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November 4, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Pentagon: IS Leader Baghdadi Losing Control of His Troops (AFP)
    Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is losing control of his troops in the battle for Mosul in Iraq, said U.S. military spokesman Col. John Dorrian, referring to an audio message by Baghdadi urging his followers not retreat.
    "One of the interesting things that we have seen in the English translation of this [message] is that Baghdadi is saying, 'Don't fight amongst yourselves.' This is the type of thing that a leader who is losing command and control and ability to keep everybody on the same page says."

French Presidential Plane Equipped with Israeli Defense System - Tamar Shavak (Ynet News)
    The official plane of the President of France, Francois Hollande, has been upgraded and equipped with an Israeli-made anti-missile defense system.
    Israeli airline El Al has already equipped its planes with the system.
    The system, made by Elbit, involves smart thermal cameras that identify an incoming missile and then target the missile with a laser beam that deflects it from the plane.

Brits Turn Their Backs on Israel Boycotts - Justin Cohen (Jewish News-UK)
    A Populus opinion poll commissioned by BICOM shows that 51% of respondents "do not boycott Israeli goods," an 8% rise compared to a poll in October 2015.
    Similarly, 56% thought Israel boycotts "hurt both Palestinians and Israelis" - 9% more than in 2015.
    "The British sense of fair play is a clear theme in the poll as time and again respondents reject singling out Israel, given everything else going on in the world," said BICOM chief executive James Sorene.
    43% said they agreed with Britain's then-foreign secretary Lord Balfour, who wrote in support of a Jewish homeland in historic Palestine in 1917, up from 40% last year.
    57% felt that Israel was Britain's ally, the highest percentage for any Middle Eastern country and 5% more than in 2015.
    See also Poll Finds Stronger Opposition to Boycotts of Israel (BICOM)

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The War of a Million Cuts: The Struggle Against the Delegitimization of Israel and the Jews, and the Growth of New Anti-Semitism - Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    The War of a Million Cuts - now available online to download - explains how the delegitimization of Israel and anti-Semitism can be fought.
    The 500-page study describes the hateful messages of those who defame Israel and the Jews, details why anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism have the same core motifs, and discusses the main groups of inciters, including Muslim states, Muslims in the Western world, politicians, media, NGOs, academics, and many others.

Israeli Startup Using Jellyfish to Make Eco-Friendly Products - Didem Tali (Guardian-UK)
    An Israeli startup is making biodegradable diapers and female hygiene products out of jellyfish.
    Shachar Richter, a material scientist at Tel Aviv University who established Cine'al, found that the flesh of jellyfish could absorb liquid in large quantities.
    They added antibacterial nanoparticles to remove the sting.

