July 11, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Iran May Hide Parts of Nuclear Program in Syria - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    A major purpose of Iran wanting to enlarge its footprint in Syria may be to hide aspects of its nuclear program from the International Atomic Energy Agency, Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, a former top IDF military intelligence official, said Wednesday.
    Speaking at a Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs conference on the Iran nuclear situation, he noted that IAEA inspectors are limited to inspecting Iran's territory.
    Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told the conference that due to U.S. sanctions, "in 6 to 12 months, the [economic] situation in Iran will be extremely grave."
    Steinitz said even if the U.S. is acting alone, its secondary sanctions could be even more suffocating for Iran's economy than prior UN sanctions.

Peace Index: Both Israeli Jews and Arabs See Low Chance for U.S. Peace Plan - Profs. Ephraim Yaar and Tamar Hermann (Tel Aviv University and Israel Democracy Institute)
    77% of Israeli Jews and 81% of Israeli Arabs say they do not believe that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will lead to peace in the coming years, according to the Peace Index survey of Israeli opinion taken on June 26-28, 2018.
    71% of Jews and 85% of Arabs said the chances of the new American peace plan succeeding were low.

Archaeologists Uncover Gate to Biblical City of Zer - Tamara Zieve (Jerusalem Post)
    Archaeologists have uncovered the entrance gate to the biblical city of Zer during excavations carried out in the Golan Heights over the past two weeks, the Golan Regional Council said Sunday.
    Dr. Rami Arav said Joshua 19:35 lists Zer as one of 5 "fortified towns" during the First Temple period.
    The city was known as Bethsaida during the Second Temple period, a village mentioned several times in the New Testament as a place where Jesus miraculously fed a multitude of people with five loaves and two fish.

Finland to Acquire Israel's Gabriel Anti-Ship Missile System - Fergus Kelly (Defense Post)
    Finland is to acquire Israel Aerospace Industries' Gabriel anti-ship missile system for its navy, the Finnish Ministry of Defense said Friday.
    The $190 million purchase includes launchers, missiles, simulators, test equipment, spare parts and training.

