June 21, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

The Race to Retrieve the U.S. Spy Drone Downed by Iran - Ron Ben-Yishai (Ynet News)
    The MQ-4C Triton - the drone brought down by Iran over the Straits of Hormuz - is the naval version of the Global Hawk RQ-4, the most technologically advanced intelligence-gathering drone in the world.
    Its sensors are one of the most advanced and secret weapons in the U.S. arsenal.
    If the Iranians recover its parts from the water, they may try to reverse engineer the sensors and will almost certainly try to sell the technology to China and North Korea.
    See also Iran Says It Retrieved Sections of U.S. Drone (Reuters)
    "We've retrieved sections of the U.S. military drone in our territorial waters where it was shot down," Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted Thursday.

Global Airlines Reroute Flights after Iran Downs U.S. Drone - Jon Gambrell (AP-Washington Post)
    Australia's Qantas, Dutch carrier KLM, British Airways, Air France and Germany's Lufthansa on Friday began rerouting their flights to avoid areas around the Strait of Hormuz following Iran's shooting down of a U.S. military surveillance drone there, as America warned that commercial airliners could be mistakenly attacked.

Oil Shippers Boost Security after Attacks on Tankers in Gulf - Aya Batrawy (AP)
    A series of attacks on oil tankers near the Persian Gulf has raised fears over the safety of one of Asia's most vital energy trade routes.
    Some of the 2,000 companies operating ships in the region are ordering their vessels to transit the Strait of Hormuz only during daylight hours and at high speed.
    Immediately after last week's attacks, freight rates for operators in the Gulf rose 10-20% as the region was declared a "Listed Area," meaning it faces enhanced risk. Insurance premiums are also expected to rise 10-15%.
    If the situation deteriorates further, ship owners might consider having armed guards onboard. This is already the case for many vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden, where piracy is a major concern.

With No Clear Alternatives, Israel Maintains Status Quo in Gaza - Ariel Ben Solomon (Israel Hayom)
    Yoram Meital, chairman of the Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies and Diplomacy at Ben-Gurion University, says maintaining the status quo in Gaza, while not ideal, is the best option open to Israel at the moment.
    Meital said Israel's current approach "is better than launching a wide-ranging military operation," in which case Israel would likely face "ongoing guerrilla warfare."
    Additionally, retaking Gaza "will dismiss the claim that Israel has withdrawn from Gaza and is not responsible for what is happening there."
    "A third possibility is the renewal of the political process, but... that is not realistic."

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In Lebanon, Syrian Refugees Face New Pressure to Go Home - Sarah El Deeb (AP)
    Lebanese authorities led by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil are making their most aggressive campaign yet for Syrian refugees to return home and are taking action to ensure they can't put down roots.
    Lebanon hosts the highest concentration of refugees per capita in the world - 1 million amid a Lebanese population of nearly 5 million.

New Zealand Minister Apologizes for Map Excluding Israel - Henry Benjamin (JTA)
    New Zealand's Minister for Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway has written to the Israeli ambassador in Wellington Itzhak Gerberg apologizing personally for a map on a government website that showed a "Palestine," but not Israel.
    "I can assure you that the fact sheet did not reflect New Zealand Government policy. The map was clearly inaccurate and did not label the State of Israel as it should," he wrote. "Immediate action has been taken to correct the situation."

Israeli Firm Providing Unmanned Aerial Patrol Services to Iceland - George Allison (UK Defence Journal)
    Israeli firm Elbit has started operating the maritime unmanned aerial system (UAS) patrol service available to EU countries under a contract between the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and the Portuguese company CEiiA.
    Iceland is the first EU country to use this long-range UAS patrol service.
    The Hermes 900 Maritime Patrol enables persistent monitoring of vast swathes of sea and long coastlines and effective identification of suspicious activities and potential hazards.
    The Hermes 900 has been adapted to withstand the strong winds and icy conditions common to the North Atlantic Ocean.

Israel to Assist Developing Countries Improve Cyber Defenses - Eytan Halon (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel signed an agreement with the World Bank on Monday to assist developing countries in fields including cybersecurity, universal Internet access, harnessing big data and digital government.
    Israel will contribute $1 million to the World Bank's Digital Development Partnership and provide technical assistance to countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe.

