May 18, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Some Latin American Countries Are Rushing to Open Jerusalem Embassies - Rick Noack (Washington Post)
    Just two days after the U.S. moved its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv this week, Guatemala did the same.
    Paraguay said earlier this month that it would do so by the end of May, and Honduras' legislature backed a move in a vote last month.
    All three have large evangelical Christian populations and long-standing ties to Israel.

Iranian Demonstrators Killed in Violent Clashes in Kazerun - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    On May 17, violent clashes broke out in the Iranian city of Kazerun between demonstrators and Iranian security forces. The local police station was set on fire.
    At least five citizens have been killed, scores were injured, and dozens arrested.
    Many social media users in Iran are criticizing state-run media for preferring to cover events in Gaza instead of reporting on Kazerun, using slogans like "(The government) is supporting Gaza and committing crimes in Kazerun."
    See also New Anti-Regime Protests in Southern Iran - Ben Evansky (Fox News)

Swiss Minister: "UNRWA Aid Agency Is Part of the Problem in the Middle East" (Swissinfo-Switzerland)
    UN aid work for Palestinian refugees is a stumbling block to peace in the Middle East, hindering the integration of Palestinians who have lived in Jordan and Lebanon for years, according to Swiss Foreign Affairs Minister Ignazio Cassis.
    So long as Palestinians live in refugee camps, they can dream of returning home, he said in an interview published in several Swiss newspapers on Thursday. "It is unrealistic that all of them can fulfil this dream. Yet UNRWA keeps this dream alive."
    "Today it has become part of the problem. It supplies the ammunition to continue the conflict. By supporting UNRWA, we keep the conflict alive. It's a perverse logic."

Gen. Galant: Hamas Are "Holding 2 Million Palestinians as Hostages" - Sean Savage and Alex Traiman (JNS)
    Former head of the Israel Defense Forces' Southern Command, Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant, referring to Palestinian deaths along the Israel-Gaza border on Monday, said Gazans "are hostages of Hamas - 20,000 gangsters and terrorists are holding 2 million people as hostages - and this is the result."
    Galant, who is now Israel's Minister of Housing and a member of the Security Cabinet, said, "We disengage[d] from the Gaza Strip 12 years ago. Billions of dollars [have been] invested in the Gaza Strip. [The] result is all this money goes to Hamas leaders, rockets and to tunnels instead of creating greenhouses and factories."

Assad Is Desperate for Soldiers - Sam Dagher (Atlantic)
    When protests against the Assad regime began in 2011, the Syrian army numbered about 250,000.
    But tens of thousands of defections, desertions, and mass casualties over more than seven years of conflict have gutted the military.
    Rustum, 29, an Alawite man from western Syria, said he paid bribes to get out of prison and come to Lebanon earlier this year after he was arrested in Syria for evading army service.
    Alawites have shouldered most of the burden of defending Assad. "We have given our all. There are hardly any men left," he said.

West Bank Palestinian TV Airs Music Video: "Let the Bullets Fly High"  (MEMRI)
    A music video titled "Fatah Passed Through Here" aired on May 6 on pro-Fatah Al-Awda TV.
    The video opens with Palestinian poet Adnan Balawna rapping: "Let the bullets fly high. My rifle is my ornament. I came here to fight, not to compromise," as he sprays a wall with graffiti: "Fatah passed through here."
    Jordanian singer Nader Sayel sings against the backdrop of footage of military training and of Yasser Arafat inspecting the troops.
    The lyrics include lines such as "we shall not lay down our weapons and we shall never surrender," and "our leader cannot be defeated."

Follow the Jerusalem Center on:

Former Saudi General: Iran a Greater Threat than Israel - Dr. Yaron Friedman (Ynet News)
    Anwar Eshki, a retired intelligence officer in the Saudi army and head of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies, irritated many in the Arab world recently when he wrote on Twitter that Israel was a suspected enemy while Iran was a definite enemy.
    He explained that Israel hadn't fired a single bullet at Saudi Arabia, while Iran kept firing missiles at the kingdom through the Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Iranian Professor Questions Government Stance toward Israel - Samuel Thrope (Jerusalem Post)
    Sadegh Zibakalam, a political science professor at the University of Tehran, sparked outrage in the Iranian media with a tweet that questioned the government's stance toward Israel.
    "If, God forbid, there is a war between us and Israel, we will have to tell future generations why we fought a war with a country 2,000 km. away that never threatened us or had any other dispute with us," he wrote on May 10.
    "What were all those casualties and the billions of dollars in military expenditures for?"
    Responding to criticism, Zibakalam wrote Wednesday: "I have a simple question: Who gave us the responsibility for destroying Israel? Have the Iranian people held a referendum and asked the government to do this?"

