August 10, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Turkish Lawyers Seek Arrest of U.S. Officers at Incirlik Air Base - Will Morris (Stars and Stripes)
    A group of pro-government lawyers in Turkey has filed charges against several U.S. officers at Incirlik Air Base, seeking their arrest for alleged ties to Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim religious leader living in the U.S. that the Turkish government says is responsible for a 2016 coup attempt.
    The group is a well-known NGO that backs Turkish President Erdogan.
    The criminal complaint also names Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of the U.S. Central Command.

    See also Purged Turkish NATO Officer Speaks Out - Teri Schultz (Deutsche Welle-Germany)
    Former Lt.- Commander Cafer Topkaya, a lifelong naval officer, is one of thousands of Turkish military officers who were condemned by Erdogan as being supporters of Fethullah Gulen in the massive purges that are still taking place in Turkey.
    When he was summoned to an "urgent meeting" in Ankara in October 2016, Topkaya said he felt obliged to follow those orders since he had nothing to do with the coup attempt or the Gulenist movement.
    He quickly found that what he thought would be his defense - his trusted position at NATO - was now considered part of his "crimes." "Being pro-West and pro-NATO is a big crime in Turkey now," he said.
    Eventually he was released and then escaped back to his family in Brussels.
    Other purged NATO officers are concerned for his safety. "Erdogan's long arm is everywhere," one said.

Islamic State Fighters Numbers Increase in Syria - Jack Detsch (Al-Monitor)
    As many as 4,000 to 6,000 ISIS fighters remain in northeastern Syria, a report to Congress attributed to a Defense Intelligence Agency assessment revealed on Monday.
    Pentagon officials had estimated in December that as many as 2,000 ISIS fighters remained in Syria, but has since stopped providing public estimates.
    The DIA assessment also suggests the group may have migrated to other parts of the country and that 13,100-14,500 ISIS fighters remained in all of Syria.
    Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Tuesday: "As we close in, what happens with [ISIS] is that they become more concentrated so there is hard fighting ahead."

Al-Qaeda in Yemen Seeks to Target U.S. (AP)
    Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, based in Yemen, is considered the most dangerous branch of the terror network after a series of failed attacks on U.S. soil.
    The group claimed responsibility for the attempted Christmas Day 2009 bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it approached Detroit, and an October 2010 plot when package bombs originating in Yemen and destined for the U.S. were found on cargo aircraft.
    The group was among the first to advocate for "lone wolf" attacks, using its English-language online magazine Inspire, starting in 2010. Its writings proved an inspiration for radicals who carried out attacks in the U.S. and Europe.

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The Al-Qaeda-Iran Connection - Thomas Joscelyn (Weekly Standard)
    Twenty years ago, on August 7, 1998, two al-Qaeda operatives drove explosive-laden trucks into the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. 224 people were killed and thousands more wounded.
    Iran showed al-Qaeda how to conduct the attacks, which used the same modus operandi employed by Hizbullah terrorists in 1983 who bombed the U.S. embassy in Beirut, a U.S. Marine barracks, and French military headquarters in Lebanon.

MassChallenge Accelerator Names Exemplary Israeli Startups - Gali Weinreb (Globes)
    MassChallenge Israel this week selected the most outstanding Israeli startup initiatives from among 525 candidates.
    Winners in the medical sector include Air Doctor, which connects tourists who became ill or injured abroad with recommended and accessible doctors in the country where they are traveling.
    Genetika+ provides patients with personally adjusted drugs for treatment of depression.
    MonitHer has developed a home device for early diagnosis of breast cancer through monthly ultrasound monitoring.
    Winners in other sectors include Flatspace, which has developed a system to convert a two-dimensional architectural design into a three-dimensional model.
    RouteValet offers efficient transportation routes combining public and private transportation.
    Ziroh Labs makes it possible to obtain cloud Internet services more safely.
    Qubeicon is developing a miniature chip as a substitute for a battery in a mobile device or wearable health monitoring device that uses light, kinetic energy, and heat energy for charging.
    Solutum is developing an environmentally friendly replacement for plastic.

