August 31, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Satellite Photos Show New Iranian Missile Factory in Syria (Times of Israel)
    Satellite photos taken by ImageSat International and published by Israel's Channel 10 on Thursday were said to show the establishment of an Iranian surface-to-surface missile factory outside Wadi Jahannam in northwest Syria.
    The report noted an apparent surge in construction work at the site and the building's similarity to Iran's Parchin facility.
    The site is in close proximity to a Russian S-400 anti-aircraft battery.
    See also Photos: New Surface-to-Surface Missile Project in Syria (ImageSat International)

Report: Iran Moves Missiles to Iraq that Can Hit Tel Aviv - John Irish and Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters)
    Iran has transferred short-range ballistic missiles and missile launchers to Shi'ite proxies in Iraq over the last few months and is helping those groups to start making their own, Iranian, Iraqi and Western sources said.
    The Zelzal, Fateh-110 and Zolfaqar missiles have ranges of 200-700 km., putting Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh or the Israeli city of Tel Aviv within striking distance if the weapons were deployed in southern or western Iraq.
    The Quds Force, the overseas arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, has bases in both those areas. Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani is overseeing the program.
    "It seems Iran has been turning Iraq into its forward missile base," a Western source said.
    Sources said the factories being used to develop missiles in Iraq were in al-Zafaraniya, east of Baghdad, and Jurf al-Sakhar, north of Kerbala, in areas controlled by Shi'ite militias.

New IDF Strategy to Focus on Missiles - Ben Caspit (Al-Monitor)
    The air force is viewed as Israel's strategic arm and its most effective instrument of deterrence.
    The missions and sorties the Israeli air force had accomplished in two weeks of fighting in the Second Lebanon War can now be carried out in a 24-hour timeframe.
    Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman is now working to add a new dimension - a "smart" missile-rocket military arm - to counterbalance Hizbullah's rocket arsenal and Syrian President Assad's renewed missile capabilities.
    Since modern antiaircraft batteries are becoming increasingly sophisticated and the main target of Hizbullah's missiles in the next war will be Israel's air force bases, "the luxury of having an air force that operates freely and almost without being threatened is ending soon," a senior Israeli military source said. "They won't be able to neutralize the air force but they can make it difficult for us."
    Lieberman said, "We absolutely must have an alternative to the air force. We can't afford to put all our eggs into one basket, no matter how sophisticated that basket may be."
    Another military source said, "Not every target in Lebanon or Syria requires a pilot that took us three years to train, in a jet that cost $200 million....A missile or rocket costs much less and...there is no pilot to be taken prisoner."
    A senior army source said, "The time has come for us to implement surgical, lethal and precise capabilities without sending planes into the air."

IDF Nabs 3 Palestinians with Pipe Bombs in West Bank - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    Israeli troops on Thursday arrested three Palestinians in possession of "a number" of pipe bombs outside the village of Deir al-Hatab, near Nablus, in the West Bank.
    They were spotted by soldiers monitoring surveillance cameras, the army said.
    Earlier Thursday, police arrested two Palestinians with a pipe bomb and IEDs outside the Samaria Military Court in the village of Salem, foiling a terror attack at the court.

Follow the Jerusalem Center on:

Israeli-Mexican Joint Venture Looks to Harness Waves for Green Energy - Sophie Hares (Reuters)
    An Israeli-Mexican joint venture could soon be turning ocean waves into electricity at Mexico's first wave energy plant.
    "The ocean is the biggest renewable resource that we have and it's completely untapped," said Inna Braverman, co-founder of Tel Aviv-based Eco Wave Power.
    "We're a comparable price to solar, but the advantage on top of solar is the availability of the resource....It keeps working 24/7."
    At the company's first Mexican plant near Manzanillo, the country's busiest cargo port, on the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of floating buoys connected by arms to a jetty would move with the waves to generate clean electricity at the 4.8-megawatt plant, enough to power 2,000 homes.
    In the event of storms, Eco Wave Power's system could lift its buoys or submerge them until high waves pass.
    The company also has orders in Gibraltar, China and Britain.

