August 22, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Ordered Houthis to Target Saudi Oil Tankers (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
    On August 7, 2018, the Iranian Fars news agency published an interview with a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander, Nasser Shabani.
    Shabani stated that Iran ordered the Houthi rebels in Yemen to target the two Saudi oil tankers in the Bab al-Mandeb Straits attacked on July 25. "We told the Yemenis to hit the two Saudi tankers and they did," Shabani said.
    His statement provided further proof of Iran's direct involvement in the war in Yemen.

IsraAID Team to Help Victims of South India Floods - Hagay Hacohen (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli humanitarian NGO IsraAID sent a response team to the south Indian state of Kerala on Tuesday following the deaths of at least 220 people due to floods. Some 725,000 people have fled their homes and currently reside in relief camps.
    IsraAID currently operates humanitarian programs in 17 countries and responded to crises in 47 locations.

Israel's Rafael to Produce Anti-Tank Missiles in Australia - Yuval Azulai (Globes)
    The Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the Australian company Varley signed an agreement Wednesday to establish joint production lines in Australia for Rafael's Spike anti-tank missiles.
    Other Rafael products will also be produced in Australia for use by the Australian army.
    Defense market sources believe the deal will amount to tens of millions of dollars.

Northern Irish Soccer Authority Rejects Calls to Cancel Friendly Match with Israel - Ben Cohen (Algemeiner)
    The Irish Football Association - soccer's governing body in Northern Ireland - said in a statement on Monday that it had "no intention of canceling Northern Ireland's international challenge match against Israel on 11 September," rejecting calls from BDS supporters to nix the match.

Israeli Company Modifies Sugar to Get Same Taste with Less (Times of Israel)
    An Israeli company, DouxMatok, which says it is able to reduce the quantity of sugar in foods by up to 40% without affecting the taste, announced on Monday that it had teamed up with Germany's Sudzucker, Europe's leading sugar company, to commercialize the product.
    DouxMatok engineers sugar grains so that most of the flavor reaches the taste buds, in contrast to normal sugar, where 80% of the sugar goes directly into the stomach.
    The company says consumers cannot tell the difference between the modified sugar and the real thing, saying this has been "tested independently and validated by third-party panels as well as major food companies."
    Reducing sugar in foods is a goal in the Western world where obesity rates continue to rise.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Video - Trump: After Jerusalem Embassy Move, the Palestinians Will "Get Something Very Good Because It's Their Turn"
    President Donald Trump said in West Virginia on Tuesday: "I also recognized the capital of Israel and opened the American Embassy in Jerusalem....It should have been done years ago. And if there's ever going to be peace with the Palestinians, it was a good thing to have done because we took it off the table. Because every time there were peace talks they never got past Jerusalem becoming the capital. So I said 'let's take it off the table.'"
        "And you know what? In the negotiation, Israel will have to pay a higher price because they won a very big thing....But they [the Palestinians] will get something very good because it's their turn next."  (Fox News)
        See also Trump: "We Never Should Have Been in the Middle East"
    In an interview at the White House with Reuters on Monday, President Trump said: "I'm constantly reviewing Afghanistan and the whole Middle East. We never should have been in the Middle East. It was the single greatest mistake in the history of our country."  (Reuters)
  • Security Adviser Bolton: U.S. in Syria to Finish Destroying ISIS and See All Iranian Forces Return Home - Dan Williams
    U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton told Reuters in Jerusalem on Tuesday: "Our interests in Syria are to finish the destruction of the ISIS territorial caliphate and deal with the continuing threat of ISIS terrorism and to worry about the presence of Iranian militias and regular forces. And those are the issues that keep us there."
        Bolton said that Russian President Putin, who met President Trump in Helsinki on July 16, had told the U.S. that Moscow could not compel the Iranians to leave Syria. "But he also told us that his interest and Iran's were not exactly the same. So we're obviously going to talk to him about what role they can play. We're going to see what we and others can agree on in terms of resolving the conflict in Syria. But the one prerequisite there is the withdrawal of all Iranian forces back in Iran."  (Reuters)
        See also Bolton: U.S. Not Discussing Recognition of Israel's Golan Sovereignty - Dan Williams
    The Trump administration is not discussing possible U.S. recognition of Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said. "I've heard the idea being suggested but there's no discussion of it, no decision within the U.S. government," Bolton told Reuters during a visit to Israel. "There's no change in the U.S. position for now."  (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Defense Minister: Any Truce with Hamas Must Include Return of Israeli Captives - Nikki Guttman
    Any ceasefire deal with Hamas must include the return of the two Israeli captives and the bodies of two Israeli soldiers from the 2014 war, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday. He noted that since the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire efforts have gone into high gear, "there has been a dramatic decrease in security incidents on the [Gaza] border."
        "What we are doing and what is really important is to create a direct link between security calm and economic incentives." The Palestinians "have to understand that economic stability is tied to calm on the border."  (Israel Hayom)
  • Greek Warship Docks in Haifa - Anna Ahronheim
    The Greek warship HS Prometheus docked in Haifa Port on Tuesday and will take part in joint exercises with the Israel Navy in attack-and-react drills. The ship has 133 Hellenic Naval cadets onboard, along with cadets from the Greek Air Force and medical academies and two Romanian cadets.
        Israel and Greece share economic interests, such as the ambitious project to build an undersea gas pipeline from Israel to Cyprus to Crete to mainland Greece. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Episcopal Diocese Apologizes for Bishop's Comments about Israeli Soldiers - Aimee Ortiz
    The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts apologized to the Jewish community Friday after one of its bishops repeated unverified and misleading stories about the Israeli military at the church's July convention in Austin, Texas. Bishop Alan M. Gates, who heads the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, and Bishop Gayle E. Harris, who serves as Gates' second in command, apologized for the "hurt" caused when Harris told church members two stories about alleged mistreatment of Palestinian children by Israeli soldiers.
        "I now acknowledge that I reported stories which I had heard and unintentionally framed them as though I had personally witnessed the alleged events," Harris said. "I sincerely apologize." She said she "was ill-advised to repeat the stories without verification." Gates said the church "recognize[s] that for Christian leaders to relate unsubstantiated accounts of Israeli violence awakens traumatic memory of a deep history of inciting hostility and violence against Jews - a history the echoes of which are heard alarmingly in our own day."  (Boston Globe)
  • Europe Should Stop Trying to Save the Iran Deal - Editorial
    While Europe's leaders have been vowing to keep the nuclear deal with Iran alive, they must now face what is already clear to business leaders everywhere: The agreement cannot be revived. The sooner work begins on a new one, the better for everyone involved.
        Europe must start working toward a new deal that would address the weaknesses of the original. It must extend the period in which Iran is prohibited from developing nuclear weapons, allow for more rigorous inspection of nuclear sites, restrict Iran's missile-development program, and restrain its other disruptive and deadly activities in its neighborhood. (Bloomberg)
  • Israel's Non-Jewish Citizens Have Seen Unprecedented Advancements in Their Quality of Life - Smadar Bat Adam
    Despite what the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee would have you believe, Israel's non-Jewish citizens have experienced unprecedented advancements in their quality of life. While it is true that in the past, outdated cesspools were common in the Arab sector due to the typically unplanned construction in their towns, by 2013 the sewage infrastructure in the sector had been replaced, thanks to government funding and loans. Sidewalks, traffic circles and vegetation were quick to follow.
        Due to Israeli government decisions to approve massive investment in the Arab sector, the high school matriculation rate has increased to 66% in 2017, while the Druze sector now has the highest matriculation rate in Israel. A decade ago, there were very few community centers in Arab communities; now, there are dozens.
        Israel is in the midst of a sweeping and natural process of integrating young Arabs into Israeli society; in hospitals and pharmacies, the information technology sector, academia and in our courts and government offices. All one needs to do is look. (Israel Hayom)

