October 12, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Turks Say Audio Recording Shows How Saudi Dissident Khashoggi "Was Interrogated, Tortured, and then Murdered" - Shane Harris (Washington Post)
    The Turkish government has told the U.S. that it has audio recordings that prove Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul this month.
    "The voice recording from inside the embassy lays out what happened to Jamal after he entered," a Turkish official said.
    "You can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic. You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered."

U.S. Sanctions Begin to Distort Iran's Economy - Andrew Torchia and Bozorgmehr Sharafedin (Reuters)
    After the U.S. reimposed economic sanctions on Iran, prices have jumped in a range of goods - particularly imports such as mobile phones and other consumer electronics, but also some staples.
    A bottle of milk, which cost 15,000 rials last year, now sells for 36,000. A can of tomato paste that sold for 60,000 rials in March is now 180,000 rials. The price of tomatoes has increased more than five-fold compared to last year.
    The rial has plunged from 42,890 to the dollar at the end of 2017 to around 145,000.
    The International Monetary Fund predicted this week that Iran's economy would shrink 1.5% this year and 3.6% in 2019.

As Economy Stumbles in Iran, Tension Grows between Rich and Poor - Scott Peterson (Christian Science Monitor)
    Decades ago, money in Iran was a well-hidden secret, rarely flaunted, in keeping with the socialist ideals of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution. But today, Ferrari, Porsche, and Lamborghini sports cars navigate through Tehran's traffic.
    Rich Iranian youth post photos online of themselves at parties and poolside, in their cars and mansions, and spending money at shimmering luxury malls.
    Even well-heeled Iranians grouse about how sanctions and economic volatility are raising prices. Yet Botox treatment centers are still packed with clients, for example - even as most ordinary Iranians brace for new medical shortages.
    As prices have soared, hundreds of economic protests have swept across the country this year. And in their midst, resentment has grown at the wide gap between Iran's very rich who flaunt their wealth and the majority of Iranians, whose struggle to get by has become more daunting by the day.
    Many of the very rich are part of the regime or are offspring of the well-connected.

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Human Rights in the Palestinian Authority - Bassam Tawil (Gatestone Institute)
    The Committee of Families of Political Prisoners in the West Bank consists of relatives of Palestinians who are regularly targeted by Palestinian Authority security forces, largely because of their affiliation with Palestinian opposition groups, including Hamas, or for openly criticizing Palestinian leaders.
    A recent report by the committee documented 685 actions by PA security forces in the West Bank during September including arbitrary arrests and detentions, summonses for interrogation, raids on homes and confiscation of property, a dramatic increase compared with previous months.
    Palestinian leaders have convinced themselves that they can continue to spread their lies to the world about Israel while hiding the truth about what is happening within their repressive and corrupt regime in the West Bank.

Swedish Friendship Ship Docks in Israel - Roi Rubinstein (Ynet News)
    Two months after a Swedish protest ship tried to sail to Gaza, on Thursday a friendlier ship from Sweden arrived in Israel carrying 50 Israel-supporting Swedes including politicians, clerics, journalists and musicians.
    Stefan Abrahamsson, a Christian businessman who initiated the project, said, "We came here because Sweden's image in Israel is very bad and we are here to express our sorrow over this."
    "Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East that is built upon ideals which are central throughout the Western world, such as equality. However, Israel is the only country which my country condemns."
    "We are here to tell Israelis: 'We love you, we are standing behind you and want to show our solidarity with you.'"
    Herzliya Mayor Moshe Fadlon said, "At a time when Israel is under attack internationally, these friends are a beacon to the nations of the world."

