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February 3, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Soldier Shoots Machete-Wielding Assailant near Paris Museum - Laura Smith-Spark and Laura Goehler (CNN)
    A French soldier on duty near the Louvre museum in Paris opened fire on a man who attempted to attack him with a machete on Friday.
    The man had rushed toward a group of soldiers and guards shouting "Allahu akbar," said Michel Cadot, the Paris prefect.
    The man was taken into custody.

Video: At Palestinian University Demonstration, the Protesters Carry Automatic Weapons (MEMRI-TV)
    Watch the Fatah "Shabiba" student movement at Birzeit University in the West Bank mark Fatah's 52nd anniversary with a militant parade.
    Armed and masked men in fatigues marched and shouted slogans such as, "Blow up the head of the settler!"

Israel Only Free State in Middle East, Report Finds - Michael Wilner (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel remains the only free country in the Middle East, scoring 80 on a scale of 100, Freedom House declared on Wednesday in its annual report.
    That compares favorably with Lebanon (44), Turkey (38), Jordan (37), Kuwait (36), Algeria (35), Iraq (27), Egypt (26), Iran (17), Saudi Arabia (10), Sudan (6), and Syria (-1).
    See also Report: Freedom in the World 2017 (Freedom House)

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Iranian Karate Fighter Refuses to Compete Against Israeli (Press TV-Iran)
    Iranian karate practitioner Majid Hassaninia has refused to take on his Israeli opponent in the 21st Open de Paris - Karate Premier League in France.
    On Friday, Hassaninia did not show up for a scheduled encounter against a representative from Israel and was subsequently excluded from the rest of the tournament.
    The Islamic Republic of Iran has long refused to engage in sports competitions against Israel.

Israeli Wins Japan Prize for Cryptography Work (JTA)
    Adi Shamir, 64, a professor at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, was among three winners of the 2017 Japan Prize, selected from among 13,000 nominations, for his work in the field of cryptography, the Japan Prize Foundation announced Thursday.
    "My main area of research is cryptography - making and breaking codes," Shamor explained. "Without cryptographic protection, confidential information can be exposed to eavesdroppers, modified by hackers, or forged by criminals."
    Ephraim Katzir, a biophysicist and former Israeli president, won the prize in 1985, the inaugural year of the award.

Japan Bolsters Ties with Israel as It Seeks to Stop Cyber Threats (Asahi Shimbun-Japan)
    With demand for cybersecurity rising in Japan ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the nation is looking for help from cybertechnology-related entities in Israel.
    Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon signed an investment agreement in Tokyo on Feb. 1 aimed at making it easier for Japanese businesses to provide funding to these firms by relaxing regulations.

Ireland's Ryanair Announces 15 New Routes from Israel - Louise Kelly (Independent-Ireland)
    Ryanair has announced a major expansion of its Israel operations with the addition of 15 new routes - seven from Tel Aviv and eight from Eilat - to destinations in Europe.

Ten Things to Do in Tel Aviv - Ella Alexander (Harper's Bazaar-UK)
    If you're searching for a vibrant, lively city to visit with guaranteed sunshine, Tel Aviv is an ideal destination.
    In terms of history and culture, it's rich beyond dreams and it's become a hub of creatives and entrepreneurs who want to seize a positive future with both hands.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • White House: Israeli Settlements No Impediment to Peace, But Expansion Beyond Current Borders May Not Be Helpful
    White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Thursday: "The American desire for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians has remained unchanged for 50 years. While we don't believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal. As the President has expressed many times, he hopes to achieve peace throughout the Middle East region. The Trump administration has not taken an official position on settlement activity and looks forward to continuing discussions, including with Prime Minister Netanyahu when he visits with President Trump later this month."  (White House)
        See also Behind the White House Statement on Settlements - Abby Phillip and Karen DeYoung
    The White House on Thursday gently warned Israel that new or expanded settlements in the West Bank "may not be helpful" in achieving Middle East peace. The apparent genesis of the statement was a story in Thursday's Jerusalem Post, which quoted a senior administration official as urging Israel to cease settlement announcements.
        The White House thought the rebuke, as reported, went too far and issued Spicer's statement in an attempt to dial it back, while also giving itself breathing room as it develops a more comprehensive policy on the Middle East. At the very least, the White House wants to wait until Netanyahu's scheduled visit to Washington on Feb. 15. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Planning Additional Sanctions on Iran Following Missile Test - Elise Labott
    The White House is expected to impose additional sanctions on Iranian entities under existing executive orders that predate President Trump in response to Iran's ballistic missile test Sunday. They are similar to actions taken by former President Obama after Iran's previous ballistic missile tests. (CNN)
        See also U.S. to Target Iranian Entities Involved in Missile Program or Support for Terrorists - Jay Solomon
    The U.S. National Security Council has drafted a list of around 25 Iranian companies, individuals and military organizations that will be targeted. The administration believes the new sanctions don't violate the nuclear deal because they are solely focused on Iranian entities involved in the missile program or providing support to militant groups designated as terrorist entities by the U.S.
        "These designations are merely the beginning of a combined administration and congressional push back against Iran's malign activities," said Mark Dubowitz, chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. "Any foreign companies doing business in those segments of Iran's economy supporting its missile program are on notice."  (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Senators to Trump: We Support Additional Iran Sanctions - Jordain Carney
    A bipartisan group of 22 senators said Thursday that they support additional sanctions against Iran over its ballistic missile tests, in a letter to the President spearheaded by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and cosigned by 11 Republicans and 9 Democrats.
        "Full enforcement of existing sanctions and the imposition of additional sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile program are necessary," the senators wrote. "We look forward to supporting your Administration's efforts to hold Iran accountable."  (The Hill)
        See also Text of Senators' Letter on Iran (U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee)
        See also Video - The Faulty Iran Agreement: The Ballistic Missile Loophole - Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • British Prime Minister Notes Ban Against Israeli Citizens by 16 Muslim States - Ben Kentish
    At the British Parliament on Wednesday, former Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers asked Prime Minister Theresa May whether she thought opponents of the new U.S. President's immigration policy were wrong to overlook similar measures in other countries. "In the light of the fact that most of the countries covered by the Trump ban have a total exclusion on the admission of Israeli citizens, shouldn't the protestors also be calling for that ban to be lifted?"
        Theresa May replied that it was "absolutely right that this House should be aware of the discrimination and the ban that exists around the world and, as she refers to, particularly for those who are Israeli citizens." Israeli citizens are currently banned from entering 16 Muslim states. (Independent-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel: U.S. Statement on Settlements Is No Trump U-Turn
    Israel's ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told Israel Radio on Friday that the statement from the Trump White House on the construction of new Israeli settlements did not reflect a policy shift. "I wouldn't call it a U-turn, the statement is very clear. The meaning is: Wait until the meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, who arrives in Washington in less than two weeks for a meeting with President Trump, and then set policy," Danon said. "We will not be in full agreement with the United States on everything over the next four years, but there is communication and messages are being passed."  (Times of Israel)
  • Video: Three Israelis Wounded in Palestinian Car-Ramming Attack - Judah Ari Gross
    Two policemen and a civilian security guard were wounded when a Palestinian woman drove her vehicle into a police car and a guard post outside the Adam community in the West Bank on Thursday in a car-ramming attack. "She confessed [to it being deliberate]," an army spokesperson said. (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian Foreign Minister Threatens Legal Action If Britain Ignores Demands for Reparations for Balfour Declaration
    Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki told PA TV on Jan. 18 that the Palestinian leadership was "entirely serious" about its demand for an apology and for reparations from Britain over the 1917 Balfour Declaration. Al-Maliki said that when he met the British foreign secretary, "I told him very clearly what we expect." He said that if the British continue to ignore the Palestinian demands, the Palestinian Authority may opt for legal action against Britain. (MEMRI-TV)
  • PA TV: Palestinian Kids Call for Murder of Israelis - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
    In January 2017, PA TV's children's program "The Best Home" broadcast children reciting poems that advocate murder and martyrdom. On Jan. 6, a young boy said: "Tomorrow we will take our vengeance, and their leader will be carried in a coffin. We, Fatah, are a storm, and our blood is food for the revolution." On Jan. 20, a girl and a boy recite: "World, hear and see, my rock has turned into an AK-47 [assault rifle]."  (Palestinian Media Watch)
        See also Palestinian Music Video Promotes Martyrdom - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
    A music video broadcast on the Fatah-run TV station Awdah on Jan. 23-24 promoted death as a martyr for the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The video includes photos of suicide bombers who murdered Israelis during the Second Intifada (2000-2005) and says: "Al-Aqsa has called, and its call is precious. For its sake, life is insignificant....God, grant us Martyrdom there."  (Palestinian Media Watch)
  • Israel's Natural Gas Provides 69 Percent of Country's Electricity - Avi Bar-Eli
    As of Tuesday, 69% of Israel's electricity was being produced from natural gas from the Tamar offshore gas field. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • New Israeli Construction Is in Settlement Blocs near 1967 Lines - Walter Russell Mead
    What people call "settlements" fall in several categories including construction in eastern Jerusalem and construction in the "settlement blocs," neighborhoods that everybody involved in the negotiations, including the Palestinians, has understood for decades will be part of Israel when and if a two-state agreement is reached. These account for the bulk of Israelis living in the territories, and building there, while provocative from a Palestinian point of view, does not represent a breach of the status quo.
        When reading that the Israeli government has authorized new construction in "settlements," one has to know which settlements and where to understand what the policy actually is. Most of the new units will be in large settlements near the 1967 lines. The writer is professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College and professor of American foreign policy at Yale University. (American Interest)
  • Trump Language on Settlements Returns U.S. Policy to Bush Era - John Podhoretz
    On Thursday, the White House released a statement saying: "While we don't believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal."
        This position, in effect, returns the U.S. to the status quo ante before the Obama administration - specifically, to the policy outlined in a letter sent from George W. Bush to Ariel Sharon in 2004. In that letter, Bush said, "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949."
        This language was an acceptance of the reality that the most populous Israeli settlements beyond the pre-1967 lines would certainly remain in Israeli hands at the end of any successful peace negotiation with the Palestinians.
        If, like New York City, the West Bank city of Ariel gets more populous, its land mass does not increase in size, just the number of people living there. The Obama administration did not like these ideas, and reversed them. Add new apartments to Ariel and you were "expanding the settlements." The Trump language returns U.S. policy to the notion that the physical acreage holding settlers should not increase but that the number of settlers is not at issue. (Commentary)
  • Israel Has Become a Laboratory for Militaries across the Globe - Dan Senor
    Israel is a country of eight million people that is surrounded by enemies who would like to see it wiped off the map: Hizbullah to the north, Hamas to the south, plus Assad's regime, Islamic State and Iran to the east. Yet this tiny nation has also built an air force, anti-missile defense system and intelligence apparatus that is revered around the world - and relied on by the U.S. military. And it's done it with a minuscule fraction of the budget available to larger nations.
        Because of its hostile neighborhood, Israel has had the unlucky distinction of being the first target of the newest terrorist innovations - which has forced it to become a kind of laboratory for militaries across the globe. Elite Israeli commando units conducted the first successful airline hostage rescue in 1972, and then again at Entebbe in 1976. America's Delta Force was founded partly in response to what the U.S. learned from the IDF's operation in Uganda. The writer is co-author of Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle. (Wall Street Journal)

Inflated Victims Tally Irks Holocaust Historians - Ron Kampeas (JTA)

  • "Five million non-Jews died in the Holocaust" is a statement regularly asserted, but the number is without any scholarly basis. Those close to the late Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, its progenitor, say the number was intended to increase sympathy for Jewish suffering, but it is now more often used to obscure it.
  • The "5 million" has driven Holocaust historians to distraction ever since Wiesenthal began to speak of it in the 1970s. Yehuda Bauer, an Israeli Holocaust scholar who chairs the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and knew Wiesenthal, said the Nazi hunter told him that he chose the 5 million number carefully: He wanted a number large enough to attract the attention of non-Jews who might not otherwise care about Jewish suffering, but not larger than the actual number of Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust, 6 million. It caught on: President Jimmy Carter, issuing the executive order that would establish the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, referred to the "11 million victims of the Holocaust."
  • Deborah Lipstadt, a professor of Holocaust studies at Emory University in Atlanta, wrote in 2011 that the number of 11 million involved "historical revisionism" and that "this number is simply inaccurate, in fact made up."
  • Bauer says the problem is not that non-Jews were not victims; they were. It is that Wiesenthal's arbitrarily chosen tally of non-Jewish victims diminishes the centrality to the Nazi ideology of systematically wiping any trace of the Jewish people from the planet.
  • In fact, Bauer said, the term "genocide" could accurately be applied to the 2-3 million Poles murdered by the Nazis. But the mass murder of the Poles, Roma and others should not come under the rubric "Holocaust," a term describing the annihilation that the Nazis hoped to visit on the Jews. "All Jews of the world had to be annihilated," Bauer said. "That was the intent. There was never an idea in Nazi minds to murder all the Russians."
  • The number 5 million also adheres to no known understanding of the number of non-Jews killed by the Nazis: While 35 million people were killed overall because of Nazi aggression, the number of non-Jews who died in the concentration camps is no more than half a million, Bauer said.
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