Intel's Newest and Fastest Processors for Laptops Come from Israel - Shoshanna Solomon (Times of Israel)
    Intel Corp. on Tuesday announced the new U and Y processors for thin, light laptops and laptop-tablet hybrids with the promise of up to 12 times faster connectivity speeds and twice the performance of a 5-year-old PC.
    The design of the new processors was led by its development team in Haifa, Israel.

26 Jharkhand Farmers to Learn High-Tech Farming in Israel (WION-India)
    26 farmers from the eastern India state of Jharkhand will learn advanced techniques in farming in Israel, the state's Chief Minister Raghubar Das said Sunday.
    The farmers will learn to overcome challenges posed by lack of irrigation facilities and generate better produce.
    This is the first time in Jharkhand that the state government has sent a farmers' delegation overseas.
    Das said that on their return, the farmers would be appointed as master trainers and entrusted with imparting knowledge of hi-tech farming techniques throughout the state.

Search the Recent History of Israel and the Middle East

Send the Daily Alert to a Friend
    If you are viewing the email version of the Daily Alert and want to share it with friends, please click Forward in your email program and enter their address.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. to End Funding to UNRWA - Karen DeYoung and Ruth Eglash
    The Trump administration has decided to cancel all U.S. funding of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) serving Palestinian refugees as it seeks a recalculation of U.S. foreign aid spending. In an announcement to be made within the next several weeks, the U.S. will call for a sharp reduction in the number of Palestinians recognized as refugees, according to officials familiar with the decision. The U.S. has long been the largest individual donor to UNRWA, pledging about 1/3 of the agency's $1.1 billion budget in 2017. (Washington Post)
  • Russia Masses Huge Force Off Syrian Coast for Final Assault on Rebels in Idlib - Bel Trew
    Russia has deployed at least a dozen vessels to waters off Syria as President Assad's forces prepared to take Idlib province, the rebels' last major enclave in Syria. The ships include the frigates Admiral Grigorovich and Admiral Essen, which are armed with Kalibr long-range cruise missiles, the Pytlivy frigate and the Vishny Volochek missile corvette. Idlib province, near the border with Turkey, is home to almost 3 million people and has a considerable al-Qaeda and jihadist presence.
        In Moscow on Wednesday, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov called rebel fighters in Idlib a "festering abscess" that "needs to be liquidated." "I hope our Western partners will not give in to [rebel] provocations and will not obstruct an anti-terror operation."  (Independent-UK)
        See also Syria's Last Rebel Stronghold Braces for Regime's Wrath - Ishaan Tharoor (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinians Step Up Verbal Attacks on U.S. and Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Palestinian officials in Ramallah on Thursday stepped up their verbal attacks on the U.S., warning that any Palestinian who cooperates with the U.S. and Israeli "conspiracies" would be considered a traitor. PA presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh said, "We will foil all suspicious schemes that are being concocted against our national cause in the name of Gaza as we have thwarted the deal of the century conspiracy." He said the U.S., and especially Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, were seeking "to destroy the Palestinian cause."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Ambassador Friedman: You Have to Be Strong to Gain Respect in the Middle East - Noa Landau
    U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told members of the American Jewish Congress during a private conversation on Tuesday: "The Middle East is not the U.S....It's a very different world, and you have to be strong here. There is no other way to gain respect in this part of the world....Maybe it would be better if the world weren't like that but that's how it is."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also Netanyahu: In the End, Peace Is Made with the Strong
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday: "In the Middle East, and in many parts of the world, there is a simple truth: There is no place for the weak. The weak crumble, are slaughtered and are erased from history while the strong, for good or for ill, survive. The strong are respected, and alliances are made with the strong, and in the end peace is made with the strong."  (Prime Minister's Office)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • Here's How Trump Can Bring Iran Back to the Table - Richard Goldberg and Jacob Nagel
    Iran's rejection of talks with the U.S. makes sense for now. The toughest sanctions are not scheduled to return until November. That gives Germany, Turkey, Russia, and other countries doing business with Iran two more months to find workarounds that can help the regime survive.
        Key restrictions targeting civilian nuclear cooperation with Iran will return in November, too. Under U.S. law, the procurement channel to Iran established by the nuclear deal will be off-limits to all foreign companies, including banks and insurers. Stopping the sale of dual-use equipment will again become a U.S. priority.
        The U.S. should condition funding for the International Atomic Energy Agency on the termination of investments and technical assistance in Iranian nuclear projects, an end to IAEA-hosted seminars and conferences in Iran, and the removal of all Iranian employees from the agency. The IAEA must perform its core mission and investigate the sites, activities, research, and materials detailed in the recently discovered secret Iranian atomic archive.
        Richard Goldberg, a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, was the lead Senate Republican negotiator for several rounds of congressionally enacted sanctions against Iran. Jacob Nagel is former head of Israel's National Security Council and national security advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Foreign Policy)
  • Will Iran Leave Syria? - Mohammed Ayoob
    Iran's alliance with the House of Assad goes back to 1980 when Syria under Hafez al-Assad was the only Arab country that stood by Iran during its eight-year war with Saddam Hussein's Iraq. In recent years, much of the Assad regime's successes can be attributed to the military training and advice provided by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the fighting capability of Hizbullah forces from Lebanon again trained by the IRGC.
        Furthermore, more than 1,000 Iranians, including senior members of the Revolutionary Guards, have been killed fighting on behalf of the Assad regime. Iran is keen to profit financially from the reconstruction program that is bound to follow the end of the civil war and is unwilling to give up its strategic foothold in Syria.
        To expect Iran to eliminate or even reduce its presence in Syria is nothing more than a pipe dream. Assad is more than comfortable with the Iranian military presence in the country because it serves his immediate purpose of regime maintenance and because he does not want to become overly dependent on Russia. Assad is suspicious that Moscow might decide to withdraw its support to the regime if it serves its other more pressing interests. Under these circumstances, American efforts to persuade Russia to induce Iran to leave Syria appear futile.
        The writer is University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of International Relations at Michigan State University and a senior fellow at the Center for Global Policy in Washington. (National Interest)
  • Did the U.S. Oust Iran's Prime Minister in 1953? - Sean Durns
    The Islamic Republic of Iran likes to claim that the U.S. is solely responsible for toppling the democratically-elected Iranian leader Mohammad Mossadegh in a 1953 coup - so that Iran's anti-U.S. attitudes are understandable, even justified. But as Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, noted in a 2014 Foreign Affairs article, in the years prior to the 1953 coup, the U.S. was providing economic assistance to Iran - "assistance that helped ease the pain" of a British blockade which followed Mossadegh's push to nationalize the country's oil.
        It was Mossadegh who rejected every U.S. attempt to broker a solution between the British and Iran. As the country's economy suffered, its citizens grew increasingly critical of their prime minister. Finally Mossadegh lost control of the military and fled. As Takeyh noted, "The documentary record reveals that the Eisenhower administration was hardly in control and was in fact surprised by the way events played out." Post-coup, U.S. diplomatic cables cited Iran's military "and great numbers [of] Iranian civilians inherently loyal to [the] Shah" as crucial.
        The writer is a senior research analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). (Washington Times)

