July 19, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Demands Iran Free Seized Oil Tanker - Nick Wadhams and Arsalan Shahla (Bloomberg)
    The U.S. on Thursday condemned Iranian naval activity in the Persian Gulf and demanded the Islamic Republic release the Panamanian-flagged Riah, a small tanker and its crew that its forces seized on July 14 close to the Strait of Hormuz.

U.S. Sanctions Global Iranian Nuclear Procurement Network (U.S. Treasury Department)
    On Thursday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took action against a network of front companies and agents involved in the procurement of sensitive materials for sanctioned elements of Iran's nuclear program.
    Those targeted are based in Iran, China, and Belgium, and have acted as a procurement network for Iran's Centrifuge Technology Company, which Treasury sanctioned in 2011 as a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction.

Israel, Bahrain Foreign Ministers Meet in U.S. (Al Jazeera)
    Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz on Thursday announced that he had met with the Foreign Minister of Bahrain Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa during a visit to Washington.
    The Israel Foreign Ministry said the two men "addressed the subject of Iran and regional threats as well as cooperation between states."
    Gulf Arab nations have increasingly found common cause with Israel due to their shared hostility towards Iran.

Bitcoin Craze Hits Iran - Jon Gambrell and Amir Vahdat (AP)
    Iranians are increasingly turning to such digital currencies as Bitcoin to make money.
    In Iran, some government officials worry that the energy-hungry process of "mining" Bitcoin is abusing Iran's system of subsidized electricity, while in the U.S., observers warn that cryptocurrencies could be used to bypass sanctions on Iran.

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Video: Palestinian Apartheid - Pierre Rehov (Middle East Studio)
    In the West Bank, at the entrance to Palestinian Authority territory, are large signs that say: "This road leads to Area "A" under the Palestinian Authority. The entrance for Israeli citizens is forbidden, dangerous to your lives, and is against Israeli law."
    Why is it dangerous to go beyond this sign? Why is the Arab population able to move freely in Israel while non-Muslims risk their lives in the territory managed by the Palestinian Authority?
    There is no Israeli Apartheid, but there is discrimination against Jews all over the Muslim world.

Oregon to Require Schools to Teach about the Holocaust - Jamie Ehrlich (CNN)
    Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed a new law on Monday that mandates public schools in the state teach students about genocide and the atrocities committed during the Holocaust, joining a dozen other states with similar legislation.
    The bill was inspired by Holocaust survivor Alter Wiener, who spent three years in concentration camps, including Auschwitz.
    Wiener, who was killed in a traffic accident in December, had tirelessly advocated for Holocaust education in schools.
    His message was later championed by high school student Claire Sarnowski.

British National Union of Journalists Board Member Shares Holocaust Denial - Rosa Doherty (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    Arjum Wajid, a member of the National Union of Journalists' governing body, has been condemned for sharing a tweet promoting Holocaust denial.
    On July 8, she retweeted a text saying the Zionist movement "faked a mass killing of your own kind...to guilt the major powers into giving your people an exclusive plot of land."
    NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: "The content of that tweet is shocking and vile in tone and content. There are no circumstances where it would be acceptable for an NUJ member - or any sentient person - to generate or retweet such disgraceful material that seeks to deny the Holocaust."

A Manufacturing Minnow, Israel Rises as an Industrial Technology Power - Amir Mizroch (Forbes)
    A growing new tech sector in Israel involves I4 (the 4th Industrial Revolution) or Smart Manufacturing. Start-Up Nation Central counts 230 currently active I4 tech companies in Israel.
    They operate in fields like operations optimization for factories (SparkBeyond), sensing and imaging (Vayyar), connectivity (Seebo), robotics (Deep Learning Robotics), 3D printing (Nanofabrica), predictive maintenance (Augury), inspection and testing (vHive), and cyber-security for connected factories (Claroty).
    Just as carmakers are plugging into Israel's auto-tech sector, big-name industrial firms are increasingly plugging into the Israeli I4 sector.
    "Labor productivity [in Israel]...is 27% lower than the OECD average. It's a win-win situation if the government helps traditional industry in Israel adopt and implement technology from I4 startups," says Uri Gabai, formerly a senior official at the Israel Innovation Authority.
    The writer is director of communications at Start-Up Nation Central.

