November 22, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Iranian Exports to EU Rise 25 Percent in 2018 (Financial Tribune-Iran)
    Trade between Iran and the 28 EU member states during the first three quarters of 2018 amounted to 14.89 billion euros, a 7.5% rise compared with the similar period of last year.
    Iranian exports to the EU showed a 25% rise, while imports declined 8%.
    Iran's top five trading partners over the period were Italy, Spain, Germany, France and Greece.

Iran-Backed Cyber Attackers Taking Aim at Australia - Jane Norman (ABC News-Australia)
    Iranian hackers are believed to be responsible for a cyber security breach and extortion attempt on Australia's biggest defense exporter.
    Shipbuilder Austal earlier this month revealed that an offender had hacked into its computer systems, accessing ship drawings and designs. Some of the information was then offered for sale on the dark web.
    The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) has determined the attack was most likely carried out by Iranian hackers.
    Earlier this year, dozens of Australian universities were targeted by an Iran-based campaign to steal intellectual property and academic research.

U.S. Rejects Israel's Request to Allow Pollard to Immigrate to Israel - Gil Hoffman (Jerusalem Post)
    The U.S. Justice Department rejected an official request from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to allow Jonathan Pollard to serve out the remainder of his parole time in Israel, Channel 2 reported Wednesday.
    Pollard was paroled on Nov. 20, 2015, after having served 30 years in prison for passing classified information to an ally.
    Pollard remains under a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew in his New York home, he cannot leave New York, and he wears a GPS monitoring system.
    Netanyahu's office said he remains committed to bringing Pollard to Israel and would continue his efforts to that end.

PA Court Sentences Palestinians to 15 Years Hard Labor for Selling Land to Jews - Adam Rasgon (Times of Israel)
    A Palestinian Authority court in Kalkilya in the West Bank on Wednesday sentenced two Palestinians convicted of selling land to Israeli Jews to 15 years of hard labor.

