June 8, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Medical Team Lands in Guatemala - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    An Israeli medical team including experts in treating burns, respiratory diseases and injuries arrived in Guatemala on Friday to help the victims of the country's Fuega volcano.
    The volcano, which killed dozens of people, caused many lava-related burns and lung injuries from inhaling volcanic dust.

Israeli Drones Have Downed over 500 Palestinian Arson-Kites and Balloons - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    Using drones, soldiers and hobbyists pressed into service have downed over 500 fire kites and balloons launched by Palestinians in Gaza toward Israel over the past 10 weeks, Col. Nadav Livne, head of the IDF Ground Forces' research and development branch, said Thursday.
    4,500 acres of agricultural fields, forests and grasslands have been burned, causing over $1.4 million in damage, officials said. "It's not a game, it's a war," Livne said.
    Methods deemed successful involve ramming small, hardy drones with razor blades attached to them into the kites or balloons or using a larger drone outfitted with a claw to catch the balloon or kite in midair and bring it to the ground.
    The drones are all "robust" and can be used "again and again," he said.
    One drone pilot used a large controller and virtual reality goggles to steer the drone.
    He is a major in the Israeli Navy, but was a long-time drone hobbyist and was brought in to help. He said he'd personally brought down 150 kites and balloons.
    Many of the current operators of the small "razor drones" were also long-time hobbyists, pressed into service as reservists in the Combat Engineering Corps.

Shift in Saudi Media's Attitude to Israel - Z. Harel (MEMRI)
    Iran's military involvement in the region is perceived by Saudis as an existential threat to their country. Israel, on the other hand, is not perceived as a threat to Saudi Arabia, but as a potential ally in the struggle against Iran.
    Against this backdrop, Saudi intellectuals, journalists and writers have been increasingly expressing open support for Israel, even calling to normalize relations and make peace with it.
    Saudi liberal thinker Turki Al-Hamad placed the responsibility for the deaths of dozens of Palestinians in the confrontations on the Gaza border on Hamas and Iran.
    He wrote on Twitter on May 14, 2018: "The whole thing was an Iranian maneuver carried out by Hamas at the expense of the children of Gaza, and this is unacceptable."
    Saudi businessman Khalid Al-Ashaerah tweeted on the same day: "[Examining] Zionist history, we find no bombing of our mosques, no targeting of the sacred compounds [in Mecca and Medina], and no incitement against us....They haven't attacked us or supported our enemies."

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Video: Birthright Participants Given Surprise Welcome by Israeli Singers, Musicians and Dancers (Jerusalem Post)
    150 singers, musicians and dancers from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance surprised 2,000 Birthright participants arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport last week.

Israel Helps Syrians with Serious Health Problems - in Addition to Treating War Casualties - Barbara Sofer (Jerusalem Post)
    Four Syrian women recently brought their daughters to Jerusalem for heart surgery which has changed their lives.
    There's a 14-month-old, two two-year-olds and a 10-year-old. Syrian doctors heard the heart murmurs but could offer no solutions.
    In addition to treating Syrian war casualties, more than 4,000 Syrians from villages or refugee tent camps near the border have been treated for serious health problems. About 200,000 Syrians are clustered near the border on the Golan Heights.
    The girls don't need open-heart surgery, as others who come after them will. They underwent a procedure in the cardiac catheterization lab to patch their hearts with umbrella-shaped implants.
    The next morning, echocardiograms showed four hearts working better than they ever had before.

