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August 25, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Army Testing Israeli Active-Protection Systems on Abrams Tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles (Business Insider)
    The U.S. Army has purchased an emerging technology for Abrams tanks and Bradleys designed to give combat vehicles an opportunity to destroy approaching enemy rocket-propelled grenades in a matter of milliseconds.
    DRS Technologies and Israeli-based Rafael Advanced Defense Systems are working with the U.S. Army to consider acquiring their recently combat-tested Trophy Active Protection System, a vehicle-mounted technology engineered to instantly locate and destroy incoming enemy fire.
    The Army has purchased a number of Trophy APS systems and also Iron Fist systems designed by Israel Military Industries to evaluate their effectiveness, said Lt. Gen. John Murray, Deputy Chief of Staff, Army G-8.
    "The one that is farthest along in terms of installing it is...Trophy on Abrams," Murray said. "We're getting some pretty...good results. It adds to the protection level of the tank."
    Iron Fist on the Bradley is also "moving along."

Israel to Take Delivery of Two More F-35 Fighter Jets - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel will take delivery of two more stealth F-35 fighter jets by the end of the month, joining the five already at Israel Air Force bases.
    The all-weather, multirole fighter has an extremely low radar signature and can operate undetected deep inside enemy territory.
    It can evade advanced missile defenses like Iran's Russian-made S-300 system.
    Former Israel Air Force chief Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amir Eshel said that Israel gathered new intelligence during a single flight by an F-35 earlier this year that other reconnaissance systems would take weeks to gather.

Lebanese Beauty Queen Loses Title for Visiting Israel - Roi Kais (Ynet News)
    Amanda Hanna, who won the 2017 Miss Lebanon Emigrant Beauty Pageant, has been stripped of her title over her 2016 visit to Israel.
    Hanna, who is Swedish-Lebanese, visited Israel as part of an academic tour, using her Swedish passport.

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The 120th Anniversary of the First Zionist Congress - Daniel Polisar (Mosaic)
    Theodor Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress in the Swiss city of Basel on August 29, 1897.
    As Herzl wrote in his diary on the eve of the gathering: "The whole thing is one of those balancing feats which look just as natural after they are accomplished as they seemed improbable before they were undertaken."
    The Congress led to explosive growth within the Zionist movement. In Russia, the 23 Zionist societies before the Congress were joined by 350 new ones in its aftermath.
    In the U.S., the number of societies rose from 10 to 60.
    The writer is executive vice-president at Shalem College in Jerusalem.

Israeli Archaeologists Uncover 1,500-Year-Old Mosaic in Jerusalem (Reuters)
    A 1,500-year-old mosaic floor with a Greek inscription has been uncovered during work to install communications cables in Jerusalem's Old City.
    The inscription cites 6th-century Roman emperor Justinian and was dated to the year 550 CE.
    See also Video: Ancient Inscription Unearthed near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem (Israel Antiquities Authority)

Signet Jewelers to Buy Israel's R2Net for $328 Million - Eliran Rubin and Ruti Levy (Ha'aretz)
    Signet Jewelers, the world's largest retailer of diamond jewelry, said on Thursday it will acquire R2Net - a U.S.-Israeli online jewelry retailer that operates under the name - for $328 million.
    The transaction includes Segoma Imaging Technologies, an R2Net subsidiary that provides proprietary technology to create 360-degree, high-definition images of diamonds that facilitate online sales.

