June 22, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Hizbullah Pulling Back from Israel-Syria Border - Stuart Winer (Times of Israel)
    The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, citing what it described as "reliable sources," said that Hizbullah and its allied gunmen have begun withdrawing to positions 40 km. (25 miles) away from the Israeli border, and a similar distance from the Jordanian-Syrian border.
    The redeployment comes in response to a request from Russia, but Iran was refusing to do the same with its forces in the area.
    The report said Iran is refusing to pull back its own military forces from southern Syria unless there is a corresponding evacuation of U.S. and international coalition forces from the al-Tanf base on the Syrian-Iraqi border.

Israel: Major BDS Groups Have Ties to Palestinian Terrorists - Ariel Kahana (Israel Hayom)
    Israel's Strategic Affairs Ministry on Tuesday named 42 major anti-Israel organizations as having clear ties to Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
    The report names Al-Haq, Defense for Children International-Palestine, and the Al-Dameer Association for Human Rights as being headed by former PFLP operatives.
    Al-Haq is chaired by Shawan Jabarin, who served 13 years in an Israeli prison for being a member of the PFLP's military wing.

German Islamic Center Raises Money for Hizbullah - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
    The Al-Mustafa community center in Bremen in northern Germany is a major hub for raising funds for Hizbullah, according to a German intelligence report reviewed by the Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
    The Al-Mustafa website shows pictures of young children wearing Hizbullah combat-style attire in the green and yellow colors associated with the Lebanese militia.
    Roughly 950 operatives raise funds in Germany for Hizbullah and recruit new members, according to German intelligence reports from 2017.

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Israeli Non-Profit to Receive UN Award for Saving the Lives of Palestinian Children - Jack Hauen (Globe and Mail-Canada)
    Save a Child's Heart, an Israeli non-profit dedicated to treating children from developing countries with heart disease, will receive the UN Population Award this month, the first time an organization from Israel will receive the award.
    SACH has treated thousands of children from 57 countries; about half are from the Palestinian territories.

More Arab Women Joining Israel Police - Greer Fay Cashman (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin hosted 29 Muslim and Christian Arab policewomen at the President's Residence on Wednesday.
    Over the past two years, 728 Arabs have joined the Israel Police, including 74 women, of whom close to 50 are Muslim.

Israeli Technology Makes Impact at Soccer World Cup (Xinhua-China)
    Israeli fire and smoke detection systems produced by Matael are contributing to the security of hundreds of thousands of World Cup spectators in the huge stadiums in the Russian cities of Volgograd and Nizhny Novograd.
    Israel's LiveU has deployed 300 transmission units for use by broadcast crews to enable the transmission of live broadcasts over cellular networks.
    LiveU has signed agreements with Russian mobile operators to ensure fast connectivity and smooth and stable transmissions.

World Economic Forum Lists 8 Israeli Startups as Technology Pioneers (NoCamels-Israeli Innovation News)
    Eight Israeli startups were on the World Economic Forum's Technology Pioneers 2018 list unveiled Thursday.
    The Israeli companies include mobility startup Innoviz Technologies, known for its LiDAR remote sensing solution; Precognize, an industrial maintenance software developer; Vayyar Imaging, that develops mobile, low-cost 3D imaging sensors; and Aqua Security, a virtual container security startup.
    Others include Raycatch, an AI-powered solar energy company; XM Cyber, a cybersecurity startup founded by former Mossad director Tamir Pardo; Utilis, a satellite-based leak detection startup; and Water-Gen, a technology that extracts fresh water from the air.

