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September 8, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Taylor Force Act Advances in U.S. Senate - Amir Tibon (Ha'aretz)
    The Taylor Force Act, which would cut U.S. funding for the Palestinian Authority if it continues payments to convicted terrorists and their families, was attached to the 2018 Foreign Operations budget on Thursday by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
    According to the legislation, civilian institutions such as hospitals in the West Bank and east Jerusalem will continue to receive funding.
    See also Incentivizing Terrorism: Palestinian Authority Allocations to Terrorists and their Families - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Israel Prepares to Send Aid to Earthquake-Struck Mexico (Times of Israel)
    An Israeli aid team was preparing on Friday to fly to Mexico with high-tech gear for searching for people trapped under rubble following the massive earthquake that rocked southern Mexico overnight Thursday, said Shachar Zahavi, head of iAID, an umbrella body of Israeli aid groups.

Qatar Hires Public-Relations Firm to Court American Jews - Amir Tibon (Ha'aretz)
    Qatar, known for supporting Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, has hired Stonington Strategies, a leading U.S. public-relations firm, in order to improve its image among the American Jewish community, O'Dwyer's reports.
    Qatar is currently suffering from regional pressure and isolation as a result of its ongoing dispute with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt, which accuse the emirate of supporting terror and using its influential satellite channel, Al-Jazeera, to encourage revolutions in other countries.

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Cyber Warfare - Why Israel Leads the Charge - Christopher P. Skroupa (Forbes)
    Dr. Zvi Marom, CEO of Israel's BATM Advanced Communications, said in an interview:
    "With cyber warfare there is an ongoing war that is never declared, and is not bound by any law. You steal...your opponent's or enemy's trade secrets, and create ongoing economic damages and instability by targeted cyber-attacks from time to time....You plant all kinds of malware that can be used as a real weapon in case of real, declared conflict."
    "Israel is constantly under attack. The secret to our existence is having technological superiority to our enemies. Cyber is not an exception."

Top British Companies Seek Cyber Solutions from Israel in Battle Against Hackers (UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office)
    Top UK banks, insurers and telecom companies will seek cyber security solutions from Israel next week, as part of an effort by the British Government to protect companies and institutions from cyber attacks.
    12 leading Israeli cyber security startups will be hosted in London at a series of targeted events as part of TeXchange, a program by the British Embassy in Israel.