Israeli Visual Inspection Company Kitov Systems Raises $10 Million (Globes)
    Israeli visual inspection solutions developer Kitov Systems has raised $10 million to develop artificial intelligence-based solutions for visual inspection in industrial manufacturing.
    Kitov CTO Dr. Yossi Rubner explained: "We have developed artificial intelligence systems for advanced manufacturing that can be intuitively trained within a few hours by a non-expert to automatically plan and perform sophisticated visual inspection tasks on complex 3D products at highest performance."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Warns that Iran Could Use Fraud to Duck Sanctions - Gardiner Harris
    The Trump administration warned the world's banks on Thursday that Tehran might try to use duplicitous means to soften the bite of sanctions and continue to fund terrorism. Iran's bankers and officials have used front companies, fraudulent documents and other measures to generate revenue for the country's terrorist activities, the administration said.
        The warning is part of a coordinated campaign by the administration to persuade banks and corporations around the world to sever all commercial ties with Iran, not only because of looming American sanctions but also because it says Tehran diverts even seemingly innocuous transactions toward illicit ends. Sanctions banning transactions with Iran's central bank, shipping companies and oil suppliers are scheduled to take effect on Nov. 5. (New York Times)
        See also How Iran Hides Its Secret Oil Trade - Ellen R. Wald
    New data on oil shipments in September reveals that the Iranian oil industry is still robust. According to TankerTrackers.com, Iran has actually been exporting much more oil to many more destinations than we have been led to believe. While India says it has significantly decreased imports of Iranian oil, India's imports of Iranian oil have actually remained virtually unchanged between August and September.
        A good example of today's secret oil trade is the tanker Yufusan, which was first seen picking up Iranian oil before loading up its remaining space with Kuwaiti oil, thus appearing to be a tanker of Kuwaiti oil, before heading to Japan. (Forbes)
  • Palestinians Say UN Peace Envoy "No Longer Acceptable"
    Ahmed Majdalani, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee, said it had informed the UN secretary general that envoy Nickolay Mladenov was "no longer acceptable" to the Palestinian Authority government because he had "gone beyond his role" in seeking agreements between Israel and rival Palestinian faction Hamas, which controls Gaza. Mladenov, alongside Egypt, has been seeking a long-term truce agreement between Hamas and Israel, without including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. (AFP-Daily Mail-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Stabs Reserve Soldier at Bus Stop - Elisha Ben Kimon
    A Palestinian stabbed an IDF reservist, 32, who was standing at a bus stop outside the Samaria Territorial Brigade base in the West Bank on Thursday. An Israeli woman was slightly wounded by shrapnel as soldiers opened fire toward the fleeing terrorist, who was later arrested. (Ynet News)
  • Israeli Minister Rejects U.S. Student's Promise Not to Promote BDS While in Israel - Michael Bachner
    Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Thursday he had rejected a letter sent to him by the lawyers of U.S. student Lara Alqasem, 22, promising she wouldn't participate in boycott activities during her stay in Israel. Erdan said the letter "reveals the fact that she backs the ideology of the boycott and isolation of the State of Israel." Alqasem, who has Palestinian grandparents, landed at Ben-Gurion Airport last week and was barred from entering the country and ordered deported as an activist in the boycott movement. Israeli officials say she is free to go back to the U.S. at any time, but she has appealed the decision in Israeli courts.
        Erdan said, "I want those boycott activists to understand that their actions come with a price. I'm not putting them in jail, not doing anything physically to them, but they won't enter Israel, gather information and misrepresent it around the world." Israel enacted a law last year banning entry for any foreigner who "knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel." Alqasem is a former president of the University of Florida chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine which is associated with the BDS movement.
        Erdan said, "Every day, thousands of people are stopped at the entrance to the United States and Britain, and nobody in the hypocritical international media writes articles about it or questions [authorities] on why they decided it will maybe harm national security." Israel says the BDS movement is anti-Semitic and masks its motives to delegitimize or destroy the Jewish state.
        State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said Wednesday, "Our strong opposition to the boycotts and sanctions of the State of Israel is well-known. Israel is a sovereign nation that can determine who enters."  (Times of Israel)
  • Israeli Court Says New Zealand BDS Activists Must Pay for Singer Lorde Cancellation - Amy Spiro
    On Wednesday, Judge Mirit Fohrer of the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court ruled that two New Zealand Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions activists, Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab, must pay damages totaling NIS 45,000 ($12,000) for their role in the cancellation of a scheduled Lorde concert in Tel Aviv to three Israeli minors who had purchased tickets. The suit was filed by attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, president of the Shurat HaDin NGO. The lawsuit said that Lorde's response on Twitter to a letter Sachs and Abu-Shanab penned calling on her to cancel the concert showed a direct connection to the concert cancellation.
        The lawsuit cited a 2011 Israeli Anti-Boycott Law, which allows for civil suits against entities who call for a boycott of Israel. Darshan-Leitner said that Israel and New Zealand have legal agreements that will allow the court to "go after their bank accounts" to pursue the damages. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Russian Deputy Foreign Minister: "Irrational" Not to Recognize West Jerusalem as Israel's Capital - Eylon Levy
    It would have been "irrational" for Russia not to have recognized West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, President Vladimir Putin's Middle East envoy, told i24News in an interview. Bogdanov argued that it would be "logical" for other countries that recognize a Palestinian state with a capital in east Jerusalem to recognize Israeli sovereignty in west Jerusalem.
        Russia, he noted, had recognized a Palestinian state with a capital in east Jerusalem in 1988. But he explained that Russia would not move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem until it could also move its mission in Ramallah to the eastern part of Jerusalem. Bogdanov stressed that Russia believes the future of Jerusalem "should be determined in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations."  (i24News)
  • PA Edict: Selling Property to Israelis Is "High Treason" - Khaled Abu Toameh
    For the second time this year, the Palestinian Islamic religious authorities in Jerusalem on Thursday reaffirmed a ban on selling property to Israelis, and warned that any Palestinian involved in such transactions would be accused of "high treason." This followed news that Jews had purchased a house in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City.
