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March 10, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Police Believe Single Caller Menacing Jewish Centers (AP-Times of Israel)
    New York City's head of police intelligence, John Miller, told "CBS This Morning" on Thursday that investigators believe one man using a voice changer and phone spoofing device is behind a large number of the threats made against U.S. Jewish institutions this year.
    "We have an offender with some technical prowess here," Miller said.

Le Figaro: Israeli Aircraft Bombed a Syrian S-300 Missile Complex and a Weapons Warehouse (UA Wire-Ukraine)
    On March 7, the French newspaper Le Figaro reported that on Jan. 13, Israeli F-35 planes destroyed warehouses in Damascus where Russian-made Pantsir surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapon systems intended for Hizbullah, as well as a S-300 surface-to-air missile system, were stored.
    The attacks were carried out near Mezzeh Military Airport and Mount Qasioun.

U.S. State Department Confirms Obama's Last-Minute Aid to the Palestinians - Amir Tibon (Ha'aretz)
    The Obama administration's last-minute transfer of $221 million to the Palestinian Authority in January - which the Trump administration said was "under review" - had in fact already been released to the Palestinians, State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said Wednesday.

Is Iran Attempting to Thwart U.S. Surveillance of Its Missile Tests? - Farzin Nadimi (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps speedboats blocked the path of the USNS Invincible, a missile range instrumentation ship, on March 4, forcing the vessel to change course.
    The Invincible may have been monitoring Iranian missile test activities at the time and has been monitoring Iranian missile tests since 2012.
    Using the powerful Cobra Gemini dual-band radar, the Invincible can track and plot the detailed trajectory and dynamics of missiles from launch until they reach their target.
    Other listening equipment can record and decipher encrypted telemetry communications between a missile and its launching party.
    The harassment of the Invincible was likely part of a concerted effort to hinder effective monitoring of Iran's more sensitive weapons technologies.

Iranian Spy Goes on Trial in Germany - Kirsten Grieshaber (AP)
    Haider Syed Mustafa, 31, a Pakistani man, went on trial Wednesday in Berlin for operating as a spy for Iran's Revolutionary Guard Quds Force in Germany and France, collecting information on possible Israeli and Jewish targets for attack.
    Mustafa collected extensive information on Reinhold Robbe, the former head of the German-Israeli Association in Berlin, and Daniel Rouach, a French-Israeli professor from the Ecole Superieure de Commerce de Paris university, including photos and video of the two, and details of their workplaces, homes, families and acquaintances as well as the neighborhoods and public transportation they frequented.
    He also collected information on the Jewish newspaper Juedische Allgemeine in Berlin.

Egypt Sentences Three Egyptians, Six Israelis to Life in Prison over 2013 Spy Ring (Daily News-Egypt)
    The North Sinai Criminal Court sentenced three Egyptians and six Israeli nationals to life in prison for spying on Egypt on behalf of Israel in 2013, local media reported Wednesday.
    The Israelis were all sentenced in absentia, while two of the Egyptian defendants were present in court and had confessed to the crime of espionage.

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Gaza Underground Wall Construction Expedited - Matan Tzuri (Ynet News)
    Construction work on the underground wall designed to prevent tunnel breaches into Israeli territory from Gaza is being expedited.
    Some 1,500-2,000 foreign workers are expected to be recruited to help build the underground barrier, Defense Ministry Director-General Udi Adam told officials from Israeli towns near the Gaza border.

Arab League to Resist Embassies' Move to Jerusalem (AFP-Daily Mail-UK)
    Arab League foreign ministers unanimously adopted a resolution Tuesday against any attempt to move diplomatic missions to Jerusalem.
    The League "considers setting up any diplomatic mission in Jerusalem or moving it to the city an explicit attack on the rights of the Palestinian people and all Muslims and Christians."

Israeli Soldiers Scour Social Media to Stop Violence - Derek Stoffel (CBC News-Canada)
    The young Israeli soldiers sitting in front of a bank of computers are logged into Facebook - trying to prevent attacks against fellow Israelis.
    Inside the command center - called the "war room" - of an army base, members of an Israel Defense Forces intelligence unit sort through thousands of posts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, looking for digital warning signs.
    "Words like, 'knife, bomb,' stuff like that," said Capt. Y. "That helps us determine who is more probable to commit something."
    Israel has become a world leader in monitoring social media to try to predict and prevent attacks.
    Experts say other nations, particularly those in Europe, would benefit by emulating Israel in this respect.