  • Palestinians

  • Redefining "Palestinian Refugee" Is Long Overdue - David Harris
    Tragically, there have been countless refugees in the annals of history. In the 20th century alone, tens of millions of refugees were compelled to find new homes. In May, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) counted 19.9 million refugees in its jurisdiction. Over five decades, UNHCR has assisted 50 million refugees "to help restart their lives."
        Yet one group - the Palestinians - are treated differently and are assisted by the UN body UNRWA. Unlike UNHCR, UNRWA does not seek to resettle Palestinian refugees, but rather provides social services while, in effect, keeping them in perpetual limbo. The top five donors to UNRWA until now have been the U.S. and European governments.
        I hope the reports that the U.S. administration is considering a decision to redefine who is and is not a Palestinian "refugee" are true. A change is long overdue and could actually help the search for peace in the long term. The writer is CEO of the American Jewish Committee. (Times of Israel)
  • Does the U.S. Owe Money to the Palestinians? - Bassam Tawil
    For the past 9 months, Palestinian leaders have been waging a massive campaign of incitement and abuse against the Trump administration. Now the U.S. has decided to cut $200 million in American financial aid to the Palestinians. The PA and its leaders were the ones who initiated the crisis with the U.S., choosing to take their protest over Trump's announcement on Jerusalem to an extreme by boycotting the U.S. and waging a smear campaign against Trump and his "Jewish advisors and envoys."
        The Palestinians are basically telling the Americans: We have the right to condemn you every day, to burn your flags and photos of your president, to incite against you, to launch weekly protests against you, to accuse you of being under the "influence of the Jewish and Zionist lobby" and, at the same time, we have the right to continue receiving U.S. taxpayer money.
        The Palestinians, of course, are entitled to voice their anger at the U.S. However, if they are so fed up with the U.S., why are they demanding that the Americans continue to supply them with hundreds of millions of dollars each year? The Palestinian position is that the U.S. and the rest of the international community owe the Palestinians money for supporting Israel's existence.
        Common sense would have it that the U.S. has a right to demand something from any party it helps to support - including the Palestinians. But in the Palestinians' view, billions of dollars are owed to them as some sort of divine right. (Gatestone Institute)
  • The PA at the End of Abbas' Reign - Lior Akerman
    The Palestinian Authority, established 24 years ago, has still not developed its own economy and has continued to rely entirely on Israel's. The refugee camps in the West Bank today look exactly as they did when Israel pulled out of these areas in 1991. The PA has done nothing to improve the status or living conditions of the people living there.
        Fatah leaders understand that Abbas will not make any significant decisions before the end of his term, and the struggle to succeed him began two or three years ago. While there are a number of candidates who want to replace him and inherit his leadership, this may result in a murderous gang war that continues until one gains an advantage over his adversaries.
        Another possibility is that Hamas will take control of the PA institutions in the West Bank as a result of disorder and lack of leadership. The writer is a former brigadier-general who served as a division head in the Israel Security Agency. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Who Are the Palestinian "Lone Wolf" Terrorists? - Nadav Shragai
    An Israel Public Security Ministry study presented earlier this year at the International Homeland Security Forum in Jerusalem found that 2/3 of Palestinians involved in "lone wolf" attacks against Israelis between 2015 and 2017 were driven by personal distress and mental health problems. Those with suicidal tendencies - 54% - said their preferred method of suicide was to die while carrying out an attack.
        Professor Ariel Merari, who led the study, asked, "What causes one particular Palestinian and not 1,000 others to get up one morning and decide that this is the day he'll stab or run over a Jew?...We found that 67% of the attackers we looked at had indicators of psychopathology, including suicidal tendencies, and in some cases serious personality disorders that were close to psychosis."
        Merari said family troubles were much more likely to motivate women to commit a terrorist attack. Security officials recount stories of women who took to terrorism because they were being forced to marry against their will, or because their husbands were divorcing them and trying to take their children.
        "Muslims, like Jews or Catholics, are not allowed to commit suicide.... Dying while carrying out a terrorist attack, on the other hand, is not only not forbidden, it is recommended....The daily reporting of these incidents in the Palestinian media and the legitimacy they are given there guides a potential suicide terrorist to choose this manner of death." The writer is a journalist and commentator who has documented Jerusalem for 30 years. (Israel Hayom)
  • Errors and Successes of the Oslo Agreement - Col. (ret.) Joel Singer
    The main error of Rabin and Peres in deciding to enter into the Oslo Agreement with Arafat in the early 1990s was that they were misled to believe that Arafat had changed from being a terrorist. Rabin and Peres had concluded that if Arafat was strong enough to prevent anyone else from making a deal with Israel, then he surely must be the only one capable of making such a deal.
        The messages that Arafat sent to Israel in Oslo conveyed that he was prepared to make a historic deal. For these reasons, Arafat was perceived by Rabin and Peres as the ideal negotiating partner, a hawkish leader who, when circumstances changed, would be prepared to rise to the occasion and enforce his decisions against any opposition.
        But, when Hamas and other terrorist organizations started killing Israelis, Arafat proved himself to be unable and unwilling to stop terrorism. Moreover, when the negotiating parties reached the important issues, Arafat constantly sought internal Palestinian consensus, which required the agreement of Hamas, whose main objective continued to be the destruction of Israel.
        Arafat's heir, Mahmoud Abbas, while perhaps a bit more willing, is even less capable of making the kind of historic decisions that are required to bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. No wonder that the Oslo-based peace process has all but come to a standstill.
        The most important accomplishment of Oslo is the existence of an autonomous Palestinian leadership in the West Bank that is handling most of the daily affairs of most of the Palestinians. They are building strong security forces that, at least in the West Bank, are cooperating quite successfully with Israeli forces. Oslo enables the two parties to keep building their relations even before they have resolved their most fundamental disagreements.
        The writer, former head of the International Law Department of the IDF and legal advisor to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, was the Israeli delegation's legal adviser to the Oslo talks, involved in negotiating all the Oslo implementing agreements. (Fathom-BICOM-UK)

