January 4, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Full Impact of U.S. Sanctions Coming into View: Iran's Exports Halve - Dalga Khatinoglu (Radio Farda)
    In the one-month period Nov. 21-Dec. 22, Iran exported $1.867 billion in non-oil goods, less than half of Iran's monthly average during the current fiscal year, which started on March 21, 2018.
    Reuters reported recently that Iran's oil and gas condensate exports to Asia plunged to a five-year low.

Jordan's Trade Unions to Place Israeli Flag in Building Entrances for All to Step On - Jack Khoury (Ha'aretz)
    Following Israel's condemnation of photos of a Jordanian minister stepping on the Israeli flag in an Amman union building, Jordan's Professional Unions Association decided to place the Israeli flag in the entrances to all its buildings.
    Jordan said in response to Israel's complaint that the building was privately owned and that the government therefore cannot intervene.

Kuwait Won't Host World Cup If It Means Granting Visas to Israelis (Jerusalem Post)
    Kuwait rejected the opportunity to co-host the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar because it did not want to comply with FIFA regulations that would have required it to allow all nationalities to enter the country, Kuwait Football Association President Sheikh Ahmad Yussef told the Kuwaiti daily Al Rai.

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Ancient Jerusalem Attracts Growing Chinese Tourism - Keren Setton (Xinhua-China)
    Jerusalem has seen growing tourism by Chinese tourists in recent years.
    Doron Spielman, vice president of the City of David Foundation in Jerusalem's Old City, said Chinese people love coming here and seeing a wall which was built by Jews at the same time as the Great Wall of China.
    The City of David park has translated its popular night-time sound and light show into Mandarin, so that biblical characters now speak Chinese to tell the ancient story on the walls of Jerusalem's Old City.
    "There aren't too many places in the world that the Chinese people can come and find another group of people that go back thousands of years as they do," Spielman stressed.
    Israel has launched initiatives to better cater to the needs of Chinese tourists, such as inviting Chinese chefs to teach how to cook the Chinese cuisine.
    Direct flights between China and Israel further increased in frequency in 2018, with now dozens of weekly direct flights between the two countries.

Israeli Smartphone App Eases Communication for the Deaf - Benjamin Kerstein (Algemeiner)
    A new smartphone app - DAS-Deaf Access Solution - has been developed by students at the Holon Institute of Technology (HIT) to facilitate communication by deaf people without the aid of sign language.
    DAS uses the Google app Speech Recognizer to translate speech into text, allowing the deaf and hard of hearing to interact one-on-one with hearing people in various situations, such as doctors' visits and business transactions.
    Ayelet Avraham, 28, one of the developers, told the Hebrew news site Mako that she got the idea when she saw a deaf person trying to buy a cellular phone, but was unable to communicate with the salesman.

Israeli Device Watches Swimming Pools to Prevent Drowning Accidents - Eytan Halon (Jerusalem Post)
    During the past year there was a tragic increase of children and adults who drowned at home in private swimming pools.
    The patent-pending Coral Manta system by Coral Drowning Detection Systems constantly "watches" and detects movement in private pools using a built-in underwater video camera, computer vision and artificial intelligence technology.
    When it identifies a potential drowning situation, it sounds an ear-piercing alarm and immediately sends a smartphone alert to all household members.
    The company harnesses the latest deep learning technology to ensure maximum detection rates and very few false alarms, in a similar manner to advanced surveillance technology and self-driving vehicles.
    In this case, however, movement must be detected underwater, which moves all the time.
    Company entrepreneur Eyal Golan said, "Coral Manta is not meant to replace adult supervision, but to fill the gap when you are distracted and compensate for our human flaws."

Elliq - Helping Older Adults Stay Active - Hillel Fuld (Jerusalem Post)
    Intuition Robotics, headquartered in Tel Aviv, is the creator of ElliQ, a robot sidekick which uses artificial intelligence to help older adults stay active, engaged, and connected to friends, family, and the outside world.
    For instance, if it's a sunny day, ElliQ might suggest the individual go for a walk, or listen to a new TED Talk or some music.

