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September 16, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Syrian Rebel Groups Seen Behind Some Errant Fire in Israel's Golan - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
    Errant mortar fire from Syria that has landed on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights over the past two weeks has been fired by Syrian opposition groups as well as by Syrian army forces, Israeli security sources said Thursday.
    There was no indication presently that the mortar fire was intentional.
    The recent upsurge in stray fire stems from the growing success of President Assad's forces in recent days, which has forced rebel fighters into areas closer to the Israeli border, Israeli analysts said.

Bulk of U.S. Military Aid to Israel Is for American F-35 Planes - Amir Rapaport (Israel Defense)
    The primary procurement project for which the bulk of the new U.S.-Israel aid agreement is intended is the acquisition of new American F-35 fighters, known in Israel as Adir.
    The first Adir aircraft is expected to be handed over to the IAF in December. By the end of next year, the IAF will have 8 Adir fighters.
    The Israeli government has thus far sanctioned the acquisition of 33 aircraft and is considering the acquisition of 17 additional aircraft.

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Archaeologist Finds Scale Weight of High Priest from Jewish Temple in Jerusalem - Eli Mandelbaum (Ynet News)
    Nearly 2,000 years after the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, archaeologist Dr. Oren Gutfeld of Hebrew University of Jerusalem has found a scale weight from that period that belonged to the family of the high priest - and which has his name carved on it.
    The weight was found at an excavation at the Tiferet Israel Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City.
    The weight has two lines of Aramaic text and a lyre between them. The family name of the high priest is discernible.

Rare Roman Gold Coin Found in Jerusalem at Mt. Zion Archaeological Dig (EurekAlert-AAAS)
    Archaeologists have discovered a rare gold coin bearing the image of the Roman Emperor Nero at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte's excavations on Mount Zion in Jerusalem.
    Dr. Shimon Gibson said, "The coin is exceptional because this is the first time that a coin of this kind has turned up in Jerusalem in a scientific dig."
    The coin was struck in 56/57 CE, a little more than a decade before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE, and was found in rubble outside the ruins of the 1st century Jewish villas the team has been excavating. Titus and the Roman legions razed Jerusalem to the ground.

Scottish Missionary Died in Auschwitz with Her Jewish Students - Eli Leon (Israel Hayom)
    Jane Haining, the only Scot among the Righteous Among the Nations, was a Scottish missionary who moved to Budapest in 1932 to work in a church boarding school, which during World War II offered sanctuary to Jewish girls, most of them orphans.
    Haining declined to leave Hungary, despite being implored to do so by the Church of Scotland, and chose to continue her mission and protect her students.
    She was sent to Auschwitz after refusing to abandon the girls and died there at age 47.

Israeli Tech Start-Ups Find Open Lane in New Automotive World - John Reed (Financial Times-UK)
    The high-tech functions in which Israeli companies excel - cyber security, artificial intelligence, machine learning - are increasingly being deployed in cars.
    Ford Motor said in August that it was buying SAIPS, a machine learning and computer vision company based in Tel Aviv, as part of its plan to put a self-driving car on the road by 2021.
    General Motors has an advanced technical center in Herzliya that covers "non-traditional automotive technologies" including autonomous driving, data analytics, AI, machine learning, and sophisticated sensors.
    BMW in July teamed up with chipmaker Intel and MobilEye, the Nasdaq-listed Israeli pioneer of autonomous driving technology, to help the German carmaker begin producing fully automated vehicles by 2021.
    All are based on the shift of cars from works of primarily mechanical engineering to "smart' computers on wheels.

China's Sanonda to Buy Israel's Adama Agricultural for $2.8 Billion (Reuters)
    China's Hubei Sanonda will acquire Israel's Adama Agricultural Solutions for $2.79 billion, Sanonda said on Tuesday.
    Adama is the world's biggest producer of generic crop protection products.