Israel Aerospace Wins $15M Asian Cyber Deal (Globes)
    Israel Aerospace Industries has signed a contract worth $15 million to provide a cyber-intelligence system to a customer in Asia.
    The contract is for an advanced, national-level, strategic cyber solution which includes establishing an intelligence center and infrastructure and providing unique sensors.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Commander Says U.S. No Longer World's Number One Power
    Brig.-Gen. Hossein Salami, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) second-in-command, said Thursday during celebrations marking the start of the 1979 U.S. embassy siege in Tehran: "America is no longer number one and the first power of the world. America's political will can no longer manage political and military developments in...the world of Islam. America's political power has strongly declined." Every year on Nov. 3-4, Iran celebrates the 444-day siege of the U.S. Embassy when more than 50 diplomats and staff were taken hostage. Protesters chanted "Death to America."
        "Our fight with the Americans will continue," Salami said. "Pursuing our ideals in the world of Islam and in Iran, we will recognize no stopping point or red line."  (AFP-Al-Monitor)
  • Israel: Iran Commands 25,000 Shi'ite Fighters in Syria - Luke Baker
    Iran commands a "foreign legion" of 25,000 Shi'ite Muslim militants in Syria, mostly from Afghanistan and Pakistan, Avi Dichter, former head of the Israel Security Agency, told members of the Swiss parliament in Jerusalem on Wednesday. "They are fighting in Syria only against the rebels and not against ISIS." In Syria, Iran also has the support of the Lebanese militia Hizbullah, which has suffered 1,600 killed, he said.
        Dichter said Israel was convinced Iran had not abandoned its nuclear aspirations but only put them on hold, playing a long game against the West. "Two thousands years ago, Iran was an empire and now it wants to recreate that."  (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Report: Israel's UN Ambassador Made Secret Visit to Dubai - Daniel J. Roth
    Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon earlier this week made a secret visit to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to attend a UN development conference in his capacity as chairman of the UN's Legal Committee, an appointment he received in June, Channel 2 revealed Thursday. The move is the latest sign in Israel's effort to inch closer to its Arab neighbors. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Soldiers Foil Palestinian Stabbing Attack in West Bank Thursday - Elisha Ben Kimon and Yoav Zitun
    A Palestinian terrorist who attempted to carry out a stabbing attack at a bus stop at the entrance to Ofra in the West Bank on Thursday was shot and killed by IDF soldiers. The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the assailant as Ma'an Nasser Adin, 23. (Ynet News-Ha'aretz)
        See also Israeli Soldier Wounded in West Bank Shooting Thursday
    An IDF soldier was wounded Thursday in a shooting attack at a checkpoint near the West Bank city of Tulkarem. The shooter escaped. Earlier Thursday, there was a drive-by shooting at the guard post outside of Ofra. Nobody was injured. (Times of Israel)
  • Jerusalem Mayor Says Regulations on Noise Level of Muslim Calls to Prayer Should Be Enforced
    After residents of Jerusalem protested outside the mayor's house over excessive noise from mosques, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said Wednesday that he had instructed his office director to implement a plan in cooperation with the Israel Police to enforce noise regulations on Islamic calls to prayer from mosques in the city. "There are a lot of mosques that position noise amplifiers and loudspeaker systems without the necessary inspections or consideration," Barkat said. "The volume of these systems and the hours they are operated deviate from the law. They actively cause noise nuisances that disturb many nearby residents and harm their quality of life." The call to prayer from muezzins occurs five times daily, including early in the morning before dawn. (i24news)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Lessons of the UNESCO Vote - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror
    The recent UNESCO resolution denying the Jewish link to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall in Jerusalem clarifies certain realities - that the international community readily capitulates to Palestinian whims because of its own cowardice. The Arab-Muslim bloc was prominent in voting in favor of the resolution, unfortunately proving, yet again, the "no partner" assertion by Israelis who are wary of negotiations with the Palestinians. After all, if this is what the Palestinians and Arabs believe, what point is there in talking?
        Of the nations that voted in favor of the resolution, China's and Russia's voting patterns stand out. China still automatically sides with the Arabs in the international arena. While conversing recently with Chinese experts on the Middle East, I asked them to explain the gap between Beijing's desire for improved relations with Israel and the realpolitik it continues to pursue. My interlocutors explained that China cannot ignore the power the Muslim bloc wields at the UN. For Russia, too, the Muslim bloc is larger than the bloc of countries that back Israel, so that is the bloc that receives consistent support.
        Those who cultivate the pipe dream of substituting Israel's long-term bond with the U.S. for an alliance with China and Russia should take a long, hard look at UNESCO's resolutions. The policies of Moscow and Beijing lack the ethical basis that is so prevalent in U.S. policy. The writer is a former Israeli national security advisor and former Director of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence. (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • It Has Never Been About the "Occupation" - Oded Forer
    With the opening at the House of Lords of the Balfour Apology Campaign, the Palestinian Authority is sending a message that ending Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) is not their primary objective, rather their target is Israel itself.
        This objective is consistent with almost a century of Palestinian rejectionism. The Palestinians rejected the Peel Commission recommendations of 1937, the Partition Plan of 1947, the Clinton Parameters of 2000, and the offers of former prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert in 2001 and 2008. If the Palestinian leaders had accepted any of these offers, they would have had a state. The writer is a Knesset member for Yisrael Beytenu. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Balfour at 100 - Jonathan S. Tobin (Commentary)