Documentary Explores Nazi Concentration Camp in Occupied British Channel Islands - Curt Schleier (JTA)
    The Nazis imported thousands of slave laborers to build defenses at Alderney, one of the Channel Islands off the coast of France conquered by Germany.
    Caroline Sturdy Colls, a British professor and forensic archaeologist, explores the island in a documentary called "Adolf Island" airing Sunday, June 23, on the Smithsonian Channel.
    The Nazis burned most of the records on Alderney, so there was no telling how many prisoners were killed there.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Weighed Airstrikes on Iran in Retaliation for Downing American Surveillance Drone - Michael D. Shear
    President Trump approved military strikes on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries, in retaliation for downing a $130 million American surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching them on Thursday. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles were fired.
        Iran's ability to target and destroy the high-altitude American drone, which was developed to evade the very surface-to-air missiles used to bring it down, surprised some Defense Department officials. (New York Times)
        See also Trump Reportedly Warned Iran via Oman that U.S. Attack Imminent, Called for Talks
    Iranian officials told Reuters on Friday that Tehran had received a message from U.S. President Donald Trump through Oman warning that a U.S. attack on Iran was imminent. "In his message, Trump said he was against any war with Iran and wanted to talk to Tehran about various issues....He gave a short period of time to get our response but Iran's immediate response was that it is up to Supreme Leader Khamenei to decide about this issue," one official said. (Reuters-CNBC)
  • Italian Oil Refiner Rejects Cargo of Suspected Iranian Crude - Sarah McFarlane and Benoit Faucon
    Italy's oil giant Eni has rejected a cargo of suspected Iranian crude headed to the Milazzo refinery in Sicily, as energy companies grapple with sophisticated techniques used by Iran to evade U.S. sanctions. The ship's documents show that the cargo was Iraqi, but the specifications didn't match those of its contract for Iraqi oil due to the sulfur content. Instead, it had properties which were consistent with Iranian crude. Eni had stopped buying Iranian crude in October. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Iran Tried to Establish Spy Network in West Bank - Yoav Zitun
    The Israel Security Agency said Thursday it has arrested a Jordanian businessman who attempted to set up an intelligence-gathering operation in the West Bank on behalf of Iran. Taer Shaafut, 32, was arrested in April and indicted this month. Shaafut, who is originally from Hebron in the West Bank, held meetings with the Iranians in Lebanon and Syria over the past two years. "This affair is another example of Iran's ongoing attempts to set up infrastructure for operations against Israel," the ISA said. (Ynet News)
  • Hoenlein: UNESCO Has Distorted the History of the Jewish People - Shaked Karabelnicoff
    UNESCO has been washing away evidence of Jewish history in Israel, according to Malcolm Hoenlein, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. "Why would UNESCO devote their energy, time and resources to rewrite and distort the history of the Jewish people?" Hoenlein asked at the Global Coalition 4 Israel conference in Jerusalem on Thursday.
        "Why would they engage in a counterproductive and deceptive process over two years to deny 3,800 years of Jewish history and 2,000 years of Christian history?" First, "they hyphenated traditional names with Arabic words, then within two years the Jewish names were removed."
        "They understand that if you take away our past, you take away our future. If you cut us off from our roots, if we have no attachment to this sacred land, then what right do we or our children have to be here in the future?...Every excavation, every archaeological site, yielded tens of thousands of artifacts and discoveries, every one consistent with Tanach [the Hebrew Bible], every one attesting to the thousands of years of undeniable, irrefutable evidence of our past."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • Once Again, the PA Shows It Doesn't Care about Having a Viable State - Evelyn Gordon
    The Palestinians' refusal to attend a U.S.-sponsored "economic workshop" in Bahrain has been widely treated as a reasonable response to the unlikelihood that President Trump's peace plan will satisfy their demands. But in fact, it's merely further proof that the Palestinian leadership doesn't actually want a state - or at least not a viable one - because even if Palestinian statehood isn't imminent, economic development now would increase the viability of any future state.
        This understanding is precisely what guided Israel's leadership in the pre-state years, although the pre-state Jewish community was bitterly at odds with the ruling British. Nevertheless, the pre-state leadership welcomed and cooperated with British efforts to develop the country, knowing that this would benefit the Jewish state once it finally arose.
        The declared aim of the Bahrain conference is merely to drum up investment in the Palestinian economy, primarily from Arab states and the private sector. Thus, if the PA actually wanted to lay the groundwork for a viable state, what it ought to be doing is attending the conference and discussing these proposals.
        The most astounding part is that the rest of the world, despite insisting that it wants a "viable Palestinian state," openly condones the PA's refusal to go to Bahrain. Instead, the rest of the world should be telling the PA that it ought to seize any chance for economic development because without such development, there's no chance of any future Palestinian state actually being viable. (JNS)
  • Corruption in the Palestinian Authority - Khaled Abu Toameh
    A video posted on Facebook last week revealed that the wife of the Palestinian Authority ambassador to Spain is serving as ambassador to Sweden, while his brother, who also holds the rank of ambassador, works as head of the Latin America Department in Fatah's International Affairs Department. The ambassador's daughter was appointed as a Palestinian "spokeswoman" in Europe, while her husband works as senior aide to the Palestinian foreign minister.
        The video also claimed that Foreign Minister Riad Malki, who has been in his position for 12 years, appointed his brother as ambassador to Colombia.
        In their reactions, Palestinian leaders are telling their people that anyone who complains about corruption is a traitor working with the Americans and Israelis against the interests of the Palestinians. This charge not only carries the death penalty, it brings shame to the accused and his or her entire clan. (Gatestone Institute)

