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January 27, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Palestinians Say Obama's Last-Minute $221 Million Payout Frozen by Trump - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
    The Trump administration has informed the Palestinian Authority that it is freezing the transfer of $221 million authorized by the Obama administration in its final hours on Jan. 20, a senior Palestinian source said.
    U.S. officials conveyed to PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Tuesday that the funds were not expected to be handed over in the immediate future.

IDF: Proposed U.S. Embassy Move Not Roiling Palestinian Street - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    The Palestinian Authority might see the transfer of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem as a "declaration of war," but average Palestinians don't seem as aggravated by the notion, an IDF Central Command intelligence officer said Thursday.
    "The daily conversation in the West Bank is mainly about the electricity shortage in Gaza, not the embassy."

Lebanon to Auction Energy Rights in Waters Contested by Israel - Dana Khraiche (Bloomberg)
    Lebanon wants to auction energy rights to areas in the Mediterranean Sea contested by Israel.
    Energy Minister Cesar Abou Khalil announced in Beirut that new bidders can apply from Feb. 2 to March 31 on five blocks for exploration and development.

Russia Seeks Another Mediterranean Naval Base in Libya - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Russia has been strengthening its ties with Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who heads the Libyan National Army (LNA) based in eastern Libya. Haftar opposes the Government of National Accord (GNA), which is supported by the UN and European countries and is based in Tripoli.
    Russia is prepared to give Haftar's army military and logistical aid as part of his struggle against Islamic terror organizations.
    Russia views Haftar as a means to deepen its influence in Libya, which it regards as a springboard for establishing a military naval presence in North Africa.

U.S. and Israel Run Successful Tests of David's Sling Missile Defense System - Jen Judson (Defense News)
    The U.S. Missile Defense Agency and Israel successfully demonstrated the David's Sling missile defense system in a series of tests in Israel, MDA said Wednesday.
    "The interceptors were successfully launched, performed all flight phases and engaged the targets as planned."
    See also Israel, U.S. Test Missile Interceptor - Noam Amir (Maariv-Jerusalem Post)
    The David's Sling system is designed to intercept short- to medium-range (100 to 200 km.) rockets and missiles, including guided projectiles, cruise missiles, aircraft and drones.

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The New Arab-Israeli Alliance - Michael J. Totten (World Affairs)
    Conventional wisdom in Washington held that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict trumped everything else in the Middle East.
    But this theory has been proven dubious with the civil war in Syria, the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, anarchy in Libya, a region-wide proxy war in Yemen, and an Iran unshackled by sanctions.
    The main drivers of chaos in the Middle East are conflicts between Sunni and Shia Muslims, between Arabs and Persians, and between secularists and Islamists. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been reduced almost to an asterisk.
    The effect of all this is that the Sunni Arab world, unofficially led by Saudi Arabia, is quietly forging a de facto alliance with Israel against Iran.
    The Saudis are just doing what is logical. Israel and the Sunni Arab states have the same enemies - the Iranian regime, Syria's Assad regime, Hamas, and Hizbullah - and, as the Arabs have said since ancient times, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." 

London Times Corrects Headline on "New Settlements" - Adam Levick (UK Media Watch)
    The London Times on Jan. 23 headlined an article, "Israel Marks Trump's Arrival with a Raft of New Settlements."
    Israel hasn't constructed a new settlement in two decades.
    The story involved new homes within the boundaries of existing towns in the major settlement blocs which will remain part of Israel in any future peace deal.
    After we contacted the Times, the editors amended the headline to read "new settlement homes."
    Whatever one's views on Israeli construction across the green line, the narrative often advanced in the UK media - of new settlements expanding at "a record pace," eating away at "huge swaths" of Palestinian territory - is, at best, extraordinarily misleading.

Under Cover of Night, Syrian Wounded Seek Help from Enemy Israel - Rami Amichay and Baz Ratner (Reuters)
    Nearly every night, the Syrian wounded come to known locations on the Israel-Syria border in the Golan Heights, driven by desperation to seek help from an enemy army.
    Israeli soldiers spot them waiting by the fence and whisk them away to a rear position where army medics soon arrive.
    More than 2,600 Syrians have received Israeli medical care.
    At Ziv Medical Center in Safed, one man told Reuters, "In the past we used to know Israel as our enemy. That's what the regime used to tell us. When we came to Israel we changed our minds, there is no enmity between us. In the end we discovered that our regime is the enemy of us all."
    See also After Long Rehabilitation, Syrian Girl Discharged from Israeli Hospital - Ahiya Raved (Ynet News)

Israeli Team Working to Send Unmanned Mission to the Moon - Samuel Thrope (Tablet)
    With the strong support of the Israeli government and the backing of generous private donors, SpaceIL, the Israeli entrant in the Google Lunar Xprize, is poised to make Israel the fourth lunar nation.
    Of the 29 teams who registered for the competition in 2010, five remain: the American Moon Express, Team Indus from India, Hakuto from Japan, the international Synergy Moon, and SpaceIL.
    SpaceIL will be launching its spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket produced by Elon Musk's aerospace company, SpaceX, by the end of 2017.

China and Israel Celebrate 25 Years of Diplomatic Relations (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    On January 24, 1992, in Beijing, foreign ministers David Levy and Qian Qichen signed the agreement establishing diplomatic relations between Israel and the People's Republic of China.
    The link between the Israeli and Chinese peoples is an ancient one, dating from the Jewish community in Kaifeng a thousand years ago.
    Jewish communities prospered also in Harbin, Tianjin and Shanghai, where thousands of Jews found refuge from the Nazis during World War II.
    Both peoples come from ancient cultures that succeeded in preserving their unique character and their moral heritage throughout thousands of years of history.
    China is Israel's third-largest trading partner; more than a third of hi-tech investments in Israel during the past year came from China.
    The innovation center of Tsinghua - China's leading university - was established at Tel Aviv University, while Israel's Technion will soon open a branch in Shantou in South China.
    The Israeli embassy was rated recently as the foreign embassy in Beijing with the highest number of followers (close to two million).

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Trump: Relationship with Israel Has Been Repaired, Too Early to Talk about Embassy Move - Sean Hannity
    In an interview, President Donald Trump said Thursday:
    Q: Israel, one of our closest partners, Prime Minister Netanyahu is coming. One of the big issues is the embassy Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. How important is it to repair this relationship and what about that move with the embassy?
    Trump: It's repaired. It got repaired as soon as I - we have a good relationship. Israel has been treated very badly.
    Q: Where do you stand on the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?
    Trump: I don't want to talk about it yet. It's too early. (Fox News)
  • New U.S. Secretary of Defense Mattis Reaffirms Commitment to Israel's Security - Capt. Jeff Davis
    Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis spoke by phone Thursday with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to underscore his unwavering commitment to Israel's security. The secretary called his counterpart during his first week to emphasize his intent to advance the U.S.-Israeli defense relationship and to protect Israel's qualitative military edge.
        The two leaders discussed regional security challenges in the Middle East and the need to create common approaches to challenges facing the region. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to the U.S.-Israeli defense relationship, and look forward to meeting in person in the future. (U.S. Defense Department)
  • Trump Will Call for a Pentagon Plan to Hit ISIS Harder, Officials Say - Michael R. Gordon
    The White House is drafting a presidential directive that calls on Defense Secretary James Mattis to devise plans to more aggressively strike the Islamic State, which could include American artillery on the ground in Syria and Army attack helicopters to support an assault on the group's capital, Raqqa, officials said. President Trump will demand that the new options be presented to him within 30 days, the officials said. The directive to identify new ways to hasten the demise of the Islamic State has been widely anticipated by military commanders, who have begun drafting classified options to increase the pressure.
        The White House is also expected to press for a review of how to achieve the president's goal of fielding a "state of the art" antimissile system. (New York Times)
  • Islamic State Extending Attacks Beyond Sinai to Egyptian Heartland - Ali Abdelaty and Ahmed Aboulenein
    Islamic State claimed responsibility for seven attacks in Cairo last year, after mounting four in 2015. When the group claimed the bombing of Cairo's Coptic Christian cathedral in December which killed 28, its statement was signed, "Islamic State Egypt."
        "Islamic State has had Egypt as a target - and not just Sinai - as part of its discourse for quite a while now, and independent security analysts, as well as official statements from the Egyptian state, show that attacks beyond Sinai have increased in the last couple of years," said H.A. Hellyer, senior non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington. "When the attacks are claimed by 'Islamic State in Egypt' and not simply 'Sinai Province,' it is a clear expression from them that they are not simply going to target Sinai, but the broader country."
        Islamic State has made no demands of the Egyptian government, which it aims to topple. It fights to establish a global caliphate to which it wants to add Egypt. The government says the group has tried to assassinate President Sisi more than once. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: When Iran Calls to Wipe Out Every Israeli, the World Is Silent
    Speaking at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "In a few short years, six million of our people were wiped away, literally incinerated....The Holocaust, thank G-d, is behind us, but the hatred and intolerance that drove it is not. Anti-Semitism, which is the world's oldest hatred, is experiencing a revival in the enlightened West."
        "Yet...the greatest danger that we face, of the hatred for the Jewish people and the Jewish state, comes from the East. It comes from Iran. It comes from the ayatollah regime that is fanning these flames and calling outright for the destruction of the Jewish state."
        "I want you to think about a regime that openly declared its intention to eliminate every black person, every gay person, every European. I think the entire world would be outraged, and rightly so. But when a regime merely calls to wipe out every Israeli...what do we encounter? A deafening silence."
        "I spoke a few days ago to President Trump and he spoke about Iranian aggression. He spoke about Iran's commitment to destroy Israel. He spoke about the nature of this nuclear agreement and the danger it poses."
        "We will take all the measures we need to defend ourselves, and we will take all the measures necessary to prevent Iran from getting the means of mass murder to carry out their horrible plans. We cannot and will not be silent in the face of Iran's stated aim of destroying Israel."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • New IDF Report on Palestinian Terror in West Bank - Yoav Zitun
    According to IDF data published Thursday, in the 15 months between October 2015 and the end of 2016, there were 281 terrorist attacks originating in the West Bank, including 143 stabbing attacks, 89 shooting attacks, 39 vehicular attacks and 9 attacks utilizing explosive devices. 81% of the stabbing attacks were directed at IDF forces.
        In order to combat terrorism, dozens of guard posts have been built, raids conducted on illegal weapons factories, funds destined for terrorists or their families seized, surveillance conducted of social media sites to prevent incitement, the demolition of 40 terrorist homes, and the installation of 1,500 cameras on West Bank roads. (Ynet News)
  • No Palestinian Reconciliation: Hamas Sentences Eight Fatah Members to Prison - Adam Rasgon
    A Hamas court in Gaza sentenced eight Fatah members to prison on Wednesday for "undermining revolutionary unity." All of those convicted had belonged to the Fatah-dominated PA security forces before Hamas took over in 2007.
        Grant Rumley, a research fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said, "This ruling shows just how far apart the two major Palestinian parties are from reconciliation....In this current climate those factions view the rivalry with the other party as ongoing and zero sum."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Hamas, PA Quarrel over Government Functions in Gaza - Adnan Abu Amer (Al-Monitor)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Attempting to Solve the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - Gary Grappo
    Although the two-state solution may still remain the best starting position for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and ultimately the most viable outcome, neither the U.S. nor any other nation should pre-judge this direction. Only face-to-face negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis can determine that.
        The new U.S. administration should resist any effort to internationalize the conflict. Imposing a solution or even conditions inevitably favors one side over the other, which will doom any chance of a negotiated settlement. This conflict can only be solved by the unavoidably difficult compromises that both sides will need to make within the context of face-to-face negotiations. Quiet diplomacy in advance tends to produce more successful open diplomacy down the road.
        There is a real question about whether current Palestinian leadership can credibly and competently represent the interests and needs of the Palestinian people. According to Palestinian polls, about two-thirds demand the resignation of PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Despite billions of dollars in foreign aid from the EU, U.S. and other donors, the PA has little economic development to show for it. The writer, former U.S. ambassador to Oman, is a Fellow at the Center for Middle East Studies at the Korbel School for International Studies, University of Denver. (Cipher Brief)
  • Accusations Against Israel Hide the Real Issues - Alan Shatter
    Although the international community chooses to ignore it, Gaza and the West Bank have for 10 years been two separate political entities ruled by Palestinian factions in continuing conflict with each other. For fear of his life, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has been unable to set foot in Gaza for those 10 years. Thus, the Palestinian side is incapable of credibly demonstrating its commitment to a two-state solution as called for in Paris on Jan. 15, and the PA totally lacks the political capacity to ensure its long-term implementation.
        The truth is it is highly unlikely Abbas and the PA could currently obtain the political mandate required to enter into and implement any settlement that involves a compromise on Palestinian demands and that will guarantee Israelis an end to conflict and future peace and security. The writer was Ireland's Minister for Justice between 2011 and 2014. (Irish Times)
  • The Palestinian Cause Is No Longer the Arabs' Primary Concern - Muhammad Aal Al-Sheikh
    The Palestinians need to understand that the Arabs of today are not the Arabs of yesterday, and that the Palestinian cause has lost ground among Arabs. This cause is no longer a top priority for them, because civil wars are literally pulverizing four Arab countries, and because fighting "Islamic" terrorism is the foremost concern that causes all Arabs, without exception, to lose sleep. It is folly to ask someone to sacrifice his own problems and national interests in order to help [you solve] your own problems.
        All I can say to my Palestinian brethren is that stubbornness, contrariness, and betting on the Arab masses are a hopeless effort, and that ultimately you are the only ones who will pay the price of this stubbornness and contrariness. (Al-Jazirah-Saudi Arabia-MEMRI)

  • Iran

  • Ensuring Iran's Enrichment Research Is for Peaceful Purposes - Olli Heinonen
    Iran announced last week that it would start feeding its first IR-8 centrifuges with uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6). With more powerful IR-8s and other advanced centrifuges, Iran could enrich uranium for a weapon much faster. The nuclear deal allows testing of more advanced centrifuges.
        If Iran continues its current rate of testing, the country will be able to field a demonstration plant in three or four years that will have triple the capacity of its currently installed IR-1 centrifuges. With this plant, Iran's breakout time would drop from one year to three or four months.
        The kind of enriched uranium production output Tehran aims to have is both unwarranted and excessive. The international market has an oversupply of both uranium and enrichment services - meaning that Iran could purchase enriched uranium more cheaply than it can produce it domestically. The writer is the former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency and head of its Department of Safeguards. (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
  • Appeasing Iran Will Only Give It More Room for Maneuver - Farhad Rezaei
    Since 1979, Iran has adopted a unique posture involving the export of its own particular brand of Islamism; defiance of international norms; a pursuit of hegemony over the Middle East; a quest for nuclear weapons; and declaring jihad against the United States, which has failed to convey an adequate message of deterrence to the Iranian regime.
        Iran's Navy has been involved in numerous confrontations with American vessels patrolling the waters of the Persian Gulf since July 2015, with no response from the world's superpower. On April 14, 1988, U.S. forces sank two Iranian warships and three armed speedboats and attacked offshore rigs, in retaliation for Iran's mining of the Gulf and subsequent damage to an American warship.
        The U.S. must abandon the notion of the Obama administration that Iran might become a normal state in the global community. Goodwill gestures from Washington only embolden the Revolutionary Guards. As a high-ranking member of the Guards told me recently: "Washington's appeasement will only provide the regime with more room to maneuver." The writer is a research fellow at the Center for Iranian Studies (IRAM) in Ankara, Turkey. (Asia Times-Hong Kong)

