December 29, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Intercepts 2 Missiles Fired from Gaza (Ynet News)
    Israel's Iron Dome system on Friday intercepted two missiles fired from Gaza at Israeli communities on the Gaza perimeter.

Iran Ignores Israel's Warnings - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    The recent visit to Israel's border by Hamza Abu Abbas, commander of the Iraqi Al-Bakr Brigade stationed in Syria as part of the Shiite Foreign Legion, was reported to be part of a series of visits by commanders from the Iraqi Shi'ite militias.
    Future visits are planned for commanders from the Yemeni Houthi militia, as well as from the Pakistani Fatimid and Afghani Abul Fadl al-Abbas contingents stationed in Syria.
    Abu Abbas, during his visit, declared, "Let Israel know that we are present on its borders and the day will come when we will break them."
    Qais al-Khazali, commander of the Iraqi Shiite Asaib Ahl al-Haq, arrived in southern Lebanon in early December and also toured the border with Israel, accompanied by Hizbullah members.
    Iran is ignoring Israeli warnings that it will not allow the establishment of Hizbullah and Shiite militias in the area closest to Israel in the Golan Heights and southern Lebanon, operating under the auspices of Tehran.
    The writer, a senior research associate at the Jerusalem Center, served as military secretary to the Prime Minister and as Israel Foreign Ministry chief of staff.

Fugitive Who Ran Internet Scams in Florida Linked to Hizbullah - Jay Weaver (Miami Herald)
    Once convicted in 2010 of setting up phony companies to deposit stolen checks at local banks, Roda Taher fled South Florida for the Middle East to avoid prison time.
    Eight years later, Taher is wanted for directing more than a dozen "money mules" in a $94 million Internet scheme in South Florida that law enforcement sources say he used to finance Hizbullah, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization.

The KGB Playbook for Infiltrating the Middle East - Michael Weiss (Daily Beast)
    "Acquisition and Preparation of Agent Recruiters for the Purposes of Intelligence Penetration of USA Institutions (on the Example of a Number of North African Countries)," printed in 1988 by the KGB, is the second in a set of historical Soviet intelligence files that have been passed to the Daily Beast by a European security service.
    The document examines the tradecraft necessary for recruiting American officials in the Middle East and North Africa as well as the necessary network of local agents who might help with their recruitment.

Boycott Against Israel Declared Illegal in Canary Islands (ACOM-Spain)
    On Dec. 26, Court Number 4 of Gran Canaria ruled that a boycott of Israel approved by the Council of Gran Canaria is illegal.
    The Court underlined that the boycott is discriminatory and exceeds the powers given to local councils.
    Gran Canaria, the second most populous island of the Canary Islands, which is part of Spain, has a population of 850,000.

Israel Gave Tiny Island Nation Sewage Treatment Plant for Support at UN - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    Israel purchased a sewage treatment system for Nauru, a tiny island nation in the Pacific Ocean (pop. 11,359), two weeks before the country voted against a UN General Assembly resolution criticizing the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
    The Israel Foreign Ministry also approved the purchase of a mobile desalination system to be given as a gift to India ahead of Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit there on Jan. 14.

NBA Removes "Occupied Palestine" from Website - Joshua Davidovich (Times of Israel)
    After America's official National Basketball Association website included "Palestine - occupied territory" in a list of countries, Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev wrote to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Thursday demanding he remove the listing.
    A spokesman for the NBA, Michael Bass, said the listing was placed by a third party and has since been removed, with no listing for any Palestinian entity. "As soon as we became aware of it, the site was updated."

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Israeli Startups Raise a Record $5 Billion in 2017 (Globes)
    Israeli startups have raised over $5 billion in 2017, beating last year's record of $4.8 billion.
    In December, medical device company Insightec raised $150 million, online insurance company Lemonade raised $120 million, and 3D imaging company Vayyar Imaging raised $45 million.

Record 3.6 Million Tourists Visit Israel in 2017 - Michal Raz-Chaimovich (Globes)
    An all-time record 3.6 million tourists visited Israel in 2017, 25% more than in 2016.
    Over 700,000 tourists came from the U.S., 21% more than in 2016. Russia sent 307,000, a 26% increase.
    France was third with 284,000 tourists, 8% more than in 2016, followed by Germany with 202,000, a 34% rise over 2016, and the UK, with 185,000, 10% more than in 2016.
    Other important sources were Ukraine with 137,000, China with 105,000, Italy (93,000), Poland (85,000), and Canada (75,000).

