March 29, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Video: Living Next to Hamas Terrorists in Gaza (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    Listen to civilians living on the Israeli side of the border, showing amazing resilience in the face of Hamas' incessant terror.

Over 2,000 Violent Incidents Originated in Gaza Last Year (Times of Israel)
    More than 2,000 violent incidents emanated from Gaza in the past year, Israel said on Wednesday.
    Palestinians in Gaza launched 1,233 rockets, hurled 94 explosive devices and 600 firebombs across the security fence, and committed 152 acts of arson against Israeli forces.
    Rocket fire killed one Israeli and injured 126. Palestinian attacks on the security fence killed one Israeli soldier and wounded 16.
    Arson kites torched thousands of acres of Israeli farmland, causing over $9.5 million in damage.

Israel Discovers 2,000-Year-Old Jewish Village in Greater Jerusalem - Amanda Borschel-Dan (Times of Israel)
    New evidence of 2,000-year-old Jewish ties to the greater Jerusalem region was recently uncovered during a salvage excavation in the city's Sharafat neighborhood.
    In what is today a mixed Muslim and Christian Arab neighborhood in the Jerusalem municipality, archaeologists have unearthed a large Hasmonean-era agricultural village.
    Archaeologists discovered an impressive burial estate, an olive press and many jar fragments, ritual baths, a water cistern, rock quarries, and a dovecote, all dating to circa 140 BCE–37 BCE.

Nine Iranians Nabbed in Sri Lanka with 107 Kg. of Heroin (Sunday Times-Sri Lanka)
    Nine Iranian nationals were arrested after a tip-off on March 24 with 107 kg. of heroin being transported in a trawler, Police Spokesman S.P. Ruwan Gunasekara said.
    See also Senior Iranian Officials Arrested in Sri Lanka for Heroin Smuggling (Iran Commentary)
    The Sri Lankan Police Narcotics Bureau learned of the actual owners of the heroin consignment seized on March 24 and arrested Brig.-Gen. Mohammad Massoud Zahedian, Iran's Anti-Narcotics Police Chief, and Col. Mohammad Bakhshandeh, chief of Tehran's Anti-Narcotics Police, at Colombo's airport.
    According to a senior official of the Khatam al-Anbia Construction Company in Iran - known to be linked to the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) - the state police of Iran, NAJA, has been resorting to smuggling narcotics recently for money-laundering purposes.

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Jordanian Parliament Votes Against Israel Gas Deal - Amiram Barkat and Dan Zaken (Globes)
    The lower house of the Jordanian parliament on Thursday voted against the agreement with Israel for the supply of natural gas from the Leviathan reservoir to Jordan.
    The lower house has no authority to cancel international agreements; its decisions are mainly symbolic. The body has previously passed many anti-Israel resolutions.
    The Jordanian National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) is to begin receiving gas from Israel later this year.

A Disturbing Vote at Brown University - Editorial (Providence Journal)
    It's odd and alarming that of all the world's states - China, with its massive human rights violations and internment of tens of thousands of Muslims; Syria, where the ruling dictator Bashar al-Assad murdered hundreds of thousands; or Vladimir Putin's Russia, which is occupying parts of Ukraine - there is one that draws particular ire.
    What's odder still is that country is a stalwart U.S. ally and a beacon of freedom and democracy in an unfriendly neighborhood.
    We refer to the State of Israel, the world's only Jewish-majority state.
    Brown University in Providence is the latest to target Israel. Last week, the campus held a referendum on whether to support the "Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions" (BDS) movement. Students passed the measure overwhelmingly.
    President Christina Paxson said, "Brown's endowment is not a political instrument to be used to express views on complex social and political issues."
    Good. But the mere act of the vote seems troubling.
    Israel, like any advanced democracy, is far from perfect. But it's an obscenity to suggest it in any way resembles apartheid-era South Africa.
    Israel is surrounded by countries that wish its destruction, yet it carries on, remarkably successfully.
    We're deeply troubled, too, at the double-standard at play. Where are the calls for divestment from other countries, which manifestly abuse human rights vastly more than Israel does?
    It's telling, and not in a good way, that Israel, the world's only Jewish state, is the object of such disproportionate criticism.
    It is chilling that this group of people is so frequently singled out. And it is wrong.
    See also Brown University President Rejects "Polarizing Calls for Divestment" over Israel - Christina Paxson (Brown University)

