April 5, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Pentagon Says Iran Killed 603 U.S. Troops during Iraq War - Jeff Schogol (Task & Purpose)
    "During Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2011), DoD assessed that at least 603 U.S. personnel deaths in Iraq were the result of Iran-backed militants," Pentagon spokesman Navy Cmdr. Sean Robertson said.
    U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said Tuesday that the Pentagon's latest figures are higher than earlier estimates of 500 killed by Iranian proxies and weapons.

U.S. Delivers 6 Drones to Lebanese Army (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    The Lebanese army said Wednesday it has received six drones from Washington.
    "The U.S. continues its steady delivery of equipment and training to the Lebanese Armed Forces," a tweet from the U.S. embassy said.

UN: Arab States Face Water Emergency, Urgent Action Needed - Aidan Lewis (Reuters)
    Arab states are facing a water supply emergency, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Thursday.
    The Middle East and North Africa have suffered more than any other region from water scarcity and desertification, FAO director-general Jose Graziano da Silva told a meeting of Arab states in Cairo.

Palestinian Authority Should Be Held to Account for Violating Children's Rights - Eliana Rudee (JNS)
    In a legal brief filed with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Watch urged that the Palestinian Authority be held to account for violating children's rights, alleging that it has "failed to protect both Palestinian and Israeli children in armed conflict."
    The report provides evidence that Palestinian groups have subjected children to "arbitrary detention and torture...inundating children with messages of hate and violence," as well as "encouraging them to kill Israelis and become martyrs."

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Research Finds Israel Has World's Least Unhealthy Diet (Globes)
    A major study at the University of Washington published in The Lancet found that Israel has the lowest rate of diet-related deaths.
    The research tracked trends in consumption of 15 dietary factors from 1990 to 2017 in 195 countries.

Gaza "Collaborators" Making New Lives inside Israel - Jenni Frazer (Jewish News-UK)
    Dr. David Bouskila, the former mayor of Sderot, an Israeli town bordering Gaza, says his town is home to the families of 17 one-time Palestinian collaborators - and the locals are absolutely fine with it.
    "They use the same names as they had in Gaza," he said. "They work in our factories. Their children go to the same schools as our children. They feel part of the community." At least one family is his neighbor.
    "They helped Israel fight against terrorists in Gaza. Now they feel safe."

First Temple Find Bears Name of Aide to Biblical King Josiah - Amanda Borschel-Dan (Times of Israel)
    Two tiny 8th century BCE inscriptions in paleo-Hebrew writing were recently uncovered in a large First Temple structure in the City of David in Jerusalem.
    One is a bluish agate stone seal "(belonging) to Ikkar son of Matanyahu."
    The other is a clay seal impression "(belonging) to Nathan-Melech, Servant of the King." Nathan-Melech is named in 2 Kings 23:11 as an official in the court of King Josiah.
    According to archaeologist Prof. Yuval Gadot of Tel Aviv University, in the 8th century BCE this area of the City of David had become the central administrative center of Jerusalem.

Beijing Airport Selects Israeli Radar Technology to Protect Runway - Eytan Halon (Jerusalem Post)
    Beijing Capital International Airport, the second busiest airport in the world, has selected Israel's Xsight Systems' foreign object debris (FOD) detection solution to improve runway safety.
    RunWize continuously monitors and detects any forms of debris or other hazards that could interfere with runway operations.
    Boston Logan International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Ben-Gurion Airport, and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport have all installed Xsight Systems' technology.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN Watchdog Inspects Tehran Site Flagged as Suspicious by Israelis - But Possibly Too Late - Laurence Norman
    The UN's atomic agency has heeded calls by the U.S. and Israel to inspect a site that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed in September was housing Iranian nuclear equipment and material, but the visit may have come too late to yield proof of the claims. The International Atomic Energy Agency first sent a team of inspectors to the site in Tehran in February. But experts say that given the amount of time that has elapsed and the likely removal of equipment, it will be hard to clearly identify whether the Israeli claims are true.
        David Albright, a former weapons inspector who is president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, published satellite images last September that showed some containers were moved from the site after Netanyahu's announcement. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Netanyahu Calls on Putin to Pressure Iran Out of Syria - Raed Jaber and Nazir Magally
    Russian President Vladimir Putin met Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Moscow. Kremlin sources indicated that talks mainly focused on military cooperation in Syria.
        Military analyst Ron Ben-Yishai, who accompanied Netanyahu to Moscow, told Yediot Ahronot that the major topic discussed by Netanyahu was the constant pursuit by Iran to establish a military structure that enables it to open a front against Israel. An Israeli official said that Netanyahu called on Russia to use its influence in Syria to prevent Iran from securing a lasting presence in the country. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
  • Israel's Beresheet Lunar Lander Moves into Moon Orbit - Kenneth Chang
    The Israeli spacecraft Beresheet has completed maneuvers to go into orbit around the moon. On Thursday, the spacecraft fired its engines for six minutes, slowing down enough to be captured by the moon's gravity. Moon orbit has only been accomplished by five nations - the U.S., the former Soviet Union, China, Japan and India - and the European Space Agency. Landing is scheduled for April 11. (New York Times)
        See also Photos: Israeli Spacecraft Views the Dark Side of the Moon
    The Beresheet control room reported Friday that the spacecraft is traveling on an excellent flight path, as planned. The craft took new photos of the moon from a distance of 470 km. One photo shows the dark side of the moon alongside a distant Earth. (SpaceIL-Hebrew)
  • Saudi Nuclear Reactor Nearing Completion - Jonathan Tirone
    Saudi Arabia is nearing completion of its first nuclear reactor, satellite images of the facility show. Saudi Arabia's energy ministry said the facility will "engage in strictly peaceful scientific, research, educational and training activities in full compliance with international agreements" and it is open to visitors. (Bloomberg)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Sgt. Zachary Baumel Laid to Rest on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem
    Fallen Israeli soldier Zachary Baumel was laid to rest at the military cemetery on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem on Thursday, 37 years after he went missing in Lebanon during the 1982 war. The funeral was attended by President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as members of the soldier's family. (Ynet News)
        See also Photos: Funeral of Sgt. Zachary Baumel (Times of Israel)
  • Majority of Israelis See Healthy Arab-Jewish Relations - Eytan Halon
    In a survey published Thursday by online magazine Sicha Mekomit, 76% of Arab respondents and 53% of Jewish respondents said that, in their daily lives, relations between Jews and Arabs are largely positive. Just 13% of Jews and 6% of Arabs said they did not have sufficient contact with the other population group to answer.
        When Arab respondents were asked whether they recognized a Jewish people alongside the Palestinian people, 94% of Arabs answered approvingly. 46% defined themselves as Arab-Israelis, 22% said they were Arabs, 19% said they were Palestinian-Israelis and 14% defined themselves as only Palestinian. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Airborne Firebomb Launched from Gaza Found in Southern Israeli Town - Almog Ben Zikri
    An airborne firebomb launched from Gaza was found Thursday in the southern Israeli city of Kiryat Gat. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Putin's Displays of Good Will Are Welcome after Decades of Soviet Hostility - Zev Chafets
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Moscow Thursday where Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed that it was Russian soldiers in Syria who had discovered the remains of Sargent Zachary Baumel, missing in action since 1982. The return of Baumel's body has riveted the public. The Israel Defense Forces have made an almost sacred principle of leaving no one's son or daughter on the battlefield. After 37 years, surprised and astonished, the country rejoiced.
        Putin's displays of good will are a welcome contrast to decades of Soviet hostility. Most important, Putin has not so far prevented Israel from fighting Iran-sponsored forces in Syria and Lebanon. The writer served for five years as director of the Israel Government Press Office. (Bloomberg)
  • Stop Iran from Going Nuclear - Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
    The Iranian government's nuclear activities jeopardize global security as much as Israel's security. Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, recently made it clear in an interview that the nuclear deal has not stopped Iran from making advances in its nuclear program. Salehi boasted: "If we have to go back and withdraw from the nuclear deal, we certainly do not go back to where we were before....We will be standing in a much, much higher position."
        Germany's domestic intelligence agency revealed in its annual report that the Iranian government has pursued a "clandestine" path to obtain illicit nuclear technology and equipment from German companies. The report stated: "It is safe to expect that Iran will continue its intensive procurement activities in Germany using clandestine methods to achieve its objectives."
        The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) reports that the "nerve center" of the Iranian regime's nuclear weapons project, responsible for designing a nuclear bomb, has been continuing its work. Following the establishment of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015, not only has the unit remained in place and active, it is now clear that in some fields its activities have even expanded.
        Iran's breakout time - the amount of time needed to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for one nuclear bomb - is believed to be less than a year. The writer is president of the International American Council on the Middle East. (Gatestone Institute)
  • BDS Supporters Operate in "Fantasy World" - Jackson Richman
    Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), a former Navy SEAL who lost an eye to an IED in Afghanistan in 2012, said in an interview: "My deployments in the Middle East gave me an insight into the human element there, gave me a more realistic understanding of what Israelis are dealing with in the context of Middle Eastern politics and how different that is from Western civilization. A lot of people who are skeptical of Israel and the United States, who are forming a BDS movement, are operating in a fantasy world."
        "In Israel...you have Hamas fully in control of the Gaza Strip - well-armed, raining down rockets on Israeli civilians indiscriminately. You have Hizbullah to the north - digging tunnels to the Lebanese border, trying to infiltrate Israel for no other purpose than to kill Israelis. You have ISIS in Syria."
        "There's a long history of Israel's Arab neighbors attempting to invade and end the Jewish state, so, for good reason, we should be worried about Israel's security. And Iran, a powerful country that seeks to destroy Israel - and says as much and funds proxies both with Hamas and Hizbullah in order to meet those ends."
        "BDS movements are not about free speech; they are a concerted effort to destroy a nation's economy. That's not free speech. That's vile. That's contempt for the Jewish state."  (JNS)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • Anti-Semitism Is Back, from the Left, Right and Islamist Extremes - Patrick Kingsley
    Accumulated anti-Semitic incidents in Europe and the U.S. have highlighted how an ancient prejudice is surging in the 21st century. Polling suggests that anti-Semitic attitudes may be no more widespread than in the past, particularly in Western Europe. Despite this, bigots have seemingly become more brazen, creating a climate that has made anti-Semitism far more permissible and dangerous.
        In 2018, France reported a 74% spike over the previous year in anti-Semitic incidents, with more than 500 attacks. President Emmanuel Macron called it the worst level of anti-Semitism since World War II. In Germany over the same period, violent anti-Semitic attacks rose by 60%. Around Europe, almost 90% of Jews believe that anti-Semitism has increased in their country in the last five years, according to surveys by the EU.
        David Nirenberg, dean of the Divinity School at the University of Chicago and an expert on Jewish history, said, "When French Muslims attack Jews in Paris or Marseille, it is because Islamist discourse has taught them to understand not only the situation of Palestinians, but also the global status of Islam and even their own poverty and marginalization in France, as in some way caused by Zionists and Jews."  (New York Times)

