January 18, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

New "Divided" Road near Jerusalem Will Considerably Shorten Travel Time for Palestinians - Shaul Arieli (Ha'aretz)
    The opening of the new road northeast of Jerusalem, which features separate lanes for Israelis and Palestinians, will considerably shorten the travel time for Palestinians between Bethlehem and Ramallah - and between the northern and southern parts of the West Bank - and will even improve the safety of their journey.

Hamas Unveils Iran-Funded Homes for Former Prisoners (AFP-Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
    Hamas said Thursday it had allocated 26 new apartments in southern Gaza funded by Iran to former Palestinian prisoners who had been held in Israeli jails.
    A second building for freed prisoners will be constructed in northern Gaza,

"We Came to Take You to Riyadh": Khashoggi Killing Detailed in New Book - Carlotta Gall (New York Times)
    A new book written by three Turkish reporters offers the most comprehensive description to date of what is on audio recordings of the killing of Saudi expatriate Jamal Khashoggi.
    Journalists Abdurrahman Simsek, Nazif Karaman and Ferhat Unlu work for the pro-government newspaper Sabah, and are known for their close ties to Turkish intelligence.
    The book, Diplomatic Atrocity: The Dark Secrets of the Jamal Khashoggi Murder, is written in Turkish and went on sale in December.

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Social Media Leaders in the Middle East - Ray Hanania (Middle East Monitor-UK)
    Nine Arab leaders are among the top 50 most popular accounts on Twitter.
    They include Sheikh Mohammed of the UAE, Queen Rania of Jordan, King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan of the UAE, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi of Egypt and Saad Hariri of Lebanon. Queen Rania has 10.4 million followers.
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has 270 followers in Arabic and no English account.
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Arabic Twitter account has 114,000 followers.
    Netanyahu's Facebook page has 2.3 million followers.

Working to Integrate Israeli Arabs into High-Tech Jobs - Ira Stoll (Algemeiner)
    Tsofen, an organization working to better integrate Israeli Arabs into Israel's high-tech sector, was founded by Paz Hirschmann and Sami Saadi.
    A decade ago, there were 300 Arab engineers or software engineers in Israel's high-tech workforce. Today there are 6,000.
    More than 100 Israeli startups are either co-founded or co-owned by both Arabs and Jews, Hirschmann says.
    See also Meet the Israeli Arab Women in Israeli Hi-Tech - Eytan Halon (Jerusalem Post)

Video: See IDF Tank Cross Water Obstacle - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's Defense Ministry released video footage of an IDF Merkava tank successfully crossing a water obstacle during a recent exercise.

IAF Tests Precise Airdrop System - Carmel Stern and Eitam Almadon (Israel Air Force)
    The Israel Air Force is integrating an advanced system allowing for precise airdrop of equipment to ground forces.
    If IDF troops cannot be resupplied from the ground, the air force is capable of performing airdrops of essential equipment.
    The new autonomic airdrop system means that the airdropped cargo is able to direct itself towards the ground forces.
    Over the past two months, the IAF has concluded 18 tests of the airdrop system, dropping the cargo from high altitude.
    "It was amazing to see the system hit the mark on the ground," said Maj. "A."

Israel's Watergen Develops Disaster Response Vehicle - Eytan Halon (Jerusalem Post)
    Watergen, the Israeli firm with unique technology to extract fresh water from the air, has partnered with the American Red Cross to develop a new Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) for providing fresh water to disaster zones.
    The ERV is equipped with Watergen's patented atmospheric water generator capable of producing 900 liters per day. It includes satellite communication capabilities, power sockets for charging communication devices, emergency accumulators for power supply and storage for medical equipment.
    The ERV has already been deployed, providing clean water for emergency services fighting the November 2018 wildfires in California.

Israel Develops Non-GPS-Dependent "Watch" to Locate Lost People in Remote Areas (Xinhua-China)
    Israeli technology company Mobit Telecom, in cooperation with the German Aerospace Center, has developed a tiny, watch-shaped satellite transmitter to locate people lost in areas uncovered by cellular networks, the Israel Space Agency said Wednesday.
    The transmitter is light, compact, easy-to-wear and expected to cost $450.
    The new "watch" does not depend on the GPS navigation system, which does not get signals in remote areas.
    The device sends its location to the Argos satellite system once every few hours, and in an emergency it can go to the Cospas-Sarsat satellite system.

