October 26, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Hizbullah Establishing Terror Infrastructure in Syrian Golan Heights - Yoav Limor (Israel Hayom)
    Hizbullah is working to establish military infrastructure in the Syrian Druze village of Khader in the Golan Heights, just across the border from Israel.
    The person behind the military buildup in Khader is Mustafa Mughniyeh, the eldest son of Imad Mughniyeh, Hizbullah's former military chief who was assassinated in 2008 in Damascus.
    The current phase involves lookout posts and equipment to enable local residents to report back to Hizbullah.
    Mustafa's brother, Jihad, was killed in 2015 following reports that he had been building up Hizbullah's military and terrorist infrastructure in Khader.
    The Syrian army regained control of the area from Syrian rebels in July.

Israel Sends Air Force Rescue Unit to Jordan after Flash Flood Sweeps Away Schoolbus - Avraham Gold (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel sent its air force search and rescue unit to Jordan to assist in rescue operations after a flash flood swept away a children's school bus on Thursday near the Dead Sea.
    "The troops are assisting the actions to locate the missing and are doing all in their power in spite of the adverse weather conditions in order to assist the children in the flooded area," the IDF said.

Video: Upgraded Border Crossing Lets Palestinian Workers Enter Israel in a Few Minutes (IDF)
    Every day, 8,000 Palestinian workers pass through the upgraded Hashmonaim terminal on their way to work in Israel.
    They say it takes just a few minutes to get through.

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Walmart Is Investing in a Startup Founded by Former Leaders of Israel's Top Intelligence Unit - Andria Cheng (Forbes)
    Walmart and other corporate giants have invested $85 million in Team8, a cybersecurity think tank founded by former leaders of Israel's top military intelligence unit.
    Team8 is developing tools that would allow companies to securely share their customer data with third-party vendors to help merchants make better predictions about individual customers' needs and wants - while leaving the data encrypted to protect consumers' privacy.

Israel to Build Plant to Produce New AIDS Drug (Xinhua-China)
    A new plant will be established in Eilat by the Israeli pharmaceutical company Zion Medical to produce the new drug Gammora to treat AIDS, the Israel Ministry of Economy said on Tuesday.
    The new drug eliminates HIV virus-infected cells, as opposed to previous drugs which focused on eliminating the virus itself, and therefore faced the risk of viruses changing and developing resistance.
    The new drug also appears to be effective in the treatment of cancerous tumors.
    China's Shenzhen International Institute of Biological Research has acquired the rights to manufacture and market the drug in China.

Israel's Eyesight Tracks Drivers' Attention to Reduce Accidents - Dubi Ben-Gedalyahu (Globes)
    Israeli automotive computer vision company Eyesight announced Tuesday the completion of a $15 million financing round.
    Eyesight's driver monitoring system tracks the driver's attention and behavior on the road in order to reduce car accidents.
    Its solution monitors the driver's gaze direction, pupil dilation, eye openness and head position and sends alerts when drowsiness or distraction is detected.

Israel Startup Rolls Out Tiny Solar Panels for Smart Electronics - Anna Hirtenstein (Bloomberg)
    Jerusalem-based Israeli startup 3GSolar Photovoltaics is implanting tiny solar panels on electronic devices that allows the devices to sustainably generate their own power.
    "Our cell is made specially for indoor light and low light, it's not a typical silicon solar panel that works outside," said CEO Barry Breen.
    Many smart-home devices run on batteries that need replacing every year or so. 3GSolar's cells would last 10 to 15 years.

Israeli-Founded Snappy Lands $10 Million for Its Employee Gifting Platform - Andrii Degeler (TechEU)
    Israeli-founded Snappy, which works in the area of employee recognition, has raised $10 million in funding.
    Snappy provides an alternative to generic corporate gifts by allowing employees to choose from a "curated collection of personalized options, which include local experiences like cooking and yoga classes, global getaways, as well as trending products," the company said.
    Lack of recognition and appreciation is one of the main reasons that people change jobs.