  • Other Issues

  • Turkey's Turn Against the U.S. - Philip Terzian
    Turkey's membership in NATO was largely a matter of strategic convenience, not conviction, as it is located on the southern edge of the Russian/Soviet empire. Despite Erdogan's thuggish autocracy and reflexive anti-Americanism - not to mention anti-Semitism - he is widely admired among Turks, and he and his fellow Islamists in the Justice and Development party (AKP) keep winning elections. Moreover, if public opinion polls are to be believed, the U.S. is not just unpopular in Turkey but overwhelmingly reviled, an attitude that long antedates President Trump.
        As Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute pointed out in the Washington Post last week, American defenders of Turkey's status within the alliance seem resolutely blind to what "15 years of Erdogan has done to the United States' former ally. In short, they confuse Turkey of yesteryear with Turkey today." And Turkey today is, by any measure, inimical to the interests of the United States and NATO.
        ISIS fighters passed through Turkey with impunity. And Turkey's ongoing war against its Kurdish minority has not just hampered America's war on terror - preventing access to Saddam Hussein's Iraq via Turkey's border during the Iraq war - but has brought it close to open conflict with U.S. forces in northern Syria.
        Erdogan now seeks to purchase Russian missiles for Turkey's air defenses. The notion of a NATO member integrating its defenses with Moscow's must necessarily concentrate minds in Washington. (Weekly Standard)

  • British Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn declared that Zionists "clearly have two problems. One is that they don't want to study history, and secondly, having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives, they don't understand English irony, either."
  • It wasn't their ideology he attacked, but what he deemed their lack of Englishness - that "Zionists" might live in Britain for a very long time, even all their lives, and still remain alien, unable to grasp either history or irony.
  • For this Jew, this was a cut to the quick. For what is it but a sense of history and irony that has sustained Jews through the vicissitudes of their collective experience?
  • Jews are obsessed with history. Every Jewish festival is linked to a moment in the collective history of the Jewish people. The central prayer of every Jewish service describes God as the Lord of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And no sense of irony? Jews have relied on irony to help them traverse the most difficult moments in their history.
  • It was this latest recording from Corbyn that left many Jews utterly convinced that this was a man in whom contempt for Jews ran deep - far deeper than necessary.
  • Maybe Corbyn should be reminded of the retort offered by Benjamin Disraeli, a prime minister of Jewish origin, when attacked in the House of Commons for being a Jew. "Yes, I am a Jew. And when the ancestors of the right honorable gentlemen were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon."

    The writer is Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University.
Support Daily Alert
Daily Alert is the work of a team of expert analysts who find the most important and timely articles from around the world on Israel, the Middle East and U.S. policy. No wonder it is read by heads of government, leading journalists, and thousands of people who want to stay on top of the news. To continue to provide this service, Daily Alert requires your support. Please take a moment to click here and make your contribution through the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.