November 16, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Went to Extraordinary Lengths to Avoid Hurting Gaza Civilians (Twitter)
    Raf Sanchez, the Middle East correspondent of Britain's Daily Telegraph, noted after returning from Gaza on Thursday:
    We've just come out of Gaza for a quick trip to see how things are after this week's fighting.
    Hamas are buoyant. Their leaders are going in front of bomb sites to do TV interviews.
    People we spoke to were a) relieved there wasn't a war, b) basically supportive of Hamas and other factions' decision to shoot rockets.
    Hamas are super-paranoid after the Israeli commando raid and are looking for collaborators. We went through lots of new checkpoints.
    We got a sense of how careful Israel was to avoid civilian casualties during the airstrikes in Gaza. The Israeli army called one guy we met and spent 45 minutes on the phone with him, getting him to evacuate his neighbors, before they blew up a Hamas media building next to his.
    We asked a senior Hamas leader, Ismael Radwan, about the Palestinian man from Hebron killed in Ashkelon. He went down a conspiracy rabbit hole, saying maybe the apartment building was a military site and Israel had put him there deliberately.

UNRWA Narrows Funding Gap after U.S. Pulls Support (Reuters)
    The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, has almost closed a funding gap caused by the loss of $300 million in U.S. contributions, its chief, Pierre Kraehenbuehl, said Tuesday.
    "We have mobilized until now $382 million of additional funding, which means we brought the shortfall down to $64 million, and we are still in contact with a number of countries," he said.

Ghana's Support Brings Israel a Step Closer to African Union Seat - Azad Essa (Middle East Eye-UK)
    On a recent visit to Israel, Ghana's Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey confirmed that her government would be assisting Israel to gain observer status at the African Union (AU).
    Kenya and Ethiopia have already endorsed Israel's bid to join as an observer member when the vote takes place in February.
    Palestine was granted observer status in 2013.
    Today, many African leaders are more inclined to prioritize self-interest woven with a more pragmatic approach to foreign policy.
    This has translated into a more public working relationship with Israel that has long existed in the shadows.
    The Israeli government already provides energy, technological and agricultural expertise to a range of African nations.
    It has also provided assistance to address the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014.

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Jewish State Appoints Christian Envoy to Muslim Country - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's Foreign Ministry announced the appointment of George Deek as Israel's next Ambassador to Azerbaijan, a Muslim-majority country, on Thursday, making him Israel's first ever Christian Arab ambassador.
    Deek joined the ministry in 2008 and served in Norway and Nigeria. He is currently a senior adviser to Director-General Yuval Rotem.
    "We are proud of his appointment, which perfectly symbolizes the integration of Israelis from different backgrounds in the representation of the state," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon.

Video: The Israeli First-Responder Organization United Hatzalah (The Tower)
    Jewish, Muslim and Christian volunteers in Israel work together to save lives.

Technion Researchers Bring Engineering to Medicine - Jennifer Frey (Jerusalem Post)
    At the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, engineers, researchers and physicians work side-by-side to create amazing medical devices and technologies that impact the lives of people everywhere.
    Professor Moshe Shoham developed a robotic guidance system that helps perform brain and spine surgeries with pinpoint accuracy.
    The company he founded, Mazor Robotics, has done more than 7,000 successful surgeries and 50,000 implants.
    While battling cancer, Biotechnology and Food Engineering Professor Ester Segal spent endless days hooked up to IVs.
    She is developing nano-silicon carriers that could be ingested, injected or implanted to deliver chemotherapy over a period of weeks or months, doing away with IV drips, allowing patients to receive treatment while going about their daily lives.