Gaza Conference by Duke and University of North Carolina Sinks Academia to a New Low - Amy Rosenthal (Algemeiner)
    When Duke University and the University of North Carolina (UNC) hosted a joint conference on Gaza, I expected it would be an honest academic exercise. I could not have been more wrong.
    The discussion panels only included a one-sided perspective on Gaza.
    There was no mention of Gazan terrorism and the "pay to slay" policy of paying salaries to terrorists (and the families of terrorists) who kill innocent Jews, Americans, and others.
    There was no mention of the riots to break through Israel's border, or the terror tunnels built by Hamas.
    And there was certainly no mention of the thousands of rockets launched from Gaza targeting Israeli civilians. On Sunday, all day, eight pro-Palestinian films were shown.
    The writer is a former faculty member of Duke University.

Israeli Bedouin Diplomat and Chabad Rabbi Unite to Save Lives in Nepal - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    Israeli Vered Aviyashar, 26, was killed a year and a half ago when her jeep overturned on the Annapurna ridge of Nepal.
    After the accident, a medical project was launched in her memory by Chabad emissary to Nepal Rabbi Hezki Lifshitz and Israeli Bedouin diplomat Ismail Khalidi.
    The project includes the distribution of small oxygen tanks to help Israeli backpackers trekking in the Himalayas suffering from altitude sickness.
    Only when Israeli trekkers "are at high altitudes do they discover that they have an oxygen problem," Khalidi explains.

Israeli Technology Gives Sierra Leone Schoolchildren Clean Water (JNS)
    The St. Joseph's girls' school in Sierra Leone's capital of Freeport has received Israeli technology that produces fresh, safe, drinking water out of air.
    Watergen's GEN-350 atmospheric water generator can produce up to 900 liters of water per day.
    Water pollution is one of the leading causes of death in the country, which has an average life expectancy of 56 years, one of the lowest in the world.

Israeli Car Laser Sensor Company Innoviz Raises $132 Million - Yasmin Yablonko (Globes)
    Israeli startup Innoviz Technologies, which is developing a radar laser for the auto industry, on Tuesday announced the completion of a $132 million financing round.
    Innoviz's high-definition sensor facilitates remote 3D scanning and provides a high-definition image of a vehicle's surrounding in all weather conditions.
    The final product is smaller and cheaper than comparable laser-based products, while significantly improving range and resolution.