U.S. Veterans Get Smoother Wheelchair Ride with Israeli Wheels - Shoshanna Solomon (Times of Israel)
    The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has approved a deal between a VA-approved manufacturer of wheelchairs and the Israeli firm SoftWheel to supply 2,000 sets of shock-absorbing wheels over three years.
    A flexible shock absorption system built into the wheel itself allows for better stability and a smoother ride without sacrificing speed.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel's Support for Sunnis in Syria Was Not a Failed Investment - David Wainer
    A reinforced deployment of tanks and heavy guns is parked along Israel's frontier with Syria as the civil war there appears headed into its final stretch. Syria's offensive against one of the last major opposition strongholds has brought Syrian forces close to the Israeli-held section of the Golan Heights. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Russia on Wednesday to press for Iran's ejection from Syria and demand that Syria "strictly" uphold the 1974 disengagement accord that set out a buffer zone.
        Israel sought to carve out a buffer zone populated by friendly forces by secretly supplying Syrian opposition fighters with aid, medical treatment in Israel and, according to the Wall Street Journal, cash payments for weapons and fighters' salaries. Israel's support for the Sunnis in Syria against government and Iran-backed forces wasn't a failed investment, said Sami Nader, head of the Levant Institute for Strategic Studies in Beirut. "They don't hate Israel anymore or see it as a threat," Nader said. "Israel is not seen as the worst enemy."  (Bloomberg)
  • Britain to Review Incitement in Palestinian Textbooks
    The British government and other donors to the Palestinian education system will undertake a review of incitement against Israel and Jews in Palestinian textbooks. "There is no place in education for materials or practices that incite young minds toward violence," Parliament member Alistair Burt, a Foreign Office minister, said last week. "Our continued support will come with a continued strong challenge to the Palestinian Authority on education-sector incitement."
        MP Joan Ryan, chair of the Labour Friends of Israel, quoted a report by the Israel-based Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education that "radicalization is pervasive across this new [PA] curriculum, to a greater extent than before." For example, a book for 10th graders, titled Arabic Language, Vol. 1, depicts the Jewish presence in the Land of Israel as a common cause against which Muslims and Christians must do battle. (JTA)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Will Hold Syria Responsible for Any Terror Infrastructure in Syrian Golan Heights - Noa Shpigel
    Israel's Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday, as he toured the Syrian border in the Golan Heights, "The Syrian regime is responsible and it will pay a heavy price for cooperating with the axis powers [Iran and Hizbullah] and for trying to set up terror structures here.... This attempt to establish terror infrastructure in the Syrian Golan Heights under the regime's purview is unacceptable to us. We will operate with full power against any terrorist infrastructure we identify in the area."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Earthquake Tremors Continue in Israel - Sarah Levi
    Israel sits on the Syrian-African Rift and has been experiencing large-scale earthquakes every 80-100 years for centuries. According to experts, it is only a matter of time before the next big one hits. The last major earthquake, the 1927 Jericho Earthquake, struck the Holy Land on July 11 - 91 years ago. This past week, Israel's north has been experiencing a new round of tremors measuring up to 4.5 on the Richter scale. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Over 50 Earthquake Tremors Rattle Israel's North in One Week - Adi Hashmonai (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel's Labor Party Quits Socialist International after It Adopts BDS - Gil Hoffman
    Israel's Labor party said Tuesday it would immediately leave the Socialist International after the organization adopted a resolution joining the boycott Israel (BDS) campaign. Labor's international secretary, MK Hilik Bar, said, "the Declaration on the Palestinian Question is biased, blind to facts or reality, and partially anti-Semitic." Israel's Labor party is a founding member of the Socialist International, the worldwide organization of social democratic, socialist and labor parties. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Growing Arms Purchases by Arab Countries Challenge Israel - Yahel Arnon and Yoel Guzansky
    Growing conventional arms purchases by Arab countries represent a challenge for Israel. Advanced platforms reaching the Gulf states, in some cases, are more advanced than those possessed by Israel. Security cooperation between Israel and the Gulf states as well as with Egypt and Jordan is growing, and Israel has no wish to damage this. However, there is ongoing concern linked to the chronic instability of Middle East regimes.
        It is impossible to completely rule out a situation where the stability in one of the countries is undermined and its weapon systems fall into the wrong hands, as happened in the case of Libya, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq. The possibility that the weapons they are now acquiring will be turned on Israel at some time in the future, even if not by them, cannot be ignored.
        Israel must insist that the IDF's qualitative military edge will be guaranteed, even vis-a-vis regimes that are, for the moment, friendly. Yahel Arnon is a senior figure within Israel's intelligence community. Dr. Yoel Guzansky is a senior researcher at INSS. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Israel Presented U.S. with "Red Lines" for Saudi Nuclear Deal - Barak Ravid
    Israel has presented the Trump administration with its "red lines" for the nuclear deal the U.S. is currently negotiating with Saudi Arabia to build reactors in the kingdom. A senior Israeli official said the Israeli government realized it will not be able to stop the deal and decided instead to attempt to reach an understanding with the administration regarding its parameters.
        Last March, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised concerns about the deal during a meeting with President Trump. Trump and his advisers told Netanyahu that, if the U.S. does not sell the Saudis nuclear reactors, other countries like Russia or France will.
        Israel asked to know in advance what nuclear equipment the U.S. would sell the Saudis and asked to be consulted about the planned location of the nuclear reactors the U.S. would build in Saudi Arabia, for reasons of nuclear safety. Israel wants the U.S. to remove all used nuclear fuel from Saudi Arabia so that the Saudis will not be able to reprocess it. (Axios)
  • BDS Is Morphing into an Attack on the Rights of Jewish Students - Kenneth Waltzer
    Where BDS has a following on U.S. campuses, Jewish students are increasingly being consigned to a place of insult and derision, barred from progressive causes, and labelled oppressors. Those who come to their aid get similar treatment. BDS is morphing into an attack on the equal rights of Jewish students to associate freely with others on campus, to shape their own organizations and goals, to express their religious and cultural identity, and to observe their heritage free from coercion by others.
        The writer, professor emeritus of history and former director of Jewish Studies at Michigan State University, is executive director of the Academic Engagement Network (AEN), a national faculty organization committed to countering BDS. (Fathom-BICOM-UK)

  • A bill expected to pass Ireland's Senate on Wednesday would criminalize trade in products and services produced in Israeli settlements. If enacted, it could force U.S. firms with Irish divisions or subsidiaries to make a costly choice.
  • If companies abide by the Irish law, they could violate U.S. law, which prohibits U.S. companies from participating in foreign boycotts that the U.S. government does not endorse. Violations of U.S. anti-boycott laws are punishable by fines and by imprisonment for up to 10 years.
  • The U.S. in 2017 accounted for 67% of all foreign direct investment in Ireland. Some 700 U.S. companies currently employ over 155,000 people in Ireland, including Apple (Ireland's largest company), Google (4th largest), Microsoft (5th), and Facebook (9th). All four also have sizeable R&D operations in Israel.
  • Many components inside Apple's iPhones are made in Israel. If an Apple engineer lives in Jerusalem and telecommutes, will Apple be in violation of Irish law?
  • In addition, U.S. law would require any U.S. company with operations in Ireland to report to the Internal Revenue Service on whether it has cooperated with Ireland's boycott.
  • Furthermore, U.S. companies in Ireland, and the 440 Irish companies doing business in the U.S., could be forced by the Irish law to run afoul of the two dozen U.S. state laws that require divestment from companies that boycott Israel (in some cases specifically defined to include Israeli settlements).

    The writer is a law professor at Arizona State University and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.