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August 14, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Netanyahu: Kurds Should Have a State - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a delegation of visiting Republican congressmen on Thursday that he is in favor of an independent Kurdish state in parts of Iraq.
    According to a source who took part in the discussion, Netanyahu expressed his "positive attitude" toward a Kurdish state in the Kurdish areas of Iraq, saying the Kurds are a "brave, pro-Western people who share our values."

"International Brigade" Fighting with Kurds against ISIS in Raqqa - Giordano Stabile (La Stampa-Italy)
    Claudio Locatelli, 29, a native of Curno in northern Italy, says he used to be "an activist, a freelance journalist, and a barkeeper." Now, he is part of the Kurdish YPG "International Brigade," modeled after those who fought in the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s.
    There are Danes, Germans, Americans, and Canadians who have come for the "Kurdish cause" and to destroy ISIS.
    Locatelli says, "The thing that pushed me the most to come here was the massacre of the Yazidi, the raping of an entire population, that's what ISIS is, a monster opposed to each and every one of our ideals. I couldn't limit myself to activism, to reporting; I had to fight."

Hamas Trains 120,000 Children to Liberate Jerusalem (MEMRI-TV)
    120,000 children and teens attended Hamas summer camps in Gaza. This year's theme was "Marching on Jerusalem."
    Former Hamas education minister Osama Al-Muzaini said: " part of the Islamic faith, and its liberation is first a religious duty and then a national one."
    He said the camps' goal is "to train the generation of victory and liberation, which will have the honor of liberating Jerusalem."
    See also Palestinian Teens "Capture" Israeli Soldier at Hamas Summer Camp (MEMRI-TV)
    At the graduation ceremony of a Hamas summer camp in Rafah, Gaza, Palestinian teens brandished weapons and simulated the storming of an Israeli army outpost.
    One camper "captured" a fellow camper dressed in Israeli army fatigues and hauled him back into a tunnel.
    Footage from the ceremony of the "Knights of Palestine" camp was posted on the Internet on July 31.

