May 14, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Company Saves Japanese Carmaker from Ransomware Attack - Amir Mizroch (Forbes)
    Executives from the Israeli cyber intelligence firm KELA Group recently met with a large Japanese carmaker with news that hackers were about to launch an attack on automated processes the carmaker heavily relies on.
    Once in control of the automation systems at the factories, the hackers would extort a ransom, a method known as a ransomware attack.
    Doron Levit, a KELA executive, said that the attackers had exploited a known cyber vulnerability which the carmaker's security team had not patched, and which had already sowed chaos at manufacturers and hospitals worldwide.
    "It was their lucky day," Levit says, adding that the tip-off was very well received by the Japanese company's management.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib Rewrites History - Liel Leibovitz (Tablet)
    Rep. Rashida Tlaib has claimed that Palestinians provided a safe haven for Jews after the Holocaust.
    In fact, 435 Holocaust survivors were killed by Palestinians and Jordanians violently opposing the creation of a safe haven for Jews in their homeland.

Arabs Criticize Hamas for Firing Rockets at Israel (MEMRI)
    On May 5, Lebanese Shi'ite journalist Nadim Koteich tweeted: "How many meals for breaking the [Ramadan] fast could be purchased with what the hundreds of rockets fired from Gaza cost?"
    On May 6, Ahmad Al-Jarallah, editor of the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa, tweeted: "What did the Gaza rockets do to Israel? Nothing."
    Iraqi political commentator 'Imad Al-Din Al-Jabouri stated on May 5: "Hamas shells Israel with rockets that serve no purpose; Israel responds with force; Arab countries express solidarity with the Palestinian people and collect billions for rebuilding what Israel destroys; and billions flow into the bank accounts of Hamas leaders [who reside] in Istanbul hotels."

German Anti-Semitism Commissioner Calls on Bank to Shut BDS Account - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
    Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, the recently appointed commissioner to combat anti-Semitism in Germany's most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia, who served as Germany's federal justice minister, on Tuesday joined the Israeli and American governments in calling for the Bank for Social Economy to close the account of the hardcore BDS group Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East that is currently promoting a boycott of the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv.

