August 2, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. F-15s Conduct Gulf Escort Missions (U.S. Air Force)
    U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles are conducting combat air patrol missions over the Arabian Gulf and providing aerial escorts of naval vessels as they traverse the Strait of Hormuz.

Three Women Sentenced for Defying Compulsory Hijab in Iran (Radio Farda)
    Three women held in custody for "disrespecting the compulsory hijab" have been sentenced to a total of 55 years in prison.
    The three had been charged with "assembly and collusion to act against national security," "propaganda against the regime," as well as "encouraging and preparing the grounds for corruption and prostitution."
    According to Amnesty International, "In April 2019, Yasaman Aryani, her mother, Monireh Arabshahi, and Mojgan Keshavarz were all arrested after posting a video that went viral on International Women's Day. In it, they are seen walking without headscarves through a Tehran metro train, handing flowers to female passengers."

Millions of Barrels of Iranian Crude Are Sitting in Chinese Ports - Natasha Turak (CNBC)
    Iranian oil tankers have been quietly offloading their supply into Chinese ports, according to ship tracking data, despite U.S. sanctions.
    China keeps them in "bonded storage," which means the oil has not been cleared through Chinese customs and is not being used, therefore not actually violating U.S. sanctions.
    John Kilduff, founding partner of energy trading firm Again Capital, estimates that another 20 million barrels are "en route, likely headed for this bonded storage."
    See also U.S. Oil Makes Inroads into Asia as Buyers Plug Iranian Gap - Sharon Cho (Bloomberg)

Israel: Canada Ruling on Labeling West Bank Wines "Encouraging" BDS - Raphael Ahren (Times of Israel)
    Israel on Tuesday lambasted a Canadian Federal Court ruling that wines produced in Israeli communities in the West Bank can no longer be labeled as "Made in Israel."
    "The Canadian court's decision concerning labeling of Israeli products encourages and lends support to boycotts and the BDS movement. Israel objects to this," the Foreign Ministry said.

Saudi Arabia Allows Women to Travel Without Male Consent - Aya Batrawy (AP-ABC News)
    Saudi Arabia published new laws Friday that loosen restrictions on women by allowing any citizen to travel freely, ending the guardianship policy that gave men control over women.
    Under the kingdom's guardianship system, women essentially relied on the "good will" and whims of male relatives to determine the course of their lives.

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Rapprochement between Israel and the Arab World Is Accelerating - Prof. Eyal Zisser (Israel Hayom)
    The rapprochement between Israel and the Arab world is driving the Palestinians mad.
    It has dashed the assumption that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict supersedes rapprochement between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
    In several Arab countries, enmity toward Israel remains the lowest common denominator, but this sentiment bears no practical significance on the current decision-making process of Arab rulers.
    The writer is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University.

The Advantages of Pre-College Service - Marvin Krislov (Forbes)
    During a recent visit to Israel, as a college president I was struck by the value of that country's requirement that graduating high schoolers spend several years serving in the Israeli military or in national service.
    I saw and heard from students how this compulsory service provides a huge advantage to their success in higher education.
    In Israel, students are more likely to arrive at college ready to buckle down and study.
    After their service, they've matured, they're responsible, and, for many, they've learned leadership.
    The writer is president of Pace University.

Israeli Startups Raised over $650 Million in July (Globes)
    Israeli startups raised over $650 million in July and have now raised $4.55 billion since the start of 2019.
    Retail analytics company Trax raised $100 million, team software company Monday.com raised $150 million, and content creation company Lightworks raised $135 million.
    Data protection company BigID raised $50 million, automatic vehicle inspection company UVeye raised $31 million, cybersecurity company enSilo raised $23 million, and LED lighting connectivity infrastructure company Juganu raised $23 million.

Canada's Nuvei Completes $889 Million Acquisition of Israel's SafeCharge (Globes)
    Canadian payment solutions company Nuvei has completed the $889 million cash acquisition of Israeli online payment solutions company SafeCharge.
   Nuvei has traditionally operated in the U.S. and Canada, while SafeCharge has developed a major presence in European markets, Asia and Latin America.

