June 11, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Israel: Mossad Tipped Off UK on 2015 Hizbullah Bomb Plot (Ynet News)
    Israeli officials confirmed Monday that the Mossad intelligence agency provided information that led British law enforcement to thwart a 2015 plot by Hizbullah to attack targets in the UK that was revealed Sunday.

Ex-Top IAEA Official Warns of Clandestine Iranian Nuclear Sites - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    Iran may be hiding as many as five underground clandestine nuclear sites from the IAEA, former deputy director-general for Safeguards at the International Atomic Energy Agency Olli Heinonen has told the Jerusalem Post.
    Heinonen said that, according to various understandings, Tehran at this stage should not be operating more than 10 advanced IR-6 centrifuges, but that it is already operating 33.
    Heinonen said he was hopeful that if Iran was getting close to a weapon, Russian and Chinese pressure would keep it from crossing the nuclear finish line.

U.S. Military Cadets Learn about Israel - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    Nearly 40 cadets and officers from West Point, the U.S. Air Force Academy and the Virginia Military Institute completed a two-week visit to Poland and Israel on Monday to learn about Israel's security situation in a trip organized by Our Soldiers Speak.
    Stephan Marn from VMI noted, "Israel has so many enemies knocking on their back door, yet the people in Jerusalem were happy, enjoying life....It was an amount of true patriotism that I don't see in America today."
    U.S. Air Force Academy cadet Kaitlyn Benton said, "The Gaza Strip is right there, we stood at the border. The same with Syria. These people who are trying to destroy the way of life here are right in the backyard and that's not a problem we face in the U.S., and that makes the situation a lot more real because you can't deny that there are threats that need to be taken care of."
    "We got to see exactly what Israeli soldiers are fighting for, it's not an elusive war zone, they are protecting their families."
    West Point cadet Travis Afuso said, "There are constant threats to Israel but people continue to live their lives. That's really inspiring....Every soldier we spoke to had a deep need to serve. They understand that there will be no Israel unless people are willing to die for Israel."

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Sanctions Iran's Petrochemical Giant with Links to Revolutionary Guards
    The U.S. Treasury Department on Friday announced sanctions against Iran's Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company (PGPIC) that accounts for 40% of Iran's petrochemical-production capacity and 50% of its petrochemical exports. The Treasury said PGPIC was providing financial support for a company controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which was previously designated a "foreign terrorist organization." The petroleum and petrochemical industries "have been serving for the last 40 years as a kind of institutionalized slush fund for the IRGC," a senior U.S. official said. (Radio Farda)
        See also Targeting Iran's Largest Petrochemical Company for Supporting Iran's Revolutionary Guards - Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo (U.S. State Department)
  • Iran Warns U.S. It "Cannot Expect to Stay Safe" - Amir Vahdat and Jon Gambrell
    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned the U.S. on Monday that it "cannot expect to stay safe" after launching what he described as an economic war against Tehran. In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus dismissed the comments as "typical behavior" from the Iranian government. "Iran faces a simple choice: it can either behave like a normal nation or watch its economy crumble."  (AP)
        See also IAEA: Iran Has Accelerated Enrichment of Uranium - Sabine Siebold and Francois Murphy (Reuters)
  • Syria's New Assad Statues Send a Sinister Message - Sam Dagher
    In March, the Syrian regime organized a celebration in the main square of the southern city of Daraa to unveil a new bronze sculpture of Bashar al-Assad's father, Hafez. The new statue replaced one torn down by an angry crowd in March 2011 in the place where the civil war began. Hafez's statue was returned to Homs in August 2018 and to the eastern city of Deir Ezzor in October.
        There are no statues yet of Bashar, but billboards of his face along with defiant slogans are plastered everywhere in Syria. Bringing back the statues and the billboards is the Assads' way of telling once-rebellious communities that any further resistance is futile. (Atlantic)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Misidentifies PA Security Personnel as Terrorists, Wounds One - Jack Khoury
    IDF troops fired mistakenly at Palestinian security forces in Nablus in the West Bank on Tuesday as they carried out arrests, lightly wounding one Palestinian security officer. Palestinian security personnel often do not wear uniforms. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Shutters 30 BDS Fundraising Accounts by Revealing Terror Ties
    Israel has quietly waged a two-year campaign against organizations promoting a boycott of the Jewish state by revealing their connections to terror operatives, leading to the closure of 10 fundraising accounts in the U.S. and 20 in Europe, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs said Monday. "For years, boycott promoters have disguised themselves as 'human rights activists,' managing to raise tens of millions of euros from Western countries and citizens who thought they were contributing to causes supporting justice and equality," said Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Hope and Respect Are the Keys to Peace in Israel - Scott Walker
    Last week I visited a company called Alon Group in Samaria. Of the hundreds of people they employ, about half of the workforce is Jewish and half is Arab. Owner Rafael Alon says he loves all of his employees. And he notes with pride that his workers make two and a half times as much at his factory as people make in the Arab areas.
        Solid jobs that allow people to put a roof over their head and food on their table bring hope. And those who have hope are peaceful people. The visit was also a reminder of the harm done by the BDS movement that claims to help Arabs but actually hurts them by imposing real costs against companies that hire both Jewish and Arab workers. If employers have to lay off people because of the BDS campaigns, everyone gets hurt - including the Arabs. The writer was governor of Wisconsin. (Washington Times)
  • Egypt's Economy Isn't Booming, It's Collapsing - Yehia Hamed
    Financial commentators have taken to calling Egypt the world's hottest emerging market. But this obscures a darker reality. A report published by the World Bank in April 2019 found that "60% of Egypt's population is either poor or vulnerable." Overall living conditions are sliding rapidly.
        The government's chronic mismanagement of public finances and overall negligence has caused external debt to rise nearly fivefold in the past five years, due to depreciation of the Egyptian pound, and public debt to more than double. The government currently allocates 38% of its entire budget merely to pay off the interest on its outstanding debt. Add loans and installments, and more than 58% is eaten up. The writer is Egypt's former minister of investment. (Foreign Policy)

  • The "Arab refugees" of 1948/1950, now renamed the "Palestinian refugees," are ostensibly represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization/Palestinian Authority.
  • UN documentation claims that in 1948/1950 there were 711,000 refugees. According to UNRWA, in January 2018 there were over 5.4 million registered Palestinian refugees. Only 30-40,000 are original refugees.
  • The PLO/PA and the Arab countries must understand that Israel will never agree to the "return" of the ever-growing millions of descendants of the original refugees.
  • Recognizing this as the reality, the U.S. came to the conclusion that the world cannot fund the ever-growing Palestinian refugee community indefinitely.
  • Using the aid money to integrate the refugees into their host countries' economies is the only viable solution, and will eliminate a major obstacle to peace.

    The writer is head of legal strategies for Palestinian Media Watch. He served for 19 years in the IDF Military Advocate General Corps, including as Director of the Military Prosecution in Judea and Samaria.