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October 28, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Iran's Navy Touts "Suicide Drone" - Kim Hjelmgaard (USA Today)
    Iran's navy on Wednesday released a photo of a "suicide drone" that can be loaded with explosives and deliberately crashed into targets at sea and on land.
    Iranian officials said the drone "can carry payloads of explosives for combat missions" and "collide with the target and destroy it, (whether) a vessel or an onshore command center."
    The pilotless aircraft can fly for up to four hours and has a range of 600 miles.

Egypt on the Verge of Crisis? - Walter Russell Mead (American Interest)
    All is not well in Egypt, as the government implements unpopular austerity measures to shore up its floundering economy.
    As average citizens feel the pinch, they are increasingly blaming President al-Sisi who has not been able to stabilize the country's economy.
    We've seen in Iraq, Libya and Syria just how easy it is for Arab societies to descend into chaos. A social meltdown in Egypt would be a much larger and more consequential disaster than anything we've yet seen in the region.
    The Sisi government is far from perfect, but no real alternatives exist.
    The next American president will need to make Sisi's survival, and Egypt's revival, major priorities.
    The writer is professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College and professor of American foreign policy at Yale University.

Syria Complains to UN about Israeli Archeological Dig - in Syria? - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
    On Oct. 17, Israel's Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama Hacohen received a letter from UNESCO informing him that "Syrian authorities have brought to our attention the fact that archeological excavations in the village of Bir Ajam in the Governate of Quanta have been taking place since 11 July 2016."
    The village is in an area of the Golan Heights that was captured by Israel from Syria during the Six-Day War in 1967 but returned to Syria in 1974.

Anti-BDS Legislation Passes Pennsylvania Senate and House - Liz Spikol (Philadelphia Jewish Exponent)
    The Pennsylvania Senate has passed a bill against the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement by a vote of 47 to 1.
    After a concurrence vote in the House, the bill is now on Gov. Tom Wolf's desk for his signature.

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Palestinian Jihadi-Style Child Abuse - Khaled Abu Toameh (Gatestone Institute)
    An entire generation of Palestinians, particularly those in Gaza, has been raised on the glorification of anyone who kills a Jew.
    Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other radical groups see children as future "soldiers" in the war to eliminate Israel and raise them to regard suicide bombers and jihadis as role models.
    Children have long become an integral part of "military" parades in Gaza.
    This form of child abuse does not seem to bother human rights organizations.
    What PA leaders fail to understand is that these children also pose a real threat to them.
    The radicalized children grow up not only to hate Jews, but also any Palestinian leader who claims to seek peace with Israel.
    The poison that is being injected into the minds and hearts of these children will come back to haunt those Palestinian leaders who sit idly by as the indoctrination occurs.

Israel's New National Campus for Archaeolgy in Jerusalem - Ruth Eglash (Washington Post)
    The Israel Antiquities Authority is constructing a multimedia, multi-floored underground complex designed to show off some of the best finds from the past 1.5 million years.
    Uzi Dahari, the authority's deputy director, said that Israel has more than 2 million ancient artifacts in storage so it is building what he calls an "archaeological campus."
    The center, due to be completed in 2018, will also house one of the largest archaeological libraries in the Middle East, specialized archaeological laboratories for rescuing and restoring ancient relics, and climate-controlled storage rooms.

Israeli Firm Develops Super-Efficient Engine (AFP)
    Israeli-based Aquarius Engines says a super-efficient engine it has created could drastically reduce fuel consumption and help power an auto industry revolution.
    According to the firm, the engine can allow cars to travel more than 1,600 km. on a single tank of fuel, more than double current distances.
    In tests by the German engineering firm FEV, the Aquarius engine's efficiency was more than double that of traditional engines.

