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March 24, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Leader Haniyeh: "There Will Be No State Without the Whole of Palestine" - Hidayah al-Saidi (Anadolu-Turkey)
    Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, speaking on Wednesday in Gaza City, vowed to pursue resistance.
    "The accumulation of force in Gaza is not meant to only defend the strip, but also to defend Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque," he said.
    "Gaza is part of Palestine and there will be no Palestinian state without Gaza and there will be no state without the whole of Palestine."

Senate Confirms David Friedman as U.S. Ambassador to Israel - Karoun Demirjian (Washington Post)
    The Senate on Thursday confirmed David M. Friedman to be the next ambassador to Israel in a 52-to-46 vote.
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted, "New U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman will be warmly welcomed as President Trump's representative and as a close friend of Israel."

Palestinian Activist Who Didn't Disclose Israel Bombings Will Leave U.S. (AP)
    Rasmea Odeh, a Chicago Palestinian activist who didn't disclose her time in an Israeli prison when she got U.S. citizenship, has agreed to plead guilty and leave the country.
    Odeh was convicted of two bombings in Israel in 1969. Israel released Odeh in a prisoner exchange in 1979.

Fight in Syria More Costly for Russians than Kremlin Has Disclosed (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    Russia's force in Syria has suffered 18 killed since Jan. 29, according to evidence gathered by Reuters, while the Russian defense ministry has publicly reported only five servicemen's deaths in Syria over the same period.
    Large numbers of Russians are being dispatched to Syria as private military contractors.

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Texas Senate Approves Bill Opposed to Boycott of Israel - Chuck Lindell (Austin American-Statesman)
    The Texas Senate on Wednesday approved legislation banning state contracts and investment in companies that boycott Israel, on a 25-4 vote.
    Texas should not do business with companies that participate in the "BDS" movement, which seeks to isolate Israel and disrupt its economy, said the bill's author, Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe).

Israel to Hand Over to Jordan Remains of Its Fallen Soldiers (Jordan Times)
    Israel has found the remains of three Jordanian soldiers in the Sur Baher area in Jerusalem from the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the Jordan news agency Petra reported Wednesday.
    Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Israel "respects Jordan and the soldiers who died in the line of duty," noting that contacts have been made to move the remains to Jordan for burial.

President Rivlin Visits Israeli Model Cow Dairy in Vietnam (Ynet News)
    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin visited Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday as part of his state visit to Vietnam.
    The president and his wife, Nechama, toured a model cow dairy established in 2013 by MASHAV (the international development program of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
    The dairy acts as a center of excellence for the local area, and the staff regularly travel to other dairies to help farmers utilize Israeli methods.
    Addressing a Vietnam-Israeli economic conference, Rivlin said, "When the State of Israel was very young, we, the Israelis, called ourselves Sabras."
    "Sabra is the fruit from the cactus plant and only grows in the desert. Like the sabra, we managed to provide water and food to make us flourish even when we didn't have enough water. We did it by becoming experts in making the most out of every drop."
    See also Vietnam Treasures Multifaceted Ties with Israel (Vietnam News)
    Vietnam attaches importance to the friendship and multifaceted cooperation with Israel in the cause of peace and development, Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong said Monday as he received visiting Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Hanoi.
    The Party leader expressed satisfaction with the sound development of bilateral ties, particularly in trade, hi-tech agriculture and defense technology.

Israel-Funded Agriculture Center in Cambodia Will Teach Latest Methods - Van Roeun (Cambodia Daily)
    The Cambodian Agriculture Ministry plans to establish an advanced agriculture training center in Kompong Speu province funded by Israel with model farms for Cambodian students to study the latest techniques, officials said on Wednesday.
    Cambodia has a long history of sending agriculture students to Israel, considered a world leader in agricultural technologies.
    With an Israel-backed center in the country, the students would be able to continue with advanced studies upon their return home.