Cost of Desalinated Water in Israel Falls by 2/3 - Mark Weiss (Irish Times)
    Arid conditions combine with population growth and poor infrastructure to make water the Middle East's most precious asset.
    Israel has emerged as a world leader in water technology after solving its own acute water crisis.
    The country's water revolution was accomplished through a combination of a national campaign to conserve and reuse dwindling water resources and a new wave of state-of-the art desalination plants.
    Innovative water treatment systems recapture 86% of the water that goes down the drain for irrigation use.
    Today, up to 80% of water for domestic use flows from large coastal desalination plants.
    Desalination used to be very expensive, but by incorporating advanced technologies, Israel has brought the price of desalinated water down to just a third of what it cost in the 1990s.
    Tackling leakage is also a crucial element in water conservation. Israel's 7-8% leakage rate is the lowest in the world, compared to up to 30% in many other countries.

Video: Israeli Innovation for Sustainable Development (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    Visit the people, initiatives and projects that are promoting a cleaner environment, quality education, innovative health solutions and more.  

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Destroys Iranian Drone in Strait of Hormuz - Mosheh Gains and Adam Edelman
    U.S. Marines jammed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz Thursday, bringing the aircraft down and destroying it, senior defense officials said. President Trump said Thursday that the USS Boxer - an amphibious assault ship - "took defensive action" against the Iranian drone that had "closed into a very, very near distance, approximately 1,000 yards." The drone was "threatening safety of the ship and the ship's crew" and "was immediately destroyed."
        "This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions against vessels operating in international waters," the president said, adding that the U.S. "reserves the right to defend our personnel, our facilities, our interests, and calls upon all nations to condemn Iran's attempts to disrupt freedom of navigation and global commerce. I also call on other nations to protect their ships as they go through the strait and to work with us in the future."  (NBC News)
  • Democrats Brush Off Rep. Omar's Push for Israel Boycott, Target BDS Movement Instead - Gabriella Munoz
    Jewish Democrats brushed off Rep. Ilhan Omar's Israel boycott resolution this week and instead kept their focus on their own resolution to denounce the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Cal.) told the Washington Times that Omar's resolution was "dead on arrival." He said, "What I regret most is [Omar's] claim that somehow free speech requires that people say what she wants to say. The idea to say that in order to protect American free speech we must say that we hate Israel is bizarre."
        Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said, "I think the BDS movement is harmful, and anyone that promotes it is making a big mistake." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) strongly condemned the BDS movement at the AIPAC conference in March.
        Lawmakers said they expect a vote next week on a resolution that would explicitly denounce the BDS movement and call for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. The resolution says, "The BDS Movement promotes principles of collective guilt, mass punishment, and group isolation, which are destructive of prospects for progress towards peace and a two-state solution."  (Washington Times)
  • Argentina Brands Hizbullah a Terrorist Organization, Freezes Assets - Cassandra Garrison
    Argentine authorities designated Hizbullah a terrorist organization on Thursday and ordered the freezing of the Lebanese Islamist group's assets in the country. The announcement came as Argentina marks the 25th anniversary of the bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in which 85 people died. Argentina blames Iran and Hizbullah for the attack, as well as for an attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992 that killed 29 people.
        Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Argentine President Mauricio Macri for the designation. "It is time the entire enlightened world understand the grave danger Iran and Hizbullah pose. It is time the entire world stand up against it," Netanyahu said. (Reuters)
