June 28, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Forming New Persian Gulf Plan, Enlisting Other Countries to Keep Watch - Michael R. Gordon (Wall Street Journal)
    An emerging U.S. plan for deterring attacks on tankers that Washington blames on Iran calls for ships from Arab, Asian and other foreign nations to stand watch in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman while maritime patrol planes fly overhead, U.S. officials said.
    The operation would be commanded not by the U.S., but by a U.S. ally. The U.S. military likely would contribute aircraft as well as ships and would organize the communications.
    The aim is to dissuade Iran from conducting clandestine attacks by shining a spotlight on the critical sea lanes in the region.

Khamenei's Secret Stash Could Help Iran Weather U.S. Sanctions - Zvi Bar'el (Ha'aretz)
    American estimates say Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei controls a $200 billion fortune in the financial institution founded decades ago by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Executive Headquarters of Imam's Directive (SETAD).
    This financial cushion could, if needed, be used by the government as it tries to cope with the existing sanctions.

Would Palestinian Factions Attack Israel for Iran's Sake? - Rasha Abou Jalal (Al-Monitor)
    As Iran is the main party fueling Palestinian resistance factions, if a military confrontation between Iran and the U.S. were to break out, what are the chances of this leading to a new clash between the factions and Israel, a key U.S. ally against Iran?
    Hamas leader Yahya Moussa told Al-Monitor, "Iran and Hamas have an old political alliance based on Iranian bias to Palestinian rights, but this alliance does not entail Hamas engaging in a war for Iran's sake."
    "No military confrontation between Israel and the resistance has ever had foreign goals. We don't have to be dragged into a war with Israel if Iran faces a military attack."
    However, a prominent Islamic Jihad leader said, "Islamic Jihad will not abandon the country that supported it [Iran] in fighting Israel, if that party faces an attack."
    Hassan Abdo, a political analyst close to Islamic Jihad, said Hamas and Islamic Jihad "will not hesitate to engage in military confrontation against Israel....There is no resistance without Iran, which is the backbone of all anti-Israel military resistance in Palestine and Lebanon."

Iran Unlikely to Learn Much from Recovered U.S. Intelligence Drone - Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory and Rachel S. Cohen (Air Force Magazine)
    Even though Iran claims to have recovered portions of the U.S. Navy drone it shot down over the Strait of Hormuz on June 19, it's unlikely the country will be able to gather much U.S. military technical intelligence from the aircraft.
    Lt.-Gen. (ret.) David Deptula said "parts and pieces" that have appeared on television in the wake of the attack "are pretty mangled and destroyed."
    Deptula added that while Iran's SAM capability was well known before the attack, what wasn't known was "that they would violate the rules of international governance by shooting down an unarmed aircraft in international airspace."
    "The presumption of being able to operate in permissible airspace is one that was legitimate over the last quarter of a century, but this shootdown demonstrates the consequences of operating against even second-rate military powers."

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SpaceIL Won't Attempt Another Moon Landing, Will Seek a Greater Challenge - Eytan Halon (Jerusalem Post)
    The team behind the Beresheet spacecraft will not be reattempting its mission to land on the Moon, SpaceIL announced Tuesday.
    SpaceIL decided that landing on the Moon was "not a sufficiently great challenge" and would search for a new challenge.

Survey: More than Half of Arab World's Young Adults Want to Leave - Julia Altmann (Media Line-Jerusalem Post)
    The BBC News Arabic Survey found that 52% of respondents aged 18-29 in 10 countries and the Palestinian territories said they were considering emigrating to another country, including almost half the population in Jordan.

Israeli Companies Boosted New York Economy by $30 Billion in 2018 - Eytan Halon (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli-founded companies operating in New York directly contributed $18.6 billion in revenue in 2018, a new study by the New York-Israel Business Alliance has revealed.
    The economic benefit by 506 Israeli companies surges to $33.8 billion, when including spending on local goods and services.
    The companies directly employ 24,850 New York residents and indirectly employed a further 27,502 based on additional demand for locally-sourced goods and services.