Why Tel Aviv Is the World's New Startup Capital - Emma Sheppard (Guardian-UK)
    According to the 2018 Global Startup Ecosystem Report, Tel Aviv has the highest number of startups per capita in the world, and the highest investment of GDP in research and development (R&D).
    It's also one of the top-performing cities for global connections and global market reach, and has been highlighted by Compass and Fortune magazine as one of the best places in the world to start a business.
    Tel Aviv is also home to hundreds of venture capital funds, acceleration programs and co-working spaces.
    "The ecosystem has matured a lot over the past decade, with experienced angel investors, higher aspirations, and an ecosystem that embraces change," says Waze co-founder and serial entrepreneur Uri Levine.
    In 2016, Israel's Innovation Authority supported 1,115 projects of 650 companies.
    The government has also reduced corporation taxes for tech companies and removed bureaucratic obstacles to encourage hi-tech mergers.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Condemns Hamas Rocket Attacks, "Supports Israel's Right to Self-Defense"
    State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said Thursday: "We condemn the launching of missile attacks into Israel and call for an end to the destructive violence. We've seen reports that 180 or so rocket attacks have taken place, shot from Gaza into Israel, and we fully support Israel's right to defend itself and to take actions to prevent provocations of that nature....Let's not forget that Hamas bears ultimate responsibility for the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza."  (U.S. State Department)
  • Iran Continues to Develop Advanced Missiles - Adam Kredo
    North Korea continues to aid Iran with its advanced ballistic missile program in defiance of international regulations, according to a Congressional Research Service report. "Iran relies to some extent on others, particularly North Korea, for certain key missile components and materials in its MRBM [medium-range ballistic missile] program," the report states. "Export controls and sanctions have made it increasingly difficult, but not impossible, for Iran to acquire the best of such items, causing Iran to try to exploit weaknesses in existing export and nonproliferation regimes, or to try to find foreign sellers willing to circumvent those laws."
        "Some have long believed Iran's space launch program could mask the development of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with ranges in excess of 5,500 km. that could threaten targets throughout Europe, and even the United States (at least 10,000 km.)," according to the report. (Washington Free Beacon)
  • No Cherry-Picking Anti-Semitism Definition, Say Its Authors - Maxime Schlee
    The internationally-recognized definition of anti-Semitism at the center of a fight in the UK Labour party must be adopted "without amendment," according to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), the organization that drew it up. "Adding or removing language undermines the months of international diplomacy and academic rigor that enabled this definition to exist," experts of the UK delegation to the IHRA said in a statement. (Politico-EU)
        See also Statement by Experts of the UK Delegation to the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • After Palestinian Rocket Hits Beersheba, IDF Levels Hamas HQ in Gaza - Judah Ari Gross and Adam Rasgon
    The Israeli Air Force on Thursday destroyed a Hamas headquarters in Gaza, hours after a Grad rocket fired from Gaza struck just outside the city of Beersheba. Beersheba is located 40 km. (25 miles) from Gaza. The rocket launch came three hours after Hamas declared the current round of violence to be over.
        The five-story Said al-Mishal Cultural Center in Shati had been the headquarters for Hamas' internal security forces. Palestinian media reported that nearly the entire structure was destroyed as Israeli aircraft fired multiple missiles.
        Video footage from the scene posted to social media by Palestinians in Gaza indicated that the Israeli military used its "roof-knocking" technique, in which planes first drop a low-powered bomb on a building as a warning to those nearby of an impending strike.
        So far, the IDF has focused on targeting Hamas infrastructure while largely avoiding casualties in an effort to prevent a further escalation. (Times of Israel-Jerusalem Post)
  • Egypt Working to Solve Gaza Crisis - Zvi Bar'el
    Egypt is interested in solving Gaza's crisis to prevent the reopening of the terror pipeline between Gaza and Sinai. Therefore, contrary to its previous position, Egypt is no longer conditioning any solution to the Gaza problem on internal Palestinian reconciliation. Cairo decided to open the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza more or less permanently, it is in advanced talks over Gaza's reconstruction by Egyptian companies, and has even gotten Israel to agree that Port Said will serve as Gaza's port.
        Much of the new infrastructure being discussed for Gaza would be built on Egyptian territory and provide jobs for Egyptian Bedouins in Sinai financed by donor states. Opening a Palestinian port in Port Said wouldn't just give Egypt new revenues; it would also give it another lever of political control over Gaza, just as the Rafah crossing does. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Tries to Hack Israeli Cellphones with Fake Rocket Warning App
    Israel's ClearSky Cyber Security warned Thursday that Hamas was trying to hack Israeli cellphones through a fake version of the Code Red rocket warning app. "When you download the (fake) app it takes control of the mobile phone and allows the operator to track the device, take pictures, record sound and make calls and send messages," said ClearSky CEO Boaz Dolev. Once the app took control of the phone it was impossible to remove, even if the app was deleted. He urged Israelis to exercise caution and only download apps from recognized stores. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • Israelis and Palestinians Must Unite Against Shared Threat from Hamas - Jason Greenblatt
