March 20, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Video: Purim Celebrations in Tel Aviv in the 1930s - Yaakov Gross (YouTube)
    We wish our readers a Happy Purim holiday!
    See also Video: Celebrating Purim in Israel (World Jewish Congress)
    See also Photos: How Purim Was Celebrated 100-150 Years Ago - Lenny Ben-David (Twitter)

Israeli Lunar Spacecraft Conducts Another Successful Maneuver - Yuval Azulai (Globes)
    Israeli spaceship Beresheet maneuvered in space for 60 seconds on Tuesday, during which its engine was operated and an elliptical orbit was set that would bring the craft close to the moon.
    The spacecraft's systems were functioning as planned, and communications with the control room were taking place.

Israel, Greece to Construct Radar Station on Crete (Ha'aretz)
    Israel and Greece are building a new marine radar station in eastern Crete, the Greek daily Kathimerini reported.
    The radar will be able to track at long range, beyond the horizon, and both Israel and Greece will have access to its enhanced coverage.

Lebanese Man Jailed for Contacting Israel via Facebook (Naharnet-Lebanon)
    A Lebanese military court on Friday sentenced Mustafa D. to one year in prison for communicating with Israeli army Arabic-language spokesman Lt.-Col. Avichay Adraee, Lebanon's National News Agency said.

Americans' Views of Israel Remain Tied to Religious Beliefs - Frank Newport (Gallup)
    In an analysis of data from 2015-2019, 71% of those who frequently attend religious services are sympathetic to Israel, compared with 49% of those who never attend.
    The relationship is essentially the same as it was between 2001 and 2014.
    In the 2015-2019 sample, 86% of Jews are sympathetic to Israel, as are 70% of Protestants, 60% of Catholics, and 43% of those with no religious identity.
    There has been little change in these attitudes since the 2001-2014 analysis.
    We don't have a direct measure of "evangelicals" in our sample, but we can obtain an approximation of this group by isolating white, highly religious Protestants.
    The results show that 87% of this group are sympathetic to the Israelis - essentially the same as Jews.