Poll Shows Stanford Undergraduates Chilly towards Israel Divestment - Caleb Smith (Stanford Daily)
    A poll conducted Oct. 3-7 by the Stanford Daily reveals that 58% of Stanford undergraduates would oppose a hypothetical ballot initiative urging the university to divest from companies supplying the Israel Defense Forces.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Islamic State Rounds Up Thousands of Iraqi Civilians to Use as Human Shields in Mosul Battle - Loveday Morris
    Islamic State militants have rounded up thousands of Iraqi villagers at gunpoint to use as human shields as they retreat toward their stronghold of Mosul. Military officials and some who escaped said that most of the people in more than half a dozen villages were forced to walk toward the city and that those who refused were shot. Villagers also described mass executions of former policemen and army officers as the militants become increasingly paranoid about spies and collaborators. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Airstrikes in Afghanistan Likely Killed Senior Al-Qaeda Leaders - Gordon Lubold
    The U.S. military conducted a series of airstrikes in Afghanistan on Sunday that likely killed at least two senior al-Qaeda leaders, marking what the Pentagon called the most significant strike against the militant group's leadership in several years. American drones targeted Farouq al-Qatani and his deputy, Bilal al-Utabi, top officials of al-Qaeda's old guard, by pounding two compounds in Kunar province after an "extensive period of surveillance," Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said Wednesday.
        Qatani was considered the top al-Qaeda official in Afghanistan, responsible for planning attacks within and outside the country. In recent years, the militant leader had planned operations against U.S. military bases and convoys in Afghanistan. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Moscow Aims to Host "Meaningful" Israeli-Palestinian Talks
    An Israeli-Palestinian summit in Moscow would be a "thoroughly prepared" event aimed at reviving the reconciliation process, rather than yet another meeting for the sole purpose of holding talks, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told TASS upon his return from Israel on Thursday. "We're not trying to force this should be done at the right time."
        Gatilov noted that the Israelis "are very alarmed and do not want the Israeli-Palestine conflict internationalized." Any possible "Security Council-level" actions must be cautious enough to "not undermine the possibility of a revival in bilateral talks."
        "There's an idea on a [UN] resolution on the settlements. There's an initiative and a League of Arab States' decision on this matter. In fact, not all Arab states unanimously support such a resolution; many understand the sensitivity of this matter. Personally, I think that a resolution won't be approved in a forced manner," Gatilov said. (RT-Russia)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Foils Attack Plans of East Jerusalem Terrorist - Alexander J. Apfel
    Muhammad Mussa Muhammad Abassi, a resident of eastern Jerusalem, was arrested three weeks ago on suspicion of planning to carry out multiple acts of terrorism in Israel, the Israel Security Agency announced Thursday. Abassi, who supports Hamas, planned to carry out a shooting attack against Israeli security forces and civilians in Jerusalem. "The arrest of Abassi who, as a resident, had access to the entire city, prevented a serious attack in the city of Jerusalem," the agency said. (Ynet News)
  • Israeli Opposition Leader Herzog: UNESCO Pushing "Blood Libels"
    After UNESCO passed a second resolution in as many weeks denying a Jewish connection to Jerusalem holy sites, Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog from the Zionist Union party says the UN cultural body is "spreading blood libels," comparing the resolutions to anti-Semitic canards used to persecute Jews in the Middle Ages. (Times of Israel)
  • IDF Rules Out Hizbullah in Lebanon Border Shooting - Lilach Shoval and Danny Brenner
    The IDF's initial investigation of Wednesday's drive-by shooting of a soldier near the northern border town of Metula has ruled out Hizbullah's involvement in the incident, an army official said. According to military officials, this was a local incident unlikely to lead to a security escalation. (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Keep Calm and Work with Israel to Defeat the Security Threat from Islamic State - Lord Trimble and Robert Quick
    Britain is locked in conflict abroad with an enemy that directly threatens our home front. The assessment of the security services is that even if the Caliphate of the Islamic State were defeated, we will be at significant risk from Islamist terrorism at home as its fighters disperse and focus on external operations against our and other democratic nations.
        Citizens across the continent are asking how to sustain our societies' liberal and democratic values in the face of this brutal menace. To prevail, we must be united, realistic about the deadly threat we confront, and tactically astute in how we mitigate and eventually defeat its modus operandi of indiscriminate, maximum casualty attacks.
        No democratic nation has endured Islamist terrorism to the extent that Israel has. It has learned from bitter experience and become extraordinarily resilient, coping with stresses until recently unimaginable to European policymakers, while flourishing as an economically successful democratic nation. Israel's intelligence prowess is not only a major factor in its successful fight against Islamist terror, but as an ally to the UK and other democracies it has and will continue to save lives here in Europe.
        Lord Trimble, a Nobel Peace Laureate, is former Prime Minister of Northern Ireland and a founding member of the Friends of Israel Initiative. Robert Quick is a former Assistant Commissioner responsible for counter-terrorism at the Metropolitan Police. (Telegraph-UK)