Jewish Journalism Struggles to Survive - Alan D. Abbey and Max Moser (Shalom Hartman Institute)
    Diaspora Jewish media outside North America believe that their role is to support their communities and Israel, and not be critical of them, while American Jewish media hew closely to Western norms of detached observers eager to uncover problems.
    Other than in English-speaking countries, diaspora Jewish journalists are cataloguing the slow but inevitable decline of their communities, while facing rising anti-Semitism at home.
    Alan D. Abbey founded Ynetnews.com, the English-language website of Yediot Ahronot, and was executive vice president for electronic publishing at the Jerusalem Post.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Responds to Pompeo's 12 Demands
    Responding to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's May 21 statement of 12 preconditions for Iran to follow, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif presented Iran's demands on Wednesday. "The truth is that all U.S. administrations in the past 70 years should be held accountable for their disregard for international law, and their violations of bilateral and multilateral agreements with Iran."
        "A short list of the rightful demands of the Iranian people from the U.S. government could include the following: The U.S. government...will end its intervention in Iran's domestic affairs....The United States must abandon its policy of resorting to the threat or use of force...as an option in the conduct of its foreign affairs with or against the Islamic Republic of Iran and other States."
        "The U.S. government should...rescind previous arbitrary and unlawful financial judgments, it should refrain from executing them in the U.S. and extraterritorially. The U.S. government should openly acknowledge its unwarranted and unlawful actions against the people of Iran over the past decades...take remedial measures to compensate the people of Iran for the damages incurred, and provide verifiable assurances that it will cease and desist from such illegal measures and refrain from ever repeating them."
        "The United States government must...nullify the cruel and extensive primary and extraterritorial sanctions, rescind hundreds of legislations and executive orders...and compensate the Iranian people for the enormous damages to the Iranian economy and its people....The U.S. government should stop its unlimited and unconditional support for the Zionist regime...and support...the establishment of an independent Palestinian State with Al-Quds al-Sharif as its capital."  (Iran Daily)
  • Germany's Merkel Calls on Europe to Counter Iran's "Aggressive Tendencies"
    "Iran's aggressive tendencies must not only be discussed, but rather we need solutions urgently," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on June 21 after meeting Jordan's King Abdullah in Amman. She said that while European countries wanted to maintain the 2015 nuclear accord with Tehran, they remained concerned about Iran's ballistic missile program, its presence in Syria, and its role in the civil war in Yemen.
        Merkel also expressed support for Jordanian concerns about Iranian activity near its border with southwestern Syria. "You live not just with the Syria conflict, but also we see Iran's activities with regard to Israel's security and with regard to Jordan's border."  (Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty)
  • Looming Sanctions Could Cripple Iran's Auto Industry - Gina Heeb
    Iran's auto industry benefitted when the U.S. lifted sanctions as part of the nuclear deal in 2015. But as companies like PSA Peugeot Citroen, which accounted for nearly 30% of market share last year, withdraw and halt planned investments in Iran, analysts think the country's auto industry could be hurt. Analysts at Fitch's BMI forecast an 18% decline in vehicle production in Iran in 2018. (Markets Insider)
        See also Iran Oil Exports Slide after U.S. Sanctions - Julian Lee
    Iran's oil exports fell sharply in the first two weeks of June. Shipments heading toward EU countries fell by a third, while declines were also noted for Turkey and South Korea. At the same time, deliveries to India and Japan were up, while shipments to China were unchanged. (Bloomberg)
        See also Japan Could End Iran Oil Loading from October
    Japanese oil refiners may have to stop loading Iranian crude oil from Oct. 1 if Japan's government does not secure an exemption from U.S. sanctions, Takashi Tsukioka, president of the Petroleum Association of Japan, said Friday. (Reuters)
        See also French Finance Minister: Most French Firms "Won't Be Able to Stay" in Iran
    Most French companies hoping to keep doing business in Iran after the U.S. imposes new sanctions on the country will find it impossible to do so, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Tuesday. These companies "cannot be paid because there is no sovereign and autonomous European financial institution" capable of shielding them. (AFP-Al-Monitor)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • 15 Fires Sweep Israel as Kite Terror Continues - Matan Tzuri
    15 fires broke out in Israel Thursday after Palestinians in Gaza flew incendiary kites and balloons across the border, setting ablaze trees in the Shokeda Forest and the Be'eri Forest. Hundreds of fires have already swept through thousands of acres of Israeli landscape. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Deploys Electronic Eye to Track Fire Kites and Balloons from Gaza - Stuart Winer
    Israel has deployed a system that can spot fire-starting balloons and kites in the sky, track their progress, and then direct firefighters to their landing spots, enabling them to more rapidly extinguish the flames and reduce damage. The Sky Spotter system, built by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, has been in operation along the Gaza border for several days, Hadashot TV reported Thursday.
        Originally developed to counter small drones, Sky Spotter can track the balloons or kites and pinpoint their location, where they are heading, and where they are likely to land. Sky Spotter can also be used to direct defensive drones that collide in midair with the kites or balloons, bringing them down. Until now such drones have been flown by army reservists, experts in drone operation, but the system will soon be able to control the drones automatically, directing them to the threats.
        Testing has continued on a laser system that could be used to shoot down the balloons or kites in flight. Development is advancing and this system is expected to soon be deployed around Gaza. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • Rolling Up the Persian Carpet: Iran's Influence Is Being Challenged across the Middle East - Amos Harel
    A coordinated counter-effort has begun to stop Iran in its efforts to expand its regional influence - to roll up the Persian carpet again, as the Israeli defense establishment describes it. After President Trump announced his decision in May to decertify the nuclear agreement with Iran, an apparent avalanche of American companies, and to a lesser extent European firms, are abandoning planned deals with Tehran.
        Joining the economic noose are military actions. A heavy assault is being carried out by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with American, British and French backing, on the port city of al-Hodeida in Yemen, which is under the control of the Houthi rebels. This is the area from which the rebels are launching Scud missiles, under Iranian guidance, at Saudi Arabia.
        In southeast Syria, the U.S. has avoided dismantling its al-Tanf base, which threatens the land corridor Iran wants to build in the direction of Damascus and Beirut. Moreover, the Iranians have suffered a series of aerial attacks by Israel over the past few months against the military force they are trying to establish in Syria.
        The hope that Russia will impose order and remove the Iranians and Shi'ite militias from the border with Israel is not taking place at the pace Jerusalem has expected. Yet, according to the Israeli analysis, the Russians now feel Iran has worn out its welcome and no longer provides any benefits for them in Syria, and the Russians would prefer for the Iranians to reduce their presence there. (Ha'aretz)
  • It's Now Clear Why the Iran Agreement Was a Bad Deal - Moshe Arens
    Three years have passed since the signing of the nuclear agreement with Iran. At the time of the signing, Iran was on the verge of completing the development of a nuclear device that could be mounted on a ballistic missile. All that was missing was the completion of its ballistic missile development program. The agreement placed no restriction on the development of ballistic missiles by Iran, so in effect, the agreement brought Iran closer to becoming a nuclear power.
        Iran's most urgent aim was the expansion of its influence in the Middle East. The lifting of sanctions that was part of the agreement provided the resources that would enable it to pursue these plans. The writer served as Israel's Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs. (Ha'aretz)