Israeli Air Force to Host 7 Nations at Air Drill - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
    The Israeli Air Force in autumn will host flying forces from the U.S., Greece, Poland, France, Germany, India and Italy for the biennial, two-week Blue Flag drill.
    "It will be a massive exercise; the biggest ever for the IAF," said Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, the Israeli Air Force chief of international affairs.
    "We provide a sort of battle lab in which forces can hone a spectrum of skills needed to combat growing threats."
    France, Germany, India and Italy are participating actively for the first time, along with officers and attaches from nearly 40 countries who will attend as observers.
    Unlike the annual Red Flag drill hosted by the U.S. Air Force in Nevada, Israel's Blue Flag does not pit flying forces against one another.
    Rather, said Hecht, the Israeli event is designed to emphasize cooperation over competition.

Israel-Cyprus Military Exercise Ends (Cyprus Mail)
    Cyprus and Israel have completed the three-day Onisilos-Gideon military exercise, the Cyprus Defense Ministry said Wednesday.
    A large number of National Guard personnel took part as well as numerous Israeli Air Force aircraft, which tested Cypriot air defenses.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Arrests Dual U.S.-Israeli Citizen Linked to Threats on U.S. Jewish Centers - Josef Federman
    Israeli police on Thursday arrested a 19-year-old Jewish man who holds dual Israeli and American citizenship, who they said was the main suspect in a wave of bomb threats against Jewish community centers in the U.S., appearing to crack a case that has sent a chill through the American Jewish community. Israeli police described the suspect as a hacker. "He's the guy who was behind the JCC threats," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
        The man is also suspected of placing threatening phone calls to Australia, New Zealand and within Israel. Police also said he had disrupted a Delta Airlines flight at New York's JFK airport in 2015. Israel's national police chief Roni Alsheich said, "This does not bring honor to the State of Israel, of course. But I think it does bring respect to Israel's police."  (AP-Newsday)
        See also Israeli Police Arrest Israeli-American for Bomb Threats Against Jewish Centers - Yaniv Kubovich
    The cyberattack unit of Israel's fraud squad arrested the Jewish suspect on Thursday in wake of information it received from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law-enforcement authorities abroad. The FBI found that the threats had originated from Israel. Using innovative technology, the police were able to identify the suspect's home.
        Five computers were confiscated as well as antennas he used to access other people's networks and to commit the crimes undetected. Police are accusing him of extortion through threats and of false reporting, spreading panic. The suspect has lived in Israel many years. The army refused to draft him after finding him unfit for service. (Ha'aretz)
        See also The Slip-Up that Caught the Jewish Center Bomb Caller - Kevin Poulsen
    Israeli police arrested Michael Kaydar, 19, at his home in Ashkelon on Thursday for a wave of bomb threats against Jewish community centers in the U.S.  He employed an array of technologies to make himself virtually untraceable for months, but one careless slip-up led police to his door.
        The bomb threats come in six separate waves. But on at least one occasion, he neglected to route his Internet connection through a proxy server, leaving behind a real IP address in the server logs. The address was in Israel, where police traced it to a WiFi access point that Kaydar had accessed through a giant antenna pointed out a window in his home. (Daily Beast)
  • London Attacker Khalid Masood Escaped from MI5's Radar - Gordon Rayner
    The terrorist who murdered four people in Westminster was named by Scotland Yard as British-born Muslim convert Khalid Masood, 52, who had a string of criminal convictions for assault and had spent time in jail where he is thought to have been radicalized. He was investigated by MI5 for "violent extremism" but was ruled out as a threat by security services before being "re-radicalized." Masood had been "hanging out" with would-be jihadis who wanted to travel to fight abroad, a U.S. government source said. (Telegraph-UK)
  • U.S. Senators Move to Tighten Sanctions on Iran - Patricia Zengerle
    Iran would face tighter U.S. sanctions over ballistic missile launches and other non-nuclear activities under a bill announced on Thursday by a bipartisan group of seven Republican and seven Democratic senators, echoing a harder line on Tehran espoused by President Donald Trump. The bill would set mandatory sanctions for anyone involved with Iran's ballistic missile program, and it would apply sanctions to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
        Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said the new bill had been written so as not to interfere with the Iran nuclear accord. The bill's lead sponsors include Republican Senator Bob Corker, the Foreign Relations Committee chairman, and Ben Cardin, the panel's ranking Democrat. (Reuters)
        See also Senators Introduce Comprehensive Legislation to Hold Iran Accountable (U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S., Israel Conclude Round of Talks in Washington
    After a round of high-level talks between the Trump administration and an Israeli delegation, a joint statement issued Thursday stated: "Senior-level United States and Israeli delegations concluded today four days of intensive discussions, with a particular focus on concrete, near-term measures to improve the overall climate in order to advance the prospects for a genuine and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians."
        "The issues the two delegations discussed are exceptionally complicated, and the fact that both governments dedicated such senior delegations for nearly a full week of talks reflects the close cooperation between the two countries and the importance both assign to this vital task."