  • UNESCO Resolution on Jerusalem Undercuts the Foundation of Christianity - Charles Krauthammer
    Last week, the UN's premier cultural agency, UNESCO, approved a resolution viciously condemning Israel for various alleged trespasses and violations of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Except that the resolution never uses that term for Judaism's holiest shrine. It refers to and treats it as an exclusively Muslim site, a deliberate attempt to eradicate its connection - let alone its centrality - to the Jewish people and Jewish history.
        This Orwellian absurdity also makes a mockery of the Gospels, which chronicle the story of a Galilean Jew whose life and ministry unfolded throughout the Holy Land, most especially in Jerusalem and the Temple. If this is nothing but a Muslim site, what happens to the very foundation of Christianity, which occurred 600 years before Islam even came into being? (Washington Post)
  • Arabs Once Recognized that Jews Are Indigenous to Israel - Melanie Phillips
    The Jews are the only people for whom the Land of Israel was ever their national kingdom. That the Jews are the indigenous people of the land has been acknowledged by Arabs themselves. In 1918 Sherif Hussein, the guardian of the Islamic holy places in Arabia, wrote that the Jews streaming back to Palestine were "exiles" returning to their "sacred and beloved homeland." In March 1919 Emir Faisal wrote: "We will wish the Jews a hearty welcome home."
        In 1917 the Arabs living in Palestine did not identify themselves as Palestinians. They were either nomadic or identified with Arab countries, such as Syria. When people referred to Palestinians in the first half of the last century, they meant the Jews. The writer is a columnist for The Times (UK). (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Balfour Declaration: 100 Years Later - Benny Begin
    On Nov. 2, 1917, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour announced that "His Majesty's Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object." Arab leaders in Palestine opposed the Balfour Declaration as soon as it was made public. They protested the use of the terms "the Jewish people" and "national home."
        From the PLO's point of view, a permanent agreement that will anchor Israel eternally in a part of Palestine and apply a quota to the realization of "the return of refugees to their homes" cannot also include the essential clause declaring "an end to mutual claims." Therefore, the PLO is not able to sign a permanent agreement with the State of Israel, even with the most modest terms.
        An international attempt to coerce such an agreement will lead to the dismantling of the PLO and to the elimination of its leadership, and it will fail. The writer is a former Israeli government minister. (Israel Hayom)
  • Palestinian Campaign vs. Balfour Shows Hostility to Jewish State Undimmed after 100 Years - David Horovitz
    The Arab world opposed the Balfour Declaration from day one in 1917, opposed the UN partition plan, and sought to destroy the State of Israel in 1948. And on Monday, a senior member of the PLO formally launched a year-long campaign designed "to remind the world and particularly Britain that they should...atone for the big crime Britain committed against the Palestinian people."
        The Palestinians' new campaign shows an undimmed hostility to the very notion of Jewish sovereignty anywhere in the holy land. Here we still are, a century later, with the Palestinian leadership branding as a "crime" the start of a process that, had they accepted it, would long since have given them statehood. This is not Hamas talking. This is the supposed moderate, mainstream Palestinian leadership.
        When Netanyahu tells the international community that the root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the settlement enterprise, as the Palestinians claim, but rather the perpetual refusal of the Palestinian leadership and populace to internalize the Jewish people's right to sovereignty anywhere in the holy land, the Palestinians themselves provide ongoing confirmation. Palestinian leaders are telling the world that their opposition to our state in any borders remains greater than their desire for their own independent entity. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel's UN Envoy: "We Shattered a Glass Ceiling" - Tzipi Shmilovitz
    Israel's ambassador at the UN, Danny Danon, said that in the past year "we made breakthroughs and did things that have never been done before by Israelis at the UN....I came here with the perception that we all have in Israel, that the entire world is against us and that I am coming to joust with windmills, but I learned that you can sometimes win here....For example, my election as chairman of the Legal Committee, one of the six UN committees. This is a huge victory. It's the first time since Israel joined the UN that its ambassador chairs a permanent committee."
        "There was obviously a strong countercampaign. Iran, for example, sent a letter to the Non-Aligned Movement, saying Israel cannot chair the committee....In the end, Singapore jumped in and when India joined and issued a letter opposing the Iranians, it destroyed them....109 states voted for me in a secret vote....Today, I enter a room of 193 states and I chair the discussion. I am the one who lets the Iranian representative speak, who manages conflicts which are unrelated to Israel. We shattered a real glass ceiling."
        Q: Will there be a move regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the UN after the U.S. elections?
    Danon: "I sat with the foreign minister of a Western state who said, 'Clearly, nothing will happen until the elections because the Americans won't go with us, but after the elections we'll try to lead a move.' It could be a condemnation of the construction in Judea and Samaria or setting parameters - in other words, determining the results of the negotiations for us, which won't work of course. From my conversations with the Americans, there are no such plans at the moment, but there is a discourse."  (Ynet News)