        See also 85 Were Murdered in an Attack on Jews. They Deserve Justice - Rabbi Avi Weiss (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu to Become Israel's Longest-Serving Prime Minister
    This weekend, Benjamin Netanyahu will become Israel's longest-serving prime minister, surpassing the country's founding father David Ben-Gurion. Netanyahu will match Ben-Gurion's 8,475 days in office on Friday. (Israel Hayom)
  • Palestinian Penalized in PA for Rescuing Wounded Jews - Ruthie Blum
    Three years ago, Rabbi Michael "Miki" Mark, director of the Otniel Yeshiva, was shot and killed in a drive-by Palestinian terrorist attack while driving with his wife and two of his children in the South Hebron Hills. The car overturned and a Palestinian Authority civil servant from Hebron who happened by the scene of what he thought was a car accident rushed to assist the family. "There were children inside. There were people inside. I didn't hesitate at all," said "A."
        While "A" was tending to the Mark family, Palestinian drivers shouted at him to stop helping Jews, and threatened his life. The powers that be in the PA penalized him for rescuing wounded Jews and dismissed him from his job.
        Israel Channel 12's Ohad Hemo reported last week that "A" was treated to repeated death threats in the PA, where he is viewed as a traitor. He was given permission to reside in Israel temporarily, but with no means of supporting his wife and baby financially or of protecting them from the wrath of their hostile neighbors, "A" has been camping out in a tent on a Tel Aviv beach. "In one case, someone came to my house, shot at me and threw a firebomb," he said. "The Palestinian Authority broke into my home and scared my family. If I return, I know that I will be executed."
        Following the broadcast, Israelis across the country contacted Hemo to offer help and donate cash. Tens of thousands of shekels as well as clothes and toys poured in. On Wednesday, Hemo reported that "A" is now reunited with his wife and son in an apartment in Samaria and his permanent-residency process is underway. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The F-35 Has Already Changed Everything in the Middle East - Jake Novak
    Standing in front of an F-35 jet parked at an Israeli Air Force base, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel can reach Iran, but Iran cannot reach Israel. He didn't add the words "undetected by radar," but it was surely implied. During the months leading up to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, reports in the Israeli news media surfaced about how Israelis working on F-35 prototypes had managed to double the jet's flight and stealth capacity. The extension meant Israeli Air Force pilots could use the F-35 to fly from Israel to Tehran and back without detection.
        Suddenly, U.S.-Israeli air superiority in the region had risen to a new level. In July 2018, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported that Israel had flown a test mission of at least three F-35 jets to Tehran and back from an airbase near Tel Aviv. The same Kuwaiti newspaper said that Iran's military leadership kept news of the stealth mission from reaching Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
        When Khamenei found out about the mission, he reportedly moved to fire Iran's air force chief and the powerful commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps. That's major impact without even firing a shot. And since reports of the Israeli stealth enhancement first surfaced, Lockheed Martin shares are up more the 75%. (CNBC)
        See also Eyeing Iran, Israel Readies for Stealth Strike Fighter - Barbara Opall-Rome
    With the F-35, "your options for attacking the enemy are much more numerous and practical," said Israel Air Force Maj. E., one of the initial cadre of pilots tapped to fly the F-35. "It changes the psychology of the arena by allowing you to hit the enemy without him being able to stop you....It really is a game-changer and the enemy knows that."  (Defense News, 5Sep2015)
        See also Israel Receives More F-35 Stealth Bombers - Ashraf Shannon (Press TV-Iran)
  • The Myths of the Iran Deal - Michael Oren
    The majority of Israelis and Arabs would agree that negotiations are preferable to war with Iran, but only if they put an end to Iran's nuclear ambitions, its support for terror and construction of intercontinental missiles, and its campaign to dominate or destroy other states in the region. But diplomacy will be fruitless, and war eventually guaranteed, if the illusions surrounding the Iran deal persist.
