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June 2, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Rushes Flood Aid to Sri Lanka (Algemeiner)
    Israel has delivered emergency supplies to Sri Lankan authorities coping with floods and mudslides that have killed nearly 200 people and displaced more than 80,000.
    Daniel Carmon, Israel's ambassador to India and Sri Lanka, delivered boxes of relief supplies to Colombo's Foreign Ministry, including power generators that were taken immediately to afflicted areas.

Fleeing Hamas' Harsh Rule in Gaza, Thousands of Palestinians Seek Refuge in Athens - Zvi Bar'el (Ha'aretz)
    Osama fled Gaza via the tunnels that connect Gaza and Egypt. He estimates that about 6,000 Palestinian refugees from Gaza live in Athens.
    Many of the Palestinians have bought forged Syrian passports to accelerate the asylum process.
    A European asylum support agency says there are more than 45,000 Palestinian refugees in Greece, most of them residents of Syria.

Oil Tanker Targeted with RPGs near Yemen (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    Three rocket-propelled grenades were fired at an oil tanker on Wednesday while it was passing through the Bab al-Mandab strait near Yemen, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Iran's Growing Casualty Count in Yemen - Joshua Koontz (War on the Rocks)
    On March 21, an Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) officer known as Abu Ali led a 52-man Houthi armored assault convoy out of northern Yemen and into Saudi Arabia where Houthi forces attacked the Saudi border village of Dharan al-Janub before seizing the Saudi al-Alab border station.
    A Saudi quick reaction force, accompanied by F-15s, responded, killing the IRGC officer along with 40 Houthi fighters.
    44 IRGC and Hizbullah operatives have been killed or captured in Yemen's civil war.
    Iranian support for the Houthis is part of its encirclement strategy for the Arabian Peninsula.

Turkish Embassy in Israel Hosts Banned Islamic Movement Chief - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    Turkish ambassador to Israel Kemal Okem hosted Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the outlawed northern branch of the Islamic Movement who has spent time in Israeli jails for incitement and violence, at an Iftar dinner on Thursday.
    A senior Israeli official characterized Salah's participation as "astonishing."

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Anti-Semitism in Greece May Be Highest in Europe - Harry Van Versendaal (Kathimerini-Greece)
    Experts are urging authorities to take active measures to combat anti-Semitism in Greece after a recent study confirmed levels of hatred toward Jews believed to be the highest in Europe.
    "Greece has rates of anti-Semitism matching those recorded in countries that neighbor Israel rather than ones in the European Union," said Elias Dinas, a political scientist at the University of Oxford.
    A report published last month by the Thessaloniki branch of the Heinrich Boll Foundation, a political think tank affiliated with the German Green Party, found anti-Jewish sentiment to be as strong on the far left as on the right.
    Senior clergymen of the Orthodox Church, which has not officially absolved the Jews for the death of Christ, often make anti-Semitic remarks. Newspapers regularly feature anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, as well as cartoons with anti-Semitic themes or caricatures.
    "There is this shared conviction that Greeks have been treated more unfairly and suffered more pain than any other people," Dinas said. "This creates a feeling of inferiority, envy and competition."
    According to polls, 70% believe that Greek people have suffered a genocide that is worse or similar to that suffered by the Jews.

New Israeli App Tests Fruit for Freshness - Shoshanna Solomon (Times of Israel)
    Israeli startup AclarTech has developed a mobile app that allows to monitor, in real time, the ripeness, freshness and quality of fruit and vegetables.
    With the Aclaro meter, users scan the fruit with their smartphone camera and with a portable molecular sensor, the SCIO.
    This reveals the fruit's sugar content, acidity, firmness, weight and color.
    An algorithm then grades the scanned fruit for freshness, ripeness and quality within a few seconds.