  • Weekend Features

  • Israel on China's New Silk Road - Christina Lin
    In 1581, Heinrich Bunting, a German cartographer, portrayed the world as comprised of the three continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa, which converged in Jerusalem. This world is converging with China's silk road integration project.
        With the rise of Salafi-jihadism in the Middle East increasingly threatening China's overseas citizens and assets, especially their maritime trade via the Suez Canal, Israel is emerging as a strategic node on China's southern corridor on the New Silk Road. Concerned over the presence of ISIS, al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremist groups in Sinai threatening China's maritime trade, China is building a "steel canal" through Israel to connect the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea that bypasses the Suez.
        The emergence of Israel as a Mediterranean energy player, its continued stability, robust military in a neighborhood of unstable and weakening Arab states, and outreach to the Eastern Hemisphere by joining the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization, is slowly creating a new regional and international system of shared interests. Dr. Christina Lin is a Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS-Johns Hopkins University. (Asia Times-Hong Kong)
  • Israel's Silicon Wadi Is Bringing in Billions from Investors - Jonathan Kandell
    At Israel's annual Autonomous, Unmanned Systems & Robotics (AUS&R) convention, drone models included a tiny, kamikaze-like craft bearing an explosive charge that hovers and surveys its surroundings until its controller directs it to crash into and blow up a target; a drone as large as a tank that can ferry soldiers and cargo in and out of urban combat zones; and a UAV with the wingspan of a business jet that can stay aloft for more than a day on espionage missions.
        Israel has transformed itself into a high-tech industrial nation with a per capita income of $35,300, just behind France. Israel has spawned more high-tech start-ups than all of Europe. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Oracle, and hundreds of European and Asian businesses are investing heavily in their Israeli R&D operations, which account for about half of the nation's 290,000 high-tech jobs. Some 350 global companies have R&D operations in Israel. In 2015 a record $9 billion was spent, mainly by foreign companies, to acquire 104 Israeli outfits. (Institutional Investor)
  • Israel's Pluristem to Get $30M Chinese Investment - Shoshanna Solomon
    Israel's Pluristem Therapeutics Inc., a developer of placenta-based cell therapy products, said Tuesday that it will receive an investment of $30 million from China-based Innovative Medical Management Co. to support the Israeli company's late-stage stem cell trials. Pluristem's patented Placental eXpanded (PLX) cell products release a range of therapeutic proteins in response to inflammation, ischemia, hematological and radiation damage.
        Pluristem processes its cells from placentas from women undergoing caesarean section births. The placenta contains cells which stimulate the body's own mechanisms to heal damaged tissues. Placental cells do not elicit an immunological response from the body and can be used without requiring tissue-matching. (Times of Israel)

Hostility towards Israel: A Fundamental Element of Iranian Foreign Policy - Dr. Raz Zimmt (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)

  • Hostility to Israel continues to be a major component of the Iranian regime's worldview and enjoys an almost total political consensus.
  • During the past year, the Iranian leadership, led by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, continually voiced strong anti-Israel statements, openly advocating the destruction of the State of Israel. Explicit threats against Israel are also made by senior members of the Iranian military establishment.
  • Iran continues to encourage, promote and support anti-Israel terrorist activity, which is carried out by the Palestinian terrorist organizations and Hizbullah.
  • Despite the crisis in Iran-Hamas relations which began with the beginning of the Syrian civil war, Iran is still committed to supporting the Palestinian military-terrorist campaign against Israel. Iran's financial aid to the Palestinians continues as well.
  • Iran gives Hizbullah an estimated $200 million a year, some of which is diverted to Hizbullah's military infrastructure in Lebanon, especially its rocket arsenal, earmarked for use at a future date in accordance with Iranian interests.
  • Not only did the nuclear agreement make no change in Iran's policies toward Israel, to a great degree it encouraged Tehran to be more overtly hostile, proof of its ongoing adherence to the Islamic Revolution's ideology.

    The writer is a research fellow at the Alliance Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University.
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