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October 14, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

UNESCO Resolution Was Defeat for Palestinians - Hillel Neuer (UN Watch)
    France's decision to abstain on the UNESCO resolution on Jerusalem, after having supported a previous version in April, was a major shift.
    India, which historically has backed one-sided Arab resolutions targeting Israel at the UN, also abstained. Its neighbor, Sri Lanka, also moved from the Yes camp to Abstain.
    All EU states abstained, including Sweden and Spain. Argentina also moved from Yes to Abstain.
    More sub-Saharan African countries abstained (seven: Guinea, Togo, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda) than voted with the Palestinians (six: Chad, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan).
    See also UNESCO Adopts PLO Resolution Denying Jewish, Christian Ties to Jerusalem (UN Watch)

Is the Tide Turning for Israel? - Jonathan S. Tobin (Commentary)
    While the vote at UNESCO went against Israel (24-6), more nations abstained (26) than supported the vicious assault on truth.
    The decline in support for the Palestinians' big lies shows that their campaign against the Jewish state is actually losing ground.
    Ten nations that had voted for a similar resolution in the past abstained this time.
    The manipulation of UNESCO by the Israel-haters is a warning to the world that the Palestinian goal isn't really a fair-minded two-state resolution, but rather to deny Jewish rights and history and ultimately force Jews out of Jerusalem, if not the rest of the country.
    This effort demonstrates that Palestinian opposition to coexistence is a far bigger obstacle to peace than anything Israel has done.
    Much of the rest of the world is beginning to understand their true goal.

Jerusalem: One Nation's Capital throughout History - Eli E. Hertz (Myths and Facts)
    For more than 3,000 years, Jerusalem has played a central role in the history of the Jews, culturally, politically, and spiritually, a role first documented in the Scriptures.
    All through the 2,000 years of the diaspora, Jews have called Jerusalem their ancestral home.
    Jews in prayer always turn toward Jerusalem. When Muslims pray, they face Mecca.
    The Old Testament mentions "Jerusalem" 349 times. "Zion," another name for Jerusalem, is mentioned 108 times. The Quran never mentions Jerusalem even once.
    Jews end Passover Seders and Yom Kippur prayers each year with the words: "Next year in Jerusalem."
    The Arab rulers who controlled eastern Jerusalem through the 1950s and 1960s demonstrated no religious tolerance.
    That changed after the Six-Day War in 1967 when Israel regained control of the whole city.
    One of Israel's first steps was to officially recognize and respect all religious interests in Jerusalem.

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Dozens of Additional Dead Sea Scroll Fragments Discovered - Owen Jarus (CBS News-Live Science)
    More than 25 previously unpublished "Dead Sea Scroll" fragments, dating back 2,000 years and holding text from the Hebrew Bible, have been brought to light.
    A scholar told Live Science that around 70 newly discovered fragments have appeared on the antiquities market since 2002.
    Additionally, the cabinet minister in charge of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) believes there are undiscovered scrolls that are being found by looters in caves in the Judean Desert.
    The IAA is sponsoring a new series of scientific surveys and excavations to find these scrolls before looters do.

Israel to Join Executive Board of UN Agency for Women's Rights - Shlomo Cesana (Israel Hayom)
    Israel is joining the executive board of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

