S. was heavily dependent on the PYD, an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - a U.S.-designated terrorist group and a sworn enemy of Turkey.
    The U.S. desperately needs an ally that can deliver results against the Islamic State, work with local Arab citizens who are suspicious of Kurdish groups, and serve as a strategic international partner rather than a local militia.
    The writer is resident senior fellow at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council.

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After Contacting Reuters about Skewed Headline, Reuters Corrects (CAMERA)
    CAMERA contacted Reuters editors after a skewed headline once again reversed the perpetrator and victim to whitewash Palestinian terrorism.
    The headline was meant to describe a situation where a Palestinian stone-thrower pursued by Israeli soldiers exited his car to stab one of the soldiers in the neck before being shot by his wounded victim.
    The editors thanked CAMERA for alerting them, apologized and corrected the headline.
    Original headline: Israeli soldier shoots dead Palestinian driver in West Bank: army.
    Corrected headline: Palestinian who stabbed Israeli soldier shot dead: army.

French Jews Avoiding Public Schools Due to Anti-Semitic Bullying - Cnaan Liphshiz (JTA)
    Stephane Tayar, 43, a computer specialist in Paris, graduated from a French public high school 25 years ago. But when the time came for Tayar and his wife to enroll their own boy and girl, the couple opted for Jewish institutions.
    "Enrolling a Jewish kid into a public school was normal when I was growing up," Tayar said. "Nowadays forget it; no longer realistically possible. Anti-Semitic bullying means it would be too damaging for any Jewish kid you put there."
    Whereas 30 years ago the majority of French Jews enrolled their children in public schools, now only a third do so. The remaining two-thirds are divided equally between Jewish schools and private schools that are not Jewish, including Catholic and Protestant institutions.
    "In the Paris region, there are virtually no more Jewish pupils attending public schools," said Francis Kalifat, president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities.

Israeli Students Win 2nd Prize at International Robotics Contest (JTA)
    A group of 29 Israeli students from a science and technology high school in Binyamina came in second place at an international robotics competition in Shanghai, China, which included 57 teams.
    In the competition, earlier this month, students had to build robots to complete various tasks.