Video - Koolulam: Watch 18,000 People in the USA and Israel Sing Together (Facebook)
    See and hear Israel and the U.S. in a duet at AIPAC in Washington and the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem in March 2019.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Blames Iran for Ship Attacks - Lolita C. Baldor
    Iranian or Iranian-backed proxies used explosives Sunday to blow large holes in four ships anchored off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, a U.S. official said Monday. Each ship has a 5- to 10-foot hole in it, near or just below the water line. (AP)
        See also White House Reviews Military Plans Against Iran - Eric Schmitt and Julian E. Barnes
    At a meeting of top U.S. national security aides last Thursday, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented an updated military plan that envisions sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons, administration officials said. Some senior American officials said the plans show how dangerous the threat from Iran has become. Others said the plans are a tactic to warn Iran against new aggression.
        Two national security officials said the announced U.S. drawdown in December of American forces in Syria, and the diminished naval presence in the region, appear to have emboldened some leaders in Tehran and convinced the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps that the U.S. has no appetite for a fight with Iran.
        "The president has been clear, the United States does not seek military conflict with Iran, and he is open to talks with Iranian leadership," Garrett Marquis, a National Security Council spokesman, said Monday. "However, Iran's default option for 40 years has been violence, and we are ready to defend U.S. personnel and interests in the region." Moreover, intelligence and Defense Department officials said American sanctions have been working better than originally expected. (New York Times)
  • Hizbullah Partakes in Maduro's Drug Trade in Venezuela - Dr. Vanessa Neumann
    The U.S. sanctions on Venezuela have had a secondary effect on Hizbullah's finances, impacting the salaries of their fighters in Syria and degrading their military and terrorist capabilities. However, they still make a lot of money through the Maduro regime's drug running, which continues to spike to horrifying proportions, as Maduro's military-backed cartel scrambles for cash to get around the sanctions.
        Keeping Maduro in power is therefore in Hizbullah's best interests, and they will work hard for that. During my visit to Beirut in 2012, Hizbullah vowed that they would sustain the power of whomever succeeded Venezuelan President Chavez. The writer is President Juan Guaido's appointed ambassador and chief of diplomatic mission to the UK. (Al Arabiya)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Experts Don't See War with Iran Forthcoming - Omri Nahmias
    Is a war between the U.S. and Iran on the horizon? Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), told the Jerusalem Post: "There's only one way to fight the United States at this point. And that is through terrorism and insurgency. The idea that Iran would square off with the United States in a conventional conflict is not serious."
        Schanzer added that sending a carrier group to the Gulf is meant only to send a message. "When you put that into play, it changes the way that your adversary is going to respond to you. They're going to be more fearful, and that's what we call leverage."
        Ilan Goldenberg, senior fellow and director of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, told the Post that the U.S. should not expect an immediate crisis, but rather that Iran will once again take a slow-motion crawl toward a nuclear weapon. He added that the risk of military confrontation is overblown by the media.
        Mark Dubowitz, the chief executive of FDD, told the Post: "I think it's dawning on the Iranians that...they may not even make it to January 2021 [the end of Trump's term in office] without a severe balance of payments crisis. They're running out of foreign exchange reserves. The currency is collapsing, there's severe recession. Inflation is skyrocketing. So maybe the Europeans can convince them to come back to the table and we'll see negotiation."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel to Build Wall to Shield Vehicles, Trains near Gaza - Anna Ahronheim
    Israel will build a protective wall to shield vehicles and trains traveling close to the border with Gaza, Channel 12 reported on Monday. On May 5, Moshe Feder was killed after a Kornet anti-tank missile fired by Hamas struck his car near Kibbutz Erez. Roads near the border are to be obscured from view from Gaza by three-meter high walls, ramps and trees. One community believed to be at risk will also be protected by walls and a new entrance road to the community will be built. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • We Want Full Iranian Withdrawal from Syria - James Jeffrey interviewed by Ibrahim Hamidi
    James Jeffrey, the U.S. Special Representative for Syria Engagement and the Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, said that his country wanted a full Iranian withdrawal from Syria and would not allow Iran to "fill the void" in the northeast of the country.
        Jeffrey told Asharq Al-Awsat that Washington would continue to pressure Damascus and its allies through economic sanctions, a military presence in northeastern Syria, and a halt to Arab and Western normalization until a "new political government is formed."
        Jeffrey said the Syrian regime's access to reconstruction funds has stopped, and that his country was obstructing the recognition of the regime in the Arab League and was working on a coordinated sanctions program with the Europeans.
        Jeffrey emphasized that U.S. policy was aimed at facing Iran in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Hizbullah, and Yemen. "This is no secret. We look at all these areas as one theater of [Iranian] operations."  (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
  • Iran's Dilemma - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser
    The U.S. has amplified its economic sanctions against Iran in recent days. The U.S. has also begun moving forces to the Persian Gulf and closer to Iran. The Europeans have stressed that despite their commitment to the nuclear deal, if Iran stops fulfilling its obligations they will have to renew sanctions.
        Western nuclear experts are still publishing analyses of Iran's nuclear archives. These reports highlight the progress Iran's military nuclear program has made, and illustrate the degree to which the International Atomic Energy Agency was irresponsible in regard to the nuclear deal.
        For Iran, saving the nuclear deal gives it the ability to manufacture unhindered a large nuclear arsenal within 11 years. Still, it's reasonable to assume that Tehran, at this stage, will seek to avoid a direct military clash with the U.S. by recognizing the limits of its own might and vulnerability in the face of American military capabilities. The writer was head of the IDF Intelligence Directorate's Research Division and is now a senior scholar at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Israel Hayom)

  • In 1948 when the modern Israeli state was born, Israel was a very small, poor country largely consisting of desert. Its tiny population, many of them Holocaust survivors, had to build a new life and a new country in the ancient land of their forefathers. They had to do this against repeated aggression from their Arab neighbors who tried to wipe Israel off the map.
  • Regrettably, there is a small group of extremist activists who have tried very hard over the past year to prevent the Eurovision happening this year in Israel or at least to stop Ireland's state broadcaster RTE from airing the event. These people like to call themselves "pro-Palestinian."
  • Actually, they are not. Their hatred, their calls for boycotts, and their aggressive intimidation of people who support Israel do not do anything to improve the life of a single Palestinian but show that their only agenda is an anti-Israel one.
  • They pretend that the Jewish people have no right to live in the places where they were born and where their history, religion and culture are deeply rooted since ancient times.
  • They ignore the continuous attempts to reach a peace agreement that have been rebuffed and have been met with more and more Palestinian terrorism.

    The writer is the Ambassador of Israel in Ireland.