Rocket Fired at Israel Falls Short, Lands in Gaza - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    A rocket fired at Israel from Khan Yunis landed inside Gaza on Thursday night, according to Palestinian media.

Anti-Semitism Bill Passes South Carolina House - Avery G. Wilks (The State-Columbia, SC)
    The South Carolina House on Thursday voted 103-3 in favor of a proposal to address an uptick in anti-Semitic activity without censoring free speech on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    Jewish community centers across the U.S., including one in Columbia, recently have been targeted with bomb threats.
    The bill would require South Carolina colleges to use the U.S. State Department definition of anti-Semitism when investigating alleged civil rights violations on campus.
    "This bill will help provide colleges with the proper tools to ascertain the intent of persons engaged in unlawful activity," said state Rep. Beth Bernstein (D-Richland), the only Jewish lawmaker in the S.C. Legislature.

Israel's Economy Grew 4 Percent in 2016 - Moshe Golan (Globes)
    Israel's economy grew 4% in 2016, according to a revision of GDP figures published Thursday by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
    Growth in the fourth quarter was revised to 6.5%.
    Investments in fixed assets grew 11.3% in 2016.

Sea of Galilee at Lowest Level in a Century (AFP-Daily Mail-UK)
    The Sea of Galilee has declined to its lowest level in a hundred years after four consecutive years of rain shortages, Amir Givati of Israel's Water Authority said Tuesday.
    The rest of Israel is spared from shortages thanks to five seawater desalination plants built along the Mediterranean coast.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Netanyahu Urges Putin to Block Iranian Power Corridor on Israel's Border - David Filipov and Ruth Eglash
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Moscow on Thursday seeking reassurance from Russian President Vladimir Putin that his country's presence in Syria would help Israel block Iran from positioning itself permanently on Israel's northern border. At the start of his meeting with Putin, Netanyahu noted that "the victory over the terrorism of ISIS cannot lead to an upsurge in terrorism by Iran and its proxies. We will not exchange terrorism for terrorism."
        Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps are now present along the 1967 cease-fire line with Israel in the Golan Heights, putting them directly opposite Israeli troops for the first time. Hizbullah is also active in the Golan. Iran is also thought to have deployed missiles in Syria capable of reaching deep inside Israeli territory. (Washington Post)
        See also U.S. Envoy to UN: We Need to Get Iran Out of Syria - Michelle Nichols
    U.S. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said Wednesday that Syria could no longer be a "safe haven for terrorists" and that it was important "we get Iran and their proxies out. We've got to make sure that, as we move forward, we're securing the borders for our allies as well."  (Reuters)
  • Iran Poses the Most Significant Threat to U.S. Central Command - Lisa Ferdinando
    Iran poses the most significant threat to U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility, Centcom commander Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday. Centcom has dealt with a number of significant challenges over the past 12 months, including in Iraq and Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Egypt and the Sinai, and the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, he said.
        "We are also dealing with a range of malign activities perpetrated by Iran and its proxies operating in the region....It is my view that Iran poses the greatest long-term threat to stability for this part of the world....The threats in this region continue to pose the most direct threat to the U.S. homeland and the global economy."
        Violent extremist groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State are taking advantage of the fragile security environment, Votel explained. "These groups have clearly indicated their desire and intent to attack the U.S. homeland, our interests abroad and the interest of our partners and allies."  (U.S. Defense Department)
  • Assad's Control Erodes as Warlords Gain Upper Hand - Fritz Schaap
    For months, Assad's army has been on the advance across Syria. But its military success has only been possible due to significant assistance from Iran and Russia - and from local Syrian militias. Now, these fighters are taking over control in many areas, committing murder, looting and harassing civilians. And nobody can stop them. Indeed, the militias are now more powerful than Assad and have become the real holders of power in Syria.
        In September 2015, when the Russians joined the war, the Syrian army only had 6,000 soldiers who were fit for active duty, according to Charles Lister of the Middle East Institute in Washington. To preserve its regular troops, the regime allowed armed loyalists to form their own militias. In many cases, the leaders of smuggling rings or criminal gangs became local kingpins, who were then able to expand their business empires unimpeded.
        When Assad, supported by Russian units, took eastern Aleppo in December 2016, the actual fighting was conducted by Iraqi, Afghan and Lebanese mercenaries under Iranian senior leadership - and by the pro-regime militias. The two largest militias, the Desert Hawks, headquartered in Latakia, and the Tiger Forces from Hama, each have 3,000-6,000 armed fighters. Additionally, there are hundreds of smaller pro-regime militias. The warlords have replaced the state security apparatus in cities and in entire regions. (Der Spiegel-Germany)
  • British Royal to Make State Visit to Israel This Year to Mark Centenary of Balfour Declaration - Niamh McIntyre