        One myth is that the nuclear deal must be maintained because Iran is honoring its terms. But why wouldn't Iran hold to a treaty that preserved its nuclear infrastructure, enabled it to develop more advanced centrifuges, and ignored its construction of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads?
        The agreement does not require Iran to come clean on its previous military nuclear efforts, to sever its ties with international terror, or to stop threatening neighboring states. It does not open all Iranian nuclear sites to unrestricted inspection. It even contains "sunset clauses" that will lift most of the minimal limits on Iran's enrichment capacities within a decade.
        In theory, negotiations offer the best way forward. But if diplomacy is to succeed, it must be backed by punishing sanctions and a credible military threat. Indeed, the more credible the threat, the less chance it will have to be used. Only when confronted with the choice between pursuing their aggression and risking economic ruin, threatening global security and facing armed action, will Iranian rulers forfeit their nuclear program and their dreams of empire. Only then will our region, and ultimately the world, be safer. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. (Atlantic)
  • Egyptian President Sisi's Economic Reforms Are Working - Zvi Mazel
    On July 9, Egypt ended all oil subsidies and the price of gas rose from 18% to 30%, while Egyptian streets remained quiet. Oil subsidies totaling $17 billion accounted for 21% of the 2012/2013 budget, putting an intolerable strain on the nation's economy. Yet President Sisi's predecessors found subsidies a useful tool to keep down the cost of staples, thus limiting popular opposition to the regime and ensuring social peace.
        Sisi's economic reforms are working. Annual growth is expected to be 6%, while inflation and unemployment are down. Yet Egypt has a population of more than 100 million, half of them below the poverty line. The birth rate remains dramatically high, with two million new mouths to feed every year. The Sinai insurgency has not been eliminated and the threat of terrorism remains high. The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt, is a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Rise and Fall of the Islamic State - Yoram Schweitzer
    Despite the fact that its attempt to establish an Islamic state was halted, the Islamic State and its affiliates, together with al-Qaeda and its allies - who share their ideology - will continue to threaten to spread terrorism and guerrilla warfare throughout the world. The Islamic State's failure to realize the vision it offered its believers was due to its underestimation of the balance of power between its forces and those arrayed against it.
        Thousands of Islamic State combatants remain in Syria and Iraq, hiding and operating in various regions. Islamic State operatives continue to carry out terrorist and guerrilla attacks around the world. Islamic State has manpower reserves among its fighters imprisoned by the Kurds and Iraqis. It is also difficult to find the ISIS fighters implanted in refugee camps, who act like innocent civilians.
        The Salafi jihadist camp is guided by a different concept of time than what is common in the Western world: strategic restraint and patience underlie the struggle, and therefore the fall of the Islamic State is not perceived as defeat. The writer heads the Program on Terrorism and Low-Intensity Conflict at INSS. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • My Recent Trip to Israel - Amb. Nikki Haley
    I've had the privilege of visiting many places throughout the world, but Israel will always hold a special place in my heart. The U.S. and Israel have long shared a close strategic relationship, but the bond between our two nations goes deeper. Both countries were founded by brave leaders who believed in their respective causes despite the odds against them. Both nations have their roots in a shared belief system that celebrates democracy, religious freedom, and the rule of law.
        As UN Ambassador, I was proud to defend Israel - not just as an ally, but as a friend. One of the proudest moments of my two years as UN Ambassador was the day I vetoed the UN Security Council resolution condemning the U.S. for moving our embassy to Jerusalem. Not only did we stand by our friend and ally Israel, we asserted our fundamental sovereign right to decide where we place our embassy - just like we do in every other country. (Stand for America)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • Poll: Is America Experiencing Europe's Growing Anti-Semitism?