Ecuador Honors Late Diplomat Who Saved Jews from the Nazis - Marcus M. Gilban (JTA)
    Ecuador posthumously restored the diplomatic career of Manuel Antonio Munoz Borrero, its World War II-era consul to Stockholm, who was removed from his position in 1942 after saving over 100 Jews from the Nazis.
    "His behavior was a sign of a brave, humanistic attitude, solidarity, and brotherhood with those who were persecuted for being what they were, Jews," said Foreign Minister Jose Valencia.
    While carrying out his diplomatic duties, Munoz Borrero saved the lives of Jews by granting them humanitarian passports.
    When the Ecuadorean authorities discovered his actions, he was relieved of his duties.
    In 2011, he was awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations from the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Changes Vote on Anti-Israel UN Resolution on Golan Heights from Abstain to No
    The annual UN resolution entitled "The Occupied Syrian Golan" is scheduled for a vote on Friday, Nov. 16. In previous years, the U.S. abstained on this resolution. However, given the resolution's anti-Israel bias, as well as the militarization of the Syrian Golan border, and a worsening humanitarian crisis, this year the U.S. has decided to vote no on the resolution.
        Amb. Nikki Haley said: "The United States will no longer abstain when the United Nations engages in its useless annual vote on the Golan Heights. If this resolution ever made sense, it surely does not today. The resolution is plainly biased against Israel. Further, the atrocities the Syrian regime continues to commit prove its lack of fitness to govern anyone."
        "The destructive influence of the Iranian regime inside Syria presents major threats to international security. ISIS and other terrorist groups remain in Syria. And this resolution does nothing to bring any parties closer to a peace agreement. The United States will vote no."  (U.S. Mission to the UN)
        See also Israel Thanks U.S. for Voting Against Condemning Israel
    Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon on Thursday welcomed the U.S. decision to vote against a UN resolution that condemns Israel's presence on the Golan Heights. "I thank Ambassador [Nikki] Haley for her continued steadfastness with Israel and the truth," Danon said, "It is time for the world to distinguish between those who stabilize the region and those who sow terror."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • UN Committee Criticizes Human Rights Violations in Iran - Edith M. Lederer
    The UN General Assembly's Human Rights Committee approved a resolution Thursday urging Iran to stop its widespread use of arbitrary detention and expressing serious concern at its "alarmingly high" use of the death penalty. The resolution, sponsored by Canada, was adopted by a vote of 85-30, with 68 abstentions, and is certain to be approved by the General Assembly next month.
        The resolution expresses "serious concern about ongoing severe limitations and restrictions on the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief." It singles out harassment, intimidation and persecution against religious minorities including Christians, Gonabadi Dervishes, Jews, Sufi Muslims, Sunni Muslims, Yarsanis, Zoroastrians and members of the Baha'i faith. (AP-Washington Post)
  • U.S. Levels Sanctions on 17 Saudis for Alleged Involvement in Khashoggi Killing - Mark Landler and Gardiner Harris
    The U.S. imposed sanctions on 17 Saudis accused of involvement in the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, hours after Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor announced that he would seek the death penalty for five people he said took part in Khashoggi's killing in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. A senior administration official said the U.S. was unlikely to take further steps against Saudi leaders, suggesting that both sides hope to put the episode behind them. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Envoy: Iran Sanctions Help Cut Funding Streams to Hamas and Hizbullah - Herb Keinon
    U.S. special envoy on Iran Brian Hook said Thursday before meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, "Now that we have reimposed our sanctions [on Iran], we are in a position to really go after all the revenue streams Iran uses to fund Hamas and Hizbullah, its missile proliferation - all the threats to peace and security that Iran presents." Netanyahu welcomed Hook and congratulated the U.S. for "the powerful sanctions against Iran."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • In Rome, Israeli President Rivlin Tells Pope Israel Won't "Stand By" in Face of Hamas Attacks
    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told Pope Francis in a meeting Thursday at the Vatican, "Israel does not want escalation or to hurt innocent civilians, but will not stand by while Hamas undermines stability and our civilians are harmed." Rivlin also told Francis that Hamas must return a pair of Israeli citizens it is holding, as well the bodies of two Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed during the 2014 Gaza war, before any future agreement can be sealed. (Times of Israel)
  • Italian Deputy FM: European Attitudes toward Israel Are Improving Dramatically - Eldad Beck
    Italy is considering opening a permanent mission in Jerusalem in light of the European Union's refusal to allow its member-states to relocate their embassies in Israel to the city, Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Guglielmo Picchi told Israel Hayom in an interview. "Italy's job is to ensure there is no bias in the union against Israel, ensure open dialogue and candor with Israel, and try and prevent the adoption of negative resolutions on Israel," he said. "The atmosphere has changed dramatically....Today there is a much more positive approach to Israel."  (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israel Weighed Going to War in Gaza - Amos Harel
    At the meeting of Israel's Security Cabinet and in other security discussions this week, the IDF raised three options: refraining from any response, dealing Hamas a blow the army termed "significant," or launching another version of the 2014 Gaza war. The IDF recommended the middle option, which it deemed proportionate.
        Some ministers asked why the army hadn't assassinated senior Hamas officials. The answer lies in the fact that as soon as the latest round of fighting began, Hamas leaders went underground, so the element of surprise was lost. Some suggested it was possible to wage a lengthy campaign from afar without sending ground forces into Gaza. But IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot believes the Palestinians would escalate by firing on the Tel Aviv area.
        At that point, either Israel would occupy Gaza, or it would stop the fighting after a few weeks - at which point the negotiations with Hamas would resume exactly where they left off. (Ha'aretz)
  • Solving the Problem of Gaza - Israel Kasnett
    Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said, "everything that typically works doesn't necessarily work in the Gaza Strip....There are always two competing forces when we look at these flare-ups. There is Israel's desire to maintain calm, thinking of the well-being of its own people, and then there is the military interest in preventing this buildup."
        At a recent Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies (JISS) conference, former national security adviser Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror said, "a war in Gaza will only benefit [PA leader] Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] and Iran. And we don't want to give Iran any gifts."
        Prof. Efraim Inbar, president of JISS, wrote in Israel Hayom: "We cannot trust Hamas to keep the calm. Only when Hamas is afraid of IDF retaliation, which has yet to come, will calm prevail. Israelis tend to overlook the fact that in the Middle East, it is fear, above everything else, that governs how people act. Unfortunately, from time to time, we must give our enemies a violent reminder, lest they continue terrorizing us."
