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October 7, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Abbas Undergoes Heart Catheterization - Jack Khoury (Ha'aretz)
    Officials say Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, 81, underwent a cardiac catheterization for the removal of heart or vein blockages in Ramallah on Thursday. Abbas underwent similar procedures in 2008 and 2005.

Supporters of Fatah Leader Mohammed Dahlan Burn Pictures of Abbas in Gaza (Ma'an News-PA)
    Hundreds of supporters of Mohammed Dahlan, a dismissed leader of the Fatah movement in Gaza, marched in central Gaza on Thursday, demanded presidential elections, and burned pictures of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
    Dahlan once headed the PA preventative security forces, but fell from grace in June 2007 after the humiliating rout of his forces by Hamas fighters who took control in Gaza after fierce street battles.
    Dahlan has called to stop security coordination with Israel, and said he considers the Oslo Accords to be invalid.
    A 2016 poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that 64% of Palestinians support Abbas' resignation, but only 4% support Dahlan to be his successor.

Saudi Arabia Switches to Western Calendar to Cut Costs (PRI)
    Saudi Arabia will no longer calculate the salaries of government employees according to the Islamic calendar, but according to the Western Gregorian calendar.
    The Hijri lunar calendar is 11 days shorter than the Western system. By switching to the Gregorian calendar, public servants will effectively have to work an extra 11 days a year with no extra pay.

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Poll: 81 Percent Are Proud to Be Israeli - Aharon Lapidot (Israel Hayom)
    Ahead of the Jewish year 5777, an Israel Hayom poll shows that 81% of Israel's Jewish, Hebrew-speaking population is proud to be Israeli.
    59% of Jewish Israelis describe themselves as "happy," with only 8% saying they are "unhappy."
    69% agreed that Israel is a good country in which to live, and 75% said they feel safer in Israel than abroad.

Israeli Decoys Help Flush Out Enemy Missile Squads - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
    Developed by General Robotics with support from Israel's Ministry of Defense, Project Hyena infuses foldable, lightweight platforms with the sounds and signatures of actual tanks and other armored vehicles in order to provoke and deceive the enemy.
    The project was recently declassified and will soon be available to select export customers, said company founder Col. (ret.) Udi Gal, former scientific deputy for defense research and development.
    "In the past, advanced decoys were very expensive," Gal said. "But now, with new technology, advanced robotics and some other tricks that we've added, we can create targets that are almost impossible to distinguish from the real thing."
    Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Halutzi Rodoi, former chief armored officer of the IDF, said, "Our biggest problem today is detecting...snipers or anti-tank missile squads....These decoys can help flush him out."

The IDF's Eye-in-the-Sky over Gaza - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    An all-female team operates the Artillery Corps' Skylark drones in northern Gaza, which broadcast to Gaza Division command centers.
    "We follow suspicious vehicles arriving at the homes of Hamas operatives and monitor observation points and enemy command centers," explained Capt. Toval Tzadok.
    "We provide a lot of visual information which becomes part of the intelligence puzzle" and can have the drone in the air within minutes, said one of the female fighters in the unit.
    One member of the team is Sgt. Ariella Lock, a soldier who made aliyah from Cleveland, OH, so she could enlist in the IDF and serve in combat.

U.S. Army Gunners Receive New Hand Stations for Improved Firepower (PR Newswire)
    Elbit Systems of America, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Elbit Systems of Israel, announced Wednesday that it received a $7.3 million contract to supply the Bradley Fighting Vehicle Gunner's Hand Station to the U.S. Army.
    The Gunner's Hand Station provides Bradley vehicle gunners the ability to acquire their target and fire accurately.
    The device can work in collaboration with the Commander's Hand Station, also supplied by Elbit.