Israel to Build Wave Energy Power Station in Ghana - Andrea Ayemoba (Africa Business Communities)
    Israel's Yam Pro Energy last week signed a $180 million MOU to build a wave energy power station in Ghana.
    According to Yam Pro Energy, 3 billion people - half the world's population - live within 200 km. of a coastline and can benefit from clean, renewable, ocean wave energy produced by its Sea Wave power plants.

Israeli-Developed Steel Substitute Made for Space Travel Now Used for Hip Replacements - Brian Blum (Israel21c)
    A super-strong steel substitute invented in Israel that was sent into space by NASA is now being used in hip replacements.

Photos: The Shrinking Dead Sea - Kirstin Fawcett (Mental Floss)
    Tel Aviv-based landscape photographer Tzvika Stein uses drones to capture aerial views of the shrinking Dead Sea.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran: The People Suffer as Billions Go to Waste - Heshmat Alavi
    The world's most powerful earthquake in 2017 shook Iran's western province of Kermanshah, leaving at least several hundred people killed - while posts on social media showed locals speaking of the death toll being in the thousands - and scores more injured. At least 85,000 earthquake victims are enduring dire circumstances, with 18,000 homes completely destroyed and another 50,000 suffering major damage. Yet after more than six weeks, only 1,500 trailers have been sent and installed in the quake-stricken area.
        Meanwhile, Iran allocates billions to prop up the Assad regime in Syria, fund the Lebanese Hizbullah, support Yemen's Houthis, and back Shiite militias in Iraq. This goes alongside further billions pumped into an unnecessary nuclear program and a dangerous ballistic missile drive.
        On Thursday, a large number of protesters took to the streets in Mashhad, Neyshabur, Kashmar and Birjand in northeast Iran, protesting unemployment, poverty, and skyrocketing prices. Protesters also chanted, "Death to Rouhani" and "Death to the Dictator," in reference to the regime's president and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. (Forbes)
        See also 10,000 People Demonstrate in Mashhad Chanting "Death to the Dictator" (National Council of Resistance of Iran)
  • White House Still Focused on Israeli-Palestinian Peace Push - Ron Kampeas
    Jason Greenblatt is President Trump's chief Israeli-Palestinian negotiator. On his computer monitor is a post-it note with a quote from former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo: "At the end of the day, a peace agreement derives its strength from an understanding between peoples, not an accord between governments."
        A White House official said that whatever peace plan the administration advances should emerge organically from the people whom it would most affect. "However the peace agreement shakes out at the end of the day, it will be one in which the two societies are connected economically and otherwise," said the official.
        In September, Greenblatt put it this way: "Instead of working to impose a solution from the outside, we are giving the parties space to make their own decisions about their future....We are focused on implementing existing agreements and unlocking new areas of cooperation which benefit both Palestinians and Israelis."  (JTA)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Envoy: Palestinian Reaction to Trump Announcement Is Ugly, Anti-Semitic - Herb Keinon
    Some of the Palestinian rhetoric in response to President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem has been "ugly, needlessly provocative and anti-Semitic," U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told the Jerusalem Post this week. Friedman characterized the Palestinian reaction as "largely emotional," saying they "unfortunately overreacted," because Trump made clear that the U.S. was "not taking a position on any final-status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem."
        After the Palestinians said they now reject any U.S. role in the peace process, Friedman responded, "There is no path around the United States. Israel has made it clear that they will not engage under the sponsorship of any other nation."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel and U.S. Plan to Tackle Iranian Threat Together - Hagay Hacohen
    Israel and the U.S. have signed a joint memorandum of understanding to tackle the Iranian threat together, according to a report by Israel's Channel 10 on Thursday. The Trump administration was said to have confirmed the move after a meeting on Dec. 12 between an Israeli team headed by National Security Advisor Meir Ben Shabat and an American team headed by U.S. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster. The U.S. and Israel agreed on a list of shared strategic goals.
        One working-group will be tasked with finding both diplomatic and covert means to halt the Iranian effort to gain nuclear capabilities. Another will deal with the ongoing Iranian effort to promote itself as a regional powerhouse in other countries such as Lebanon and Syria, including plans for the day when the Syrian civil war comes to an end. A third group will deal specifically with the Iranian ballistic missile program.
        Israeli officials were quoted as saying that "Israel and the U.S. see eye to eye on the regional trends' directions" and that both sides are "very pleased" with these new understandings. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Netanyahu Hails Arab World's Changing Opinion on Israel - Hassan Shaalan