The Jews Are the "Kurds" of the Palestinians - Pinhas Inbari (Jewish Political Studies Review)
  • The struggle in Syria is between two all-embracing outlooks - the pan-Arab one and the pan-Islamic one. Pan-Arabism is represented by the ruling Baath party headed by Bashar al-Assad, while pan-Islamism is represented by the groups fighting in the name of Islam. These are two absolute ideological positions; they inherently reject compromise and engage in total war while thoroughly negating the other.
  • The pan-Arab stance in Syria could not accept Kurdish nationalism. The Kurds had either to be Arabs or not be at all. Because they insisted on not being Arabs, their Syrian citizenship was revoked.
  • Seen in this light, the Jews are the "Kurds" of the Palestinians. The Palestinian attitude toward the Jews is one of total rejection. That is why they are not prepared to recognize Jewish nationalism, deny that we have any connection to Jerusalem, assert that the Temple did not exist and was never built, and proclaim that Jesus was a Palestinian. The Palestinians see themselves as part of pan-Arabism and their role is to liberate their sector as part of the overall pan-Arab struggle.
  • The current Palestinian demand for recognition as an independent state is inauthentic. The Palestinian National Charter does not include a single article calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state. The first article states: "Palestine is...an indivisible part of the Arab homeland, and the Palestinian people are an integral part of the Arab nation."
  • The struggle between Fatah and Hamas, which is grounded in the Muslim Brotherhood movement, is simply part of the struggle between pan-Arabism and pan-Islamism.
  • Nasser Laham, editor-in-chief of the Ma'an news agency, which represents the mainstream of the Palestinian Authority, said in January: "It is forbidden for us to make the slightest concession, we want all of Palestine....We will fight until America is defeated, until Israel is defeated." Laham is not expressing an extreme position but the mainstream Palestinian position.

    The writer is a veteran Arab affairs correspondent who serves as an analyst for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.