Video: "Forever" - An Ode to the People of Israel - Chloe Valdary (Jerusalem U)
    A powerful new video about Jewish pride from African-American poet Chloe Valdary.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Syria Is Delaying Aid Deliveries in Violation of Cease-Fire, UN Says - Nick Cumming-Bruce
    The government of President Bashar al-Assad is holding up deliveries of aid in violation of the deal struck last week by Russia and the U.S., Staffan de Mistura, the UN mediator for Syria, said Thursday. He said the delivery of humanitarian aid had not taken place because Assad's government had not issued the authorization letters that aid convoys needed to pass through checkpoints. (New York Times)
  • UN Exhibit Spotlights Demand for Remains of Israeli Soldier
    Israel's UN Mission and the family of Lt. Hadar Goldin, an Israeli soldier killed in Gaza in 2014 whose remains have never been returned, opened an exhibition of his art work to spotlight their message: "Bring Hadar Home." At the exhibition's opening Wednesday at UN headquarters, his mother, Leah, urged the UN and the international community "to take responsibility and ensure that Hadar is returned to Israel for a proper burial."  (AP-Washington Post)
  • U.S. Begins Paying Out Reparations from France to Holocaust Survivors and Their Heirs - Katherine Shaver
    The State Department has paid or approved 90 claims for a total $11 million in reparations from France to former World War II prisoners who were carried to Nazi death camps in French trains, officials said Thursday. It is the first French compensation to Holocaust survivors who settled in the U.S. as well as Israel, Canada and other countries that haven't had a reparations agreement with France. It's also the first reparations program to include heirs of people who died before receiving compensation for the atrocities they or their spouses endured, State Department officials said.
        The state-owned French railway SNCF was paid to transport 76,000 Jews and other prisoners, usually with no food, to Nazi camps. All but about 2,000 were killed. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Civilians Drill Response to Massive Missile Fire - Gili Cohen
    Next week, the IDF Home Front Command will carry out a drill across the country simulating an all-out war in which there is massive missile fire at Israel's urban areas. The command will also rehearse scenarios involving infiltrations into Israeli territory by air and sea, along with the collapse of electricity and communication networks.
        Tel Aviv residents will have only one minute - down from the current 90 seconds - to get to a shelter or security room after hearing an air raid siren. At the same time, a more accurate system of warning areas will be implemented, reducing the area where people would be required to seek shelter. The Home Front Command projected that there would be 10 direct hits on structures for every 1,000 rockets fired, due in part to interceptions by the Iron Dome anti-missile batteries. (Ha'aretz)
  • Report: Israeli Textbooks View Peace as Ultimate Goal, Do Not Incite Against Palestinians - Lidar Grave-Lazi
    Israeli textbooks see peace as an ultimate goal, maintain messages of tolerance and coexistence with Arabs and Palestinians, and do not incite against them, according to a new study released by IMPACT-se. The report by Dr. Yael Teff-Seker from Haifa University evaluates Palestinians, Arab minorities and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 123 Israeli textbooks. IMPACT-se, founded in 1998, monitors education around the world and determines compliance according to UNESCO standards for tolerance.
        The study further found that textbooks acknowledge a Palestinian presence in Israel before 1948, as well as different aspects of the Palestinian narrative and experience. Israeli textbooks recognize Palestinian territories and cities and clearly mark them on maps.
        With regards to Arab and Muslim minorities, the report found that textbooks promote a "clear message of tolerance and coexistence" as well as a "respectful representation of Arab and Muslim culture and heritage."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Text: Palestinians in Israeli Textbooks - Yael Teff-Seker (IMPACT-se)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    U.S. Military Aid to Israel

  • A Message of Strong, Long-Term U.S. Support for Israel at a Time of Massive Regional Turbulence - David Makovsky
    The MOU is an important signal of American support for Israel's security in the years ahead - in fact, the U.S. has no comparable arrangement with any other country. The agreement is also a message to Israel's adversaries that Washington's support for its ally remains uniquely deep, despite recent policy disagreements.
        Among other things, the money will allow Israel to update its air force fleet by purchasing additional F-35 joint strike fighters. The writer is director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Israel Is a Forward Position in the West's Fight Against Radical Islam - Dror Eydar
    True, we should thank the Americans for the generous military aid. But we must also admit that they aren't doing us a favor. We represent a big part of their values and interests in the Middle East.
        We pay for the aid in numerous ways: We have intelligence about and understanding of the region that the Americans don't have; we have technological capabilities and the ability to improvise in areas where the Americans aren't as good as we are; we have combat experience, which is worth money. We haven't even discussed the loyal friendship we offer; we are the only ones the U.S. can count on in the region.
        Israel isn't a beggar asking for handouts. We are a key player in the region, the only one safeguarding the interests of the West and functioning as a forward position in its fight against the global spread of radical Islam. (Israel Hayom)

