March 9, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Khamenei Rejects Negotiations over Iran's Role in the Region (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    Iran will not negotiate with the West over its presence in the Middle East, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said on Thursday, a few days after French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian sought to raise Tehran's role in regional conflicts.
    "It is none of your business. It is our region. Why are you here?" Khamenei said on his official website.

Turkish Newspaper Close to President Erdogan Calls to Form Joint Islamic Army to Fight Israel (MEMRI)
    On Dec. 12, 2017, the Turkish daily Yeni Safak, which is close to President Erdogan, called on the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to form a joint "Army of Islam" to besiege and attack Israel.
    It also advocated establishing joint bases for the army's ground, air and naval forces that will arrive from all over the Muslim world to besiege Israel.

Iran-Backed Shi'ite Militias Inducted into Iraq's Security Forces (Reuters)
    Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi issued a decree on Thursday formalizing the inclusion into Iraq's security forces of more than 60,000 fighters from the Shi'ite Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), which are mostly backed and trained by Iran.
    Paramilitary members will be given salaries equivalent to those in the military and will gain access to military institutes and colleges.

Infiltration Attempts from Gaza into Israel Continue - Entsar Abu Jahal (Al-Monitor)
    According to the Hebrew-language website Walla, 60 Gazans attempted to sneak into Israel in 2017, 10 of whom were planning to carry out armed attacks.
    Eight such instances have been reported so far in 2018.

Photos: 35,000 Race through Jerusalem in Friday Marathon Run - Jessica Steinberg (Times of Israel)
    More than 35,000 runners, including 4,000 from 72 countries, joined the largest-ever Jerusalem Marathon on Friday.

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Israeli Doctors Save Syrian Mother, Baby - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    A pregnant Syrian woman who was recently given the choice of dying or having her unborn son die decided to try saving both.
    The woman - facing almost certain death from a high-risk pregnancy - entered Israel and was treated at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.
    She returned home with her baby son on Tuesday.

Israeli Startup Develops "Smart" Baby Monitor - Jeffrey Barken (JNS)
    The Israeli startup Nanit has developed a "smart" baby monitor with a night-vision camera that beams real-time video feeds to a parent's phone.
    At the same time, it can document the quality of sleep an infant receives by scoring how long it takes for a child to fall asleep and the number of times his or her sleep was interrupted.
    It can further assess indoor environmental conditions such as room temperature, humidity, and nursery lighting.
    Parents can also receive regular video highlights that enable to replay important sleep milestones like the first time their baby rolls over.

German and Israeli Doctors Help Set Up Cardiology Clinic in Tanzania - Christina Pfander (Deutschland-Germany)
    Since 2016, Prof. Felix Berger of the German Heart Center Berlin and Dr. Sagi Assa, pediatric cardiologist at Wolfson Medical Center in Tel Aviv, have travelled to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, for one week each year, accompanied by 20 doctors and nursing staff from both hospitals, to help perform heart surgery.
    "The long-term objective is for the local doctors to run the pediatric cardiology clinic on their own," says Berger.
    The mission was initiated by the Israeli organization "Save a Child's Heart," which works to improve medical care for children with heart defects in many countries.

