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February 10, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Has Tested 14 Ballistic Missiles Since the Nuclear Deal - Behnam Ben Taleblu (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
    Since the July 2015 nuclear deal, Iran has tested as many as 14 ballistic missiles, a number based on open-source reporting.

Israeli Arabic Website Exposes Palestinians to Hidden Information - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
    The Israel Ministry of Defense has begun efforts to reveal information to the Palestinian people that is hidden by their leadership, by launching a new Arabic website.
    One article deals with the execution a year ago of Mahmoud Eshtewi, a Hamas battalion commander, by Yahya Sinwar, who has become known as Hamas' Defense Minister in Gaza.
    Eshtewi was arrested and accused of moral turpitude and corruption, with information leaked regarding his sexual orientation, accompanied by rumors that he was an Israeli agent and the man who had revealed the location of the head of Hamas' military wing, Mohammad Deif, during the 2014 Gaza war.
    The website said the real reason behind Eshtewi's execution was his harsh critique of Sinwar's people in the Hamas. Sinwar was afraid Eshtewi might gain power at his expense and decided to have him executed.

A Step in the Right Direction: New York Times Describes Palestinian Claims to West Bank Land as "Claims"  (CAMERA)
    After several months of referring to settlement lands and the rest of the West Bank as "Palestinian territory," the New York Times in recent weeks has shifted to more objective descriptions of these disputed lands.
    To assign the entire West Bank to one side or the other in the Palestinian-Israeli dispute ignores international agreements signed by both parties that assert the status of the land is to be negotiated.
    A serious newspaper is expected to report impartially on the dispute, not to adjudicate it.
    Recent stories have avoided language that assigns all of the West Bank to the Palestinians.
    A story published online last Friday, for example, accurately described the Palestinian claim to the whole territory as just that: a claim, informing readers that "the Palestinians claim the West Bank, which Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 war, as part of a future independent state."

Why the Dead Sea Scrolls Belong to Israel - Jeremiah J. Johnston and Craig A. Evans (Fox News)
    Despite Palestinian claims, we believe the Dead Sea Scrolls belong to Israel.
    The Judean Desert where the Scrolls were discovered is part of the historic Land of Israel. Indeed, the discovery of Hebrew and Aramaic texts there proves that the Jewish people lived there.
    The scrolls are written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, the three languages of the Bible. They are not written in Arabic.
    Indeed, the earliest scrolls date from 250 BCE, while Islam began some 800 years later.
    Moreover, Israel has properly cared for these priceless artifacts, as compared with what is happening to historic artifacts elsewhere in the Middle East.
    Dr. Jeremiah J. Johnston is associate professor of Early Christianity at Houston Baptist University, where Dr. Craig A. Evans is professor of Christian Origins.

Groups Involved in BDS Campaign Use Israeli Tech for Their Websites - Rachel Frommer (Algemeiner)
    Student groups co-sponsoring a new boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign used Israeli Wix software to build their websites.

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A Day with Wounded Syrian Kids Hospitalized in Israel - Ariela Ayalon (Ynet News)
    Dozens of children who were raised on the belief that Israel is as bad as Satan are receiving life-saving treatments at the Ziv Medical Center in Safed after escaping the civil war in Syria.
    "I was afraid to come to Israel because I was afraid of the Jews, but now I'm not afraid at all," says a 10-year-old boy whose hands were saved by Israeli doctors.
    See also The Secret Israeli Operation to Deliver Coats to Refugees in Syria - Josefin Dolsten (JTA)
    Three Israeli groups collected more than 100 tons of blankets, coats, sleeping bags, gloves, boots and other winter supplies, then removed any logos or tags featuring Hebrew writing so that the refugees in Syria who will soon be receiving the donated winter supplies won't know they came from Israel.
    "I thought people would be reluctant to support an effort they would not get credit for," said Gilad Perry of Dror Israel. "The generosity of people just caring for those who suffer from the cold winter on the other side of the border, in an 'enemy country,' overwhelmed me."
    The initiative, which began in 2014, collected donations from Jewish, Arab and Druze communities across Israel.

New England Patriots Owner Donating $6 Million to Build First Israeli Football Stadium - Viva Sarah Press (
    New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has announced he will donate $6 million to build Israel's first regulation-sized American football stadium near Jerusalem.

Tourism to Israel Up 27 Percent in January (Israel Ministry of Tourism-IMRA)
    210,000 tourist entries to Israel were recorded in January 2017, an increase of 27% over 165,000 entries in January 2016.