Israeli Digital Testing Company Applause Sold to U.S. Firm - Tali Tsipori (Globes)
    U.S. investment firm Vista Equity Partners has agreed to acquire Israeli digital testing company Applause in a deal believed to be for several hundred million dollars.
    Applause empowers the world's leading digital brands - including Google, Uber and FOX - to deliver flawless digital experiences to their customers on any device, in every location.
    Businesses "understand that digital 'customer experiences' are the primary way to compete," said Robert F. Smith, CEO of Vista Equity Partners.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Opposing U.S., France Says No Need to Change UN Lebanon Force Mandate
    Anne Gueguen, France's deputy permanent representative to the UN, said Wednesday that France wants the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to stick to its current mandate, opposing U.S. calls to strengthen the force's authority to deal with arms movements by Hizbullah. France contributes 800 troops to UNIFIL's 10,500-strong force. A Security Council vote on renewing UNIFIL's mandate is expected on August 30. (AFP)
  • Trump Phones Egypt's Sisi after U.S. Aid Cut
    President Donald Trump called Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Thursday and said he was keen to overcome any obstacles in the way of cooperation, just days after the U.S. said it would withhold some financial aid to Egypt, Sisi's office said. (Reuters)
  • Iran Shipping Soldiers to Syria on Commercial Flights in Violation of Nuclear Deal - Adam Kredo
    Photographs provided to Congress show Iran using its flagship commercial carrier, Iran Air, to ferry militants from an Afghan Shiite militia to Syria, a move that violates the nuclear deal, which prohibits Iran from using commercial air carriers for military purposes. Meanwhile, Boeing is moving forward with a multi-billion dollar deal to sell Iran Air a new modern fleet.
        Four U.S. congressmen have asked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to investigate if Iran Air is guilty of conducting military transports with commercial aircraft. "These photos offer strong evidence of Iran Air's noncommercial and illicit use of commercial aircraft to materially support the IRGC and the Assad regime," they wrote. (Washington Free Beacon)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Mideast Negotiating Team Meets Netanyahu, Abbas - Herb Keinon
    President Donald Trump's Mideast negotiating team headed by Jared Kushner held talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv and PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Thursday, trying to revive the moribund diplomatic process. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Kushner Arrives in Ramallah amid Protests
    Dozens of angry protesters marched in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Thursday, as President Trump's senior adviser Jared Kushner entered the city to meet with Palestinian authorities. The protesters chanted, "the American is not welcome."  (Press TV-Iran)
  • Israeli Arab Indicted for Aiding Temple Mount Attackers - Noa Shpigel and Gili Cohen
    Amjad Jabareen, a resident of Umm Al-Fahm in northern Israel, helped the three attackers from the same town who murdered two Israeli police officers on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in July. According to an indictment filed Thursday, Jabareen helped them plan the attack, hide weapons in a local mosque, and drove them to the bus that took them to Jerusalem.
        In preparation for the attack, the three terrorists practiced shooting near Umm Al-Fahm with Jabareen's help. He also drove them to the site and witnessed them checking out the security cameras. The Israel Security Agency noted that the submachine guns used for the attack were hidden in a closet in the Al-Malasaa Mosque in Umm Al-Fahm, where one of the attackers worked. The mosque is associated with the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement which was outlawed in 2015. (Ha'aretz)
  • Taking Israeli Aid, Syrian Rebel Says Crisis on Golan Overrides Old Hatreds - Judah Ari Gross
    A commander of a Syrian rebel militia said Wednesday that his group's cooperation with Israel made it the target of criticism from the Iran-funded militias that are fighting on behalf of Syrian President Assad, but humanitarian concerns superseded old hatreds. "The Shiite militias claim we are traitors." He also said the ceasefire that was brokered by the U.S. and Russia was an empty declaration and that the fighting continues.
        He noted that in the Quneitra area of Syria in the Golan Heights, there has been a complete breakdown in civil society, meaning no law enforcement, no reliable supply of food, water and electricity, and no education for the children. The civilians in the region welcomed the aid provided by Israel and thanked Israel for its generosity. (Times of Israel)
        See also Israeli Doctors Treat Syrian Victims of the Civil War - Shlomo Maital (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran Is Coming Closer to Israel - Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland
    The civil war in Syria is nearing an end, and it appears that Assad, Hizbullah, Iran and Russia have won. The Iranians want to establish a second Hizbullah, a force of Shiite militias that will be deployed on the Golan Heights along the border with Israel which will get its instructions from Tehran.
        Israel must make it clear to Russia that the IDF will take action to prevent Iran from building any kind of military force of its own near the Golan Heights border. In addition, Israel should discreetly strengthen its ties with those living in the Syrian Golan who hate Iran and Hizbullah. In light of the changing reality, the need to cultivate true allies who are close to the Golan Heights border is growing fast. The writer is a former head of Israel's National Security Council. (Ynet News)
  • Who Will Block Iranian Advancement in the Middle East? - Jonathan Spyer
    Washington does not appear to be developing a real strategy for containing the Iranians in eastern Syria. This leaves the local players. The resilience and return of relatively stable Sunni Arab autocracies in Cairo, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Amman, and the eclipse of the Sunni Arab rebellion in Syria, have removed Sunni Islamists, for now at least, from the real power game in the Middle East.