Book Excerpt: The Rise and Fall of Bachir Gemayel: Israel and the Lebanon Quagmire, 1982 - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    This book discusses the character of Bachir Gemayel, the commander of the Christian militia and president of Lebanon for a brief moment, how he managed to establish a place for the Christians, the Christians' influence upon the Lebanese state, and their relationship with Israel.
    At the time of the First Lebanon War in 1982, some in Israel had the illusion that it was possible to elect a Maronite president in Beirut who had Israeli backing and would make peace with Israel.
    After IDF forces crossed into Lebanon on June 6, 1982, the illusion was shattered when it was discovered that Bachir refused to send his forces into combat alongside the IDF.
    Bachir Gemayel died in a bomb blast at Phalange party headquarters in Beirut on September 14, 1982.
    The writer, a special analyst at the Jerusalem Center, was formerly Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Netanyahu Warns Assad on Iranian Presence in Syria - Joe Jackson
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Policy Exchange think tank in London on Thursday that increasing Iranian encroachment in Syria required "a new calculus." Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "is no longer immune, his regime is no longer immune. If he fires at us, as we've just demonstrated, we will destroy his forces." Last month, Israel attacked Iranian targets in Syria following a barrage of rockets fired at Israel by Iran from inside Syria.
        "Syria has to understand that Israel will not tolerate the Iranian military entrenchment in Syria against Israel. The consequences are not merely to the Iranian forces there but to the Assad regime as well."  (AFP)
  • Iranians Hold Rallies on Quds (Jerusalem) Day to Support Palestinians - Shi Yinglun
    Hundreds of thousands of Iranians held nationwide rallies on Friday to mark Quds (Jerusalem) Day to support Palestinians. The protesters chanted anti-Israel and anti-U.S. slogans and carried banners condemning the U.S. for moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Iran's senior government, legislative and military officials participated in the rallies. (Xinhua-China)
        See also Khamenei: Supporting Palestine Is a Source of Pride for Iran - Samuel Thrope
    Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attacked Israel and its Arab allies in the run-up to Friday's annual anti-Israel Quds Day marches in Iran and around the world, the semi-official Iranian Students' News Agency reported Thursday. "Support for Palestine and the resistance forces facing the Zionist regime...is a source of pride for the Islamic Republic," Khamenei said Monday. President Hassan Rouhani added: "All Iranians, of whatever political stripe or belief, should participate widely in the great Quds Day march."
        Khamenei also threatened rival Arab states that have recently thawed relations with Israel. "Some Arab governments have become the enemies of their own peoples," he said. "In such a situation, passionate and devout Arab youth have the responsibility for destroying these 'empty entities.'"  (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu Defends Israel's Defense Tactics on Gaza Border - Eytan Halon
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Policy Exchange think tank in London on Thursday that no country in the world has developed any non-lethal alternative against protesters seeking fatalities. "We tried tear gas, all sorts of other devices, and none have worked against this type of tactic. Hamas' goal was to have as many casualties, our goal was to minimize casualties and avoid fatalities."
        "When I talk with European leaders, I always say 'What would you do?' The last thing we want is any violence or casualties. No country in the world [has offered an alternative]." He said he would be "the first one to use" any non-lethal solution to the violent protests, but emphasized that "any country would stop a direct assault on the lives of their civilians."
        Speaking about Iran's aggression in the Middle East, Netanyahu added, "I think if we have learned anything from history, you don't accommodate an aggressive regime taking territory and building up armaments to destroy you. Bad things should be opposed at their beginnings, not after they become horrendously dangerous."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Slain Gaza Medic Boasted of Being a "Human Shield" - Tamar Pileggi
    The Palestinian medic shot during clashes along the Gaza border last week was no "angel of mercy." The IDF released a video showing Razan al-Najjar lobbing a smoke grenade toward Israeli forces. The video included an interview she gave to an Arabic news outlet, saying, "I'm here on the line being a protective human shield." An IDF general asked on Thursday, "Do medics in other countries throw bombs and participate in riots and refer to themselves as human shields?"  (Times of Israel)
        See also IDF Prepares for More Palestinian Riots on Gaza Border Friday - Yoav Zitun
    The IDF began dropping warning leaflets across Gaza on Thursday as residents prepared to stage mass border confrontations on Friday. The IDF leaflets warned residents to stay far from the Israeli border, to refrain from attempting to breach or damage it, or carry out terror attacks against Israeli civilians or security forces. At the same time, Hamas has urged Gaza residents to take part. (Ynet News)
        See also Hamas Leader Says Gaza Protests Will Continue until "Jerusalem Is Liberated" - Liad Osmo (Ynet News)
  • "They Burn, We Plant" Tree-Planting Campaign Launched - Tamara Zieve
    Residents of Israeli communities near the Gaza border will begin a massive tree-planting campaign this week in response to the destruction that has been caused by incendiary kites from Gaza. The Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) will supply thousands of tree seedlings. The arson kite attacks have dealt a blow to local agriculture as well as to large areas of KKL-JNF forests and national parks. There were at least nine fires ignited within 40 minutes in the Be'eri forest on Thursday. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Foresters Fight to "Save Every Tree" from Kite-Set Fires - Melanie Lidman (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • What Is New in the Iran Nuclear Archive? - David Albright
    The nuclear archive seized by Israel in Iran contains much new information not previously available to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or Western governments about Iran's past work on nuclear weapons. According to the Israelis, it presents a relatively complete and alarming picture of Iran's nuclear weapons efforts, and in far more detail than previously available.
        Based on public information and background briefings by senior Israeli intelligence officials, new information includes: blueprints for the production of all the components of nuclear weapons, the location of planned nuclear weapons test sites, and details about a second building at the Parchin site involved in high explosive work related to nuclear weapons in an explosive chamber. This building has not been visited by the IAEA.
        The archive shows much more detail about Iran's extensive work on uranium metallurgy including ample evidence of Iran having all the equipment for all the work needed in a nuclear weapons uranium metallurgy program. It also provides direct evidence that the secret Fordow enrichment site was being built to make weapon-grade uranium. The writer, a former UN weapons inspector, is founder and president of the Institute. (Institute for Science and International Security)