Fitch Affirms Israel's A+ Credit Rating (Ynet News)
    Credit rating agency Fitch affirmed Israel's long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating (IDR) at "A+" with a stable outlook.
    "Israel's IDRs balance strong external finances, robust macroeconomic performance and solid institutional strength against a government debt/GDP ratio that is high relative to peers and ongoing political and security risks."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Envoy to Iran: More Sanctions, No New Oil Waivers - Nike Ching
    Brian Hook, the State Department's special representative for Iran, said in an interview Wednesday that the U.S. was "not looking to grant any new oil waivers. We did have to grant eight oil waivers in order to avoid shocking the global oil markets and causing a dramatic increase in the price of oil....We have already taken off more than half of Iran's oil exports in just a very few months."  (VOA News)
        See also Japanese Refiners Halt Iran Oil Imports ahead of Waiver Expiration - Yuka Obayashi and Florence Tan
    Japanese refineries have put a halt on imports of Iranian oil ahead of the expiration of a temporary waiver on U.S. sanctions that expires on May 2, according to industry sources. (Reuters)
  • U.S. Sanctions Hit Iran's Oil Lifeline to Syria - Benoit Faucon, Summer Said and Jared Malsin
    Iran has been unable to deliver oil to Syria since Jan. 2 due to U.S. sanctions, according to maritime-data provider TankerTrackers.com. That compares with an average of 66,000 barrels a day in the three months to the New Year. Storage tanks are virtually empty in the port city of Baniyas, home to Syria's largest oil refinery. Syrians in areas under Damascus' control are already feeling the impact, with fuel shortages and skyrocketing energy prices.
        To enforce the sanctions, the U.S. has enlisted regional allies to monitor oil tankers that navigate the underside of the Arabian peninsula and cross the Suez Canal on their way to Syria's Mediterranean ports. On Nov. 29, Egyptian authorities blocked the crossing of the Sea Shark tanker as it tried to enter the Suez Canal. For years, the tanker regularly delivered about 900,000 barrels of crude every few months from Iran. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Iran Moves to Cement Its Influence in Syria - Raja Abdulrahim and Benoit Faucon
    Iran is offering cash, food, Iranian ID cards, public services and free education to Syria's majority Sunni Muslim population battered by war in Islamic State's former eastern Syrian stronghold. "The goal is to re-create the Persian empire," said Muneer al-Khalaf, a member of the city council of Raqqa, once Islamic State's capital. Iran's hearts-and-minds campaign undermines efforts by the U.S., Israel and Arab states to roll back Tehran's influence and force it out of Syria.
        Syrians who join the ranks of the Iranian militia and convert to the Shiite sect of the Islamic faith are promised a guard corps ID card - allowing them to cross checkpoints without hassle - and $200 a month. In cities and villages across Syria, the Iranian militia has taken over mosques and is sounding the Shiite call to prayer from the minarets. "If you're a student, they offer a scholarship. If you're poor, they give you aid," said an aid worker. "Whatever your need is they fill it, just so you become Shiite."  (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Hamas Rejects Egypt's Ceasefire Terms ahead of March of Return Anniversary - Ahmad Shehada and Thaier Oun
    After an Egyptian delegation led by General Intelligence Services officer Ahmad Abdul Khaliq held talks with Hamas senior leader Yahia al-Sinwar and other factions in Gaza on Wednesday and Thursday, the Egyptian delegation delivered the Palestinian factions' rejection of a ceasefire to Israeli authorities.
        For Hamas, the anniversary of the March of Return demonstrations serves as a chance to "repair" the damage done to its popular base after it launched a widespread detention campaign marked by excessive use of violence against protesters who turned out to demonstrate against the economic situation in Gaza. The escalation between Hamas and Israel this week has put a temporary halt to the anti-Hamas protests, according to a source close to the protesters, but there is an intent to revive them once tensions have calmed. (Mada Masr-Egypt)
  • IDF Prepares for Palestinian Violence on Friday and Saturday - Anna Ahronheim
    Israel is bracing for thousands of Palestinians to riot this weekend across the West Bank and Gaza, marking Land Day and the one-year anniversary of the March of Return demonstrations along the Gaza border. The IDF has "substantially" increased its forces on the Gaza border and all troops have undergone special training. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iran Is Declaring War on Israel - from Gaza - Muhammad Shehada
    Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Nakhallah has speeded up the transformation of his group into an Iranian proxy, operated by an on/off switch by Tehran to stir up trouble in Gaza whenever Iran needs to create a distraction, retaliation or send a message. In recent months, Iran has expressed its disapproval of a possible long-term Hamas-Israeli cease-fire. An Israel that no longer needs to deal with Gaza would allow it more time, energy and resources to fight the Iranian presence in Syria.
        While Iran's financial support for Hamas has dramatically decreased over the last decade, its support to the Islamic Jihad has dramatically increased. Hamas militants haven't received any salaries for several months, while Islamic Jihad has handed out increases to the monthly stipends of its members. A few Hamas members have defected to join Islamic Jihad for the superior financial comfort. Islamic Jihad is becoming increasingly untamable. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    U.S. Recognizes Israeli Sovereignty over Golan Heights