Israel Revises GDP Growth Sharply Higher for 2016's Second Quarter - Moti Bassok (Ha'aretz)
    Israel's economic growth (GDP) expanded at a 4.3% annualized rate in the second quarter of 2016, revised figures released by the Central Bureau of Statistics showed Thursday, raising the growth rate for the first half of the year to 3.2%.
    Exports climbed at a revised rate of 10.4% in the second quarter and 8.8% in the first.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Judaism's Holiest Site Is Reclassified as Exclusively Muslim by UNESCO
    UNESCO, at its executive board meeting Thursday in Paris, passed a Palestinian-backed measure that denies a Jewish connection to the Old City of Jerusalem. The vote was 24 in favor of the resolution and 6 against, with 26 countries abstaining. The U.S., UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Lithuania, and Estonia voted against the resolution. Other European countries abstained.
        Israel's permanent delegate to UNESCO, Carmel Shama Hacohen, said, "There is no connection of another people to another place in the world that comes close to the strength and depth of our connection to Jerusalem from a religious, historical and national perspective, a connection that has stood the test of 2,000 years."  (JTA)
  • IDF Targets Palestinian Gunmaking Workshops in West Bank - William Booth
    In the past 12 months, Israeli forces have confiscated 350 guns and busted 35 workshops where Palestinian machinists manufacture the components of the Carlo, a handmade submachine gun modeled after the Swedish Carl Gustav. The Palestinian towns of the West Bank might be among the few places in the Middle East not awash in AK-47s and M-16s, due to relentless Israeli pressure, with assistance from the Palestinian Authority, which supplies Israeli authorities with intelligence about guns and their makers. There have been 22 major assaults on Israelis by Palestinian gunmen in the past year. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: UNESCO Decision on Temple Mount Like Saying Egypt Has No Connection to the Pyramids
    Following UNESCO's adoption of a resolution which ignores the ties of the Jewish people to its most holy sites - the Temple Mount and the Western Wall in Jerusalem - Prime Minister Netanyahu said: "To say that Israel has no connection to the Temple Mount is like saying that China has no connection to the Great Wall of China or that Egypt has no connection to the pyramids....But I believe that historical truth is stronger and that truth will prevail."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • President Rivlin: Deniers of Jewish Connection to Jerusalem Are Embarrassing Themselves - Tovah Lazaroff
    Those who deny the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount are simply embarrassing themselves, President Reuven Rivlin, a seventh generation Jerusalemite, said on Thursday. Jews made pilgrimages to the Temple in Jerusalem long before the advent of Islam. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Suspends Cooperation with UNESCO over Jerusalem Vote
    All meetings by Israeli officials with UNESCO, participation in international forums and professional cooperation will be suspended until further notice, following UNESCO's resolution erasing the Jewish connection to Jerusalem's holy sites, Education Minister Naftali Bennett announced Friday. He added that the resolution was a prize to jihadists in a week in which two Jews were murdered in a Jerusalem terror attack. (Times of Israel)
  • ISIS-Inspired Arab-Israeli Cell Plotted Tunnel from West Bank into Israel
    Charges were filed against three ISIS-sympathizing Arab-Israeli men - Ibrahim a-Khalim Mahmoud Sheikh, 26; Muhammad Tami a-Khader Nashef, 32; and Amir a-Hakim Hafez Gahrah, 20 - for attempting to build a tunnel from the Arab town of Taybe into the West Bank, the Israel Security Agency said Thursday. The cell had only managed to dig a few meters before being discovered. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iranian Missiles in Houthi Hands Threaten Freedom of Navigation in Red Sea - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall
    The Houthi-Yemeni conflict has assumed a new dimension that could endanger civilian freedom of navigation in the Red Sea's Bab el-Mandeb Strait, which serves as a gateway for oil tankers headed to Europe through the Suez Canal. On Oct. 1, 2016, the Houthi-allied Yemeni Republican Guard launched an anti-ship cruise missile that struck a humanitarian ship in the service of the United Arab Emirates Navy. On Oct. 9 and 11, Iranian-backed Houthi militants fired on the USS Mason.
        In retaliation, the USS Nitze launched Tomahawk cruise missile strikes knocking out three Houthi coastal radar sites that were active during previous attacks and attempted attacks on ships in the Red Sea. The strikes, authorized by President Obama, represent Washington's first direct military action against Houthi targets in Yemen.
        Not far from Yemen in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, Iranian fast boats continue to harass and provoke American warships, which operate without any appropriate response. Playing down the incident will play into Iranian propaganda and bolster Iran's already overconfident and defiant stance. The writer is a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The Winner in the Russian-American Middle East Squabble Is...Iran - Eyal Zisser
    There is already a clear winner in the struggle over prestige between Russia and the U.S. in the Middle East. The winner is actually Iran, which is silently but surely establishing a realm of influence that extends from Tehran to the Mediterranean coast, over which it will have complete control.
        Only six years ago, it appeared that the Arab Spring would deliver a decisive blow to Iran's efforts to create an "axis of resistance" under its influence that would stretch from Tehran, through Baghdad and Damascus, to Beirut and Gaza. Iran watched as radical Sunni Islam prepared to overtake its grasp on Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. However, Russian involvement in Syria that began in September 2015 changed the game and saved Syrian President Assad from near-certain ouster.
        But the platform upon which Moscow based its return to the region was an Iranian-Shiite one, based on Iranian and Shiite fighters, who complete the work of Russian aircraft and fight Moscow's war on the ground. The writer, Vice Rector at Tel Aviv University, is former director of its Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies. (Israel Hayom)
  • Current Strategic Military Threats Facing Israel - Yaakov Katz