eBay Buys Israel's Corrigon for $30M - Ilan Gattegno (Israel Hayom)
    E-commerce giant eBay on Wednesday announced it has finalized the acquisition of Israeli visual search technologies developer Corrigon for $30 million.
    "Corrigon's technology and expertise will help buyers find the best results when shopping on eBay," said Amit Menipaz, vice president and general manager of structured data at eBay.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Rejects Latest U.S. Criticism of Settlement Policy - William Booth and Carol Morello
    The Israeli government pushed back Thursday against the latest U.S. condemnation of its settlement enterprise. Reacting to the unusually sharp language in the State Department's "strong condemnation" of Israeli plans, the Israel Foreign Ministry said the 98 housing units approved for the Shilo area do not constitute "a new settlement." Ayelet Shaked, Israel's justice minister, said Washington should train its condemnation on Syria "rather than criticizing where Israel builds houses."
        The tone of the Obama administration's criticism of Israel's settlement policy began changing late last year and, since then, in what seems a deliberate calibration, the State Department has spoken out strongly almost every time Israel has announced new housing, not only in the West Bank but also in east Jerusalem. Netanyahu says that Israel has not built a new settlement in 20 years - that the growth is only of new "neighborhoods" built beside existing settlements. (Washington Post)
  • Aleppo Rebels Fight Assad, Plus Iraqis, Russians, Iranians... - Anne Barnard
    On the side of President Assad in the Syrian civil war are Iraqi Shiite militiamen, Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Afghan refugees hoping to gain citizenship in Iran, and Hizbullah militants willing to fight "wherever needed," while overhead are Russian pilots. In addition, the Russian newspaper RBK, said private Russian military companies had 1,000 to 2,500 employees in Aleppo and Latakia, under the de facto command of Russian military intelligence officers, while Russian special forces are also on the ground in Syria.
        The bulk of the pro-government force in the fight for Aleppo, Syria's largest city, is made up of militiamen trained and financed by Iran. At the same time, the Shiite sect that accounts for the bulk of the Iraqi militias makes up less than 1% of Syria's population. (New York Times)
  • European Human Rights Chiefs Order British Press Not to Reveal When Terrorists Are Muslims - Matt Dathan
    A report drawn up by the Council of Europe's human rights watchdog - the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) - recommends the British media be barred from reporting the Muslim background of terrorists. "ECRI considers that, in light of the fact that Muslims are increasingly under the spotlight as a result of recent ISIS-related terrorist acts around the world, fueling prejudice against Muslims shows a reckless disregard, not only for the dignity of the great majority of Muslims in the United Kingdom, but also for their safety."
        ECRI "draws attention to a recent study by Teeside University suggesting that where the media stress the Muslim background of perpetrators of terrorist acts, and devote significant coverage to it, the violent backlash against Muslims is likely to be greater than in cases where the perpetrators' motivation is downplayed or rejected in favor of alternative explanations."  (Daily Mail-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • In Response to Rocket Attacks, Israel Targets Hamas Positions - Judah Ari Gross
    In response to missile fire at Israel from Gaza, IDF aircraft targeted "a number of terror installations belonging to the Hamas terror group." By striking Hamas, Israel hopes to force it to prevent the more extreme groups in Gaza from firing rockets. "If you're in charge, you're in charge. That's the policy," a military official said, referring to Hamas rule in Gaza.
        IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said that the rocket fire from Gaza was the "direct result of Hamas' terror agenda in the Gaza Strip that encourages deliberate attacks against Israeli civilians."  (Times of Israel)
        See also Gaza's Radicals Want Israel to Topple Hamas - Ron Ben-Yishai
    The small Salafi organization which fired a rocket into the Israeli town of Sderot on Wednesday sees itself as one of ISIS' branches in Gaza. It is trying to get Israel to bash Hamas in order to take Hamas' place. Hamas is aware of that and is arresting the organization's members and preventing them from firing rockets.
        IDF Intelligence knows very well that Hamas is not interested in another round of fighting at this time. The leadership of its military wing believes it is not sufficiently prepared for the next war. At the same time, Israel cannot permit a situation in which a rocket is occasionally fired from Gaza. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Thwarts Planned Hizbullah Terror Attacks in Haifa - Ahiya Raved and Yoav Zitun
