January 19, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Won't Pay Additional $45 Million Pledged for Palestinian Aid (Reuters)
    The U.S. will not provide $45 million in food aid for Palestinians that it pledged last month as part of the West Bank/Gaza Emergency Appeal led by UNRWA - the UN refugee agency for Palestinians, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday.
    The State Department said on Tuesday that Washington would withhold a separate $65 million from UNRWA, saying it needed to make reforms.

Syria: U.S. Military Presence in Syria Is Act of Aggression (Reuters)
    The Syrian Foreign Ministry said Thursday, "The American military presence on Syrian land is illegitimate and represents a blatant breach of international law and an aggression against national sovereignty."
    The statement was a response to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who said Wednesday that U.S. forces would remain in parts of Syria to prevent Islamic State's resurgence.

30 Foreign Military Bases in Syria (MEMRI)
    On Dec. 2, 2017, the Syrian opposition website Zamanalwsl.net published a study on foreign forces' military airbases in Syria, including their location, what countries they belong to, what they are used for, and what their capabilities are, along with satellite photos. Additional reports followed.
    On Dec. 19, the Saudi-based Arabian Gulf Centre for Iranian Studies (AGCIS) published a map of 29 foreign military bases in Syria and noted another one.
    Russian, Iranian, American, French, British, German, Turkish and Hizbullah bases are described.

Has Latin America Abandoned the Palestinians? - Massimo Di Ricco (Al Jazeera)
    Only a few days before Guatemala announced in December its decision to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, several other Latin American and Caribbean countries abstained in a UN General Assembly vote against the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, including Mexico, Argentina and Colombia.
    The shift in Latin America's attitude is symbolic of a stronger Israeli influence in the region.
    Several Latin American countries that recognized Palestine as a state between 2008 and 2013, including the Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Argentina, and Haiti, chose to abstain in the UN condemnation of the U.S. decision.
    Guatemala and Honduras, which had also recognized Palestine, voted against the UN resolution.

Guardian Corrects Op-ed: Ahed Tamimi Is No "Peaceful" Activist - Adam Levick (UK Media Watch)
    A Guardian op-ed on Jan. 15 by a radical anti-Israel activist described Ahed Tamimi a "peaceful" human rights activist.
    The Guardian's own coverage reported on the video of the Palestinian teen striking an Israeli soldier - an assault which led to her arrest.
    Further, the suggestion that Tamimi promotes anything resembling "peace" was contradicted in her "message to the world" video, also covered by the Guardian, which justified Palestinian stabbings and suicide bombings.
    Guardian editors upheld our complaint and removed the word "peaceful" from the sentence referring to Tamimi.

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Bethlehem Fiction in National Geographic - Tamar Sternthal (CAMERA)
    National Geographic published an interview on Bethlehem with Nicholas Blincoe, a novelist.
    Among Blincoe's numerous falsehoods are claims that Bethlehem is the source of water for Jerusalem (it isn't), that there were no tourists in the city for ten years after an Israeli incursion (that decade included record-setting years in tourism to Bethlehem), and that "Palestinian cities got wiped out" during Israel's Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 (not a single city was "wiped out").
    Following contact from CAMERA, National Geographic corrected some errors.

New Israeli Paint Transforms Sun’s Rays into Air-Conditioning - Abigail Klein Leichman (Israel21c)
    Israeli high-tech paint SolCold doesn’t just protect surfaces from the sun, but actually uses the sun’s power to activate a cooling mechanism, effectively providing air conditioning without electricity.
    The coating absorbs the hot rays of the sun and re-emits that energy in the form of cold.
    The hotter the solar radiation, the more the coating cools down, making SolCold paint an electricity-free solution for intensely sunny climates such as Africa and Central and South America.
    SolCold is generating interest for coating anything from chicken coops to cargo ships, malls to stadiums, cars to planes, satellites to hothouses, military equipment to apartment houses.

Israel's Elbit Systems Awarded $85 Million Contract by a European Country to Supply Electronic Warfare Systems (Jane's 360-UK)
    Elbit Systems Ltd. announced Thursday that it was awarded an $85 million contract from a European country to supply advanced ground-based Electronic Warfare (EW) and Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) systems.

Bedouin Enlistment to IDF Rises - Tal Lev Ram (Maariv-Jerusalem Post)
    After years of decline, the number of Bedouin men volunteering to enlist in the IDF in 2017 increased to 420, up from 300 in 2016.
    According to a senior military source, the positive turnaround is partially related to changes and adjustments to their service recently adopted by the IDF.

