June 29, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

IDF Provides Aid to Fleeing Syrians on Golan Heights (Jerusalem Post)
    On Thursday evening, the IDF sent humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees fleeing renewed fighting in southwestern Syria.
    The aid, transferred to four different locations on the Syrian Golan Heights, included 300 tents, 13 tons of food, 15 tons of baby food, three loads of medical equipment and medicine, and 30 tons of clothing and footwear.
    See also Video: IDF Transfers Humanitarian Aid to Syrians Fleeing War (Israel Defense Forces)

Photo Shows Iranian-Controlled Militia in Southwestern Syria - Caleb Weiss (Long War Journal)
    The Iraqi Shia militia Liwa Zulfiqar, controlled by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, released a photo of its forces in the southern Syria town of Busra al Harir in Deraa province.

Trump's Bid to Weaken Iran Is Strengthening the Saudi Economy - Summer Said and Michael Amon (Wall Street Journal)
    The Trump administration's effort to drive Iranian oil exports down to "zero" is boosting the fortunes of Saudi Arabia, which is planning to increase oil production to replace Iranian crude.

Jerusalem Light Festival 2018 Opens - Oren Oppenheim (Jerusalem Post)
    Over 30 pieces of light art are on display this year at the 10th annual Jerusalem Light Festival in the Old City, which runs until July 5.
    The pieces include performance art by actresses in illuminated costumes and a large dome made of lit-up triangles, which people can enter.

Sky News Arabia Claims "110 Attacks" on Al-Aqsa Mosque and Ibrahimi Mosque in May - Adam Levick (UK Media Watch-CAMERA)
    On June 3, Sky News Arabia (a joint venture between UK-based Sky News and Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corporation) published a report on its website headlined "110 attacks on Al-Aqsa and the Ibrahimi mosques during May."
    The report quoted Palestinian Waqf and Religious Affairs Minister Youssef Ideiss.
    The term "attacks" and others, such as "storm" (e.g., "settlers stormed the mosque" and "breach," are usually dishonestly used by the Palestinian media to depict peaceful visits to the Temple Mount Plaza by Jews -visits restricted to certain hours and under the strict supervision of the Israeli police and the Islamic Waqf.

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IDF: Hamas Expanding Its Naval Commando Unit - Matan Tzuri (Ynet News)
    "Terror organizations in Gaza understand that they are losing their strategic assets in light of tunnel closures and are focusing on establishing a strong naval commando unit," IDF Lt. Col. Boris Schuster said in an interview.
    "Terror organizations are practicing the use of quadcopters in order to bomb our Navy ships," he said.
    "Their naval unit has improved immensely recently and they are training to carry out attacks in Israeli towns and to damage facilities."
    "They're also preparing other options such as boats and rafts packed with explosives, and floating explosive devices. Today we can say we won't encounter isolated attacks anymore but rather attempts to carry out attacks that involve several [Hamas] vessels storming one [Israeli] ship."

Israeli Companies Face 150 Cyberattacks Monthly - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    National Cyber Security Authority director Buky Carmeli said on Thursday that Israeli companies have been experiencing an average of 150 cyber penetrations per month.
    "This is only the number that we know. My guess is the numbers are even higher."
    Carmeli noted that there were five instances each month where the cyber penetration was important enough to report to the prime minister.

Israel's Gilat Lands Telecommunications Projects in Peru Worth $153.6 Million - Ari Rabinovitch (Reuters)
    Israel's Gilat Satellite Networks said on Thursday it has been awarded two regional telecommunication infrastructure projects in Peru, including a $108 million project in the Amazonas region and a $45.6 million project in the Ica region.
    Gilat will build infrastructure connecting schools, police stations and health centers.

Israel Welcomes U.S. Police Officers - Hagay Hacohen (Jerusalem Post)
    21 U.S police officers from Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee are currently visiting Israel as part of the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange.