  • Palestinians

  • The Palestinian Authority Sponsors Terrorism, and the Taylor Force Act Puts It Out in the Open - Sander Gerber and Yossi Kuperwasser
    With the passage of the Taylor Force Act, Congress acknowledges that the Palestinian Authority has laws in place and budgets allocated to paying terrorists and their families. Yet articles in the Washington Post and Atlantic dispute whether the 2018 PA budget of $360 million for Prisoners and Martyrs in fact goes primarily to terrorists. They postulate that prisoners include innocents that happen to be arrested, and attempt to inject definitional terms on what a terrorist is. Both claim that these payments are a social responsibility. They are wrong.
        To claim that the PA sends money to car thieves or even minor offenders is simply untrue. The PA has a schedule for payments, and you need to achieve a 5-year sentence as a male and a 2-year sentence as a female to get a lifetime annuity. Currently there are 6,500 prisoners being compensated by the PA.
        The secretary-general of the PA government, Ali Abu Diyak, stated in December 2015: "The prisoners' salaries are paid to the fighter prisoners, who were arrested due to their national struggle, and not to others.... [The government] will not pay allowances and salaries to criminal prisoners." The PA has an institutional commitment to sponsoring terror against Israel that comprises more than 7% of its entire budget and 45% of the foreign aid it expects to receive in 2018.
        Sander Gerber is CEO of Hudson Bay Capital Management. Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser was formerly Director General of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs and head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence. Both are Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Washington Examiner)
  • The Ugly Trade in Palestinian Pain - Brendan O'Neill
    The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is unique because very often those who watch and comment and hand-wring from afar play a role in intensifying it and making it bloodier than it already is - without even realizing they are doing so. Much of what happens at the Gaza-Israel border is largely a performance, a piece of bloody theater, staged for the benefit of outsiders, especially for anti-Israel Western activists and observers. It is becoming increasingly clear that Hamas pushes Gaza's people into harm's way because it knows their suffering will strike a chord across the West.
        It now seems undeniable that this was no grassroots protest but one that was carefully orchestrated by Hamas. Why would the governing party of a territory knowingly put its citizens into serious danger? The answer is a disturbing one: Hamas does this because it knows it will benefit politically and morally if Palestinians suffer. Palestinian leaders know there is one surefire way to garner international sympathy for themselves and hatred for Israel: let Palestinians go into harm's way. (spiked-UK)
  • How UNRWA Prevents Gaza from Thriving - Adi Schwartz and Einat Wilf
    People are talking again about "reconstructing" Gaza. Yet as long as 3/4 of Gaza's residents perpetuate their status as refugees, there's no real possibility for rebuilding and developing Gaza. The problem is that Gaza's inhabitants do not view that land as their home, but rather as a transit camp they will inhabit until the day they can return to "Palestine." Because of this, they will prefer to invest their efforts and resources in returning to their "home" - by force if necessary - rather than cultivate the place where they currently reside. Clinging to their dream of return means a continuing war on Israel.
        The West, by providing the bulk of the funds for UNRWA's operations, unwittingly sustains the Palestinian idea that it is better to continue to struggle for "return" rather than come to terms with the legitimacy of Israel and build a new life of prosperity in Gaza. This has to change. Israel should insist that UNRWA's donor countries - the U.S., Australia, Britain and the EU - desist from supporting the Palestinian demand to annihilate Israel, by way of their support for UNRWA. UNRWA's essence makes it clear to Gaza's inhabitants that Gaza is not their true home. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Will the World Finally Turn Off the UNRWA Spigot? - Emily Benedek (Algemeiner)

