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August 7, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Knife-Wielding Man Yelling "Allahu Akbar" Arrested at Eiffel Tower in Paris - David K. Li (New York Post)
    French police wrestled down a knife-wielding man screaming "Allahu Akbar" at the Eiffel Tower on Saturday.
    The man, 19, was born in Mauritania and has French citizenship.

Abbas Slams Hamas for Wasting Limited Electricity in Gaza (Xinhua-China)
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas slammed the Islamic Hamas movement on Saturday.
    "While there is a severe electricity crisis in Gaza, Hamas lights its underground tunnels and the homes of its officials around the clock."

    See also Gaza's Wasted Generation - William Booth and Hazem Balousha (Washington Post)
    In the Hamas generation that grew up immersed in the rhetoric of Palestinian resistance, it is hard to find anyone in their 20s with real employment, with a monthly salary.
    Ten years after Hamas seized control of Gaza, its economy has been strangled by incompetence and war, with 60% unemployment among Gaza's young adults, the highest in the Middle East.
    The literacy rate in Gaza is 96.8%, higher than in the West Bank. Universities in Gaza are still pumping out graduates by the thousands.
    In many interviews, Gaza's young people today say they would rather fight for a job in Tel Aviv than fight Israelis.
    "If the borders were open, I'd work in Israel in a minute.... Everybody would work in Israel," said Iyad Abu Heweila, 24, who graduated with a degree in English education.

Israeli Woman Swims the English Channel (Times of Israel)
    Avishag Turk, 42, became the first Israeli woman to swim the English Channel last week. Starting in Dover on Tuesday, she swam over 13 hours to reach Calais.
    During her journey, Turk had to contend with jellyfish and cold water, but also enjoyed the company of dolphins for part of the trek.
    The only other Israeli to swim the English Channel was physician Eitan Friedman in 1993.

State-Owned Turkish Network Airs TV Series Depicting Jews as Murderous and Conspiratorial (MEMRI)
    The Turkish television drama series "Sultan Abdulhamid," which began airing on Feb. 24, 2017, on the state-owned TRT 1 channel, depicts Theodor Herzl and the Jews as scheming, deceptive, and cruel in their pursuit of the establishment of the State of Israel.