Israel Invents Biocontrol Method to Protect Date Palms from Pests (Xinhua-China)
    Israeli researchers have developed a biological control for weevils that destroy date palms, the Volcani Agricultural Institute has announced.
    The new treatment is free of toxins and is based on nematodes, a microscopic roundworm that kills the pests.
    In a test of the new method in the Jordan Valley, more than 70% of the pests died as a result of the nematodes.
    The nematodes enter the body of their prey and secrete a bacterium that will produce toxins to kill it.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • China Cuts Iran Oil Purchases Ahead of U.S. Sanctions, While Saudi Arabia Vows to Increase Production - Benoit Faucon
    China's largest oil refiners, China National Petroleum Corp. and China Petrochemical Corp., haven't booked any Iranian cargo for November. China has been importing about 600,000 barrels of Iranian crude a day. At the same time, Saudi Arabia this week pledged to ramp up supply as the kingdom sought to damp tensions over the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
        This week Saudi oil minister Khalid al-Falih promised a new production increase of 300,000 barrels a day and didn't rule out topping the increase by another 1 million barrels a day if needed. His statements brought oil prices down to around $75 a barrel from recent highs around $85 a barrel. With the drop, "refiners can replace Iranian oil at a price they can afford," said Homayoun Falakshahi, an Iran-focused analyst at UK consultancy Wood Mackenzie. (Wall Street Journal)
  • U.S. Sanctions on Iran Pressure Tehran's Regional Allies - Bassem Mroue and Qassim Abdul-Zahra
    Giant posters on the streets of Beirut's southern Shiite suburbs display an armed Hizbullah fighter in uniform, along with phone numbers where supporters can make donations. "He who equips a warrior is part of the battle," the posters declare. Hizbullah's calls for donations have intensified in past months as the group and its main backer, Iran, come under increasing financial pressure from U.S. sanctions.
        Iran has reportedly cut back on funding for Hizbullah and Shiite militias it supports in Iraq. The U.S. State Department said in July that Iran has spent over $16 billion since 2012 supporting Assad in Syria and its proxies in Iraq and in Yemen, and it also gives $700 million a year to Hizbullah.
        Even if other funding streams are under strain, Hizbullah can still count on public contributions, which stream in through tens of thousands of metal donation boxes in shops, streets, mosques and schools in Shiite areas of Lebanon. (AP-Washington Post)
  • European Parties Urged to Agree Israel Boycott Tactics Are Anti-Semitic - Arthur Neslen
    A conference in Brussels on Nov. 6-7 backed by the Israeli government is to push for all European political parties to sign up to "red lines" that declare boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) tactics to be "fundamentally anti-Semitic." The text proposed for prospective MEPs and political parties to sign up to is the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's "working definition of anti-Semitism."
        Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the founder of the European Jewish Association which is co-organizing the conference with the Europe Israel Public Affairs group, said: "These 'red lines' when passed will represent not our line in the sand but our line in the concrete, and serve as a wake-up call to politicians that the very future of Jewish Europe is on the line here."  (Guardian-UK)
  • In Golan, Druze Struggle over First Vote in Local Elections
    Druze residents of the Golan Heights will have the chance to cast their ballots on October 30 for their local councils for the first time. The vote is taking place after a group of Druze lawyers petitioned Israel's Supreme Court for the right to hold it so they can elect a mayor who will improve services for their community. But there has been a campaign to boycott the poll by the influential religious leadership and a string of candidates have pulled out.
        The war in Syria has changed the outlook of many of the 23,000 Druze in the region. Where once the local Druze dreamt of going to study or work in Syria, now more and more youths turn their hopes towards Israel out of pragmatism. "I'm for the elections, we're with Israel now, Syria is over!," says a 24-year-old man. But despite that he will not cast a ballot. "There are people who will check who will vote or not," he explains. (AFP-Daily Mail-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Report: Egypt Brokers Agreement between Israel, Hamas to Ease Border Violence - Jack Khoury
    Egypt reached a short-term agreement between Israel and Hamas to ease violence along the Gaza border, the London-based Al-Hayat reported Friday. The agreement does not include a halt to the Palestinian processions along the border but does call for an end to any violent acts including the sailing of incendiary balloons and kites over the border into Israel, the use of explosives, and efforts to break through the border fence.
        In return, Israel would commit to expand the fishing zone off the Gaza coast and to the supply of diesel fuel to Gaza's power plant. Israel will also continue to allow supplies into Gaza for UN-sponsored humanitarian projects. The Palestinian Authority continues to object to any arrangement between Hamas and Israel on longer-term calm that would bypass the PA. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel: There Is No Popular Protest in Gaza, Hamas Brings in Rioters on Buses - Judah Ari Gross
    Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Friday said he was "hopeful" that Gaza would be calm over the coming weekend, without clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops. "Yesterday and today, Qatari fuel trucks entered [Gaza], but one calm Friday in one weekend is still not a change. In order to see a trend, we need to see what happens at least until the end of November, and then we can reach conclusions one way or another," he said.
        Lieberman noted, "There is no 'popular protest,' rather there is organized violence that they [Hamas] control. When they want to raise the level of violence, they raise it. When they want to lower it, they lower it. No one comes to the fence by foot, they are all brought in transportation organized by Hamas."
        Lieberman also discussed Jordan's decision not to renew leases on territory along the border farmed by Israel. "We'll talk to them. We must speak with them, we must have negotiations, but I don't see any change in our relationship with the Jordanians at the moment."  (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Rejects Russian "Restrictions" on Israeli Strikes in Syria
    Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Army Radio on Thursday, "We will not accept any restrictions on our freedom of operation," rejecting reported demands by Moscow that Israel give the Russian military additional warning before carrying out airstrikes in Syria. He added, "Just because the media did not report on Syria strikes does not mean there were none."  (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian Incitement Against Israel Is Rising - Uri Bollag
    Palestinian incitement against Israel has increased over the last two months, according to a report released by the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs. The Palestinian Authority is consistently voicing its support for terror attacks, while Hamas is calling for a renewal of suicide attacks in the West Bank and for Gaza residents to continue rioting along the border fence. Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan noted that "the dream of destroying the State of Israel has not been abandoned."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Zero Hour for the Islamic Republic - Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon
    With the beleaguered Iranian regime facing political unrest at home and escalating sanctions from abroad, the international community can block its expansionist and dangerous designs. Iranians are outraged that their leaders have funneled the billions of dollars their government received from the nuclear agreement to support terrorist proxies.
        The world must not be fooled into believing that normalizing relations with Tehran will improve global security. Iran has tens of thousands of soldiers and proxy forces in Syria. It is actively engaged in a proxy war in Yemen. It recently provided short-range ballistic missiles to Shiite forces in Iraq. This summer it attempted to bomb an opposition rally in Paris. Europe should stand fast with the U.S. Wishful thinking and appeasement will not keep the Continent safe.
        With more consequential U.S. sanctions approaching, now is the time to support the Iranian people's demand for change and increase the pressure on their rulers. The world may soon have the opportunity to free itself of this evil regime, and I call on my colleagues at the UN to join the U.S. and Israel in standing against its regional adventurism and global terrorism. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Why Is the ICC Prosecutor Interfering in Khan al-Ahmar? - Amb. Alan Baker
    In a somewhat irregular statement by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court published on October 17, Fatou Bensouda saw fit to criticize Israel and voice concern over the planned evacuation of the Bedouin encampment of Khan al-Ahmar, as well as over the continued violence at the Gaza border. This statement reflects an element of ignorance on the part of the prosecutor as to the legal situation in the case of Khan al-Ahmar and the highly publicized background of repeated appeals by the residents of the village to Israel's Supreme Court.
        The 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court determines that the exercise by the court of its jurisdiction regarding the most serious crimes of international concern "shall be complementary to national criminal jurisdiction." This means that the ICC may not take action on a complaint referred to it if the courts at the national level are dealing, or have dealt with, the particular case. The Khan al-Ahmar situation represents a classic example of complementarity.
        The fact that Prosecutor Bensouda, pursuant to incessant Palestinian lobbying and harassment, has found it necessary to periodically issue criticism of and warnings to Israel, and to intercede in an ongoing situation regarding Khan al-Ahmar, would appear to reflect on her impartiality and independence, and as such, on her capability to fulfill the important function of ICC prosecutor.
        The writer, former legal counsel for the Foreign Ministry and Israel's ambassador to Canada, currently directs the International Law Program at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Jordan Renews Its Request to Build a Fifth Minaret on the Temple Mount - Nadav Shragai
    Jordan has asked Israel to allow it to build a fifth minaret on the Temple Mount, facing the Mount of Olives. The Jordanian request is not new, though at this stage Israel does not intend to allow it. Jordan has renewed its request as part of its growing rivalry with Turkey over influence in Jerusalem's Old City and on the Temple Mount. The four previous minarets on the Temple Mount were built during the Mameluke period (1260-1517).
        Israel's relations with Jordan on the Temple Mount are based on informal understandings that are intended to prevent the growth of extreme elements on the mount, such as Hamas and the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel. The Israel-Jordan peace treaty signed in 1994 states that out of all the Arab countries, Israel will grant top priority to Jordan with regard to the sites that are holy to Islam in Jerusalem. The writer, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center, is a journalist and commentator who has documented the dispute over Jerusalem for 30 years. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Have Palestinians Given Up on Resistance? - Adnan Abu Amer
    A poll by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center (JMCC) published Oct. 16 showed that 47% of Palestinians now believe peace negotiations are the best solution to establish a Palestinian state. In January, 25% believed this. The poll, conducted on Sept. 19-24 in the West Bank and Gaza, showed that supporters of armed resistance declined to 25% - from 30% in February 2017 and 33% in March 2015.
        Support for peaceful mass resistance dropped to 20%, compared to 25% in February 2017 and 27% in March 2015. 31% of Palestinians said that rockets fired from Gaza toward Israeli targets benefit the national interest, while 62% had believed that in October 2014 and 74% in December 2012.
        Amin Maqboul, a member of Fatah's Central Committee, told Al-Monitor, "These results reflect the decline in Arab and international attention to the Palestinian cause. Palestinians are leaning toward negotiations rather than the armed struggle since no countries support the latter. Palestinians have become frustrated with the future of the resistance." The writer heads the political science and media department of Umma University Open Education in Gaza. (Al-Monitor)

