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December 9, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Congress Approves Missile Defense, Anti-Tunnel Funding for Israel - Michael Wilner (Jerusalem Post)
    The U.S. Congress on Thursday passed the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes over $600 million in missile defense funding for Israel.
    The funding includes $268.7m. for R&D, $62m. for Iron Dome, $150m. for the midrange David's Sling and $120m. for the long-range Arrow missile defense systems, as well as funding for anti-tunnel technology.

Inside the Battle for Mosul - Bernard-Henri Levy (Wall Street Journal)
    I have just returned from Mosul, where the coalition battle to retake this northern Iraqi city from ISIS has been underway since October.
    Most of the destruction has been caused by ISIS, not the coalition, whose precision strikes and strict rules of engagement are the exact opposite of the scorched-earth strategy being applied in Syria.

Does Mandatory Military Service Make Israeli Men Live Longer? (Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel)
    A new study finds a relationship between the longevity of men in Israel and army service. In 2013, the average life expectancy for men in Israel was 81 years, in contrast to the OECD average of 77.7 and a world average of 68.8 years.
    An analysis based on a sample of more than 130 countries found that military service added more than three years to male life expectancy.
    One of the characteristics of military service is physical training, and in Israel, there is a relatively low mortality rate from diseases that are influenced by physical exercise, like heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Argentine Coast Guard to Procure Patrol Boats from Israel - Gabriel Porfilio ( IHS Jane's Defence Weekly)
    The Argentine Ministry of Security is in negotiations to acquire up to four Shaldag-class Fast Patrol Boats for its Coast Guard from Israeli manufacturer ISL.
    The deal, revealed on Dec. 6, was discussed last month when Argentine Minister of Security Patricia Bullrich visited Israel.
    The new vessels are to be deployed on rivers for counter-drug missions and for border patrol.

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Some Israeli Arabs Sign Up for Israel's Army - Rinat Harash (Reuters)
    Several hundred Arabs have volunteered for the Israeli army.
    "Why did I decide to enlist?" asks Sgt. Yusef Salutta, 20. "Because I'm from this country and I love the country and I want to contribute. Everyone should enlist, anybody who lives here should enlist....I need to be part of the country, to be like everybody else."
    The head of the IDF Minorities Unit, Col. Wajdi Sarhan, said, "To be a soldier in the army, it's actually an identity certificate of Israeli-ness, which can help integration."

Israeli Biotech Firm Successfully Transplants Lab-Grown Bones (Reuters)
    Israeli biotech company Bonus Biogroup's lab-grown, semi-liquid bone graft was successfully injected into the jaws of 11 people to repair bone loss in an early stage clinical trial, it said on Monday.
    The material, grown in a lab from each patient's own fat cells, was injected into the voids of the problematic bones. Over a few months it hardened and merged with the existing bone to complete the jaw.
    "For the first time worldwide, reconstruction of deficient or damaged bone tissue is achievable by growing viable human bone graft in a laboratory, and transplanting it back to the patient in a minimally invasive surgery via injection," said chief executive Shai Meretzki.

How Israel Is Courting Tourists from India and China - Debra Kamin (JTA)
    Bollywood star Sonam Kapoor appeared on the cover of the June-July issue of Harper's Bazaar Bride, India, in front of the Old City of Jerusalem, one of a number of creative efforts to promote Israel as a destination for tourists from India and China.
    Kapoor came to Israel in May as a guest of the Israel Tourism Ministry. According to reports in the Indian media, she and her mother were so smitten by the country that they chose to stay longer than they intended.
    In August, the Israel Tourism Ministry kicked off a $1.5 million campaign in India, unveiling a symphony of television ads, print media endorsements and shout-outs on social media, as well as a dedicated website for Indian travelers to Israel.
    Two years earlier, the ministry courted Chinese visitors in a drive that began with celebrity endorsements and garnered nearly double the amount of Chinese visitors over the previous year.
    See also Tourism in Israel at All-Time High (Ynet News)
    In November 2016, 287,900 tourists visited Israel - an increase of 38% from the preceding November and an all-time high for that month.
    Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin said, "The intensive marketing efforts that we have invested in new countries like China and India, together with campaigns focused on the winter season, have resulted in record growth of the entrance of tourists to Israel in the month of November."