Volunteers from Overseas Join the IDF - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    122 male and 31 female volunteers from 12 countries arrived in Israel over the summer in order to join the Israel Defense Forces, the Defense Ministry reported on Sunday.
    45% are from the U.S., 38% came from France, and others are from South Africa, Belgium, Mexico, Australia, Canada, Austria, Honduras and Thailand.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Gains Ground in Afghanistan as U.S. Presence Wanes - Carlotta Gall
    After American air support ended a three-week siege in October of Farah, Afghanistan, local security officials realized that Iran was behind the attack. Four senior Iranian commandos were among the dead. Many of the Taliban dead and wounded were also taken back across the nearby border with Iran, where the insurgents had been recruited and trained. The assault was part of an accelerating Iranian campaign to step into a vacuum left by departing American forces - Iran's biggest push into Afghanistan in decades.
        Iran is conducting an intensifying covert intervention in Afghanistan, providing Taliban insurgents with weapons, money and training. It has offered Taliban commanders sanctuary and fuel for their trucks, and has padded Taliban ranks with Afghan Sunni refugees in Iran. "The strongest Taliban here are Iranian Taliban," said Mohammed Arif Shah Jehan, the governor of Farah Province. (New York Times)
  • Egypt's Leader Makes a Risky Economic Bet - Yaroslav Trofimov
    Egypt's President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi is cutting food and fuel subsidies in a high-stakes gamble to aid the stalled economy that none of his predecessors dared execute. With the economic shock therapy, fuel prices went up 50% in June, cooking-gas prices have doubled and the annual inflation rate has surpassed 30%. Sisi is betting that the expected payoff - new jobs, foreign investment and growth - will arrive before the economic pain risks a social explosion. The subsidy cuts are among the conditions set by the International Monetary Fund for a $12 billion loan. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Senior Hamas Delegation Arrives in Iran
    A senior delegation of Hamas officials led by Izzat al-Rishq, currently based in Qatar, arrived in Iran on Friday to boost ties with Tehran. Hamas said the visit was "a show of gratitude towards the role of Iran in supporting the steadfastness of the Palestinian people." Saleh al-Arouri, a senior Hamas military commander who was expelled from Qatar in July, was also part of the delegation. (Al-Araby Al-Jadeed-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Top Senate Democrat Schumer Cosponsors Taylor Force Act - Eric Cortellessa
    U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced Friday he will cosponsor the Taylor Force Act, which would cut U.S. funding to the Palestinian Authority if it doesn't stop paying terrorists and their families. His endorsement is a sign the bill is likely to receive bipartisan support in the full Senate after being approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday.
        Schumer said, "President Abbas must be held accountable for the Palestinian Authority's record of incitement and must stop subsidizing terror. It's abhorrent that the Palestinian Authority provides payments to terrorists and families of those who have committed terrorist violence against Israelis and Americans and others." The U.S. currently gives the PA nearly $500 million in aid annually. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Offers Refuge to Iranian Blogger - Ilan Lior
    Israel will allow entry to Iranian journalist Neda Amin, who writes for the Times of Israel and has been living in Turkey for the past three years, Israeli Interior Minister Arye Dery said Sunday. Amin was recently informed that she is to be deported to Iran in the coming days. "Neda Amin is expected to be arrested immediately upon her arrival in Iran, and she faces danger and execution due to her work as a journalist," said Achiya Ginosar, an attorney with the Jerusalem Association of Journalists. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Israel's Arrow 3 Is Perfect for Japan's Missile Defense Needs - Stephen Bryen
    Should Japan buy the Arrow 3 missile defense system from Israel? Would Israel sell it to Japan? Japan has the U.S. THAAD system, the Patriot PAC-3, and the Aegis naval BMD, but none of these systems are ideal in the face of the North Korean missile threat.
        The THAAD air defense system can only tackle missiles in the terminal phase of their flight and its tests have only been partially successful. The Israeli Arrow 3 system is the only ballistic missile defense system that has shot down an enemy rocket hundreds of miles from where it was launched. It can hit an enemy missile outside the atmosphere, above 100 km., and has a special type of hit-to-kill system that does not have the limitations of THAAD. It is perfect to meet Japan's requirements for missile defense.
        Yet Israel rightly worries about any compromises to its strategic systems, and Japan has a poor internal security infrastructure that is not good enough to provide the needed assurances to either the U.S. or Israel.
        One way to disrupt North Korea's missile testing program is to shoot down its test flight missiles. THAAD may not be able to do the job, nor will Aegis and certainly not Patriot. Israel's Arrow 3 is the only defensive system around that is likely to knock out North Korea's test flights. The writer was the founder and first director of the Defense Technology Security Administration in the U.S. Defense Department. (Asia Times-Hong Kong)
  • Is the Israel Anti-Boycott Act an Infringement of Free Speech? - Dr. Eric R. Mandel
    Today, there is bipartisan support in Congress for updating the 1979 Export Administration Act prohibiting American corporations from cooperating with boycotts against Israel by foreign nations, the EU or the UN. No American should be compelled to acquiesce to a boycott ordered by a foreign entity. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act is bipartisan legislation currently supported by 42 senators and 247 members of the House.
        Opponents claim it seeks to impose an unconstitutional restriction on free speech. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who introduced the updated legislation, responded: "Nothing in the bill restricts constitutionally protected free speech or limits criticism of is narrowly targeted at commercial activity and is based on current law that has been constitutionally upheld." The writer is director of MEPIN, the Middle East Political and Information Network. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iran Exporting Radical Islam to Latin America - Emanuele Ottolenghi and Michaela Frai
    Since the 1980s, Iran has worked diligently to create the infrastructure for both overt and covert operations in the Western Hemisphere. Iranian preachers and their local enablers have gained footholds in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, and Peru.
        Edwar Quiroga Vargas, a Peruvian who converted to Shi'a Islam, has opened six Shi'a Islamic cultural centers across Peru and has sent 25 students for training in Iran. The centers promote a radical agenda across Latin America and glorify the terror organization Hizbullah. Iranian-backed Spanish-language media such as HispanTV also spread revolutionary themes.
        Ultimately, Iran threatens the national security of the U.S. and its allies with its spread of anti-Zionist hatred and Islamic revolutionary rhetoric to the Western Hemisphere. Emanuele Ottolenghi is a senior fellow at FDD, where Michaela Frai is a research associate. (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)

The Decline of the Palestinian National Movement - Hussein Agha and Ahmad Samih Khalidi (New Yorker)

  • The contemporary Palestinian national movement is reaching its end. As its institutions wither and its leaders fade away, there is no obvious successor to take its place. With the passing of Arafat and most of his colleagues, Fatah's ability to hold its fractured parts together waned.
  • The social and political milieu of the West Bank and Gaza - steeped in clannish and personal influences - highlighted local fiefdoms as Fatah became mired in narrow and parochial turf wars. With no new leaders, no marked success in government, and no progress toward peace, Fatah fundamentally disappeared as a real political agent.
  • Abbas' peace policy has provided the PA with a formidable firewall against the kind of international pressure associated with the Palestinian national movement's past violence and, since 1994, many of the day-to-day governing affairs of municipal, health, education, and other functions have been in Palestinian hands.
  • Perhaps most important, Abbas has succeeded in insulating the Palestinian people from much of the violence and destruction of the "Arab Spring" and from the growth of Salafi and jihadist movements in the West Bank. However, as a result of the failure to make diplomatic progress even in the shadow of a relatively friendly U.S. administration, the entire notion of peace negotiations has been discredited.
  • Hamas' adoption of armed struggle has been no more successful than Fatah's. The suffering of Gaza's population has not served as a model or source of inspiration for the rest of the Palestinians.
  • Similarly, Hamas' decade-long governance of Gaza has been marred by the same charges of corruption, incompetence, and heavy-handedness as its PA counterpart. Those looking to Hamas as a replacement for Fatah would find it difficult to argue that the former has delivered where the latter has failed.

    The writers have been involved in Palestinian peace negotiations for three decades, and are senior associate members of St. Antony's College, Oxford.

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