Taiwan's GMobi Buys Israel Mobile Ad Giant MassiveImpact - Dan Schwartz (Times of Israel)
    Taiwan's GMobi has announced it is buying out Israel's MassiveImpact, one of the largest performance advertising firms for mobile in the world.
    MassiveImpact, which has a major presence in China, was established in 2010 by Israeli entrepreneur Sephi Shapira. According to GMobi, MassiveImpact reaches over 1 billion users in 190 countries.
    In performance-based advertising, the ad platform doesn't get paid until the customer takes an action.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Amid Tense Encounters, U.S. Navy Ship Fires Warning Shots at Iranian Ships - Missy Ryan and Thomas Gibbons-Neff
    After Iranian ships made provocative maneuvers around a U.S. destroyer in the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday, on Wednesday Iranian vessels came within several hundred meters of other American ships in the Persian Gulf.
        Three Revolutionary Guard Corps ships approached the coastal patrol ships USS Squall and USS Tempest at high speed in the northern Persian Gulf, said William Urban, a spokesman for the U.S. 5th Fleet. Later in the day, an Iranian vessel came within 200 yards of the Tempest. After the Tempest shot flares and tried to communicate using the ship's loudspeaker, Squall personnel fired three shots into the water from that ship's .50-caliber gun. The Iranian ship then departed.
        That same Iranian ship later approached the USS Stout, a guided-missile destroyer, later Wednesday. "The [IRGC] vessel proceeded to cross the bow of the Stout at close range on three separate occasions," Urban said. (Washington Post)
  • Turkey Sends More Tanks into Syria as Kurds Pull Out of Manbij - Emre Peker, Dion Nissenbaum and Raja Abdulrahim
    A new wave of Turkish tanks rolled into northern Syria on Thursday as the military extended its fight to drive Islamic State away from the border and deter advances by American-backed Kurdish forces. Backed by American airstrikes, the Turkish military solidified its hold on the Syrian border town of Jarablus and looked to push further south in its biggest ground operation in Syria since the conflict erupted five years ago. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel: Saudi and Persian Gulf States Share Our Concerns about Iran Hegemony - Herb Keinon
    Israel and the Gulf states share the exact same perception of Iran's desire for regional hegemony, Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold said Thursday. Gold said Israel was listening to the Arab discourse about Iranian intentions "with great interest," and that Arab leaders are "laying out a case against Iranian actions, and we are seeing it expressed over and over by Arab leaders."
        "I think the challenges Israel faces with Hizbullah in Lebanon and Iranian-backed Hamas in the Gaza Strip are a subset of a much larger problem which all Middle East states are facing, and which emanates directly from Tehran," he said. "We are watching what they are saying, and it is fascinating because that is exactly the perception we have in Israel....Iran is not only Israel's problem, but also a problem for the whole region."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel: Abetting Terror Not Covered by UN Immunity - Barak Ravid
    Israel rejected Thursday the UN's call to free Palestinian aid worker Wahid Bursh, accused by Israel of siphoning development funds intended for Gaza to Hamas. Israel's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Eyal Nachshon said "Israel rejects the UN's claim that a person who abets an internationally recognized terrorist organization like Hamas will enjoy immunity for the simple reason that whoever abets terror does so while hiding behind their immunity."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Contacts with Putin Won't Replace U.S.-Israel Alliance - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Netanyahu speaks by phone more with the Russian leader than he does with the American president. But don't conclude from that that Israel is cozying up to Putin. As Netanyahu says in private meetings, Israel is looking to form new relationships all over the world: in Africa, with as many countries as possible; in Asia, with the Chinese, Japanese and Indians; and in South America, with Argentina, Colombia and Paraguay. "We are diversifying our alliances, not as a replacement to our alliance with the U.S., but as an addition," Netanyahu said recently.
        Like it or not, Russia is now a very muscular force in the region, militarily involved right on Israel's front porch in Syria. That presence demands constant consultation between Netanyahu and Putin to ensure that there are no "accidents" between Israeli and Russian forces. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Spilling Blood in War on ISIS, Kurds Pay Heavy Price for U.S.-Turkey Ties - Zvi Bar'el
    One day after the U.S. threatened to withdraw its support, Kurdish forces withdrew from Manbij, Syria, one of the Islamic State's most important strongholds, which had been taken by Kurdish forces under cover of American air support in a battle that won them accolades for their important victory.
        An official in the Kurdish administration in Iraq told Ha'aretz that the American threat "conveys a frustrating and dangerous message not only to the Kurds in Syria but to the entire Kurdish people, who are spilling blood in the war against ISIS and were relying on the U.S. government to stand by them."
        The U.S. is preparing assaults on ISIS in Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqah, in Syria. On both fronts, its plans depend on massive cooperation on the part of Kurdish forces. We will see how the Kurds operate after the slap in the face they received this week.
        Over the past year, Russia has become an ally of the Kurds in Syria. Last week Moscow initiated a cease-fire between the Syrian regime and the Kurds in the Hasakah region in northeastern Syria. Ostensibly this was merely a local accord, but its special importance is that it strengthened the standing of Russia, which - unlike the U.S. - can establish a cease-fire, create areas of quiet, and translate its aerial assaults into achievements on the ground. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians: Nablus Erupts Against Abbas - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Scenes of lawlessness and chaos have become part of the norm in many Palestinian cities - a sign that the PA may be losing control to armed gangs and militias. Five Palestinians, including two PA police officers, were killed recently in Nablus.
