April 11, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Russia Jamming U.S. Drones over Syria - Courtney Kube (NBC News)
    The Russian military has been jamming some U.S. military drones operating in the skies over Syria, seriously affecting American military operations, according to four U.S. officials.
    One official said the equipment developed by the Russian military is very sophisticated, proving effective even against some encrypted signals and anti-jamming receivers.
    The drones impacted so far are smaller surveillance aircraft, as opposed to the larger Predators and Reapers that can be armed.

The Iranian Drone Threat in Syria - Farzin Nadimi (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    One of the confirmed Iranian fatalities in the airstrike in Syria was Col. Mehdi Dehghan Yazdeli, a commander from the IRGC Aerospace Force's very active and heavily defended Shahid Karimi UAV base south of Tehran.
    The IRGC has been flying Shahed-129s, Mohajers, and other UAVs over Syria for some time.
    Iranian drones have a maximum range of 1,000 to 1,500 km., so launching them out of the T-4 base offers obvious range advantages, especially for long-endurance missions aimed at Israel.
    Over the past few days, Iranian drones have been particularly active over Homs province, which may have prompted the April 9 strike.
    Israel is no doubt concerned that the T-4 base is only 220 km. from the Golan Heights, making it much easier for Iranian drones to maintain round-the-clock surveillance of that frontier and beyond.
    Tehran will likely maintain or even expand its UAV presence in western Syria going forward.
    To help these assets withstand damage from strikes, the IRGC might deploy some of its mobile air-defense assets to T-4, which risks further escalation if they too are targeted by Israel.
    The writer is an associate fellow with The Washington Institute.

What the New York Times Isn't Telling You about Israel's Gaza "Blockade" - Ira Stoll (Algemeiner)
    Nearly every New York Times dispatch about the recent violent pre-planned riots in Gaza has used the word "blockade" to describe Israel's treatment of the territory.
    Some Times accounts mention Egypt's participation in the "blockade," while others omit it.
    Webster's dictionary defines a blockade as an "action designed to isolate an enemy and cut off communication and commerce with him."
    Yet in one week in March 2018, 2,728 trucks entered Gaza from Israel carrying 74,202 tons of supplies. In addition, Israel supplies electricity to Gaza via ten power lines. And Israel supplies water to Gaza via two pipelines. Some "blockade."
    Accusing Israel of a "blockade" of Gaza is inaccurate. It gives Times readers a false impression of what is actually happening, uncritically echoing Palestinian propaganda.
    Blame for the situation in Gaza lies with Hamas, not with Israel or some "blockade" imagined by Times journalists.

Video: 600 Holocaust Survivors and Their Families Sing "The People of Israel Live" (Koolulam)
    600 Holocaust survivors and their families gathered at Beit Avi Chai in Jerusalem to sing "The People of Israel Live (Am Yisrael Chai)" together in three-part harmony prior to Holocaust Remembrance Day 2018.
    See video with English subtitles.

World Jewish Population Has Still Not Recovered from the Holocaust (Times of Israel)
    Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics announced Tuesday that world Jewry numbers 14,511,000 people, some two million fewer than the 16.6 million Jews in the world in 1939 on the eve of the Nazi Holocaust.
    In 2018 there are 6.45 million Jews living in Israel and 5.7 million in the U.S.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Russia Vetoes Syria Chemical Weapons Inquiry
    Russia vetoed a U.S.-drafted UN resolution on Tuesday to condemn last weekend's gas attack near Damascus and establish a new body to determine responsibility for Syrian chemical weapons attacks. The Security Council vote was 12 in favor, Bolivia joining Russia in voting "no," and China abstaining.