Amazing Israeli Inventions Discovered by Accident - Abigail Klein Leichman (Israel21c)
    Significant scientific advances and new products sometimes are born of unexpected lab results and serendipity.
    Plant biologist Shimon Gepstein's technology for producing drought-resistant rice, wheat, sugar beets, cotton, and millet was created when he and his lab team at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa forgot to water some tobacco plants they had genetically engineered for an experiment in prolonging growth and shelf life.
    To their surprise, the parched plants bounced back to life when re-watered after several weeks. That is how Gepstein discovered that the plant hormone cytokinin increases a plant's ability to withstand drought.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Races to Clinch Oil Deals Before Trump Takes Office - Thomas Erdbrink and Clifford Krauss
    A provisional agreement this week with Royal Dutch Shell to develop two of Iran's largest oil fields is the latest sign of interest in the country from international energy companies. Over the last four weeks, Tehran has negotiated similar agreements with the oil field services giant Schlumberger and companies from China, Norway, Thailand and Poland. "Our officials are in a rush to sign contracts with big oil companies in order to have leverage when Trump enters the White House," said Saeed Laylaz, an economist with close ties to the government of President Hassan Rouhani.
        Iran's oil minister, Bijan Namdar Zangeneh, told Fars news agency in November that only foreign companies had the ability and capital to modernize Iran's crumbling oil and gas sector. "We need technology, including the management technology that allows a project to come into operation in four years rather than in 12 years. And above all, we need the money."  (New York Times)
  • U.S. Wants to Send Guantanamo Detainee to Israel for Trial - But There's a Snag - Carol Rosenberg
    The Obama administration has asked Israel to take and prosecute a Kenyan captive held at Guantanamo since 2007, the Miami Herald has learned. U.S. intelligence authorities have linked Mohammed Abdul Malik Bajabu, 43, to a 2002 terror attack on an Israeli hotel in Mombasa, Kenya. A leaked May 2007 prison profile describes Abdul Malik as having "admitted that he participated in the planning and execution" of two terrorist attacks that targeted Israelis on Nov. 28, 2002, in Mombasa. A car-bombing of the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel killed 13 people, mostly Kenyans, around the same time an unsuccessful surface-to-air missile attack targeted an Israeli Arkia airliner carrying 271 passengers near Mombasa airport.
        However, the deal has hit a snag because the FBI has failed to furnish the Israelis with information from its interrogations of Abdul Malik. "The government of Israel has repeatedly asked for information to support their possible prosecution. But, for reasons that are unclear, the FBI has declined to provide the information that has been requested by senior Israeli prosecutors," said a U.S. government official. (Miami Herald)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Arrests Hamas Terror Cell in West Bank - Yoav Zitun
    A 7-man Hamas terror cell from Tzurif and Hebron in the West Bank that was planning to carry out a shooting and kidnapping attack against IDF soldiers has been arrested, it was announced Thursday. Weapons found in the investigation included two Kalashnikov rifles, three handguns, a hunting rifle, and an M16 rifle. (Ynet News)
        See also Israel Arrests East Jerusalem Arab Terror Cell - Yoav Zitun
    Eight Arabs from Sur Bahar and Sheikh Jarrah in eastern Jerusalem have been arrested for being part of a terrorist cell that was planning shooting attacks in the capital and at an IDF base, it was announced Friday. Among those detained were Hamas operatives. (Ynet News)
  • Israel, Greece, Cyprus Agree on European Gas Pipeline - Nati Yefet
    Government ministers from Israel, Greece, and Cyprus met in Jerusalem on Thursday and agreed to push for a pipeline to Europe, which wants to reduce dependence on Russian gas. Under discussion is a pipeline to northwestern Greece and from there to Italy and Bulgaria. (Globes)
        See also Greek Energy Company to Invest $1 Billion in Israeli Gas Fields - Nati Yefet
    Greek oil and gas exploration company Energean, which has acquired the Karish and Tanin offshore gas fields, says that within six months it will present Israel with its plan to develop the fields. Energian says gas production could begin by 2020 and that the cost of developing the fields will be $1 billion. (Globes)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • U.S.-Israel Relations on the Mend - Cal Thomas
    The consensus in Israel is that the relationship between the Jewish state and the United States is going to improve in a Trump administration, says former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Zalman Shoval. He told me that he believes Donald Trump and his Cabinet picks so far have a more "realistic" view of the Middle East.
        It's not only the nuclear deal that bothers Shoval, though he believes Iran will eventually have a bomb, unless it is stopped. It is also bothersome that Iran continues with its terrorist activities, subsidizing anti-American and anti-Israel groups around the world.
        In his book, The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies, Michael Flynn, Trump's pick to head the National Security Council, writes: "I find it simply incredible that an American president should believe a strategic alliance with Iran to be more attractive than our traditional embrace of Israel. Our new leaders need to reverse that, pronto. We will need Israel if we're going to defeat the radical Islamists, and above all, the Iranians."  (Washington Times)
  • Jerusalem Mayor: Freezing Construction in Israel's Capital Makes No Sense - Daniel K. Eisenbud
    Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat told the Jerusalem Post that ongoing international pressure to freeze construction in Israel's capital is unconstitutional, impractical and nonsensical. He said, "When the American administration or the Europeans come and talk about freezing building in Jerusalem, I pose questions for them: 'Freeze all the infrastructure for the Arab residents? Freeze building the schools? Do not give the Arabs [building] permits?...Or, God forbid, do you mean that I have to ask somebody whether he is Jewish or not to determine whether I freeze his construction?'"  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Former President Jimmy Carter Misrepresents Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - Tamar Sternthal
    In an op-ed in the New York Times, Jimmy Carter errs on military rule in the West Bank, stating: "Over 4.5 million Palestinians live in these occupied territories, but are not citizens of Israel. Most live under Israeli military rule, and do not vote in Israel's national elections."
        According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, there are 2.9 million Palestinians living in the West Bank. In addition, there are 300,000 Arabs living in Jerusalem. Of the West Bank Arabs, the vast majority live in Area A, which is under the authority of Palestinian security forces. Given that the vast majority of Palestinians live under Palestinian rule, it is no wonder that they don't vote in Israeli elections.
        Carter quotes selectively from UN Resolution 242, ignoring Arab responsibilities under the resolution such as "termination of all claims or states of belligerency" against Israel by its Arab neighbors; acknowledgment of the "right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries"; and a "just settlement of the refugee problem" (encompassing Jewish refugees from Arab lands as well as the smaller number of Palestinian refugees from what became Israel). (CAMERA)
  • Don't Exaggerate Shiite Militia Threat - Michael Rubin
    Shi'ite militias are heavily engaged in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq alongside more mainstream units in the Iraqi army as well as Kurdish peshmerga. There has been a lot of handwringing in the U.S. about whether the Shi'ite Popular Mobilization Forces, consisting of those who answered Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani's call to defend against the Islamic State, are bent on anti-Sunni sectarian vengeance. Yet many Shi'ites are simply fighting to reclaim their homes.
        More broadly, the Popular Mobilization Forces are not uniform or, indeed, even entirely Shi'ite. Many are simply staffed by volunteers who do not make the military their career but nevertheless want to do their part in a time of crisis. Casting the entire PMF as an Iranian puppet risks creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Iranians have been successful in their recruitment among Shi'ite militiamen not just because sectarian solidarity trumps everything, but rather because they have made an effort and the U.S. has not. The writer, a former Pentagon official who dealt with Middle East issues, is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. (Commentary)
  • BDS Movement Only Divides Us - Editorial
    Ontario's legislature struck a real and meaningful blow against anti-Semitism last week by endorsing a motion to condemn the anti-Israel BDS movement. The motion recognizes BDS as a movement that encourages "hatred, hostility, prejudice, racism and intolerance" and promotes "the differential treatment of Israel."
        Earlier this year the Parliament of Canada passed a motion also condemning the BDS movement. With the support of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the motion passed by 221 to 51. The federal motion correctly noted that what makes BDS so problematic isn't its criticism of Israel. Rather, as it notes, this group specifically "promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel."  (Toronto Sun-Canada)
        See also Ontario Lawmaker Sought to Counter Anti-Israel "Psychological Terrorism" on Campus - Antonella Artuso
    The Ontario legislature last week endorsed a motion put forward by MPP Gila Martow rejecting the BDS movement and celebrating ties with Israel in a 49-5 vote. Martow said in an interview, "It was important to me that it pass because I feel there are too many students on campuses who are being intimidated - it's almost like psychological terrorism on the campuses - by this BDS movement that is vilifying Israel and trying to delegitimize a legitimate, internationally recognized country."
        "The message is the legislature of Ontario recognizes Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East where human rights are upheld to Ontario standards. And while we openly invite dialogue, we invite dialogue in a peaceful and positive manner, not a negative boycott."  (Toronto Sun-Canada)
  • Time for India to Give Israel the Recognition It Deserves - Harsh V. Pant
    It is anticipated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Israel in January 2017 to mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, becoming the first prime minister of India to visit the country.
        The Indian government has toned down its reactions to Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and has begun denouncing Palestinian terrorist acts in Israel. India is no longer initiating anti-Israel resolutions at the UN and has made serious attempts to moderate the Non-Aligned Movement's anti-Israel resolutions.
        This reevaluation has been based on a realization that India's largely pro-Arab stance has not been adequately rewarded by the Arab world. There have been no serious attempts by the Arab world to put pressure on Pakistan to reign in crossborder terrorism in Kashmir and the Arab nations have firmly stood by Pakistan.
        If Arab nations, such as Jordan, have been able to keep their traditional ties with Palestine intact while building a new relationship with Israel, there is no reason for India not to take a similar route. An open relationship with Israel serves India well and it's time Tel Aviv gets the recognition it deserves from New Delhi. (Mail Today-Daily O-India)