        The Palestinian Authority is now paying the price for harboring, funding and inciting gang members and militiamen who until recently were hailed by many Palestinians as "heroes" and "resistance fighters." Most are affiliated with Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction.
        Abbas is on his way to losing control over the West Bank, just as he lost Gaza to Hamas in 2007. If until now it seemed that Hamas posed the biggest threat to Abbas' rule over the West Bank, it is now obvious that that is not so. The real threat is coming from Abbas' homegrown loyalists-turned-rebels. (Gatestone Institute)
        See also The Fraying Palestinian Political Entity in the West Bank - Pinhas Inbari (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Norway Builds a Fence - Walter Russell Mead
    Countries that were once noted for their hospitality to refugees are becoming polarized. Norway is putting up a steel fence at a remote Arctic border post with Russia after 5,500 migrants mainly from Syria crossed into Norway last year, reflecting a wide shift in public attitudes.
        The only really effective way to deal with refugee problems is to deal with their causes. As Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen slide into anarchy, a wave of desperate refugees and migrants sets off for the security and prosperity of Europe. If the West can't or won't help locals stabilize these countries, the refugee flow will inevitably reach a level at which even the most liberal politicians can no longer keep the doors open. Walter Russell Mead is professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College and professor of American foreign policy at Yale University. (American Interest)
  • How Israel Became a Role Model in Fighting Terrorism - Nathalie Hamou
    In the wake of last month's tragedy in Nice, just like after the attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015, "the Israeli model" was put forward for meeting the terrorist threat in France. Israel has become a textbook case for how to handle a permanent state of insecurity, and this expertise could be a source of inspiration for European decision-makers.
        According to David Khalfa, research associate for the IPSE think tank, "Israeli anti-terrorism is based on defensive modes of action, such as safety barriers and military checkpoints, as well as offensive ones like infiltrations, preventive arrests, and targeted killings. This double-edged approach, coupled with its security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, allowed Israel to significantly bring down the number of major-scale attacks."
        The cornerstone of Israel's anti-terrorism system is the intelligence apparatus, coupled with elite counter-terrorism units. Israel can react extremely quickly in case of an attack, and Israeli civil society plays an especially important part in fighting terrorism. "The public's awareness and resilience are a key asset," explains Boaz Ganor, director of the International Institute for Counter Terrorism (ICT) of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.
        The authorities take many preventive measures, such as banning vehicles from circulating in entire areas altogether during major events and gatherings. Checkpoints and barricades are also erected. Blocks of concrete or metal rods were installed at bus stops to protect commuters and stop ramming attacks against exposed pedestrians. Israel has also invested heavily in monitoring social networks. (Les Echos-France)
  • Extremist Literature Common in Mosques and Islamic School Libraries in Canada, Study Says - Jim Bronskill
    Many mosques and Islamic schools in Canada are placing young people at risk by espousing - or at least not condemning - extremist teachings, a new study says. Co-authors Thomas Quiggin, a former intelligence analyst with the Privy Council Office and the RCMP, and Saied Shoaaib, a journalist originally from Egypt, base their findings on research conducted quietly in mosque libraries and Islamic schools. They found nothing but such writings in several libraries.
        They argue the issue is too important to ignore, given that a number of young Canadians have become radicalized to violence. Canadian Muslims with humanist and modernist outlooks are being drowned out by those with extreme views. (National Post-Canada)
  • Video: Iranian Dissidents Visit Israel, View Iran after the Nuclear Deal
    After the Iran nuclear deal, a group of Iranian dissidents met with researchers at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs to discuss Iran in the post-agreement era, as part of the Center's long-term project analyzing the Iranian role in the Middle East. While the dissidents who visited Israel cannot be identified, two Israeli experts who met with them - Dr. Avi Davidi, director of the Jerusalem Center's Iran project, and Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of research of IDF Military Intelligence - describe the outcome of the meeting. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Full Transcript (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The Endless War Against the Jews - Wesley Pruden
    The man who controls the language controls the conversation, as George Orwell rightly observed. Genocide is what Hitler set out to do, to exterminate Europe's Jews. The manifesto of the Black Lives Matter movement applies "genocide" to Israeli self-defense in Gaza. There's neither logic nor data to prove it.
        "Between 1939 and 1945," writes Joseph Telushkin in Tablet, "one-third of the Jewish people in the world were murdered. That was genocide. And since Israel took control of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 [as a result of a] war of self-defense, the Arab population in these two areas has gone from just over a million to 4 million. That is not genocide. It's a population explosion." The writer is editor in chief emeritus of The Times. (Washington Times)