        The result that faces the cohesive and coherent Iran-led bloc is a much more nebulous gathering, but one which, if combined, possesses more power, more population, and more wealth than the Iranians. Israel, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the Kurdish Regional Government, Egypt, Jordan, and the remaining non-jihadi Syrian rebels are the core elements standing in the way of Iranian advancement in the Middle East. The writer is a senior research fellow at the Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs, IDC Herzliya. (Jeusalem Post)
  • A Game-Changer for Middle East Peace? - David Ignatius
    The Trump administration is exploring new approaches for easing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that build on talks with a budding Sunni Arab coalition of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Jordan. White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and special envoy Jason Greenblatt visited the leaders of all four countries this week and came away hopeful that the new generation of Arab leaders is a potential "game-changer," a senior administration official said.
        When it comes to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, 50 years of peacemaking history sadly warn us that a new initiative probably won't work. But it must be said: The opportunities for trade, investment and security cooperation between Israel and the Arabs have never been greater. (Washington Post)
  • Can Israel Learn from the EU How to Fight Terror? - Yaakov Katz
    EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen, who is leaving after four years, said Tuesday that Israel can learn from Europe how to effectively combat terrorism, including through "de-radicalization." Now that is an interesting idea considering how many of the terrorist attacks perpetrated in Europe are carried out by citizens. But in Israel, a small percentage of the attacks - like the recent one at the Temple Mount - are carried out by Israeli Arabs. Most are perpetrated by Palestinians.
        According to EUROPOL, 142 people were killed in terrorist attacks in EU member states in 2016. In Israel, on the other hand, 17 people were killed. So far in 2017, 12 people have been killed, 9 of them soldiers and policemen, while in the EU nearly 60 people have been killed in Islamic terrorist attacks. So we appreciate the ambassador's offer but no thanks. Israel will pass. (Jerusalem Post)
  • End U.S. Weapons Deliveries to the Lebanese Army - Dr. Shaul Shay
    In July, the Syrian Army and Hizbullah joined forces to attack Islamic State and the Fatah al-Sham Front in the Qalamun Mountains on the Syria-Lebanon border with the aim of purging the area of opposition fighters. The Lebanese Army also deployed forces along the border to keep opposition fighters from fleeing to Lebanese territory. The takeover of the Syria-Lebanon border by the Syrian Army and Hizbullah is another step in Iran's plan to create territorial continuity from Iran to Lebanon and presents a strategic threat to Israel.
        In the past, Israel demanded Lebanese forces be deployed along the border between the two countries in an effort to keep Hizbullah away. The strengthening of ties between the Lebanese Army and Hizbullah will require Israel to reassess its position.
        Both France and the U.S. have provided Lebanon with advanced weapons in recent years. However, Saudi Arabia has halted military aid to the country after learning the weapons were making their way to Hizbullah. In light of these recent developments, Israel should demand an end to the delivery of weapons to the Lebanese Army. The writer is a lecturer at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. (Israel Hayom)
  • China Projects Its Power in the Red Sea - Gideon Elazar
    China has opened its first overseas naval base in Djibouti at the Horn of Africa. Its purpose is to "ensure China's performance of missions, such as escorting, peace-keeping and humanitarian aid in Africa and west Asia...[and] maintaining security of international strategic seaways." Clearly, it is crucial for Beijing to protect its flow of resources. Half the oil imported by China goes through the Mandeb Strait, and most Chinese exports to Europe are transported through the Gulf of Aden and Suez Canal.
        According to the agreement between Beijing and Djibouti, which is valid at least until 2026, the base may contain as many as 10,000 troops. The establishment of the Djibouti base is clearly an act of Chinese power projection and an expression of China's expanding interests in Africa and the Middle East. A recent editorial in the Chinese state-run Global Times stressed that the base "is not a commercial resupply point" but rather a military installation containing Chinese troops. At the same time, Chinese media have been careful to note that the base does not imply a drive towards world hegemony.
        China's Djibouti base is located only a few miles from Camp Lemonnier, the largest American base in the region and the only permanent American base in Africa. Dr. Gideon Elazar is a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and a postdoctoral fellow at Ben-Gurion University specializing in Asian Studies. (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • Can Political Islam Make It in the Modern World?
    "Dead, dying or detained." That is how a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt describes the state of his comrades in what was once the world's pre-eminent Islamist movement.
        The Brotherhood is a transnational movement that has spawned many other Islamist parties in the region. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have cut off diplomatic and transport links with Qatar, demanding that it end its support for the Brotherhood.
        When elected, ostensibly moderate and democratic Islamists have too often proved to be neither, lending credence to the argument that their commitment to democracy goes little further than "one man, one vote, one time." But some Islamists are participating in politics moderately and effectively. (Economist-UK)