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted Thursday during a visit to the Arab town of Ein Mahil in northern Israel that the general outlook on Israel was undergoing positive changes in the Arab world. "We conduct polls and suddenly you ask the question: 'How many of you think that it is worthwhile to have contacts with the State of Israel?' Once the number was zero. Today it starts with 20% and goes as high as 50%."
        "The public in the Arab world is starting to understand this. Israel has a foothold in the future and it is becoming one of the most developed countries on earth and we want you all to be part of this success story. When the public in Arab countries begins to understand that the State of Israel is an asset for the future, an asset to them, this is where the change begins."
        Netanyahu was in Ein Mahil for a signing ceremony marking an agreement to construct 600 housing units in the town, while some residents demonstrated against his visit. Netanyahu, addressing the demonstrators, said: "(Getting here,) I saw a demonstration. Against what were they demonstrating? Against the millions who were slaughtered and displaced from their homes in Iraq and Libya? No. They held signs against my visit. Against the only state that maintains their human rights," noting that the government is investing NIS 15 billion in the Arab sector. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Arrested for Trying to Smuggle Bomb into Military Court - Daniel K. Eisenbud
    In the third attempt in two months by Palestinians in the West Bank to infiltrate a court with a bomb, a Palestinian was arrested Thursday for attempting to infiltrate the Samaria Military Court with a pipe bomb. Those arrested in each incident are residents of the Arab village of Salem, near Jenin. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Thousands Pray at Western Wall for Rain to Break Five-Year Drought
    With Israel facing its fifth winter of depleted rainfall, thousands of Jews assembled Thursday at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem to pray together for rain, led by the chief rabbis of Israel, David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef. Israel received only 45% of its average rainfall for September through November. In four of the last eight years, the Chief Rabbinate has held prayer rallies for rain. In February the Sea of Galilee reached its lowest level in nearly a hundred years.
        Although Israel can produce all the drinking water it needs from five desalination plants on the Mediterranean coast, the drought has seriously impacted agriculture. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Answer to the Iranian Nuclear Threat Is Regime Change - Yaakov Katz
    As head of the Mossad's operations department, Rafi Eitan visited Iran 50 times in the 1970s and knew the country well. As a member of the prime minister's staff in 1981, Eitan was privy from the beginning to Menachem Begin's plans to bomb the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq. As a member of the security cabinet in Ehud Olmert's government from 2006 to 2009, Eitan participated in debates on the best way to deal with Iran's nuclear program. At 91, Eitan is worth listening to.
        "Nuclear weapons in the hands of people that are willing to commit suicide in the name of Allah is a danger we cannot live with," he said. However, the only real solution to the Iranian nuclear problem, he said, is for the world to invest more in overthrowing the ayatollahs.
        "The Iranians asked themselves who would oppose their nuclear program and who would potentially attack. The answer was Israel, and after studying Osirak, they dug tunnels to make it hard for our bombs to destroy their facilities."
        "Iran's citizens are against the ayatollah regime. They are very similar to a Western country in their culture and the way they are as a people. They would prefer a more Western-like regime." Eitan is convinced that another revolution is only a matter of time. Trump could try to renegotiate the Iran deal, but the Iranians "will stick to their goal and they will cheat Trump. The only real way to deal with Iran is to switch the regime."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Letting Saudi Arabia Host a Chess Tournament Was a Big Mistake - Editorial
    When a chess tournament sponsored by the World Chess Federation opened in Saudi Arabia Tuesday, the Saudis refused to give visas to seven Israelis to participate. A Saudi spokeswoman said the reason for excluding them is that the kingdom and Israel do not have diplomatic relations. Rubbing salt into the wound, the federation and the kingdom issued a news release pledging to admit players from Qatar and Iran, both increasingly at odds with Saudi Arabia.
        For seven decades, the Arab world has wished Israel would fall into the sea or be driven there. The Jewish state has not and will not. If Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is truly committed to rejuvenation of the kingdom, as he claims to be, then he might discard some of the calcified thinking of his forebears. If a nation cannot welcome everyone, it should not be given the honor of hosting a world tournament. (Washington Post)
  • UN Was Key in Israel's Creation But Treats Jewish State with Open Contempt - Lorrie Goldstein
    Hatred of Israel, and Jew-hatred, run so deep at the UN that the real news was that 65 countries opposed (9), abstained (35), or skipped the vote (21). Canada's abstention was the best supporters of Israel could have expected given Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's lobbying for a two-year seat on the UN Security Council, with that vote taking place in 2020.
        The UN, ironically, was instrumental in creating Israel in 1948. But ever since, it has treated the Jewish state with open contempt, driven largely by the 22-nation Arab League and the 57 member countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