        "The assumption that boosting the quality of life for Gazans will reduce Hamas violence and hatred is fundamentally flawed. There is no place on this planet where there is a direct correlation between quality of life and terrorism. This holds true in the Palestinian case as well."
        Schanzer, referring to Israel's government, said, "They've tried everything. Overwhelming force, negotiations, working with Egypt, exploring non-conventional means of delivering aid. None of these things are working."  (JNS)
  • Hamas Seeks to Change the Rules - Dan Feferman
    Since Hamas wrested control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority in 2007, it has instigated three extended conflicts against Israel, characterized by rocket and mortar fire and the digging and utilization of terror tunnels. Having largely neutralized these threats through technological innovation, Israel retaliated each time through aerial and artillery strikes, carefully choosing targets either for their symbolic or military value.
        The aim in each round of fighting has been to limit Hamas' war-making ability, reestablish deterrence, and gain escalation control. In other words, Israel has aimed to set the rules of the game. Hamas sought to challenge those rules and establish rules of its own. The writer is a major (res.) in the IDF, where he served as a foreign policy adviser and intelligence analyst. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Withstands Rocket Barrage and the World Barely Noticed - Liat Collins
    In this week's two-day Rocket War, with the relative protection afforded by the Iron Dome, Israel withstood a barrage of close to 500 rockets and mortars within 25 hours, fired by a terrorist organization which controls Gaza with an iron fist and Sharia law. Most of the world barely noticed. Or shrugged. Or, predictably, called for restraint - though I'm not the first person to wonder what the Western powers would do were just one rocket to fall on their sovereign territory.
        The same people who less than a month earlier recognized that the massacre in a Pittsburgh synagogue was an atrocious act of anti-Semitism, for some reason did not perceive hundreds of rockets being launched on Israeli communities as anything to get upset about.
        For Israelis, the latest round of violence is more proof - as if more were needed - that providing terrorists with territory does not buy quiet. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Cutting Hamas Down to Size - Caroline B. Glick
    Israel does not seek to overthrow the Hamas regime in Gaza. And for good reason. The price of a war to overthrow Hamas would be exorbitant both in terms of the human and monetary cost of war. One option is that Israel pay the price of overthrowing Hamas and then hand Gaza over to the PLO. The PLO, though, is no less hostile than Hamas. Israel has no interest whatsoever in empowering the PLO by giving it Gaza.
        Given the absence of a better alternative to Hamas in Gaza, rather than work to overthrow the terror regime, Israel has focused its efforts on keeping Hamas as weak as possible. Its strategy can be equated to mowing the grass. The purpose of Israel's operations is to cut Hamas down to size until the next round. A terror regime capable of sending 500 projectiles into Israeli territory in less than 24 hours and destroying a bus with an anti-tank missile is one that has become too powerful. (Jerusalem Post)
  • What Would Other Countries Do When Faced with Thousands of Violent Rioters Attempting to Breach Their Border? - Adam Levick
    Hamas couldn't have asked for a Western journalist more sympathetic to their cause than Sarah Helm, writing in the Britain's Independent that Israel is "maiming a new generation" of Palestinians. Her reports of Palestinian suffering are completely context-free, ignoring the fact that the weekly riots are instigated by Hamas, who, if they were concerned about Palestinian suffering, and the burden on their fledgling healthcare system, could easily put an end to the provocations.
        Helm is among those who insist on denying Palestinians agency - casting them and their leaders as passive actors. Is there a Western army in the world that wouldn't use potentially lethal force when faced with thousands of violent rioters - many of whom are fighters associated with proscribed terror groups - attempting to breach their border?
        Why, in the face of shortages of doctors and surgical equipment, does Hamas encourage riots which will inevitably result in serious injuries? Why, in the face of poverty and a myriad of social and economic woes, does Hamas use precious resources - including millions in international aid - for rockets, attack tunnels and other military projects? (UK Media Watch-CAMERA)
  • The Rockets from Gaza and the Peace Process - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is willing to negotiate. But the ordeal Israelis have just undergone with 460 rockets launched from Gaza this week illustrates why the majority of his people have no appetite for a withdrawal from the West Bank under the current circumstances. Most Israelis understand that if their army gives up security control of the West Bank, the terrible dilemma they are facing in Gaza will be replicated in the far larger and more strategic territory.
        Imagine a West Bank as armed and as dangerous as Gaza is now - and recognized by the rest of the world as a sovereign state that Israel wouldn't be free to attack - and you see what most Israelis think would be the only logical outcome. (New York Post)
        See also Long-Term Peace with Hamas Is Impossible - Jonathan S. Tobin
    As long as Hamas rules the terrorist state in Gaza, there will always be a dagger pointed at Israel's throat. While Hamas agrees to ceasefires, it isn't interested in peace. Its goal - made painfully obvious by the violent mass protests conducted every Friday at the border with Israel since March - is the elimination of the Jewish state. Long-term peace with it is impossible. (JNS)
  • Israelis near Gaza Have Lived with Rocket Attacks for 15 Years - Simon Plosker
    In Sderot after the Hamas rocket attacks this week, Deputy Mayor Elad Kalimi explained that although Iron Dome intercepted a rocket, a piece of debris landed on a bakery, starting a fire and causing extensive damage, one of four sites that had been struck.
        Kalimi stressed how the people of Sderot had been living under this abnormal situation for 15 years. He said all of his six children were suffering from stress disorders. His youngest child had run in fear to the shelter the previous week when she thought that the sound of a rainstorm was incoming rockets. (HonestReporting)
  • Aid to Palestinians Used to Build Hamas' Tunnel Network
    Qanta A. Ahmed, a British-American Muslim media commentator, told Radio Sputnik she had visited the Gaza border this autumn "to see the tunnel networks that Hamas has built....[They] seemed to be high-finished concrete with ventilation, electrical wiring, [and] lightning. I went in...to see where the billions of dollars of international aid have been spent."
        "I also was privy with the deputy commander of the Gaza division to satellite images which were classified and I was not allowed to take pictures of them in any way. But it gave me some idea of the network of tunnels inside Gaza....It looks like a Jackson Pollock painting. It is unbelievably densely built up with a labyrinth of tunnels which would put to shame the British underground or the American subway network."  (Sputnik-Russia)
  • NGOs Disappear when Palestinians in Gaza Fire Rockets at Civilians in Israel
    This week Palestinian terror groups in Gaza fired over 400 rockets into Israeli population centers. Since each such attack is a war crime, one might expect human rights NGOs to condemn these blatant violations of human rights. However, that has not happened. Instead, NGOs and NGO officials have entirely ignored the Palestinian violations against Israelis. (NGO Monitor)