    At the onset of 5777, the new Jewish year, there is no conventional or existential military threat against the State of Israel. Just 43 years ago, Israel was getting clobbered in Sinai and on the Golan Heights in the Yom Kippur War. Today, there is peace with Egypt, and no Syrian military to speak of.
        While in just a few years the Iran nuclear deal will enable Tehran to be just weeks away from a nuclear device, it has stopped Iran's nuclear program, but not its nuclear desire. One day, probably sooner than later, Iran's nuclear sites will again need to be considered as potential military targets.
        At the same time, Israel is challenged on five different fronts simultaneously. In the West Bank it faces the stabbing intifada which started last October. The IDF says the PA security services are about 40% effective and they do carry out arrests against Hamas terrorists. Since 2014, Gazan terrorists have fired 47 rockets and mortar shells into Israel, 95% of which were launched by groups other than Hamas. In Sinai, Egypt seems to be doing a better job at cracking down on Islamic terrorist elements, but ISIS cells still operate freely throughout the peninsula. According to the IDF, many of the ISIS fighters in Sinai train with Hamas in Gaza, and receive funding, weapons and assistance from the Palestinian terrorist organization.
        Israel is vulnerable to attacks from terrorist elements based in Syria like ISIS or Jabhat al-Nusra. In recent months, Israel has noticed terrorist elements fleeing northern Syria and moving to the south, where they could shift their focus to Israel. In Lebanon, Hizbullah's 130,000 rockets and missiles represent Israel's primary threat. War can come from any of these fronts at a moment's notice, and for that, the IDF is always preparing. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Meet Israel's New UK Ambassador - Jenni Frazer
    Israel's ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, says: "Because of common threats coming from Iran and groups like ISIS, we are seeing a strategic realignment, where today Israel is talking to more Arab states than ever before in the history of the Jewish state....I am talking about other countries who were traditionally hostile to Israel or very stand-offish to Israel but today we are having conversations."
        Regev, in the UK since March, points to the healthy bilateral trade figures between Britain and Israel - "a doubling in the last decade" - as a sign that the boycott campaign has "completely failed." He says: "Britain is our second largest export market after the United States," and revealed that Israel has been in preliminary talks with Britain about "codifying" a trade deal in the wake of the Brexit vote. (Jewish News-UK)
        See also Anti-Semitism Disguised as Anti-Zionism - Mark Regev
    Today, anti-Semitism often conceals itself behind the mask of anti-Zionism, whereby the existence of the Jewish state is rejected, regardless of its borders. Within such a paradigm, Israel is the Jew among the nations, the epicenter of evil, and the ultimate global pariah. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the UK. (Guardian-UK)
  • The Roots of America's Mideast Delusion - James Traub
    From the moment he took office in 2009, President Obama tried to repair America's standing in the Middle East by demonstrating his sincere concern for the grievances and aspirations of Arab peoples. He delivered a speech in Cairo in which he acknowledged America's past wrongs, and he called on Israel to accept the legitimacy of Palestinian demands for a state. And he found that the Arab world was afflicted with pathologies that placed it beyond the reach of his words and deeds.
        Had Obama had the chance to read Ike's Gamble, Michael Doran's account of President Eisenhower's statecraft before, during and after the Suez Crisis of 1956, he might have saved his breath. Doran, a former State and Defense Department official, describes a seasoned, wily and prudent president who aligned the U.S. with what he understood to be the legitimate hopes of Arab peoples, even at the cost of damaging relations with America's closest allies - and made a hash of things.
        Eisenhower and Secretary of State Dulles feared the U.S. would never win Arab hearts and minds if it was seen as the ally of Israel, a nation that almost all Arabs reviled. The answer in 1955 was to push Israel to make unilateral territorial concessions - and, remarkably, to present the plan to Nasser for his approval before disclosing it to the Israelis. But Nasser was an empire builder who saw America's Arab allies - Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon - as dominoes to be knocked over on his path to regional hegemony. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Myths about the "Conquest" of Jerusalem - Dore Gold
    Israel's right to sovereignty in Jerusalem is well-based in history and international law. There has been a Jewish majority in Jerusalem continuously since the 1860s. UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of 1947 recommended that Jerusalem remain under international sovereignty and that after ten years a referendum would be held to decide the question of sovereignty. After the invading Arab armies laid siege to the Jewish areas of Jerusalem in 1948 and the UN failed to react, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion declared that the idea of an internationalized city had been cancelled.
        In 1967, the Jordanians opened fire on Israel from the east, invited the Egyptian army into the West Bank and allowed the Iraqi army to cross into Jordan on its way to the West Bank. Israel responded in self-defense. After the Six-Day War, the USSR sought to label Israel as the attacker, but failed. The Soviet proposal was defeated in the UN General Assembly in an 80 to 36 vote, reflecting the understanding in the international community that Israel acted in self-defense.
        The American legal scholar Stephen Schwebel, who would become President of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, wrote in 1970 in the American Journal of International Law: "Israel has better title in the territory of what was Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem, than do Jordan and Egypt....When the prior holder of territory had seized that territory unlawfully, the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense has, against the prior holder, better title."
        The writer served as Director-General of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs-Hebrew, 14 May 2015)
  • China and Israel's Tale of Love and High-Tech - Edouard Cukierman
    Over the past 4 years, Chinese investors have invested over $15 billion in Israeli companies. Bilateral trade between China and Israel increased from $1 million in 1992 to $11.4 billion in 2015. (Asia Times-Hong Kong)