        The Palestinian Fatwa Supreme Council issued a statement reminding Palestinians that "the land of Palestine was an inalienable religious endowment [waqf] that can't be sold" to non-Muslims. Any Palestinian who is found "in collusion of this crime would be conspiring against the land, the cause and the Palestinian people, and will be seen as someone who has sold himself to the devil."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Khashoggi and the Jewish Question - Herb Keinon
    The disappearance of Saudi government critic and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey - and the very real possibility that the Saudis either kidnapped or killed him - could have an impact on Israel. Eran Lerman, vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies and a former deputy national security council head, said: "It is certainly not in our interests to see the status of the Saudi government diminished in Washington."
        Dore Gold, head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and former Foreign Ministry director-general, said: "This problem could be used by the Iranians to drive a wedge between the West and Saudi Arabia." That is bad for Israel because "anything that strengthens Iran's posturing in the Middle East is bad for Israel," and in the Mideast balance of power, a weakened Saudi Arabia means a strengthened Iran.
        It also means a strengthened Turkey, which could explain why Ankara is leaking information about the investigation. "Turkey is part of an axis with Qatar," Gold said, "and that puts Saudi Arabia at odds with the Turkish government."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Is Within Its Rights in Barring Boycotters - Lahav Harkov
    Saying that Israel is not within its rights in barring boycotters from the country and that its action is somehow illegal does not hold water. Leaders of extremist groups have been banned from many countries; American white supremacist Richard Spencer cannot enter 26 European countries, and the UK and Canada have banned French anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala, among many other examples.
        BDS seeks to deny the Jewish people the right to self-determination, as said explicitly by its founder, Omar Barghouti, on multiple occasions. Spencer's fans said "Jews will never replace us" at the rally in Charlottesville last year; BDS's slogan may as well be, "we will replace the Jews." To act as though BDS is somehow less pernicious than the ideologies of a Spencer or M'bala M'bala is, in effect, creating a hierarchy by which some anti-Semitism ought to be tolerated. (Jerusalem Post)
        For a contrasting view, see also Why Is Israel Scared of This Young American? - Bret Stephens and Bari Weiss (New York Times)
  • Lara Alqasem: A Pawn in the PR Battle For and Against BDS - Amanda B. Dan
    In 2017, the Israeli Knesset passed legislation which would deny visas and residence permits to foreigners seeking entry who have "knowingly issued a public call to boycott the State of Israel or pledged to take part in such a boycott." According to the Strategic Affairs Ministry, the state has enforced that law by denying entry to some 15 visitors. Lara Alqasem was president of the University of Florida chapter of the campus group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). There is no doubt that SJP promotes the BDS movement.
        There is little question that the BDS movement is in many ways an insidious wolf in sheep's clothing. The movement's foundational ideology is predicated on the utter dissolution of the Jewish state. Anti-BDS efforts are about guarding the gate and shoring up the borders of the sole Jewish state, a lone refuge for the ever-besieged, eternally maligned Jew.
        But what should the State of Israel do when it is on the opposing side of a well-meaning (and even trendy) pursuit of social justice for the downtrodden? It is quite likely that most U.S. students who support BDS have absolutely no idea of any of the founders' ulterior, even sinister, motives to see an end to the Jewish state. (Times of Israel)
        See also Students for Justice in Palestine Unmasked - Dan Diker and Jamie Berk (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Will PA-Supported Terrorism Kill Economic Peace? - Dan Diker
    The recent murders of three Israelis in the Barkan Industrial Park and the Gush Etzion commercial center in the West Bank were assaults in zones where Palestinians and Israelis live, work and shop. It exposes the deepening chasm between the PA and the terrorists they support and glorify, and the silent majority of Palestinians who see their economic and political futures linked to Israel.
        Some 100,000 Palestinians commute to work in "pre-1967 Israel" every day, while 30,000 Palestinians work in the Israeli-administered areas of the West Bank. The writer is project director for the Program to Counter Political Warfare and BDS at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Inside Israel's Iron Dome Missile Interceptor Manufacturing Plant - Yuval Azulai
    Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has been manufacturing Tamir interceptor missiles for Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system for seven years. The three-meter-long Tamir has achieved 1,800 interceptions of rockets fired at Israel.
        There is no margin for error. A carelessly produced missile means failure and the possible loss of human life. At least 90% of Tamir interceptions are successful, according to the Israel Ministry of Defense. Upgrades have made it possible to intercept shorter range rockets and mortars. The performance of every interceptor fired is immediately analyzed by the Iron Dome staff in order to improve performance.
        The U.S. gave Israel hundreds of millions of dollars to produce the Iron Dome, which is reflected in the fact that today, 70% of the interceptor missile's components are produced in the U.S. and imported to Israel for final assembly. At the same time, Israel has preserved independent and immediate production capabilities. (Globes)
  • Inside Israel's Police Anti-Terrorist Unit - Adam Ciralsky
    The motto of Israel's Yamam police anti-terrorist unit is from Psalm 18:37: "I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back until they were destroyed." Yamam is the world's busiest force of its kind, averaging 300 missions a year, and its expertise is in high demand. Israel's minister for public security, Gilad Erdan, said during his first month on the job, "I got requests from 10 countries to train together."
        Yamam's primary focus involves foiling terror plots, engaging militants during attacks, combating crime syndicates, and blunting border incursions. According to the unit's commander, "N," 44, his unit has stopped at least 50 "ticking time bombs" (suicide bombers en route to their targets) and hundreds of attacks at earlier stages. John Miller, the New York Police Department's deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, pointed out that for every terrorist attack in Israel that makes the news, there are 10 that are prevented by Yamam.
        While units in the U.S. that respond to terror attacks have tended to arrive on the scene, gauge the situation, secure a perimeter, and then call in specialists or reinforcements, Yamam goes in heavy, dispatching self-contained squadrons of breachers, snipers, rappellers, bomb techs, dog handlers, and hostage negotiators. N said, "We don't have the privilege of time. You must come inside very fast because there are terrorists that are killing hostages every minute."  (Vanity Fair)