Israeli Startup SeeTree Aims at Better Fruit Yield - Shoshanna Solomon (Times of Israel)
    Tel Aviv-based startup SeeTree said Wednesday it was launching a new service that will provide crop growers with "deep insights" into the health and productivity of every single tree.
    The company combines intelligence from drones with high-resolution sensing technology, ground sensors, and samples collected by teams on the ground to provide customers with data on individual trees and tree clusters.
    Chairman and co-founder Barak Hachamov said farmers have to oversee thousands and sometimes millions of trees. "They don't have any data about how much fruit is on the trees," for example.
    "We have fully digitilized this world and turned the trees into a digital entity, creating a medical file for trees."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Germany Accuses Afghan-German Linguist of Passing Military Secrets to Iran - Barnini Chakraborty
    German police have arrested Abdul Hamid S., 50, an Afghan-German man suspected of passing military secrets to Iran, Germany's federal prosecutor's office announced. "The suspect was a language expert and cultural adviser for the Bundeswehr (German armed forces)," the federal prosecutor said. "In this capacity, he is believed to have passed insights to an Iranian intelligence agency."
        He is suspected of having worked for Iran for several years, according to German news site Spiegel Online. He had access to highly classified material including troop deployment information and specific missions in Afghanistan. (Fox News)
        See also Iran "Shooting Itself in the Foot" with Spying, German Diplomat Warns
    Iran is harming Europe's efforts to preserve the 2015 Iran nuclear accord with actions such as the case of espionage involving a member of the German military, veteran German diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger said on Thursday. (Reuters)
  • Islamic State Returns to Guerrilla Tactics as It Loses Territory - Raja Abdulrahim
    Islamic State "will come to an end militarily and geographically, but its sleeper cells will continue operating," said Nuri Mahmud, a spokesman with the Kurdish YPG militia, the main component of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. "There are lots of sleeper cells."
        "The attacks that we have been seeing, and especially the attack that we saw yesterday in Manbij [that killed four Americans] indicates that Islamic State has the reach to carry out quite sophisticated attacks," said Columb Strack, an analyst at Conflict Monitor. "And they have the intelligence structure in place to identify targets....They're targeting the U.S. and Kurdish forces now and eventually the target will become the Syrian government."  (Wall Street Journal)
  • Rich Iranians Face Blowback at a Time of Economic Stress - Erin Cunningham
    The lifestyles of Iran's privileged youths have sparked public anger in recent months as U.S. sanctions squeeze the economy. The young elite, some with government connections, flaunt their wealth on Instagram and in the streets of Tehran, sporting designer clothes and flashy cars and vacationing at posh resorts. They are promoted to state jobs, granted lucrative scholarships and travel with ease. An Instagram account, "Rich Kids of Tehran," showcases the lives of some of Iran's most glamorous youths.
        But few in Iran can afford such comforts, and Iranians have started speaking out against a culture of nepotism they say favors the "noble-born" children of the elite. Last month, President Hassan Rouhani's son-in-law Kambiz Mehdizadeh was forced to step down after just two days as head of the Geological Survey of Iran following a public outcry and online accusations of cronyism. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel: No More Honorary Consulates in Jerusalem
    In November, in a step intended to encourage governments to open embassies in Jerusalem, Israel's Foreign Ministry sent a formal letter to all governments with which Israel maintains diplomatic relations, notifying them that honorary consulates would no longer be permitted in the capital. Channel 13 on Thursday reported that this decision follows attempts by the Czech Republic and Australia to open honorary consulates in Jerusalem in lieu of an embassy move. The offers were turned down by Israel. (Times of Israel)
  • Arab League: Palestinian Issue Has "Reduced" Importance - Dima Abumaria
    Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abu al-Gheith stated during a recent television interview that the priority of the Palestinian cause has been somewhat "reduced." Al-Gheith explained to a local Egyptian channel that times have changed and the Arab world has been dramatically transformed, citing the collapse of Yemen, Libya and Syria. One Egyptian political analyst said that al-Gheith's "statements are a clear attempt to prepare the way for the normalization of ties with the Zionist entity."  (Media Line-Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Deports Palestinian-American Jailed for Selling Land to Jews - Adam Rasgon
    Issam Akel, a resident of eastern Jerusalem who holds U.S. citizenship, was freed on Tuesday by the Palestinian Authority after being held for several months for attempting to sell land to Jews. On Dec. 31 he was sentenced to life in prison by a Ramallah court. Under a secret deal between the PA and U.S. authorities, Akel will be sent to the U.S.
        The U.S. had been heavily pressuring the PA to release Akel, and American officials visited him in jail. A Palestinian official told Israel's Kan TV on Jan. 2 that the PA was eager to get Akel off its hands. "We want to finish this saga. He has become a burden upon us."  (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Blasts Malaysia for Refusing to Admit Its Paralympic Swimmers
    Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday: "The Malaysian government has taken the decision to ban the participation of Israelis in official international sport events in Malaysia, including the participation of athletes with disabilities in a swimming competition organized by the International Paralympic Committee. This is shameful and totally opposes the Olympic spirit."
        "Israel condemns the decision, inspired no doubt by Malaysia's PM Mahatir's rabid anti-Semitism. We call upon the International Paralympic Committee to change this wrong decision or change the venue of the event."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Israeli Officials Question U.S. Concerns over Chinese Intelligence-Gathering at Haifa Port - Osnat Nir
    Amid mounting U.S. pressure to adopt a tougher stance on a Chinese presence at Haifa Port out of espionage fears, Israeli officials are countering that the concerns are overwrought. One senior government source said that if the Chinese "want to gather intelligence, they can simply rent an apartment in Haifa instead of investing in ownership of a port."
        An Israeli official who was involved in awarding the contract said, "Chinese ships dock all over the world. At any given moment, there's a Chinese ship at every port, so why would they need to invest in operating a port?"  (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israeli Historians Claims 30-Year Genocide against Ottoman and Turkish Christians
    The Christian population that had made up one-fifth of the Ottoman Empire's population was wiped out in waves of violence by successive Ottoman and Turkish republican governments, Israeli historians Benny Morris and Dror Ze'evi conclude in their new book, The Thirty Year Genocide. Not only the Armenians but all Ottoman Christian communities were targeted between 1894 and 1924. Morris told Ha'aretz that "between 1.5 and 2.5 million Christians were murdered."
        Publisher Harvard University Press notes, "(The) killing of two million Christians was effected through the calculated exhortation of the Turks to create a pure Muslim nation." Morris says the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, was responsible for "the liquidation of the last Armenians who remained in Turkey" as well as hundreds of thousands of Greek and Assyrian Christians. (Ahval-Turkey)
  • A Riot, Not a Protest, at the Gaza Border - Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon
    Many try to claim that the events on the border between Israel and Gaza are "nonviolent" protests. Others try to paint the image that these events were a demonstration of Palestinian nationalism - akin to a state fair in America. But "nonviolent" protestors do not carry knives, wire-cutters and firebombs. Hamas co-founder Mahmoud al-Zahar even said this characterization was intentionally deceptive, as the riots were "not a peaceful resistance."
        These riots are simply the next battle tactic in Hamas' ongoing war against Israel and the Jewish people. When faced with a similar situation - in which tens of thousands of rioters rush its border, wielding weapons and proudly proclaiming their intent to kill its civilians - what nation would not take all necessary measures to defend its sovereignty and protect its people? (JNS)
  • Abbas Celebrates 14th Anniversary of His Four-Year Term - Elliott Abrams
    On January 9, PA President Mahmoud Abbas began serving the 15th year of his four-year term. There has been no presidential election since 2005 and Abbas governs by decree. He is snuffing out all opposition to his rule and forbidding all dissent. Abbas has crushed the hopes that arose for a democratic future for Palestinians. The writer, a senior fellow at CFR, handled Middle East affairs at the U.S. National Security Council from 2001 to 2009. (Council on Foreign Relations)
  • Pretend Palestinian Refugees and their "Double Identity" - Nadav Shragai
    Former Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor, director of the Abba Eban Institute for International Diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, has prepared an exhibit focusing on the regular, successful life stories of Palestinians that illustrate the absurdity of their claims to refugee status.
        Gaza-born Tareq Abu Nahel now lives in Oslo and has launched a successful career as a rapper. Hoda Daoud, who lives in Lebanon, holds a degree in mathematics and economics from the American University of Beirut and recently posted pictures of her holiday in Morocco. Batoul Bilali, who earned a BA in business administration, frequents the theater and art galleries in Lebanon.
        Iyad el-Baghdadi, 41, a native of Kuwait, is a noted author and human rights activist who now lives with his family in Norway. Mona Hatoum, 67, was born in Lebanon, lives in Britain, and holds British citizenship; her art work is on display in prominent museums. Shukran Murtaja, 48, a native of Saudi Arabia, became a famous actress in films and TV in Syria. Mayssoun Azzam, 45, a native of Abu Dhabi, is a television broadcaster in Dubai.
        Fatma Dabdus, born in the U.S., teaches at the school of medicine at the American University of Beirut. Abdul Rahman Katanani earned an MFA from the Lebanese University in Beirut and is a famous artist. Their lives are in no way reminiscent of the image of helpless refugees who need international aid. (Israel Hayom)
  • Mission Impossible? Repairing the Ties between Europe and Israel - Fiamma Nirenstein, editor
