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November 3, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

North Korea's Alliance with Syria Reveals a Wider Proliferation Threat - Jay Solomon (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    According to U.S., Arab, and Israeli officials, North Korea's Kim Jong-un has continued to supply weapons and military equipment to Damascus throughout the six-year conflict despite facing numerous international sanctions.
    In recent months, UN investigators have uncovered North Korean supplies being smuggled to Syria's Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), the secretive body that oversees Assad's chemical weapons program.
    Syrian opposition groups and the UN also allege that North Korean military advisors are present inside the country to help Assad.
    Many U.S. officials consider North Korea's construction of a graphite reactor in Syria's Deir al-Zour province as one of the greatest acts of nuclear proliferation in history.
    Called al-Kibar, the facility was almost an exact replica of the Yongbyon reactor that North Korea has used to harvest plutonium for its own nuclear weapons arsenal.
    The Syrian reactor was close to being operational when Israeli jets destroyed it in 2007, killing a number of North Korean technicians working there.
    The writer is a visiting fellow at The Washington Institute.

Israeli Attack Target: A Syrian-Iranian Industrial Area - Roi Kais (Ynet News)
    The Hisya industrial area south of the Syrian city of Homs, which was attacked Wednesday in an airstrike attributed to Israel, has been used over the past decade for joint projects of Iranian government companies and Syrian government and private companies, intelligence blog Intellitimes reports.

Israeli Deterrence in a New Middle East - Yossi Melman (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's borders with Egypt and Jordan are quiet, with security cooperation between Israel, Jordan and Egypt at its peak.
    The situation in the West Bank is fragile but manageable. Two years ago, there was an effort to ignite a new intifada, but a strong response by Israel combined with effective intelligence and monitoring of social media subdued most of the efforts to carry out terrorist attacks.
    What also contributed was a policy to allow nearly 100,000 Palestinian workers to continue working in Israel. Thus, Israel succeeded in isolating the perpetrators from the rest of the population.
    Moreover, the PA security services still cooperate with their Israeli counterparts and, together, thwart terrorist plans.

Secularism Surges in the Arab World (Economist-UK)
    According to pollster Arab Barometer, voters who backed Islamists after the Arab spring in 2011 have grown disillusioned and changed their minds.
    In Egypt, support for imposing sharia (Islamic law) fell from 84% in 2011 to 34% in 2016.
    In Lebanon and Morocco, only half as many Muslims listen to recitals of the Koran today, compared with 2011.
    The most remarkable, albeit nascent, transformation is in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, where Muhammad bin Salman, the young crown prince, has curbed the religious police, sacked thousands of imams, and launched a new Center for Moderation to censor "fake and extremist texts."
    At the same time, in places such as Algeria, Jordan and the Palestinian territories, polls show that support for sharia and sympathy for Islamist movements is high and growing.

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How Israel Modified the F-35 Fighter - Kyle Mizokami (National Interest)
    Israel is modifying its new U.S.-made F-35 fighters from the outset to integrate Israeli technologies.
    These include an Israeli-developed command, control, communications, computer and intelligence (C4I) system that does not interact with the F-35's computer system, but sends sensor data to other Israeli military assets, particularly nearby fighters, to help detect, prioritize and attack enemy targets.
    Facing Hizbullah, which has 150,000 tactical rockets, Israel needs to rapidly draw in launch-location data, process it, and quickly churn out a prioritized target list for the Israeli Air Force.
    The F-35I will also carry Israeli-designed missiles. Rafael's SPICE 1000 is so accurate it can place half of all bombs within nine feet of their target. It will also carry Israel's Python-5 infrared air-to-air missile.
    Added fuel tanks were also built in to extend the plane's range by 36%. While the addition of an external fuel tank would compromise the F-35's stealth, the fuel tank could be used during early phases of an air operation where stealth was not necessary, and jettisoned after use.

Israel Completes Training Course for Chinese Tour Leaders - Mu Xuequan (Xinhua-China)
    The Israel Ministry of Tourism presented certificates on Monday to more than 40 Chinese tour leaders after a training course, the first of its kind.
    Amir Halevi, director general of the ministry, said the course aims to solve the shortage of Chinese-speaking Israeli tour guides.
    In the first eight months of 2017, the number of Chinese tourists to Israel totaled 71,300, up 60% from a year ago.
    The number of Chinese tourists to Israel will exceed 100,000 in 2017 and is expected to reach 200,000 within two to three years.