  • Iran

  • Iran Has Invested in Allies and Proxies across the Middle East - Claire Parker
    On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listed a series of attacks he said "Iranian surrogates" have committed since early May, describing them as part of "an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran."
        Iran's emphasis on developing proxy forces goes back to the 1979 revolution that gave rise to the Islamic Republic. The Shiite theocracy sought to export its revolution and empower Shiite groups in the Middle East from the outset. Experts say the regime's primary goal is to project power throughout the Middle East.
        The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force, a special arm focused on external operations led by Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani, organizes and trains fighters with allied militias and provides them with weapons. (Washington Post)
  • America Can Face Down a Fragile Iran - Reuel Marc Gerecht and Ray Takeyh
    Iran is in no shape for a prolonged confrontation with the U.S. The regime is in a politically precarious position. The Iranian middle class has given up on the possibility of reform or prosperity. The lower classes have also grown disloyal. And the youth have become the regime's most unrelenting critics.
        The key to dealing with the Islamic Republic is to appreciate that it is an exhausted regime, perhaps well on its way to extinction. The regime's essential weakness means it can't muster sufficient strength for a prolonged conflict with a determined superpower. The mullahs' clenched fists, slogans of martyrdom, and staged demonstrations shouldn't be confused with real power.
        Mr. Gerecht is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Mr. Takeyh is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Other Issues

  • Are You More Liberal or More Jewish? - Shmuel Rosner
    A new study by Irwin Mansdorf of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs polled American Jewish and non-Jewish liberals and found that Jews were much more worried about anti-Semitism. When asked about priorities, more than 60% of liberal Jews prioritized fighting anti-Semitism over all other options, while liberal non-Jews tended to prioritize "supporting Black Lives Matter" (about 50%, with about 20% prioritizing anti-Semitism).
        When asked if the most important component of a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to have Israel recognized as the nation-state of the Jewish people, more than 50% of the Jewish liberals said yes, while 24% of non-Jewish liberals agreed.
        When asked if Zionism was a "legitimate national liberation movement for the Jewish people," about half of all liberal Jews said yes, while merely 16% of non-Jewish liberals said yes. A quarter of all non-Jewish liberals described Zionism as a "racist and apartheid ideology," while among liberal Jews the number was about 1 in 10. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
  • China's Middle East Policy: Speak Softly and Wave a Large Purse - Ehud Yaari
    From intensive discussions with senior Chinese military, diplomatic, and academic officials, I learned that the Middle East is low on the list of China's global priorities and this is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. Even so, Chinese corporations - with full backing from Beijing - are investing tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure projects, acquisitions, and other initiatives in most countries of the Middle East. Beijing is comfortable with its current policy of avoiding political involvement in the region's myriad disputes.
        China will continue to import Iranian oil, trying to bypass U.S. sanctions without directly challenging or dismissing them. Yet Beijing does not plan to rescue the Iranian regime from its financial distress or supply it with significant arms.
        Beijing shows no intention of revising its unfavorable voting pattern toward Israel in international forums. The Chinese do not believe that developing economic ties with Israel requires them to change their foreign policy. At the same time, Chinese investments in Egypt are growing rapidly, including infrastructure for the new capital city to be established outside Cairo.
        Chinese officials made clear that they will not undertake any economic projects in the Palestinian Authority or inside Gaza. The writer, a veteran commentator for Israeli television, is an international fellow at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • U.S. Anti-Semitism Envoy: Armed Guards Needed at Synagogues, Jewish Centers - Amy Spiro
    Elan Carr, the U.S. special envoy for monitoring and combating anti-Semitism, said in Jerusalem on Wednesday that in the U.S., "We live in a time of danger. Any synagogue, every JCC, should have guards. God willing, may they never be needed, but they should be there."
        Carr said the threat comes from both a "pathological, ethnic, supremacist Right" and "an anti-Zionist Left." "We need to make this fight a joint, bipartisan fight. All decent people - Jewish and not Jewish - need to do it together. I don't care what ideological clothing it wears: Jew hatred is Jew hatred. We need to fight it and oppose it."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Germany Accused of Downplaying Anti-Semitic Attacks by Muslims - Cnaan Liphshiz
    The annual al-Quds Day march in Berlin features frequent calls about killing Israelis, Zionist conspiracies and chants of "free Palestine from the river to the sea." Flags of terrorist groups like Hamas and Hizbullah are on display, and imams regularly preach anti-Semitic verses from the Quran. Iran launched al-Quds Day in 1979.
        Yet some of the incidents documented at the Quds Day march in Berlin have been classified by authorities as forms of far-right anti-Semitism. Last month, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said that supporters of far-right groups were responsible for 90% of the 1,800 anti-Semitic incidents recorded in Germany in 2018.
        However, in a 2016 survey of German Jews who had experienced anti-Semitic incidents, 41% said the perpetrator was "someone with a Muslim extremist view" and another 16% said it was someone from the far left. Only 20% identified their aggressors as belonging to the far-right. (JTA)

