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September 29, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Technology to Help Puerto Rico Deal with Post-Hurricane Water Scarcity - Angeles Rodriguez (Business News Americas-Chile)
    Israeli technology that captures humidity to supply potable water out of the air will be sent to Puerto Rico by the Israeli government in the wake of Hurricane Maria, David Efron, Israel's honorary consul in Puerto Rico, said Wednesday.

Hizbullah Will Keep Building Its Arsenal - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland (Ynet News)
    Last Friday, according to foreign sources, Israel attacked a military target at the Damascus airport once again.
    Our enemies are willing to occasionally sacrifice targets, but at the same time, they have found other ways to transfer advanced weapons from Iran through Syria to Lebanon.
    The Syria-Lebanon border is 300-km. long, and most of the area is tree-covered and mountainous; hundreds of trucks travel from Syria to Lebanon every day. There's no escape from concluding that Hizbullah will continue building its power almost undisturbed.
    If someone opens fire at Israel from Lebanon, dragging us into the "third Lebanon war," we must not let the war last 33 days like in 2006. A long war will cause intolerable damage to Israel's infrastructures.
    The only way to ensure that the next war is short requires us to fight the state of Lebanon, not just Hizbullah.
    If war does break out, it's important that the Western states and the U.S. understand in advance that Israel chose this strategy having no other choice.
    The writer is a former head of Israel's National Security Council.

Germany Investigating 2 Former SS Death Squad Members - David Rising (AP-ABC News)
    Two suspected members of Adolf Hitler's mobile Einsatzgruppen death squads identified by the Simon Wiesenthal Center have been tracked down by German reporters.
    The two appear on Nazi-era roster lists of an SS unit that was attached to Einsatzgruppe C, responsible for the shooting of nearly 34,000 at Babi Yar near Kiev on Sept. 29-30, 1941.

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New UNRWA Textbooks for Palestinians Demonize Israel and Jews - Danielle Ziri (Jerusalem Post)
    New schoolbooks used in UNRWA schools in Gaza and the West Bank display extreme anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiments, according to a study by Dr. Aaron Groiss released on Wednesday.
    According to the Palestinian schoolbooks, Jews have no rights whatsoever in the region but only "greedy ambitions."
    The books say that Jews have no holy places there - the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem are all presented as Muslim holy places threatened by Jews.
    The names "Israel" and "Tel Aviv" do not appear on maps at UNRWA schools.
    Peace is not advocated in UNRWA schools. Instead, the schoolbooks promote a violent struggle of liberation against Israel.
    A 2017 text describes a firebomb attack on an Israeli civilian bus as a "barbecue party."
    The researcher concludes that UNRWA is contributing to perpetuating the conflict.

Birthright's Unexpected Allies - Gil Troy (Canadian Jewish News)
    The Taglit-Birthright Israel program recently brought its 600,000th participant to Israel.
    Dozens of conversations I've had with Birthright participants in my voluntary role as chairman of its international education committee have confirmed my theory that the hyper-critical media and the blame-Israel-firsters are, ironically, allies in Birthright's success.
    When something exceeds one's expectations, or when reality forces one to view something more positively than originally expected, one's enthusiasm soars.
    When people expect Israel to be an undemocratic and amoral society but witness a democratic and moral country, and see the 88% of Israelis who recently reported themselves to be happy, most turn downright euphoric.
    The writer is Professor of History at McGill University.