  • Weekend Features

  • How Jews Nearly Wiped Out Tay-Sachs Disease - Ira Stoll
    There used to be an entire hospital unit at Kingsbook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn devoted to taking care of children born with Tay-Sachs, a deadly genetic disease which is usually fatal by the age of 5. But by the late 1990s that unit was totally empty, and it eventually shut down. Since the 1970s, the incidence of Tay-Sachs has fallen by more than 90% among Jews, thanks to a combination of scientific advances and widespread screening for the disease.
        Until 1969, when doctors discovered the enzyme that made testing possible to determine whether parents were carriers of Tay-Sachs, 50 to 60 affected Jewish children were born each year in the U.S. and Canada. After mass screenings began in 1971, the numbers declined to two to five Jewish births a year, said Karen Zeiger, former Tay-Sachs prevention coordinator for California, whose first child died of Tay-Sachs. (JTA)
  • When American Jews Fought Nazis - in New Jersey - Josefin Dolsten
    In the 1930s, Newark, New Jersey, was home to a large German-American population and a fair share of supporters of the Nazi cause. Following Hitler's rise to power in 1933, Jews in Newark saw Nazi-sympathizers marching down their city's streets. "The Nazis were marching in uniform. Many of them were armed. They broke windows, and they attacked merchants," said Warren Grover, a historian and the author of the 2003 book Nazis in Newark. Nazis also screened movies with anti-Semitic messages and hung anti-Jewish posters in the city.
        In response, Jews started organizing to defend themselves. In Newark they organized the Minutemen, aided by Jewish gangster Abner "Longy" Zwillman, and led by former professional boxer Nat Arno. The mostly Jewish group, which also had a few Irish and Italian members, became a powerful tool to fight Hitler sympathizers. Grover said the group served its purpose: deterring Nazis from organizing in Newark. "Just the thought of having Minutemen present at any of their meetings discouraged a lot of the Nazis from holding public meetings," he said. (JTA)
  • Former Israeli Combat Instructor Becomes Wonder Woman - Gal Gadot interviewed by Alex Morris
    Gal Gadot is ostensibly here to talk about her rise to become an iconic, worldwide symbol of all that is good and powerful as the film incarnation of Wonder Woman. But it's hard not to see elements of the superheroic in the way she just is.
        Gadot's mother's father was 13 when the Nazis came to his native Czechoslovakia. His mother and brother died in the gas chambers at Auschwitz. After the war, he made his way to Israel alone. "His entire family was murdered - it's unthinkable," says Gadot. "He affected me a lot. After all the horrors he'd seen, he was like this damaged bird, but he was always hopeful and positive and full of love. If I was raised in a place where these values were not so strong, things would be different. But it was very easy for me to relate to everything that Wonder Woman stands for."  (Rolling Stone)

Video: Thwarting a New Iranian Empire - Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • People do not understand what it means to leave Iran inside of Syria as currently envisioned by the Great Powers.
  • The Iranians established themselves in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon back in 1982 and in a few short years established Hizbullah, a guerrilla army that accepted the idea of Iranian domination and leadership of all Muslims. It served as a surrogate for Iran in the Middle East.
  • It was originally thought that if Israel withdrew from Lebanon, the Hizbullah problem would go away. But Israel did withdraw from Lebanon in 2000 and the Hizbullah threat only got worse because it had nothing to do with Israel. It had everything to do with Iranian regional ambitions.
  • Years ago, when the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was sitting with a high-level American official, he criticized U.S. policy in Iraq for having recreated the Safavid Empire. The Safavid Empire was the Persian Empire back in the 16th century.
  • It was then that Persian control stretched over parts of Syria; it covered Iraq including Baghdad; it went south into the Persian Gulf; it included the island of Bahrain; it stretched into half of Afghanistan and into what used to be referred to as Soviet Central Asia. This was a huge state that still exists in the fond memories of many in the Iranian leadership.
  • Just as Lebanon became a base for Iranian operations across the Middle East, leaving Iranian forces in Syria will create a challenge on a much greater scale. This will pose a direct threat to the future security of Israel as well as Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.
  • The bottom line is: Iranian forces must be withdrawn from Syria back to Iran. If the Great Powers leave Iran in Syria, they are setting the stage for the next great crisis in the Middle East, which will be far larger than anything we have seen until now.

    The writer, president of the Jerusalem Center, served as Israel's ambassador to the UN and director general of the Foreign Ministry.
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