    Hamas is an Islamic fundamentalist terror organization, with funding from Iran, dedicated to the destruction of Israel. Over the past several months, in addition to launching rocket attacks and building tunnels to attack Israel, Hamas has turned to new methods of attacks - most recently, turning kites and balloons into incendiary terror toys. Hamas' new weapons of choice have burned thousands of acres of land and caused millions of dollars of damage in Israel.
        While Hamas focuses on violence toward their Israeli neighbors, they have neglected and utterly failed to build the infrastructure and systems to make life better in Gaza. My colleagues and I on the U.S. peace team believe that respect and cooperation between the two sides could lead to so many advancements and to a better life for all.
        Hamas has chosen to weaponize fire in its persistent but futile effort to destroy Israel, driving hopes for peace further away. It is time to put out the fire and choose peace. The writer is assistant to the President and special U.S. representative for international negotiations. (CNN)
  • Hamas-Israel Long-Term Ceasefire Not in Range - Ron Ben-Yishai
    The five-year hudna (ceasefire) with Hamas, which has been discussed in recent weeks by the media, is not even close to being reached by the Egyptian mediators and the UN envoy. The detailed reports about it were nothing more than psychological warfare on the part of the mediators and Hamas to create a facade that Hamas is ready for a long-term, stable peace if all of its demands are met, without any concessions on its part.
        At the same time, Israel is not prepared to accept the pattern of "small confrontations" that has become the norm with Hamas since the end of March. Israel will not allow Hamas to continue its "deterrence equation," according to which any IDF fire in response to a provocation by Hamas would be met with snipers, rockets and mortar shells fired by Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
        In Israel, it is believed that calm can be restored by means of a controlled escalation. The first signal to Gazans came on Thursday when the air force destroyed a building of Hamas' internal security offices. Residents were warned in advance to evacuate the building. It was a reminder of the 2014 Gaza War, at the end of which the IDF dropped high-rise buildings in Gaza one after the other until Hamas requested a ceasefire. Israel is giving Hamas a chance to absorb this message and return to the conditions at the end of the 2014 war that began a four-year lull. (i24News)
        See also Would a Long-Term Ceasefire Agreement with Hamas Last? - Shlomi Eldar
    Hamas' leaders are driven by their desire to prove to their rivals in Fatah, to Israel and to the Palestinian people that they are better, stronger and more stubborn and willing to sacrifice more to achieve victory. They are thus willing to abandon what is virtually the only lifeline extended to them, by the Egyptians, if only to show what they view as the determined stand of the resistance to the Zionists.
        The latest flare-up begs the question of whether a planned five-year agreement with Hamas would even last. Given the way Hamas' leaders are behaving, even if an agreement is eventually signed, it might not be worth the paper on which it is inked. (Al-Monitor)
  • Why Hamas Is Firing Rockets - 1 - Isabel Kershner
    "As we approach a potential agreement it is very important for Hamas to deliver the message that they are not going there because they are weak, or deterred or cannot find a better way to handle the situation," said Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, a former director general of Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs. (New York Times)
        See also Why Hamas Is Firing Rockets - 2 - Avi Issacharoff
    Hamas is ashamed to admit to the Palestinian public that it wants to sever its obligatory link to the West Bank and reach a deal with Israel - alone - as soon as possible. Instead, it is preferring to focus on its militant public image. (Times of Israel)
  • There Are No Pacifists in a Bomb Shelter - Mark Werner
    Most Americans have never had the experience of being wakened in the middle of the night by a Code Red siren, rushing to the closest bomb shelter, and hiding in the shelter while listening for the explosion of a Palestinian missile. I recently had this experience and am writing to share it.
        Together with nine other Sar-el volunteers, for three weeks this summer I was stationed on an IDF base in fairly close proximity to Gaza. On our second day on the base, the soldier (Danielle) in charge of our team of volunteers showed us the closest bomb shelter. That evening the sirens jolted us awake. Danielle ran down our corridor, banging on our doors: "Code Red Alert! Missile attack! Get to the bomb shelter fast!" We could tell by the urgency of her tone that this was not a drill. And so we all jumped out of our beds and ran to the bomb shelter.
        What did I think about in the bomb shelter while we waited to hear whether a missile would explode nearby? My first thought was a feeling of anger, directed at the Palestinians who were firing missiles at us. I knew that, if we were in a bomb shelter, so were tens of thousands of Israeli civilians who lived between our base and Gaza. I was angry that mothers and fathers had to scoop up their terrified children and hide in bomb shelters because the Palestinians seek to terrorize the Israeli population.
        As I stood in the shelter feeling helpless, my anger morphed into a second thought. None of this proportionate response stuff! For every missile fired into Israel, I wanted Israel to retaliate with 100 missiles. I knew that Israel's response, unlike the Palestinians who target Israeli civilians, would be directed towards military targets and would strive to minimize civilian casualties. Certainly, if North Korea fired missiles at the U.S., the U.S. response would be massive, not proportionate. And no one would expect less. There are no pacifists in a bomb shelter. The urge to strike back at your attacker is instinctive.
        No one should have to live like that. And so peace can only be possible once the Palestinians cease their violence towards Israel. No one should expect more of a people forced to live in bomb shelters. The writer is a retired lawyer in Raleigh, North Carolina, who has just returned from his 17th volunteer stint on an IDF base. (Times of Israel)