    Six residents of the Alawite-Arab village of Ghajar on the border with Lebanon in the Golan Heights were charged on Thursday with receiving explosives from Hizbullah to carry out terror attacks in Haifa. The plot was foiled after the main defendant, Diab Kahamuz, had forgotten where he had hidden the explosives, which were later discovered by an Israeli farmer from Metula. Diab and his brother Yussef sent photos of possible targets to their Hizbullah handlers. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Shuts Down Affiliates of Outlawed Islamic Movement - Sue Surkes
    Israeli security forces on Thursday closed three organizations associated with the banned northern branch of Israel's Islamic Movement, accusing them of fanning unrest at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Their bank accounts were frozen and the activities of their senior staff curtailed. The shutdown came after the organizations were warned to change their ways.
        The Higher Council for Support in Jerusalem and Al Aqsa, a publication called QPRESS, and an educational body called Qudurat "are continuations of the direction and the activities of the Islamic Movement's northern branch in Israel," the Israel Security Agency said. The first two "devise activities that cause tension on the Temple Mount and fan disturbances that break out at the site regularly....Over recent days QPRESS has called on Muslims to go up to the Temple Mount in greater numbers with the intention of confronting the security forces and disturbing the peace at the site."  (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • New Zealand Academic Describes Gaza Flotilla as "Ship of Fools"
    Dr. Paul Moon, Professor of History at Auckland University of Technology, has condemned the Gaza flotilla, which illegally tried to breach Israeli waters Wednesday, as "a ship of fools." "The entire event has the appearance of a cheap media stunt. The protesters have deliberately breached the Oslo Accords, international maritime law, and domestic Israeli law, and have resorted to melodramatic language to dramatize what has been a mundane end to their protest."
        "The whole protest has the air of a schoolyard prank about it and the protestors' alarmist language does not conceal the failure of their venture....Perhaps the greatest irony of this episode is that while the Israel Defense Forces were taking these anti-Israel protesters to safety, Palestinians in Gaza launched a rocket attack against Israeli civilians."  (Scoop-New Zealand)
  • Why Revoking Tax Exemptions for Groups Supporting Jewish Communities in the West Bank Is Unconstitutional - Eugene Kontorovich
    There is a campaign to eliminate U.S. tax exemptions for charitable groups that provide support to Jewish communities in the West Bank. It claims that private Americans' support for settlements contravenes "established public policy," and seeks to deny tax exemptions to some non-profits because they disagree with the president on diplomatic matters.
        While U.S. Treasury regulations restrict the tax-exempt status of groups that act "contrary to clearly defined and established public policy," according to the IRS itself, the public policy exception applies only in the context of racial discrimination. Moreover, anti-Israel groups that endorse boycotts of Israel also take a position that directly contradicts the clear U.S. policy of opposing BDS, and thus could also be affected.
        There is no U.S. law or clearly established U.S. policy which indicates that settlements are illegal, notwithstanding a Carter Administration-era letter claiming Israeli settlements are "inconsistent with international law." Moreover, there is nothing in the Carter-era State Dept. letter that claims that charitable contributions by Americans to settlements violate the law.
        A State Department memo is not a law and does not bind the U.S.  No official has ever mistaken the memo for a legal enactment; indeed, two years after the 1979 letter, President Reagan announced that settlements are lawful. Meanwhile, Congress has passed numerous laws that clearly show Israeli settlements are not illegal. The writer is a professor at Northwestern University School of Law. (Tablet)
  • Issues in the Presidential Election: Israel - Matthew Lee
    Although it has not been a major campaign issue thus far, Israel remains the staunchest U.S. ally in the volatile Middle East region, even after the well-publicized spat over the Iran deal and disagreements over the peace process.
        With the war in Syria showing no sign of easing, Iraq on edge and an increasingly authoritarian government in Turkey, Israel is stable and at peace with neighbors Jordan and Egypt. U.S. presidents from both parties and Israeli leaders from across the political spectrum have hailed their shared values and democratic ideals.
        Israel enjoys great support from members of Congress and American Jews, who are traditionally politically active and courted by politicians, as well as others. But a growing and vocal group of pro-Palestinian activists has tried to blunt U.S. backing for Israel. Given the stated pro-Israel positions of both Clinton and Trump, however, those efforts are not likely to yield much success no matter who wins in November. This story is part of AP's "Why It Matters" series, examining issues at stake in the presidential election. (AP)