Israel Conducted No Ethnic Cleansing in 1948 - Benny Morris (Ha'aretz)

  • The Palestinians were the ones who started the 1948 war when they rejected the UN compromise plan and embarked on hostile acts in which 1,800 Jews were killed between November 1947 and mid-May 1948.
  • Concern for the welfare of the Arabs in prestate Israel was not the main reason Arab leaders decided to invade Israel on the eve of May 15. Jordan's King Abdullah wanted to expand his country's borders, the Egyptian king wanted to deny the Jordanian king major territorial achievements, and the leaders of Syria, Iraq and Egypt feared the reaction at home if they did not invade.
  • At no stage of the 1948 war was there a decision by the political or military leadership of the Jewish Yishuv or the state to expel the Arabs. Nor did any important party in the Yishuv, including the Revisionists, adopt such a policy in its platform.
  • On March 24, 1948, Israel Galili, Ben-Gurion's deputy and the head of the Haganah, ordered all the Haganah brigades not to uproot Arabs from the territory of the designated Jewish state. Things did change in early April due to the Yishuv's shaky condition and the impending Arab invasion. But there was no overall expulsion policy and for the most part the Arabs simply fled. I don't accept the definition "ethnic cleansing" for what the Jews in prestate Israel did in 1948.
  • Incidentally, Arab countries carried out ethnic cleansing and uprooted all the Jews, down to the last one, from any territory they captured in 1948. The Jews, on the other hand, left Arabs in place in Haifa and Jaffa, and in the villages along the country's main traffic arteries - the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway and the Tel Aviv-Haifa highway - a fact that does not conform with the claim of ethnic cleansing.
  • Unfortunately, Benjamin Netanyahu is right when he says the main obstacle to peace is the unwillingness of the Arabs to agree to a compromise based on two states for two peoples, and their rejection of the legitimacy of the Zionist enterprise and the State of Israel.

    The writer is a professor of history at Ben-Gurion University.
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