Faraway ISIS Branches Grow as "Caliphate" Fades in Syria and Iraq - Yaroslav Trofimov (Wall Street Journal)
    In Islamic State's far-flung "provinces," local insurgencies that adopted its brand and ideology in 2014-2015 keep up the fight, gaining new ground, perpetrating new massacres, and attracting a new influx of foreign fighters.
    "The peripheral branches of Islamic State have become much more important and much more active than its original central organization," said Prof. Mathieu Guidere, an expert on Islamic extremism at the University of Paris VIII.
    "ISIS has been defeated....What has not been defeated is its insurgency capacity or its capacity to inspire others to engage in terrorist attacks elsewhere," said Robert Malley, president of the International Crisis Group, who served as President Obama's coordinator of the campaign against Islamic State.
    ISIS still retains a robust online presence and successfully encourages lone-wolf attacks.

Smart Fence to Protect New Eilat Airport - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    A smart fence capable of stopping Kornet missiles has been completed at Israel's newest civilian airport in Eilat - the Ilan and Assaf Ramon International Airport - set to open in March 2019.
    The fence, which extends along the Jordanian border, features detection technology to ensure that planes are protected from all types of threats.

Israel to Sell Iron Dome Air Defense System to Romania - Yuval Azulai (Globes)
    Rafael Advanced Defense Systems announced Thursday it had signed a cooperation agreement with Romanian company Romaero to transfer the know-how to enable the production of air defense systems in Romania.
    The agreement includes the Iron Dome rocket interception system and its naval version, Samson remote controlled weapons stations, and Spike anti-tank missiles.
    The radar used in the system, manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries, has already been sold to a number of countries.

Irish Minister of Defence Defends Use of Israeli Drones - Marie O'Halloran (Irish Times)
    Irish Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe has rejected accusations that he has "blood on his hands" over the purchase of drones from an Israeli manufacturer, amid claims the machinery was tested in Palestinian areas.
    Kehoe said his main priority was to purchase the best equipment for Defence Force personnel.
    Between 2007 and 2009, Ireland bought four UAVs and upgraded them in 2016. Kehoe said they were "an information-gathering asset with no offensive capability."

Israel's GDP Grew by 4.2 Percent in Jan-March - Hagai Amit (Ha'aretz)
    Israel's gross domestic product grew 4.2% in January-March, 2018, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported on Wednesday.
    Unemployment fell to 3.6% in March.