Israel's Startup Nation Comes to Chicago - Gretchen Rachel Hammond (Tablet)
    Six Israeli startups arrived in Chicago this week for an intensive two-week incubator at the city's technological and entrepreneurial ecosystem hub 1871.
    Omer Blaier has invented an app called Castor which enables users to send whatever character, tool, or piece of merchandise they can imagine on a digital screen to a 3D printer.
    Other Israeli startups include PANCHO, a mobile app that connects tourists with emergency services in any location.
    Vet My Hood connects users to on-demand veterinarian services.
    TFRESH is an on-the-go tooth brush and breath freshener.
    KINDR is a daycare-finding platform for parents.
    PRforALL is a global B2B platform that increases PR coverage for public relations firms and their clients through targeted media inquiries in real time.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Spain, Morocco Bust Terror Cell Preparing Large-Scale Attacks
    Police in Spain and Morocco have arrested six members of a terror cell, officials said Wednesday. "An investigation by the Moroccan security services found evidence that this group was planning large-scale terror attacks, holding discreet nighttime meetings during which they carried out physical training and simulated murder by decapitation," Spain's interior ministry said. The Moroccan interior ministry referred to group members "training how to slit throats with knives" and "planning to carry out a range of execution operations in Morocco and Spain."  (AFP)
  • French Terror Suspects "Wanted to Blow Up Banks"
    Three men were arrested on Wednesday in the southern Paris suburb of Villejuif with TATP explosives and chemicals. French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the suspects had been in phone contact with people in Syria. "They wanted to blow up banks with the TATP, but what we're seeing is that they were linked to terrorists, so it's more in that direction that we have to look," he told FranceInfo TV. Police later found more explosive materials in a garage rented by one of the suspects. (BBC News)
  • EU Anti-Terror Chief: Attacks Will "Likely Happen Again"
    According to figures released in June by Europol, the EU law enforcement agency, there were 142 deaths and 379 people injured in the EU in 2016 from terrorist attacks. Of the deaths, 135 came from 13 jihadist attacks. A survey published by the European Parliament in April 2016 showed that 69% "consider EU action [on fighting terrorism] to be insufficient" and 82% want it to "take more action."
        Gilles de Kerchove, the EU's counter-terrorism chief, said, "Many attacks have been prevented. Many plots have been foiled. But of course some have succeeded. There is very sadly nothing like 100% security but we have improved a lot....We have developed a lot of new policies, adopted a lot of legislation, supported a lot of effort in the member states to collect passenger name record information to cross the data."  (Deutsche Welle-Germany)
        See also below Observations: Anti-Terrorism Options for European Intelligence Agencies - Lior Akerman (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Defense Minister: Israel Will Prevent Iranian Corridor
    Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Thursday that Israel isn't looking to intervene in Syria, after Israeli planes reportedly struck a chemical weapons facility in the country. "We are not looking for adventures, and we do not wish to be dragged into one conflict or another. We are ready and determined to defend ourselves and ensure the safety of Israeli citizens. We will do whatever it takes to prevent a Shiite corridor from Iran to Damascus."  (Times of Israel)
  • IDF: Israel Is Dealing with Threats Near and Far - Gili Cohen
    IDF Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Herzl Halevi said Thursday that Israel is "dealing with threats near and far," following reports of an Israeli strike on a chemical arms plant in in Syria. He added: "The threats to Israel are from armed militant groups, most of them aided and funded by Iran. They are grave threats, but not existential ones."
        According to Halevi, "Our enemies know well the combination between precise intelligence and abilities. Iran, which wishes to establish a foothold on our border, is flooding the area with lethal arms and an ideology which is no less lethal. The IDF is working to keep the war back, and prepare for it."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli President: Hizbullah Is Forcing Israel to React - Greer Fay Cashman
    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin discussed the dangers of Hizbullah with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Thursday, saying that "Hizbullah's weapons infrastructure will force Israel to react." Rivlin spoke of the intensified threat against Israel in light of the Iranian presence in Syria and the spread of its influence throughout the Middle East.
        Rivlin pledged that Israel was ready to participate in all efforts by other countries to eradicate terror and thanked Germany for the sale of submarines to Israel, which he said were a vital component in Israel's security. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Next Middle East War: Israel and Iran Heading for Conflict over Southern Syria - Editorial
    Israeli airstrikes on a military compound in Syria on Thursday are part of the confrontation that is building between Israel and Iran as the war against Islamic State moves to a conclusion in Syria and Iraq. Iran is using Syria's civil war, and the battle against ISIS, as cause to gain a permanent military foothold in Syria that can threaten Israel either directly or via its proxies in Syria and Lebanon.
        Tehran has helped Hizbullah stockpile tens of thousands of missiles that will be launched against Israel in the next inevitable conflict. If it can also dominate southern Syria, Iran can establish a second front on the border near the Golan Heights. The danger of a proxy war or even a direct war between Iran and Israel is growing, and it will increase as Iran's presence builds in Syria. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Israel Enforces "Red Lines" in Syria - Benny Avni
    Israel's message when it struck a major Syrian arms facility from the air was, "A red line is a red line." The daring attack carried all the hallmarks of Israel's unique brand of non-proliferation enforcement in an age of major proliferation crises. Israel has told everyone (including UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres last week) that it wouldn't allow into Syria and Lebanon certain arms that can change the face of future wars against it. Washington said the bombed facility as one of Syria's three chemical-arms factories.
        As the Syrian war appears to be winding up in victory for Assad, Iran and Hizbullah, Israel is acting to prevent them from fulfilling their vow to erase it off the map, and prevent proliferation of banned arms in the process. This week's lesson is clear: Daring, well-planned surgical attacks are a non-proliferation tool that should be considered where practical. (New York Post)
  • Russia Was Not Surprised by Attack on Syrian Weapons Facility - Herb Keinon
    Israel on Thursday reportedly attacked a branch of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center that housed chemical weapons and missiles. When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Russian President Vladimir Putin two weeks ago, he made it clear that if and when Israel attacked to protect its interests, everyone should understand why it happened and what was at stake and no one should be surprised.
        Jerusalem has made clear that it will not allow game-changing weaponry to be transferred from Syria or Iran to Hizbullah, and will not let Iran or Hizbullah build bases on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights that could be used for attacks against Israel. It was telling that there was no immediate condemnation of the attack from Moscow. Their immediate silence could be interpreted as a sign they were not blindsided by the move. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Why Israel Is Worried about Syria - Krishnadev Calamur
    Israel now faces two intertwined mortal enemies gaining strength close to its borders - Iran and Hizbullah. Thursday's airstrike in Syria signals to Israel's adversaries that it will not sit by as forces inimical to it gain strength, and that any political resolution of the Syrian conflict must take into account Israel's long-term security interests. (Atlantic)
  • Palestine and the Jews - Philologos
    As anti-Israel demonstrators chant "Palestine will be free / From the river to the sea!" I recall the blue-and-white Jewish National Fund collection box in my parents' New York apartment in 1947-48 on which was written: "Fight for a Free Palestine!" The term "Palestine" was used since the early 19th century, when it replaced the term "the Holy Land" that had been in use in medieval times, though Jews preferred the term "Eretz Israel" - the Land of Israel.
        After putting down the Bar-Kokhba revolt in 135 CE, the Romans officially renamed their administrative province of Judea as Syria Palaestina, seeking to deny the Jewish connection to it. (Mosaic)

