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January 6, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Israeli Spy Satellite Discovers Secret Russian Missile Cache in Syria (Jerusalem Post)
    In high-definition photos taken by the Israeli "Eros B" spy satellite, Russian mobile short-range Iskander ballistic missiles are clearly seen on trucks inside an army base in Latakia, Syria, Israel's Channel 2 reported Friday.
    The pictures prove that Russia has provided Syria with some of its most advanced missiles.
    Strong rainstorms forced the Russians to transfer the missiles to different locations using trucks, leaving them exposed.
    The Iskander, with a range of up to 500 km., has the capacity to carry nuclear warheads and is superior to the older Scud missile.
    Its accuracy is very high and it can strike a target within a 7-meter radius, compared with the Scud which can strike within a 450-meter radius.

14 U.S. Troops Wounded in Iraq and Syria since October - Andrew deGrandpre (Military Times)
    At least 14 American military personnel have been wounded in combat since the start of October while battling Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria, according to Defense Department data.
    The numbers suggest that more U.S. troops are being sent closer to the Islamic State's front lines to direct or help local forces.
    More than 5,500 U.S. troops are now deployed in both theaters.

Italian Jews, IsraAID Bring Help to Homeless Earthquake Victims in Italy (JTA)
    A series of powerful earthquakes in August and October near the Italian towns of Amatrice and Norcia killed nearly 300 people and left thousands homeless.
    In recent days a delegation from the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI) and IsraAID visited the earthquake zone and delivered thermal blankets, jackets, shoes, and portable heaters, the UCEI reported Wednesday.
    IsraAID has been carrying out relief work in the affected zone since September.

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The PA Strategy Is in Its Curriculum - Marcus Sheff (Times of Israel)
    "We are neighbors on this holy land and we want peace," PA President Abbas announced to the international community on Christmas Eve.
    So why are none of these aspirations for peace with Israel in the Palestinian school curriculum?
    The current curriculum is made up of nearly 200 books that together represent the expression of Palestinian national identity and reflect the values that the PA wishes to pass down to future generations. But the word "peace" does not appear at all.
    Instead, the textbooks delegitimize and demonize Israel, characterizing Israel as "an evil entity that should be annihilated."
    On textbook maps, the entire area from the Jordan Valley to the Mediterranean Sea is marked as Palestine.
    Textbooks promote a continual war drawing on a culture of martyrdom and specifically reject negotiations.
    The writer is CEO at IMPACT-SE, a research and policy organization that monitors education to determine compliance with international standards on peace and tolerance.

Netherlands to Test Israeli Active Protection System on Its Combat Vehicles - Jen Judson (Defense News)
    The Netherlands awarded Britain's BAE Systems a contract last month to test and verify the Israeli Iron Fist active protection system on its CV90 Infantry Fighting Vehicles.
    Iron Fist, produced by IMI Systems (formerly Israeli Military Industries), uses radar to detect, track, and intercept incoming rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank missiles.
    The U.S. Army is also assessing Iron Fist for possible incorporation on its combat vehicles.
    Israel has installed a different active protection system - Trophy, produced by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems - on 100 combat vehicles since 2009.

Phone Uses Israeli Tech to Scan Inside Food - Shoshanna Solomon (Times of Israel)
    Israel's Consumer Physics Inc. has developed, together with Chinese and U.S. partners, the world's first material-sensing smartphone.
    The Israeli startup previously developed the world's first product scanner to show components, calories and other data for food, pharmaceuticals and plants.
    Consumer Physics' breakthrough SCiO material-sensing technology has now been integrated into smartphones.
    Consumers can analyze the properties of food, liquids and medication, select the best fruits and vegetables, stick to their diets and nutritional needs, and verify product authenticity in real time.

Israel Harnessing Sunshine with World's Tallest Solar Tower - Isaac Scharf and Alon Bernstein (AP-ABC News)
    Israel's fledgling solar industry is making a leap forward with a large-scale project boasting a 250-meter solar tower, the world's tallest.
    The Ashalim project in the Negev desert is made up of three plots, each with a different solar technology.
    When completed by 2018, together the fields will generate enough energy for 130,000 households.
    The amount of electricity will be comparable to large-scale solar fields in California and Chile.
    Solar towers use a solar-thermal method: Thousands of mirrors focus the sun's rays onto the tower, heating a boiler that creates steam to spin a turbine and generate electricity.
    Encircling the Ashalim tower are 50,000 mirrors.

Israeli Breathalyzer Diagnoses 17 Different Diseases - Suzanne Hodsden (Med Device Online)
    A team of Israeli scientists has further developed its breathalyzer technology, and a recent clinical study demonstrated an 86% success rate identifying 17 different diseases.
    Data collected from over 1,400 subjects has enabled the establishment of "breathprints" for diseases like cancer and multiple sclerosis.
    The project is led by Hosam Haick from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

Israeli Alert System Saves Lives in Chile Earthquakes - Viva Sarah Press (Israel21c)
    When a 7.7 magnitude earthquake shook southern Chile on Sunday, eVigilo's mass alert system notified some 4,000 Chileans living near Chiloe Island, where the earthquake struck, to evacuate.
    eVigilo SMART Broadcast can delivers cell broadcast messages within seconds to people in affected areas in less than 20 seconds in case of earthquakes, tsunamis and other imminent threats.
    The Israeli firm has been working with Chile's emergency authority ONEMI since 2010, after 560 people died in an earthquake.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. House of Representatives Votes to Condemn UN Security Council Resolution on Israeli Settlements - Karoun Demirjian
    The House voted 342-to-80 on Thursday for a resolution calling for the repeal of a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements that the U.S. allowed to pass last month by abstaining from the vote. Most lawmakers objected to the Obama administration's decision on the UN resolution.
        The House resolution "sends a powerful message, and it turns a page," said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), demonstrating that the U.S. is ready "to repair the damage done by this misguided hit job at the UN." "Allowing such a one-sided resolution to pass at this moment sent the wrong signal to our ally Israel, to Israel's enemies and to the world," House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) added. (Washington Post)
        See also More than 100 Democrats Back Measure Disavowing Anti-Israel UN Resolution - Byron Tau (Wall Street Journal)
        See also House Stands with Ally Israel - Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA)
    Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) and I engaged in letters and conversations with senior Administration officials, seeking their assurance that the United States would veto one-sided, anti-Israel resolutions. And in November, the House unanimously passed a resolution which warned the Administration against taking such last-minute action.
        That resolution - H.Con.Res. 165 - stated that "the United States Government should continue to oppose and veto United Nations Security Council resolutions that seek to impose solutions to final status issues, or are one-sided and anti-Israel." Yet, the Administration rejected the call from Congress, and chose a course that will bring harm for years to come by failing to veto UN Security Council Resolution 2334.
        If the Palestinians want a lasting peace, they must accept that Israel, not the UN, is their negotiating partner. It also means ending their "pay-to-slay" scheme. Since 2003, it has been Palestinian law to reward Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails with a monthly paycheck. That amounts to $300 million per year, by one estimate. (House Foreign Affairs Committee)
  • France Says "Not Planning" Israeli-Palestinian UN Resolution
    France is not secretly planning a UN Security Council resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after a major conference in Paris on Jan. 15, Gerard Larcher, the president of the French Senate, said Thursday. (AFP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Despite BDS, West Bank Industrial Zones Are Booming - Ofer Petersberg
    At the Shahak industrial park being built in the northern West Bank, over 100 dunams have been sold to developers. The Barkan industrial park outside of Ariel - which already has 160 factories and companies - has registered a further 60 companies who want to relocate to the area. Due to the demand, another industrial park - Gates of Shomron - is set to open near Sha'arei Tikva and Oranit.
        The head of the Shomron Regional Council, Yossi Dagan, explained, "On the one hand, international companies don't really comply with EU decisions. On the other hand, Israeli companies aren't ready to give up on the advantages (of operating in these areas), and are marketing their products to places other than Europe, such as Africa, India, and China."  (Ynet News)
  • President Rivlin Pays Condolence Call to Istanbul Attack Victim's Family
    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday paid a condolence visit to the family of Lian Zaher Nasser, 19, from the Arab city of Tira, who was killed in a terror attack at an Istanbul club during New Year's festivities. "We are here to share in your grief and to tell the world that terrorism is terrorism, and we must fight it and not surrender to it," the president told Nasser's parents, Lucy and Zaher.
        Tira Mayor Mamoun Abd El Hai told Rivlin,"We've been warmly embraced by all citizens of this country, Jews and Arabs alike....This unity against terrorism, which does not distinguish between religions, blood or race, is important."  (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    U.S.-Israel Relations

  • U.S. Must Restore Relations with Israel - Editorial
    A UN resolution that condemned Israeli settlement policy isolated Israel on the global stage. It delegitimized the Jewish state and gave comfort to Israel's enemies. A so-called two state solution could have come into existence in 1948. Israel would have accepted coexistence; its foes did not.
        In a move of transcendent cynicism and hate, various Arab countries expelled their Jewish residents and simultaneously waged war against their refuge. Israel beat the odds. Israelis have suffered formal wars as well as terrorism. Terrorists have targeted Olympic teams and children at play.
        In 1967, Israel won a desperate war and reunited Jerusalem. It gained sovereignty it had not sought. Its record remains superior to the record of its antagonists. Regarding rightness, there is no dispute. The Times-Dispatch stands by Israel. Obama is wrong to have abstained at the UN. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
  • Why Does the World Single Out Israel? - Victor Davis Hanson
    Secretary of State John Kerry blasted Israel last week for 70 minutes about its supposedly self-destructive policies. Kerry has never sermonized for so long about his plan to solve the Syrian crisis that has led to some 500,000 deaths and the vast migrant crisis that has nearly wrecked the EU. No one in this administration has shown as much anger about the many thousands who have been killed and jailed in the Castro brothers' Cuba, much less about the current Stone Age conditions in Venezuela, or the nightmarish government of President Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines.
        President Obama did not champion the cause of the oppressed during the Green Revolution of 2009 in Iran, or become outraged after Russia occupied Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power was never so impassioned over Chinese-occupied Tibet or Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus. The problem is that Israelis are Jews. Thus, Israel earns negative scrutiny that is never extended to others. The writer is a historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. (Washington Times)
  • It's Not about the Settlements, It's about the Terrorism - Bridget Johnson
    Secretary of State John Kerry argued that if Israel does not stop settlement activity and move forward with a two-state solution, the resulting friction will "create very fertile ground for extremists." But the fertile soils of Gaza and Ramallah, sowed with potent doses of incitement, have already produced bumper crops of extremism.
        "We have consistently condemned violence and terrorism," Kerry said, but it's not what you say, it's what you do to fight terrorism and prevent it. The White House supports a government that pays a monthly stipend from a martyrs fund to the families of Palestinian terrorists. The writer is a senior fellow with the Haym Salomon Center. (The Hill)
  • The Sin of Jews Building Houses - David Suissa
    Listen to John Kerry's speech on the comatose Middle East "peace process," or follow the serial condemnations against Israel at the UN, and you'd think that the biggest sin in the world is that Jews build too much. Think about that. The biggest problem with the Jews is not that they go on terror rampages that murder thousands of innocents, or that they jail poets, hang gays or stone women. No, it's that they build too much.
        The reason this Jewish construction is considered such a sin is that it's happening inside disputed areas which Israel captured in a defensive war in 1967, when its Arab neighbors did everything they could to throw the Jews into the sea.
        There already is a Palestinian state - it's called Gaza, and it's run by religious anti-Semitic madmen sworn to destroy the Zionist state. If you go by Kerry's speech, this desire to destroy the Jewish state, not to mention the chronic Palestinian refusal to negotiate directly with Israel, are smaller obstacles to peace than having too many Jews building too many homes in too many wrong places. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
  • Is There a Contradiction between Judaism and Democracy? - Dr. Joel Fishman
    In his speech on Dec. 28, 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry argued that "Israel can either be Jewish or democratic. It cannot be both." As I wrote in "Is There a Contradiction between Judaism and Democracy?":
        The politically correct view which has become part of the present discourse makes the unfounded claim that Judaism and democracy are inherently antithetical, but this is not necessarily true. Several great political thinkers have argued that under decentralized conditions both religion and democracy can work together quite well.
        From the writings of Alexis de Tocqueville and George Orwell, who were outstanding political thinkers in their own right, and of David Ben-Gurion, the state-builder, the real issue is whether freedom of thought and civil society can withstand the unconstrained force of the centralized state. Thus, religion serves as a positive moral force which can inhibit the abuse of power, and for this reason there is no contradiction between Judaism and democracy. (Jewish Political Studies Review)

  • Moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

  • Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem Could Help the Peace Process - Miriam F. Elman
    Critics claim that moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would unleash a wave of extremism, making past clashes pale by comparison. But these warnings may be exaggerated. A careful look at conflict-resolution theory suggests that moving the embassy could be a constructive move, pushing Israelis and Palestinians back to negotiations. Moreover, though some Arab states may protest, official relations between Israel and its neighbors have never been better as they face down common threats, from Islamist extremism to an expanding Iranian influence.
        On the outskirts of Jerusalem, the Tomb of Samuel is a model of interfaith harmony. Jews and Muslims conduct prayers there simultaneously. It's the only place on the planet where a functioning synagogue operates underneath a working mosque. The tomb's relatively minor religious importance for Muslims has helped to preserve the peace. But strong coordination and dialogue between the local Muslim clerics who administer the mosque and Israeli civil authorities who control the Jewish prayer room there as a national park have also been essential to stability.
        The symbolic act of relocating the embassy and a reversal of the longtime U.S. diplomatic boycott of Jerusalem could bode well for Israeli-Palestinian peace prospects. Sending a strong message that the new administration stands with the Israeli government on a major symbolic issue with high potential costs could push the Palestinian leadership to a greater sense of urgency in negotiations. The U.S. Embassy move could even help advance efforts to duplicate the precious Jewish-Muslim coexistence model of Samuel's Tomb for Jerusalem's other contested sacred spaces.
        The writer is an associate professor of political science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and research director in the Program for the Advancement of Research in Conflict and Collaboration. (Washington Post)
  • Jerusalem's Status Won't Be Easy to Settle. Here's Why. - Brent E. Sasley
    For Jews, Jerusalem is the site of some of the greatest moments in their religious and national history. The Temple Mount is where both temples were built. These were the center of Jewish political and religious life until the Second Temple was destroyed around 70 CE. The Western Wall is what's left of that structure, which held up the platform on which the temple stood - and is thus the holiest available site of Jewish prayer.
        During prayer services outside Jerusalem, Jewish congregations face toward Jerusalem. Jews end the Seder meal that's at the center of the holiday of Passover by saying, "Next year in Jerusalem!" And a community-wide day of mourning called Tisha B'Av commemorates different moments of disaster in Jewish history, including the destruction of both temples. Jerusalem is where David established the capital of his Jewish kingdom. His son Solomon maintained the city and built the First Temple.
        In 1980, the Knesset, Israel's parliament, passed a Basic Law: Jerusalem, which formally declared that "Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel." The writer is an associate professor of political science at the University of Texas at Arlington. (Washington Post)
  • Jerusalem Is Israel's Capital - The U.S. Embassy Belongs There - Abraham Wagner
    Israel declared its independence as a sovereign nation in 1948 and shortly thereafter declared Jerusalem as its capital - which is the right of any sovereign state. If North Korea, Iran, Cuba and other nations get to decide what their own capital is, why not Israel?
        When Israel was admitted to the UN in May 1949, a number of UN members recognizing Israel refused to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, citing various UN resolutions calling for an international status for the city. Over half a century and several wars later, this pipedream has yet to materialize. No question exists as to whether Jerusalem is in fact Israel's capital and this issue is not even a subject of any negotiation.
        The proposed move of the U.S. Embassy is now getting pushback from opponents less worried about international law than some prospect that this would somehow make the Palestinians unhappy and lead to additional violence in Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu, who strongly embraces the move, has stated that Israel is capable of dealing with any possible disturbances.
        Other opponents are concerned that the move will anger Arab states allied with the U.S. Let them be angry - it will pass. In a region that is in great turmoil, they desperately need the U.S., and where the American Embassy in Israel is located just isn't up to them. The writer is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies on Terrorism. (Huffington Post)
  • Move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem - Don Futterman
    No one in Israel imagines Jerusalem will not continue to be the capital of our country or the seat of our government, or that Israel would ever turn over control of Jerusalem to an international agency. There is justice to the move, too. It is one of the quirks of the ongoing appeasement of Arab countries and the Islamic world that the U.S. and all other nations have kept their embassies in Tel Aviv.
        Long after the Arab oil boycott was relegated to the dustbin of history, this historical oddity remains because of the anticipated apocalyptic response; the peace process would be derailed, or the Islamic world would rise up in revolt. But today, there is no peace process and the Arab world is preoccupied with ISIS, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. (Ha'aretz)