    In recent decades, Israel-Europe relations have been overshadowed by a dark cloud of European hostility toward Israel, signified by double standards, discussion of blacklists and boycotts, repeated anti-Israel votes at the UN, UNESCO, and other international bodies, and substantial European funding of anti-Israel NGOs.
        Yet in the wake of numerous terrorist attacks throughout the European continent in recent years by radical Islamists, European states are increasingly recognizing their common interests with Israel, which has become a leading source of anti-terrorist intelligence, modern anti-terror technology, and cyber defense.
        The 21 essays in this book, edited by Jerusalem Center senior fellow Fiamma Nirenstein, examine the mistakes, wrongdoings, and basic reasons why Europe sometimes cannot or does not want to understand Israel. At the same time, the discussants suggest how these disagreements may be bridged in the future. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • The Era of "Never Again" Is Ending - Eric Rozenman
    The era of "never again" is ending in Western Europe, fading in North America and never penetrated the Middle East. Relentless demonization of the Jewish state renormalizes demonization of Jewish people. Including this small chosen people with their tiny promised land in the multicultural rainbow remains one diversity too many.
        The Holocaust must be understood not only as an event halted by the Allies' defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945 but also as a process interrupted. As the survivor and author Primo Levi put it, "It happened, and therefore, it can happen again. This is the core of what we have to say."
        The writer is former Washington director of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America and former editor of B'nai B'rith's International Jewish Monthly and the Washington Jewish Week. (JTA)
  • How Jews Became "Too White, Too Powerful" for U.S. Progressive Activism - Dr. Sara Yael Hirschhorn
    In recent years, progressive Jewish Zionists in the U.S. have been effectively removed - either through deliberately exclusionary language, verbal violence or physical unrest - from progressive activism. Now, the progressive camp has aimed increasingly forceful attacks against American Jews who identify as non-Zionist and even as anti-Zionist. The target now seems to be Jews as a people - with no reference to an individual's specific positions on questions of Jewish nationalism or Israel.
        In particular, Ashkenazi Jewish activists have been categorized as "white Jews," attacked by Women's March co-chair Tamika Mallory for "uphold[ing] white supremacy," and accused of playing an ahistorically dominant role in the slave trade and mass incarceration in the U.S. Further, anti-Semitism is no longer allowed to remain a distinct form of discrimination, but rather a lesser branch on the tree of general bigotries.
        Jews are seen as too institutionally integrated, too successful a minority (itself a favorite anti-Semitic trope), or, in other words, too white (and therefore too much the beneficiaries of "white privilege") for anti-Semitism to be taken seriously. Yet, how inclusive and welcoming coalitions are towards Jews have always been the canary in the mine of liberal democracies. The writer is visiting assistant professor of Israel Studies at Northwestern University. (Ha'aretz)
  • The Persistence of European Anti-Semitism - Monika Schwarz-Friesel
    Almost every day in Europe there is a statement, a workshop, or a symposium on anti-Semitism. Do such activities have any effect on European anti-Semitism, which grows by the day? Eloquent speeches are given, appeals are published, cliches are uttered about confronting Jew-hatred with a "resolute fight" and "with all the severity of the law" - and everybody returns to business as usual.
        Researchers have been warning for years about the expansion, radicalization, and increasing normalization of Jew-hatred. This is occurring throughout European society and is especially worrying in terms of its focus on Israel. All the stereotypes of classical Judeophobia are projected onto the Jewish state. Its Jewish population is demonized and its right to exist contested. Little is done to reject this newly dominant pattern, and Israel-related hate is becoming a politically correct form of anti-Semitism.
        The writer is a cognitive scientist and anti-Semitism researcher at the Technical University of Berlin. Together with Jehuda Reinharz she published Inside the Antisemitic Mind: The Language of Jew-Hatred in Contemporary Germany (2017). (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • Anti-Semitism among Yellow Vest Protesters Demoralizes France's Jews - Cnaan Liphshiz
    The Yellow Vests protest movement in France, which started out in the fall as a series of protests against a hike in fuel prices, has been mired since in countless instances of violence against police and a substantial amount of anti-Semitic hate speech. "Today we have thousands of homophobes, xenophobes who are anti-republican, anti-journalist and sometimes anti-Semitic," said Bernard-Henri Levy, a Jewish philosopher and celebrated author.
        "We're used to anti-Semitism showing itself in discussion and protests about Israel," said Lolita Semama, who lives opposite the HyperCacher market where Islamists gunned down four people on Jan. 9, 2015. "But this Yellow Vests business shouldn't have anything to do with Jews. It shows that anti-Semitism is just below the surface, ready to spill out at any disturbance, to blame the Jews."  (JTA)