50 Ghana Students to Learn Greenhouse Agriculture in Israel (Ghana Web)
    Ghana's Ministry of Food and Agriculture has initiated a partnership with the Israeli government to send 50 students for one-year paid internships in Israel.
    The students will learn modern agricultural practices in greenhouse vegetable production, then come back and set up greenhouses to help Ghana increase its local production and export.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Nikki Haley: Iran Is the Next North Korea
    U.S. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said during a visit to India on Thursday: "We can't take our eyes off Iran. We don't believe this because of some ideas but because of proof. We have seen that in spite of the Iran deal, it continued to violate resolution after resolution. In our eyes, Iran is the next North Korea....Iran is a theocratic dictatorship and their pursuit of nuclear weapons threatens all of us."  (ANI-India)
        See also Pompeo: Iran Deal Did Not Deter Iran's Nuclear Ambitions
    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted Thursday: "For years #Iran pursued a secret effort to develop nuclear weapons. #IranDeal did not deter Iran's nuclear ambitions. U.S. seeks an arrangement that permanently prevents Iran from being able to develop or acquire nuclear weapons, or the ballistic missiles to deliver them."  (U.S. State Department)
  • Israeli Judge Convicts Man on Charges of Threatening U.S. Jewish Groups - Niraj Chokshi
    An Israeli court convicted a 19-year-old man on Thursday in connection with threats made against numerous Jewish groups in the U.S. as well as organizations and individuals around the world. The court withheld the man's name because some of the crimes were committed before he was an adult, but the U.S. Justice Department identified him in indictments this year as Michael Ron David Kadar, a dual American and Israeli citizen who was born in Israel and lives in Ashkelon.
        Judge Zvi Gurfinkel of the Tel Aviv district youth court said that the man had threatened thousands of people between 2015 and early 2017 "with acts of terror and murder that would be executed in an area filled with people, and that these acts would be executed by explosion or shooting and would harm many." The targets included "airlines, airports, schools, malls, police stations, hospitals" and other institutions. The threats raised fears of growing anti-Semitism in the U.S. The judge ruled that Kadar was fit to stand trial despite having received an autism diagnosis.
        According to American documents, Kadar made threats against Jewish community centers, schools and historic institutions, as well as the Anti-Defamation League's offices in Washington and New York. Kadar made at least 245 threatening phone calls in the first two months of 2017 alone, according to the FBI. The phone calls often warned of bombs in the building or an impending mass shooting, resulting in evacuations, lockdowns and the closing of buildings and offices. (New York Times)
        See also Israeli Hacker behind Hoax Bomb Threats to U.S. Jewish Community Centers Convicted in Israeli Court - Gilad Morag
    A Tel Aviv court on Thursday convicted an Israeli hacker, who had terrorized Jewish institutions in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and Israel with bomb threats, of 2,000 counts of extortion. He was also suspected of making false bomb threats against several airlines, forcing several emergency landings, and of extorting political figures for monetary gain. (Ynet News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Photos: Incendiary Balloons from Gaza Cause 20 Fires in Israel - Matan Tzuri
    20 fires broke out in Israel on Thursday due to incendiary balloons released by Palestinians in Gaza. (Ynet News)
        See also Israelis Living near Gaza Help Protect Israel's Borders - Noa Amouyal
    Residents of the 32 Israeli communities in the Eshkol Region next to Gaza have had countless sleepless nights since Hamas announced its "March of Return" campaign over two months ago. Lush greenery now has become black scorched earth.
        Local resident Jehan Berman says his morning commute taking the kids to school sometimes involves reacting to a "red alert" rocket attack. Once he hears the siren, he immediately stops at the side of the road, drapes his children with a bullet proof vest and then gets out of the car and lays flat on the ground with only a helmet to protect him.
        Benny Hasson, the spokesperson for the region, notes the high retention rate of local residents despite the situation. "Everyone has their reasons, but primarily, they feel an obligation to protect the borders of their country - to be pioneers and protectors of the state. We stick together in the good and the bad."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Court Orders PA to Pay $3.5 Million in Compensation to Tortured "Collaborator" Prisoners
    The Jerusalem District Court on Thursday ordered the Palestinian Authority to pay compensation of $3.5 million to 51 suspected collaborators with Israel who were systematically tortured while incarcerated in PA jails. The court last year ruled in favor of the plaintiffs following 90 court sessions and years of deliberations, with Judge Moshe Drori saying the testimonies and evidence proved the allegations beyond any reasonable doubt.
        Many of the plaintiffs were arrested by PA forces from within Israeli territory - mostly east Jerusalem - and/or have Israeli citizenship. Plaintiffs said that while held between 1990 and 2003, interrogators beat them, put out cigarettes on their bodies, pulled out their teeth, forced them into painful positions for lengthy periods of time, and withheld food and drink. Several said they were abused, leaving them sterile and impotent. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • The Chances of the Latest White House Peace Plan - Max Boot and Sue Mi Terry
    The Oslo peace process, which began in 1993, offered Palestinians a deal: In return for recognizing Israel and ending the armed struggle, they would get a state of their own. To sweeten the deal, the U.S. and its allies showered the Palestinian Authority with assistance. Since 1993, the PA has received more than $31 billion in direct aid. The Palestinians' de facto capital in Ramallah is full of gleaming new buildings. Per capita gross domestic product among the Palestinians has more than doubled - from $1,200 in 1994 to $2,900 today.
        Economic aid has helped to grease the skids for security cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, but it hasn't brought peace any nearer. No Palestinian leader has been willing to sign a "final status" accord that would resolve contentious issues. Neither Hamas nor Fatah has ended the conflict because opposition to Israel is such an integral part of Palestinian identity.
        Unelected autocrats cannot easily afford to dissolve the ideological glue holding their ramshackle regimes together no matter how many riches we dangle before their eyes. Max Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Sue Mi Terry is a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (Washington Post)
  • Does Aid to Gaza Prop Up Hamas Rule? - Prof. Efraim Inbar
    The strong desire to end the terror from Gaza, once and for all, is understandable but unrealistic. Beyond the border is a large population that hates the Jews and carried out terror attacks against Israel in the past even when Israel ruled Gaza. Putting an end to the Hamas rulership would not end the popularity of Hamas among the Palestinians.
        As numerous studies have shown, there is no direct connection between poverty and terrorist activity. The Palestinian wave of terror known as the Second Intifada that began in 2000 took place when the standard of living of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza was higher than ever. Hamas chooses to use terror against Israel not because of the low standard of living in Gaza but due to its extremist ideology that advocates the elimination of the Jewish state.
        Therefore, Israel must wean itself from the naive belief that improving the standard of living of the Palestinians in Gaza will reduce terror. Actually, the opposite is probably true. The suffering of the Gazans might induce them over time to rebel against Hamas. It makes no sense to make Hamas rule more tolerable. The writer is president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies. (Israel Hayom)
  • Obstacles to the U.S. Peace Plan - Bassam Tawil
    The Palestinians have categorically rejected the yet-to-be-announced U.S. peace plan. They know it will never satisfy their demands. The Palestinians are opposed to the peace plan because they have something else in mind. The Palestinians want a peace without, not with, Israel. The reason the Palestinians have a problem with the U.S. plan is that they see any peace plan as an obstacle to their plan to eliminate Israel.
        The Palestinians have a problem with Israel's presence in the Middle East: most of them have still not come to terms with the Jews' right to live in a secure and sovereign state of their own anywhere in the Middle East. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas disagree on everything - except the elimination of Israel.
        If U.S. presidential aides Kushner and Greenblatt wish to learn more about the true ambitions of the Palestinians, they would do well to take in a sermon at a mosque on some Friday or stop into a school in the West Bank and Gaza. Then they would see for themselves that no peace plan can, at the moment, counter the poison that is injected daily into the hearts and minds of the Palestinians and their children. (Gatestone Institute)
  • Defeating Denormalization: Shared Palestinian and Israeli Perspectives on a New Path to Peace - Dan Diker, ed.
    In the 1990s the Palestine Liberation Organization and the State of Israel signed the internationally-sanctioned Oslo Accords, which acknowledged mutual recognition, included reconciliation, and the normalization of relations between the sides. Yet today the Palestinian leadership has adopted a strategy of "denormalization of relations" with Israel as a political weapon. For example, Jibril Rajoub, the Palestinian minister of sport, declared in 2014, "Any activity of normalization in sports with the Zionist enemy is a crime against humanity."
        Yet this campaign does not represent the attitudes or interests of the average Palestinian, especially the 150,000 Palestinians who are employed in West Bank Palestinian-Israeli industrial zones or in Israel. This study reveals the demand among a growing number of Palestinians for engagement and opportunity together with their Israeli neighbors. Many Palestinians and virtually all Israelis prefer cooperation over denormalization. This policy book gives voice to Palestinians who call for reconciliation with Israelis even in the absence of a final political agreement. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Other Issues