  • Other Issues

  • Iran's Deadly Diplomats - Matthew Levitt
    For decades, Tehran has been dispatching operatives to Europe to carry out assassinations and other acts of terrorism. Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi, accredited to Tehran's embassy in Vienna, was arrested in Germany in July for a bomb plot targeting a rally of Iranian dissidents near Paris. Assadi was an Iranian intelligence officer operating under diplomatic cover.
        A senior State Department official said on July 10: "The United States is urging all nations to carefully examine diplomats in Iranian embassies to ensure their countries' own security. If Iran can plot bomb attacks in Paris, they can plot attacks anywhere in the world, and we urge all nations to be vigilant about Iran using embassies as diplomatic cover to plot terrorist attacks."
        In June 2018, an investigation by Dutch intelligence led to the expulsion of two Iranian diplomats based at the Iranian embassy in Amsterdam. This followed the assassination several months earlier of an Iranian Arab activist who was gunned down in the Dutch capital.
        In March 2018, Albanian authorities arrested two Iranian operatives on terrorism charges. In January 2018, after weeks of surveillance, German authorities raided several homes tied to Iranian operatives who reportedly were collecting information on possible Israeli and Jewish targets in Germany.
        The State Department has released timelines and maps depicting incidents of Iranian-sponsored operational activities in Europe from 1979 to 2018, including incidents involving Iran's proxy, Hizbullah, as well as those carried out by Iranian agents themselves. European authorities are likely to determine that these are not rogue actions, but the actions of a rogue regime.
        The writer is director of the program on counterterrorism and intelligence at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Combating Terrorism Center at West Point)
        See also Select Iran-Sponsored Operational Activity in Europe, 1979-2018 (Bureau of Counterterrorism-U.S. State Department)
  • Israel's Nationality Law Is Not Discriminatory - Prof. Shmuel Sandler
    The main criticism levelled at Israel's new nationality law (Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People) revolves around the law's non-allusion to the issue of civil equality. Critics claim that this omission implies the inequality of Israel's non-Jewish minorities, such as Arabs and Druze, before the law. But this claim is wholly misconceived.
        Just as individuals have the right to define their government, so too does the collective have the right to define its identity. All citizens of Israel enjoy civil equality. Its Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty defines the state as a democracy and ensures individual rights and liberties. The writer is president of Emunah-Efrat College in Jerusalem and a senior research associate at the BESA Center. (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)

