December 27, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Arab League Moves Against Israeli Candidacy for UN Security Council Seat (MENA-Egypt Today)
    The Palestine committee of the Arab League's Arab Parliament (AP) has drawn up a plan to stand up to Israel's candidacy to a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council for 2019-2020, it was announced Tuesday.

Israeli Arabs Have Highest Life Expectancy in Arab-Muslim World - Dov Chernichovsky (Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel)
    Compared with the populations of 21 Muslim and Arab countries, Arab Israelis have the highest life expectancy.
    The life expectancy of Arab Israelis at birth in 2015 was 79, higher than such wealthy countries as Qatar, the UAE, and Bahrain.
    It is also equal to that of the general U.S. population.

Hamas Leader: When We Liberate Palestine, We Will Shut Down the U.S. Embassy (MEMRI-TV)
    Mahmoud Al-Zahhar of the Hamas leadership in Gaza told Al-Jazeera TV on Dec. 17 that with regard to President Trump's Jerusalem declaration: "One of these days, we will liberate Palestine in its entirety, and we will shut down your embassy, and deport all the people of your kind."

Israeli App Allows Hands-Free Use of Smartphones - Andrea K. McDaniels (AP)
    Open Sesame is an app that allows people to control a touch-screen smartphone or tablet hands-free. Instead of swiping with a finger, users control the device with small head movements or voice commands.
    The technology can help people who are paralyzed or have limited mobility due to diseases such as MS or ALS.
    The State of Maryland is now covering the cost of tablets with the Open Sesame technology installed for low-income people with certain disabilities, much like it does for text and braille telephones for the deaf and blind through its Maryland Accessible Telecommunications program.