  • Golan Recognition Tells Palestinians that Time Is Not on Their Side - Martin Kramer
    By recognizing Israel's sovereignty on the Golan, the U.S. is telling the Palestinians that the next step isn't a better offer. It might be U.S. recognition of Israeli annexation of part of the West Bank. If you think we won't do it, just look at the Golan. This kind of hardball is probably the only way to disrupt the (totally irrational) mindset of Palestinians that time is on their side - a mindset artificially kept on life support by decades of status-quo diplomacy. The writer teaches Middle Eastern history at Shalem College in Jerusalem. (Facebook)
  • Of Course the U.S. Should Recognize Israel's Sovereignty over the Golan Heights - Aaron Kliegman
    Remember when the Middle East was supposed to explode in December 2017, after President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel? Yet, life continued in the Middle East as it had the day before. 15 months later, the same voices are calling for another catastrophe after U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. "Trump's Golan tweet inflames regional tensions as Syria vows to recover the strategic plateau," read one headline in the Washington Post. But as with Jerusalem, the same anti-Israel - and in most cases anti-American - regimes made the same threats that they make normally.
        In 2011, when the Syrian conflict began, Iran deeply entrenched its forces and its proxies in Syria, while Sunni jihadist groups like the Islamic State spread throughout the country. Israel recognized the obvious reality: if Syria regained control of the Golan, Israel's worst enemies would be in prime position to attack. With its strategic line of volcanic hills, the Golan gives Israel an absolutely essential topographical advantage. Moreover, Mount Hermon provides the Israeli military critical intelligence. Ceding the Golan to Syria now would be suicidal, allowing the likes of ISIS and Iran to target tens of thousands of Israelis.
        Israel has controlled the Golan for 52 years, and no Israeli government will ever give up the territory. So Trump's decision changes nothing; it just puts a stop to any delusional notions that the U.S. would pressure Israel to cede the Golan. Now the U.S. has made a statement that will deter Israel's adversaries from trying to conquer the Golan. (Washington Free Beacon)
  • Good Move on the Golan Heights - Douglas J. Feith
    There is a sound rationale for America's recognizing the Golan Heights as a permanent part of Israel. Aided by Iran and Russia, the Assad regime has just won a long civil war through mass murder of its own civilians (including by use of prohibited chemical weapons) and by imposing on other countries millions of desperate, impoverished refugees. Under the circumstances, there is no compelling reason for local or world powers to remain committed to reassembling Syria as it existed before the civil war.
        Syria's borders do not have deep roots in religion, culture, or history. They reflect nothing profounder than the interests of France and Britain at a moment in the early 20th century. Some countries in the Middle East such as Egypt and Persia have long histories as independent powers. Syria is not one of them. It was a region of the Turkish Empire for 400 years until British forces conquered it in World War I. Until the 1920 post-World War I peace conference, there had never been a nation called "Syria." The writer, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, served as undersecretary of defense for policy in the George W. Bush administration. (National Review)
  • Reviving the Idea that Aggression Shouldn't Be Cost-Free - Evelyn Gordon
    The principle that territory can't be acquired through force, far from deterring aggression, actually rewards it. For an aggressor, starting a war becomes almost cost-free. If he wins, he achieves whatever goal he sought to achieve. And if he loses, the international community will pressure his victim to return any captured lands, thereby ensuring that he pays no territorial price.
        After World War II, the Allies had no qualms about forcing Germany, the aggressor, to cede territory to its victims.
        Claiming that Trump has just legitimized acts of aggression like Russia's seizure of Crimea is possible only under the warped interpretation of international law that makes no distinction between offensive and defensive wars. The Golan and Crimea are completely different cases because the former was acquired in a defensive war and the latter in an offensive one.
        The claim that the decision undermines prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace is also wrong. Until now, every time the Palestinians rejected an Israeli peace offer, the international community rewarded them by demanding additional Israeli concessions. But now, Trump has shown that rejectionism carries a price. Trump is restoring the distinction that used to exist between offensive and defensive wars, thereby restoring international law to sanity. (JNS)
  • The Moral Case for Recognizing Jewish Sovereignty on the Golan Heights - Noam A. Rotem
    The name Golan appears for the first time in the Bible in the book of Deuteronomy as allocated to the tribe of Menashe. The Hasmonean King of Judea Alexander Jannaeus conquered the Golan in the first century BCE, and settled the city of Gamla. The remains of the synagogue in Gamla is thought to date from the late first century BCE. In the days of the Mishna and the Talmud (200-500 CE), many Jewish communities existed in the Golan, as evidenced by the writings of the Jewish sages and backed by archaeological findings.
        From the beginning of Ottoman rule in 1300 until the middle of the 19th century, the Golan was mostly a desolate frontier region ruled by Bedouin tribes. At the end of the 19th century, several attempts were made by Jews to resettle in the Golan, including on lands purchased by Baron Rothschild.
        At the start of the Six-Day War, the Syrians shelled the Hula Valley and the town of Rosh Pina, and Syrian tanks tried to advance toward Kibbutz Dan. In the last days of the war, the Israeli government decided to conquer the Golan Heights and put an end to the threat of Syrian shelling. (Times of Israel)