Search the Recent History of Israel and the Middle East

Send the Daily Alert to a Friend
    If you are viewing the email version of the Daily Alert and want to share it with friends, please click Forward in your email program and enter their address.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • EU Block on U.S. Sanctions on Iran Would Be of Limited Use for EU Banks - Huw Jones
    Using EU powers to ban EU banks from complying with U.S. sanctions on Iran would be of "limited" use, given the global reach of finance, EU financial services chief Valdis Dombrovskis said Thursday. The EU wants to salvage the Iran nuclear deal and is weighing reactivation of a 1996 law that bans any EU company from complying with U.S. sanctions and does not recognize any court rulings that enforce American penalties.
        "Indeed, the EU blocking regulation could be of limited effectiveness there, given the international nature of the banking system and especially the exposure of large systemic banks to the U.S. financial system and U.S. dollar transactions," Dombrovskis told the European Parliament. (Reuters)
  • Kuwait Urges International Force on Gaza Border - Edith M. Lederer
    A draft UN resolution circulated by Kuwait on Thursday urged the Security Council to condemn Israel's use of force against Palestinians in Gaza and to deploy an international force to protect civilians.
        Israel's Ambassador Danny Danon responded, "The cynicism and attempts to distort reality have reached a new low. Israel will continue to defend its sovereignty and the security of its citizens against the terror and murderous violence of Hamas. This shameful draft resolution is a proposal to support Hamas' war crimes against Israel and the residents of Gaza who are being sent to die for the sake of preserving Hamas' rule." The U.S. will very likely veto the resolution if it's put to a vote. (AP)
  • Egypt Opens Gaza Border for Ramadan
    Egyptian President al-Sisi ordered on Thursday that the Rafah border crossing with Gaza be opened for the whole Muslim holy month of Ramadan, he said on Twitter. This would be the longest single opening in years. Egypt closed the border for long periods after attacks on Egyptian security forces in Sinai that increased in 2013. (Reuters)
  • Mideast Turmoil Complicates Arab Support for Trump Peace Plan - Felicia Schwartz
    The Trump administration's still-secret Middle East peace proposal - months in the works and mostly finished - lays out what the U.S. sees as key steps to take toward peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. It offers proposals to address disagreements over borders, security and refugees, U.S. officials said. The last round of negotiations during the Obama administration collapsed in 2014.
        "Our role is not to impose a deal on either side. Our role is to come up with a plan that we think is realistic. Our role is to come up with a plan that we think is fair," a senior Trump administration official said. "Everyone should recognize that the talking points from the last 70 years have not achieved peace."
        American officials have been looking for the right time to present their plan. U.S. officials said they don't expect to release the plan before the end of Ramadan, which begins this week and lasts until mid-June. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Video - Netanyahu on Gaza: "We Are Defending Our Families, and You Would Do Exactly the Same"
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the IDF's actions on the Gaza border in a video in English on his Facebook page: "Mahmoud al Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas, said that calling the actions of Palestinians on the Gaza border 'peaceful' is a clear 'deception.' 'This is not peaceful resistance,' he said. I agree. Shooting guns and lobbing explosives at Israelis isn't peaceful at all."
        "Or take Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar. He said that the aim of the riots is to 'tear down Israel's border and tear out their hearts.' I agree that destroying Israel and killing innocent Israelis is his true goal."
        "How about senior Hamas official Salah Bardawil? He said that 50 out of the 60 Palestinians killed Monday, that's over 80%, were members of Hamas - in other words, members of a terrorist organization - the same Hamas that has called for genocide of every single Jew....This is what we are defending our families against and you would do exactly the same."  (Facebook)
  • Hamas Reaches Understanding with Egypt on Reducing Gaza Border Violence - Amos Harel
    Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas leader in Gaza, told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that Hamas had reached an understanding with Egypt that the demonstrations along the border with Israel would continue but would not deteriorate into a military confrontation. Hamas will not stop the demonstrations altogether because it sees a winning formula for exerting pressure on Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Mahmoud Abbas and the Arab States vs. Hamas - Yoni Ben Menachem
    While Hamas is fighting at the border fence against Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the Arab states have abandoned them, in effect giving Israel the "green light" to deal with the violence as it sees fit. Abbas is waiting for the end of Hamas' Return March campaign to renew his efforts to take control of Gaza. The PA hopes that Hamas will fail and won't achieve anything.
        The Arab countries do not intend to do anything to help Hamas to make its campaign a success. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and Bahrain are working hard against Hamas in Gaza. From their point of view, Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is subverting Arab regimes. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • Israel Had No Choice to Stop the Terrorists at the Gaza Border - Michael Oren interviewed by Ari Shapiro
    Q: Do you believe that the Israeli military's response was appropriate and proportional?