  • Palestinians

  • Trump's Palestinian Aid-for-Peace Moves Face Tough Challenges - David Wainer and Margaret Talev
    The Trump administration's Middle East negotiators - Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt - will be discussing ways to avert a humanitarian crisis in Gaza and create jobs in the West Bank while in the region this week, said two Israeli officials. The U.S. believes a stronger Palestinian economy could bolster peace prospects, a White House official said.
        Yet aiding Hamas-ruled Gaza is complicated because of concerns among donors that the resources will be used against Israel. Gaza is widely isolated over Hamas' refusal to renounce violence against Israel. (Bloomberg)
  • Telling the Truth about Hamas - Joshua S. Block
    Over the past few weeks, Gazans have sent hundreds of terror kites across the border with Israel, causing over 400 fires, destroying millions of dollars' worth of agriculture, killing wildlife, and endangering human lives - all on top of extensive environmental damage. These are not a peaceful protest. Rather, they are an appalling and dangerous action, which should be condemned by all decent, level-headed people.
        The means may change, but the goal of Hamas remains the same. All those who truly care about peace must unequivocally hold Hamas responsible for these cowardly acts of violence. The writer is CEO and President of The Israel Project. (Algemeiner)
  • Israel Shows Power of Good Defense - L. Todd Wood
    What impressed me on my latest visit to Israel was the confidence of the Israeli people. The Israeli military wasn't present in heavy numbers in the border towns, at least not out in the open. Ashkelon and Sderot were thriving, expanding, growing, with families and lots of children everywhere. No one was concerned about Palestinian terrorists. The defenses were working, keeping the killers away from the Israeli people.
        A journalist colleague in Jerusalem told me that the Palestinians "have tried suicide vests, car bombs, stabbings, tunnels, rockets, etc. Nothing has worked....Now Hamas is reduced to flying flaming kites to burn Israeli grassland."
        Israel will survive this phase of the conflict as well and come out even stronger. Take it from one who has just been there: For all the media hand-wringing and pro-Palestinian forces at the UN and in Europe, Israel is stronger than ever. The writer is a former U.S. Air Force special operations helicopter pilot. (Washington Times)

