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May 12, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

New U.S. Ambassador Friedman Told Trump Chances of Peace Deal Are Slim - Barak Ravid and Amir Tibon (Ha'aretz)
    The new American ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, has held quite a few conversations in recent weeks with diplomats and senior Israeli officials, where he stressed that Israel must cooperate with President Trump's diplomatic initiative on the peace process.
    Friedman will arrive in Israel on Monday to prepare for Trump's visit on May 22.
    Two people who have spoken with Friedman told Ha'aretz that he has given Trump his own assessment that the chances of achieving a peace deal are slim.
    "Trump heard this from Friedman, from other people on his team, and also from people outside the White House whom he consulted," one said.
    Senior Israeli officials said they got the impression from White House officials that Trump wants his visit to Israel to be as friendly and embracing as possible - to both Israelis and Palestinians.

Invest in BDS-Banned Companies and Make Lots of Money - Adam Levick (UK Media Watch)
    I looked at all of the publicly traded companies I could find listed on the website, and their stock prices from a year ago and today.
    If you would have invested equal amounts in all these 9 companies a year ago, you would have made a profit three times the Dow Jones Industrial Average gain in that time period.

Palestinian Preacher at Al-Aqsa Mosque Calls to Annihilate the Jews and Destroy the Palestinian Authority (MEMRI)
    Palestinian preacher Ali Abu Ahmad, speaking at an Al-Aqsa Mosque rally in a video posted on the Internet on May 6, said:
    "With the fall of the Caliphate, Palestine was occupied by the Jews, the vilest of creatures, and the place of the Prophet's nocturnal journey was defiled, blood was spilled, the honor of women was violated, the elderly were humiliated and the children were killed - by the Jews, the most despicable and cowardly of creatures."
    "If you take up arms to please Allah...the time for you to mobilize your armies has order to finish off the monstrous entity of the Jews."
    "Oh Allah, destroy the (Palestinian) Authority of shame and disgrace! Oh Allah, annihilate all the Jews! Oh Allah, enable us to kill them!"

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India Successfully Tests Israeli Air Defense Missiles - Hemant Kumar Rout (New Indian Express)
    India on Thursday successfully tested the Israeli-made, quick reaction, surface-to-air Python and Derby (Spyder) air defense system, firing three missiles that hit unmanned pilotless target aircraft over three days.
    The state-of-the-art missile has a strike range of 15 km. and can destroy aircraft, UAVs, and cruise missiles.

    See also Indian Navy Ships Dock at Haifa Port - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    Three Indian Navy ships arrived at Haifa Port on Monday for a three-day visit, including the INS Mumbai, a guided-missile destroyer; INS Trishul, a stealth-missile frigate; and INS Aditya, a tanker.

    See also India, Israel Forge Partnership for Small Arms Production - Vivek Raghuvanshi (Defense News)
    Israel Weapon Industries, a former division of Israel Military Industries, and India's Punj Lloyd firm have begun to jointly produce a variety of small arms from the Israeli company's product line, some of which are for the Indian armed forces.
    The new venture is expected to tap a solid chunk of India's small arms market, estimated at more than $5 billion, because of its "Made in India" character.