Zioness Movement Roars into Progressive Politics - Amy Sara Clark (New York Jewish Week)
    The Zioness Movement is a new group of Zionist progressive women founded after organizers of the annual march against rape culture said publicly that people wearing Stars of David would not be "invited to participate."
    "For too long, we have allowed certain individuals to advance the idea that intersectionality excludes Jews and Zionists," said co-founder Talia Shifron.
    "Zionism is a movement for self-determination and civil rights, just like other movements who fight for these same causes."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN Investigator Says There Is Enough Evidence to Convict Assad of War Crimes
    The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria has gathered enough evidence for President Bashar al-Assad to be convicted of war crimes, Carla del Ponte, a member of the commission who announced her resignation last week, said Sunday. A former Swiss attorney general, del Ponte was asked by the Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung if there was enough evidence for Assad to be convicted of war crimes. She replied: "Yes, I am convinced that is the case. That is why the situation is so frustrating. The preparatory work has been done. Despite that, there is no prosecutor and no court."
        "For six years, the commission has investigated. Now a prosecutor should continue our work and bring the war criminals before a special court. But that is exactly what Russia is blocking with its veto in the UN Security Council."  (Reuters)
  • Iran Boosts Missile Funds in Response to U.S. Sanctions - Ali Noorani
    Iran's parliament on Sunday approved more than half a billion dollars in funding for the country's missile program and foreign operations of the Revolutionary Guards in response to U.S. sanctions. After the vote result was announced, lawmakers shouted: "Death to America." The bill's text said that Iran "recognizes the entire American military and intelligence forces as terrorist groups" for their "implicit and explicit support for terrorist groups" in the region. (AFP)
        See also Iran's Parliament Allocates $307 Million for Extraterritorial Operations (Mehr News-Iran)
  • Hamas, Iran Plot Closer Path Forward - Ali Hashem
    A delegation headed by Hamas political bureau member Izzat al-Rishq took part in Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's inauguration ceremony on Aug. 5 in Tehran. The delegation also met with Quds Force commander Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani, Ayatollah Khamenei's foreign policy adviser Ali Akbar Velayati, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani. Among the delegation were senior Hamas commanders Zaher al-Jabarin and Saleh al-Arouri, both accused by Israel of being responsible for attacks inside the West Bank.
        An Iranian political source revealed that Iran's support for Hamas is now even beyond what it used to be prior to the Syrian crisis. (Al-Monitor)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Iran Filling Vacuum Left by ISIS Retreat in Syria, Iraq, Mossad Chief Warns - Herb Keinon
    Mossad chief Yossi Cohen told the Israeli cabinet on Sunday that Iran is moving in to fill the vacuum in the region created by the retreat of Islamic State. In addition, Cohen said that Iran has not given up on its ambitions to become a "nuclear threshold" state, and that the Iranian nuclear deal only increases this tendency and "strengthens Iran's aggressiveness in the region."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Netanyahu: Israel Welcomes U.S. Envoys Kushner and Greenblatt - Barak Ravid
    Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Israeli cabinet on Sunday, "We will welcome American envoys Kushner and Greenblatt who want to advance the peace process" and who will be arriving in the Middle East during the last week of August. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Palestinians Demand Confidence-Building Steps from Israel and U.S. - Daniel Siryoti
    A senior Palestinian official who works under PA President Mahmoud Abbas told Israel Hayom: "To renew the peace process and for us to return to the negotiating table, confidence-building steps will be required, both from Israel and from the administration in Washington. We have made this clear in the past, and we are once again emphasizing that we are willing to renew the negotiations without any preconditions. But the U.S. will have to guarantee that it will be a fair broker. Washington is marching to Israel's drum."
        Another top Palestinian official said: "If it were up to me, I would inform the Washington delegation not to bother coming to Ramallah. The peace process is long dead and attempts to revive it are useless. We will continue the diplomatic intifada, we will isolate Israel diplomatically, and use every method that international law allows against it."  (Israel Hayom)
  • Palestinian Woman Stabs Security Guard in Jerusalem - Itsik Saban and Yori Yalon
    A Jerusalem light rail security guard who is a Christian Arab resident of east Jerusalem was stabbed on Saturday by a female Palestinian from Sur Baher, a Jerusalem Arab neighborhood. Security camera footage shows that she first closed in on a Jewish man near Damascus Gate and tried to stab him several times with a knife, but the man managed to escape. She then proceeded to the nearby station where she zeroed in on the security guard before being overpowered by Israeli police. (Israel Hayom)
        See also Video: Palestinian Woman Tries to Stab Jewish Man (Ynet News)
  • Five Palestinians Arrested En Route to Large Terrorist Attack - Lilach Shoval and Itsik Saban
    Israeli security forces thwarted a large terrorist attack on Thursday when five Palestinians from Hebron were arrested in Eizariya, just outside of Jerusalem. The five had left suicide notes expressing their plans to commit a terrorist attack in Israel. (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Clarity on the Israel Anti-Boycott Act - Steve Sheffey
    The Israel Anti-Boycott Act was introduced to reinforce the bipartisan consensus that boycotting Israel is inimical to U.S. foreign policy interests. The Act simply extends existing U.S. law, passed in 1977, prohibiting participation in boycotts led by foreign governments against Israel, to include boycotts led by international governmental organizations such as the UN and EU.
        The ACLU believes that the law unconstitutionally impairs free speech, but both this bill and existing law prohibit specific commercial conduct, not free speech. Any person and any company is free to boycott Israel and to advocate for boycotts of Israel under current law and the proposed law. But cooperation with foreign governments, and under the new law, with international governmental organizations, is prohibited. The current law has withstood First Amendment challenges. If it is constitutional, then so is the proposed law. (Huffington Post)
  • Israeli Arabs Who Join ISIS - Yoav Limor
    While ISIS is rapidly shrinking in the real world, it is alive and kicking in the virtual world. Those who bought into the group's propaganda included the Jabarin brothers from the Israeli-Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, who were arrested in July.
        Pinpointing ISIS volunteers is relatively easy because all their communications are conducted online. They facilitate their own capture by leaving behind sufficient digital footprints.
        Fourteen Israeli-Arabs joined the group in 2014, 44 in 2015, 65 in 2016, and 33 since the beginning of 2017, with a drop in recent months. Still, the Israel Security Agency treats each of these cases with urgency since anyone who seeks to join the fight for ISIS could be inspired to carry out terrorist attacks in Israel. (Israel Hayom)

IDF Moves from "Cutting the Grass" to "Weakening the Roots" in the Fight against Terror in the Territories - Orli Goldkling and Yohai Ofer (Makor Rishon-Hebrew-11Aug2017)

  • IDF Brig.-Gen. Lior Carmeli, who served for the past two years as commander of the Judea and Samaria Brigade, said, "We are changing our concept from 'cutting the grass' to 'weakening the roots'" of terror in the West Bank.
  • "With a situation of 'cutting the grass,' you are always cutting it down, but it grows back. After you jail one attacker, you move on to the next attacker. We need to strengthen our deterrence and deal with the terror infrastructure so that it no longer exists. We want to reach a point where there are fewer terrorists, less incitement, fewer capabilities and infrastructure....We are working every day so that the grass doesn't grow at all."
  • "Weakening the roots" means arresting the inciters before they influence potential attackers and acting against the wider circles that support the attackers. This includes arresting the driver that drove the terrorist, withdrawing the permits that allow his family to work in Israel, confiscating funds used to support terror - all in order to deter additional terrorists.
  • "There have been a number of examples of parents who have turned in their children before they committed terror attacks - particularly to the Palestinian Authority security forces - out of fear that their homes would be destroyed."
  • While the IDF seeks to avoid collective punishment, it has been focusing on weapons manufacturing. "Our challenge is to find the three factories that produce guns from among the seventy metal workshops in a city."
  • Another target is the printing presses that publish posters calling for armed attacks on Israel or lauding "martyrs." Carmeli explained that the IDF doesn't just take down the posters, but arrests the printshop owners and confiscates their equipment, which leads other printshop owners to become hesitant to print such posters.

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