IDF Recruits Youths with Disabilities to Serve as Military Dog-Handlers (Jerusalem Post)
    20 young people with disabilities have been recruited into the IDF and trained as dog handlers.
    They completed a lengthy training course at the Beit Dagan veterinary center on Tuesday.
    The graduates will be stationed at military and police bases, working with guard dogs, detection dogs, and search and rescue dogs.

Israeli Tech Firms Raise $5.24 Billion in 2017, Up 9 Percent from 2016 - Shoshanna Solomon (Times of Israel)
    Israeli high-tech companies raised $5.24 billion in 620 deals in 2017, an increase of 9% compared to $4.83 billion in 2016, Israel's IVC Research Center said Wednesday.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Presses to Relocate Embassy to Jerusalem by 2019 - Mark Landler
    The Trump administration is moving to transfer the American Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv by 2019, senior officials said Thursday, following Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Instead of constructing an entirely new embassy compound, the State Department has settled on a more modest plan to convert an existing consular building in Arnona, a neighborhood in west Jerusalem. That will reduce the cost of the project and allow Ambassador David M. Friedman and his staff to move there as early as next year.
        The building, which now issues visas and offers consular services to American citizens, is a fairly new structure with better physical security than the embassy in Tel Aviv. (New York Times)
  • Israel Digs Deep to Thwart Tunnel Threat from Gaza - Ilan Ben Zion
    The Israeli military said Thursday that a secretive project to build an underground wall along the border with Gaza is proving to be a deterrent against Palestinian attack tunnels. The wall extends hundreds of feet below ground and is studded with sensors. It's also topped by a 26-foot metal fence. Excavating machines, concrete mixers and hundreds of workers are toiling furiously to complete the barrier by mid-2019 at a cost of $700 million. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Israel Unveils Plans for 40-Mile Underground Wall around Gaza - Raf Sanchez
    Israel unveiled its plans for a vast underground wall around Gaza on Thursday. A senior IDF official said he was confident that once the barrier was complete, attack tunnels would no longer pose a threat. "That will be it," he said. Construction workers, many of them Israeli Arabs or foreigners, wear bulletproof vests and helmets. The military has built five concrete factories along the border dedicated entirely to the barrier. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Netanyahu's Visit to India Shows Great Optics - David Wainer
    At the start of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's first state visit to India this week, his counterpart, Narendra Modi, showed up unexpectedly to greet him on the tarmac. In Modi's home state, children waved Star of David flags and sang in Hebrew. Farmers praised Israeli technology, and posters and billboards bearing the Israeli prime minister's likeness were plastered on roads.
        Both leaders see Israel's technology-oriented economy as a natural fit for India's, which needs innovation to improve everything from farming to healthcare. Israel has more than 30 agricultural training centers in India, where locals learn Israeli water-conservation and energy-efficiency techniques. Israel Foreign Ministry Director-General Yuval Rotem said, "We are engaging on all fronts, beyond the military and diplomacy. We are creating links in the movie industry, oil and gas, cyber and more."  (Bloomberg)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli President Rivlin: "Those Wishing to Harm Us Will Be Found" - Itamar Eichner
    President Reuven Rivlin visited Haifa's Rambam Hospital to visit the anti-terror policeman seriously wounded in Wednesday's operation in Jenin against the group of terrorists who murdered Rabbi Raziel Shevah last week. "We're here to thank the police and the Border Police," Rivlin said. "We'll continue and tell anyone who wishes to harm us - we will find you anywhere. Let anyone considering to raise a hand against an Israeli citizen simply because they're Israeli know, we will find them."  (Ynet News)
        See also Leader of Terror Cell that Killed Rabbi Said Still at Large after Jenin Raid - Dov Lieber
    Israeli defense officials believe the head of the terror cell responsible for murdering Rabbi Raziel Shevach last week remains at large after a Border Police raid in Jenin on Wednesday, according to Hebrew media reports. The body of Ahmad Nassar Jarrar was not found in the rubble of buildings destroyed in the operation. One Palestinian was killed and two other members of the cell were said to have been captured. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Confirms Deal Reached with Jordan to Reopen Embassy - Jack Khoury and Noa Landau
    Israel and Jordan have reached an agreement on reopening the Israeli embassy in Amman, closed since two Jordanians were killed by an Israeli security guard last July after he had been attacked and wounded. Israel formally apologized for the deaths and agreed to pay compensation to the families, as well as for an incident in which a Jordanian judge was killed in March 2014 at the Jordan River crossing. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel "Deeply Regrets" Embassy Incident (Jordan Times)
  • Israeli Minister: Abbas Is Sabotaging the Peace Process - Attila Somfalvi and Alexandra Lukash