Philippines to Buy Israeli Air Defense System, Drones, Radar - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    The Philippines and Israel are set to sign on a deal for the purchase of Rafael's SPYDER medium-range air defense missile system as well as 13 additional Hermes long-range drones from Elbit and two new radar systems from Israel Aerospace Industries.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Warns Iranian Regime on Space Launches
    Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said Thursday: "The Iranian regime's Ministry of Defense has publicly announced plans to launch three Space Launch Vehicles (SLV) in the coming months....Launching SLVs... incorporate[s] technology that is virtually identical to that used in ballistic missiles, including in intercontinental ballistic-missiles (ICBMs). An ICBM with a range of 10,000 km. could reach the United States."
        "The Iranian regime is the world's foremost state sponsor of terror and has proliferated missiles and related technology to its proxies around the Middle East, further flouting UNSCR 2231. The United States will not stand by and watch the Iranian regime's destructive policies place international stability and security at risk."
        "We advise the regime to reconsider these provocative launches and cease all activities related to ballistic missiles in order to avoid deeper economic and diplomatic isolation."  (U.S. State Department)
        See also Iran Rejects U.S. Warning Against Space Launches, Ballistic Missiles (Reuters)
  • Egyptian President Confirms Israel Helping Fight Sinai Jihadists
    Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi confirmed in an interview on "60 Minutes" to be aired on Sunday that his military was working with Israel against terrorists in North Sinai. Asked if cooperation with Israel was the closest ever between two enemies that once were at war, he responds, "That is correct....We have a wide range of cooperation with the Israelis." The Egyptians are battling an estimated 1,000 ISIS-affiliated terrorists on its Sinai peninsula that they have allowed the Israelis to attack by air. (CBS News)
  • Saudi Arabia Begins Trial in Khashoggi Murder - Donna Abdulaziz
    A Saudi court opened the country's first trial in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Thursday, as the public prosecutor formally called for the death penalty for five of the 11 defendants accused of roles in the dissident's death. The court hasn't released the names of the defendants now on trial, and the proceedings aren't expected to shed new light on the incident beyond Saudi official accounts. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Brazil's Bolsonaro: Only Israel Has the Right to Decide Its Capital - Yvette J. Deane
    Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro declared Thursday he would transfer the Brazilian embassy to Jerusalem. "Israel is a sovereign state and we must respect it. Only Israelis have the right to decide what the capital of Israel will be," Bolsonaro said. "Extremist Arab countries will object if we move the embassy to Jerusalem, others will not."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • HSBC Claims Israel's Elbit Systems Makes Cluster Bombs, But It Doesn't - Tovah Lazaroff
    On Wednesday, the international bank HSBC wrote to the Jerusalem Post in response to a critical editorial, saying, "HSBC's decision to divest from Elbit Systems was not the result of campaigning by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement....HSBC's decision was based on our long-standing defense policy whereby we do not invest in companies linked to the production or marketing of cluster munitions."
        However, Elbit's Vice President David Vaknin said the company does not produce cluster bombs. In November, Elbit acquired IMI Systems Ltd., formerly known as Israel Military Industries. Vaknin noted, "As part of the Elbit Systems organization, IMI Systems will not be continuing its prior activities with respect to cluster munitions" and "Elbit Systems [itself] is not engaged in the production of cluster munitions."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas-Fatah Tensions Rise - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Hamas and Fatah intensified their allegations and insults against each other this week. Fatah accused Hamas of detaining 500 of its men in Gaza to thwart Fatah's 54th anniversary celebrations. Fatah said Hamas security officers raided the homes of scores of Fatah officials and activists, and subjected dozens of the men to torture. Hamas said Wednesday that PA security forces have arrested dozens of Hamas supporters in the West Bank in the past few days. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Getting America Out of Syria - Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky
    Critics' fears about the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria are overblown. Islamic State now controls 1% of the territory it once held in Syria and Iraq. It has lost thousands of fighters and recruitment is down. Syria, Iran, Israel, Turkey and Russia share a common interest in preventing an Islamic State resurgence. Wiping out Islamic State was never realistic - the political, economic and sectarian grievances that inspire its fighters cannot be eliminated by military means alone.
        Israel and the Kurds can survive without U.S. troops in Syria. Israel is capable of defending itself and is doing so by attacking Iranian and Hizbullah targets in Syria. The Kurds have begun to seek reconciliation with the Assad regime.
        The U.S. doesn't have vital interests in Syria. This was as true under President Obama as it is under President Trump. Neither the White House, Congress nor the American public, after protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, support a huge military and economic investment in Syria.
        Iran and Russia will dominate Syria as they have done for years. Now both will struggle with the difficulties of pacifying and reconstructing a war-torn state. The more Syria becomes a burden for Russia and Iran, the better for the U.S.
        Keeping U.S. military forces in place with no serious, long-term strategy or attainable objectives would not make the situation significantly better. Syria was never America's to win or lose, and getting out now is not a catastrophe.
        Aaron David Miller, a vice president at the Woodrow Wilson Center, has been a State Department advisor in Republican and Democratic administrations. Richard Sokolsky, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, worked in the Secretary of State's Office of Policy Planning from 2005-2015. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Syria Is the Wrong Issue for a Pro-Israel Fight with the U.S. - Evelyn Gordon
    President Trump's decision to withdraw American forces from Syria is the wrong issue for pro-Israel activists to pick a fight over. To imply that U.S. troops should remain in Syria for Israel's sake is to betray the fundamental tenet of the American-Israeli alliance: Israel will defend itself by itself; it will never ask America to put soldiers in harm's way for its sake.
        With Israel, the agreement has always been that Israel would see to its own defense, while America would provide it with the means to do so. Relying on others for protection always ends badly for the Jews. At the same time, America's diplomatic umbrella, especially at the UN, is critical both to buying Israel the time it needs to fight and to protecting it from sanctions. (JNS)
  • BDS Charade: United Church of Christ's "Divestment" from Israel - Dexter Van Zile
    Four years ago, the United Church of Christ (UCC) in the U.S., which regularly condemns Israel while remaining silent about jihadist violence against Christians in Iraq, Syria, and Egypt, said it was going to divest from Israel. But it hasn't happened. The UCC's $3.2 billion retirement fund is still invested in three blacklisted companies: Caterpillar ($1.7 million), Hewlett-Packard ($437,000), and Motorola ($342,000).
        No matter what stocks the UCC's General Synod said people should not own, the UCC Pension Boards are not bound by General Synod resolutions and were free to do whatever is needed to achieve the return on investment promised to the retired clergy it serves.
        This confirms that anti-Israel divestment resolutions are just a charade, used to generate hostility toward the Jewish state and its supporters in the U.S. The whole point was to use divestment motions to turn church-wide assemblies into venues for anti-Israel witch trials. The writer is Christian Media Analyst for CAMERA. (Algemeiner)
  • The Pathological Animus of the New York Times - Melanie Phillips
    The New York Times is entitled to criticize Israel as it would any other country. But it doesn't treat Israel like any other country. It singles it out for demonization based on falsehoods, distortion and selective reporting which makes no attempt at objectivity, fairness or truth.
        Last weekend, it published a 4,700-word story on the life and death of Rouzan al-Najjar, who was killed during the riots on the Gaza border last June. The story described the rioters as "protesters," obscuring their leaders' aim of storming the border to murder Israelis. Israelis were portrayed as trigger-happy killers whose snipers deliberately shot Gazan civilians in the back. Only towards the end did the story reveal that she was in fact killed accidentally. But they still dressed it up as a likely war crime.
        Yet they didn't suggest that Hamas was guilty of war crimes thousands of times by setting out to murder innocent Israelis. They skated over the missile attacks from Gaza, the terror tunnels, the fact that Israelis were forced to live in bomb shelters. Instead, the paper produced a radically slanted version to obscure the fact that Israel was defending itself against a genocidal onslaught, and wickedly depicted it instead as a criminal aggressor. The writer is a columnist for The Times (UK). (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Vatican's Path toward Official Recognition of Israel - Julian Schvindlerman
    The notion that the Jewish people could have a right to self-determination - and even more so in the Holy Land - was anathema to Vatican understanding of the role of the Jew in history. In 1904, Pope Pius X told Theodor Herzl that the Church could not recognize Zionism. Later, the Vatican held an unfavorable view of the Balfour Declaration and instigated diplomatic efforts contrary to the interests of the Zionists.
        After World War II, the revolutionary dogmatic revision prompted by the Second Vatican Council, called for by Pope John XXIII, represented the theological turning point for a new era of reconciliation, leading to Vatican recognition of the State of Israel in 1993. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Weekend Features