  • Weekend Features

  • The Israeli Army Unit that Recruits Teens with Autism - Shira Rubin
    For eight hours a day, E., 21, sits in front of multiple computer screens, scanning high-resolution satellite images for suspicious objects or movements. He's been critical in preventing the loss of life of soldiers on the ground in several different situations, his officers say. E., who is on the autism spectrum, describes the job as relaxing, "like a hobby." The Israel Defense Force's Visual Intelligence Division counts dozens of Israelis on the autism spectrum among its members.
        For these young people, the unit is an opportunity to participate in a part of Israeli life that might otherwise be closed to them. For the military, it's an opportunity to harness the unique skill sets that often come with autism: extraordinary capacities for visual thinking and attention to detail. (Atlantic)
  • Holocaust Heroine Saved Jewish Girls in Hungary
    Jane Haining, who cared for hundreds of Jewish girls at the Scottish Mission School in Budapest during World War II, died at Auschwitz after the Nazis invaded Hungary in 1944. Author Mary Miller tells her story in the new book Jane Haining - A Life of Love and Courage. In 1932, she moved to Hungary to work as a matron at the school, which educated Christian and Jewish children together.
        As anti-Semitism intensified, the Scottish Mission, which oversaw the school, organized courses in practical subjects to help Jews emigrate and get jobs abroad. Haining helped women secure work as domestic servants in Britain under the program. Following the outbreak of war in 1939, Haining refused her employers' orders to return to Britain. By then, most of the school's 400 pupils were Jewish, and many were orphans. From 1943, the Mission helped many people escape transportation to Nazi death camps, hiding them in cellars or getting them to safe houses. Yad Vashem honored Haining as a Righteous Among the Nations in 1997. (Israel Hayom)
  • Discovering Acts of Rescue in Budapest - Amelia Ireland
    Last week, I joined an educational visit to Budapest with the Holocaust Educational Trust. At memorials across the city, we learned about courageous individuals who resisted Nazi persecution by rescuing Jewish victims.
        Italian Giorgio Perlasca is memorialized for his role in rescuing thousands of Jews by posing as the Spanish consul-general to Hungary, after Spanish officials had left. Despite his past as a former Fascist, Perlasca saved the lives of over five thousand Jews. (Jewish News-UK)

Israel's War between the Wars - Amos Yadlin and Ari Heistein (Jewish Review of Books)
  • On Sep. 7, 2017, Israeli jets hit a "scientific research center" (in reality, an Iranian weapons facility) in Masyaf in northwest Syria. And so began the next phase of Israel's "campaign between the wars." Since then, Israel has continued to quietly but decisively counter Iran's entrenchment in Syria.
  • Under the leadership of Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of its Quds Force, Iran's aim has been to equip proxies based on Israel's northern border in Syria and Lebanon, and perhaps in Gaza as well, with advanced missiles. These missiles could serve to deter attacks on Iranian nuclear sites, while a nuclear weapon would eventually give its conventional forces on Israel's borders the ability to act with impunity.
  • Iran has sought to establish airfields and naval bases in Syria, built several precision missile plants, and imported Shia militias from other countries into Syria so that it can continue operations even after withdrawing most of its own troops. It also continues to establish a Syrian Hizbullah.
  • With Syrian rebel forces all but vanquished, the Iran-led axis will likely have a greater appetite for escalation against Israel. It is feasible that Iranian and Hizbullah forces will seek to strike Israel from Syrian territory, eliciting a powerful Israeli response that could lead to a spiraling series of reprisals on both sides.
  • Jerusalem clearly cannot depend on Moscow to achieve or guarantee its goal of security on the northern border. A Feb. 2019 strike at Quneitra - just 500 feet from the 1974 ceasefire line between Syria and Israel, killing both Iranian and Hizbullah operatives - shows that Russia's promise to distance hostile forces from Israel's border remains unfulfilled.
  • Of the many threats facing Israel, Iran's effort to build major military capabilities in Syria and Lebanon ranks highest in both immediacy and magnitude. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has made it abundantly clear that his ultimate goal is not to deter Israel but to destroy it, and his proxy forces and advanced missiles in Syria are on the front lines of those efforts.

    Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin was chief of Israeli military intelligence from 2006 to 2010 and is now the director of the Institute for National Security Studies in Israel.
        Ari Heistein is an independent security and policy consultant based in Tel Aviv.
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