    Minister of National Infrastructure Yuval Steinitz, a member of the Security Cabinet, said Thursday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "buried" the peace process, in light of Abbas' belligerent remarks on Sunday in Ramallah and Wednesday in Cairo. "[There will be no further negotiations] as long as Abbas is the Palestinian leader, and so long as the moderate Palestinian leadership does not recognize the right of the Jews to a state of their own," Steinitz told Ynet.
        "Abbas is taking a very radical line. It is true that he says he will not take the way of terrorism, but he basically promotes it - with stipends for the families of terrorists who succeeded in killing Israelis. This time, though, what he said showed even greater support for acts of violence and terror against Israelis."
        Abbas showed "amazing ignorance [with] the things he said about Cromwell, the British leader who, according to him, wanted to send the Jews on the ships of the Dutch fleet to Israel about 400 years ago as a plot [against the Palestinians]." Steinitz explained that Cromwell actually "invited the Jews to settle in Britain."
        "[Abbas] thwarted any attempt...even when [former Prime Minister Ehud] Barak offered him half of Jerusalem...to come close to a peace agreement and did so because...he really does not believe that the Jews have the right...to self-determination and to a state of their own. If Abbas does not change his positions, there is no chance for a peace process."  (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • Israel Dismisses Palestinian Threats to End Security Coordination - Shlomi Eldar
    On Jan. 15, the Palestinian Central Council called on the PA to stop "all forms" of security coordination with Israel and declared all Palestinian commitments under the Oslo Accord "null and void." Yet the PCC decisions will probably quickly be exposed as empty threats. The PA is in a bind. It cannot exit the Oslo Accord and survive.
        An Israeli security source said the PA had not indicated to Israel that the security coordination was at risk in any way. Abbas "was still alive thanks to the security coordination," he said. "On the day the PA, backed by the PLO, decides to suspend recognition of Israel and cast off the Oslo and Cairo [economic] accords, it will collapse."
        The PA's entire structure and that of its security, economic and civilian institutions are based on the Oslo Accord. If Abbas decides to adopt the PCC's recommendations, he will be signing the death warrant of his rule and of the PA he is heading. (Al-Monitor)
  • The More We "Understand" the Palestinians, the More We Bolster Their Rejectionism and Perpetuate Their Delusions - Ben-Dror Yemini
    After Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cursed the leader of the strongest world power ("may your house be demolished"), we were told that we have to understand him. When Zionism began, there was no "Palestinian home." Maps produced by the Palestine Exploration Fund in the 19th century show that the area had been poorly populated. Most of today's Palestinians arrived as work migrants from nearby countries in the past few centuries. Hamas interior minister Fathi Hamad admitted that the Palestinians are actually Egyptians and Saudis. But to hell with the facts.
        The more we "understand" the Palestinians, the more we bolster their rejectionism and perpetuate the delusion of the right of return. Does this "understanding" bring the chance for peace and reconciliation closer, or does it push it away? When, for the sake of this "understanding," they say we must understand what Jerusalem means to the Muslims in general and to the Palestinians in particular - although Jerusalem remained marginal and neglected under Muslim rule for centuries - they are helping inflate the lie. And when they spread the lie that the Palestinians are living under an oppression similar to Auschwitz, it's a blood libel, because under Israeli rule, the Palestinians have experienced huge growth in every possible area.
        No, terrorism isn't justified, because the Palestinians have repeatedly received decent proposals for an agreement. They could have gained independence. They are the ones who have said no. And those who keep justifying them are justifying the continuation of violence and terror. (Ynet News)
  • Why Is Arab Violence Taken as a Given? - Suri Bandler
    President Trump's announcement that America officially acknowledges Jerusalem as Israel's capital is entirely a symbolic gesture. The Israeli people already view Jerusalem as their capital in theory and in practice and all government business is conducted in the city.
        In response to Trump’s declaration, the Palestinian "national and Islamic forces" announced "days of rage," which included rioters throwing rocks and firebombs. Over 30 rockets were fired indiscriminately into Israeli communities from Gaza, and Hamas promised an intifada. The last intifada, the Second Intifada that began in 2001, saw the killing of over 1,000 Israelis.
        Why is the immediate international reaction to Trump's declaration a call to repeal his declaration, in light of the "eventual" violence and instability that this purely symbolic move will cause? Why is there not an immediate condemnation of the incitement and calls to violence witnessed across the Arab world? Why is Arab violence taken as a given and why does the international community impose few expectations regarding violent uprisings that target Israeli civilians. If we establish a status quo where violence against civilians is overlooked or justified, then there will never be peace. (CAMERA)