Chinese Investment in Israeli Tech Reaches $16.5 Billion in 2016 (Israel Hayom)
    In 2016, Chinese investment in Israel reached $16.5 billion, with money flooding into Internet, cybersecurity and medical device startups.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Kurd-Led Force Homes In on Islamic State's Syrian Stronghold - Maria Abi-Habib and Raja Abdulrahim
    The Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces, backed by Washington and Damascus, is closing in on Islamic State's stronghold of Raqqa after taking the strategic Tabqa dam 30 miles away on Wednesday, backed by U.S. ground forces. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Iran's Zarif Congratulates New Hamas Leader
    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif congratulated Ismail Haniyeh on his election as the head of Hamas' Political Bureau. "I hope you...[use] the experiences of Resistance martyrs and foil threats and the conspiracies of the Zionist enemy," Zarif said. (ISNA-Iran)
  • Pizza Hut Fires Israeli PR Firm over Prison Hunger Strike Ad - Ilan Ben Zion
    Pizza Hut has apologized and fired an advertising firm responsible for an Israeli Facebook ad that related to Palestinian hunger strike leader Marwan Barghouti. On Sunday, Israel's Prison Service released a video showing Barghouti secretly snacking. Pizza Hut Israel then published a Facebook post with a pizza box superimposed on Barghouti's prison cell, asking if he would rather have broken his hunger strike with a pizza.
        Pizza Hut International on Tuesday released a statement apologizing for any offense, after a Twitter campaign to boycott the company. The Palestinian Prisoners' Media Committee called off its boycott of Pizza Hut after accepting the apology. (AP)
  • Palestinian Municipal Elections in West Bank to Be Held Saturday - Sarah Benhaida
    Palestinians will vote in elections for 300 municipal councils in the West Bank on Saturday. There will be 536 candidate lists with 4,400 candidates. In 180 districts where family and traditional ties are strong, membership in the village councils is agreed upon in advance and one list is formed. Efforts to hold joint local elections with Hamas-run Gaza failed last year. (AFP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Calls on UN Security Council to End PA Payments to Terrorists - Danielle Ziri
    Israeli ambassador to the UN Danny Danon asked the UN Security Council on Thursday to "take action" and call on the Palestinian Authority to stop paying terrorists for killing civilians in Israel. "In 2016, the PA dedicated almost $130 million of its budget to paying imprisoned terrorists. They spent another $175 million in allowances to the families of so-called martyrs. Altogether, the PA paid more than $300 million directly in support of terrorists every single year." Mahmoud Abbas is telling Palestinians: "Kill innocent people and you and your family will be paid for the rest of your life."
        This amount, he said, comes to 7% of the PA yearly budget, and almost 30% of the foreign aid donated by the international community. "So many UN member-states are sending their people's money to support terrorists....It is absurd to condemn terror, while at the same time paying terrorists."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Intelligence Minister Urges U.S. to Recognize Golan Sovereignty - Gil Hoffman
    Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz, speaking at the Jerusalem Post conference in New York on Sunday, proposed that in light of the civil war in Syria, the U.S. should recognize Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights. Katz also called for opposition to a permanent Iranian military presence in Syria and Lebanon, further sanctions against Iran until it stops supporting regional terror, and enhanced sanctions on Hizbullah. "There will not be stability in the region until Iran is pushed back, and weapons transfers are stopped," he added. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Abbas Exempts Gazans from Taxes and Fees - Nasouh Nazzal
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has issued a presidential decree exempting all Gazans from taxes and fees introduced by official departments and all other local institutions, including licensing of vehicles and properties. These taxes, collected from Gazans by Hamas, have been a fundamental component of the Hamas budget in Gaza. PA official Hussain Al Shaikh said the move was aimed at easing the daily life of Gazans while pressuring Hamas. Hamas has rejected the PA move, branding it as illegal. (Gulf News-Dubai)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Can the U.S. Convert a Stronger Relationship with Arab Sunni States into Real Currency on the Peace Process? - Gerald F. Seib
    President Donald Trump plans to make his first trip abroad by going to Saudi Arabia, where leaders of other Muslim nations will be gathered, and Israel. Historically, America's three most important partners in the region are Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel. At the moment, all three of those nations actually are strategically in sync with one another - and, simultaneously, on good terms with the new American administration. Throw in Jordan, the other traditional American partner now generally in step with the others, and you have a new state of affairs.
        But Arab leaders are trapped by decades of their own anti-Israel rhetoric, which inflames their populations and restricts their ability to adopt a new posture now. In the face of bigger problems, Arab leaders increasingly appear to be losing patience with and interest in the Palestinians' problems. But decades of preaching to their own people about the primacy of the issue can't be simply brushed away. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Peace Process Rituals - Kenneth Bandler
    President Donald Trump, in his own way, is making Israeli-Palestinian peace a top foreign policy objective. The last U.S. effort to encourage direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations collapsed in 2014 when PA President Mahmoud Abbas refused to continue.
        When visiting Israel and Bethlehem later this month, President Trump should state clearly that the U.S. continues to consider direct, bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations the only viable path to achieve comprehensive peace. At the same time, Gaza's status must be addressed at some point.
        The president, following up on what he told Abbas at the White House, should call on the PA to end incitement and payments to terrorists, and also encourage the PA leader to take concrete measures to reform Palestinian educational materials and Palestinian media to truly nurture a culture of peace. The writer is the American Jewish Committee's director of media relations. (Jerusalem Post)
  • By Hosting Hamas, Qatar Is Whitewashing Terror - Kate Havard and Jonathan Schanzer
    Doha, Qatar, is home base for many Hamas figures. Its new political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, is now on his way to Doha from Gaza, along with a coterie of aides. When Hamas military leader Salah al-Arouri was forced to leave Turkey, he made his new home in Doha in 2015. Ezzat al-Rishq, the spokesman for Hamas, calls Qatar home.
        Qatar is also Hamas' ATM. Earlier this year Haniyeh announced that Qatar would pay out $100 million to Gaza in 2017 alone. In short, Qatar doesn't merely tolerate Hamas - it serves as the group's financial and political patron. And it is now Hamas' marketing consultant, too. Its fingerprints are all over the political document Hamas released last week in Doha. Qatar is sponsoring terrorism. It is time this country chose sides. Kate Havard is a research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where Jonathan Schanzer is senior vice president for research. (Newsweek)
  • Anti-BDS Measure Will Aid Nevada's Economy - Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison
    As a state elected official, I introduced Senate Bill 26 that provides that Nevada will not contract with, or invest in, companies that boycott, divest or sanction Israel for political purposes. Public contracts should be structured to maximize the financial benefits to Nevada. As elected officials whose primary stewardship lies in the effective and efficient use of taxpayers' dollars, we should undoubtedly be concerned with any company motivated by politics over legitimate business performance.
        Israel and Israeli companies have a competitive edge in business sectors that have proven to be significant to Nevada's diversification - water technology and UAV technology to name just two. We must ensure that our state policy is welcoming to Israel and Israeli businesses. (Las Vegas Sun)
  • Why UCSB Should Not Divest from Israel - Gefen Laredo
    A recent article in a UCSB publication falsely stated: "Recently universities across the nation have begun to divest from Israel." Nothing could be further from the truth. No university in America has divested from Israel. The vast majority of divestment resolutions brought up at universities have failed. The UC Regents have already stated that boycotting Israel is discriminatory and they will not divest.
        Next, the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement is anti-Semitic. BDS is designed to undermine Israel's existence, and saying that the Jewish state does not have a right to exist is anti-Semitic. (Daily Nexus-University of California, Santa Barbara)