Israel Issues First 50-Year Bonds for $568 Million (Reuters)
    Israel has issued its first 50-year bonds in a deal worth 500 million euros ($568 million) with a single institutional investor, one of the largest pension funds in Europe, the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem said Thursday.

Israel Offers Cutting-Edge Agricultural Innovation - Eytan Halon (Jerusalem Post)
    Representatives from over 40 countries arrived in Israel this week for Agriisrael 4.0, a four-day conference showcasing Israel's hi-tech prowess in agriculture.
    Tevel Aerobotics Technologies is currently testing its fleet of autonomous airborne robots for fruit harvesting. Tevel's fleet of drones uses artificial intelligence vision algorithms, orchard mapping and data, and balancing and maneuvering algorithms to autonomously pick apples and oranges from trees at the right time.
    BeeHero utilizes real-time beehive data and pollination intelligence to predict beehive disorders in real-time and mitigate the growing problem of colony collapse. Enabling beekeepers to make adjustments to ensure hive well-being, the company says, enables pollinators to increase yields by 30% on average.
    Manna Irrigation Intelligence uses satellite imagery, hyper-local weather forecasts, and self-developed crop models to provide growers with accurate valve-specific recommendations regarding when and how much to irrigate.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Diplomat: Sanctions Deny Tehran $50 Billion in Oil Revenue
    U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said Wednesday in Bahrain that Tehran has been denied up to $50 billion in oil revenue exports as a result of sanctions. Hook added that Iran's proxies in the region, including Hizbullah and Hamas, "are experiencing a financial strain they never experienced before" as pressure on Iran limited its capability to fund terror in the Middle East.
        Hook pointed out that Iran provides 75% of Hizbullah's budget every year, some $700 million, and as a result, "the average Lebanese Hizbullah fighter makes more than the average Iranian." Hook described the Iranian government as a "corrupt religious mafia that robs its own people blind in order to fund a violent ideology."  (Radio Farda)
        See also Germany-Iran Trade Collapses under U.S. Sanctions
    Trade between Germany and Iran has collapsed under the impact of U.S. sanctions, data from the German Chamber of Commerce showed. Trade was down 49% over the first four months of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018, with volumes continually declining. (Reuters-New York Times)
  • U.S. Warns of Rise in Iranian Cybersecurity Threats
    The Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said on June 22: "CISA is aware of a recent rise in malicious cyber activity directed at United States industries and government agencies by Iranian regime actors and proxies....Iranian regime actors and proxies are increasingly using destructive 'wiper' attacks, looking to do much more than just steal data and money."  (U.S. Department of Homeland Security)
        See also U.S. Must Be on Alert for Iran Cyberattacks - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    Iran's aggressive cyber operations multiplied in recent weeks and then again this past week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) director Christopher Krebs told the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Incendiary Balloons from Gaza Cause 25 Fires in Israel on Thursday - Matan Tsuri
    Incendiary balloons launched from Gaza started 25 fires in Israeli communities on Thursday. (Ynet News)
        See also Report: Israel and Hamas Said to Agree on Gaza Border Calm after Wave of Arson Attacks - Jack Khoury
    Israel and Hamas have reached an understanding on an extended calm along the Gaza border, UN sources told the Palestinian Sawa news agency on Friday. Hamas would commit to prevent the launch of airborne firebombs into Israeli territory and ensure that protesters at the Gaza border were nonviolent. Israel would renew the supply of fuel into Gaza, halted earlier this week after the launching of numerous firebombs. (Ha'aretz)
  • Greenblatt Prefers to Call Settlements "Neighborhoods and Cities" - Jacob Magid
    U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt told the Israel Hayom Forum for U.S.-Israel Relations in Jerusalem Thursday that in brokering a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, "We might get there if people stop pretending settlements, or what I prefer to call 'neighborhoods and cities,' are the reason for the lack of peace."
        He added: "It is a shame that the Palestinian Authority chose not to attend [the Bahrain economic workshop] and tried to convince others not to attend. They distorted our message and attempted to undermine our progress but they did not succeed."  (Times of Israel)
        See also Text: Jason Greenblatt at Israel Hayom Forum for U.S.-Israel Relations (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    The Economic Workshop in Bahrain