  • Weekend Features

  • The Israel Defense Forces' Perfected Recipe for Leadership
    Based on a series of interviews with Israeli entrepreneurs and founders-turned-investors, it's clear that the culture and values instilled by the Israel Defense Forces have helped breed a unique type of leader, who is well-suited to thrive in tech and venture capital.
        "There's a strong analogy between being in a startup and being a relatively junior officer in the Israeli army," said Izhar Armony, IDF veteran and managing partner of venture firm CRV. "No one is risking their lives at a startup, but it's still a stressful situation - tight timelines, a compact environment, and no one can hide behind anything. Because of that parallel, some Israeli entrepreneurs are successful beyond what the statistics would suggest."  (Forbes)
  • Intel to Equip NFL Stadiums with Israel-Made Replay Technology - Shoshanna Solomon
    Intel Corp. said Thursday it has outfitted eight National Football League stadiums in the U.S. with high-definition cameras that will allow fans to see the game from every angle and create 360-degree highlights for a more action-packed experience.
        The cameras - which are ready for the 2017 season - are equipped with Intel's "freeD" technology that was developed by Israeli startup Replay Technologies, which Intel bought last year. The freeD system allows broadcasters to freeze video, rotate the angle of view and zoom in on the action. "We're empowering fans to see every side of the play and relive the excitement of game-changing moments," said James Carwana, general manager of Intel Sports. (Times of Israel)
  • Israeli Air Force Tech Used to Train Soccer Players - Jonathan Symcox
    Playsight unveiled its SmartPitch instant video analysis system at the Soccerex convention in Manchester this week. SmartPitch records the action on the field and uploads it immediately to the cloud, allowing coaches to show players instant replays of their contribution.
        CEO Chen Shachar said, "The technology was used to train Israeli fighter pilots. One of the things we brought from the Air Force was the need to provide an objective system to show what happened during practice or a game. When there is no more argument about the facts, the learning process can begin. While the players are drinking water and having a break, the coach can show them what happened on the pitch using a smartphone or tablet....Research has found that the sooner you show a player on video what happened, the faster and better progress they make."
        The firm started out in tennis and basketball and is also working with teams in ice hockey and handball. (BusinessCloud-UK)

Anti-Terrorism Options for European Intelligence Agencies - Lior Akerman (Jerusalem Post)

  • Modern day terrorism involves a murderous struggle carried out by religious fanatics who are fighting and willing to die for their principles.
  • The European security establishment does not have a strong system in place to counter these security threats in population centers that are becoming more and more densely populated with Muslims. In the absence of appropriate legislation and supportive information systems, it's almost impossible to manage this type of struggle.
  • Most of the Muslims living in Europe are completely focused on going to work to provide for their families. The few extremist terrorist cells that do exist are scattered around the continent.
  • If EU intelligence agencies are interested in preventing the acceleration of organized terrorist cells and thwarting attacks, they must carry out a number of actions.
    1. Understand that the enemy lives and operates from within the Muslim population centers of Europe. Anti-terrorist intelligence organizations must identify and map out these population centers.
    2. Enact legislative changes to allow law enforcement to carry out acts of counterterrorism that would enable them to successfully thwart attacks and prevent terrorist cells from forming.
    3. Construct a security plan that combines intelligence-gathering among at-risk groups in problematic areas with sending security agents out into the field with the appropriate technological tools necessary to acquire an accurate picture of subversive activity and receive real-time alerts.
    4. Increase cooperation and coordination regarding intelligence issues and transparency among the security agencies of the EU.

    The writer served as a division head in the Israel Security Agency.
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