  • Weekend Features

  • Syrian Schoolgirl Goes Back Home after Being Cured of Blood Disease in Israel - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich
    A six-year-old girl from Syria who was treated for a wound and a blood disease at Haifa's Rambam Medical Center was sent home on Tuesday after her new Israeli friends held a farewell party and gave her many gifts, including a first-grade backpack. Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Druse from the medical staff had tears in their eyes, hugging her and worrying about the future that awaits her.
        Once she recovered from her wound, the medical team noted from her blood tests that she suffered from a blood disease and needed a bone marrow transplant. The Israeli government reached the child's relatives in Syria and brought back blood samples from several family members. Her brother was a perfect match and was brought from Syria to Rambam for two weeks.
        At the farewell party, her mother said, "I would lie if I said that I expected the kind of humanity I discovered here. I am grateful for your care and sensitivity; may God protect you. And we will always remember what you did for us."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Jewish Olympians among Hitler's Victims - Matt Lebovic
    Gymnast Judikje "Jud" Simons from the Netherlands and boxer Victor "Young" Perez of France were among several dozen Jewish Olympians and world champions murdered during the Holocaust, along with most of their spouses and children. At the 1936 "Nazi Olympics" in Berlin, at least 13 Jewish athletes from several countries earned medals. Agnes Grunwald-Spier's 2016 book, Who Betrayed the Jews? includes information on 30 Jewish Olympians killed in the Holocaust, some of whom gave up their freedom to share the fate of loved ones.
        Renowned skier Bronislaw Czech represented Poland in three Olympic Games. At age 32, he was arrested by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz. There, he was offered freedom in exchange for training German youth in skiing, but refused and died in Auschwitz.
        According to Grunwald-Spier, the 30 murdered Jewish Olympians in her book "were all successful sportspeople who had been proud to represent their country. Their country had been proud to bask in their glory. However, when the Nazis were implementing the Final Solution, that was of no significance and they were mowed down like all the other Jews of Europe."  (Times of Israel)
  • ReWalk Inventor Introduces Standing Wheelchair - Abigail Klein Leichman
    Amit Goffer, inventor of the ReWalk robotic exoskeleton that allows paraplegics to stand, walk and even navigate steps, cannot use his own device because he is a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down following an accident in 1997. But last summer he was finally able to leave home in an upright position, riding his most recent invention, the UPnRIDE mobility device. UPnRIDE "provides users with full, safe, functional mobility in an upright position in practically any urban environment, both indoors and outdoors," said Oren Tamari, CEO of UPnRIDE Robotics, based in Israel. A standing position provides exercise for paralyzed limbs and alleviates many health problems associated with long-term wheelchair use. (Israel21c)

King of Morocco: Can Anyone of Sound Mind Believe that the Reward for Jihad Could Be Some Virgins in Paradise? (MEMRI TV)

Mohammed VI, the King of Morocco, said on Aug. 20:

  • "We strongly condemn the killing of innocent people. We believe that the killing of a monk is prohibited by the shari'a, and that killing him in a church is an unforgivable act of stupidity, because he is a human being and a cleric, even if he is not a Muslim. Islam has instructed us to be good to the People of the Book. Allah said: 'We make no distinction between any of His messengers.'"
  • "The terrorists who operate in the name of Islam are not Muslims. They have nothing to do with Islam, and jump on the bandwagon in order to justify their crimes and stupid acts. They are people who have been led astray, and they are destined to dwell in Hell for all eternity. Led by their ignorance, they believe that what they do constitutes Jihad. When was Jihad ever about the killing of innocent people?"
  • "People who call for killing and aggression, who unjustly accuse people of heresy, and who interpret the Quran and the Sunna in a manner befitting their goals are attributing lies to Allah and His Messenger. This is the true heresy....Can anyone of sound mind believe that the reward for Jihad could be some virgins in Paradise?"
  • "The history of humanity is the best proof that it is impossible to achieve progress in any society suffering from extremism and hatred, because these are the main causes for the loss of security and stability. Human history abounds with successful examples, showing that cooperation and coexistence between religions give rise to open and modern societies, ruled by love, harmony, comfort, and prosperity."
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