Roman Stables Discovered in Israel's Galilee - Callum Paton (Newsweek)
    A family digging in their garden in the Israeli Arab village of Eilabun in the Galilee have uncovered a complex of underground stables, hewn into the rock in Roman times, 2,000 years ago.
    Archaeologists said the man-made caves would also have been used for storage. They dated the site to the first century CE.
    Eilabun is the site of an ancient Jewish village and excavators have also uncovered a synagogue.

Useful Reference:

New Publications for Pro-Israel Activists (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
* The Quest for Peace
* A Century of Terror
* Jewish Settlements

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S.: Any Palestinian Government that Includes Hamas Must Disarm Terrorists and Recognize Israel - Jason Greenblatt
    U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt said Thursday that the U.S. "welcomes the Palestinian Authority's deployment" to the "crossing points in Gaza. The United States believes it is essential that the Palestinian Authority assume full responsibility for Gaza."
        "As we've made clear in the past, any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to non-violence, recognize the State of Israel, accept previous agreements and obligations between the parties - including to disarm terrorists - and commit to a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If Hamas is to play any role in a Palestinian government, it must accept these basic requirements."  (Twitter)
  • Palestinians Threaten UK Court Action on Balfour Declaration - Jonathan Ferziger
    Palestinians plan to sue the UK in pursuit of an apology and compensation for its promotion of a "national home for the Jewish people" in Palestine 100 years ago through the Balfour Declaration, PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki said Thursday. The PA will hire a British law firm to lodge its claim and explore similar actions in European and other international courts. (Bloomberg)
        See also below Commentary: Balfour Declaration Centennial
  • UN Says Islamic State Executed Hundreds during Siege of Mosul - Rick Gladstone
    Islamic State fighters executed at least 741 Iraqi civilians in Mosul during the battle to retake the city, including women and children who had tried to flee, the UN said Thursday. The report said the militants also carried out mass abductions of civilians, used thousands of civilians as shields in combat with Iraqi soldiers, and deployed young boys as "Cubs of the Caliphate" wearing explosive belts. The report, produced by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, could be used for war-crimes prosecutions. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu Tells May: Those Who Want to Keep the Iran Deal Should Cooperate in Correcting It
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told British Prime Minister Theresa May in London on Thursday: "A hundred years after Balfour, the Palestinians should finally accept the Jewish national home and finally accept the Jewish state. And when they do, the road to peace will be infinitely closer."
        "There are great things that are happening in the Middle East, because many Arab countries now see Israel not as an enemy, but as their indispensable ally in the battle against militant Islam."
        "The threat we all see is a resurgent Iran that is bent not only on dominating the region, but bent on developing nuclear weapons. The goal that I have in mind is not keeping or eliminating the deal; it's improving the deal and correcting its main flaws. And I think those who want to keep the deal should cooperate in correcting the deal."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Israel Presses Hamas on Israeli Captives - Adam Rasgon
    Israel will not allow Hamas to search for five militants missing in the explosion of a Palestinian cross-border tunnel from Gaza without progress on the issue of Israelis held in Hamas captivity, Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, said Thursday. The Hamas-run Civil Defense in Gaza had asked the International Committee of the Red Cross to request permission from Israel to search for the missing militants in the border region. Hamas is believed to be holding the bodies of two Israeli soldiers as well as three captured Israeli civilians. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Increasing Operational Coordination between Hizbullah and Hamas - Yoni Ben Menachem
    The new deputy chairman of Hamas' Political Bureau, Salah al-Aruri, along with a few dozen Hamas operatives, has taken up residence in the heart of the Dahiya neighborhood of Beirut, which is considered Hizbullah's stronghold. According to senior Israeli security sources, al-Aruri is setting up a branch of Hamas in Lebanon that will be attached to Hizbullah's headquarters. Hizbullah takes direct orders from Iran.
        Hamas made a strategic decision to transfer civilian control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority without relinquishing its military power. It will then be free to invest resources in building up a large military force, like Hizbullah's in Lebanon, for a future war with Israel.
        Iran plans to put Israel between the hammer of Hizbullah in the north and the anvil of Hamas in the south, with tens of thousands of missiles aimed at Israel. The writer is a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israel Radio and Television. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Israel Navy Implements Smart Sonar to Battle Hamas Naval Commandos - Yoav Zitun
    The Israeli Navy is currently implementing the "Simba," a mobile sonar designed to quickly identify terrorist infiltrations into Israel by sea, mainly from Gaza. The IDF estimates that Hamas' naval commandos include hundreds of trained fighters equipped with advanced diving systems and that in the next confrontation Hamas will invest its efforts at the outset in penetrating Israel by sea.
        The new sonar is expected to be vastly superior to the one currently in use which has triggered dozens of false alarms. It can identify in real time who is an enemy combatant among hundreds of marine mammals, submerged objects and civilian divers. (Ynet News)
        See also Underwater with Israel Navy's Secret Missions Unit - Yoav Zitun
    The Israeli Navy's Underwater Missions Unit - Yaltam - will be required to defend Israel's gas drilling rigs scores of kilometers from Israel's shores. The unit's diverse missions include searching for citizens who have gone missing in the Sea of Galilee, upgrading a sensor network for the detection of enemy divers off the shores of Gaza or Lebanon, or sailing hundreds of miles west to find and lift from deep water a new missile being tested by the Israel Air Force. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Balfour Declaration Centennial