  • Iran

  • After the Iranian Protests - Dr. Jonathan Spyer
    The protests in Iran appear to be subsiding. The regime reacted with a strong hand - 25 people are dead and hundreds more are wounded. A major absence is that of a revolutionary party or trend with a level of organization and popular appeal, a vision for the future and a broad strategy for defeating the Islamist regime. At present, nothing of this type exists. As long as no nucleus of political (and, probably, military) opposition to the regime emerges, it is difficult to see a way that a wave of unrest can smash the edifice of the Islamic Republic.
        Tehran foments unrest in neighboring countries in order to keep neighbors weak. There is now an opportunity to return the compliment. There are a variety of ways that this might be achieved - from ensuring that protesters and demonstrators remain organized and in communication with one another, to punitive means to disincentivize those countries and individuals assisting the regime in acquiring the means of repression. The writer is a Senior Research Fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and a fellow at the Middle East Forum. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also The Unraveling Islamic Republic - Nir Boms and Shayan Arya (Fikra Forum-Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Iran's Protests Reveal the Truth about Hassan Rouhani - Michael J. Totten
    The protests that rocked Iran in December and January largely fizzled out after the government arrested more than 3,000 people. However, these events should put to bed once and for all the myth that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is some kind of reformer. Rouhani famously ran as a "moderate" during the 2013 election, where only the hand-picked candidates of "Supreme Guide" Ayatollah Khamenei can get their names on the ballot. But he's still a regime creature who participated in nearly every state crackdown against dissidents and protesters since the revolution against the Shah in 1979.
        Western foreign policy makers and journalists have treated him as a moderate and reformer for more than four years now. But Rouhani is not the head of state. Khamenei is. He's the one who calls every shot that matters. Rouhani can no more reform the Iranian regime than the mayor of Washington, D.C., can overhaul the U.S. federal government. Sure, Iranians chose Rouhani by a 3-1 margin in 2013, but only because he was the lesser of evils. His cabinet consists strictly of hardliners backed by Khamenei.
        Did Rouhani tamp down Iran's belligerent foreign policy? Last month, he spent an hour in parliament defending an increase in the Revolutionary Guard budget that makes it triple the size of the regular army's. (World Affairs Journal)

  • Other Issues

  • Trudeau Explains Why Canada Abstained from UN Vote on Trump's Jerusalem Recognition - Melanie Marquis
    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the Canadian Press that Canada's abstention from a UN vote on President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital was about staying above "political games" aimed at isolating Israel.
        Trudeau said UN member countries regularly file resolutions targeting Israel for political purposes. "This idea of using votes in the United Nations to isolate or condemn Israel...is not productive in international relations. And Canada avoids taking sides in that." Trudeau reiterated that Canada won't move its diplomatic corps from Tel Aviv. (Canadian Press-Huffington Post-Canada)
  • Jerusalem's New British-Born Deputy Mayor Targets "False Narrative" on Israel - Joe Wallen
    Born in London and raised in Gibraltar, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, 44, has been named as the new deputy mayor of Jerusalem. Her father, Sir Joshua Hassan, was the Chief Minister in Gibraltar for over 20 years.
        Hassan-Nahoum embraces the recent recognition given by Donald Trump when affirming Jerusalem as the capital of the Israeli state. "Absolutely, we welcomed it, even if it does nothing more than confirm a reality which already exists on the ground. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, always has been."
        She says people around the world believe a "false narrative" propped up by the media of "a brutal genocidal Israeli apartheid rule." She insists it is in fact the Palestinians who "time and again, when they are at a crossroads of peace or war, have chosen the path of war. I will never understand how the liberal public in Europe have so blindly accepted the rhetoric from misogynist, homophobic and genocidal groups in Palestine without question."  (Independent-UK)
  • The Indian Jewish Community Helps Foster Israel Ties - Nissim Moses-Talkar
    Israel has always sought friendship with India from even before the independence of both countries from the same imperial power. The Indian Jewish community has played an important part in fostering these relations. At the time of independence, many senior officers in the Indian Armed Forces were Jews. Many founders of medical faculties, leading doctors, senior teachers, lawyers and judges were from the Indian Jewish community.
        Bombay University was the first in the world to revive the teaching of Hebrew as a second language way before Herzl even dreamt of the creation of the State of Israel. Mahatma Gandhi was operated upon at the Sassoon Hospital in Poona and his personal physician and friend was Abraham Solomon Erulkar. Even the signature tune of All India Radio was written by Walter Kaufman, a Jew. The writer is a historian and president of the Indian Jewish Heritage Centre. (Hindustan Times-India)