  • Weekend Features

  • Shaare Zedek: Where Israeli and Arab Doctors Are Working Together to Save Lives - Alan Schaller
    Under the code of ethics practiced by Israeli hospitals, the moment a human being is brought in for care, their background does not impact the quality or immediacy of treatment they receive. Those whose lives are most at risk are given priority. There have been instances where perpetrators of attacks who are critically wounded have to be treated before victims.
        Prof. Elie Picard is the director of the Paediatric Pulmonary Institute at Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem. His 18-year-old son together with four classmates were killed by a Palestinian from Gaza who penetrated into their high school in 2002. He says, "We have a lot of Arab patients, and they are not guilty of crimes, and many are very nice. You can walk around our hospital and see Jews and Arabs side by side....I am all the time very surprised to hear our population being spoken of as segregated. It is not my experience....I do not see Arabs as my enemy, I feel we both have the right to live here."
        There are almost 1.7 million Arabs living in Israel, which represents 20% of the population, and this percentage is reflected in the people employed at the hospital, and the patients admitted. The director, Professor Jonathan Halevy, explained to me "positions are given to whoever is best qualified for the job, regardless of ethnicity, sex or religion."
        There are few issues that have sparked more debate and upset in the UK than the relationship between Israel and Palestine. The majority of the news we consume regarding that part of the world focuses on conflict and division. Only speaking about a part of the world in the terms of how it goes to war can build a frightening perception of the place. I wonder how the rest of the world would perceive the UK if the only press it received related to our military involvement in places like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. (Independent-UK)
  • Planning the Holocaust in the Middle East: Nazi Designs to Bomb Jewish Cities in Palestine - Samuel Miner
    In 1941, Nazi mobile killing units (Einsatzgruppen) trailed the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front, shooting thousands of Jewish men, women and children per week. Had Rommel succeeded in capturing Egypt, an Einsatzgruppe created in order to murder the Jews of Palestine would have been activated. In July 1942, the unit, consisting of 24 men, flew to Greece. Had Rommel won the first Battle of El Alamein, the unit would have been sent to Egypt and neighboring Palestine to conduct its genocidal project.
        Archival documents show that months after the defeat of Axis forces in North Africa, the Luftwaffe actually considered a proposal to bomb Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration in November 1943. This plan, proposed by Arab nationalist leader and Nazi collaborator Amin Al-Husseini and supported by Heinrich Himmler's Reich Main Security Office, was turned down by Hermann Goring. The fact that the Nazis considered bombing Jewish cities in Palestine long after it would have any military significance is a testament to their unmitigated hatred of Jews and Zionists. The writer is a doctoral student in the Department of History, University of Maryland, College Park. (Jewish Political Studies Review)
        See also Italy Bombed Tel Aviv During WWII, Killing 137 - David B. Green
    On September 9, 1940, the Italian air force bombed Tel Aviv, killing 137 people. 32 bombs were dropped from 10 Italian bombers, all of which fell on residential areas. According to Italian historian Alberto Rosselli, the original target of the bombers was in fact Haifa, with its port and refineries, but the Italian planes were intercepted by British aircraft. The Italians were then ordered to drop their loads on the Tel Aviv port before returning to base, but missed their target. (Ha'aretz)
  • An Israeli-Born Malawi MP - Barney Breen-Portnoy
    Businessman David Bisnowaty, 50, the Israeli-born son of an eastern European Holocaust survivor, was elected to the Malawi National Assembly in May 2014. "My father worked as a mechanical engineer for a big multinational company, so we used to travel a lot in Africa," Bisnowaty said. "So I basically grew up as a child in Africa." He later returned to Israel for schooling and served in the Israeli military, then moved back to Africa. After getting a contract with a hospital in Malawi, he and his wife "moved there for a year" in 1994 and stayed.
        In 2013 he decided to join politics and "prove that I can be a peaceful freedom fighter and bring change." "My kids said, 'Dad, you're crazy. You're a Jewish white person in an African country, you will never be elected.'" In the May 2014 elections, Bisnowaty ran as an independent against 11 opponents. He campaigned in English, and a translator helped him communicate with Chichewa speakers in rural villages. "I got a landslide victory," Bisnowaty said. "The people loved me."
        "Malawians love Jews and Israel. Malawi has always had very strong ties with Israel....Israel was the first country to send doctors and agricultural people to Malawi unconditionally."  (Algemeiner)
  • New Documentary: A Basketball Game that Put Israel "On the Map" - Matthew Futterman
    Sports and sports movies are at their best when the players involved understand something far larger than just a game is on the line. Israeli filmmaker Dani Menkin proves this with his documentary "On the Map," the story of the 1976-77 Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team. The team won for Israel its first European basketball championship and forever changed Israelis' view of their country and its sporting prowess. After the 91-79 beatdown of the Russians on February 17, 1977, at a time when Israel and Russia didn't have diplomatic relations, former U.S. collegiate star Tal Brody, who chose Israeli basketball over the NBA in 1966, said, "We are on the map. And we are staying on the map - not only in sports but in everything."  (Wall Street Journal)
  • Was Abraham Lincoln a Zionist? - Dror Eydar interviews Prof. Jonathan Sarna
    Prof. Jonathan Sarna of Brandeis University, who recently published Lincoln and the Jews: A History, noted, "When Lincoln was born there were maybe 3,000 Jews in America, and at his death there were 150,000 Jews. There were many who wanted to keep Jews out, to stop Jews from expanding. Lincoln thought the opposite; he brought Jews from a status of outsiders to insiders. Lincoln in his language changes America. Everyone spoke of Christian America; Lincoln invents the amazing phrase 'one nation under God,' which includes Jews within the American nation."
        Lincoln "had this interesting conversation with a Christian Zionist named [Henry Wentworth] Monk, in which he said that he would love to help the Jewish people get a leg up and return to Zion. When he saw Jews, he thought about the Bible."  (Israel Hayom)
  • Photos: 99 Years Ago, the British Liberated Jerusalem - Lenny Ben-David
    On December 9, 1917, two British sergeants on patrol met a delegation of Jerusalem dignitaries carrying a white flag (a bedsheet) who came to surrender the city. General Allenby entering Jerusalem on December 11, accompanied by his staff (T.E. Lawrence ["Lawrence of Arabia"] among them). After 400 years of Ottoman rule, Jerusalem passed into British hands. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