        Last year, the General Assembly passed 20 resolutions condemning Israel, compared to six for all other countries, with three against Syria and one each for Iran, North Korea and Crimea. What's really going on at the UN is the practice of one of the world's oldest and most enduring forms of hate. (Toronto Sun-Canada)
  • Letter to the ANC from a South African Jew - Howard Feldman
    The ANC was largely responsible for making South Africa a shining light of tolerance, understanding and forgiveness. But you have lost your way. And in doing so you will stand on the wrong side of history. As a South African Jew who has woken up to the news that you have chosen "unanimously" to downgrade the Israeli Embassy, you have sent a clear message, not only to the Jews of the country, but to the rest of the world.
        You invited the terror organization Hamas to your conference. They desire the death of Jews. They are an Islamist terror group like ISIS and like Boko Haram. And they believe in kidnapping, murdering and terrorizing the innocent. Your focus on Israel is hypocritical at best and anti-Semitic at worse. To single this out as the only embassy worthy of a downgrade is to send a message that it is not about the Palestinians but more about Israel and the Jews. (24.com-South Africa)
  • The Fantasy of an International Jerusalem - Martin Kramer
    In the uproar over President Trump's announcement of U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, one constant refrain has been the insistence that, by longstanding international consensus, the city's status has yet to be decided. The November 1947 resolution proposing partition of Palestine envisaged an entirely separate status for Jerusalem as a city belonging to no state, but instead administered by a "special international regime."
        However, internationalization has no precedent, no bureaucratic foundation, and no mechanism for implementation. It wasn't a true option, but a placeholder for indecision. In the century since British Gen. Allenby entered Jerusalem, the city hasn't known a single day of international administration. Indeed, it hasn't had such a day in 3,000 years. The idea that it constitutes a kind of default solution for the future of Jerusalem is but one more example of a petrified piety. The writer teaches Middle Eastern history at Shalem College in Jerusalem. (Mosaic)
  • Palestinians Use Christians as Pawns, Israel Protects Them - Ariel Ben Solomon
    Palestinian leaders have claimed that Christians and even Jesus himself were "Palestinian," even though Palestinian nationalism is a 20th century creation. Dexter Van Zile, Christian media analyst at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), notes that in the West Bank, "many young Christians have left because of the misrule of the Palestinian Authority." At the same time, life for West Bank Christians is far better than the situation for their persecuted counterparts in Iraq, Syria and Egypt. "Christians in the West Bank know full well what's in store for them should Hamas' brand of radicalism take over the West Bank."
        Bishara Shlayan, a Christian resident of Nazareth, said some of Israel's Arab Christians openly support the state, but many, including in the West Bank, are scared to speak their mind because of Muslim threats. "Thank God for Israel and that we are not somewhere else," he said. (JNS.org)
  • Some Basic Facts about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - David Harris
    There could have been a two-state solution as early as 1947, which is what the UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) proposed. The Jewish side accepted the plan, but the Arab world rejected it. When Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948, it extended the hand of friendship to its Arab neighbors. Instead, five Arab armies declared war on the Jewish state, seeking its total destruction.
        Until 1967, the eastern part of Jerusalem and the entire West Bank were in the hands of Jordan, not Israel. Had the Arab world wished, an independent Palestinian state, with its capital in Jerusalem, could have been established at any time. Meanwhile, Gaza was under Egyptian military rule and there was no talk of sovereignty for the Palestinians there, either.
        After the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel offered "land for peace" to its Arab neighbors. The Arab League nations, meeting in Khartoum, Sudan, responded: "No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel."
        To this day, the Palestinians have continued to bypass face-to-face talks with Israel - going to international organizations instead; denying the age-old Jewish link to Jerusalem and the region; and providing lifetime financial support for captured terrorists and the families of suicide bombers. The writer is the CEO of the American Jewish Committee (AJC). (Huffington Post)
  • Palestinians Must Accept the Reality of Israel as a Jewish State to Achieve Peace - Mitchell Bard
    Most Palestinians are good people who would like to have normal lives - go to work, educate their children, live in peace. Some Palestinians suffer because of Israel's actions, but these problems are self-inflicted because some Palestinians engage in terror that provokes Israeli countermeasures necessary to protect the safety its people.
        The real obstacle to peace is the refusal by Palestinian leaders to accept the reality of Israel as a permanent Jewish state in the historic homeland of the Jewish people. Israelis do not want to maintain the status quo, but they can do so if given no choice by the Palestinians. The writer is executive director of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise and director of the Jewish Virtual Library. (Fox News )