Israel to Transform 60,000 Irrigation Pivots in U.S. into Autonomous Growing Machines - Jennifer Kite-Powell (Forbes)
    Prospera, an Israeli AgTech company, plans to turn 60,000 irrigation pivots in open fields into artificial intelligence (AI) autonomous growing machines that can operate 24/7.
    The first one million acres in farms in Nebraska and Washington State will be converted by 2020.
    The autonomous growing machines will use data from the field and the grower to deliver the exact amount of water, fertilizer, and pesticides to the crops precisely when they need it, to enable farmers to use fewer inputs to produce more yield.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Online Videos Show Hamas Clubbing Unarmed Protesters in Gaza - Raf Sanchez and Abu Bakr Bashir
    This week's protests in Gaza against Hamas are the most sustained unrest since 2007. In one widely-shared video, a mother taking part in the protests rails against Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar, Hamas' top leaders. "Our sons and daughters have lost 12 years of their lives. For what? Each son of a Hamas official owns an apartment, a car, a Jeep, a building, while our sons have nothing at all."  (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Gaza Activists Call for Renewing Anti-Hamas Protests - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Palestinian activists said on Tuesday they will continue to protest against the bad economic situation in Gaza, despite Hamas' tough measures against the protesters. The activists declared a general strike in Gaza on Wednesday and Thursday, and called for civil disobedience against Hamas. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Another Brutal Crackdown by Hamas in Gaza - Omar Shakir (Human Rights Watch)
  • Last Week's Rocket Fire on Tel Aviv Was Not a Technical Mishap - Shlomi Eldar
    The firing of two rockets from Gaza on Tel Aviv on March 14 was not caused by a technical mishap. It does not make sense that two missiles could be fired at the same time due to the same mishap. According to a Palestinian security source, both the October 2018 rocket that hit a home in Beersheba (blamed on lightning) and those last week were caused by a "disciplinary mishap" within Hamas. (Al-Monitor)
  • U.S. Says Iran Missile Program Destabilizing Middle East
    Yleem Poblete, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, told the UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament on Tuesday that "Iran's missile program is a key contributor to increased tensions and destabilization in the region, increasing the risk of a regional arms race. Iran must immediately cease activities related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, and halt the proliferation of missiles and missile technology to terror groups and other non-state actors."
        "We are committed to aggressively countering Iran's regional proliferation of ballistic missiles and its unlawful arms transfers," she added. (Reuters-VOA News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Murderer of IDF Soldier, Rabbi Killed in West Bank - Elior Levy
    IDF troops on Tuesday killed the Palestinian gunman who shot dead Staff Sgt. Gal Keidan and Rabbi Achiad Ettinger in a terror attack in the West Bank on Sunday. Omar Abu-Laila, 19, was killed in the village of Abwein near Ramallah, when IDF forces surrounded a house and he opened fire at them. (Ynet News)
  • Two Palestinians Killed in Clashes at Joseph's Tomb in West Bank - Yotam Berger and Jack Khoury
    Two Palestinians were killed by Israel Defense Forces troops after hurling explosive devices toward soldiers who were guarding Joseph's Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus, the Israeli military said Wednesday. There were no Israeli casualties in the incident. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hungary Opens Trade Mission in Jerusalem - Herb Keinon
    Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto formally opened a trade mission in Jerusalem on Tuesday to be staffed by Hungarian diplomats, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed as "the first European diplomatic mission opened in Jerusalem in many decades." It is the "diplomatic status" that distinguishes the Hungarian delegation from other offices which European countries have established in the city. The Czech Republic set up a trade and tourism office in the capital in November.
        The Hungarian foreign minister made clear that his country will not implement EU recommendations to label products coming from settlements, or support efforts to create a blacklist of companies doing business beyond the "green line."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Iran's Wartime Preparations include Terrorist Attacks and Assassinations - Zach Dorfman
    In July 2017, FBI agents surveilled Ahmadreza Doostdar, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen, snapping photos of two Jewish centers in Chicago with his phone camera, appearing to pay particular attention to entrances and exits. He then traveled to Los Angeles where, according to U.S. prosecutors, he met with an Iranian man and tasked him with collecting information on U.S.-based members of Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, an Iranian opposition group. The details of Doostdar's activities were revealed in August 2018 when the Justice Department unsealed an indictment against him, claiming he was acting as an Iranian intelligence operative.
        The charges against Doostdar and others highlight what the U.S. intelligence community sees as an increasingly worrying part of Tehran's covert strategy. Iranian operatives are compiling "target packages" to undertake prospective future assassinations and terrorist attacks, according to former U.S. intelligence officials.
        Iran's relative military weakness has led it to focus on preparations to attack "softer" targets, such as U.S. government facilities and personnel, and even civilian institutions like synagogues. The Pentagon is, in fact, worried less about Iran's conventional forces than about its ability to conduct terrorist attacks. (Yahoo News)
  • Guardian Falsely Claims that Israeli Law Codifies Racism - Adam Levick
    An official Guardian editorial on March 11 included the following accusation: "Israel is not a state of all its citizens, Benjamin 'Bibi' Netanyahu declared on Sunday. His words should be shocking, but in truth they made explicit the message of last year's nation state law, rendering Palestinians in Israel second-class citizens." This is completely untrue.
        The Jewish Nation-State Law merely codifies Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people - a principle which is the core of Zionism. It also lists a number of manifestations of Israel's status as a Jewish state, including the country's flag, national anthem, calendar, language, and immigration policies. As the head of the Israel Democracy Institute conceded, the impact of the law is "largely symbolic."
        The protection of individual rights of non-Jewish citizens is already covered in the Basic Law on "Human Dignity and Freedom," which the Israeli Supreme Court interprets as guaranteeing equality.
        The Guardian doesn't even attempt to demonstrate in which manner the Israeli law undermines equal rights because editors couldn't point to even one civil or political right enjoyed by non-Jewish citizens before the law that they no longer enjoyed after the law was passed. Their assertion that the nation-state law renders Arab-Israelis "second-class citizens" is a flat-out lie. (UK Media Watch-CAMERA)

  • At a memorial for the victims of the mass shooting in New Zealand last week, New York University student Leen Dweik told former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton, "This, right here, is a result of a massacre stoked by people like you." Dweik and Rose Asaf accused Clinton of having "stoked hatred against" all Muslims, everywhere, with a single tweet criticizing Rep. Ilhan Omar. "Chelsea hurt our fight against white supremacy when she stood by the petty weaponizers of anti-Semitism," they declared. Translation: People who are Muslim or "of color" cannot be anti-Semites, and those who say otherwise will be condemned as handmaidens of Jim Crow.
  • Reading the many identity-based defenses of Omar, which pointlessly invoke the fact that she is a hijabi-wearing black refugee being criticized by a white native-born American woman, one gets the impression that this particular legislator can pretty much say whatever she wants and expect to be absolved for it. Omar can't be an anti-Semite because members of "marginalized" groups are inherently virtuous. But when Asaf and Dweik are taking the side of anti-Semites over Jews, they are normalizing anti-Semitism.
  • Anti-Semitism is bad. So they need to redefine anti-Semitism out of existence, while redistributing the valuable cultural capital of Jewish historical suffering to more deserving groups. Thus, the phenomena of "white Jews."
  • Last year in New York City, there were four times as many bias crimes against Jews as there were against blacks - though there are twice as many blacks as Jews living in the city - and 20 times as many bias crimes against Jews as against transgender people. "During the past 22 months, not one person caught or identified as the aggressor in an anti-Semitic hate crime has been associated with a far right-wing group," wrote Ginia Bellafante of the New York Times. In most recent cases, the perpetrators of anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York City have been people of color.
  • Being "white" has not saved Jews before, including from the greatest mass murder in human history. Nor today does it protect their descendants from demonstrably being the most frequently targeted victims of religiously-based hate crimes.

    The writer is a visiting fellow with the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution.