January 30, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Is Working Intensively to Improve Missile Accuracy - Iran Desk (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Iran is diligently investing in improving the accuracy of its missiles, the Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, told the National Conference on Space Technology and Its Application on Jan. 29.
    Shamkhani declared, "Accurate missiles are in the strong hands of the resistance fighters in Gaza (Hamas and the Islamic Jihad) and in Lebanon (Hizbullah), and they are prepared to fire them at Israel if it does anything stupid. Missile raids can make their lives Hell."

Will the Russians Push Iran Out of Syria? - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    Iran isn't going to leave Syria and Russia won't be able to fully push them out, Philip Smyth, an expert on Shia militias and a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said Tuesday in Tel Aviv.
    "The Israelis have been rather effective in countering certain things that have been brought in (from Iran to Syria) but this is a longer-term process."
    "The Syrian front has allowed them so much access, it's a dream come true for Tehran."
    The Iranians know how to play the long-term game and want to bring in the entire Iranian-Shia foreign legion to the region, he said.
    "They are on the ground, they have force-presence there and they are building local, domestic Hizbullah segments."

Knesset Speaker Scraps MKs' Mission to Ireland over Boycott Legislation (Times of Israel)
    Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on Monday canceled an official Israeli parliamentary delegation to Ireland in response to an Irish bill that seeks to ban the import of goods produced in areas captured by Israel in 1967.
    "It is not surprising that Ireland is again seeking to harm and boycott Israel," Edelstein said.
    "We would be happy...to reach a country that wants to cooperate with the entire State of Israel and not only with parts of it, instead of wasting our time on a country that is obsessively seeking ways to hurt it."