  • Weekend Features

  • How Israel Is Responding to the Worldwide Water Shortage - Oren Peleg
    In 1937, before they had a state, Jews in Mandatory Palestine had Mekorot, a national water authority. During Israel's infancy, Mekorot was tasked with diverting water from sources such as the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River in the wetter north to the more barren south.
        Nearly two-thirds of Israel is desert. Rainfall is scarce and devastating droughts are commonplace. If Israelis were to thrive, they'd have to provide water security to a people cornered in one of the most arid strips of land on Earth. Moreover, Israel's rainfall has been cut in half since 1948, while its population has increased tenfold.
        Israel reuses more than 90% of its water; next in the world is Spain at 20%. Using drip irrigation, Israel made its desert bloom. More recently, it added desalination of the Mediterranean to the mix. By 2014, Israel was able to export water to neighboring Jordan and Palestinian territories. Today, Israeli-developed water technology is being used in more than 100 countries.
        "Sustainable Nation" is a new Israeli documentary that follows three Israeli water-sector innovators who are attempting to bring their expertise to water-starved or water-challenged parts of the world such as South Asia and Africa. Sivan Yaari is CEO of Innovation: Africa, which has brought solar-powered water pumps to hundreds of rural African villages. Eli Cohen is an aquatic farmer trying to bring his revolutionary natural filtration methods to India, where the water supply remains mired in pollution problems. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
  • Read the Secret Journal of a Teenage Girl Terrorized by the Nazis, Presented in English for the First Time - Renia Spiegel
    Translated from Polish for the first time, the diary of Renia Spiegel presents us with a striking first-person narrative of life as a young Jew during World War II. (Smithsonian)
        See also An Astonishing Holocaust Diary, Hidden for 70 Years, Resurfaces - Robin Shulman
    Over the course of 700 pages, between the ages of 15 and 18, Renia Spiegel wrote funny stories about her friends, charming descriptions of the natural world, lonely appeals to her absent parents, passionate confidences about her boyfriend, and chilling observations of the machinery of nations engaged in cataclysmic violence. The shock of Renia's diary is watching a teenage girl with the standard preoccupations come to an inescapable awareness of the violence that is engulfing her. (Smithsonian)
  • Rose Zar, a Holocaust Survivor Who Hid in Plain Sight - Melissa Eddy
    Rose Zar was born as Ruszka Guterman in Piotrkow, Poland, on July 27, 1922. Her father told her that if she ever had to go into hiding, the best place would be the most obvious, where those pursuing her would never look. "He said you have to hide in the mouth of the wolf, under the officials' nose." In October 1942, when she was 19, her father feared that the Nazis were closing in on the ghetto where they lived. She was prepared. She grabbed her suitcase and forged passport and left her family behind.
        For the next three years, she would move around Poland, disguising herself as a Roman Catholic named Wanda Gajda. She found menial jobs like cleaning the stairs in a hospital or peeling potatoes in the kitchen of the local SS headquarters in Krakow. She learned to laugh at the crude, often anti-Semitic jokes told by the Polish women she worked with.
        When an SS commander summoned her to his office for questioning, she felt certain that it was the end. But she had learned to speak German fluently and he offered her a job. She spent the final years of the war hiding in plain sight in the home of a Nazi commander as "Fraulein Wanda." Her memoir, published in 1983, was titled, In the Mouth of the Wolf and is taught in schools across the U.S. (New York Times)

  • If your child came home from college and said she was challenged by a classmate who claimed that Palestine is Arab land stolen by the Jews, could you provide her with a response?
  • For the 400 years before World War I, Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire, so it was owned by the Turks, not by the Arabs, let alone by the Arabs of Palestine. There was never a country called Palestine ruled by its own Arab inhabitants.
  • The original Zionists came to Palestine without the backing of any imperialist or colonialist power. They bought the land on which they settled.
  • Colonialism didn't bring Britain to Palestine. It conquered the land in World War I not from the Arabs but from Turkey, which had joined Britain's enemies in the war. The Arabs in Palestine fought for Turkey against Britain. The land was enemy territory.
  • Supporting Zionism appealed to Prime Minister David Lloyd George, Lord Balfour and other officials not just on strategic grounds, but also for moral reasons. They sympathized with the Jewish national cause. Zionism was an answer to the historical Jewish question, a way to remedy some of the harm shamefully done to the Jewish people over history.
  • And it would give Jews an opportunity to normalize their place in the world, by building up a national center and a refuge, a country in their ancient homeland where they could become the majority and enjoy self-determination as a people.
  • In 1919, the first Palestinian Congress declared that Palestine had never been divided from Syria and that Palestinians and Syrians were one people. Palestine's Arabs were not viewed by their own leaders as a separate nation.

    The writer, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, served as U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy (2001-2005).
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