    The National Survey of Anti-Semitism in America was conducted by McLaughlin & Associates in May 2019 for the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom. Attempts on college campuses to shut down pro-Israel speakers is viewed by 54% as anti-Semitic, while 16% disagree. The Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement is seen as anti-Semitic by 53%, compared with 19% who disagree. 48% think the U.S. should oppose BDS campaigns, compared with 22% who disagree. 50% agree that "Being anti-Israel is the new anti-Semitism, while 25% disagree.
        It is not Islamophobic to criticize Congresswoman Ilhan Omar for her views on Israel, noted 63%, compared to 14% who said it was. 57% want Israel to be the closest U.S. ally in the Middle East. 80% believe it is true that in the Holocaust 6 million Jews were targeted and exterminated, compared with 8% who said it was not true. 51% have a favorable opinion of Israel, 21% unfavorable, and 28% no opinion. View the full poll results. (Hudson Institute)
  • The Anti-Semitic BDS Movement Advocates Illegal Discrimination - David French
    The BDS movement singles out Israel for the most exacting scrutiny and the most egregious punishment in much the same way that the UN focuses obsessively on the Jewish state's alleged crimes to the exclusion of staggering, mass-scale human-rights abuses across the globe. Standard definitions of anti-Semitism include "applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation." That's BDS in a nutshell. (National Review)
  • The New Anti-Semitism - Yaroslav Trofimov
    When France's Yellow Vests began to protest weekly last November, it was about President Macron's decision to raise fuel taxes. Within a few months, it also started to be about the Jews. In France and other Western societies, the proliferation of new political forces that challenge the established liberal order has revived old patterns of vilifying the Jews as the embodiment of the corrupt elites supposedly responsible for society's ills.
        Meanwhile, unfiltered social media has pushed anti-Semitic tropes, long confined to the fringes, into the mainstream of public debate. On any given issue, conspiracy theories blaming the Jews have gained new traction. "Populist politics is not inherently anti-Semitic, conspiracy theories are not inherently anti-Semitic, but both very easily lend themselves to an anti-Semitic turn and easily become anti-Semitic," said David Feldman, director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism at Birkbeck, University of London.
        As anti-Semitic discourse again becomes normalized in the West, the number of incidents targeting Jews has surged in the U.S. and Europe. Until the past few years, the biggest threat came from Islamists and disaffected Muslim youths. However, the West's new wave of anti-Semitism is increasingly coming from the nativist far right, with its dreams of racial purity, and from the extreme left, which often identifies Jews with the capitalist elites it seeks to destroy and glorifies Palestinian militants. (Wall Street Journal)
  • UK Labour Party Anti-Semitism Is about Ideology - Adam Levick
    Israeli academic Shany Mor provides some clarity on a major element of the Labour anti-Semitism scandal. Mor calls out, as central to Corbyn's worldview, the pathological, obsessive hatred of Israel, one which views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a binary story of good and evil, and which views any Jewish state as inherently (indeed, irredeemably) racist, and morally beyond the pale. It's this ideology - or theology - which invariably leads to the conclusion that to identify with and defend Israel (as most British Jews do) places you "on the wrong side of history."
        In other words, even for those who avoid employing explicit classic anti-Semitic tropes while vilifying Israel, the acceptance of the view that the Jewish state isn't merely a state that's flawed as all states are, but, rather, represents a singularly organic obstacle to peace and progress, inextricably leads to an anti-Semitic place. It's this demonization of Israel - on display day in and day out in publications like the Guardian - that drives and provides succor to the resurgent anti-Semitism in the UK.
        This is why the anti-Semitism crisis that's engulfed Labour can't be defeated by members being more careful with their language, or party officials implementing an improved complaint process. (UK Media Watch)