  • Hitler's "Fake News" Assault on America - Matt Lebovic
    In the recently published book Hitler's American Friends, Bradley W. Hart describes some of the key German propaganda messages spread by Nazi spies in the U.S. during the late 1930s and into World War II. These include the claim that Franklin Roosevelt was a closet Jew whose real name was Rosenfeld, the war in Poland and Russia was entirely the fault of England, and the American press was bent on bringing the country into war against peaceful Germany.
        Throughout the 1930s, Nazi spies operated on Capitol Hill, from church pulpits, and in front of massive crowds at rallies. In 1937, Congress enacted the Foreign Agents Registration Act because so many Nazi spies had been caught seeking "to subvert the American democratic system." A hundred men and women were eventually convicted of spying for the Nazis, and six "saboteurs" were executed.
        The German American Bund, a network of 25,000 pro-Nazi activists, established training camps and strongholds throughout the country. In addition, the pro-Nazi Silver Legion boasted 15,000 members, modeling itself on Mussolini's Brown Shirts in Italy. A 1941 Fortune magazine poll revealed that 13 million Americans would not mind deporting Jews from the country.
        "The people who were members of anti-Semitic groups like the German American Bund or the Silver Legion didn't just disappear in 1945," Hart told the Times of Israel. "We don't really know much about what they taught their children or talked about at home in those later years."  (Times of Israel)
  • French Resistance Hero Who Saved Hundreds of Jewish Children Dies at 108
    Georges Loinger, a French Resistance hero who saved the lives of hundreds of Jewish children during World War II, has died at the age of 108. Loinger smuggled small groups of children across the Swiss border by throwing a ball and telling them to run after it. Another ruse involved dressing children up as mourners and taking them to a cemetery next to the border. With the help of a gravedigger's ladder, the "mourners" clambered over the cemetery wall and headed for the border just feet away. Loinger alone is credited with saving at least 350 children.
        In 1940, while serving with the French army, Loinger was taken prisoner by German forces and sent to a prisoner of war camp in Germany. Due to his blond hair and blue eyes, his captors did not suspect that he was Jewish and he managed to escape and return to France. (AFP-Guardian-UK)
        See also Georges Loinger's Simple Game of Catch - Robert Rockaway and Maya Guez (Tablet)
  • Holocaust Hero Noah Klieger - Francoise Ouzan
    Born in Strasbourg, France, in 1926, Noah (Norbert) Klieger joined a resistance group against the Nazis when he was 15. The Zionist group was very active in forwarding secret messages and ration cards and helped more than 200 young Jews to cross into Switzerland. Captured, he was sent to Auschwitz in 1943. When a commander of the death camp, who was a boxing fanatic, put together a boxing club with the inmates as players, Klieger volunteered, saving his life. "When I joined the boxing club, I got an extra liter of soup that kept me going for a few months." He was liberated on April 29, 1945, by the Soviet Army.
        After the war he joined the underground Brichah (Flight) network composed of survivors, whose task was to help Jewish displaced persons (DPs) immigrate illegally to the Promised Land. In July 1947, Klieger served as first mate aboard the famous Exodus 1947. Once in Israel, he joined a volunteer unit of French-speaking soldiers in the Palmach and sustained a serious leg injury in the War of Independence.
        He became a sports columnist and joined Yediot Ahronot, later covering Nazi war criminal trials as well. In his later years he gave lectures to teach people what happened in the Holocaust. Klieger died in Tel Aviv on Dec. 13, 2018, at the age of 92. Dr. Francoise S. Ouzan is Senior Research Associate at the Goldstein-Goren Diaspora Research Center at Tel Aviv University. (Jerusalem Report)