  • Why Do People Continue to Demonize Israel? - Melanie Philips
    Israel on Trial: How International Law Is Being Misused to Delegitimize the State of Israel, written by two international lawyers, Matthijs de Blois and Andrew Tucker, comprehensively lays out both the justice of Israel's actions and the staggering denial of international law by its tormentors.
        One of the persistent falsehoods that has surfaced in the official itinerary for Prince William's visit to Israel implies that Jerusalem's Old City and the Western Wall are in "the Occupied Palestinian Territories." As de Blois and Tucker make clear, the term is false. In law, the territories were never Palestinian and they are not occupied. In 1922, the League of Nations conferred upon Britain the Mandate to facilitate the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. When Israel took possession of east Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967, "it was taking physical possession of territory that - as a matter of law - already belonged to Israel."
        The authors go on: "The law of occupation makes no sense, and has no application." There was no sovereign power to which, in 1967, the West Bank and east Jerusalem belonged. So under international law there is no occupation. Israeli settlements aren't illegal either. The requirement for Britain to enable the "close settlement" of Jews throughout the Mandate territories, including the West Bank and Jerusalem, has never been abrogated. (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
  • Israel's Growing Ties with China - Elliott Abrams
    China has ten cities larger than Israel's entire population. China has no indigenous Jewish community, and Israel has no indigenous Chinese community. Israel is closely aligned with China's main competitor in the world, the U.S. However, the China-Israel relationship has been expanding rapidly in trade, investment, education exchanges, and tourism. China is attracted to Israel's vaunted technology sector, and Israel welcomes China's investments and potential as a research collaborator.
        At the University of Haifa, Chinese student enrollment has gone from 20 to 200 in the past five years. In 2013, Israel's Technion Institute of Technology was awarded a $130 million grant from the Li Ka Shing Foundation to establish a branch in Guangdong Province. In 2014, Tel Aviv University announced that it would partner with Tsinghua University in Beijing to build the CIN Research Center to focus on biotech, solar, water, and environmental technology. In 2016, the University of Haifa announced plans to build a joint laboratory at East China Normal University in Shanghai to research ecology, data, biomedicine, and neurobiology. The writer, a senior fellow at CFR, handled Middle East affairs at the U.S. National Security Council from 2001 to 2009. (Council on Foreign Relations)
  • Should Ireland Boycott Next Year's Eurovision in Israel? - Editorial
    "Celebrities and public figures" assembled by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign have called to boycott next year's Eurovision song contest, which is to be hosted by Israel. The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, which is active throughout the Western world, promotes the vilification of the State of Israel and contributes nothing to the achievement of a lasting two-state solution that guarantees Israel's security and establishes a successful, neighboring homeland for Palestinians.
        Such boycotts would have no impact one way or the other on the policies of Israel's government which, lest it be conveniently overlooked, represents the region's only democracy and whose highest priority is the protection of its citizens from those whose wish is to wipe the country off the map.
        There is in this campaign, endorsed in Ireland by notable gay and feminist activists, the refrain of hypocrisy. The boycott brigade, marching for human rights and social justice, sees Israel's defense of itself as a primarily Jewish state as a war crime. We look forward to reporting its demands for an international boycott of, say, Saudi Arabia or Iran where, when we last looked, gay and feminist activists would not be tolerated. (Irish Examiner)
  • Presbyterian Church Continues Targeting Israel - Sean Savage
    The Presbyterian Church USA passed a number of resolutions condemning Israel at its biennial General Assembly last week in St. Louis. Rabbi Noam Marans, the American Jewish Committee's director of interreligious affairs, noted the Presbyterians' "obsessive and relentless anti-Israel demonization." "The church remains obsessively critical of Israel in its national utterances," he said. "For many years and in myriad ways, the PCUSA has gone beyond legitimate criticism of Israel and embraced demonization of the Jewish state."
        He did note other groups within the Presbyterian Church - namely, the Presbyterians for Peace in the Middle East - that succeeded in amending some of the strongest anti-Israel overtures.
        Dexter Van Zile, a Christian media analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in American (CAMERA), explained, "The mainline churches embraced the notion that if somebody appears to be weak, they must be innocent, and that if someone has power, they must be evil. They use that lens to interpret the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians."  (JNS)