    The first state visit by a British Royal to Israel will go ahead this year, Whitehall sources have suggested. The proposed visit would coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, a historic statement of commitment by the British government to support the establishment of a Jewish state in the Middle East. "It is an anniversary we will be marking with pride," British Prime Minister Theresa May recently told a meeting of the Conservative Friends of Israel. (Independent-UK)
        See also below Observations: The Centenary of the Balfour Declaration - Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel's Changing Relations with the White House - Barak Ravid
    Ministers and MKs have heard Prime Minister Netanyahu talk about the dramatic change in the atmosphere between the White House and the Prime Minister's Office. Netanyahu told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday, "There's a change of the highest order in the White House's view of Iran. Trump and his people get the danger and understand that Iran must be viewed as a source of the Mideast's problems, not a solution."
        Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who met with U.S. officials in Washington this week, returned with a sense of real change in the relationship. "On issues relevant to Israel and the Middle East, senior Trump administration officials see eye to eye with us on most things," said an Israeli official briefed on Lieberman's Washington meetings. "The Trump administration wants to reach understandings with us...about the overall vision and the question of where we're going on the Palestinian issue. They don't want to force anything on us, and it's clear to them that first, we have to rebuild trust between the parties, which doesn't exist now, and improve the West Bank's economic situation."  (Ha'aretz)
  • UN Secretary-General Calls for Disarming of Hizbullah
    In a periodic report on the implementation of Resolution 1701 adopted after the Second Lebanon War in 2006, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, "Retention of arms by Hizbullah and other groups undermines the state's authority and contradicts with the duties of the country [Lebanon] under Resolutions 1559 and 1701," An Nahar daily reported on Friday. The report also condemned the "threats launched by the Secretary General of Hizbullah against Israel on February 16, which cannot be justified."  (Naharnet-Lebanon)
        See also Recent Threats Against Israel Made by Hizbullah Leader Hassan Nasrallah (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
  • Israel Arrests Palestinian Hizbullah Operative Who Planned Kidnapping, Terror Attacks
    Yusef Yasser Suylam, 23, a Palestinian Hizbullah operative from the West Bank town of Kalkilya, has been arrested for planning terror attacks and kidnapping of Israeli civilians, the Israel Security Agency announced Thursday. Suylam was recruited by Hizbullah through Facebook and was sent to spy on IDF bases, checkpoints, and different sites in Jerusalem's Old City. He was also tasked with setting up a terror cell to kidnap an Israeli and smuggle the person into Lebanon. (Jerusalem Post-Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Can Russia Be Recruited in the Fight Against Iran? - Ariel Bolstein
    Russia is searching for a future strategy that will allow it to integrate into the world of U.S. President Donald Trump. Russia did not have much in common with the country of Islamic revolution from the outset, and the collaboration between them stems more from their desire to challenge the existing world order.
        Indications of Russia's openness to the idea of turning its back on Iran have been noted on Russian state television. These channels are full of talk shows that focus on current events, and the variety of voices heard on them is effectively controlled by the authorities. In recent weeks, these programs have raised the possibility of placing Iran on the sacrificial altar between Moscow and Washington, and this was received with understanding by a majority of participants.
        Putin and, as a result, the Russian public are determined to witness Russia's inclusion in the select club of world powers, but they have no interest in dragging others who also claim the crown along with them, and certainly not Iran.
        Russia needs to understand that Hizbullah's murderousness is no different from that of the Sunni terrorists it so mercilessly bombed. There should be one law for the Islamic State, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly Nusra Front) and Hizbullah. If Russia operates according to this principle, its standing and the security of the region will vastly improve. (Israel Hayom)
  • Putting Iran on Notice Puts Tehran Off Balance - Emily B. Landau
    Iran refuses to acknowledge that it actually did work on a military nuclear program in the past and it never demonstrated that it left those ambitions behind.
        During the past year and a half the Obama administration refrained from any pushback against Iran's repeated provocations, belligerence and even some violations of the nuclear deal itself, which has only served to embolden Iran. In response to Iranian ballistic missile tests, U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn (who has since resigned) issued a statement that "put Iran on notice" while informing the Iranians that the U.S. will no longer turn a blind eye to their provocations.
        Putting Iran on notice puts Tehran off balance - a desired result. From initial Iranian reactions, it seems that the deterrence is working: Iranian media have reflected advice to Iran's leaders not to do anything that might give Trump an excuse to attack. Dr. Emily B. Landau is director of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. (Jerusalem Post)

  • Other Issues

  • New Blood for Fatah and Hamas - Grant Rumley
    For Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the head of Fatah, the appointment of Mahmoud al-Aloul as Fatah's first-ever vice president was a stroke of tactical genius. Abbas' allies and rivals have hounded him for years about the need to appoint a deputy. By naming Aloul, Abbas has elevated a man who lacks the influence to directly challenge his leadership. Aloul is now Fatah's head of mobilization, a role in which he frequently organizes protests against Israel. Unlike Abbas, he has at times praised armed "resistance" - a euphemism for terrorist attacks.
        In secret internal elections, Hamas elected a military commander, Yehya Sinwar, to serve as its next leader in Gaza. A veteran of Hamas' Qassam Brigades, he spent over 20 years in prison for coordinating terror activities before being released in 2011 in the exchange for captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. A hard-liner, he protested the terms of the prisoner swap that led to his freedom as too conciliatory and has reportedly killed more than a dozen Hamas militants for collaborating with Israel. The writer is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Foreign Affairs)
  • Can the U.S. Mobilize Key Sunni Arab States? - Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky
    President Trump and his aides have been intensely planning to build an Arab coalition. He wants to deepen the relationship with the Gulf Arabs in three critical areas: countering Iranian influence; enlisting them in the fight against the Islamic State; and negotiating peace between Israel and the Palestinians. But the president is likely to find that his vision of U.S. interests doesn't mesh with that of the Arabs on whom he's relying.
        Arab states' support for Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking is clearly worth testing, particularly in light of the positive trend in relations between Israel and the Gulf states driven by a common fear of Iran and Sunni militants. To be sure, nothing else in the peace process has worked. But the notion of broadening the circle of peacemaking can be productive if Israel and the Palestinians are prepared for tough decisions on some of the core issues, such as borders and Jerusalem. But there's no indication that's the case.
        Washington will sooner or later discover that the Sunni Arabs will be problematic security partners, and plans of transformative regional cooperation will go nowhere. These countries have a very poor track record of playing well together. The U.S. needs to keep its expectations low for working closely with the Sunni Gulf states. if Sunni Arab governments are true to form, the U.S. will do most of the heavy lifting while they cheer us from the sidelines and then heap blame on Washington when things go wrong.
        Aaron David Miller, a vice-president at the Wilson Center, served as a Middle East adviser in Republican and Democratic administrations. Richard Sokolsky, a non-resident senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, was a member of the Secretary of State's Office of Policy Planning from 2005-2015. (Washington Post)
  • The 1948 War Through Arab Eyes - Salman Masalha
    As the UN Partition Plan gathered steam following a change in the position of the Soviets, the secretary-general of the Arab League expressed Arab opposition: UN Ambassador Andrei "Gromyko's declaration about the establishment of two states, Arab and Jewish, or a binational state in Palestine, is a proposal that is unacceptable to the Arabs....The only practical solution is the establishment of a state under Arab rule in which the Jews will be a minority" (Falastin, May 16, 1947).
        Dr. Constantin Zureiq, a Syrian historian at the American University of Beirut, in his 1948 book The Meaning of the Disaster, attributed the Zionist victory to the structural, societal and cultural differences between Zionists and Arabs. "Zionism is deeply implanted in Western life, while we are far from it....They live in the present and look to the future, while we are drugged-up and dreaming of a magnificent past....When the battle broke out, our public diplomacy began to speak of our imaginary victories, to put the Arab public to sleep and talk of the ability to overcome and win easily - until the nakba happened."