  • Sunni Arab States Discuss Peace Against the Wishes of the Palestinians - Anshel Pfeffer
    The "Peace to Prosperity" economic workshop in Bahrain is important, not because it will lead to peace: it won't. But for the first time, official representatives of a significant number of Sunni Arab states attended an international conference - hosted by and in an Arab country in public - on resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and they did so against the express wishes of the Palestinians. Just by taking place, the economic workshop has moved the needle in a major way.
        As far as most Arab leaders are concerned, the main obstacle to closer relations with Israel is the fear of a possible public backlash. If it wasn't for that, they would have come out into the open years ago. There is no question that, from their perspective, a security alliance with Israel against Iran - preferably with American backing - coupled with trade and tech sales, are more important than any notion of solidarity with the Palestinians. Bahrain is important as another sign of Arab leaders bringing the burgeoning secret relationship into the open. (Ha'aretz)
  • Notes from the Economic Workshop in Bahrain - Noa Landau
    At the economic workshop in Bahrain, the Palestinian leadership received a very clear message from every direction that they are like a bone stuck in the throats of very influential parties in the region and are preventing progress on cooperative security, technological and economic projects. In conversations with representatives from Arab countries at the conference, Ha'aretz heard criticism of the Palestinian Authority's actions, Hamas' leadership and the funding they receive from Iran and Qatar.
        On the other hand, every single Arab at the event made it clear that the Palestinian issue still stands between them and full peace with Israel. The general message was that we are making progress in slow steps with Israel, but this progress also has limits.
        At the same time as U.S. and Arab finance ministers were holding a concluding panel at the economic workshop, Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon met in his office in Jerusalem with Palestinian Finance Minister Shukri Bashara and Civil Affairs Minister Hassan al-Sheikh to address "ongoing civil and economic issues." These meetings have been going on regularly and routinely - even during times when the disconnect between the Palestinians and Israelis is supposedly worsening. (Ha'aretz)
  • Economic Development Does Not Top the PA's List of Priorities - Prof. Eyal Zisser
    The U.S. has revealed parts of its Middle East peace plan, highlighted by a $50 billion, ten-year Palestinian investment and infrastructure proposal. Yet the Palestinians have already decided to reject the American plan outright, along with all Arab or international attempts to promote stability. From the Palestinians' perspective, the only possible solution involves the international community imposing the entirety of their demands on Israel.
        Moreover, the Palestinians' behavior over the years teaches us that stability or economic development don't top their list of priorities and that a situation of volatility and constant distress better serves their national and political goals. The writer is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University. (Israel Hayom)
  • The Fatal Flaw in the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan - Jeff Goodson
    The economic part of the new Israeli-Palestinian peace plan is nation-building on steroids. It's big, it's bold and it's comprehensive. There's just one problem. As we've learned repeatedly since World War II, development doesn't buy peace in ethnic and religious wars because social and economic issues aren't driving the conflict.
        The Israeli-Palestinian war is not an ideological war, nor is it a politico-economic war where development and governance are required for peace and stability. It's a religious war. Only strength can secure stability there, and only future generations will find a way to peace.
        I spent a lot of time on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza in the 1990s, working on USAID road, water, housing, business, trade and other economic development projects. The projects did some good, but no one was living under the illusion that they would significantly change the calculus for peace.
        The Palestinians will happily take every nickel of U.S. taxpayer money, but trade, investment and economic development won't incentivize them to moderate their hatred for Israel. That hatred is too much a part of their cultural identity. The ugly truth is that you don't get to either peace or stability in religious wars through economic development. Especially Islamic wars. Instead, the U.S. should focus on military strength and help Israel protect itself from our common enemies.
        The writer, a retired foreign service officer who served 29 years with USAID, served as director of development for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan (2010 to 2012). (The Hill)
  • Palestinians Condemn Arabs while Asking for Arab Money - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Palestinians are incensed with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states for agreeing to attend the U.S.-led conference in Bahrain to help the Palestinians build a prosperous and vibrant society. Their strong condemnations of the Arab states that attended the conference are an indication of the disdain in which the Palestinians hold Arab leaders and governments. The largest Palestinian faction, Fatah, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, urged Arabs to stage demonstrations in front of Bahrain's embassies in their capitals. The Palestinian strategy was to incite the Arab masses against their leaders and governments.
        As the Palestinians were condemning Arabs for agreeing to attend the conference, they were asking the Arabs to give them $100 million each month to help them "face political and financial pressure" from Israel and the U.S. The Palestinians may soon discover that their Arab brothers have priorities that supersede the Palestinians' everlasting financial self-immolation, priorities such as the Iran threat and their own new economic uncertainty.
        The decision of six Arab states to attend the Bahrain conference despite the Palestinian boycott call shows that the Arabs have chosen to endorse a new direction - one that will leave the Palestinians to fend for themselves in a hell of their own making. (Gatestone Institute)