  • Weekend Feature

  • The International Conference that Paved the Way for the Murder of Millions - Ervin Birnbaum
    After the German Anschluss (annexation) of Austria on March 15, 1938, the march of German troops to Vienna was hailed by the delirious Austrians as a victory march, showering the German troops with flowers, embraces and kisses, while the bells of the Viennese St. Stephen Cathedral pealed hymns of victory.
        The next day, the New York Times reported that the Viennese Jewish Quarter, Leopoldstadt, was invaded by triumphant crowds who chased the Jews out of their homes, forcing them on their knees to scrub the sidewalks clean with their toothbrushes. The proceedings were supervised by stormtroopers wearing swastika armbands.
        200,000 Austrian Jews were caught in the jaws of the Jew-hating monsters. Reports said suicides by desperate Jews increased to 200 daily. Jewish physicians and other professionals were taken from their jobs to concentration camps. On March 22, President Roosevelt invited 33 states to work out a plan of aiding the political refugees of Germany and Austria at the Evian Conference, convened in France in July 1938.
        Two weeks before the conference, the London Times reported: "Men and women, young and old, are taken each day and each night from their homes or in the streets and carried off, the more fortunate to Austrian prisons, and the rest to Dachau."
        From the outset, the president made it clear that the conference would not result in "an increase or revision of U.S. immigration quotas," which stood at an annual figure of 27,370 for Germany and Austria combined. 3,000 Jews waited daily at the American Consulate in Vienna, in vain; more than 10,000 requests lay on the desk of the Australian Consul, unanswered. The U.S. even refused to allow unused quotas from other countries to be made available for refugees.
        At the Evian Conference, only the Dominican Republic expressed willingness to take in a few thousand Jews. The conference was not only a total failure, it was a disaster - by pointing out to the Nazis that they were eliminating a segment of humanity that nobody wanted. The writer is a retired professor of international relations at City University in New York. (Jerusalem Post)

Anti-Zionism Is Anti-Semitic - Petra Marquardt-Bigman (Forward)
  • It's become quite the thing to deny one is an anti-Semite by insisting one is merely an anti-Zionist. The truth is, there is no difference between the two. For anti-Semitism did not stop evolving with the Nazis. Jew-haters everywhere consider Israel to be the Jew of nations, representing all that is evil and must therefore be shunned and eradicated. With the establishment of Israel, Jew-haters were only too happy to find a new target that confirmed their bigotry. Anti-Semitism has morphed, evident in the way Israel is treated with the same hatred and bigotry that Jews once were.
  • It's not surprising that anti-Semitism had to morph with the establishment of the Jewish state. After being defenseless victims of persecution for almost two millennia, the Jews returned to their ancient homeland, and just three years after the last Jew was murdered in Auschwitz, there was a Jewish army able to withstand the onslaught of the military forces from all the Arab countries surrounding the fledgling Jewish state. Suddenly the Jews had some real power to defend themselves.
  • The obvious echoes of age-old Jew-hatred in today's demonization of Israel as a Nazi-like state that is too evil to be allowed to exist should answer the question whether there is a difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Pro-Palestinian anti-Zionists seem unable to recognize the hypocrisy of demanding "equal rights" and "justice" while denying the Middle East's most ancient nation its right to self-determination in the thriving state that the Jews re-established in part of their ancestral homeland.
  • It may well be "pro-Palestinian" to demand that Jews give up their hard-won sovereignty and agree to live once again as a vulnerable minority under Arab-Muslim rule, but it is most definitely anti-Semitic to ignore the fact that Jews in the Muslim Middle East endured centuries of discrimination and persecution, and that anti-Jewish bigotry remains prevalent throughout the Muslim world. I have yet to come across a single pro-Palestinian anti-Zionist willing to denounce the ancient and enduring anti-Jewish bigotry in the Muslim Middle East.
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