    Arab World

  • Jordan, America's Best Arab Ally, Faces a Crumbling Region - Sohrab Ahmari
    Jordanians watch the Mosul operation in neighboring Iraq with enthusiasm and unease. Information Minister Mohammad al-Momani said this week, "To us the Mosul operation is a cornerstone in the whole fight against terrorism." Mosul also raises discomfiting questions about what form jihadism will take after Islamic State is defeated, and how that might threaten Jordan, America's most reliable Arab ally.
        Alarms rang last week after the jihadist army overran half of Rutba, 70 miles from the Jordanian border in western Iraq. "These groups are rooted now in Syria and Iraq, and Jordan will be a target once the space in Syria and Iraq closes," says counterterror analyst Amer al-Sabaileh.
        Thanks in part to U.S. assistance, the Jordanian security apparatus is battle-ready for any territorial attempts. "We've been at war with Daesh [ISIS] in our northern and eastern borders for four years," says Momani. Moreover, Jordan has important defensive resources, chief among them the figure of King Abdullah II, who, as a direct descendant of the Prophet, possesses rare legitimacy in the Sunni world. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Egypt and Israel's Growing Economic Cooperation - Haisam Hassanein
    Economic ties with Israel have begun to deepen under Egyptian President al-Sisi. In April, for the first time in ten years, an Israeli delegation traveled to Egypt to discuss ways of enhancing economic cooperation. More than 700 companies employing 280,000 workers operate in Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZs), whose products are exported to U.S. markets. While a small percentage of each product must be manufactured by Israeli firms, Egypt has sought to reduce the percentage. In December 2015, Israel reduced its share by 2%. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Saudi Society Dips a Toe into the 21st Century - Karen Elliott House
    Change is rocking Saudi society's very foundations as traditions once thought inviolable are toppling. The monarchy, effectively led by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 31, seems determined to remold Saudi society. Gone is the once pre-eminent authority of the religious establishment, for centuries ruling partners of the monarchy. Clerics who dare to criticize change are jailed and the rest are silent. Religious police who once patrolled Saudi streets arresting women for failure to cover their hair or for mixing with men have been banned from such arrests. (Wall Street Journal)

    Weekend Feature

  • Jewish and Mormon Leaders Commemorate Early Zionism, Shared Values - Judy Lash Balint
    Exactly 175 years ago, Orson Hyde, an Elder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, climbed the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem and proclaimed the Holy Land as the gathering place for the Jewish people. Last week, that act was commemorated at Brigham Young University's Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies by a joint delegation of prominent American Jewish and Mormon leaders.
        Members of both groups praised Elder Hyde's 1841 initiative as a forerunner of Zionist activity that brought about the founding of the State of Israel. Speaking at the event, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said, "We pray for the preservation of the Jewish people and for their peaceful association with all who dwell in what is truly the Holy Land."
        Former U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman noted that "Mormon support for Israel is based on religious doctrine that declares the Jewish people must return to the land, and is not a matter of the politics of the moment."  (

After Two Decades of PA Rule, Why Does UNRWA Still Operate in West Bank? - Evelyn Gordon (Commentary)

  • Nothing casts more doubt on the wisdom of the West's drive for Palestinian statehood than the Palestinian Authority's treatment of the West Bank refugee camps over its 22 years of existence.
  • The case for Palestinian statehood makes obvious sense in the abstract: Palestinians need a state where they can promote their people's welfare, just as Jews need a state where they can promote their people's welfare. It's not that Israel did nothing for the Palestinians during its decades of governing the territories. Palestinian life expectancy jumped by 50% under Israeli rule, infant mortality plummeted by more than two-thirds, literacy rates and living standards skyrocketed. Indeed, every hospital and university in the West Bank was built by Israel, as were most of those in Gaza.
  • Israel left the refugee camps intact mainly because its one attempt to provide refugees with better housing back in the 1970s elicited such brutal opposition from the PLO - which threatened to kill refugees who accepted the offer - that it backed down. But the refugee camps are precisely the kind of open sore that Palestinian statehood is theoretically supposed to solve.
  • More than two decades after the PA's establishment, schooling, healthcare and welfare allowances in the refugee camps are still funded wholly by UNRWA. Or, to be more precise, by the Western countries that fund most of UNRWA's budget. Nor has the PA moved a single refugee into better housing. And this isn't because Israel somehow prevented it from doing so. It's because the PA has no interest in doing so.
  • The PA doesn't see the refugees as citizens to be served, but as a weapon aimed at Israel. They are kept in miserable conditions for the express purpose of creating sympathy for the Palestinian demand that they all be relocated to Israel. The West should start by demanding that the PA finally dismantle those refugee camps and take the responsibility for their residents off UNRWA's hands.
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