  • Weekend Features

  • The Nazis Who Saved the Lubavitcher Rebbe - Larry S. Price
    When war broke out on Sept. 1, 1939, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, was staying in Otwock, outside of Warsaw, where he'd established a Chabad yeshiva. He went into hiding in Warsaw. In America, Chabad was a relatively insignificant Hasidic movement. But Rabbi Israel Jacobson, in charge of a small Chabad synagogue in Brooklyn, contacted a few others in his congregation to mount a campaign to save the Rebbe, hiring Washington lobbyist Max Rhoade to advocate their cause. Rhoade contacted congressmen, senators, government officials, presidential advisers, and even Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis. Saving the Rebbe became a major Jewish struggle.
        U.S. diplomat Robert Pell had attended the Evian conference on refugees in France in 1938 and had made friends with the German diplomat Helmut Wohlthat. Pell then contacted U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull, saying: "Last winter...Wohlthat had assured me that if there was any specific case in which American Jewry was particularly interested, he would do what he could to facilitate a solution." According to Menachem Friedman of Bar-Ilan University, "His (Wohlthat's) interest was to maintain good relations with the Americans. And the price that had to be paid for these good relations was this Rabbi from Poland. And that wasn't a high price."
        According to Winfried Meyer of the Berlin Technical University, "Wohlthat contacted Admiral Wilhelm Canaris," head of the Abwehr, German military intelligence. Canaris asked Major Ernst Bloch to find Rabbi Schneersohn in Warsaw. Bloch eventually made contact with the Rebbe and put him and his family and entourage of 18 on a train to Berlin. Once in Berlin, Bloch arranged for visas and escorted them to the Latvian border. The group continued to Riga and waited there for visas to the U.S.
        Adm. Canaris was executed by the Nazi regime before the end of the war. Major Ernst Bloch was ousted from the Abwehr after a failed attempt on Hitler's life that Bloch had no part in. He was killed during the fighting in Berlin against the Allies. (Tablet)
  • Fanny Weizmann - Chaim Weizmann's Sister - Spied for Germany in World War I - Lenny Ben-David
    Zionist leader and pro-British scientist Chaim Weizmann's youngest sister Minna ("Fanny") was a Berlin-trained doctor who immigrated to the Jewish homeland from near Pinsk in Russia in 1913. A German diplomat, Curt Prufer, the head of German intelligence in Palestine, charmed Fanny into becoming one of his spies against the British. The British were allied with Czarist Russia, and it probably wasn't hard to turn Fanny, an anti-czarist socialist.
        Prufer dispatched his recruit to Egypt in May 1915, where she was welcomed as a doctor at the overcrowded British military hospitals. To deliver her information to her German spymasters, she crossed the Mediterranean and went to Rome to see the German ambassador to Italy, not aware that the embassy was under British surveillance. Weizmann was arrested and taken back to Egypt for trial. She was deported to Russia in the fall of 1915.
        After the war, Weizmann re-emigrated to Palestine where she worked in the Hadassah-Rothschild Hospital. Dr. Minna Weizmann practiced medicine until her death in 1925 at the age of 35.
        This is an excerpt from the writer's forthcoming book, Secrets of World War I in the Holy Land, Revealed in Photographs. (Jewish Policy Center)

  • Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog, who served as chairman of the Israeli Labor Party from 2013 to 2018, sent a letter on Thursday to UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, accusing him and his party of crossing the line into anti-Semitism.
  • "It is legitimate to criticize any government. I have done so myself as leader of the opposition, from within the Knesset - as vibrant and as vivid a democratic parliament as you may find in any liberal democracy," wrote Herzog.
  • "But it is racist to attribute to a whole ethnic or religious group negative characteristics, which are supposedly innate. It is anti-Semitic to demonize Israel and Israelis in general as inherently evil. It is anti-Semitic to apply double standards to Israel, that is: To hold it to standards to which no other nation is held."
  • "And it is anti-Semitic to delegitimize the Jewish people's right to a sovereign state of its own - and to apply this denial exclusively to Jews and to no other people."
  • "All of this relies heavily on ages-old anti-Jewish prejudice, stereotypes and bigotry. The new mask of this old hatred fools no one."
  • Herzog described the treatment of anti-Semitic incidents within the ranks of the British Labour party, and the leniency displayed by the party's institutions toward members who spread anti-Semitic tropes, as "mind-boggling."
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