  • Balfour Declaration Centennial Honors Jewish Peoples' Rights in their Ancient Homeland - Yuval Rotem
    With the Balfour Declaration, the international community formally recognized, in writing, the simple truth that the Land of Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people. The Palestinian leadership's attempts to undermine the Balfour Declaration are tantamount to rejecting Israel's right to exist. Its centennial is proving to be yet another opportunity for Israel's opponents to repeat the mistakes of the past and sacrifice the benefits of co-existence and cooperation on the altar of a false historical narrative which brings no benefit to anyone, least of all to the Palestinians themselves.
        Israel in 2017 has to live with the violent consequences of this Arab rejectionism: from the Palestinian Authority that unapologetically rewards the murderers of Jews as well as Christian tourists, Druze and Arab policemen, and anyone else deemed to be "collaborators" with Israel; to the unremitting wars of annihilation waged by Iran, Hamas, Hizbullah, and a panoply of Islamist terror groups. The writer is director-general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Fox News)
  • Britain Saw Palestine as Geostrategically Important - Henry Kissinger
    If there is a "hinge of history" on which the modern concepts of world order turned, it was the years just before, during, and after the First World War. The period was shaped by the deterioration and collapse of dynastic empires.
        In the early years of the war, Britain saw Palestine - then part of the Ottoman Empire - as geostrategically important because of its proximity to Germany's Berlin-Baghdad Railway, to the Suez Canal, to Arabian Gulf oil and as a bridge between Asia and Africa. Prime Minister Lloyd George was determined to bring Palestine into a British sphere of influence. (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
  • The Balfour Declaration and Failings in Palestinian Leadership - Mark Regev
    Following the 1917 Balfour Declaration, Sharif Hussein, leader of the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman empire, urged the Arabs to "welcome the Jews as brethren and cooperate with them for the common welfare." Those wise words were ignored by the Palestinian Arab leadership then, and continue to be ignored by President Mahmoud Abbas now.
        Britain repeatedly put forward proposals that would have led to Palestinian independence. Even when, in 1937, Britain tabled a partition plan offering the Jews a mere 15% of the land, the Palestinian leadership refused, believing that negating my people's right to self-determination took precedence over sovereignty for their own people. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the UK. (Guardian-UK)
  • A Century of Missed Opportunities - Ron Prosor
    Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, you have demanded the British government apologize for issuing the Balfour Declaration and that it be repealed. Your demands only prove that you are oblivious to historical truths and that you think historical facts are pliable and can be manipulated at will. If this is how you treat binding historical documents, how can anyone expect that you live up to a signed agreement?
        In calling for the repeal of the Balfour Declaration, you are seeking to negate the Jewish people's national home while fostering among your public the illusion that if they only wait long enough, the State of Israel will cease to exist. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the UN. (Israel Hayom)
  • Despite Everything Said about "Two States for Two Peoples," Palestinians Don't Recognize the Legitimacy of Israel - Dan Margalit