China Inks New Israeli Deals - Rebecca Fannin (Forbes)
    China has turned to the startup nation of Israel to seek out the best technologies, develop breakthrough research, and gain a competitive edge worldwide in inventing the next, new thing.
    The latest Israeli startup to receive funding is CodeMonkey, which has developed an educational platform using games to teach children how to code.
    This deal follows Alibaba's recent $6 million funding of Lumus, an Israeli augmented reality lens maker.

Israel Sees Record Private Equity Investment in 2016 (Globes)
    In 2016, Israeli and foreign private equity funds invested a record $3.5 billion in 68 deals, up 14% from $3.1 billion in 2015, and up 29% from $2.73 billion in 2014, IVC-Shibolet reports.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. May Turn to Arab Allies for Help with Israeli-Palestinian Relations - Peter Baker and Mark Landler
    President Trump and his advisers are developing a strategy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would enlist Arab nations like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The emerging approach mirrors the thinking of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who will visit the U.S. next week.
        The notion of recruiting Arab countries to help forge an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians - known as the "outside-in" approach - is not a new one. As secretary of state under President George Bush, James A. Baker III organized the first regional conference in 1991 at which Arab leaders sat down with Israel's prime minister.
        The difference is that in the last eight years, Israel has grown closer to Sunni Arab nations because of their shared concern about Iranian hegemony in the region. This is a departure from the countervailing assumption that if Israel first made peace with the Palestinians, it would lead to peace with the larger Arab world. (New York Times)
  • Iran Celebrates Revolution Anniversary amid Conflict with U.S. - Erin Cunningham
    Thousands of Iranians converged on Tehran on Friday to mark the anniversary of the country's revolution, amid heightened tensions with the new U.S. administration. Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called on Iranians earlier this week to use the anniversary as an opportunity to "respond" to the forceful rhetoric coming from the White House.
        The rallies take place every year to observe the Islamic revolution that overthrew Iran's monarchy in 1979. Iran's state television showed throngs of people holding signs and marching in the streets. (Washington Post)
  • Pope Francis Denounces Anti-Semitism - Jonathan Zalman
    Pope Francis met on Thursday with a delegation from the Anti-Defamation League at the Vatican. He said: "Sadly, anti-Semitism, which I again denounce in all its forms as completely contrary to Christian principles and every vision worthy of the human person, is still widespread today. I reaffirm that 'the Catholic Church feels particularly obliged to do all that is possible with our Jewish friends to repel anti-Semitic tendencies.'"  (Tablet)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Trump: "I Want Peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians" - Barak Ravid
    U.S. President Donald Trump told Israel Hayom on Friday: "I'm not someone who believes that advancing settlements is good for peace. But we are examining a number of options. No deal is a good deal if it isn't good for all sides. We are currently in a process that has been going on for a long time. Decades. A lot of people think that it can't be done. And a lot of smart people around me claim that you can't reach an agreement. I don't agree. I think we can reach an agreement and that we need to reach an agreement."
        Trump added that he has no interest in publishing condemnations of Israel during his time as president. "Israel has a long history of condemnations and difficulties. I don't want to condemn Israel during my term. I understand Israel very well and have a lot of appreciation for it. Israelis have gone through very difficult times. I want peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and beyond that I think peace for Israel will be great for Israel, not just good."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also Palestinians Make Contact with Trump Administration
    The head of Palestinian intelligence, Majed Faraj, met with U.S. security and intelligence officials in Washington this week in the first such contacts between the Palestinians and the Trump administration, AP reported Thursday. (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian Wounds Five in Petah Tikva Terror Attack - Raanan Ben-Zur and Yaron Druckman
    Five people were wounded in a terror attack on Thursday when a Palestinian man opened fire near a crowded market in Petah Tikva. The shooter, Sadiq Nasser Abu Mazen, 19, from Beita near Nablus in the West Bank, fled the scene but was captured by civilians shortly thereafter. (Ynet News)
        See also Israel Calls for UN Condemnation of Petah Tikva Attack (Times of Israel)
  • Netanyahu: Israel Seeks Support of African States at UN
    Israel's top diplomatic goal in Africa is to end the "automatic" votes against it by African representatives at the UN, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israel's envoys to the continent. "Africa is as high as it has ever been in the pyramid of our foreign policy interests....The first interest is to dramatically change the situation regarding African votes at the UN and other international bodies from opposition to support. Africa has moved to an intermediate stage, that of abstention."  (Times of Israel)
        See also below Weekend Features: Israeli Development Aid in Africa - Shimon Mercer-Wood (JTA)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Jewish World Must Unite Against Common Threats, Says Hoenlein - Tamara Zieve
    Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told the Jerusalem Post on Thursday: "We have to focus on the issues we have in common, on the things we care about, and recognize that there are differences but we can deal with them with respect. What unites us far outweighs what divides us and the threats we face require a unified response from the community. We need to have the people together."
        "The security of future generations interests all Jews and rests on our being able to be united and work together, and trying to be more sensitive to one another so we can find those common areas....The leadership has to send the message that it's the responsibility of all of stop just focusing on what divides us but to focus on what unites us and to talk about the issues honestly and openly."
        Turning to U.S.-Israel relations, Hoenlein said: "I think the U.S. and Israel have so many common interests - overwhelming common interests - that I hope will be addressed in their discussions now," a reference to the meeting between President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu scheduled for Wednesday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • International Legal Expert: Criticism of Knesset's Settlement Law Is Unwarranted - Barney Breen-Portnoy
    Criticism of the settlement law passed by the Israeli parliament earlier this week is unwarranted, Dr. Eugene Kontorovich, professor at Northwestern University's Pritzker School of Law, said Wednesday. "It does not violate international law. There has never been a principle of international law that one cannot take property with compensation."
        "It's very unusual that an occupying power offers compensation. But in the cases where they have - and one can point to Turkey and Northern Cyprus, and Russia and Crimea - the international community never criticized this even a little bit. Basically, this is a rule that...was invented for this case and will never be used again."
        Kontorovich said the law sought "to solve a situation in which, over several decades, over one thousand Israeli homes in West Bank settlements have been built in open areas to which Palestinians subsequently asserted property claims, typically based on broad give-aways of state land by the King of Jordan during the Hashemite occupation (1949-67). The plots are generally open, uncultivated fields. The frequently used characterization of 'private Palestinian lands' is misleading. In the overwhelming majority of cases, no individual Palestinians have come forward to claim the lands."  (Algemeiner)
        See also Israel's Settlement Regulations Bill and International Law - Eugene Kontorovich (Just Security)
  • Iran and Argentina Plotted to Cover Up the Bombing of a Jewish Center, and Then to Kill Alberto Nisman for Investigating It
    In 1997, Argentinian lawyer Alberto Nisman was asked to take the leading role in prosecuting 15 policemen accused of the deadly bombing of the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires three years prior. Nisman soon realized that the officers were being framed, and began investigating the case anew - which led him to uncover Iran's responsibility for the bombing, and a conspiracy by the Argentine government to obscure it.
        While his death in 2015 - just before he was supposed to testify about his findings to the Argentinian legislature - was initially ruled a suicide, it soon became clear that he was murdered. Gustavo Perednik explains Tehran's role in the cover-up, and in Nisman's death. (Mosaic)
        See also Iranian Terror and Argentinian Justice: The Case of Alberto Nisman, The Prosecutor Who Knew Too Much - Gustavo Perednik (Jewish Political Studies Review)
        See also Video: One Year after the Assassination of Alberto Nisman and the New Argentina - Gustavo Perednik (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Video: Can the Question of Palestinian Refugees Ever Be Resolved? - Dore Gold
    What has happened with the question of Palestinian refugees is alarming, and it is probably one of the main causes for making it so difficult to reach a permanent peace agreement. After the first Arab-Israeli war in 1949, the United Nations estimated the number of Palestinian refugees to be 750,000. (There were more Jewish refugees from Arab countries, but they were resettled inside of Israel.)
        By the time you get to 2016, those 750,000 refugees became 5 million because the UN had this numbering system which allowed the Palestinians to include the descendants of the original refugees as refugees. That wasn't done by other refugee organizations in the UN system - only in the case of the Palestinians. What this did is it made the refugee problem a problem in perpetuity - that can never be resolved - and that became more difficult every year.
        The writer, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former Israeli UN ambassador and director-general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • We Can't Let Radical Islam Take Over the World - Lior Akerman
    The Koran talks a great deal about the people of Israel and the prophet Moses. The Koran praises the Jews, calling them God's first choice, and the second chapter, verse 21-22, even says the Land of Israel was given to the Jewish people and that the Jews must never leave the land. A maximum of 10% of Muslims support the religious struggle to obliterate all other religions and install an Islamic caliphate throughout the entire planet. It's clear that Islam as a religion is not the problem, but only terrorists and leaders who are acting in the name of Islam.
        If we add up all the Sunni (Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Hamas, Boko Haram) and Shiite (Hizbullah) groups, there are hundreds of thousands of radical Muslim terrorists who operate throughout the Middle East, plus quite a large number of supporters. When Western leaders display weakness and are fearful of using military might, this only serves to encourage terrorist organizations.
        This situation is not irreversible, but it does require a change in mindset and an internalization of the reality. There needs to be cooperation by world leaders if we are to take back control from the terrorists who are wreaking havoc on civilians the world over. The writer is a former brigadier-general who served as a division head in the Israel Security Agency. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Aboriginal Rights of the Jewish People - Allen Z. Hertz
    The rejection of Jewish peoplehood requires a wholesale denial and repudiation of recorded history and physical evidence - the books of the Greeks and the Romans, the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, large sections of the hadith of the Prophets, archaeology - stretching across millennia that shows that the Jewish People is among the oldest of the world's peoples.
        Now, 30 years of genome research has produced evidence showing that most of today's Jews are to an appreciable extent genetically interrelated and significantly descended from Jews of the ancient world.
        Jews have always claimed rights to visit and/or dwell in their ancestral homeland. And they have stubbornly done so for more than two millennia. The presence of Jews in their ancestral homeland is not an expression of colonialism or imperialism. Jews joining other Jews in Eretz Israel are entirely unlike the 17th-century Pilgrim Fathers who built English settlements in America, and can never be compared with Dutch Boers in South Africa or the French in Algeria.
        Yusuf Ziya Pasha al-Khalidi was for ten years mayor of Jerusalem. As a Muslim, an Arab and an Ottoman subject, he wrote a letter on March 1, 1899, to the chief rabbi of France, saying, "Who can contest the rights of the Jews regarding Palestine? Good Lord, historically it is really your country!"
        The great Arab People is aboriginal to Arabia, not the Holy Land. Judaism, the Hebrew language, and a self-identified "Jewish" People were already in Eretz Israel about a thousand years before the ethnogenesis in Arabia (circa 600 CE) of the Arab People. Arabs always knew the Koran to say that Allah had promised "the Holy Land" to the Jews, all of whom would return there by Judgment Day.
        The writer was senior adviser in the Privy Council Office serving Canada's Prime Minister and the federal cabinet, including with respect to aboriginal issues. (Tablet)
  • Are Jews Indigenous to the Land of Israel? - Ryan Bellerose
    As an indigenous activist - I am a Metis from the Paddle Prairie Metis settlement in Alberta, Canada - I am asked, "Are Jews the indigenous people of Israel?" I'm inclined to answer with the honest truth, backed by indisputable, thousands-year-old historical and archaeological fact: Yes.
        The Palestinians do indeed have the legitimate "rights of longstanding presence" in Israel, but to say that Palestinian Arabs were the first inhabitants of the Land of Israel is problematic for actual indigenous people like the Jewish people who were forcefully conquered. Conquering peoples cannot become indigenous simply through conquering indigenous people.
        Indigenous status is specific to certain areas. The cultural genesis, language, and ancestral ties of Palestinian Arabs trace back to the Hejaz (in present-day Saudi Arabia) where Muhammad was born and where he established a community of followers. Just as the Cree would not claim Mohawk territories, Arabs should not try to claim Jewish territories. (Tablet)