  • Iran

  • Khamenei Will See Sanctions on Him as a Direct Challenge to the Revolution - Patrick Clawson and Mehdi Khalaji
    President Trump's June 24 executive order closes the U.S. financial system to those who deal with individuals directly appointed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, or with institutions controlled by these appointees. No step could be better designed to infuriate the regime's top official.
        The essence of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution was the concept of giving absolute power to the nation's Supreme Leader. Khamenei has built an imposing cult of personality. Iranian media are required to refer to him not with the constitutional title of "Leader," but as "Exalted Supreme Leader." Those seen as criticizing him are treated harshly.
        In a May 29 speech, Khamenei argued that Iran's only possible response to U.S. sanctions is to gain leverage against the U.S. so that it can be in a position of strength. In his view, Iran has ample "instruments of exerting pressure" at its disposal and should use them. Tehran has indeed gained leverage. Whereas two months ago the narrative centered on Washington's unexpected success at imposing real pain on Iran's economy, today's focus is on how dangerous and volatile the region has become, with many world leaders now pushing for compromise.
        Patrick Clawson is a senior fellow and director of research at The Washington Institute, where Mehdi Khalaji is a fellow. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Iran's Strategy in the Middle East - Sir John Jenkins
    Iran's strategy in the region has been consistent since 1979 - a sustained push to establish influence and eventually ideological and material hegemony across large parts of the region and to ensure that any battles are fought far from its own territory.
        But you can't really say that all those years spent building, equipping and backing Hizbullah, Amal, Da'wa, the key Shiite militias in Iraq, Saraya Al-Akhtar and Saraya Al-Mukhtar in Bahrain and now the Houthis, or backing the Taliban and Hamas, snuggling up to Caracas and Havana and creating a massive clericalized structure of internal oppression, represent a progressive national security strategy.
        It would have been far better for Iran to get on with its neighbors rather than spend so much time and money plotting against them. The writer, a former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia, is a senior fellow at Policy Exchange in London. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)