  • Other Issues

  • Call to Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem Began as a Liberal Initiative with McGovern - Robert Abrams
    Moving the U.S. embassy to Israel's capital began as a liberal initiative in 1972. As early supporters of George McGovern, my friend Hilly Gross and I were asked at a meeting of key advisers to help hammer out elements for a McGovern Middle East program. That summer, Democrats adopted the following statement in the party's platform: "The next Democratic administration should recognize and support the established status of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, with free access to all its holy places provided to all faiths. As a symbol of this stand, the United States Embassy should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem." It was the first time an American political party adopted such a proposal. Soon thereafter, Republicans adopted it as well.
        In 1995, during Bill Clinton's presidency, the Jerusalem Embassy Act was passed to fund the relocation of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The legislation included the ability of the president to waive the requirement of moving the embassy. That, however, was envisioned as a safeguard in the event negotiations were at a particularly sensitive moment; it was never intended to be the default policy of the U.S., certainly not during a time when negotiations were not even taking place.
        The embassy would be placed in West Jerusalem, a part of the city that under any peace plan will remain part of Israel. The real reason Palestinians object to an embassy move to any part of Jerusalem is that they still do not accept Israel's existence as a Jewish state, which is what truly hinders prospects for peace. If moving the embassy to an undisputed section of Jerusalem is sufficient "provocation" to derail any chance for peace, we must concede that such a chance was an illusion to begin with. The writer is former attorney general of New York. (New York Daily News)
  • Jerusalem Is the Center of Gravity - Efraim Inbar
    UN Security Council Resolution 2334, adopted on Dec. 23, 2016, declared the Jewish Quarter, the Western Wall, and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to be occupied territory and any Jewish presence there illegal. Even if President Donald Trump will move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, it is not at all clear that the rest of the world will fall in step. West Jerusalem is not disputed territory and there should be no legal or political problem moving an embassy to the Western part of the city. But many foreign ministries have not yet put to rest the November 1947 UN resolution which calls to internationalize the city under UN control. They simply do not want the Jews to have full control over the eternal city, and are eager to help the Palestinians prevent such control.
        There is no Zionism without Jerusalem, an issue that commands consensus in Israel. Most Israelis continue to believe that Jerusalem and the Temple Mount are more important than peace, and are ready to fight for it. Jerusalem also carries great strategic value. Control of Jerusalem secures the only highway from the Mediterranean coast to the Jordan Valley. If Israel wants to maintain a defensible border in the east, it must secure this axis via an undivided Jerusalem. The writer is professor emeritus of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, and the founding director of the BESA Center. (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • Israel Is Not Replacing a Bedouin Town with a Jewish Town - Ari Briggs
    Radical organizations are determined to label the story of Hiran in the Negev as one in which Israel is seeking to uproot and destroy a long-standing Bedouin village to establish a "Jewish community" on its ruins. In May 2015, after legal proceedings that lasted for over a decade, Israel's Supreme Court ruled that the petitioners have no ownership of the land, and that their settlement in that location in the 1950s was only temporary.
        "At no time did the tribe acquire ownership of the land according to the property law of our legal system; they built extensively on the land without any permits, and this is illegal. Most of the tribe moved to Hura, a Bedouin settlement with a regulated and connected infrastructure; the remaining respondents must be evacuated from their homes, while offering them the option of moving to Hura." Those who agree to move to legal settlements are being offered exceptional conditions, with free land and financial compensation that goes well beyond that which is required by law.
        The judges emphasized that the Bedouin will have the same option as every other citizen to purchase land in the future town of Hiran, so there is no issue of establishing a "Jewish town" on the site. The use of the term "Jewish town" is incorrect and libelous. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Anti-Semitism and Freedom of Speech on College Campuses - Shannon Gilreath
    Incidents of anti-Semitism have risen alarmingly over the past two years. According to FBI statistics, there were more hate crimes against Jews in 2015 than against any other religious group. Anti-Jewish assaults rose by more than 50% from 2014. Anti-Semitic harassment seems to be acutely problematic on U.S. college campuses, with over half of all Jewish students polled indicating that they'd witnessed or directly experienced acts of anti-Semitism at their colleges or universities. A 2016 study showed a 45% increase in campus anti-Semitism. One common tactic is to use criticism of Israel as a tool to target and marginalize Jewish students.
        The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act (AAA) of 2016 is a bi-partisan solution to this problem. Passed by the Senate on Dec. 1, 2016, the AAA directs the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to use the U.S. State Department's definition of anti-Semitism when evaluating hostile environment complaints under Title VI. The State Department provides a clear definition of anti-Semitism, including helpful examples that will make OCR evaluation of complex complaints easier. The writer is Professor of Law at Wake Forest University. (The Hill)
        See also The Shocking Rise of Anti-Semitism in the U.S. - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)
  • Why the U.S. Should Support a Kurdish State - Amitai Etzioni
    The U.S. should support a Kurdish state since the Kurds have more than earned the right to independence. Moreover, such a move will help reassure other U.S. allies that the U.S. will stand by them rather than abandon them.
        The time has come to redraw the map. Iraq's borders were forged by the colonial powers at the end of World War I, throwing the Kurds in with other ethnic groups with whom they have little in common. Ever since, the Kurds have been fighting for the right to govern themselves. Rep. Ed Royce, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, pointed out in December 2015, "The Kurds are the sole U.S. allied force operating on the ground against ISIS in Syria and Iraq....For the last year and a half, we've had one effective fighter in this fight: It is the 160,000-strong Peshmerga force."
        Turkish opposition is going to be fierce. The Turks fear that a Kurdish state on their borders will embolden the Turkish Kurds' quest for autonomy, if not for secession in order to join the new Kurdish state. Yet much of the problem stems from Turkey's extreme oppression of its Kurdish population. For decades, Ankara made it illegal for Kurds to use their own language, attempted to erase Kurdish culture, to deny their distinct identity by classifying them as "Mountain Turks," and banning the words "Kurdish" or "Kurdistan." The writer is Professor of International Relations at George Washington University. (National Interest)