  • When the Palestinians turned down peace deals - that would have given them statehood as well as a share of Jerusalem - from Ehud Barak and Bill Clinton in 2000 and 2001, and then an even more generous offer from Ehud Olmert with the backing of George W. Bush, they believed time was on their side. They assumed that eventually the Americans and the rest of the world would force the Israelis to acquiesce to all of their demands.
  • But that's not the way the Trump team looks at it. As far as they are concerned, Israel's economic and military strength, combined with the declining support for the Palestinians from much of the Arab world - and their focus on Iran, has altered the terms of the conflict. They view the Palestinians as the moral equivalent of a landlord stuck with an overpriced, run-down property that nobody wants.
  • As Adam Entous wrote recently in the New Yorker, privately, U.S. Ambassador David Friedman compared the U.S. approach to structuring a "bankruptcy-type deal" for the Palestinians. If they expect to get anything from either the Americans and the Israelis, they're going to have to take less than they initially hoped, not more.
  • The Trump team see the Palestinians' walking away from Barak and Olmert's offers as akin to missing out on a chance to buy Google stock 20 years ago. Much as they would like to get that bargain price they might have had before, if they want independence, they will need to pay a lot more for it now.
  • Abbas wasted Obama's presidency. Obama was more sympathetic to the Palestinians and more inclined to pressure Israel than any of his predecessors, yet Abbas never even met him halfway and actually undermined his efforts with futile forays at the UN.
  • The conflict with Zionism has never been about real estate or drawing lines on a map. After a century of Palestinians contesting Israel's right to be there, it's not clear Abbas has the will or the ability to accept a state on any terms. But the sad truth for the Palestinians is that the value of what they are likely to be offered in the future is going down, not up.
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