        "We must admit our mistakes...and recognize the extent of our responsibility for the disaster that is our lot."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel and Its First Peoples, the Jews, Are Not the Problem - Nyunggai Warren Mundine
    Australia helped create Israel. In 1917 Australian soldiers helped defeat the Ottoman Empire's 400-year occupation of Palestine. Australia cast the first UN General Assembly vote for the partition plan in 1947. So I was disappointed that during Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit, some Labor luminaries called on Australia to formally recognize a Palestinian state. Symbolic recognition of a state when none exists is a hollow gesture that doesn't confront the elephant in the room: Palestinian leadership doesn't really support a two-state solution. Likewise, most Arab nations. They won't recognize Israel's right to exist.
        The partition plan was a compromise in the face of Arab opposition to a Jewish state. Jews accepted the partition. Arabs didn't, wanting an Arab state only. Arab nations immediately invaded Israel. After the 1967 war Israel offered to return everything except east Jerusalem in exchange for recognition. Arab leaders refused. Israel has been under constant threat, surrounded by countries who would drive it off the face of the earth. The Palestinian Authority rewards Palestinians for attacking Israeli citizens with generous monthly payments.
        Conceding Jewish claims to Jerusalem means acknowledging Jews' ancient and continuing presence there, contradicting Arab propaganda that Jews are interlopers in Israel, not its first peoples who lived there for millennia before Arab colonization. Palestinian intransigence has repeatedly stood in the way of statehood. If not overcome, there'll never be a Palestinian state. Israel has ceded settlements and land but will never cede its right to exist. The writer is an Australian Aboriginal leader and the former national president of the Australian Labor Party. (Australian Jewish News)
  • The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Does Not Deserve Such Disproportionate Attention - Maajid Nawaz
    The lazy analogy that BDS rests on is with South African apartheid. But unlike apartheid-era South Africa, Arabs make up 20% of Israel's citizenry and most are Muslim. Alongside Hebrew, Arabic is an official language of Israel. An Arab-Israeli judge even convicted former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert.
        Though many problems with integration persist - as they do with minority communities across the West - when surveyed, 77% of these Arabs expressed an overwhelming preference to remain Israeli, rather than become citizens of a future Palestinian state. The reason is obvious, Israeli-Muslims have more freedom of religion than other minorities - and even other Muslims - have in all other Middle-Eastern countries.
        The truth is, there is nothing unique about the Israel conflict deserving such disproportionate attention. Baluchistan, Kurdistan, Cyprus, Kashmir, and Taiwan are but a few other disputed territories not fetishized in the same manner. The writer, a British Muslim, is the founding chairman of Quilliam, a London-based think tank that works to counter Islamist extremism. (Jewish News-UK)
  • Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement Is Not the Way to Achieve Peace in Israel - Moshe Klein
    The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against Israel is modeled after the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. However, the situation in Israel is radically different from South Africa, a country colonized by the British for economic opportunity.
        Not only did Jews begin returning to the land in the late 19th century under the Ottoman Empire, but they were also doing it in an effort to flee from oppressive countries and re-establish a Jewish state. Zionism became the rallying cry for Jews around the world. This is relevant because Jews in Israel do not feel like an occupying power. They feel like an indigenous people in their homeland who are willing to defend it as shown by their willingness to become freedom fighters.
        Unlike British citizens, there is no other country for Jews, and one only needs to look at the recent violence against Jews in Europe and rising anti-Semitism in America to realize Jewish nervousness regarding the diaspora. (Diamondback-University of Maryland)