Israel Gifts UNESCO with Arch of Titus Replica - Raphael Ahren (Times of Israel)
    Israel's ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, on Tuesday handed a replica of a frieze from the Arch of Titus, a monument commemorating Rome's victory over Jerusalem, to the head of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, in a not-so-subtle critique of the agency's resolutions ignoring Jewish links to the holy city.
    The replica will be exhibited in UNESCO's Paris headquarters as a "greeting from the historical truth about the existence of two Temples on the Temple Mount," said Shama-Hacohen.
    "2,000 years ago the Romans destroyed the Temple and removed it from the Jewish people. And today, UNESCO is trying to destroy and remove the history of Jerusalem from the Jewish people."
    "When the executive board of UNESCO adopts every six months a resolution that denies the connection between the Jewish people and the Temple Mount, they are not only adopting a political resolution, they are adopting a resolution that negates the right of the State of Israel to exist and the Jewish people's right of self-determination."
    Such resolutions "pave the way for spreading anti-Semitism and terrorism."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Envoy Slams Russia for Bid to Shield Iran from IAEA Inspections
    U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley on Thursday slammed a bid by Russia to shield Iran from inspections by the IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog, which is to verify Iran's compliance with nuclear restrictions under the 2015 deal. Haley has said the IAEA should widen inspections to include military sites, but diplomats say Russia has been trying to restrict the agency's role.
        "If the Iran nuclear deal is to have any meaning, the parties must have a common understanding of its terms," Haley said in a statement. "It appears that some countries are attempting to shield Iran from even more inspections. Without inspections, the Iran deal is an empty promise."  (Reuters)
        See also Text - UN Amb. Nikki Haley: Without Inspections of Military Sites, the Iran Deal Is an Empty Promise (U.S. Mission to the UN)
  • "Settlements Are Part of Israel," U.S. Ambassador David Friedman Says
    U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told the Hebrew Walla news website on Thursday, "I think the settlements are part of Israel. I think that was always the expectation when [UN] Resolution 242 was adopted in 1967. It remains today the only substantive resolution that was agreed to by everybody. The idea was that Israel would be entitled to secure borders. The existing borders, the 1967 borders, were viewed by everybody as not secure, so Israel would retain a meaningful portion of the West Bank, and it would return that which it didn't need for peace and security."
        "They're only occupying 2% of the West Bank," Friedman said, referring to the built-up area of settlements beyond the Green Line. "There is important nationalistic, historical, religious significance to those settlements, and I think the settlers view themselves as Israelis and Israel views the settlers as Israelis."
        Friedman also said an administration-proposed peace plan likely will go public "within months, but we're not holding ourselves to any hard deadline. We'll try to get it done right, not done fast."  (JTA)
  • Son of Hamas Leader Delivers Plea for Palestinian Human Rights at UN
    Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of a Hamas leader, slammed the Palestinian Authority for its human rights abuses at the UN Human Rights Council headquarters in Geneva on Monday. He said the PA and its security forces "kidnap Palestinian students from campus and torture them in your jails. You torture your political rivals. The suffering of the Palestinian people is the outcome of your selfish political interests. You are the greatest enemy of the Palestinian people. If Israel did not exist, you would have no one to blame."
        "Finally, you use this platform to mislead the international community, and to mislead Palestinian society to believe that Israel is responsible for the problems you create."  (UN Watch)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Jewish Leaders Slam UN Rights Chief over West Bank Blacklist
    The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations charged Thursday that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein abused his authority by informing 150 Israeli and international companies operating in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights that they could be blacklisted for their activities. "By notifying companies they are on the 'blacklist,' the High Commissioner is actively abetting the [Human Rights] Council's unwarranted discriminatory campaign to coerce international businesses to cease doing business with Israeli companies in east Jerusalem and the West Bank."
        Hussein's action gives "official UN cover to the unrestrained bias against Israel in the international body, fans the flames of discord, and interferes with prospects for peace in the Middle East, calling into question his objectivity, judgment and ability to carry out his duties as a protector of human rights."  (Times of Israel)
  • Hamas Says It Won't Discuss Giving Up Weapons If PA Takes Over Gaza - Dov Lieber
    Senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk said on Thursday that Hamas is not prepared to discuss the dissolution of its military wing during talks with the Fatah party. "This issue [of Hamas disarming] is not up for discussion, not previously and neither will it be in the future....It is inconceivable that Hamas will lay down its weapons," he told the Turkish news agency Anadolu.
        Abu Marzouk also said that Hamas would not be willing to accede to the demands of the Middle East Quartet that it renounce terrorism and agree to accept past agreements between Israel and PLO. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • The New Persian Empire - Clifford D. May
    Iran's rulers have been aggressively spreading their Islamic Revolution and constructing what can only be called a new Persian Empire. The U.S. is playing a key role in the defeat of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, but if the territories taken from the Islamic State are bequeathed to Iran, American troops will have served as Iran's expeditionary forces.
        Ayatollah Khomeini wrote in his 1970 book Islamic Government: "We have set as our goal the world-wide spread of the influence of Islam." Over time, he expected Iran to become so powerful that "none of the governments existing in the world would be able to resist it; they would all capitulate." Iran's rulers represent a cause, the fulfillment of "a dream of imperial rule." If the U.S. does not stop them, no one else will stand in their way. The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Washington Times)