Life in Israel under the Shadow of Hamas Rockets - Stephen Daisley (Spectator-UK)
    Midway through coffee at a cafe at Yad Mordechai junction, four km. from Gaza, a soldier came running in to warn of a Red Alert, warning of incoming rocket fire.
    There is a calm exodus to an improvised bomb shelter. This is the second time in 30 minutes that our group of British journalists has had to flee from a Hamas rocket.
    At Sapir College, just outside Sderot, Zohar Avitan, the director of academic studies, jokes about two colleagues comparing the time they have to reach a bomb shelter.
    The man, who lives in Sderot, has 20 seconds, while a female colleague from Ashkelon has 40. "What do you do with all your free time?" he enquires.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Warns It Could Strike U.S. Bases
    "The U.S. bases around us are within our reach and are easy meat for us," IRGC Aerospace Commander Brig.-Gen. Amirali Hajizadeh said Wednesday. He pointed to the American Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, Al Dhafra Air Base in the UAE, and Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan, saying the bases used to be threats to Iran but are now "opportunities." U.S. aircraft carriers in the Sea of Oman are now within the reach of Iran's ballistic missiles, which have pinpoint accuracy and a range of 700 km., he added. (Press TV-Iran)
  • FBI Announces $3 Million Reward for Iranian Who Procured U.S. Technology for IEDs - Stephen Montemayor
    The FBI in Minneapolis announced a $3 million reward on Tuesday for help in arresting Hossein Ahmed Larijani, an Iranian national who was indicted for illegally procuring radio transceiver modules made in Minnesota that were fashioned into roadside bombs used to target U.S. military personnel in Iraq. Larijani sent 6,000 of the devices to Iran. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
  • Board of Deputies of British Jews Condemns Quakers' Israel Divestment Policy
    Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl has condemned the decision of Quakers in Britain to divest from, in its words, "any companies profiting from the occupation of Palestine." Marie said: "The appalling decision of the Friends House hierarchy to divest from just one country in the world - the only Jewish state - despite everything else going on around the globe, shows the dangers of the obsessive and tunnel-visioned approach that a narrow clique of church officials have taken in recent years."
        "While other churches have reached out to the Jewish community at this time of rising anti-Semitism and polarization to work together to tackle prejudice and promote peace in the region, the Quaker leadership has chosen to import a divisive conflict into our country, rather than export the peace that we all want to see....The Quakers, who have for so long been at the forefront of peace activism, have now marginalized themselves from being a credible voice on the issue."  (Board of Deputies of British Jews)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli-American Hacker Who Terrorized U.S. Jews with Bomb Threats Sentenced to 10 Years in Jail - Bar Peleg
    An Israeli-American hacker who terrorized U.S. Jews with bomb threats was sentenced on Thursday by a Tel Aviv District Court judge to 10 years in prison. The hacker, 19, made 2,000 false terrorism threats from 2015 until his arrest in March 2017. Among his targets was the Israeli embassy in Washington, the Israeli consulate in Miami, Jewish institutions, schools, malls, police stations, hospitals and airlines. The hoax threats forced widespread evacuations and stirred fear of a resurgence of anti-Semitism. (Ha'aretz)
  • "Half-Shekel" Weight from First Temple Era Unearthed near City of David in Jerusalem - Sara Rubenstein
    A tiny stone "half-shekel" weight that dates back to the First Temple period was unearthed north of the City of David in Jerusalem, the City of David Foundation announced Wednesday. The weight was found during the sifting of archaeological soil originating from the foot of Robinson's Arch at the Western Wall. The weight, which has the word Beka written on it in ancient Hebrew script, has been known to be used as a half-shekel donation that each person from the age of 20 years was required to bring as a census and for the maintenance of the Holy Temple, as described in Exodus 38:26.
        Doron Spielman, vice president of the City of David Foundation, said, "This 3,000-year-old Beka weight, inscribed with ancient Hebrew and likely used in the First Temple, is anchoring once again the deep historical connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem. It is a reminder from our ancestors in First Temple times telling us that the State of Israel of today does not rest only on a 70-year-old United Nation's vote, but, rather, rests upon a foundation that began more than three millennia ago. Every single day, archaeologists in the City of David are uncovering our past and preserving our future."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Video: First Temple Beka Weight Unearthed in Jerusalem Sifting Project (YouTube)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Strategic Wisdom of Maintaining U.S.-Saudi Ties - Michael Doran and Tony Badran
    Every president since Harry Truman has aligned with unsavory Middle Eastern rulers in the service of national interests. President Trump understands the centrality of Riyadh in the effort to counter a rising Iran and he is rightly unwilling to allow the murder of Mr. Khashoggi to imperil that strategy.
        The Saudis are not the moral equivalents of Iranians. The Saudis and their oil have played a pivotal role in American economic strategies. Trump acknowledged that the Saudis are assisting him with stabilizing global oil prices as he seeks to quash Iranian oil sales. Whatever Prince Mohammed's faults may be, he actively supports the American regional order that the Iranians openly seek to destroy.
        The critics are asking us to believe that the priority for stabilizing the Middle East today is distancing the U.S. from one of its oldest allies. This is a dangerous assumption that is not borne out by experience.
        The murder of Mr. Khashoggi was a brutal and grotesque act. The U.S. has registered its feelings loudly and clearly by putting sanctions on the 17 men who were directly involved in the killing. Punishing the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia will not bring justice for Mr. Khashoggi, nor will it make Saudi Arabia a more dependable ally. It will simply diminish the influence of the U.S. and embolden its enemies. Mr. Doran is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. Mr. Badran is research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (New York Times)
  • Saeb Erekat, Airbnb, and BDS - Amb. Alan Baker
    PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat has been celebrating a decision by the Airbnb international home-rental company to remove listings of vacation apartments in Israel's West Bank towns and villages. The Airbnb decision is based upon a January 2016 letter sent by Erekat condemning the promoting of house rentals "in illegal settlements in the occupied State of Palestine." Erekat should know better than to distort facts, law, and history, thereby manipulating Airbnb into involving itself in issues to which it has no connection and cannot, in any way, contribute positively.
        In allowing itself to be manipulated, Airbnb is prejudicing a large basis of customer support among Jews, Christians, and Muslims, all of whom work together in the very areas that Airbnb is now boycotting. Above all, Airbnb has involved itself in a most partisan manner, singling out Israel only. It is supporting and sanctioning an openly hostile movement that is intent on causing economic and cultural damage to Israel and aligning itself with hostile groups supporting acts of violence and terror against Israel.
        Since no Palestinian state exists, there is no "occupied Palestinian state" or "occupied Palestinian territory" as Erekat claims. The issue of the disputed territories is an issue for future negotiations, as negotiated by Erekat himself.
        The writer participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians and served as legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

In a video address on Wednesday to an international conference in Vienna on combating anti-Semitism, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:
  • The Holocaust did not begin, of course, in the gas chambers of Auschwitz. The Holocaust began with hateful words, burning books, shattering storefronts.
  • The lesson of the Holocaust is that we must never forget the importance of fighting hate, barbarism and radicalism, and to do so early on when you can still stop bad things from getting worse.
  • Today, we are experiencing a resurgence of anti-Semitism worldwide. We once again hear false and dehumanizing allegations against Jews. We see attempts to kill or harm Jews in the name of radical ideologies.
  • And since the establishment of the State of Israel, we face a new form of anti-Semitism: vicious efforts to demonize the Jewish State and deny the Jewish people the right to self-determination in our ancestral homeland, the Land of Israel.
  • When every nation is allowed to define its flag, its national anthem, its national identity, except for the Jewish people, this is anti-Semitism.
  • The first step to combat anti-Semitism is to define it. The Israeli government, along with seven other European governments, including Austria, has adopted the IHRA [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance] definition of anti-Semitism. I urge all countries to adopt this definition and to increase their efforts to combat anti-Semitism and its modern manifestation, anti-Zionism.