  • Weekend Features

  • Commemorating the Nazis' Murder of Jews in Ukraine - Sue Surkes
    In a forest clearing outside the city of Uman, Ukraine, 70 Christians and Jews gathered Monday to unveil a memorial to 1,000 Jewish children murdered by the Nazis in April 1942. The memorial was funded by Christians for Israel, a Dutch-based organization.
        School principal Ludmilla Dozenko described how in August 1941, the Nazis took a group of Jews from the nearby village of Talnoy to a forest nearby to be gunned down. One woman was with her two-year-old girl. The wife of a local policeman happened to walk by and pulled out the girl from the pile of bodies at night and got her to a safe house with a Ukrainian family. Then Dozenko pointed to an elderly woman: "That two-year-old - Nina Levenberg - survived, and is with us today."
        In September 1941, 1,000 Jews were herded into a vast basement in Uman before the doors were locked and a car exhaust was shoved through a hole in the wall. Just one person survived - a small boy, Yevgeny Emass - who had managed to breathe oxygen by pressing his nose against a crack in the wall and to escape without being noticed when the Germans opened the doors. He, too, was at the ceremony. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Seeks to Identify All Jewish Holocaust Victims - Raffi Berg
    Six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis and their accomplices during World War Two. In many cases entire towns' Jewish populations were wiped out, with no survivors to bear witness. Since 1954, Israel's Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, has been working to recover the names of all the victims, and to date has managed to identify some 4.7 million.
        Yad Vashem has collected 2.7 million Pages of Testimony, a form documenting biographical information about the deceased. With the last survivors dying out, Yad Vashem is facing a race against time to prevent more than a million unidentified victims disappearing without a trace. The number of Pages of Testimony it receives is down from 2,000 per month five years ago to 1,600 per month currently, and Yad Vashem is trying to raise awareness among Holocaust survivors who have not yet come forward.
        While the memorial has identified 95% of the victims from Western and Central Europe, far fewer names have been uncovered from Eastern Europe. This is because while there was an organized, official process of arrest and deportation further west, in the east whole communities were marched off and massacred without any such formalities. An estimated 1.5 million Jews were shot to death by the Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing squads) after Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941.
        The significant growth of the names database, which has been available online since 2004, has led to emotional reunions of survivors who had lived their lives not knowing there was anyone else from their family left alive. (BBC News)

U.S. Should Help Egypt in Its War on Terror - David Schenker (Foreign Affairs)

  • To date, Cairo has demonstrated a stunning lack of will and competence to eradicate ISIS from Egyptian territory. The Trump administration should use its burgeoning relationship with the Sisi government to help Cairo improve its counterterrorism practices.
  • Notwithstanding its 440,000-strong standing army and $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military assistance, over the past five years Egypt has been unable to contain - much less roll back - some 600-1,000 insurgents. During the same time, ISIS has killed 2,000 Egyptian soldiers and policemen in Sinai.
  • Egyptian ground forces do not routinely and proactively engage with the enemy. Instead, they are slowly attrited by ambushes and roadside bombs.
  • Egypt is increasingly subcontracting out its security to the Israeli Air Force, which targets terrorists via manned and unmanned aircraft operating in Egyptian airspace.
  • Israel is "mowing the grass" in Sinai, but it is not reversing ISIS' territorial gains, an objective that would require (non-Israeli) boots on the ground.

    The writer is director of the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
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