Israeli Technology Is Helping to Grow Crops in India - Swapna Merlin (The Print-India)
    From increasing tomato yields in Tamil Nadu to helping farmers grow crops in the deserts of Rajasthan, the Indo-Israel Agriculture Project over the last decade has been a fruitful one.
    Israel inaugurated its 23rd agricultural center of excellence in India on Tuesday at Mizoram.
    22 more centers have been set up in 16 states since 2006 and have helped transfer Israeli agricultural technologies and knowledge to Indian farmers.
    "Generally, 15-17 tons of tomatoes are harvested per acre. After implementing mulching, combined with drip irrigation, we have harvested up to 54 tons per acre," said Indian official Srinivasan K.
    In Maharashtra, experiments to combine Israeli mango varieties with local ones has helped reduce the height of the trees from 40 feet to 15 feet, making spraying and harvesting very easy.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Netanyahu Warns U.S. Lawmakers about Saudi Nuclear Power Deal - Ari Natter
    U.S. and Saudi negotiators have yet to reach a deal to allow American companies to build nuclear power reactors in the kingdom, but the idea is already getting pushback from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. During a closed door meeting with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington on Tuesday, Netanyahu spoke out against any agreement that would allow the Saudis to enrich uranium and reprocess plutonium, said committee chairman Sen. Bob Corker. Sen. Ed Markey said, "I think his view is that they need fewer nuclear weapons and fewer nuclear materials, not more nuclear materials in the Middle East."
        Allowing Saudi Arabia to enrich and reprocess fuel from commercial nuclear power plants would be a break from previous agreements with the United Arab Emirates and other countries that forbid such activity. U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry led a delegation to London last week to meet with Saudi officials and discuss a potential deal for as many as 16 reactors over the next 25 years at a cost of more than $80 billion. (Bloomberg)
  • Israeli, U.S. Troops Train Together to Counter Missile Threats - Josef Federman
    Nearly 5,000 Israeli and American troops have been training together in Israel to defend against missile attacks. The "Juniper Cobra" exercise includes field training, computer simulations, and live-fire drills of missile-defense systems.
        Hizbullah now possesses 100,000 rockets capable of striking anywhere in Israel. Gaza's Hamas rulers have a vast arsenal of rockets, and Iran has developed long-range missiles that can reach Israel. In 2006, Hizbullah rained 4,000 rockets on Israel. Juniper Cobra simulates multiple, simultaneous attacks from enemy countries and militant groups. (AP-ABC News)
        See also U.S., Israel in "Dress Rehearsal" for Joint Response Against Iran Missile Attack - Barbara Opall-Rome
    U.S. Air Force Col. Justin Hickman is chief of staff of Joint Task Force - Israel, which oversees the "Juniper Cobra" exercise. He explained how the U.S. benefits "from bringing the soldiers here for realistic training, improved mobility and the lessons we learn from working with our Israeli partners. They have the Arrow, David's Sling, Iron Dome. We have Patriot, THAAD and Aegis. It's amazing technology, and we all gain from interoperability."  (Defense News)
  • Syrian Rebels Are Using the Turkish Offensive to Settle Scores with Kurds - Louisa Loveluck and Zakaria Zakaria
    Syrian rebels who have joined Turkey's cross-border offensive against the Kurdish-controlled Afrin enclave in northern Syria say they see the assault as a way to settle personal scores, and reports are mounting of looting and summary executions carried out by the Syrian fighters.
        Kurdish forces had thrown off decades of state repression and established autonomous areas across Syria's north. Much of the territory was captured with U.S. support, after Washington backed a majority-Kurdish force to seize areas ruled by the Islamic State. But monitoring groups say that Kurdish forces razed a number of Arab-majority villages in the eastern province of Hasakah while clashing with the Islamic State, and sought to remove some Arab civilians they feared might harbor extremist fighters if allowed to stay behind. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Prime Minister Netanyahu Visits UN Jerusalem Exhibition
    Prime Minister Netanyahu on Thursday visited the Jerusalem exhibit currently being presented at the UN building in New York. The exhibit presents 3,000 years of Jewish continuity in Jerusalem. It includes original archaeological finds that were discovered in Israel and which underscore the continuous link of the Jewish People to Israel and Jerusalem in various periods. Among the items are a First Temple-era seal discovered earlier this year and an impression of the seal of King Hezekiah.
        Netanyahu said: "This is a magnificent exhibit. There is a long history that is being cherished by us and by the friends of the Jewish people and the friends of truth - and is being denied by those who seek to erase the history of our people - our connection to our land and our connection to our eternal capital, Jerusalem."
        "This exhibit would not have been possible ten years ago and this exhibit will be unnecessary ten years from now....We are changing Israel's position in the world."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Netanyahu Asks Trump to Allow Jonathan Pollard to Leave for Israel - Shlomo Cesana
    Prime Minister Netanyahu asked President Trump this week to lift parole restrictions on convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in order to allow him to relocate to Israel. Pollard, 62, was paroled in November 2015 after serving 30 years and currently lives in New York City under strict conditions while wearing an electronic bracelet.
        During this week's Oval Office meeting, Netanyahu asked that Pollard be allowed to move to Israel as a gesture marking the upcoming 70th anniversary of Israel's founding this May. He said it was time the two countries put the affair behind them. (Israel Hayom)
  • Corruption in the Palestinian Authority - Yoni Ben Menachem
    This week, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas extended the tenure of his friend Rafiq al-Natsheh as head of the PA's anti-corruption department for the second time, contrary to Palestinian law. Abbas' main fear is what will happen to his sons Yasser and Tareq and their property once he is gone from office. Both of Abbas' sons have become incredibly wealthy and have developed prosperous businesses by using their father's connections.