  • Weekend Features

  • Revolutionary Israeli Device Can Eliminate Need for Follow-Up Breast Cancer Surgery - Shoshanna Solomon
    Israel's Dune Medical Devices has developed MarginProbe, an instrument to help women with breast cancer avoid undergoing follow-up surgery to remove residual cancer cells after a tumor is removed. The device is already being used in more than 100 hospitals in the U.S. and Israel.
        "We have developed the only technology in the world that has a commercial product that allows surgeons in operating rooms, in real time, to check the margins of the tumor, identify cancerous tissue and decide on the spot if more tissue needs to be removed or not," said Gal Aharonowitz, general manager in charge of Israeli operations. Sensors on a hand-held probe measure the electrical properties of cells and can distinguish cancer cells from healthy ones within a second. The company is now seeking to expand the use of the device to prostate, lung and liver cancers. (Times of Israel)
  • Israeli Development Aid in Africa - Shimon Mercer-Wood
    In January, a delegation of African-American journalists landed in Ghana to cover the impact of international development projects in that West African country. The delegation was organized by the Government of Israel, and its focus was on Israeli-Ghanaian development work in education, health and agriculture. In Winneba, the Jewish Agency for Israel runs a Project Ten volunteer center operated by young Jews from Israel and the U.S.  We met a team of Israeli girls, fresh out of the army, who operate an afterschool clubhouse where children receive a much-needed boost in literacy and life skills. "We are not only teaching them to read, we want to teach the kids to be imaginative and creative," said Maya, 21, a volunteer from Karmiel.
        Another group of young Israelis and Ghanaians were working together on a demonstration farm to study cheap but modern agricultural techniques and technologies. In Kumasi, we saw an award-winning early childhood education center practicing the methodology of Learning by Playing. We then proceeded to a mother-and-baby neonatal unit where a system introduced by Israeli medical trainers has dramatically reduced the mortality rate of pre-term babies without reliance on expensive, high-maintenance incubators.
        In Accra, we were amazed by the cutting-edge 675-bed Ghana University Medical Center, built by an Israeli company with a $217 million Israeli government loan, and assisted through advanced training in Israel for 71 of the hospital's medical staff. All the projects exemplified Israel's development strategy of "training the trainers." Rather than bestowing financial gifts or donating expensive but short-lived equipment, Mashav, Israel's Agency for International Cooperation, empowers cadres of local leadership who assimilate the Israeli know-how and technology and then train fellow professionals to do the same. The writer is consul for media affairs at the Consulate General of Israel in New York. (JTA)
  • The Poles Who "Hunted" Jews and Turned Them Over to the Nazis - Ofer Aderet
    Hunt for the Jews: Betrayal and Murder in German-Occupied Poland, by Polish-born historian Jan Grabowski, describes the Polish population's involvement in turning in and murdering Jews who asked for their help during the Holocaust, drawing on Polish, Jewish and German records from the war and postwar periods. Grabowski also documented the heroism of Poles who tried to rescue their Jewish neighbors and sometimes paid for it with their lives.
        A whole mechanism was set up to hunt Jews, he says. It operated under German supervision but all those on the ground were Poles: villagers who conducted "night watches," local informers, policemen and firefighters. Together they created a dense web that made it almost impossible for those hiding to escape discovery. Emmanuel Ringelblum, the historian of the Warsaw Ghetto, said that the Polish "Blue" police alone were responsible for "hundreds of thousands of Jewish deaths."
        Grabowski came across the diary of Stanislaw Zeminski, a teacher from Lukow in eastern Poland who documented the war's atrocities until he himself died in the Majdanek death camp. He provides testimony by Polish peasants who surrounded a nearby village and launched a hunt for Jews. They did it to obtain prizes offered by the German occupiers: vodka, sugar, potatoes, oil - along with personal items taken from the victims.
        "They pulled out the Jews from the houses; they caught them in the fields, in the meadows. The shots are still ringing, but our hyenas already set their sights on the Jewish riches. The [Jewish] bodies are still warm, but people already start to write letters, asking for Jewish houses, Jewish stores, workshops or parcels of land." People "volunteered for this hunt willingly, without any coercion."  (Ha'aretz)

Israeli International Law Expert: Yasser Arafat Promised Yitzhak Rabin that the Palestinians Would Negotiate the Final Status Issues - Hazem Sika interviews Alan Baker (Al-Jazeera)

Amb. Alan Baker, former legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians.

  • Hazem Sika: Does the new legislation on settlements passed by the Knesset kill any chance of a two-state solution?
    Alan Baker: No, not at all. The whole issue of the settlements as well as the permanent status of the territories has been agreed upon with the PLO that this will be determined in negotiations. It's not even "Palestinian territories," it's "disputed territories" that the Palestinians themselves have agreed to negotiate.
  • Sika: Under international law it's illegally occupied territory, Alan Baker, that's a fact.
    Baker: No, I'm sorry, you're wrong. The territories are subject to negotiations - and this is exactly what the whole aim of the two-state solution is. And if [the Palestinians] want to continue and go ahead and have this negotiation, then they should do whatever they can to encourage their own people to cooperate and come back to the negotiating table rather than try and run to the International Criminal Court which has absolutely no jurisdiction whatsoever to deal with the issue of these territories because the Palestinians aren't even a full party to the statute of the International Court.
  • Why are the Palestinians running to the United Nations to try and establish a Palestinian state - not through the negotiating process that Yasser Arafat promised in his letter to Yitzhak Rabin? Why are the Palestinians continuing with supporting and inciting terror? Both sides are committed to negotiate the final status issues and this includes settlements and it includes Jerusalem and it includes refugees and it includes security and it includes water.
  • All I'm saying is: Get back to the negotiating mode and stop playing around with all sorts of imaginary games that will get nowhere.
  • Who is representing the Palestinians? Hamas or Fatah? Let the Palestinians get their act together, let them unify into a unified leadership, and then there will be somebody to negotiate with.
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