  • Other Issues

  • Foreign-Funded NGOs, Political Power and Democratic Legitimacy - Gerald M. Steinberg
    As NGO Monitor research has shown, 30 political non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Israel have received $150 million over the past five years, 2/3 of which was foreign funding from the EU and Western European governments. This has no parallel in any other democratic society. Many of these NGO recipients use the money to promote demonization of Israel, including BDS and the allegations of "war crimes" and apartheid that fuel anti-Semitic attacks around the world.
        While the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in the democratic processes of other countries are central in relations between states, these are violated when European governments become the primary funders of Israeli political NGOs. How would Europeans react if Israel funded polarizing NGOs involved in various separatist movements on the continent?
        Massive external funding for a very narrow group of unaccountable and polarizing NGOs is in fact corrupting the democratic principles in whose name they claim to speak. The writer is president of NGO Monitor and professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University. (Ynet News)
  • Rockefeller Brothers Fund Gives to Groups Funding Palestinian Terrorism - Lahav Harkov
    Israeli Consul-General to New York Dani Dayan said on Monday that he met with Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) president Stephen Heintz in early 2017 to inform him that the foundation was giving grants to organizations which funnel money and support to terrorist groups. Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P), based in Ramallah, tries to convince foreign governments and UN bodies that Israel is systematically abusing Palestinian children. Many of its officials and board members are linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), designated as a terrorist organization in the U.S., EU, Canada and Israel.
        The U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights facilitates the funneling of tax-free donations to several Palestinian terrorist groups. RBF funded both groups in 2017.
        NGO Monitor president Prof. Gerald Steinberg said, "About 25 years ago, the PFLP leadership recognized the potential benefit of having their own NGO network under the banner of human rights. This has proven very useful for funding and granting legitimacy in institutions where they would otherwise have no access." He noted that after the Swiss and Danish governments were recently confronted with DCI-P's PFLP links, they cut funding to the organization. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Nazi Death Squads Focus of Latest War Crime Cases in Germany - David Rising
    German prosecutors are investigating a suspected former member of Adolf Hitler's mobile killing squads for involvement in World War II massacres carried out by the Einsatzgruppen, the third such case in an effort to bring elderly ex-Nazis to justice. The Einsatzgruppen were SS units and police personnel who followed behind the regular army as it pushed into the Soviet Union in 1941, slaughtering well over 1 million.
        The latest investigation centers on Wilhelm Karl Friedrich Hoffmeister, 95, suspected of serving with one of the death squads in Ukraine. That group, Einsatzgruppe C, was responsible for the shooting of 33,771 Jews at Babi Yar, near the Ukrainian city of Kiev, on Sept. 29-30, 1941. (AP-Boston Globe)

How Israelis React to Deaths on Both Sides - Lenny Ben-David (Forward)
  • Most Israelis know that the shooting of a Palestinian medical volunteer at the Gaza border riots on June 2 was not deliberate. We simply don't do things like that. If a rare act of murder of Arabs by an Israeli takes place, Israelis are shocked and demand justice.
  • The Israeli public knows that not only can rocks and kites be lethal, but they are just one tactic in Hamas' arsenal of attack tunnels, rockets, fence-breaching teams, drones, RPGs, mortars, and naval commandos, all encouraged, trained, financed, and supplied by a genocidal Iran.
  • In this war, the enemy sends to the front boys, women, and fighters sometimes disguised as press and aid workers, traveling in ambulances that ferry fighters and bombs.
  • The IDF is us, our sons and daughters, our husbands in reserves. The front is only a few miles away. If anything is amiss or orders seem illegal, our soldiers pick up the phone and call us or the army reporter for Israel Radio. Misdeeds, brutality, or illegal orders are not covered up; in this talkative society, they can't be. In Israel, investigations take place. Criminal acts are prosecuted. Due process is carried out.
  • At the same time, we have met the enemy, and he is cruel. Israelis witnessed over the years savage mobs dismembering two reservists with their bare hands, buses and restaurants exploding, children stabbed in their bedrooms, and rabbis butchered while at prayer. We're sad over the deaths on the other side, but we're not overly apologetic.
  • We're angered when the Palestinians name parks and schools to honor their "heroes" who led terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. We shake our heads when we see Palestinian children extolling martyrdom. And the entire story of Palestinian budgets to "pay to slay" Israelis infuriates us.
  • Ten minutes after the Palestinians decide one day to make peace with us, we will rush to assist them with jobs, water, electricity, agriculture, waste management, economic development, housing, and healthcare. Because that is what we do.

    The writer served as a senior diplomat in Washington and is the author of American Interests in the Holy Land Revealed in Early Photographs.
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