Volunteering for Israel - Abigail Klein Leichman (New Jersey Jewish Standard)
    Hilda Froelke, Tobey Lyden, and Iris Coleman - a trio of 60-something friends who met at the JCC of Fort Lee-Congregation Gesher Shalom in New Jersey - took off on April 21 for a stint with Volunteers for Israel.
    Its partner organization, Sar-El National Project for Volunteers Israel, places 1,200 Americans and others from more than 60 countries on Israel Defense Forces supply bases each year.
    The trio ate mediocre meals, slept in spartan rooms, and donned drab work clothes to perform repetitive tasks checking and packing medical supplies all day for a week - and they can't wait to do it again.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • President Trump Delays Moving U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem
    The White House issued a statement Thursday on the American Embassy in Israel: "While President Donald J. Trump signed the waiver under the Jerusalem Embassy Act and delayed moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, no one should consider this step to be in any way a retreat from the President's strong support for Israel and for the United States-Israel alliance. President Trump made this decision to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, fulfilling his solemn obligation to defend America's national security interests. But, as he has repeatedly stated his intention to move the embassy, the question is not if that move happens, but only when."  (White House)
        See also Netanyahu: "Maintaining Embassies Outside the Capital Drives Peace Further Away"
    In response to President Trump's decision not to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, Prime Minister Netanyahu said: "Israel's consistent position is that the American embassy, like the embassies of all countries with whom we have diplomatic relations, should be in Jerusalem, our eternal capital. Maintaining embassies outside the capital drives peace further away by helping keep alive the Palestinian fantasy that the Jewish people and the Jewish state have no connection to Jerusalem. Though Israel is disappointed that the embassy will not move at this time, we appreciate today's expression of President Trump's friendship to Israel and his commitment to moving the embassy in the future."  (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Palestinians Praise Trump's Delay of Embassy Relocation to Jerusalem - Jack Khoury
    Officials in the office of Palestinian President Abbas expressed satisfaction with President Trump's decision to postpone moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem. Abbas told the PLO Executive Committee on Tuesday that negotiations with Israel were not being renewed for now, and that a joint U.S.-Palestinian forum was about to begin operations. (Ha'aretz)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Halts Reduction in Electricity to Gaza - Tovah Lazaroff
    Palestinians in Gaza have received a temporary reprieve from an electricity reduction that would have left them with only two to three hours of power a day. Last week, the Palestinian Authority announced that it did not plan to pay the NIS 40 million monthly bill for electricity needed for four hours of power. Instead, it would pay only NIS 25-30 million, which would reduce the 125 megawatts Israel supplies Gaza to 75 MW.
        However, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz this week blocked the move, saying Israel should not take orders from the PA, nor should it be a pawn in a game between Hamas and Fatah. Fatah has been reducing the amount of electricity sent to Gaza as a pressure tactic to wrest control back from Hamas. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iran Funds Families of Islamic Jihad Terrorists in Gaza
    On May 21, 2017, the al-Ansar charity association in Gaza and the Palestinian branch of the Iranian Martyrs Foundation announced they would grant financial support to the families of martyrs killed between the beginning of the second intifada (September 2000) and the end of June 2014. Money for the families of martyrs killed in the 2014 Gaza war will be distributed separately, as in previous years. Over the past three years, Iran has transferred about $8.7 million.
        Al-Ansar is affiliated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the second most important terrorist organization in Gaza, with close ties to Iran. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, the Iranian Martyrs Foundation "channels financial support from Iran to several terrorist organizations in the Levant, including Hizbullah, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad."  (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • PA Payments to Terrorists Are an Open Scandal - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser
    When Palestinian terrorists are released from jail, they get a grant and are promised a job at the Palestinian Authority. They also receive a military rank that's determined according to the number of years they've served in jail. Over 20% of the annual foreign financial aid that the PA receives is now dedicated to the salaries of former and currently imprisoned terrorists, and to the families of those who died in their "struggle against Zionism." These salaries are much higher than the average salary in the Palestinian Authority.
        The PA has paid out $1.12 billion over the past four years. Official PA support of terror occurs on the basis of PA laws passed since 2004 which mandate payments to prisoners of war who are entitled to "heroic treatment and recognition."
        Palestinian payments to terrorists and the families of terrorists who died carrying out terror attacks stand in complete contravention to the Oslo Accords and to international law. They are not social welfare payments to families but rewards for terrorism and incentives to commit future terror attacks.
        These payments are an open scandal. Israel and the international community must condition any further financial assistance to the PA on the immediate cessation of this terror payment policy. The writer was formerly Director General of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs and head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence. This is based on his remarks to the Israeli Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on May 29, 2017. (Tablet)
  • If You Think a "Moderate" Has Won in Iran, Think Again - Christopher Booker
    Following the ghastly farce of the Iranian presidential election, we were told again that the victor, Hassan Rouhani, was a "moderate." But Rouhani is an utterly ruthless operator who had presided since 2013 over what Amnesty International called "a staggering execution spree," murdering and imprisoning so many dissidents that Iran has per capita the highest execution rate in the world.
        Rouhani's great boast was that he won from the West the "nuclear deal" under which President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry agreed to the partial lifting of sanctions and the release of 38 billion pounds of Iranian assets frozen in the West.
        But virtually all of that money went to the Revolutionary Guards, to pay for Hizbullah and the tens of thousands of mercenaries which have been the chief prop to the Assad regime in Syria; the disastrous destabilizing of Yemen; and their interventions in Iraq. This is not a struggle of Sunnis vs. Shias, because there are a huge number of Shia Iranians keener to see an end to the murderous Tehran regime than anyone. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Iran's Foreign Legion in Syria - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
    The Iranian Revolutionary Guards have formed, trained and sent to Syria 42 brigades and 138 battalions of regional Shiite forces to defend the Assad regime. These forces include Lebanese Hizbullah, the Afghan Fatimiyoun and Khadem el-'Aqila Brigades, the Pakistani Zainebiyoun Brigade, Yemeni Houthis, and Iraqi Shiite militias. These military units receive their salaries and equipment from Iran and are coordinated by the Quds Division of the Revolutionary Guards, commanded by Qasem Soleimani. The writer was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • There's Still Time to Avert War in Lebanon - Ron Prosor
    Hizbullah, sponsored by Iran, is now more militarily powerful than most NATO members. It has 150,000 missiles and could launch 1,500 of them a day to strike anywhere in Israel. In Syria, under Iranian direction, the Assad regime has unleashed genocide against the Sunni Arab population using Hizbullah as its storm troops.
        War between Israel and Lebanon is avoidable, but only if the world acts now - with American leadership. Hizbullah's ability to destabilize the region stems from the abject failure of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and the UNIFIL peacekeeping force tasked with enforcing it. Resolution 1701 mandated that UNIFIL keep southern Lebanon "free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons." Yet like many UN resolutions, 1701 has been thoroughly ineffective. Hizbullah is 10 times as strong now as it was in 2006.
        The U.S. should seek a UN Security Council resolution amending 1701 and providing UNIFIL with explicit powers to disarm Hizbullah and demilitarize South Lebanon. As usual, the tab for UN failure in Lebanon is being paid by American taxpayers, with the U.S. paying 43% of UNIFIL's $488 million annual budget. The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, is chairman of the Interdisciplinary Center's International Diplomacy Institute. (Wall Street Journal)