  • Other Issues

  • Are Jews Too Powerful? - Alan M. Dershowitz
    Are Jews too powerful? This question has never been raised about other groups and manifests a double standard against the Jewish people. When I hear that Jews are too powerful, my response is, we are not powerful enough.
        History has proven that Jews need more power and influence than other groups to secure their safety. During the 1930s and early 1940s Jews had morality on their side, but they lacked the power and influence to save six million of their brothers and sisters from systematic murder. If Israel had existed then, with the powerful army it now has, the history of European Jewry might well have been different. If Jews had more political power in the U.S. during that time, the doors of our nation would not have been shut to our brothers and sisters seeking asylum from Nazism.
        In the Middle East, Israel must have more military power than all of its enemies and potential enemies combined. As Benjamin Netanyahu put it: "The truth is that if Israel were to put down its arms there would be no more Israel. If the Arabs were to put down their arms there would be no more war." The writer is Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard Law School. (Gatestone Institute)
  • French Philosopher: Israel Is a Shining Example of a Liberal Democracy - Bernard-Henri Levy interviewed by David Suissa
    The certainty that you are right and that the other one is wrong is not a Jewish attitude. The Jewish attitude taught by the Talmud teaches that truth is always uncertain. To be a Jew means to have the conversation indefinitely open.
        As a philosopher, I can tell you that the very creation of Israel was a secular miracle, that it was, and it is, an everlasting exception to all the political rules. It never happened in the history of mankind that people decide overnight to make a state and to make it democratic, and that it works.
        I recently told a group of young partisans of the BDS movement, from the point of view of your liberal values, Israel, far from being despised, should be praised: the multi-ethnicity, the tolerance to the other, the transparency, the fight. Israel is one of the most shining examples of what liberal democracy can mean. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
  • Israeli Sovereignty and the "Mukhtar Protocol" - Naomi Linder Kahn
    In many areas in east Jerusalem, no survey or registration of ownership was conducted after the Six-Day War. Instead, local mukhtars (chieftains or village dignitaries) were given sole authority to decide who are the legal owners of the land in question, circumventing the procedures that normally regulate land registry under Israeli law.
        In practice, the "Mukhtar Protocol" spawned a massive industry of wholesale land giveaways and illegal land deals, forgery of documents and deeds, under-the-table payments, and false testimony - and has had devastating results for the rightful owners of property, Arabs and Jews alike.
        In far too many cases, these mukhtars testified that properties were owned by residents of their village - when in fact the very same land parcels were legally registered in Israel's land registry as the property of individual Jewish or Arab owners; documents presented by these mukhtars to substantiate their "expert testimony" were proven to be forgeries.
        This month, for the first time, the Jerusalem Planning and Construction Committee rejected dozens of permit requests for projects in eastern neighborhoods of Jerusalem that were based on the Mukhtar Protocol. The writer is Director of the International Division of Regavim. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Next Step in Egypt-Israel Peace - Haisam Hassanein