        "A principal focus of the discussions was specific measures that could have a meaningful impact on the economic environment in the West Bank and Gaza, allowing the Palestinians to more fully realize their economic potential. The Israelis welcomed United States interest in continuing to play a facilitating role in advancing issues regarding electricity and water in ways that will benefit both Israel and the Palestinians and also move the Palestinians toward self-sustainability in these crucial areas."
        "The two delegations also discussed Israeli settlement construction....The United States delegation reiterated President Trump's concerns regarding settlement activity in the context of moving towards a peace agreement. The Israeli delegation made clear that Israel's intent going forward is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes those concerns into consideration. The talks were serious and constructive, and they are ongoing."  (Prime Minister of Israel-Facebook)
        See also U.S., Israel Conclude Four Days of Talks - Felicia Schwartz
    Trump administration officials have denied reports that the Israelis rejected a proposal for a partial settlement freeze. "The notion that Israelis have rebuffed proposals...none of it is correct," a senior Trump administration official said. "Nobody is asking for a freeze here."
        "Overall, it's about how do you create an environment and a climate that allows for resuming the direct negotiations, which are the key for progress to be made," said the official. "In order for there to be a peace deal that is done, it has to be done in direct talks between the two parties, and both of those parties deciding how they're going to pursue this, the shape of an agreement, and what compromises they are willing to make and how this all will be hammered out."  (Wall Street Journal)
  • Palestinian Killed While Throwing Firebombs at IDF Troops in West Bank
    A Palestinian was killed and three wounded Thursday after several Palestinians approached the Israeli community of Beit El from Jalazone in the West Bank and hurled firebombs at IDF troops, prompting them to return fire. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • PA Leader Contradicts "Common Knowledge" about Settlement Blocs - David Brinn
    Along with a contingent of Jerusalem Post editors and reporters, I was in the Palestinian city of Jericho to meet with PA strongman Jibril Rajoub, who has been part of the Israeli-Palestinian landscape for decades. Gracious, hospitable and displaying fluency in English and Hebrew, Rajoub eloquently explained the Palestinian view. He also spoke of both sides having to make "painful concessions" before a lasting solution could be achieved.
        I asked him to expand on his "painful concessions" statement. Identifying myself as a resident of nearby Ma'aleh Adumim, I pointed out that the common wisdom is that all sides realized that the large settlement blocs like Ma'aleh Adumim, Gush Etzion and Ariel would remain part of Israel in a two-state solution. Rajoub answered by raising his voice and saying absolutely not, all settlements were "a malignant cancer."
        If it is indeed common knowledge that the settlement blocs are a given in a final-status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, then Rajoub must have not received the memo. Given the opportunity to break away from the Palestinian intransigence of the past and acknowledge the inevitability of facts on the ground, Rajoub retreated to the tired slogans of the past. The writer is the managing editor of the Jerusalem Post. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Mahmoud Abbas Against Freedom of Expression - Yoni Ben Menachem
    Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is no different from any other ruler in an Arab country. This is another dictator who knows how to suppress his opponents using various pretexts. In recent weeks, Abbas' security forces have been working to locate hundreds of Palestinian youths who participated in conferences organized by his rival, Mohammad Dahlan, for Fatah activists. Ten were transferred to administrative detention, accused of attempting to cooperate with Egyptian intelligence to overthrow Abbas.
        Gen. Majed Faraj heads Palestinian General Intelligence, an intelligence apparatus that works to locate Abbas' critics in the media and social networks. Journalists have been arrested for allegedly cursing and denouncing the PA and Abbas. At Abbas' request, the PA has prepared a "blacklist" of all activists who criticize him on Facebook and live in the U.S., Europe, and Arab countries.
        On March 9, 2017, the Prime Minister and Minister of Justice, Rami Hamdallah, sent a letter to Gen. Ziad al-Harih, head of PA Preventive Security, instructing him to step up oversight and monitoring of the accounts of people on social networks that "incite against our institutions."
        Palestinians, who live near Israel and see Israeli democracy close up, understand that they will be forced to live under a dictatorship in a Palestinian state if it is established. The writer, a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israel Radio and Television, is a senior Middle East analyst for the Jerusalem Center. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Israel's "Military Occupation" of the West Bank Ended Long Ago - Stephen M. Flatow
    Despite all the talk about Israel's "military occupation" in the West Bank, in fact, the Israeli military governor of the territories left long ago. The Israeli army was withdrawn by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, 22 years ago. In Ramallah, Bethlehem and Nablus you won't see any Israeli soldiers. Instead, you'll see Palestinian policemen and security forces.
        In the areas where more than 98% of the Palestinian Arabs reside, it is the Palestinian Authority, not Israel, which is the ruling power. The mayors are Palestinians. The judges in the courts are Palestinians. So are the folks who guard the jails, staff the hospitals and teach in the schools. There are no Israelis to be found anywhere.
        The writer, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in a Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. (