        Several months ago, Abbas completed the construction of a luxurious palace for the Palestinian Authority near Surda, north of Ramallah. The palace cost $13 million to build and includes fountains and two helicopter pads. However, due to harsh criticism on the Palestinian street, Abbas recently decided to convert the luxurious building into a public library. The writer is a veteran Arab affairs commentator for Israel Radio and Television. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Does Hamas Have the Courage to Admit Failure? - Jason Greenblatt
    After ruling Gaza with an iron fist for a decade, Hamas has a pathetic track record. Tragically, many seem to believe that Hamas' rule is intractable and the suffering of the Palestinian people inevitable. But those of us on the peace team are beholden to find a path to a brighter future for the Palestinians of Gaza.
        Hamas, not the U.S. or Israel, has hijacked vast fortunes and spent it on weapons to terrorize Israelis, instead of spending it on hospitals, water, schools and the many other things so desperately needed in Gaza. Hamas, not Israel, has inflicted ever-greater restrictions on Gaza by repeatedly hiding materials to make weapons in shipments of humanitarian aid and other goods being moved into Gaza.
        The humanitarian disaster caused by Hamas' exploitation of the Palestinians of Gaza demands that we focus immediately on basics such as power, sanitation and drinking water. The writer is an assistant to President Trump and special representative for international negotiations. (Washington Post)
  • IDF Psychological Warfare: The Battle over Consciousness - Col. (ret.) Gabi Siboni
    The IDF has intensified its cognitive-related activity recently to create legitimacy in international target audiences, influence the enemy, and even maintain deterrence.
        In January 2018, IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ronen Manlis published an article in the Arab media, warning Lebanon's citizens of Hizbullah's military deployment within the civilian population. The article was part of a range of IDF overt and covert activities in the realm of cognitive operations, with the aim of delivering messages to target audiences in Lebanon, the region, and the world at large: that buildup efforts by Iran and Hizbullah are clear to Israel and that Israel has the ability to act against them.
        Technological development enables a wide range of focused means of influence on target audiences and, in effect, creates another combat arena. Col. (ret.) Gabi Siboni is director of the Military and Strategic Affairs Program and Cyber Security Program at INSS, where Gal Perl Finkel is coordinator of those programs. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
        See also The Importance of the Psychological Factor in Warfare - Amos Harel
    At the height of the second intifada, the chief of staff at the time, Moshe Yaalon, was asked how we'd know that Israel had vanquished Palestinian suicide bombings. Yaalon answered that victory would be achieved through Palestinian acknowledgement that the terror attacks wouldn't drive Israel to capitulation. In retrospect, he was right. The terror attacks subsided mainly because the PA and finally Hamas concluded that the price Israel was exacting from the Palestinian public in response to terrorism was too high. (Ha'aretz)
  • False Claims about Israeli Expropriation of Church Land
    Recent news stories repeated without challenge a false claim by Jerusalem church officials that a shelved Israeli bill would have allowed for the expropriation of church land. They charged Israel with implementing measures akin to Nazi-era Nuremberg laws against Jews.
        The bill, whose consideration was postponed after the claim, would have applied to church land sold to private developers since 2010. In other words, it would only apply to properties that no longer belong to the church. The aim of the bill was to protect homeowners against the possibility that private companies will not extend their leases on land on which their houses or apartments stand. (CAMERA)
        See also Misinformation on Jerusalem Municipality Seeking to Tax Church Property - Tamar Sternthal
    Recent news stories regarding the Jerusalem municipality's stated intention to collect taxes on church-owned property often omitted the crucial detail that the focus was limited to property not used for worship. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat explained that the city will not be able to abide a situation in which only in Jerusalem, hotels, banquet halls and commercial businesses are exempt from municipal taxes because they are church-owned, while in Haifa and Tel Aviv, municipal taxes are collected on the commercial assets of churches. (CAMERA)
  • Israelis Have No Desire to Trade More Land for More Terror - Jonathan S. Tobin
    In a perfect world, the two-state solution is the most rational approach to solving the conflict between Jews and Palestinians. If the Palestinians were prepared to accept the permanence and legitimacy of a Jewish state, they would find most Israelis ready to make drastic concessions. But the reason why peace hasn't come isn't because Israelis haven't yet found the courage to take risks for peace. It's because even the supposedly moderate Palestinian Authority is dedicated to perpetuating the conflict. Rejection of Israel and Jewish rights over any part of the country is an integral part of the Palestinian identity.
        Most Israelis think that a Palestinian people still in thrall to a violent political culture rooted in rejection of Zionism couldn't keep even a theoretical cold peace. They view the notion of a withdrawal from the West Bank and parts of Jerusalem as a repeat of the disastrous experiment in Gaza. Israelis have no desire to trade more land for more terror. (JNS)
  • Duke of Cambridge's Visit to Israel Will End a 70-Year Royal Snub - Raf Sanchez
    For 70 long years, Israelis have watched Britain's royals jet over their heads on visits to autocratic Middle Eastern countries without stopping in the Jewish state. Generations of Israeli presidents have extended invitations to Jerusalem. Each time they have been quietly rebuffed on the advice of the Foreign Office, which worried about upsetting the UK's Arab allies. But that decades-long snub will come to an end this summer when the Duke of Cambridge touches down at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion Airport.
        The shift reflects Britain's deepening security and trade relationship with Israel as well as a broader realignment in the Middle East. Whereas Israel was once an awkward former colony with little to offer Britain except political heartburn, today it is a dynamic high-tech economy and a regional intelligence superpower. British and Israeli security services cooperate closely on counter-terrorism. While a royal visit might once have been met with fury in Arab capitals, today many of those Arab states are quietly aligning with Israel against their shared enemy Iran. (Telegraph-UK)