What Happened to Arab Support for the Palestinians? - Dr. George N. Tzogopoulos (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • Sarah J. Feuer, Research Fellow, Institute for National Security Studies
    With some states still reeling from the aftershocks of the "Arab Spring," a resultant prioritization of domestic security and economic concerns on the part of key countries such as Egypt, as well as intra-Arab disputes that continue to simmer or intensify, the geopolitical bandwidth of many Arab countries has narrowed at the expense of the Palestinian cause.
  • Jonathan Schanzer, Senior Vice President, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
    The Obama administration's decision to embrace the Muslim Brotherhood in 2011 and then enter into the Iran nuclear deal in 2015 rattled the Sunni Arab states to their core. Washington undertook two decisions that threatened these countries directly. That's when the Sunni Arab world began to draw closer to Israel, the region's strongest military power.
  • Michael Wilner, Washington bureau chief for the Jerusalem Post
    For the first time, Israelis benefit from direct communication and collaboration with Arab leaders who give them an opportunity to make their case, show their own humanity, and share their side of the story. Arab capitals gained respect for Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he so publicly confronted former President Barack Obama over the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, and have since viewed him as a reliable partner in intelligence-sharing.
  • Hillel Frisch, Professor of Political Studies and Middle East Studies at Bar-Ilan University
    One of the few achievements of Yasser Arafat's otherwise destructive leadership of the Palestinian movement was his ability to achieve a measure of independence from Arab state meddling in Palestinian affairs, while at the same time demanding and receiving their support in international fora. The political, ideological, and geographical split between the PA and Hamas has completely erased Arafat's legacy in this regard.
  • Neri Zilber, adjunct fellow of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy
    While not as central as it perhaps once was in Arab capitals, the Palestinian question still resonates widely. Arab leaders - from Egypt's Sisi to Jordan's Abdullah to Saudi's Salman - consistently emphasize the need for a two-state solution based on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, including east Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.
  • James Dorsey, Senior Fellow, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore
    The UAE and Saudi Arabia are working behind the scenes, so far with limited success, to reengineer Palestinian politics in their mold. With Turkey having adopted the mantle of the Islamic world's leader, and Jordan refusing to align itself with the Saudi-UAE approach, Palestine remains on the agenda even if the dynamics have changed.
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