  • Other Issues

  • Good Schools Aren't the Secret to Israel's High-Tech Boom - Naftali Bennett
    I am often asked how a country the size of New Jersey became a global high-tech force. Israel lists 93 companies on Nasdaq - more than India, Japan and South Korea combined. In 2016 investors sank $6 billion into Israel's more than 6,000 startups.
        During my two years as minister of education I have come to understand that our secret weapon is a parallel education system that operates alongside the formal one, where our children learn to become entrepreneurs. The first component is our heritage of debate - it's in the Jewish DNA. For generations Jews have studied the Talmud, our legal codex, in pairs instead of listening to a lecture, engaging in debate. They analyze issues from all directions, finding different solutions. Multiple answers to a single question are common.
        The second component is the peer-teaches-peer model of Jewish youth organizations. The third component is the army. Because we are constantly defending ourselves from Islamic terror, young Israeli adults must literally make life-or-death decisions every day. Real-life tasks show young adults how much they are capable of achieving. The writer, a former high-tech CEO, is Israel's minister of education. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Greek-Israeli Strategic Relationship - Alexis Papachelas
    The participation of two Syriza party deputies in the 2012 Gaza flotilla seems like a distant memory. Greece and Israel are now conducting joint military drills on a regular basis and they are cooperating closely on the security level. The Jewish lobby in Washington is acting to set up meetings between Greek officials and the Trump administration and is lobbying in favor of Greece. It is all very different compared to the days when Israel and Turkey acted in unison.
        The Greek political system has adopted a dogma of close strategic cooperation with Israel and appears to be sticking to it regardless of what government is in power. The strategy has been upheld by three successive administrations, while the current one is taking the whole thing a step forward.
        We have a lot to gain from Israel besides security. The two peoples have a lot in common, but we also differ in two key respects: Greeks are not as good at working together as a group; also, we do not have the professionalism and the drive that is inspired in the Israelis by their fight for survival. (Ekathimerini-Greece)
  • Book Review: Rabin - The Hawk Dressed as a Dove - Elliott Abrams
    In Yitzhak Rabin, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Itamar Rabinovich convincingly argues that "it is wrong to remember and commemorate Rabin as a dovish leader." Rabin's primary concern throughout his life was Israeli security - and throughout his long career in the military he proved himself capable of carrying out extremely tough action.
        The mystery of Rabin is why, given his decades of staunch defense of Israeli security, he agreed to the Oslo Accords and, more, why he actively sought a deal with Hafez al-Assad to give the Golan Heights back to Syria. The visible reluctance with which Rabin shook Arafat's hand on the White House lawn in 1993 showed Rabin's doubts about the treaty he had just signed and the new path it appeared to signify. The writer, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, was a deputy national security adviser in the George W. Bush administration. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Weekend Features