  • Weekend Features

  • The Real Birthright: Inheriting Our Jewish Story - Gil Troy
    Birthright, which has brought over 700,000 young Jews to Israel since 1999, is not a partisan program. It's not basic training for propaganda wars. It is a Jewish identity-building program offering Israel 101 - a basic introduction to a great gift that too many parents deprive their children of today: our story.
        So, no, Birthright Israel doesn't offer "multiple narratives" - students get that from the media, at university, online. And no, Birthright Israel isn't about the Palestinians - it's about the Jews. Of course, it would be immoral - and foolish - to ignore the Palestinian issue. That's why Birthright, which has always educated about the conflict, recently added a mandatory two-hour geopolitics seminar for all participants.
        A New York Times article of June 11, 2019, described how "some Jewish activists have protested Birthright." "Some?" Thirteen frauds, who essentially stole spots from others and came on trips last year to walk off their trips, have received far more press coverage than last year's 48,000 satisfied participants. The writer is Professor of History at McGill University. (Jerusalem Post)
  • A Jew in an SS Uniform - Akiva Bigman
    William Zeev Brickman, a professor of education and an American spy, was born in 1913 in Manhattan into an Orthodox Jewish family. His knowledge of Yiddish from home and knack for languages allowed him to develop great expertise in a number of languages. He got his doctorate in German, Latin, and education during the 1930s.
        In 1943, he was drafted into the air force as a historian and German-language expert. In late 1944, following the Allied invasion of northern France, Brickman was drafted to the Office of Strategic Services, the U.S. intelligence agency that would later become the CIA. Brickman's unit was to be stationed inside Germany, behind enemy lines, in the twilight of the Third Reich. Their objective: to capture senior SS officers that tried to escape and evade capture. Brickman said his unit offered Nazi officers a way out of the country, interrogated them, and then foiled their escape plans.
        German-speaking U.S. agents would visit bars that Nazi officers were known to frequent. After giving the appearance they had been drinking, the agents would brag about how they could help those who had the money to flee the country for South America. Those who asked for help would be sent to Brickman, who was dressed in SS fatigues with the insignia of a military rank higher than that of his visitor. Brickman would investigate the officer over his actions in the war and the places where he had served, before sending him on to a rendezvous point on the Czechoslovakian border, where OSS officers would transfer them to allied prisons. (Israel Hayom)

Another Approach to the Palestinian Question - Abdel-Moneim Said (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
  • The PA should not overlook realities. Regardless of who is at fault, the Palestinian people are split between the West Bank and Gaza. Representatives from 32 states attended the ceremonies of the transfer of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. More than half a million Israelis live in the West Bank.
  • The PA cannot ignore all of this. Its withdrawal from the arena by boycotting diplomacy will not make unpleasantness go away and will not improve the Palestinian position.
  • The tide of change made important international players that had long supported the Palestinians - such as India, China and Russia - maintain close relations with Israel.
  • Whatever progress the Palestinians experienced was achieved through direct negotiations with the Israelis.
  • Certainly, it is possible to undermine the forthcoming U.S. initiative through opposition and boycott. However, the consequence is the perpetuation of the status quo, which works to strengthen the hand of Arab extremists such as Hamas who use "the cause" as a means to bring the Arab temple crashing down on the Arab state and the heads of all the Arabs in it.
  • The alternative is to draw inspiration from President Anwar Al-Sadat, who saw the matter as a problem between us and Israel, rather than between us and the U.S.

    The writer is CEO of the Regional Center for Strategic Studies in Cairo.
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