Israel Aerospace to Help European Space Agency Reach the Moon - Eytan Halon (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has teamed up with leading German space company OHB System AG to assist European Space Agency (ESA) missions to reach the moon, the companies announced on Tuesday.
    IAI will provide a lunar lander based on the Beresheet spacecraft it built in cooperation with SpaceIL, due to be launched next month from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
    On Monday, the Israel Space Agency announced it would join with the Austrian Space Forum to hold a three-week Mars simulation project at Mitzpe Ramon in Israel's Negev desert in November 2020 with the participation of six astronauts.
    The conditions in the Ramon crater are said to be similar to those on Mars.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • New Hacking Threat from Iran Detected - Olivia Beavers
    A cyber espionage group linked to Iran has targeted telecommunications and high-tech industries in order to steal personal information, cybersecurity firm FireEye announced Tuesday. "APT39's focus on personal information likely supports the planning, monitoring, and tracking of intelligence operations that serve Iran's national priorities," said Benjamin Read, FireEye's senior manager of Cyber Espionage Analysis. APT39 is different from other Iranian groups tracked by FireEye because of its focus on personal data, the firm said.
        Also Tuesday, U.S. intelligence leaders unveiled their latest "Worldwide Threat Assessment" during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, warning that Iran continues to "present a cyber espionage and attack threat" to the U.S. and its allies. (The Hill)
  • UK Foreign Secretary: Israel Is "an Inspiration"
    UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Conservative Friends of Israel's Annual Parliamentary Reception on Tuesday, "It's a great inspiration to see how you [Israel] flourished despite the many challenges on your borders." He noted Britain's "strong, deep-rooted friendship based on a huge historic admiration for what the State of Israel has achieved against all the odds."
        He added, "The democracy of which Israel is a shining beacon, and which Britain always stood for, these democratic values cannot be taken for granted in the modern world....We have to stand together as fellow democracies, part of an invisible chain linking the democracies of the world, and that is going to be our great, great mission."  (i24News)
        See also UK Foreign Secretary: Britain's 1939 White Paper Capping Jewish Immigration to Palestine Was a "Black Moment" in History - Justin Cohen (Jewish News-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Israel Thwarts Iranian Cyber Attacks "Daily" - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    Iran attempts cyber attacks on Israeli infrastructure "daily," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Cybertech conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. "We monitor these attacks, see the attacks and thwart the attacks," he said. With 20% of the world's investments in cyber security, Israel is now number two in the number of cyber security companies it hosts, Netanyahu added. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Moscow Sends Senior Officials to Meet Netanyahu - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Tuesday in Jerusalem with Russia's special envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Vershinin. The discussions centered on Iran, the situation in Syria, and reinforcing the deconfliction mechanism between the Israeli and Russian militaries to prevent accidental friction in Syria. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Knife-Wielding Palestinian Tries to Stab IDF Soldier - Elisha Ben Kimon
    A knife-wielding Palestinian woman ran towards the az-Za'ayyem checkpoint between Ma'ale Adumim and Jerusalem and tried to stab a soldier before being shot on Wednesday. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • MLK's Legacy Is about Moral Clarity, Not Easy Analogies - Thane Rosenbaum
    Recently, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the civil rights movement, which King led, and the struggle for Palestinian statehood, have been analogized and morally linked in ways that might have surprised King himself. These tortured analogies reject everything King represented. After all, he preached peaceful and "passive nonviolent resistance," a strategy that most Palestinian leaders have never embraced. Too many Palestinian leaders are dedicated to eradicating Israel, not living beside it.
        Despite widespread slanders of ethnic cleansing, there is no genocide against the Palestinians. Their people, in fact, have doubled in population since 1967. Nor are Israel's practices, as Michelle Alexander assesses in the New York Times, "reminiscent of apartheid in South Africa and Jim Crow segregation in the United States," surely not when Arabs serve on the Israeli Supreme Court and can live, work and eat anywhere they choose, vote freely in elections and are represented in parliament.
        The only nation in the Middle East where civil rights exist for racial minorities, homosexuals and women is Israel. It is to Israel where Ethiopian Jews were airlifted from Sudan, and where an Israeli-born Ethiopian woman was in 2013 crowned Miss Israel. It's also in Israel where a forest is named for Martin Luther King. The writer directs the Forum on Law, Culture & Society at New York University School of Law. (CNN)
  • Why Muslims Should Remember the Holocaust - Mohammad Al-Issa
    The lessons of the Holocaust are universal and Muslims around the world have a responsibility to learn them, heed the warnings and join the international commitment to ensure "never again."
        One year ago, as International Holocaust Remembrance Day approached, I wrote to Sara Bloomfield, director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, on behalf of the Muslim World League, an organization that represents more than 1 billion Muslims. In that letter, I expressed "our great sympathy with the victims of the Holocaust, an incident that shook humanity to the core, and created an event whose horrors could not be denied or underrated by any fair-minded or peace-loving person."
        "Who in his right mind would accept, sympathize, or even diminish the extent of this brutal crime? We consider any denial of the Holocaust or minimizing of its effect a crime to distort history and an insult to the dignity of those innocent souls who have perished." I received a flood of messages from Muslim religious scholars endorsing the view I had expressed. Not a single reputable scholar has stood up to oppose this view.
        I urge all Muslims to learn the history of the Holocaust, to visit memorials and museums to this horrific event, and to teach its lessons to their children. We share a responsibility to confront those who would carry Adolf Hitler's torch today, and to join hands with people of goodwill of all nations and faiths to prevent genocide wherever it threatens innocent lives.
        The writer is secretary-general of the Muslim World League and president of the International Organization of Muslim Scholars, based in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. (Washington Post)
  • Israel Is Powerful. That Doesn't Make it Wrong - Benjamin Simon
    Why do my peers oppose Israel? Not because college students are anti-Semitic, but because most hold one truth to be self-evident: Powerlessness implies moral legitimacy. The Israelis are powerful; the Palestinians are not.
        Campus pro-Israel groups often try to portray Israel as a victim, too - of unprovoked aggression from its Arab neighbors. This strategy, however, will fail because Israel isn't powerless. Israel's army is strong and its technology is advanced.
        But power doesn't automatically imply moral turpitude; and conversely, powerlessness does not guarantee goodness. In other words, might does not make Israel right, but it certainly does not make Israel wrong, either. Indeed, Israel strives for justice and peace. But students can't see that when they allow the popular morality of power to obscure the truth. The writer is a student at Stanford University. (Wall Street Journal)

Video: Israel and the Arabs Have Common Interests - Amb. Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Amb. Dore Gold discussed the relationship between Israel and the Gulf States at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv on Jan. 28:
  • It is clear as day that Israel and many of the Sunni Arab states have common interests. The more westward you go, in the direction of Egypt, the interests are more in the direction of countering ISIS. The more eastward you go, you find that the common thread is Iran. We and the Arabs have incredibly close common interests.
  • There's a desire always for public expression of that kind of identity of interest, but frankly we're doing very well working quietly. If we sometimes can have a public expression, it would be extremely useful because it would say to the Iranians, "You're not succeeding in vetoing the relationship between Israel and the Gulf states."
  • Anyone who studied what influences Saudi Arabia knows it is their role as protector of the holy sites of Islam in the Hijaz. Jerusalem is a subject which they don't have a lot of specialization on. It is also a subject that they'd rather stay away from. I don't think that making Jerusalem the center of their attention is reflective of how the Saudi leadership would operate in the peace process.
  • Their attention will still be drawn to the Iranian threat and their concern that the American defense umbrella may not be there in the future.

    The speaker, former director general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center.