  • Palestinians

  • "Bad Blood" Hovers over Latest Attempt at Palestinian Reconciliation - Sean Savage
    Grant Rumley, an expert on Palestinian politics and a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said he does not expect the latest Hamas-Fatah reconciliation to succeed. "Ultimately the two sides have too much bad blood and divergent ideologies to coexist meaningfully," he said.
        "Abbas' sanctions were viewed by many in Gaza as cruel, depriving them of electricity and medical supplies in a long summer. Hamas' leaders were desperate for any reprieve and outside funding, and to that end were willing to cut a deal with anyone who could get money and fuel into Gaza."  (
  • Not So Fast on Fatah-Hamas Unity - Joshua Mitnick
    Hamas and Fatah are still far from resolving their most fundamental disagreements blocking a unity deal. Hillel Frisch, a political science professor and an expert on Palestinian politics at Bar-Ilan University, said the concession by Hamas to dismantle the quasi-governmental committee it established in March to boost its control in Gaza reflects its weakened position in recent years. "The economic crunch is amazing. Hamas is down to its core supporters. Hamas can't get more than 2,000 to 3,000 people in Gaza to come to its rallies." In the past, the group's rallies have drawn tens of thousands of people.
        The two rival Palestinian factions are still far from agreement on a range of issues, such as: how to merge their respective security forces; how to integrate Hamas into the Palestine Liberation Organization; how to organize elections; who will control Gaza's borders; and who will take responsibility for Gaza's reconstruction.
        Few analysts believe that Abbas and Fatah really want to come into Gaza and bear the burden of the humanitarian, economic and infrastructure disarray. At the same time, the PA wouldn't be truly in charge anyway. Hamas isn't expected to relinquish its control over Gaza to their rivals so quickly. (New York Jewish Week)

  • Kurdish Independence

  • The Kurds Have Been Pivotal in the Fight Against ISIS - Robin Wright
    The timing of the Kurdish independence referendum was intentional. It exploited both the region's chaos and its dependence on the Kurds to fight ISIS. The Kurdish Peshmerga, long famed for their skills as warriors, even when vastly outmanned and outgunned, have been the most pivotal force in the U.S.-backed campaigns in both Iraq and Syria.
        The Peshmerga stopped the ISIS blitz in 2014, which was headed for Baghdad. They were pivotal in retaking huge chunks of the Islamic State and, this spring, in retaking Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city. In Syria, the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces have been the most reliable and effective party in the current campaign to retake Raqqa, the Islamic State's capital. (New Yorker)
  • In Kurdistan, a Sense of Kinship toward Israel - David Patrikarakos
    Israel has gained many friends in Erbil as pretty much the only significant power to come out openly in support of Kurdish independence. The sense of kinship toward Israel - because of a perception of shared suffering and the search for a homeland - were points I heard again and again at polling stations across Erbil.
        I asked Sarbast Hussain, a former Peshmerga commander, if the Kurdish struggle for statehood makes him sympathize with Palestinian independence aspirations? "No," he replies. "It's not their state; in the years leading up to the late 1940s they sold their land to the Jews; now they want it back. They have rejected multiple peace offers because they want to throw the Israelis into the sea and that will never happen. I have no sympathy for them."  (Ha'aretz)

  • Weekend Features

  • A Generation Gap Emerges among Golan Druze - Ari Plachta
    The Druze residents of four villages on the Golan Heights held firmly onto their Syrian identity following Israel's annexation of the territory in 1981. Syrian flags are still flown proudly on Golan rooftops, but a generation gap has emerged as younger Druze spread their wings in Israeli society. Out of 26,500 residents, nearly 5,500 have applied for and received Israeli citizenship.
        Candy salesman Adham Pharhat in Buq'ata says, "What more can I ask for? I'm in my thirties - I have security, money, social services, education. In Syria? You can forget about it. I'm proud to be part of Israel." Still, he won't be applying for citizenship anytime soon, for a reason expressed by many: "It's disrespectful to the older generation."
        Faris, an elder Druze from Mijdal Shames, said, "Of course I'm concerned young people don't have a connection to Syria - or what's left of it. It's a sad situation we have here. The young people, they couldn't care less."
        Shefaa Abu Jabal, who lives in Haifa and works at an Israeli human rights organization, said, "The older generation is Syrian, and they know it. But 2011 [the outbreak of the Syrian civil war] was the year my generation was forced to really ask what we think and feel about Syria. Do I want to be Syrian or Israeli?...For Israel, the Syrian revolution was a gift. By saying, 'Look what we give you here in Israel and look what's happening over there in Syria,' young people aren't afraid to praise Israel and consider citizenship."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel-CIA Cooperation Led to Capture of Iran Arms Ship Karin A - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    On January 3, 2002, Israel Navy and Air Force units captured a Palestinian Authority-owned freighter loaded with 50 tons of weapons, including 345 long-range Katyusha rockets, from Iran with involvement from Hizbullah. The full story about uncovering the well-concealed boat, including cooperation between Israeli intelligence and the CIA, is told for the first time in a Hebrew book called Drama in the Red Sea by Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Gilboa.
        The book describes how the CIA located the ship on Dec. 17 near Aden after Israel had asked for its assistance. Although the CIA never formally revealed how they found the ship, it is widely known that at the time the U.S. was performing wide-ranging aerial surveillance to hunt down Osama bin Laden. The CIA gave Israel regular updates on the exact location of the ship which was invaluable to the Israeli navy planning its interception two weeks later. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Moral Choice of a Diplomat Who Defied Orders - Mordecai Paldiel
    Thousands of Jews owe their lives to the humanitarian act of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese consul-general in the southern French city of Bordeaux. In June 1940, as the German army was sweeping southward in defeated France, Portugal was under the rule of the dictator Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, whose wartime decree "Circular 14" forbade the issuance of transit visas to Jews wishing to escape capture by the advancing Germans.
        Sousa Mendes issued thousands of transit visas until Salazar learned of his flagrant disobedience and ordered him back to Portugal for disciplinary measures. Returning to Portugal, he was stripped of his diplomatic rank, fired, and all benefits accrued from a long diplomatic career annulled. He died in 1954 in poverty.
        The Sousa Mendes Foundation has discovered nearly 4,000 names of those he saved, based on meticulous research of documents and boat manifests. When faced with a moral choice - to save the lives of strangers but lose his career and future in the process - Sousa Mendes, a devout Catholic and a patriot, rose to the challenge of history. The writer teaches at Yeshiva University and Touro College in New York. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Bulgaria's Rescue of 50,000 Jews - Katrin Gendov
    The story of how Bulgaria, an ally to Hitler, saved its 50,000 Jews is deserving of recognition. The deportation of the Jews from Thrace and Macedonia alerted Bulgaria to what was about to follow. In March 1943, trains arrived in Bulgaria to transport all the Jews straight to a death camp in Treblinka. Policemen gathered Jews at schoolyards to await their deportation.
        However, not a single Jew left the country. Ordinary Bulgarian citizens and members of parliament mobilized against the deportation. The head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church arrived on the day of the deportation at the train station. The church opened its doors and provided shelter for the Bulgarian Jews, and the King of Bulgaria canceled the deportation.
        Months later, Hitler tried again, requesting from the King that all of Bulgaria's Jews be sent to Poland. King Boris told the German leader that the country needed the Jews for labor, hence he created labor camps where 20,000 men were sent to work and remained in the country. His quick response to Hitler's demand prevented the second deportation. After the war, 96% of the Jewish population in Bulgaria emigrated to Israel. (CAMERA)