  • Other Issues

  • Did the International Atomic Energy Agency Recognize a Palestinian State? - Alan Baker
    A newly signed safeguards agreement between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the "State of Palestine," dated June 18, 2019, enables IAEA access to "the territory of Palestine" to ensure that safeguards are applied regarding nuclear materials. While the IAEA says this "does not imply the expression by the IAEA of any opinion regarding the status of Palestine," access by the Agency to "the territory of Palestine" implies recognition of the existence of a sovereign Palestinian state.
        Regrettably, the IAEA has permitted itself to be manipulated by the Palestinian leadership and has taken a distinct political position recognizing a Palestinian state. The IAEA is cooperating with a political campaign conducted by the Palestinian leadership intended to bypass the agreed negotiation process.
        The writer, former legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The Death of Egypt's First Muslim Brotherhood President, Mohammed Morsi - Zvi Mazel
    Former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood died suddenly on June 17. The former president was buried in the middle of the night in a cemetery east of Cairo, with the briefest notice buried in the back pages of most Egyptian dailies. Amr Moussa, the former foreign minister and secretary general of the Arab League, said Morsi was not the leader of all the Egyptians and history will judge his regime harshly.
        In 2012 Morsi won the presidential election with 51.7% in a low turnout, the first Muslim Brother to become president. Ecstatic with finding them themselves in power after 80 years of repression, the Muslim Brothers could not wait to promote their ideological agenda and soon took over all government institutions. Instead of tackling the sorry state of the economy, the new Islamist-dominated parliament discussed imposing harsher corporal punishment as prescribed by Sharia (Islamic law).
        Within two months of Morsi's inauguration, demonstrations started, evolving into outright rebellion against the path taken. Suddenly there was a political front uniting all opposition parties, with even the army urging Morsi to change tack. He paid no heed, firing thousands of civil servants and appointing new ones from the ranks of the Brotherhood. Morsi then issued a presidential decree granting him control of the judiciary.
        According to the draft of a new constitution he promoted, the country would become an Islamic state on the basis of Sharia. Public outcry was immediate and demonstrations swept the country. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, appointed Minister of Defense by Morsi, who thought that he was a Brotherhood sympathizer, vainly attempted to warn him that the army would not let the country sink into anarchy. Millions took to the streets in June 2013, demanding Morsi's resignation. On July 3, the army took over and arrested him together with the leaders of the Brotherhood. The writer is former Ambassador of Israel to Egypt. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also The Death of Divisive Ex-President Morsi - Haisam Hassanein
    Perhaps no other president in modern Egyptian history was hated by the citizenry as much as Morsi was during his brief tenure in 2012-2013, in large part due to his undemocratic and confrontational measures. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • Canada to Adopt Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Definition of Anti-Semitism
    The government of Canada announced on June 25 that it will formally adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism as part of its anti-racism strategy. Guidelines attached to the definition include illustrations of anti-Semitism, including Holocaust denial, accusing Israel and Jews of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust, making "mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing or stereotypical allegations about Jews," denying Jews their right to self-determination by claiming that Israel is a racist endeavor, along with other facets of anti-Jewish racism. (Canadian Jewish News)
  • Holocaust Remembrance: Is "Never Forget" Dead? - Lev Golinkin
    The notion that Holocaust remembrance remains uniquely sacred and inviolable is a comforting illusion - but one no longer grounded in reality, particularly in Europe. Europe is holding marches in honor of SS units, glorifying men responsible for butchering hundreds of thousands of Jews, and building apartments on top of Holocaust sites. Alternative narratives whitewashing the butchers of Jews are being written into history books, museums and school curriculums, and popularized in film and song. (Washington Post)

The Human Shields of the New Anti-Semitism - Prof. Asa Kasher (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Those who came to the defense of the BDS movement in response to Germany's anti-BDS resolution remind me of the Palestinians in Gaza who come to the defense of the terrorists of Hamas.
  • They express a basic identification with a movement that is sullied by anti-Semitism and with the malevolent, anti-Semitic means that it employs. They thereby become participants in the danger that anti-Semitism creates for Jews.
  • Identification with the BDS movement is immoral. This movement is interested solely in the presence of the nation-state of the Jewish people in a disputed territory. To take an operative interest in a single situation while fundamentally and perpetually ignoring all the comparable situations is a form of racism. A racist mindset toward Jews is called anti-Semitism. The racist mindset toward Israel is the new anti-Semitism.
  • The BDS movement's goal is to cause economic, cultural, and political damage to all the people of Israel. It is a cowardly identification that shows no hint of courage to stand, in comparable situations, against China or Russia.
  • If the BDS movement had solid ideological principles, it would call on its supporters to boycott, divest from, and sanction the U.S., Israel's main backer, which it will never do.
  • There is no point in denying the commonality of goals between the activity of the BDS movement and the terror activity of the organizations operating on Israel's borders which enjoy the unambiguous support of Iran, a hostile power that is blatantly anti-Semitic.

    The writer is Professor Emeritus of Professional Ethics and Philosophy of Practice and Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Tel Aviv University.
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