  • Other Issues

  • An End to the UN's Human-Rights Farce - Jonathan S. Tobin
    The merits of the case for the U.S. leaving the UN Human Rights Council are unassailable. With the ranks of its member nations swollen by some of the worst human-rights offenders, the Council has become a parody of advocacy for the cause of freedom.
        Some claim that the U.S. could do more good by remaining in the Council than by leaving it. But during the past eight years, human-rights offenders have laughed at the empty rhetoric of U.S. representatives. Every year, the Council continued to pass resolution after resolution damning Israel and barely paying attention to real catastrophes. Secure in the belief that the U.S. and the European democracies were too invested in this institution to hold it accountable, the Council became more irresponsible and outrageous as every measure of Israeli self-defense against terror was falsely labeled as a crime. (JNS.org)
  • The EU Targets the Palestinians - Pinhas Inbari
    The EU policy of labeling products manufactured in territories east of the 1949 Armistice Lines undermines the joint Palestinian-Israeli West Bank industrial zones that provide excellent employment to some 35,000 Palestinians, who with their families account for some 200,000 people. These zones have no connection to "settlements." Business and commercial enterprises in these 15 zones provide employment for Palestinian workers who cannot find alternative work in the PA-controlled territories.
        Europe is willfully ignoring the thousands of Palestinian workers who welcome Israeli commercial enterprises in the West Bank and depend on these industrial zones to support their families. The writer, a Middle East analyst at the Jerusalem Center, is a leading expert on the Arab world and Islam. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Weekend Features

  • Cyber Week Showcases Israel as Leading Cyberpower - John Leyden
    The Israel Cyber Week conference hosted 8,000 delegates from more than 66 countries. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the delegates on Wednesday: "Israel now receives 20% of the total global private investment in cybersecurity. Given that we are about one-tenth of 1% of the world's population, we are punching at about 200 times our weight here. My goal eight years ago was to make Israel one of the five leading cyberpowers in the world, and I think we've reached that."
        Israel's cybersecurity industry saw exports of $3.8 billion last year and investments of $815 million. Israel has 420 native cybersecurity companies as well as 50 international research and development centers, according to figures cited by Netanyahu. (The Register-UK)
  • The IDF: An Army of Kindness and Hope - Dov Lipman
    This past week Israel's Knesset celebrated the contribution of Israelis with special needs who serve in the IDF. That is right - a wide range of disabilities has not stopped these proud Israelis from serving their country in uniform. There are 400 soldiers in the "Special in Uniform" program.
        "We see the inclusion of people with disabilities in the army as a way to help usher them into a self-sufficient life once they are discharged from the army," explains program co-founder Lt.-Col. Tiran Attia. "Our belief is that everyone belongs and has the right to reach his or her full potential. Special in Uniform focuses on the unique talents of each individual participant to help each one find a job that is a perfect fit for the individual's skills within the IDF. The attention is on the ability, not the disability, of each individual, encouraging independence and integration into society."
        We live in a time where our military is labeled immoral. When we hear those accusations, let us remember "Special in Uniform" and recognize that we are a truly remarkable country and people. The writer served as a member of the 19th Knesset. (Jerusalem Post)

  • With no real contact with official Palestinians, the U.S. needs Arab leaders to play a more prominent role in peace-making than they ever have before. I do not mean to suggest that Arab leaders can take the place of Palestinians. They cannot. But they can declare whether a proposal or plan is credible and meets the national aspirations of the Palestinian people in a dignified way.
  • Historically, the position of the Arab leaders, who accept a peaceful outcome and the principle of two states for two peoples, has been to say that they can accept whatever the Palestinians can accept.
  • The problem has been that the Palestinian national movement has been led by those who find it difficult to accept specific proposals for resolving the conflict. As someone who helped to draft the Clinton Parameters in 2000, I know that at the time Arab leaders quietly urged Arafat to accept them.
  • I was hosted at a dinner a few months ago by a number of Palestinians, including some I had negotiated with, and they lamented how different everything today would be if Arafat had said yes. He did not. No one in the Arab world said that while the decision was a Palestinian one, these parameters were credible and met Palestinian national rights. History might have been rewritten if someone had done so.
  • It seems clear that whatever the Trump peace plan turns out to be, the Palestinian instinct will be to say no to it. But rejection has not served the Palestinian cause.
  • Arab support for that cause today might best be expressed by being honest with the Palestinians in private and in public.

    The writer, a former special assistant to President Obama, is the counselor at The Washington Institute.
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