    Cairo did not allow any Egyptian officials or private citizens to participate in events in Israel marking the 40th anniversary of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty signed on March 26, 1979. Indeed, Egyptian news outlets were focused on the 30th anniversary of Israel returning the disputed Sinai town of Taba to Egyptian control - an event celebrated as a national holiday every March 19.
        The Egyptian government allows local media to maintain a very hostile tone toward Israel. Most media depictions of Israel-related issues reflect a widespread desire to ostracize Israelis and Jews, foment fear and hatred toward them, and glorify the Arab struggle against them. At the same time, Cairo is also keen on helping the international community expand peace with Israel to other Arab states. Yet its concept of peaceful relations is different from Israel's.
        Cairo seems to believe the Arab states are not strong enough to handle full normalization, theorizing that such an outcome would allow Israel to take control of their economic and financial systems. Hence, Egyptian officials market their own approach to Israel as the best model - namely, sign a bilateral peace agreement, yet greatly limit normalization. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
        See also Egypt and Israel: From Peace between Leaders and Armies to Peace between Peoples - Ofir Winter and Udi Dekel (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Zionism Is as American as Baseball and Apple Pie - Jonathan Feldstein
    Early American leaders understood that the Jewish people and the Land of Israel were inseparably linked. Long before there was ever an Israel-Arab conflict, America's founding fathers aspired to bless Israel and restore Jewish sovereignty there. 200 years ago, President John Adams wrote to a leader of the American Jewish community, Mordecai Noah: "I really wish the Jews again in Judea an independent nation."
        In 1808, Adams wrote of the Jews: "They are the most glorious nation that ever inhabited this Earth. The Romans and their Empire were but a Bauble in comparison of the Jews. They have given religion to three quarters of the Globe and have influenced the affairs of Mankind more, and more happily, than any other Nation ancient or modern."
        Abraham Lincoln, who personally dreamt of visiting Israel, wrote that he hoped the oppression of Jews could be relieved by "restoring the [Jews] to their national home in Palestine...a noble dream and one shared by many Americans." Similar support was echoed by presidents Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Herbert Hoover. (Townhall)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • State Department to Fund Programs Against Rise of Anti-Semitism Abroad
    The U.S. State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor is offering up to $2 million for projects that counter the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe and Central Asia. Anti-Semitism is defined as being "manifested through acts of physical violence, desecration of religious sites, religion-based discrimination, and the use of hateful or inflammatory speech in public discourse, traditional media and online."  (JTA)
  • British Academic Finds Labour Party Is "Institutionally Anti-Semitic"
    A 137-page report by Prof. Alan Johnson, a senior research fellow at the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM), published Thursday, concludes that the Labour party is "institutionally anti-Semitic."  (Times of Israel)