  • Palestinians

  • Why Palestinians Should Support "Normalization" with Israel - Mohammed S. Dajani
    When I accompanied Palestinian students to Auschwitz to teach them about the Holocaust, it was considered "normalization" and condemned as treason. The anti-normalization campaign fails to see that the Palestinian cause must be won inside of Israel and that normalization is an essential step in the process to end the conflict.
        This campaign contradicts the 1993 Oslo Accords, which called for the end of incitement and encourages the process of normalization. Anti-normalization undermines the peace process, blocking the possibility of reconciliation and conflict resolution. The writer, a Fellow at The Washington Institute, founded the Wasatia movement of moderate Islam and previously worked as a professor of political science at al-Quds University in Jerusalem. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
        See also The Palestinian Professor Who Took Students to Auschwitz and Paid a Heavy Price - Neta Alexander (Ha'aretz)
  • The Palestinian Authority Makes Terrorism a Profitable Profession - Ziva Dahl
    PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his government incite their citizens to hate Israelis and incentivize them to murder civilians using a "pay-to-slay" lethal form of welfare that makes killing and maiming far more profitable than working at a regular job.
        On June 30, Palestinian Muhammad Taraireh stabbed to death 13-year-old Israeli Hallel Ariel as she slept in her bed. Now, according to PA law, Muhammad's family will receive a one-time payment of $1,560 and a monthly stipend of $364 from the Palestinian government's "martyr fund." For imprisoned terrorists, the more gruesome the attack and the longer the prison sentence, the higher the financial reward.
        The Palestinian "pay-to-slay" program provides $300 million per year to terrorists and their families for killing Jews - 5-10% of the total PA budget. (American Spectator)
  • The Role of Foreign Powers in Israel's Creation - Jonathan Adelman and Asaf Romirowsky
    A popular myth promoted by the Palestinians is that Israel was created by global and colonial powers against the will of the region. Yet history shows that Israel was created overwhelmingly against the will of these major powers. In the 1939-1944 period, the British colonial masters of Palestine refused to allow more than a handful of Jews to enter. Then, during the 1945-1948 period, England sent 80,000 troops to Palestine to put down any Jewish moves to create a state.
        During the Israeli War of Independence, England sold weapons to Israel's enemies (Iraq and Jordan) and the commander of the Jordanian Legion was British. When British soldiers began to leave Palestine in 1948, they mostly handed over valuable fortifications and defensible positions to the Arabs. Jonathan Adelman, a professor at the University of Denver, is president of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), where Asaf Romirowsky is executive director. (Ynet News)