  • Other Issues

  • Shun Palestinian Colonialism - Melanie Phillips
    The goal of the Palestinians is the colonial conquest of another people's country. That country is the State of Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people, whose unique connection goes back to antiquity. In the 7th century the Arab world conquered Judea, as the ancient kingdom of the Jewish people had been known. The Jews are the only people for whom this was ever their national kingdom. Now the Arabs want again to conquer and colonize the same land, which since 1948 has been restored to the Jewish people.
        Mahmoud Abbas has explicitly rejected Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. The Palestinian Authority indoctrinates its children to conquer Israeli cities. You've only got to look at the insignia and maps, not just of Hamas but also Abbas' "moderate" Fatah, to see that the land they demand for a state of Palestine includes the whole of Israel.
        The Palestinians claim there can't be a state of Palestine while Israelis are living in the disputed territories. Well, why not? Arabs make up some 20% of Israel's population. There is no reason apart from sheer racism and antisemitism - racist ethnic cleansing. Israel's "occupation" is nothing of the kind and the "settlements" are lawful. The writer is a columnist for The Times (UK). (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Makes No Distinction between Settlers and Israelis in Tel Aviv - Jonathan S. Tobin
    The Islamists of Hamas make no distinction between the settlers that Obama let the UN brand as outlaws and Israelis in Tel Aviv. They want them all dead. The moderates of Fatah sometimes pay lip service to a two-state solution. But when pressed to say the words that would mean they are giving up the war against Zionism for good - a recognition of the legitimacy of a Jewish state, no matter where its borders might be drawn - they also still refuse and continue to praise terrorists and foment hatred of Israelis and Jews that fuels violence.
        Whether or not they oppose settlements, the vast majority of Israelis understand that what happened at the UN was an effort to strip their country of any leverage it might have in the peace talks the Palestinians refuse to rejoin. A clear majority know that Palestinians have repeatedly rejected peace and still have a conception of national identity that makes peace impossible for the present. (Commentary)
  • Britain Was Wrong to Back the UN's Anti-Israel Resolution - Tom Tugendhat
    The Arab Spring showed that the Israel-Palestinian conflict doesn't matter. Those in Damascus and Cairo know Israel isn't the cause of the Middle East's problems. Dictatorship, corruption, and unresponsive government destroy lives and none are caused by Israel. In the face of unemployment and kleptocracy, Israel was irrelevant. Today in Syria, Israel-Palestine isn't even a sideshow.
        The UN resolution condemning settlement building has allowed those who want to divert attention in the region away from the real difficulties (in their own societies) to do just that. The resolution will hurt our allies and weaken those who have already taken a risk for peace. Why was it more pressing than other disputed territories such as Western Sahara, Kashmir or Tibet? It isn't. The writer, a former lieutenant colonel in the British Army who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, is a Conservative MP. (Spectator-UK)
  • Israel Vote Was an Affront to All New Zealanders - Juliet Moses
    New Zealand co-sponsored the "anti-settlement" UN resolution with Senegal, Malaysia and Venezuela, hardly bastions of human rights. The resolution declares all the land beyond the 1949 armistice lines "occupied Palestinian territory." That includes east Jerusalem, where Judaism's holiest site, the Temple Mount, as well as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, are situated.
        The Security Council has taken away any incentive for the Palestinians to negotiate without preconditions and to accept any less than what they have now been told is theirs. It has ignored that Jews have the best legal claim to the land as the indigenous people, under the League of Nations mandate and as the victor of a defensive war. And it requires Israel to return to suicidal borders, the very ones that led to it being attacked in 1967, with no guarantee of its security.
        Palestinians should have their self-determination, but not at the expense of the Jewish people's. As a Jewish New Zealander, I feel betrayed by our government. The writer, an Auckland-based lawyer, is a member of the New Zealand Jewish Council. (New Zealand Herald)
  • Israel Isn't at Fault for Failure of the Peace Process - Sean Durns
    It was the leadership of the Palestinian Authority that rejected U.S. and Israeli offers of statehood in exchange for peace at Camp David in 2000, at Taba in 2001, and after the Annapolis Conference in 2008, among other instances. Had they been accepted, settlements would be a moot point.
        The PA is violating the terms of the Oslo process which created it and under which it still receives international aid. That process called for recognizing Israel and resolving "outstanding issues" in bilateral negotiations with the Jewish state. It also stipulates that the Palestinian leadership cease its incitement to anti-Jewish violence. Yet no such thing has occurred. The writer is a research Analyst for CAMERA. (Baltimore Sun)