  • Weekend Features

  • Kurds: Golan "Must Remain Israeli" - Rachel Avraham
    Following Kurdistan's independence referendum, only one country recognized the right of the Kurds to declare a state - Israel. The Kurds appreciated Israel's gesture. They are one of the few Muslim peoples who proudly wave Israeli flags at rallies. Due to the history of persecution that they experienced under Syrian President Bashar Assad, the Kurds more than anyone else in the Muslim world support Israel and are open to recognizing Israel's claim to the Golan.
        In recent days, a Kurdish delegation from Iraq and Syria visited Israel as guests of the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights and the Kurdistan-Israel Friendship Association, which seeks to strengthen the bond between the Kurdish and Jewish peoples. The Safadi Center is headed by Israeli Druze former diplomat Mendi Safadi.
        Dr. Hussein Saudo from Afrin, Syria, described his visit to Israel's Sheba Medical Center: "We saw Israeli humanitarianism in action, how they treat children from a foreign country free of charge, how Israel invests in technology to save children who would otherwise die, and what I was impressed the most by was that most of the team, who were Jewish, were treating children from Kurdistan, Gaza, Syria and other countries, which caused me to cry tears of joy."
        He added that, in light of his visit to the Golan, he understands why Israel holds onto the territory: "The Golan Heights is a pearl of stability in the region only because it is controlled by Israel and there is no reason for Israel to give up those territories. The Golan Heights must remain under Israeli control in order to preserve regional security."
        Safadi believes that most Druze living in the Golan will accept Israeli citizenship once the international community recognizes Israel's annexation of the area. The 2018 attacks in As-Suwayda, Syria, just 70 km. (40 miles) from the Israeli Golan, where ISIS massacred 258 Druze and abducted 14 Druze women and girls, demonstrate the critical importance to the Druze of Israel keeping control of the Golan. The writer is president of the Dona Gracia Mendes Nasi Center for Human Rights. (Israel Hayom)
  • How Israel Turned Decades of Medical Data into Digital Health Gold - Moshe Bar Siman Tov
    Israel has begun leveraging its medical data to create new opportunities in the analysis and optimization of patient treatment. Israel's four HMOs and their affiliated hospitals have for the past two decades used the same electronic medical records (EMR) platform. As a result, a large body of data about patients, conditions, and treatments has been built up over the years.
        The secondary use of de-identified clinical data will enable researchers to develop new treatments for hundreds of conditions, as well as ascertain more accurate information for their causes. AI systems will be able to seek correlations to discern which treatments are most effective. The writer is Director General of the Israel Ministry of Health. (Forbes)
  • The Vatican Secret Archive and Pius XII - Julian Schvindlerman
    On March 4, 2019, Pope Francis announced that within a year the Vatican would open the secret files related to Pope Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli) during World War II. In March 1998, the Vatican published a document defending the policy of Pius XII between 1939-1945, claiming he had saved hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives.
        In 1999, the Holy See set up a commission composed of six renowned academics (three Jews and three Catholics) to determine the truth about its role during World War II. But the Vatican archives were accessible only until 1923, and the historians suspended their work.
        In the Holocaust Museum in Israel, an exhibit titled "Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust" says: "Pius XII's reaction to the murder of the Jews during the Holocaust is a matter of controversy....Even when reports about the murder of Jews reached the Vatican, the Pope did not protest either verbally or in writing."
        "In December 1942, he abstained from signing the Allied declaration condemning the extermination of the Jews. When Jews were deported from Rome to Auschwitz, the Pope did not intervene."
        The writer, a columnist for Infobae (Argentina) and Libertad Digital (Spain), lectures on world politics at the University of Palermo in Buenos Aires. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Video: Why Israeli Sovereignty over the Golan Heights Matters - Dore Gold (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Critics of the U.S. decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights misread the legal significance of the preamble to UN Security Council Resolution 242, from November 1967, which contains a reference to the principle of the "inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war." 
  • Legal scholars have drawn a distinction between the seizure of territory in wars of aggression, which is illegal, and the seizure of territory by a state exercising its lawful right of self-defense.
  • Writing in the American Journal of International Law in 1970, Stephen Schwebel, who became the legal adviser to the U.S. Department of State and then President of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, wrote  about the legal significance of this difference. He also cited the great British scholar Elihu Lauterpacht, who argued that "territorial change cannot properly take place as a result of the unlawful use of force." 
  • What about cases of the lawful use of force? In the aftermath of the Second World War, significant territorial changes were implemented in Europe. For example, Germany lost considerable land to Poland and to the Soviet Union. It was clear that the UN Charter recognized the right of states to use force in self-defense, which is the case of Israel's entry into the Golan Heights.
  • In 1967, when the Soviet Union undertook to obtain condemnation of Israel in the UN Security Council as the aggressor in the Six-Day War, it failed, losing the vote by 11 to 4. The Soviets then went to the General Assembly and failed yet again. It was clear for the member states of both UN bodies that Israel had acted in self-defense. 
  • It is also not true that the Golan decision represents a major shift in U.S. policy. In 1975, President Gerald Ford wrote to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that the U.S. "will give great weight to Israel's position that any peace agreement be predicated on Israel's remaining on the Golan Heights."  
  • In 1991, Secretary of State James Baker wrote a new letter to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir reconfirming the Ford letter. In 1996, Secretary of State Warren Christopher wrote to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recommitting the U.S. yet again to the Ford letter.

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