    The Palestinian Authority has asked British Prime Minister Theresa May to apologize for the Balfour Declaration. The Palestinians' request is an official statement that they do not recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish presence in the Land of Israel despite everything that has been said about the right of "two states for two peoples."
        Imagine a parallel Israeli action - if Israel would demand that the start of negotiations be conditioned on a Palestinian apology for the Palestinian Arab leaders' support for the Nazis during World War II, and for their intention to establish extermination camps for Jews in the Dotan Valley in the West Bank. If Israel now demanded admission of such a shameful mistake, the entire world would see it as a trick to prevent dialogue between the sides. This applies to Abbas' request of May, too. (Ha'aretz)
  • Reflections on Balfour 100 - Jonathan Sacks
    "Dear Lord Rothschild..." These three words helped to change the course of modern Jewish history and ultimately create the State of Israel. As we proudly approach the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration on November 2, Rabbi Sacks has recorded a short video reflecting on what this declaration meant in 1917, and what it means for us today. Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks served as the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013. (Jonathan Sacks)
  • It's Not Britain's Fault that There's No Palestinian State - Interview with Tom Gross
    Q: What were the British reasons for supporting the Balfour Declaration?
    Gross: A lot of people point to geo-strategic reasons. Some people point to more sinister motives, i.e., that certain Europeans including certain British people would like Jews to leave Europe - basically, anti-Semitism.
        But I'd say there was a more admirable motive which was the main motive. By November 1917 the British, like the Americans, supported the principle of self-determination in the crumbling Ottoman and Hapsburg empires. So there were many states that came into fruition after the First World War, for example, Czechoslovakia. Like other people, many British people thought the Jews deserved a homeland just like there were many other states born around that period.
    Q: Should the UK apologize for the Balfour Declaration?
    Gross: The British did try to create a Palestinian Arab state and it was rejected by various Arab countries and by the Palestinian leadership. So I don't think it's the British fault that there's no Palestinian state. Tom Gross is a veteran British journalist. (i24news)
  • On the 100th Anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, It's Time to Learn from our Mistakes - Othman Mirgani
    Even if Britain deigned to publish an apology for the Balfour Declaration, it would not change any part of the bitter reality. There is a need to stop and take stock of ourselves, to examine the situation that we have arrived at over the hundred years since the Balfour Declaration and to seriously investigate the reasons for it. What has Israel achieved and where is it now and what have the Palestinians and the Arabs achieved with respect to the Palestinian issue?
        There are those who will say that Israel is supported by the superpowers. However, the Arabs have also been supported by strong allies over the course of their history and the Palestinians have received broad support in the international arena, more than Israel has enjoyed. The difference is that the Israelis remained focused on their goals and concentrated all their abilities on achieving them, while the Palestinians and the other Arabs were overwhelmed by internal disputes, which no one can say were caused by Israel.
        More than others, the Palestinians must do some soul searching in light of a long list of opportunities that they have missed, erroneous readings of reality, and internal divisions that reached the level of warfare, settling of scores, and assassinations. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK-MEMRI)