  • Weekend Features - International Holocaust Remembrance Day

  • Researchers Uncover Vast Numbers of Unknown Nazi Killing Fields - Noah Lederman
    In 2000, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington tasked researchers with documenting the forced labor camps, ghettos, POW camps, and concentration camps the Nazis had established, estimating that the team would uncover about 5,000 persecution sites. The Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933-1945 currently contains more than 42,500 sites that the Nazis used to persecute, exploit, and murder their victims. Researchers refrained from counting sub-camps, of which there were tens of thousands. (Times of Israel)
  • The Forgotten Holocaust in the Soviet Union - Izabella Tabarovsky
    Boris Maftsir, an Israeli filmmaker, went deep into the forests of Belarus to film the remnants of Tuvia Bielski's partisan camp and document instances of Jewish resistance that have not been widely known until now. Maftsir says we keep retelling half the story - the story of the destruction of Western European Jewry by a mechanized, industrial-scale killing machine.
        While half of all the Shoah victims died in the Soviet Union, people there died in mass executions in ravines, forests, and village streets, at the hands of Germans or local collaborators, in front of people who had been their neighbors. The Nazis almost never bothered with organizing the Soviet Jews into ghettos or transporting them to faraway places. Jews began dying the moment Germans invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.
        By the end of 1941, the Germans (along with local auxiliaries and Romanian troops) had killed a million Jews in the Soviet Union and the Baltics. By the end of 1942, the Germans had shot another 700,000 Jews, and the Soviet Jewish populations under their control had ceased to exist. Of the Soviet Jews under Nazi occupation, an estimated 3 to 4% survived. (Tablet)
  • The Women Who Survived The Holocaust - Frank Shirley
    Survivor: A Portrait of the Survivors of the Holocaust, with photos of 102 survivors by British photographer Harry Borden, was published on Jan. 27 to coincide with International Holocaust Memorial Day 2017. Borden details the childhood and wartime experiences of each survivor, as well as how their lives have unfolded since the end of Nazism. Each portrait, taken in the subject's home, is published alongside a handwritten note, published unedited. "Those of us who survived were not more worthy than those who perished. Nor were we braver, richer, smarter or more resourceful. We were not. We were just luckier," writes Eve Kugler.
        In a foreword, Jewish novelist Howard Jacobson writes: "There are fewer and fewer survivors left to speak about what only they can know. It is all the more important, then, that they bear witness to a truth so many do not want to hear."  (Refinery29-UK)

What Aid to Israel Buys America - Evelyn Gordon (Commentary)

  • One demand that Donald Trump repeatedly raised is for U.S. allies to contribute more to the costs of their defense. Thus, it's worth recalling why Israel is America's largest recipient of military aid, and why it's cheap at the price.
  • Unlike all the other allies Trump complains about, Israel isn't under America's military protection and doesn't want to be. It never has and never will ask American troops to defend it. The annual aid helps Israel purchase the weaponry it needs to defend itself by itself. Israel genuinely doesn't want America to protect it militarily. The belief that it must defend itself by itself is deeply ingrained in Israel and enjoys wall-to-wall consensus.
  • While aid to Israel currently totals $3.1 billion a year, and is slated to rise to $3.8 billion in 2019, it's cheap compared to the cost of U.S. troop deployments to protect other American allies. For instance, maintaining U.S. bases in Japan costs America $5.5 billion a year, and that's in a country where troops haven't had to fire a shot in decades.
  • Nor can Israel be accused of failing to contribute financially to its own defense. While 23 of NATO's 28 members spend less than 2% of GDP on defense, Israel spends 5.2%, well above America's 3.5%.
  • Last July, Ha'aretz reported that in the battle against ISIS, "According to Western intelligence sources, Israel has supplied more intelligence to its allies than any other intelligence organization."
  • With regard to combat testing of U.S. weapons systems, America's F-16 fighters contain over 600 modifications introduced by Israel. As Ha'aretz reported in 2010, "between 10% and 15% of every new F-16 made in America...consists of Israeli systems."
  • Israel's destruction of a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007 prevented ISIS from getting its hands on the raw material for a nuclear bomb. The reactor was located in one of the swathes of Syria ISIS captured. Similarly, America was able to defend its allies in the Gulf War only because Israel had destroyed Iraq's nuclear program a decade earlier.
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