  • 50 Years Since the Six-Day War

  • Thanks to the Six-Day War - Michael B. Oren
    What did Israel and the world look like on June 4, 1967? Israel was a nation of a mere 2.7 million, many of them Holocaust survivors and refugees from Arab lands. At its narrowest, the state was nine miles wide with Arab armies on all its borders and its back to the sea. Its cities were within enemy artillery range - Syrian guns regularly shelled the villages of Galilee - and the terrorists of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Yasser Arafat's al-Fatah nightly struck at civilian targets. Jerusalem was divided and Jews prohibited from visiting their holiest places, above all the Western Wall.
        Economically, the country was in crisis, and internationally it was alone. China, India, Soviet Russia and its 12 satellite nations were all hostile. The U.S., though friendly, was not allied militarily with Israel. Most of its arms came from France which, just days before the war, switched sides. With the Soviets lavishly arming Egypt, Iraq and Syria, and the U.S., Jordan and Saudi Arabia, the Arabs enjoyed massive superiority over the Israel Defense Forces. Millions of Arabs were clamoring for war.
        Egypt's Nasser expelled UN peacekeeping forces from Sinai in mid-May and paraded his army back into the peninsula. Next, he closed the Straits of Tiran, cutting off Israel's Red Sea route to Asia. Nasser's Syrian rivals signed a mutual defense pact with him and Jordan's King Hussein placed his army under Egyptian command.
        Thanks to the Six-Day War, Israel will never again be nine miles wide, and Jerusalem will always be open to the followers of all faiths. Thanks to the Six-Day War, the Syrian civil war is raging far from the old border, a mere 10 meters from the Sea of Galilee. The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., is deputy minister for diplomacy in the prime minister's office. (New York Daily News)
  • Arab Leaders Did Plan to Eliminate Israel in Six-Day War - Ben-Dror Yemini
    There is a mega-narrative that exempts the Arabs from responsibility for the Six-Day War. Yet both the Arab League and the leaders of all neighboring states announced in an unequivocal manner that their plan for Israel was annihilation. Considering the fact that the Arab and Muslim world was engaged in endless massacres - which are still going on - it was pretty clear that what they were doing to themselves they would also do to Israel.
        The Arab states never accepted the State of Israel's existence, not for a moment. There was no occupation from 1949 to 1967, but a Palestinian state wasn't established because the leaders of the Arab world didn't want another state. They wanted Israel. In 1964 the Arab League convened in Cairo and announced: "collective Arab military preparations, when they are completed, will constitute the ultimate practical means for the final liquidation of Israel."
        In 1966, then-Syrian defense minister Hafez Assad declared: "Pave the Arab roads with the skulls of Jews....We are determined to saturate this earth with your (Israeli) blood, to throw you into the sea." Nine days before the war broke out, Egypt's Nasser said: "The Arab people want to fight. Our basic aim is the destruction of the State of Israel." Iraqi president Abdul Rahman Arif said: "This is our chance...our goal is clear: To wipe Israel off the map." Two days before the war broke out, PLO leader Ahmad Shukieri said: "Whoever survives will stay in Palestine, but in my opinion, no one will remain alive." Does anyone think that there would not have been a mass slaughter? (Ynet News)
  • The International Media and the Six-Day War - Meron Medzini
    Driven by the threats against Israel and the fiery slogans emanating from the Arab world, increasing numbers of foreign correspondents began to arrive. The overall picture was of a state under siege whose citizens feared for the fate of their families and country in light of the treachery of the world. Others wrote about how no human being in his right mind could fail to support the Israelis; that 22 years after the Holocaust, the [great] powers were once again impotent.
        What the military censor did not allow to be shared were the preparations for mass temporary graves for tens of thousands of victims in Tel Aviv parks. Professor Meron Medzini served as the Director of Israel's Government Press Office (GPO) in Jerusalem during the Six-Day War. (Fathom-BICOM)