Video: The Discovery and Rescue of Iraqi Jews' Patrimony in Baghdad. Will It Now Be Lost? - Harold Rhode interviewed by Lenny Ben-David (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • At the time of the American liberation of Iraq in 2003, Harold Rhode was in Baghdad as an analyst on Islamic culture for the Pentagon. A religious Jew, Rhode was taken by an Iraqi contact - Ahmed Chalabi - to the basement of the central office of Iraqi intelligence, where he found Jewish Torah scrolls and holy books from the Iraqi Jewish community immersed in water because of a leak due to bomb damage. Without official permission, he began to work with the help of Chalabi to pump out the water and take out the books.
  • After nearly all of the Jewish community left Iraq by 1951, the remaining Torahs, Jewish books and communal records were stored upstairs in the women's section of the only remaining functioning synagogue, until one day in the early '80s when two trucks pulled up in the middle of the night and took everything to the intelligence headquarters. Why did they bother? In the Middle East, if you steal someone's heritage, you've got their soul, it's as if you've won. It's a way of defeating the Jews.
  • Fortunately, word of the books reached Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, who raised the issue at the National Security Council. Suddenly it became a mission for the American government and the material was eventually brought to the U.S. for restoration. There were 2,700 items, the oldest of which was printed in 1547 in Venice.
  • The State Department decided that according to international law, you cannot steal the patrimony of another country that you take over. It has to go back to Iraq, which has no Jewish community and nobody who can read these things nor cares. The Iraqi government is still basically anti-Israel and cannot be seen as allowing these books to come to Israel, which would shame them in the eyes of their Arab brothers.
  • But the books don't belong to Iraq. They belonged to the Jewish community and were stolen by Saddam Hussein. Most Iraqi Jews and their descendants today live in Israel.
  • From a legal point of view, the American government took millions of documents from Iraq about the Baathist leadership and has no intention of giving this material back, but the Jewish material is a different story.

    Dr. Harold Rhode, a Fellow at the Jerusalem Center, served for 28 years as an advisor on the Islamic world in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense.

        See also Israeli Lawmaker Doesn't Want Trove of Jewish Artifacts Returned to Iraq - Josefin Dolsten
    Israeli lawmaker Anat Berko (Likud) has called for a trove of Jewish artifacts now in the U.S. not to be returned to Iraq, saying the materials belong in Israel. "The archive belongs to Jews of Iraqi origin, and not to Iraqis who persecuted, expelled and drove out their Jewish citizens," she said. Berko, whose parents fled to Israel from Iraq, argued that the items should be housed at the Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center museum near Tel Aviv. (Times of Israel)
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