The Aleppo Betrayal - Hassan Mneimneh (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

  • The battle for Aleppo signals a decisive shift in the Syrian crisis: the rebels no longer have a credible path to toppling Assad. Instead, the Syrian revolution, which held the promise of overthrowing one of the most enduring and brutal dictatorships in the region, is faced with the prospect of being reduced to a rebellion.
  • The Syrian revolution was betrayed by petty interest and myopic vision for sure, but first and foremost by Islamism in all of its expressions. The desire of the Syrian population to assert its dignity, freedom, and longing for political justice was hijacked by the stealth effort of local ideological Islamists, stemming from the Muslim Brothers.
  • But, by many more orders of magnitude, the betrayal came in the form of an international jihadism claiming to come to the rescue of victimized Muslims. Young men from Chinese Xin Jiang, Russian Dagestan, or the Parisian suburbs competed in their suicide attacks to eradicate rival radical factions on Syrian soil.
  • Iran cannot claim a clean victory in Syria. In addition to acquiescing to second status in the country, replaced by Russia's increased influence, Tehran had to use and deplete regional assets - such as the Lebanese Hizbullah, the crown jewel of its satellite agents.

    The writer is a contributing editor with the Washington Institute's Fikra Forum and a principal at Middle East Alternatives in Washington.
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