  • Weekend Features

  • Execs from Facebook, Google, and Microsoft Explain Why They Use Israel for R&D - Sam Shead
    Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Intel are among more than 300 multinationals that have opened up research and development facilities in Israel. At an innovation conference in Tel Aviv last week, Google developer partner advocate Don Dodge said: "There is no other country on Earth that thinks the same way that we [Google] do like Israel does." Today Google employs over 600 engineers in Israel and they work on several of Google's core products, including Search, Maps, and Live Results. There are cheaper engineers in places like Russia, India, and China, but they're often not as good, according to Dodge. "It's about innovation, creativity, taking tremendous risks."
        Roy Ramon, managing director of the Intel Ingenuity Partner Program, noted that Intel employs 11,000 workers in Israel. "The reason I started the startup program is because when you meet with a company in Israel, they come in and tell engineers that they're doing it all wrong. They push everything off the table. These engineers have been doing this for years. They're world experts. And yet that startup is bold enough to come to a mammoth like Intel and say you're doing it all wrong. This is one culture that you can't get anywhere in the world."  (Business Insider)
  • Israel Becoming a Powerhouse in Automotive Technology - Eliran Rubin
    New technology is making the automotive industry smarter and more efficient, and increasingly reliant on software. "There are now about 100 processors in a car and the more that [automotive] technology shifts in the direction of using software, Israel has an increasing advantage," said Yahal Zilka, a partner at Magma Venture Partners, which has already invested in four smart vehicle firms. There has been virtually an airlift of automotive executives who have visited Israel in recent months to meet with local companies in the field, he adds. (Ha'aretz)
  • "If I Sleep for an Hour, 30 People Will Die" - Pamela Druckerman
    In 1944, in occupied Paris, four members of a Jewish resistance cell spent their days in a narrow room atop a Left Bank apartment building. The neighbors think they're painters - a cover story to explain the chemical smell. They're operating a clandestine laboratory to make false passports for families about to be deported to concentration camps. The lab's technical director is Adolfo Kaminsky, age 18. By his 19th birthday, Kaminsky had helped save the lives of thousands of people by making false documents to get them into hiding or out of the country.
        Now 91, Kaminsky lives in a modest apartment for people with low incomes, not far from his former laboratory. He says he never accepted payment for forgeries. "The smallest error and you send someone to prison or death," he told me. Years later he's still haunted by the work, explaining: "I think mostly of the people that I couldn't save." At one point, Kaminsky stayed awake for two nights straight to fill an enormous rush order. "It's a simple calculation: In one hour I can make 30 blank documents; if I sleep for an hour, 30 people will die." Historians estimate that France's Jewish resistance networks together saved 7,000 to 10,000 children.
        His daughter Sarah learned her father's whole story only while writing a book about him, Adolfo Kaminsky: A Forger's Life, whose English translation comes out this week. (New York Times)
  • Jewish-American Sailor, 90, Recalls Cyprus Internment - Menelaos Hadjicostis
    Seventy years later, Murray Greenfield, 90, can still remember the anger he felt when he was locked up behind double rows of barbed wire fences and under armed guard together with hundreds of Jewish Holocaust survivors in a British detention camp in Cyprus. After a three-year stint in the U.S. Merchant Marine during World War II, Greenfield was among a crew of volunteers aboard the Hatikva, a rickety, decades-old icebreaker that was pressed into service to ferry 1,500 Jews to Palestine, ruled by Britain.
        Some 250 American sailors had volunteered to help Jews sail to Palestine aboard 10 surplus World War II vessels purchased with secret donations from Jewish Americans, he said. More than 50,000 Jews were interned in Cyprus during 1945-1948. Greenfield said he always intended to return to New York City, but his three months in the camp changed him. "The people I met were so enthusiastic, so positive. They were creating a state, a whole new thing."  (AP-ABC News)

No Apologies for Being a Jewish Nation - Ruth R. Wisse (Wall Street Journal)

  • In the 20th century, some modern European thinkers and political leaders began singling out the Jews for their alleged racial or religious or social culpabilities.
  • No sooner had the politics of Jew-blame reached its genocidal apotheosis in Europe than it was taken up in the Middle East. Rather than accepting the principle of co-existence and concentrating on improving the lives of their own subjects, Arab leaders refused Jews the right to their homeland in a war that they, the Arab leaders, had initiated.
  • Forcing almost a million Jews from their ancient communities in Arab lands, the same leaders blamed Israel for Arab refugees whom they themselves refused to resettle.
  • This calumny is by now the basis of political coalitions not only at the UN and in Europe but on campuses here in the U.S.  So ingrained are the assumptions of Jew-blame that newspapers will often devote more coverage to the shooting of one Palestinian Arab by an Israeli, often unintentionally or in self-defense, than to the murders of Jewish civilians by Arab and Muslim terrorists.
  • For its obsession with Israel's putative misdeeds to the neglect of the unspeakable crimes committed by so many UN member states, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently declared at the General Assembly that "the UN, begun as a moral force, has become a moral farce."
  • He is surely right that ending the obsession with Israel would benefit the entire world. The Jewish nation is owed the unconditional respect of its fellow nations and must demand of others what it expects others to demand of themselves.

    The writer is a former professor of Yiddish and comparative literature at Harvard.
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