  • Weekend Features

  • Israeli Trauma Experts Help Florida Community Cope with Aftermath of School Shooting - Abigail Klein Leichman
    Ten days after the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, experts from the Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC) arrived at the community to guide teachers and community leaders through a "day after" strategy for helping people face the future with resilience. "Most counselors, teachers and clinicians have never dealt with a mass shooting. They have no frame of reference," said Nancy Teitelbaum, senior director of marketing and communications at Goodman Jewish Family Services of Broward County.
        That's exactly what the Israeli team came to provide. ITC members Yotam Dagan from Natal Israel Center for Trauma and Resilience, and Alan Cohen from the Community Stress Prevention Center, led sessions for 600 community leaders including clinicians, law enforcers, social workers, first responders, parents and clergy. "What was really apparent was that the experts from Israel really knew what they were talking about," said Teitelbaum. (Israel21c)
  • Video: The Story of Einat Malka
    Einat Malka was an Israel youth karate champion at age 14. She served in the IDF as a physical fitness instructor for combat units and was wounded during a training exercise. As the persistent pain from the injury over 10 years turned her life into a nightmare, amputation became the only option. Giving up her leg meant that she regained life and learned to walk again. Einat, today, is a triathlete and the mother of 3 children. Out of 50,000 disabled veterans, 3,256 are women. (Beit Halochem-Rehabilitating Wounded IDF Soldiers)

Militant Islam's War Against the West - Dr. Max Singer (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • For more than 30 years, an ideological movement called Islamism has been at war with the West. Only a small fraction of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims support this war. But Islamist ideology is based on mainstream Muslim thinking and behavior.
  • Much of the current troubles in the Middle East are not caused by the Islamist war. Syria and Iraq were in turmoil before ISIS came into existence. The Syrian war is a revolt against the brutality of Assad's Alawite rule; it was not caused by ISIS, and will continue in one form or another after ISIS' demise. Libya's chaos is more tribal than ideological.
  • While the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for much of the violence and disorder in the region, there is also an element of Persian imperialism. Similarly, Turkish President Erdogan's motivation is partly Islamism but also neo-Ottoman imperialist ambitions.
  • There is no way that the entire Muslim world will be willing to forego joining the rest of the world in becoming wealthy and free in order to continue a hopeless struggle to gain Muslim rule everywhere.
  • Eventually the desire of Muslims to be part of the modern world will be stronger than the current forces that drive militant Islam's war against the West, and they will find ways to make their faith compatible with what they need to do to become modern.

    The writer, a founder of the Hudson Institute, is a senior fellow at the BESA Center.
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