  • Weekend Features

  • UN Exhibit Highlights Diplomats Who Saved Jews during Holocaust - Herb Keinon
    An exhibit about diplomats who saved Jews during the Holocaust will be on display in the UN to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27. According to the Israel Mission to the UN, the exhibit will present the story of foreign service personnel who, at the risk of their own lives, used their positions to save Jews.
        According to Yad Vashem, 36 diplomats from 21 countries helped save Jews, including six Swedish diplomats, five Swiss, four Spanish, and two each from Portugal, Romania and Brazil. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel to Scour Danube River in Hungary for Holocaust Remains
    Zaka, an Israeli victim identification group, will begin to search the Danube in Budapest with Hungarian help later this week to recover remains of Jews murdered during the Holocaust. In late 1944 pro-Nazi Arrow Cross fascists murdered thousands of Jews in Budapest, shooting many on the banks of the Danube. The divers will use a sonar device that can reach a depth of 150 meters (500 feet).
        In 2005 Hungary unveiled a memorial by the river, called The Shoes on the Danube Promenade. Sixty pairs of old-fashioned shoes made of cast iron line the Pest embankment. (BBC News)
        See also Sweep of Danube Riverbed Finds No Bones of Holocaust Victims
    A sonar scan of the bottom of the Danube River in Budapest revealed no human remains. Volunteers for Zaka, an Israel-based Orthodox Jewish group, conducted the search Tuesday for the bodies of some of the thousands of Jews shot dead on the banks of the river in 1944-45 by Hungarian Nazi collaborators. The team operating the sonar will be back next month for another scan. (JTA)
        See also Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities Urges Halt to Danube Search for Holocaust Victims (Times of Israel)

  • The Israeli Defense Ministry unit known as COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories) launched its first Internet radio broadcast Dec. 20 in a new effort to improve relations with Palestinians.
  • COGAT has been providing mainly entertainment content such as Arab oldies, but once the format shifts to around-the-clock broadcasts, it will become more interactive, allowing listeners to ask questions and helping them tackle problems Palestinians face.
  • The webcast is one of many technologies COGAT uses - in addition to Facebook, Telegram, smartphone apps, and Wi-Fi at West Bank checkpoints and crossings. Nearly 500,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have "liked" and interacted with COGAT's Facebook page.
  • Local radio stations in the Palestinian territories are considered the main source of information. There are nearly 70 local radio stations in the West Bank and Gaza.
  • Emad Abu Awad, an expert on Israeli affairs at the Vision Center for Political Development in Turkey, said, "COGAT's radio seeks to break the barriers between Israel and the Palestinians, boost dealings with the Israeli Civil Administration and lay the foundations of an economic peace between the two sides."
  • "Many Palestinians are interested in obtaining a work or construction permit or agricultural support. COGAT's radio hopes for open relations between Israel and Palestinians. Unfortunately, there is a chance that this radio will attract a wide audience, as it will focus on ameliorating their living conditions."

    The writer heads the Political Science and Media Department of Umma University Open Education in Gaza.
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