  • Weekend Features

  • Israel to Honor Cyprus Health Minister Who Helped Save Israeli's Life
    Israel will award Cyprus Health Minister Giorgos Pamboridis a certificate of appreciation after he helped save the life of an Israeli. On Jan. 13, Hadassah Medical Center requested the Israel Foreign Ministry's assistance in saving the life of a patient who needed a drug that was not available in Israel.
        As the country's embassies across Europe were contacted in a bid to locate the drug, Israeli Ambassador to Cyprus Yael Ravia-Zadok immediately contacted Pamboridis, who responded despite it being Friday night. He got back to the ambassador in under an hour, saying: "We have the medication. Nicosia General Hospital is waiting for you to come and pick it up." When the ambassador asked how to transfer payment, the minister replied: "Payment? What payment?" and refused to accept any compensation. The medicine was flown to Israel in time to save the patient's life.
        The Israeli ambassador said, "We will always remember the Cypriots' commitment to human lives experienced first-hand by Jewish Holocaust survivors who were on their way to Israel and deported by the British to Cyprus; 53,000 survivors were concentrated in detention camps on the island in 1946-1949. Even then, we saw humane gestures of many Cypriots who assisted people in the camps."  (Cyprus Mail)
  • Israel's Self-Driving Future - Avi Jorisch
    Almost every global automaker is working feverishly to create the ultimate self-driving machine. Industry experts predict that fully autonomous cars will be on the road by 2030. Israel is playing a major part in all this, developing a significant number of the technologies required to enable self-driving vehicles to run. Future cars will rely more on software. Israel's edge in information technology and cybersecurity gives it a competitive advantage.
        Companies focusing on the global automobile production sector comprise 15% of Israel's industry sector, and their numbers are growing steadily. In the last two years, Israeli automotive startups have raised $820 million. Over 500 Israeli companies are currently focused on creating the infrastructure for driverless vehicles. The writer is a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council. (Foreign Affairs)
  • Crusader Shipwreck, Gold Found by Diving Archaeologists in Israel - Philippe Bohstrom
    The wreck of a Crusader ship dating to the 13th century CE has been found in the bay of Acre in northern Israel. Thirty gold coins were found - Florentine "florins" minted by the Italian republic of Florence from 1252 CE. The shipwreck dates to the destruction of the Crusader bastion in Acre in 1291 CE by the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt.
        When Jerusalem, the Crusader kingdom's capital, fell to Saladin in 1187, Acre replaced Jerusalem as the capital of the kingdom. In 2011, archaeologists unveiled the Crusader city of Acre, remarkably intact, beneath the Ottoman-era town. In the 13th century, Acre was a major center of international trade, exporting sugar, spices, glass, and textiles to Europe; weapons, metal, timber, armor, horses and horseshoes were imported to the Holy Land. (Ha'aretz)

The Centenary of the Balfour Declaration - Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)

  • Referring to the Balfour Declaration of 1917, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said, "This was a crime perpetrated against our people." PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki demanded an apology from Britain on behalf of the Palestinian people. We should pay attention to this protest, which demonstrates the continued relevance of the Balfour Declaration today.
  • The idea of self-determination as an accepted international principle was introduced into the discourse of the world powers by President Woodrow Wilson with the entrance of the U.S. into the First World War in 1917. At the San Remo Conference (1920), the League of Nations conferred a temporary ruling mandate for Palestine on Britain, until the peoples of the region could stand on their own feet.
  • In 1922, the League of Nations approved the inclusion of the Balfour Declaration in the mandate, a measure also adopted by the other Allied powers. Britain was thus charged with the Declaration's implementation - namely, the facilitation of the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel.
  • The Arabs claimed the Balfour Declaration contradicted the principle of self-determination, but they did not demand Palestinian self-determination. What they demanded instead was the joining of the mandatory Land of Israel to the short-lived Kingdom of Syria, established by the self-proclaimed King Faisal. Their recognition of Palestine as part of a "Greater Syria" remained long after Faisal was expelled from Damascus by the French in 1920.
  • The declared awareness of the League of Nations of the exceptional situation of the Jews emphasized the significance of the special right of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel. It recognized their historical and cultural affinity to the land, and affirms their political significance.
  • The importance of the Declaration lies also in its timing, decades before the Holocaust. It recognized the right of the people of Israel to establish a national entity in the Land of Israel due to their historical ties to the land, rather than to a disaster that befell them. It is also highly significant with regard to international law that remains in force.

    The writer, a senior research associate at the BESA Center, served in the IDF for 42 years, commanding troops in battle on the Egyptian and Syrian fronts.

        See also Videos: 100 Years Since the Balfour Declaration - Amb. Dore Gold, Dr. Michael Borchard, Prof. Andrew Roberts, Col. Richard Kemp, Prof. Ruth Lapidoth, Prof. Nicholas Rostow, Dr. Jacques Gauthier, Moshe Arens, Amb. Daniel Taub, and Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser
    From a conference in Jerusalem, February 28, 2017 (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

        See also Winston Churchill's Defense of the Balfour Declaration (1921) - Lenny Ben-David
    On March 28, 1921, British Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill visited Jerusalem where he attended a tree-planting ceremony on the site of the future Hebrew University on Mount Scopus. Churchill said: "The British Government have passed their word, by the mouth of Mr. Balfour, that they will view with favour the establishment of a National Home for Jews in Palestine, and that inevitably involves the immigration of Jews into the country."
        "Moreover, it is manifestly right that the Jews, who are scattered all over the world, should have a national centre and a National Home where some of them may be reunited. And where else could that be but in this land of Palestine, with which for more than 3,000 years they have been intimately and profoundly associated?"  (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
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