        U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said the U.S. "went the extra mile" to get Russian support for the resolution to ensure that a new investigative body would be impartial, independent and professional. Russia's UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia called the previous expert body, whose extension Moscow blocked in November, "a puppet in the hands of anti-Damascus forces."  (AP-Politico)
        See also World Health Organization: 500 People Were Poisoned in Syrian Gas Attack - Julian Robinson
    The World Health Organization said "an estimated 500 patients presented to health facilities exhibiting signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals" after the Syrian gas attack that killed 43 people on Saturday in Douma. "There were signs of severe irritation of mucous membranes, respiratory failure and disruption to central nervous systems of those exposed."  (Daily Mail-UK)
  • U.S. Weighs More Robust Military Strike Against Syria - Peter Baker
    President Trump and his advisers on Tuesday weighed a more robust retaliatory strike against Syria than last year's missile attack, in response to the deadly attack that killed dozens of Syrian civilians over the weekend. They reasoned that only an escalation of force would look credible and possibly serve as a deterrent against further use of chemical weapons. (New York Times)
        See also U.S., France and Britain Agree to Respond to Syrian Gas Attack - Pippa Crerar
    British Prime Minister Theresa May joined U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday in warning that they would respond to the Syrian gas attack in order to uphold the global ban on the use of chemical weapons. In separate phone calls, the three allies agreed to make sure that the Syrian regime, and its backers, were held to account. (Guardian-UK)
        See also Report: Syrian Military Moving to Russian Bases
    Le Figaro reported that the Syrian military is evacuating its major air bases near the Lebanon border and transporting its personnel to Russian army sites amid growing concern over an imminent U.S. strike. "According to a UN source, Syrian military planes were also transferred to the Russian Khmeimim air base, near Latakia."  (AFP-i24News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Iran Was Setting Up Large Air Force Compound at T-4 Base in Syria - Amos Harel
    Iran is trying to set up a large air force compound under its exclusive control at the Syrian airbase that sustained an airstrike Monday night. The Iranians are operating relatively far away from Russian air forces at the base.
        On Feb. 10, after an Iranian drone was downed inside Israeli territory, the Israeli air force bombed the drone's command post, located at the T-4 base. American intelligence sources say that Iran then moved its people from T-4 to another Syrian airbase for several weeks, but then returned to T-4. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel Prepares for Possible Iranian Retaliation after Strike on Syrian Base - Amos Harel and Yaniv Kubovich
    Israel is taking the Iranian threats very seriously following an airstrike on a Syrian air force base Monday that killed at least seven Iranian advisers. The strike damaged other armaments aside from Iranian drones, that could have reduced the Israel Air Force's freedom of operation in Syrian airspace.
        "I don't know who attacked in Syria," said Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday. "But I know one thing for certain: We will not allow Iran to set up shop in Syria, regardless of the cost."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Ex-Security Official: Israel Has Been Careful Not to Harm Russian Interests in Syria - Herb Keinon
    Former National Security Council head Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror said Tuesday in an interview that Israel's actions in Syria are designed to protect its own interests, but are done in a way meant to "limit damage to Russian interests, without giving up on our real need to stop the Iranians from creating a second Lebanon in Syria." There is an "open hotline between Israel and Russia to prevent accidental and unnecessary confrontation."
        Referring to the attack on the T-4 air base, Amidror said the Russians "allowed the Iranians to operate from a base where their [Russian] forces are located, so they can't complain if we hit those same Iranians." Amidror said Moscow understands that Israel is not trying to bring down the Assad government - which is the key Russian interest in Syria - or to harm Russian soldiers. At the same time, "We are defending our ability to live here in the region."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Military Strikes on Syria: Critical Considerations - Michael Eisenstadt
    If the U.S. opts to act militarily in response to the latest use of chemical weapons (CW) by the Assad regime, its policy should be guided by several considerations. First, Washington should seek to divide Assad's coalition with Iran and Russia. Any U.S. strikes should focus on regime assets while avoiding targets with higher risk of Russian casualties. Second, this problem will not end with a single set of strikes. Deterrence has a limited shelf life, and Assad will likely continue defying the international community. Additional strikes may be necessary.
        Third, while U.S. strikes should target CW infrastructure when collateral damage can be minimized, they should focus primarily on the regime's conventional military capabilities. It should hit assets that the regime truly values. This would hinder the regime's war effort much more than strikes focusing solely on CW capabilities. The writer is director of the Military and Security Studies Program at the Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • International Community Decides Palestinian Violence at Israeli Border Was Peaceful - Amb. Alan Baker
    On March 30 and April 6, 2018, the world was witness to a series of Friday marches by thousands of Palestinian residents of Gaza toward the border fence with Israel. The organizers of the marches publicized them as a peaceful political demonstration. However, Hamas fighters embedded among the demonstrators committed a series of acts of violence including lobbing incendiary devices at Israeli soldiers, placing explosive devices on the border fence, using firearms against the soldiers, and attempting to cut the fence to cross the border.
        Despite witnessing the violence organized by Hamas, the leaders of the international community appear to hold the strange belief that what they saw was a peaceful demonstration that was forcefully frustrated and disturbed by the Israeli army. Calls for an international inquiry have become a routine and automatic phenomenon whenever Israel dares to defend itself. The writer served as legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as Israel’s ambassador to Canada. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Each year, six Holocaust survivors are chosen to light torches at Yad Vashem on Holocaust Remembrance Day, which begins Wednesday evening, in memory of the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust.