  • Weekend Features

  • Why This Muslim Writes in a Jewish Newspaper - Naseem Khan
    As a U.S. citizen and as a Muslim who had lived and worked in Saudi Arabia for 13 years, I wanted to reach the "people of the book" and found the Jerusalem Post a perfect platform. While no Muslim country's newspaper would give me the opportunity to speak my mind openly, especially when I would expose the flaws of Muslims, the Jerusalem Post has so far published all my blogs without any alteration.
        The fundamental problem with the Muslims is that they think that either God or America would solve all of their problems. The Muslims have been praying for the destruction of Israel since its existence, but their prayers still remain unanswered.
        There is a mafia of religious thugs who, in the name of Islam, inflame the sentiments of the masses for stupid trivial issues. They challenge the rule of law at their will and no one has the courage to stand against this religious anarchy.
        We should learn from the Jewish people and see what they did to overcome their adversaries. They emphasized education. They never let their religion become a hindrance in their progress. They let their women have equal rights and become progressive. Their contribution to science and knowledge speaks volumes. They focused on their survival and at the same time contributed a lot towards the good of mankind.
        My dear fellow Muslims, please tell me if any Muslim country's newspaper will publish this article. That the Jerusalem Post published it is one of the reasons that I write in this newspaper. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Archive of Pre-State Jewish Population Offers Glimpse of Founding Generation
    A new searchable archive made public online by the Israeli State Archives and MyHeritage.com contains the names of 206,000 Jews who requested citizenship in British Mandatory Palestine between 1937 and 1947. Each request includes the names of family members, dates and places of birth, and a treasure trove of other information, including countless photographs.
        The file includes the request of Szymel Perski, 20, to change his first name to Shimon. He later changed his last name to Peres and served as Israel's prime minister and president. The index (in Hebrew) is available here. (Times of Israel)
  • Army Blasts Its Way to a Stronger Bomb Shelter - Judah Ari Gross
    Can your bomb shelter survive a near-direct hit from a Scud missile? There's only one way to find out: Blow up explosives next to the shelter and see how it does. The army's Home Front Command has been conducting blast tests on bomb shelters in the Arava desert.
        On Wednesday, the IDF detonated nearly a ton of explosives next to concrete bunkers outfitted with three new designs for doors - meant to address one of the most vulnerable aspects of protective rooms. Israelis are required, under law, to build a protective room in their home or apartment, to defend against rocket attacks as well as earthquakes. (Times of Israel)

Assessing the Islamic World's Response to Trump's Jerusalem Declaration - Hillel Frisch (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • Ominous warnings about Arab fury characterized the reactions of most Arab and Western leaders to President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, despite Trump's clear statement that the decision in no way jeopardizes final status talks over Jerusalem between Israel and the Palestinians.
  • While a few hundred to a few thousand demonstrated in Amman, London, Paris and New York, there were almost no protests at all in Cairo, Riyadh, and the Gulf states.
  • Ironically, one of the capitals to see very little protest was Jerusalem, where the protestors could be counted in the dozens, even though the city is home to over 250,000 Muslims.
  • To be sure, at the Kalandia checkpoint north of Jerusalem there were more protestors and they were far more violent. Yet the PA had encouraged violence, and one can safely assume that many of the protestors, nearly all young males, were being paid for their efforts by Fatah, the movement led by Mahmoud Abbas, president of the PA.
  • In both cases, the demonstrations were smaller than the average protests that take place in the Jerusalem area and were far less intense than the protests in July over the Israeli decision to place metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount following the killing of two Israeli border policemen.
  • One factor limiting the violence is Israel's innovative strategy to abstain from confronting the protestors, but rather to contain them, identify them through a variety of methods, and apprehend them later.

    The writer, a professor of political and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University, is a senior research associate at its BESA Center.
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