  • Book Review: The Story of Hebrew - Benjamin Balint
    When I took some American visitors to the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem to see the Dead Sea Scrolls, my guests were struck not so much by the parchments themselves as by the group of Israeli fourth-graders reading aloud from texts that were two millennia old. In The Story of Hebrew, Lewis Glinert, a professor at Dartmouth College, aims to track the fate of the Hebrew language.
        The era of biblical Hebrew reaches as far back as the second millennium before the Christian era. Spoken Hebrew seems to have died around 200 CE, more than a century after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. But throughout the diaspora, Jews used written Hebrew, which would flourish as a medium of cultural continuity. In the 19th century, Eastern European cultural Zionists brought about a rebirth of Hebrew, an achievement, Glinert writes, "without precedent in linguistic and sociopolitical history."
        For pragmatists, resurrecting a bookish tongue that lacked words for tomato, theater, microscope or fun seemed either ridiculous or inconceivable. Even the father of political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, envisioned a Jewish state of German speakers. Yet the history-hallowed language returned to its native soil by the sheer will of pioneers like Eliezer Ben-Yehuda (1858-1922), the author of a 16-volume dictionary of Hebrew usage. (Wall Street Journal)
  • How Barn Owls Are Helping to Bring Peace to the Middle East - Ian Johnston
    Thirty years ago, after farmers near Beit She'an in the Hula Valley in Israel realized that poison used to control rodents was killing the local barn owl population, some 100 Israeli Jews, Jordanians, Palestinians and Israeli Arabs began to collaborate to help the barn owls.
        Professor Alexandre Roulin, of Lausanne University in Switzerland, said: "Initially we started this project for the barn owls. This was not for peace-building or reconciliation. The idea was to solve an ecological problem. What we realized is once we met with all these people...we realized, wow, these people really become friends. When you have an issue people have to solve, nothing to do with religion, tradition or culture, people really agree to be together." He said the project to save the barn owls had essentially given Palestinians, Jordanians, Israeli Arabs and Israel Jews a common cause. (Independent-UK)
        See also Nature Knows No Boundaries: The Role of Nature Conservation in Peacebuilding - Alexandre Roulin, [former Jordanian chief of intelligence] Mansour Abu Rashid, [IDF Brig. Gen. (res.)] Baruch Spiegel, Motti Charter, Amelie N. Dreiss, and Yossi Leshem (Trends in Ecology and Evolution)
  • Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians Join Forces in Earthquake-Prone Jordan Valley - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich
    With Israel's border area with Jordan at high risk for earthquakes, Israeli institutions are collaborating with the Jordanian Red Crescent and Hebron's Greenland Association to train local residents as first responders, in a joint project conceived by Ben-Gurion University, the European Union and Magen David Adom. First-response teams throughout the region will be prepared to assist one another in case of an emergency.
        Prof. Limor Aharonson-Daniel, Ben-Gurion University's deputy rector for international academic relations, said: "The collaboration, which began with training the first Jordanian paramedics a decade ago, continues with the establishment of local emergency-response teams over the past three years....Above all, the project has sparked personal relationships and friendships that prove that regional collaboration is indeed possible."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Photos: Photographer Henryk Ross Captured Jews' Daily Life in Lodz Ghetto - Penny Schwartz
    In the spring of 1945, Henryk Ross, one of the few survivors of the Lodz ghetto, unearthed a box containing 6,000 photo negatives he had taken while confined to the ghetto. "I buried my negatives in the ground in order that there should be some record of our tragedy....I wanted to leave a historical record of our martyrdom," he wrote four decades later. Ross, who died in 1991 in Israel, was one of two Jews in the ghetto, along with Mendel Grossman, who took official photographs for the Statistics Department of the Judenrat, the Jewish Council, set up under Nazi rule.
        Some 160,000 Jews were confined in the Lodz Ghetto from 1940 to 1944. It was the longest-existing ghetto and the second-largest, after Warsaw. Hunger and starvation killed one-quarter of the ghetto's residents. An exhibit of Ross' surviving photographs will be on view at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston from March 25 through July 30, its first showing in the U.S. (Times of Israel)