  • Mirjam Lapid was born in 1933 in Deventer, the Netherlands. In 1943, her family was deported to the Westerbork detention camp and in 1944 was sent to Bergen-Belsen. She returned to the Netherlands in 1945 and immigrated to Israel in 1953. Since 1960 she has run the secretariat of Kibbutz Tzora.
  • Shmuel Bogler was born in Bodrogkeresztur, Hungary, in 1929. In 1944, Germany invaded Hungary and the village's Jews were deported to Auschwitz. His parents and three cousins were sent immediately to the gas chambers. Shmuel and his brother Chaim were sent to a labor camp. In January 1945, the two brothers were sent on a death march to Buchenwald, where the U.S. Army liberated them.
        Shmuel arrived in Israel in 1947 and joined the Palmach. He was taken prisoner by the Jordanian Legion when the Etzion bloc fell in May 1948, and became second-in-command of the POWs. After nearly a year in captivity, Shmuel was freed and joined the Israel Police, becoming Southern District Deputy Commander.
  • Dr. Thea Friedman was born in 1924 in Chernovitz, Romania. In December 1942, Thea fled the ghetto but was arrested. She was eventually freed with the help of a bribe paid by the Jewish community. She was arrested again in 1943 but was released in 1944 and started medical school in 1945. In 1958 she immigrated to Israel with her family and is an emeritus professor of the Faculty of Ophthalmology at Tel Aviv University.
  • Raul-Israel Teitelbaum was born in 1931 in Prizren, Yugoslavia (today Kosovo). His father Josef, a physician, was arrested in 1942 by Italian occupation authorities and sent to a detention camp in Albania, where he was put in charge of the camp infirmary. In 1943, Raul and his mother Paula moved to Albania to visit Josef. When Italy surrendered in September 1943, Albanian partisans liberated the camp where Josef was being held, and the family joined the partisans.
        In May 1944, the Teitelbaums were caught by the Germans and sent to Bergen-Belsen. Raul and his mother immigrated to Israel in 1949. As a journalist, Raul has published hundreds of articles and reports about the Holocaust and Holocaust survivors.
  • Yisaschar Dov Goldstein was born in 1929 in Bratislava, Slovakia. After Germany occupied Slovakia in 1944, his family was deported to Auschwitz and murdered, while Dov was transferred to a factory in a satellite camp of Buchenwald. In 1946, Dov boarded in illegal immigrant ship and reached Israel after a seven-month incarceration by the British in Cyprus. He was one of the first members of Kibbutz Ein Tzurim and fought in the War of Independence. He taught Talmud and Bible for many years, and guided students and tourists around Israel.
  • Abba Naor was born in 1928 in Kovno, Lithuania. In 1944 his little brother Berale and his mother Chana were deported to Auschwitz. "The moment I saw my mother and brother heading towards the train, I realized that was it," he recalled. Abba was put to work in construction at a satellite camp of Dachau. He reached Israel in 1947, fought in the War of Independence and later worked in the General Security Service, the Weizmann Institute and the Mossad. In 1984-85 he participated in bringing 5,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel from refugee camps in Sudan. He is Vice President of the World Organization of Former Prisoners of Dachau.
    See also In Eastern Europe, When Nazis Killed Jews, a "Carnival Atmosphere" Prevailed - Matt Lebovic
The first phase of the Holocaust was a communal undertaking, jointly perpetrated by Nazi Germany and thousands of Eastern European collaborators. When the Nazis invaded Soviet lands in 1941, the notorious death camps had not yet been constructed in occupied Poland. To enact Germany's "war of annihilation" against the Jews, mobile killing squads were deployed to conduct large-scale shooting massacres.
    In some towns, thousands of non-Jews turned out to watch the slaughter of Jews in a festive atmosphere, belying the myth of a genocide carried out in secret. The mass shootings were well-documented with photographs and contemporary reports. Nearly two million Jews were murdered in these massacres.
    Father Patrick Desbois describes the killings in his new book, In Broad Daylight: The Secret Procedures Behind the Holocaust by Bullets. Desbois drew from research in seven countries where the killing squads operated, with an emphasis on the non-German men and women who helped facilitate the shootings. His research team has interviewed nearly 4,000 eye-witnesses to the mass killings, including elderly men and women who admit to having collaborated with the Nazis. (Times of Israel)