    Oren: I think it was inescapable. I think we had no other choice. We had 40,000 people coming toward our border. On the other side of the border is our civilians. This is not a peaceful protest. According to the organizers, according to Hamas, the protest was designed to break through the border, to kill Israelis and destroy our country.
        Our soldiers had no other means to stop them other than using the means that they did use. And to the degree that people were killed, it's entirely on the shoulders of Hamas.
    Q: You say there was no other choice for the Israeli military.
    Oren: Rubber bullets have a very short range, and [tear] gas is very ineffective. There actually is no other effective method we know of defending the border. And the choice is paying a price in terms of tough interviews like this one or letting these terrorists come through the border and kill our civilians. And for us, that's a no-brainer....At the end of the day, it's not a choice. It's something we have to do. Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., is Deputy Minister for Public Diplomacy. (NPR)
  • I Was at the Gaza Border. We Did All We Could to Avoid Killing - Kinley Tur-Paz
    I was there, in uniform, at the border with Gaza and saw a tremendous, supreme effort from our side to prevent Palestinian deaths and injuries. Our primary mission was to prevent thousands of Gazans from infiltrating into our territory and endanger civilians in the nearby communities. When there is no alternative, and live ammunition must be used to stop those who storm the fence, the soldiers make heroic efforts not to kill those on the other side.
        The IDF stations senior commanders at every confrontation point to ensure that every shot is approved and backed up by a responsible figure with proper authority. Every staging area has a large number of troops to make sure that soldiers are not put into life-threatening situations where they will have no choice but to fire indiscriminately.
        A situation where thousands of people rush you is frightening. It is extremely difficult to show restraint, and it requires calm, mature professionalism. I can testify that every bullet and every hit is carefully reported, documented in Excel spreadsheets, and investigated. (Times of Israel)
  • Hamas-Led Clashes at Gaza-Israel Border Are Not a Peaceful Civil Rights Protest - Gregory J. Wallance
    Human rights groups critical of Israel's use of force to stop Palestinians from breaching the fence along the Gaza-Israel border fundamentally mischaracterize what is happening there. What the Palestinians call the "March of Return" is not the March on Selma, Alabama. This is a violent confrontation encouraged and led by Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza and is bent on Israel's destruction.
        Since the end of March, tens of thousands of Palestinians have gathered weekly at the border. The majority stayed several hundred yards back, but hundreds approached the border fence, hurling stones, rolling burning tires towards the fence, throwing Molotov cocktails, grenades and pipe bombs, and planting explosives. Demonstrators tried to tear down the fence so that tens of thousands of Palestinians could pour through, a nightmare scenario for Israel.
        Simply put, the human rights groups are willfully blind to the fact that Hamas has no interest in living at peace with Israel and instead wants to destroy it by whatever means it can, including the confrontation at the Gaza-Israel border. The writer, a former board member of Human Rights Watch, was a federal prosecutor during the Carter and Reagan administrations. (The Hill)
  • Why Gaza Is No Selma - Thane Rosenbaum
    Welcome to the Promised Land of Dreadful Optics, where Hamas employs a deliberate strategy of inciting a disproportionate loss of Palestinian life in a bid to garner sympathy and demonize Israel. By emboldening Gazans to place themselves directly in the line of fire and embedding terrorists among civilians, Hamas baits Israel and then waits for the world's outrage. Calling the March of Return a peaceful protest unfairly demonizes Israel and romanticizes Palestinians.
        What is a proportionate response? Yes, more Palestinians have died in these clashes, but it's not for a lack of Hamas' trying to kill Israelis that Israeli lives have been relatively spared. These were not peaceful gatherings, and Americans, at least, should know better than to judge them as if they were.
        The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led a protest movement that rejected violence and never glorified death. And yet, some headlines are treating Gaza like a Middle Eastern Selma. King, who is memorialized with a forest in Israel, would be surprised that we now somehow couldn't tell the difference. The writer is a distinguished fellow at NYU School of Law where he directs the Forum on Law, Culture & Society. (CNN)
  • Gaza and Hamas - Elliott Abrams
    Hamas has tried pushing masses of Gazans to the border fences, mixing its own armed men among them carrying grenades, guns, and other weapons. The goal was obviously to overrun the border, get into Israel, and kill and destroy as much as possible. Israel defended its border: no one got through and all the loss was on the Palestinian side.
        Hamas has shown no interest in a transformation from an Islamist terrorist group into a responsible government of Gaza. This should be no surprise. Yasser Arafat could never make that transformation either. Hamas is dedicated to eliminating Israel and will never agree to transform itself into a "normal" government. The writer, a senior fellow at the CFR, handled Middle East affairs at the U.S. National Security Council from 2001 to 2009. (Council on Foreign Relations)
  • Don't Blame Embassy Opening for Gaza Violence - Blame Hamas - Max Boot
    If the U.S. Embassy had stayed in Tel Aviv, it doesn't mean that peace and tranquility would have prevailed in Gaza. Hamas would not accept any U.S. Embassy anywhere in Israel, because it doesn't accept the State of Israel.
        If Hamas wants to ease the suffering of its people, it needs to do what the Palestinian Authority has already done: Accept the existence of Israel. But if it does that, Hamas will lose its raison d'etre. This, ultimately, is why the 1.8 million people of Gaza are consigned to an "open-air prison." Their jailers are in Hamas, not Israel. The writer is a senior fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Washington Post)
  • Hamas' Failed Strategy - Zev Chafets
    Hamas' strategy of bleeding its young people was aimed at influencing three target audiences. First, it hoped to incite the masses of the West Bank and east Jerusalem to rise up in solidarity, but they didn't take the bait. Compared to the residents of the Hamas mini-state in Gaza, they are relatively free and prosperous. The Palestinian Authority, whose security services control West Bank cities, hates Hamas even more than Israel does.
        The second audience was the "international community." Bloody Monday got the media coverage it expected. But Egypt and Saudi Arabia are allies with Israel in the fight against Iran. Europe is preoccupied and demonstrably weak. Russian President Putin and Netanyahu have a respectful relationship. And never before has any American administration been so supportive of Israel.
        Hamas' third target was Israeli public opinion. That hope, too, was misplaced. Israelis have been hardened by decades of intifada, Iraqi Scud missile attacks, Iranian threats of genocide, Hamas and Hizbullah rocket barrages, and the failure of even "moderate" Palestinian leaders to compromise for peace. (Bloomberg)
  • No Victory for Hamas - Ben Caspit
    When the clouds of tear gas and burning-tire smoke dispersed, Hamas had zero achievement and very little international attention. The Qataris mumbled something, Turkish President Erdogan gave his two cents, and in between were the voices of concerned Europeans. There was no infiltration into Israel, the Palestinian protesters failed to reach Israeli towns or military positions, not a single Israel soldier was even scratched, Palestinians in the West Bank did not rally to their brothers' aid, and the Arab world shrugged its shoulders, managing only to send a feeble condemnation. (Maariv-Jerusalem Post)
  • The Gaza Protest Is about Ending Israel - Einat Wilf
    For several weeks, people in Gaza have been marching on its borders with Israel with the declared intent of marching into Israel and exercising what the Palestinians consider their absolute and superior "Right of Return." While many in the West have explained away the Palestinian statement about "return" as an expression of anger at the deteriorating conditions in Gaza and the maritime blockade, the Palestinians have not marched for any of these issues. If they had, they would have stormed the Gaza border with Egypt. What they demand is "return."
        Having failed to prevent the UN partition vote diplomatically, and having failed to prevent Israel's emergence militarily, the demand for "return" was shaped as a continuation of the war against Israel by other means, a war that continues to this day.
        If the war is ever to end with true peace, the Palestinians as well as the Arab and Islamic world at large have to come to accept the Jewish people as an indigenous people who have come home and who have an equal and legitimate right to their ancestral land. This is the core issue. Former Knesset member Dr. Einat Wilf served on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. (Forward)
  • Palestinians in Gaza Are Dying for a Photo-Op - Liel Leibovitz
    When Israel withdrew every last soldier and settler from Gaza in 2005, only the most hardened cynics predicted that the end of Israel's occupation of 1.3 million Palestinians would bring even greater misery to Palestinians and Israelis alike. The only way things could possibly get worse in Gaza after an Israeli withdrawal would be if the Palestinians themselves chose leaders who were determined to sacrifice the welfare of every single person living in Gaza to a hopeless yet continuing campaign of cross-border terror against Israel. Sadly, that is exactly what has happened.
        It is alarming that so many in the media and foreign policy establishment pretended as if the riots had something to do with Trump and then chastised Israel for defending its borders from rioters who openly admitted that their goal was to randomly murder Jews. The position that the mobs attacking Israel's borders were "protesters" is an equally cynical lie. To suggest otherwise is to ignore observable reality. (Tablet)
  • Hamas Is Weaponizing Desperation - Shaiel Ben-Ephraim
    The high level of violence near the Gaza border cannot be explained through the presence of Israeli troops. To put the demonstrations into context, organized protests against the U.S. embassy move have taken place throughout Israel and the West Bank as well. Some have been violent. However, there were no casualties in these clashes. The significant death toll is a Gazan phenomenon.
        The despair of individuals is not a potent political tool in and of itself. In order to be effective, the demonstrations must be supported and directed from above. In other words, Hamas is weaponizing desperation.
        Historically, one of the secrets of the early success of Hamas was their ability to provide better education or healthcare than the Palestinian Authority. The governance failure of Hamas in Gaza has completely eliminated this advantage. (Asia Times-Hong Kong)
  • Tell Gaza's Masses the Truth: There Will Be No "Return" - David Horovitz
    After Monday's terrible violence and loss of Palestinian life on the Gaza border, the world owes the Palestinians some painful but simple truths. Hamas' riots at the border are not going to work. Israel will defend its borders. What the terror group calls "Palestine" - i.e., Israel - is not going to be "liberated."
        Israel will not be pressured to commit national suicide as a Jewish state by absorbing millions of descendants of Palestinians who used to live in what is today Israel. Want to prevent the endless repetition of horror days like Monday? Make plain to the Palestinians that they have no "right of return."  (Times of Israel)

  • Jerusalem

  • The Day Jerusalem Won - Amb. Ron Prosor
    The opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, carries historic and diplomatic weight that could affect the entire region. The American step lets the Palestinians know that time is not necessarily on their side, and their ongoing refusal to hold real negotiations with Israel could hurt them. The reality is that the Palestinians are being left behind, and if they won't come to the negotiating table, they could find themselves without any allies at all. The writer, who holds the Abba Eban Chair of International Diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, is a former Israeli ambassador to the UN. (Israel Hayom)
  • U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem a Turning Point - Benjamin Kerstein
    Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem represented a major defeat for the Palestinians' efforts to delegitimize Israel, said Joel Fishman, a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. "Over the past few years, the Palestinians and the Arab countries have been trying through the United Nations to negate and deny the historical link of the Jewish people to Jerusalem, and to make it appear as if we were simply intruders from outside without any standing and without any rights....By recognizing Jerusalem, President Trump put an end to the spread of this falsehood."
        The U.S. move also puts an end to a concept known as "parallelism" that developed during the Oslo peace process of the 1990s, Fishman added. "The reality of Israel began to be considered as parallel to that of the Palestinians.... Through the idea of introducing parallelism and 'evenhandedness,' the existence of the Jewish state was somehow predicated on the condition of the Palestinians and how they felt about the world."
        "Yasser Arafat...said that the Jewish state would not have international recognition and legitimacy without the approval of the Palestinians....Through the act of recognition, Trump has brought an end to the era of parallelism."  (Algemeiner)
  • Repercussions from the U.S. Embassy Move to Jerusalem - Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin interviewed by Lulu Garcia-Navarro
    "I supported this move from the very beginning. There were two warnings against the move. One, that there will be a riot and another intifada, and all the American embassies will be burned in the Arab world. Never happened. The gun was empty. Second, says that the peace process will be killed. Unfortunately, the peace process was already dead. And maybe this move will wake it up." Amos Yadlin, former head of IDF Military Intelligence, is director of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. (NPR)

  • Iran

  • In Iran, as Politicians Fade, the Military Raises Its Profile
    Still smarting from the latest Israeli attacks on its positions in Syria, in Iran, some within the ruling establishment threaten "a fitting response" to the "Zionist aggression," while others deny there was any Israeli attack on Iran's bases. A third group implicitly demands a grin-and-bear-it response, avoiding any escalation. That the debate is dominated by the military indicates the diminishing influence of the civilian part of the Islamic regime.
        The "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenei has maintained his silence on the Israeli attacks. As in other instances before, Khamenei prefers not to get directly involved in a confrontation that Tehran might well lose. Tehran authorities are forbidding media coverage of the burials of the estimated 50 Iranian personnel that have been killed. Until now, such occasions had been given maximum publicity.
        At the same time, Sa'adallah Zare'i, a strategic adviser to Khamenei, claimed that "forces of resistance" led by Iran had attacked Israeli positions in the Golan Heights, provoking the Israeli counter-attacks. "In our attack (in the Golan), Israel's principal intelligence gathering center was completely destroyed and dozens of its key personnel killed," Zare'i claimed.
        Declaring victory after a major setback is one of the oldest tactics of the Islamic Republic. It is used to prevent loss of face and explain the lack of any reaction where that is either impossible or regarded as too costly. Paradoxically, the rising military in Tehran appears to have no stomach for a fight over Syria as it contemplates new opportunities for asserting its own power inside Iran. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
  • The Benefit of Exposing the Iranian Nuclear Archive - Col. (ret.) Shmuel Even
    When President Trump announced on May 8 that the U.S. would withdraw from the nuclear agreement with Iran, he referred to the Iranian nuclear archive exposed by Israel as decisive evidence of Iran's deceitfulness and its intentions in the military nuclear realm.
        The exposure proved that Iran has a secret project to preserve the knowledge of a military nuclear project. It is the archive of an active project that was moved from one location to another in order to preserve its secrecy. Its exposure has strengthened accusations against Iranian trustworthiness, and has forced European leaders who are party to the agreement to explain how they support an agreement based on false statements regarding past Iranian nuclear activity. The writer, a senior research fellow at INSS, had a long career in IDF Intelligence. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Forcing Tehran's Regime to Retreat to Its Borders - Abdulrahman al-Rashed
    Israel attacked 50 positions managed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Syria in retaliation for their firing 20 missiles toward Israel. Bahrain's Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid al-Khalifa wrote: "Since Iran violated the status quo in the region and violated countries' (sovereignty) via their forces and missiles, then any country in the region, including Israel, has the right to defend itself by destroying the sources of threat."
        Sheikh Khalid's stance is consistent with any state that stands against Iran's crimes in the region. If we ask the majority of the Syrian people about their opinion, they would support Israel in targeting Iranian forces and their militias in Syria. For the first time ever, we see the Revolutionary Guards who dominated in the region, in Iraq, Yemen and Syria, pay a high price and realize that they trespassed their limits.
        The Israelis will not go to court or wait for international inspection committees to address this. They know that Qassem Soleimani's forces are behind this. The picture is today clearer and the aim is to force Tehran's regime to retreat. The plan includes President Trump's decision to scrap the nuclear agreement and reinstate economic sanctions. This is in addition to Israel's painful strikes that destroyed Iranian sites, and convincing the Russians to be neutral.
        All this is after the Tehran government refused international calls to militarily retreat to its borders and stop interfering in the affairs of the region's countries and toppling their governments. The writer is former editor-in-chief of Asharq al-Awsat. (Al Arabiya)