  • Weekend Features

  • Palestinian Baby Gets Heart Transplant from Jewish Teen - Jenni Frazer
    A six-month-old Palestinian baby is fighting for his life this week after receiving a heart transplant from a Jewish 17-year-old at Israel's Sheba Hospital in Ramat Gan. Dr. David Mishaly, chief surgeon at Sheba's pediatric and congenital heart surgery unit, said: "Musa was brought to Sheba in very critical condition. But by a miracle, Musa was able to receive a new heart from a Jewish child, whose parents had agreed a few hours earlier to the donation."
        Musa's grandmother said: "Our entire family is grateful for the heroic efforts by Dr. Mishaly and the staff at Sheba to save my grandson. We hope this will create a more positive atmosphere between our two nations. We would like to meet the family of the Jewish child and thank them for their generosity."  (Jewish News-UK)
  • Poland Honors Diplomat Who Saved Hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust
    Polish President Andrzej Duda and descendants of Holocaust survivors held a ceremony Tuesday to honor a Polish diplomat in Switzerland who helped Jews escape Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II by issuing phony Latin American passports. Konstanty Rokicki was vice-consul at Poland's consulate in Bern. During 1942-43, he bought and otherwise obtained blank passports from countries including Paraguay, Honduras and Haiti, and filled them in with names and photographs of Polish Jews. Historians believe 330 people were known to have been saved thanks to such passports. (AP-New York Times)

UN Funding Perpetuates Palestinian Rejectionism - Daniel S. Mariaschin (Jerusalem Post)
  • Over decades, UNRWA has exhorted Palestinians to see Jews and Israel through an anti-Semitic lens, and to believe that all Palestinians will one day "return" to the entirety of what is now Israel. Rather than promoting peace and reconciliation, it has cooperated with terrorist organizations, particularly in Gaza, that seek Israel's destruction.
  • In New York, the UN has specifically established and funded additional bodies to advance the Palestinian political agenda. The Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People, and the Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR) exist for the singular purpose of promoting an anti-Israel message worldwide - in the name of the UN.
  • CEIRPP sponsors conferences and photo exhibitions worldwide, which demean Israel and promote "the return" of all Palestinians.
  • The purpose of the DPR, housed within the UN Secretariat (the only people to be so recognized), is to engage in the worldwide dissemination of Palestinian anti-Israel propaganda, using the UN's Department of Public Information and its 63 information centers around the world to get its anti-Israel message out.
  • Nothing would strike a more resounding note for resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than eliminating these centers of rejectionism and hate.
  • As long as the Palestinians feel they have the international wind at their back - including the use of the UN system as their private public relations mechanism - all talk of a serious "peace process" will continue to fall on deaf ears among Palestinians and their supporters in the international community.

    The writer is CEO and executive vice president of B'nai B'rith International.
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