Lessons from Israel's Response to Terrorism - Fiamma Nirenstein, editor (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

A team of Jerusalem Center experts headed by Fiamma Nirenstein - former Vice President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in Italy's Chamber of Deputies - takes a very timely look at Israel's model for dealing with terror.
    Contributors to this study include Amb. Dore Gold, Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, Amb. Freddy Eytan, Amb. Alan Baker, Dan Diker, Prof. Asa Kasher, Jennifer Roskies, and Dr. Irwin Mansdorf.

  • Amb. Dore Gold: Terror against Europe and Israel is not different. Effective solidarity among states has become a prerequisite for ultimately succeeding in the war of the West against jihadist terrorism. Just as the West, the Arab states that are threatened, and Israel all face similar threats, the models developed in Israel for dealing with terror merit attention in Europe and beyond.
  • Fiamma Nirenstein: An important component of Israel's struggle against terrorism is its population's psychology, resilience, and capacity to counter the constant attacks against civilians. How do the Israeli people overcome being in the front line against terror? The answers lie in Israel's history, sociology, education, and social values.
  • Brig-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser: Israel's overall strategy of fighting terror was developed out of ongoing learning efforts. Understanding the goals and strategy of the enemy and the context in which it operates, and being agile enough to rapidly adopt adequate responses that build on former solutions, enabled Israel to become a world leader in the fight against terror.
  • Amb. Alan Baker: International law calls for stringent and active measures against terrorists. Today's massive incitement to terror uses modern technology and means of communication as a central component of terror. The international community needs to act to criminalize incitement to terror.
  • Dan Diker: Palestinian and international terror organizations have increasingly engaged in both terror and diplomacy, conducting relations with states and within international bodies. In recent years, international organizations and institutions have legitimized Palestinian and some Islamic terror groups. Any counter-terror efforts require unconditional and uncompromising condemnation of all forms of radical Islamic terror.
  • Prof. Asa Kasher: How can democracy face terrorism? The first principle is the right and duty of self-defense. The second principle is the duty to respect human dignity. These two principles are meant to be applied together under all circumstances. This chapter provides a conceptual framework for presentation, explanation, and justification of practices Israel has used over decades for facing terrorism.
  • Jennifer Roskies: Familiarity breeds respect. Interaction between Jews and Arabs is a daily fact of life in Israel. The longstanding contact has yielded basic knowledge of Arab and Muslim customs among virtually all Israeli Jews, with acceptance of cultural differences. The result is a clear-eyed coexistence that is functional on a civic level and often cordial on a personal level.
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