  • Weekend Features

  • Wilfrid Israel, an Unsung Holocaust Hero - Jessica Steinberg
    The film "The Essential Link, The Story of Wilfrid Israel" documents the efforts of a wealthy German Jew who saved thousands of Jews in the 1930s and 1940s. His biographer, Naomi Shepherd, noted that his family owned Israel's Department Store in Berlin. He engineered the emigration of thousands including his Jewish employees, and helped launch the Kindertransport, which saved 10,000 children. He died in an airplane crash in 1943 together with actor Leslie Howard, shot down by German fighter jets. (Times of Israel)
  • Finnish Volunteers Were Involved in the Mass Murder of Jews in Ukraine - Tamara Zieve
    The Simon Wiesenthal Center's chief Nazi-hunter, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, has appealed to Finnish President Sauli Niinisto to launch an official inquiry into the participation of Finnish volunteers in Holocaust crimes in Ukraine in 1941. Research published in October by Dr. Andre Swanstrom, chairman of the Finnish Society of Church History, strongly suggests that Finnish volunteers who served in the Viking Division of the Waffen-SS were actively involved in the mass murder of Jews. Zuroff noted that similar revelations were made recently regarding the role played by SS volunteers from Denmark and Norway. (Jerusalem Post)
  • At Westerbork, Virtual Reality "Recreates" the Nazi Transit Camp - Matt Lebovic
    During World War II, Westerbork was used by the Nazis to imprison Dutch Jews on their way to "resettlement" in the east - a euphemism for genocide. Nearly every Tuesday for two years, a train with hundreds of Jews left Westerbork. Of the more than 100,000 Jews deported, only 5,000 survived the Holocaust.
        In the 1960s, the Dutch government dismantled Westerbork and the area became a site for massive radio telescopes that are still in operation. Westerbork's museum, located 2 miles away, has begun to offer virtual reality (VR) to tour groups to help visitors envision what took place. Inside a dimmed room with wrap-around screens, users can zoom in and out of dozens of barracks, several guard towers, and all kinds of camp facilities, based on the many photographs that were taken at Westerbork during its operation.
        The VR simulation was designed by Paul Verschure, a professor of cognitive science at Barcelona's Pompeu Fabra University. Two years ago, Verschure's team launched a VR app for the former Nazi concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen in Germany. In 2015, Germany's Public Prosecution Service ordered the creation of a "virtual reality Auschwitz-Birkenau" to assist in prosecuting Nazi war criminals. (Times of Israel)

Is It Possible to Make "the Ultimate Deal"? - Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • President Trump seeks what he has called "the ultimate deal" for Israel and the Palestinians, one that would be advantageous to both parties. In the business world, a signed deal is final. But agreements between states and peoples are likely to be revisited as national interests change.
  • There is a crucial difference between such agreements and what transpires in the business world. Peoples have national aspirations that are stronger than any agreement. Those aspirations are not under the control of leaders and cannot be conceded in negotiations.
  • They continue to arouse passions even when their fulfillment has been deferred. How far, after all, can any people be expected to go in giving up its dreams?
  • The constraints of reality can indeed bring even ideological leaders to a compromise, but the resulting agreement is always temporary and awaits a strategic shift in which everything will be reconsidered. National passions can be repressed and deferred, but they do not dissipate.
  • A hundred years after the downfall of the Ottoman Empire, Turkish passion for lands that were under Turkish control before WWI continues to burn and to drive President Erdogan's regional policy.
  • For the Iranians, the golden age of the kingdom of Darius impels their current logic.

    The writer served in the IDF for 42 years, commanding troops in battle on the Egyptian and Syrian fronts.
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