  • Weekend Features

  • Study Says Polish Neighbors Betrayed Many More Jews than Previously Thought
    According to new research by the Warsaw-based Center for Research on Holocaust of Jews, 2/3 of the more than one million Jews who went underground to hide from the Nazis did not survive the war, mostly because of the actions of their non-Jewish neighbors. Amidst a debate in Poland over a law that limits rhetoric on Polish complicity in the Holocaust, the study suggests Poles are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths of Jews in the Holocaust - a figure that is significantly higher than previous estimates.
        In one region, Miechow, more than 10% of the Jews in hiding were murdered by partisans who were members of the Polish underground. (JTA)
  • Soldiers on the Autistic Spectrum Assist IDF Intelligence - Yaakov Lappin
    A program designed to integrate young people on the autistic spectrum into the IDF - in fields where they have a relative advantage - is proving to be a "win-win" for all involved. The program, now in its fifth year, teaches autistic youth to decipher aerial and satellite visual-intelligence images based on their enhanced visual ability and their tendency towards patience, which allow them to explore the minutest details, an intelligence officer explained.
        The IDF has received some 100 autistic volunteer soldiers so far. Lt. L said, "We take people with very high capabilities, who are on the autistic spectrum, put them in very high-demand roles and enable them to contribute to the military."  (JNS)

I Said Israel Should Be Ashamed about Gaza - I Was Wrong - Daniel Sugarman (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
  • A few days ago I wrote a column about the latest round of violence on the border with Gaza. Seeing happy faces in Jerusalem on the television side-by-side with tear gas, smoke and bullets, I wrote, "You cannot tell me that Israel, a land of technological miracles...is incapable of coming up with a way of incapacitating protestors that does not include gunning dozens of them down."
  • People pointed out that it was absurd to deal in hypotheticals. Saying that surely there must be another way the protestors could be stopped was a cry of anguish, but it was not an argument.
  • If no such technology currently exists, then it was absurd of me to blame the IDF for not magically willing it into existence.
  • I had fallen into the trap I had always been convinced I would not fall into. I had condemned Israel for defending itself.
  • Shoot at those charging at you and Hamas would have its martyrs. Fail to shoot and Hamas would break through the barrier and bring suffering and death - its stated aim - to Israelis living only a few hundred meters away.
  • The choice was, quite literally, shoot at people running at you with the stated aim of killing you and your families, or fail to shoot and let them do it.
Support Daily Alert
Daily Alert is the work of a team of expert analysts who find the most important and timely articles from around the world on Israel, the Middle East and U.S. policy. No wonder it is read by heads of government, leading journalists, and thousands of people who want to stay on top of the news. To continue to provide this service, Daily Alert requires your support. Please take a moment to click here and make your contribution through the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.