  • Other Issues

  • No Chance for a Full Ceasefire in Syria - Moshe Ya'alon
    The Syria ceasefire agreement, which took effect on Monday, may only be implemented in the form of local and temporary truces in certain areas. There is no chance, however, for a full ceasefire and an end to the serious bloodshed. The opposing interests between the external elements involved in the fighting in Syria make it impossible for the war to be decided or for any political settlement to stop the bloodshed.
        The U.S. is interested in seeing a moderate Sunni Syrian regime leaning towards the West, but has so far hesitated to put any significant effort into that. Russia sees the importance of the continued existence of an Alawite regime (with or without Assad). Turkey would like to see a Sunni regime in Damascus, but is busy fighting the Kurds. The reason Erdogan's regime supported ISIS for such a long time and allowed jihadists from around the world to flock to Syria was so that they would join the war and strike the Kurds.
        The pretension of different elements to reunite Syria is unrealistic. Syria is divided into demographically-based cantons, and I believe it will remain that way for many years to come. Lt. Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon is a former Israeli defense minister. (Ynet News)
  • Why the UN's Israel Obsession Should Worry Even People Who Don't Care about Israel - Eugene Kontorovich
    Since 1967, General Assembly resolutions have referred to Israeli-held territories as "occupied" 2,342 times, while the territories in seven other such conflicts are referred to as "occupied" a mere 16 times combined. General Assembly resolutions employ the term "grave" to describe Israel's actions 513 times, as opposed to 14 total for all the other conflicts. The UN has only used the word "settlements" to describe Israeli civilian communities (256 times by the GA and 17 by the Security Council). Neither body has ever used that word in relation to any other country with settlers in occupied territory.
        One country has apparently robbed the UN of the ability to address the world's many situations of occupation and settlements. This shows the double role of the scapegoat: It does not just get all the blame, but it also effectively absolves others. The UN's blindness to settlements around the world is actually the flip side of its focus on Israel. The writer is a professor at Northwestern University School of Law. (Washington Post)
  • The Turks and the Kurds in Syria - Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman
    As Turkish forces pursue their long-overdue campaign in northern Syria, it is increasingly clear that their main goal is to reduce or destroy the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, largely Kurdish in composition, rather than fight IS. ; A far preferable alternative would be if both sides - backed by a strong and coherent U.S. policy - overcame their long history of hostility and struck a compromise under which the Kurds give up their dream of a long western territorial arm reaching the Mediterranean, while Ankara accepts the reality of Kurdish autonomy in northeastern Syria. The writer is a former deputy for foreign policy and international affairs at Israel's National Security Council. (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • China's New Position on the Middle East - Roie Yellinek
    Earlier this year Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Tehran, Riyadh, and Cairo, following its approach of "talking with all sides and trading with all states." The Gulf region provides China with a third of its natural gas supply and 52% of its oil supply. Any deterioration of the Sunni-Shia struggle into violent conflict thus threatens to paralyze the Chinese economy.
        China's interest in the region is also connected to the Chinese president's "One Belt, One Road" initiative, which seeks to link China to Europe via the shortest possible routes, including the Middle East. Its cost is estimated at many hundreds of billions of dollars and any violent conflict in the Middle East might lay waste to an enormous investment. The visit of the Chinese president was intended to preserve the status quo and prevent deterioration.
        Another aspect of China's new Middle Eastern policy is the legislation passed in December 2015 permitting the Chinese army to carry out anti-terror operations outside Chinese borders, with the agreement of the country in which the operations are to be conducted. This law paves the way for China to play a more meaningful role in the fight against Islamic State or any other organization harming international stability. (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)

Ethnic Cleansing: Memories of 1929 and 1948 - Gerald M. Steinberg (Jerusalem Post)

  • Prime Minister Netanyahu released a short video last week on the obstacles to peace with the Palestinians. The message that got primary attention was his reference to ethnic cleansing - specifically the Palestinian demand that in any agreement, none of the Jews living beyond the 1948 "green line" would be allowed to remain. U.S. officials referred to "that type of terminology" (ethnic cleansing) as "inappropriate and unhelpful."
  • In the Israeli historical memory, beyond the Nazis and the Holocaust, the term "ethnic cleansing" brings up images of the 1929 Hebron massacre and the 1948 forced exodus of the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem's Old City.
  • In 1929, Arab rioting that began in Jerusalem extended to Hebron - the second holiest city for Jews. 67 Jewish residents were killed, and the survivors forced to flee. The British forces that controlled Palestine did not provide protection and it was only after the 1967 war that Jews returned to live in Hebron.
  • In May 1948, when the combined forces of the Arab Legion (the Jordanian army) and local Palestinian militias conquered the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem, they did not disarm the Jewish residents and treat them as residents of occupied territory, in accordance with the Geneva Convention and international law. Rather, all of the Jews were expelled from their homes - every single one. Under Jordanian occupation, what remained of the ancient synagogues was systematically destroyed or desecrated.
  • The ban on Jews, which was strictly enforced at the Mandelbaum Gate crossing point between the Israeli and Arab sections of the city, extended to non-Israelis as well. And the UN as well as the world powers, including the U.S., which had guaranteed freedom of access to sacred sites in the armistice agreement, were nowhere to be seen. The Western Wall, where Jews had gathered for 2,000 years to mourn the destruction of the Temple, was inaccessible.
  • For Israelis, the traumas of Hebron and Jerusalem epitomize the perceived Palestinian objective of ridding the Land of Israel of all its Jewish inhabitants, as well as of its history and holy sites. For any hope for peace to be taken seriously, the recognition of Jewish rights and history is essential. Rather than deriding and dismissing Israeli concerns, would-be peace makers would be well-advised to pay attention.

    The writer is professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and president of NGO Monitor.
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