Trove of Jewish Documents Found Hidden in Lithuanian Church - Viadotas Beniusis and Mary Sibierski (AFP)
    For decades, a confessional in a church in Lithuania's capital Vilnius hid a trove of documents offering an unprecedented glimpse into Jewish life in Eastern Europe before and during the Holocaust.
    The cache, with documents dating back to the mid-18th century, includes religious texts, Yiddish literature and poetry, testimonies about pogroms, autobiographies and photographs.
    The trove was discovered earlier this year during a cleanout of the church that was used as a book repository during Soviet times.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Hamas Leader Warns Against U.S. Peace Plan
    Hamas leader Ismail Haniya on Tuesday labelled President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital as a ploy to demolish the Palestinian cause and cautioned against working to implement any U.S. peace plan. Haniya asked Palestinians to continue their "uprising" against Trump's decision, and called for continued protests in Arab and Muslim capitals. (Al Jazeera)
        See also Hizbullah, Hamas Coordinate Against U.S. Decision on Jerusalem
    Hizbullah and Hamas, as well as Iraq's Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), are setting up a joint "coordination room" to stand up to President Trump's decision on Jerusalem, a Lebanon-based security source told Lebanon's Daily Star on Tuesday. Hamas has said Israel has "no land" and no right to designate "a capital" city. (Press TV-Iran)
  • Palestinian Islamic Jihad Leader Lauds Iran's Support
    Sheikh Nafez Azzam, a senior member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad's political bureau, said Wednesday, "We appreciate the Iranian officials and nation for their extensive aid to the Palestinian people and resistance in the past and now," the al-Kausar news channel reported. (Fars-Iran)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Assad Government Returns to Israel's Golan Border - Anna Ahronheim
    Syrian government forces, backed by Iranian militias and Hizbullah, are pushing deep into the rebel-held enclave along Israel's northern border as part of Assad's push to reassert control of the remaining rebel-held areas of the countryside west of Damascus.
        According to Lt.-Col. (res.) Mordechai Kedar of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, Israel can tolerate Assad's presence on the Golan. However, Israel "cannot tolerate the Iranians and its tentacles, like Hizbullah, to establish themselves on the Golan." From Israel's point of view, he said, out of all the possible victors in Syria - Assad, Iran or the jihadists - Assad is the lesser of three evils.
        Officials have warned that the IDF would not allow Iran to establish a military foothold within 40 km. of the border, and "the Iranians understand this," Kedar said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Ambassador Friedman Tells State Department to Stop Using the Word "Occupation" - Shoshana Kranish and Michael Wilner
    U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman recently requested that the State Department cease using the word "occupation" to describe Israel's control of the West Bank, Israel's Kan channel reported. The State Department reportedly refused the request. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Ben-Gurion Airport to Undergo Major Expansion
    Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport will undergo major expansion in the coming years following a huge increase in passenger traffic, with more than 20 million passengers passing through the airport in 2017, up 17% from last year. The Ministry of Transport expects 23 million passengers in 2018 and 30 million by 2024. (Globes)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • In the Mideast, Trump Gives Reality a Chance - Reuel Marc Gerecht
    Far too many Palestinians still want to pretend that the "right of return" and Jerusalem's unsettled status give hope that the gradual erosion of Israel is still possible. The biggest problem the Palestinians have is that the Israelis don't trust them, and the Israelis cannot be ignored, sidestepped, bullied, bombed or boycotted out of eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank. Americans and Europeans have consistently encouraged the Palestinians by stressing their own role in resolving the conflict, usually by suggesting that they would cajole or push Israelis toward Palestinian positions.
        For the Israelis, this has seemed surreal. The Fatah leadership is well aware that only the Israeli security services have kept the West Bank from going the way of Gaza, where Fatah's vastly better-armed forces were easily overwhelmed by Hamas in 2007. Fatah's secular police state - and that is what the Palestinian Authority is - has proved, so far, no match for Hamas.
        A two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian clash isn't going to happen before Palestinians reconcile in a functioning democracy that doesn't scare their Jewish neighbors. Most Arabs have adjusted, however reluctantly, to the permanence of Zion. They did so four decades ago when Egypt checked out of the war. The writer, a former CIA case officer in the Middle East, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Wall Street Journal)
  • We Ignore Iran Cyber Attacks at Our Peril - David Ignatius
    A study of "Iran's Cyber Threat" by Collin Anderson and Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace describes a country that, although "third tier," can still do considerable damage. Iranian hackers began in 2007. A group calling itself the Iranian Cyber Army defaced websites belonging to Voice of America in 2009. The Iranians launched an August 2012 attack on the Saudi Aramco oil company that affected tens of thousands of computers and caused tens of millions of dollars in damage.
        In September 2012, a hacker group that called itself the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters began attacking U.S. banks and financial institutions. The FBI concluded that from 2012 to 2013, the Iranian operation "locked hundreds of thousands of banking customers out of accounts for long periods of time and resulted in tens of millions of costs to remediate."  (Washington Post)
  • If Lorde Is Serious about Her Politics, She Should Boycott Her Native New Zealand - Liel Leibovitz
    Lorde, the singer and songwriter, canceled her scheduled performance in Israel this week, succumbing to pressure from advocates of boycotting the Jewish state. However, if she made her decision on the basis of principles and not craven submission to bigots, she should announce her refusal to perform in her native New Zealand, a country that is guilty, in spades, of the crimes BDS supporters falsely attribute to Israelis.
        Is Lorde a foe of colonial occupation? In 1831, fewer than 1,000 Europeans were living in New Zealand. Fifty years later, that number skyrocketed to half a million, courtesy of British policy that encouraged settlers to sail to distant shores and remain there. Unlike the Jews returning to their homeland around the same time, these colonialists had neither a historical nor a legal claim to the land.
        Does Lorde abhor violent land theft? Unlike the Jews, who returned to Palestine and set up the Jewish National Fund to fairly purchase their historic homeland from its occupants, the British colonialists passed the New Zealand Settlements Act, which enabled them to thieve 4 million acres of Maori land without even the pretense of due process. (Tablet)

The Chutzpah of EU Intervention in Israel - Gerald M. Steinberg (Israel Hayom)
  • The European Union engages in ongoing attempts to force Israel to accept its views on borders, assists widespread illegal construction in Area C, and provides massive funding of NGOs that lead anti-Israel demonization campaigns.
  • Every year, some of the most virulently anti-Israel, anti-peace, and, in some cases, anti-Semitic NGOs are funded under the EU's European Neighborhood Instrument (ENI) framework. ENI houses the EU Peacebuilding Initiative, which funds propaganda groups such as the Ma'an Network, and the Popular Art Center (PAC).
  • In February 2016, PAC organized a ceremony in honor of "Palestinian martyrs" whose homes were demolished, featuring the "father of the martyr Baha Eleyan." Eleyan was one of the terrorists who murdered three people in the October 2015 attack on a Jerusalem bus. The ceremony featured a musical performance captioned "no to laying down arms."
  • Other ENI grantees have named schools after notorious terrorists, and bring members of Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine to speak to teenagers to "strengthen Palestinian youth and their engagement in civic and political life in Gaza."
  • Through other frameworks, the EU channels large-scale funding to fringe Israeli groups like Breaking the Silence and B'Tselem, turning these groups into instruments of European policy under the pretext of "civil society." There is no other democracy in the world that is treated similarly by the EU.
  • A serious consideration of Israeli interests in relations with the EU, including NGO funding, is long overdue.

    The writer is president of NGO Monitor and professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University.