  • Weekend Features

  • Wonder Woman Makes Israel Proud - David Caspi
    "Wonder Woman" star Gal Gadot is carrying the weight of an entire nation on her shoulders ever since the former Miss Israel was cast as the lasso-wielding superhero in December 2013. Every single print, online and TV outlet has been positively covering the "Wonder Woman" press tour, with many portraying Gadot as an ambassador for the country. "Gadot is the leading Israeli product on TV all over the world right now - no format, idea or Israeli persona can successfully do what Gadot has been doing this past month," wrote Israel Hayom columnist Adi Rubinstein this week.
        Israeli advertising tech startup Taykey, which tracks internet chatter, says that Gadot mentions online have been 95% positive, explaining that this means she is "unrivaled as the most loved Israeli in the world." Tel Aviv's prominent Azrieli Center skyscrapers were lit up with the captions "Proud of You, Gal Gadot" and "Our Wonder Woman."  (Hollywood Reporter)
  • Israeli-Arab "Diva of Middle Eastern Music" Empowers Coexistence - Shlomi Eldar
    Nasreen Qadri, 30, an Arab Israeli from Haifa, sang Thursday at the opening ceremony of the Israel Festival in Jerusalem. Qadri said her appearance is designed to convey a message of unity and aspirations for coexistence, "which are so essential to this region at this time." "Coexistence is the most important thing this place needs. We were destined to be together, and none of us has anywhere else to go."
        Qadri first gained broader Israeli public acclaim in 2012, when she won a TV talent show. Since then she has recorded two albums combining Arabic and Hebrew music. "True, I'm a little different. I don't have a regular Israeli accent but a unique one that is my own. So what?...I live like every other Israeli." On May 1 she participated in the memorial event for fallen Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem. (Al-Monitor)

President Rivlin: Jews and Arabs Will Continue to Live in Hebron Under Any Peace Deal - Yotam Berger (Ha'aretz)

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin spoke in Kiryat Arba near Hebron on Thursday, marking the 50th anniversary of the "liberation of the City of the Patriarchs."

  • "I don't know if there will ever be a diplomatic agreement, but it is clear that in any agreement Jews and Arabs will continue to live here together."
  • "David Ben-Gurion has already said that we will commit a terrible mistake if we do not settle Hebron as a growing Jewish community in the shortest possible time. Hebron deserves to be the sister of Jerusalem."
  • "The Jewish community in Hebron was established many years before the State of Israel. Kiryat Arba was founded by Yigal Alon, a member of the Labor movement. The first donor to the seminary was Ben-Gurion and Ha'aretz newspaper was among defenders of the community."
  • "Hebron is not and was never an obstacle to peace. It is a test of our ability to live side by side. The Hadassah clinic was used by all - Jews and Arabs. Can we not rebuild it for the benefit of all the residents of Hebron?"

        See also Rivlin: Hebron No Obstacle to Peace - Tovah Lazaroff
    The biblical city of Hebron had a continuous Jewish presence until 1929 when the Arab massacre of 67 Hebron Jews destroyed the community. Jews were not allowed to settle in the city when it was under Jordanian control from 1948 until 1967. After the Six-Day War, the Kiryat Arba community was founded in 1968, with residents moving in in 1971. Jews resettled Hebron in 1979.
        President Reuven Rivlin fought in the Six-Day War and was among those soldiers who entered Hebron after the Jordanians fled. "I remember the moments in which we stood at the entrance to the Tomb of the Patriarchs. As a child, I knew the Tomb only as far as the seventh step [as far as Jews were permitted to enter], from the days before the war."  (Jerusalem Post)
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