The U.S. Should Form a Closer Military Alliance with Israel - Adm. James Stavridis (TIME)

  • Our best military partner in the Middle East, by far, is Israel. The U.S. would be well served to more fully develop its partnership with the Israel Defense Forces in several crucial areas as we stand together facing the challenges of the Middle East.
  • During my time as commander of the U.S. European Command, I had responsibility for developing our shared defensive strategies and tactics, and saw firsthand the quality of Israeli forces. Their military culture and ethos are world-class, honed in the crucible of battle in which they have fought to preserve their nation from many attacks since its creation in 1948.
  • Perhaps the most important area of potential cooperation is in the world of cybersecurity. Israeli intelligence gathering is superb, and the integration of the Israeli military with the nation's robust private-sector security firms is nearly seamless.
  • A second zone of potentially enhanced cooperation is in technology and innovation. Doing more together in advanced avionics (as we did with the F-15), miniaturization (like Israel's small airborne-warning aircraft), and the production of low-cost battlefield unmanned vehicles (both air and surface) would yield strong results.
  • Third, we should up our game in terms of intelligence cooperation. The Israeli intelligence services are the best in the Middle East. We need a more open exchange of information between our two countries, especially human intelligence from Israel and overhead sensor data from the U.S.
  • Finally, having the U.S. Special Operations Command constantly operating with Israeli commandos would be of enormous benefit to both forces. Setting up a joint special-forces training and innovation center for special operations in Israel would be powerful.
  • The motto of the crack Israeli paratrooper brigade translates to "Follow me." The saying stems from the custom of Israeli commanders directly leading their troops into battle, even at the most senior levels. For the U.S. in the Middle East, we would be well served to follow the Israeli military's advice on a range of key issues.

    Admiral James Stavridis, a former Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, is Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
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