  • Other Issues

  • Video: Why Kurdistan Matters - Dore Gold
    The Kurds have been repeatedly targeted for nothing less than mass murder. During the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s the army of Saddam Hussein entered Kurdistan and engaged in the destruction of 2,000 Kurdish villages; over 100,000 Kurds were slain in those operations. 5,000 Kurds died as a result of Iraqi use of chemical weapons against them.
        The Kurds have been one of the strongest allies of the West in the Middle East and have led the fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. They have also built up democratic institutions in northern Iraq and the economic progress they've made has been impressive.
        The Kurds are a nation that deserves national self-expression. In the long term, they are a strategic asset to the entire Western alliance and deserve diplomatic and political support. Amb. Dore Gold, former director general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Why Bahrain Is Leading Gulf Arab Outreach to Israel - Hussein Ibish
    In recent weeks, the Kingdom of Bahrain has emerged as the Gulf Arab country most actively pursuing better relations with Israel, both for reasons of its own and, presumably, with the blessing of its principal benefactor, Saudi Arabia.
        Quiet contacts have been maintained since at least 1994. In September, at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa expressed opposition to the ongoing Arab League economic boycott of Israel and said that citizens of Bahrain and Israel should feel free to visit each other's countries without restrictions.
        If shared concerns about Iran's influence lie at the core of potential improved relations between Gulf Arab countries and Israel, Bahrain has a particular incentive to explore the possibilities since Iran has a history of claiming Bahrain as part of its own territory.
        Moreover, Bahrain is almost certainly acting on behalf of Saudi Arabia and some of its other GCC allies in taking the lead in exploring the potential for dialogue with Israel. Nonetheless, without any significant progress on Palestinian issues, the political space for such a dialogue will remain limited. (Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington)
  • You Can't Analyze Israel without Understanding the Experiences of Its People - Shimon Koffler Fogel
    It is impossible to truly grasp the nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the elusiveness of peace without taking into account the experiences of the people of Israel. For Israelis, security policies and peace processes aren't abstract concepts; they are weighed with the life of one's child in mind.
        For a country smaller than Vancouver Island, the promise of peace heralds an end to the unshakable feeling that the region seeks its disappearance. Israelis take notice, for example, every time Iran's theocratic leaders issue another genocidal threat. The writer is CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), the advocacy agent of Canada's Jewish Federations. (CBC News-Canada)
  • Protester Disrupts Arab Israelis on Campus - Paul Miller
    Police at the University of Minnesota arrested an unidentified woman on Oct. 24 for disrupting a pro-Israel student group's event featuring Arab Israelis. Video footage shows a young hijab-clad woman walking up and down the aisle of a conference room, reading from prepared notes on her smartphone and slinging verbal assaults at the guest speakers from Reservists on Duty (RoD).
        Amit Deri, founder of RoD, explained: "She is a Muslim who came to our event, not to shut down white Jewish speakers, but rather to shut down Muslims, Christians and Arabs who actually live in Israel. She called herself a Palestinian, but she was born and raised in Minnesota. She had the nerve to tell our group of Muslims that they are traitors. They told her, 'You don't know; you don't live in Israel! You left your so-called land, you live here in the states and you want to tell us what it's like living in Israel?'"
        Deri added that RoD and Students Supporting Israel (SSI), the campus group which hosted them, will be pressing charges. He said the groups want to send a message to anti-Israel protesters that free speech is a two-way street, and that they have a right to hold events without fear of disruption or personal harm. The writer is executive director of the Haym Salomon Center. (

British Prime Minister Rejects Call to Apologize for Balfour Declaration - Prime Minister Theresa May (Prime Minister's Office-UK)

Prime Minister Theresa May addressed a dinner in London on Nov. 2 to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.

  • In 1917, "with Britain still embroiled in the midst of the First World War, the idea of establishing a homeland for the Jewish people would have seemed a distant dream....Yet it was at this very moment that Lord Balfour had the vision and the leadership to make this profound statement about restoring a persecuted people to a safe and secure homeland."
  • "When some people suggest we should apologize for this letter, I say absolutely not. We are proud of our pioneering role in the creation of the State of Israel. We are proud to stand here today together with Prime Minister Netanyahu and declare our support for Israel. And we are proud of the relationship we have built with Israel."
  • "It is only when you witness Israel's vulnerability that you truly understand the constant danger Israelis face - as I saw on my visit in 2014, when the bodies of the murdered teenagers Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah were discovered. So I am clear that we will always support Israel's right to defend itself."
  • "As we work together towards Balfour's vision of a peaceful co-existence, we must be equally clear that there can never be any excuses for boycotts, divestment or sanctions: they are unacceptable and this government will have no truck with those who subscribe to them."
  • "Neither can there ever be any excuse for anti-Semitism in any form....And yes, this means recognizing that there is today a new and pernicious form of anti-Semitism which uses criticism of the actions of the Israeli government as a despicable justification for questioning the very right of Israel to exist."
  • "This is abhorrent and we will not stand for it. That is why the United Kingdom has been at the forefront of an international effort to create a new definition of anti-Semitism which explicitly calls out this inexcusable attempt to justify hatred....Criticizing the actions of Israel is never - and can never be - an excuse for questioning Israel's right to exist."

        See also Video: Remarks by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and British Prime Minister Theresa May on the Centenary of the Balfour Declaration (YouTube)
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