Palestinians Are Determined to Reject any Peace Plan - Bassam Tawil (Gatestone Institute)
  • At the beginning of 2019, the Palestinians are promising Israel more violence, conflict and suffering. Some are also reminding Israel that the Palestinians' real goal is to "liberate all Palestine, from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea" (meaning the annihilation of Israel).
  • Palestinian leaders are not reaching out to their Israeli neighbors with messages of conciliation, peace and coexistence. Instead, the leaders are urging Palestinians to continue hating Israel and the U.S. They are urging Arab countries not to make peace with Israel: they consider normalization with Israel an act of treason.
  • The largest Palestinian group, Fatah, headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, is celebrating these days the 54th anniversary of the launching of its first terrorist attack against Israel, an attempt to sabotage the National Water Carrier on Jan. 1, 1965. The words and photos about the attack published by Fatah continue to glorify terrorism and terrorists.
  • A cartoon published on Fatah's official Facebook page this week depicts "Palestine" as a single entity, the exact shape of Israel, while making no mention of the existence of Israel. The Fatah flag features a grenade with crossed rifles superimposed on a map of Israel.
  • A poster on Fatah's Facebook page under the title, "Revolution until Victory," features a Palestinian in military uniform with a grenade in his hand. The caption reads: "Fatah will continue with the revolution, and will continue to carry the torch of armed struggle."
  • The Palestinians are also determined to reject any peace plan presented by the U.S. They are determined to continue raising new generations on the glorification of violence and terrorists. They are determined to continue denying Israel's right to exist.
  • These messages demonstrate that any talk about resuming a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians is a colossal fraud. Palestinian leaders will never return to the negotiating table when they are pushing their people, day after day, to ensure that more Israeli blood runs in the street.
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