Israeli Employment Rate at Record High - Eytan Halon (Jerusalem Post)
    The employment rate of Israelis aged 25-64 currently stands at an all-time high of 78.3%, significantly higher than the OECD average of 73.7%, according to a report published Wednesday by the Ministry of Labor.
    The unemployment rate stands at 4%.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Pompeo: Iran Sanctions "Effective, and We Will Enforce Them Everywhere"
    Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said Friday in Bangkok: "Before the sanctions regime was put in place, there were 2.7-ish million barrels of oil a day being shipped by Iran to all around the world. The number for June and July, each of those two months, was less than a half a million barrels, could have been closer to zero than to half a million. The sanctions have been very effective, and we will enforce them everywhere."
        "We'll enforce them against any company, any country, that continues to violate those sanctions. We've already imposed sanctions on one company inside of China. We will continue to do that. It is absolutely imperative that we deny the ayatollah and the Islamic Republic of Iran from having the wealth and resources to build a nuclear program that could threaten anyone in the world."  (U.S. State Department)
  • Kushner Promotes Peace Plan During Middle East Trip - Felicia Schwartz
    President Trump's senior adviser Jared Kushner tried to breathe life into Middle East peace efforts with meetings this week in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, Egypt and Morocco. Kushner didn't meet with any Palestinian officials, who remain opposed to the administration's peace efforts. They have boycotted contacts with the U.S. since December 2017. (Wall Street Journal)
  • UN Experts: Islamic State Aims for Resurgence in Iraq, Syria - Edith M. Lederer
    Leaders of the Islamic State are aiming for an "eventual resurgence in its Iraqi and Syrian heartlands," UN experts said in a new report to the Security Council this week. The process is more advanced in Iraq, where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and most of the group's leadership are now based. In Syria, the ISIS covert network is spreading and sleeper cells are being established at the provincial level.
        The experts said Islamic State "will reinvest in the capacity to direct and facilitate complex international attacks when it has the secure space and time to do so. The current abatement of such attacks, therefore, may not last long, possibly not even until the end of 2019."  (AP-Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Hizbullah Turning Syria Villages on Israel Border into Fortresses - Amos Harel
    A year ago, to keep an Iranian presence away from Israel's border with Syria on the Golan Heights, the Russians spoke about a demilitarized zone of 70 or 80 km. Yet when Israel came to complain to the Russians about the Hizbullah presence on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, they were told that the promises concerned only the Iranians themselves and not their agents.
        Hizbullah operations in the villages on the Golan have intensified. Hizbullah is working hard to turn these villages into fortified military compounds, as it has done since 2006 in the Shi'ite villages in southern Lebanon. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hebrew U. Bombers Paid $1,257,259 by PA - Maurice Hirsch
    On July 31, 2002, Palestinians detonated a bomb in the Hebrew University cafeteria in Jerusalem, murdering 9 people, including five American citizens, and injuring over 80 others. The six Palestinians convicted of the crime have so far been rewarded with payments of $1,257,259. (Palestinian Media Watch)
  • Aliyah to Israel Surges from Russia - Judy Maltz
    Immigration to Israel rose by more than a quarter in the first half of 2019, fueled almost entirely by a 73% increase in aliyah from Russia, according to Jewish Agency data. While immigration from France and the U.S. dropped, 616 members of the Falashmura community in Ethiopia arrived. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Why Doesn't Hamas Make More Extensive Use of Drones? - Aviad Mendelboim and Liran Antebi
    In the last decade, unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) have become inexpensive and easy to operate. In 2012 the IDF destroyed buildings in Khan Yunis in Gaza used to manufacture and store high quality drones with a range of dozens of kilometers.
        Israel develops solutions in response to every means Hamas adopts for extensive use. This is due to Israel's technological superiority. In the last decade, Israel has used technology to prevent and foil attacks, it developed the Iron Dome interception system, it has applied advanced technologies to identify and destroy tunnels, and it is currently seeking technological solutions to the problem of incendiary kites and drones.
        Given the availability of drones, it was expected that Hamas would employ them under the cover of the civilian demonstrations at the Gaza border. In May 2018, Hamas deployed a booby-trapped drone under the cover of rioting near the fence. In May 2019, a pair of armed drones was used during a round of high-intensity fighting. However, Hamas actions indicate that it prefers to employ more primitive methods of warfare. Data from mid-2018 to mid-2019 show that of a total of 1,923 attacks from Gaza on Israel (including the use of live birds to start fires on two occasions), drone and model airplane bombs were used only 6 times.
        A number of factors restrain Hamas' use of advanced technologies:
    1) Deterrence - The fatal outcome of a technologically advanced attack could generate a massive reaction given Israel's internal public support and even international legitimacy for a response.
    2) Psychology - Using advanced technologies could harm Hamas' image as the weak side or the victim.
    3) Political restraint - Hamas now depends on Egypt's help and Israel's willingness to compromise in exchange for a period of calm. The use of advanced technologies might upset the balance.
    4) More primitive means have proved that they cause damage that Israel finds hard to foil, providing incentive for Hamas to use these means.
        Aviad Mendelboim is a research assistant at INSS, where Dr. Liran Antebi is a research fellow. (Strategic Assessment-Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Israel's Growing Defense Ties with Asia - Alvite Ningthoujam
    After having established successful bilateral relationships with China, Singapore, and India over the last two decades, Israel is expanding its footprint in Asia to include Vietnam, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Japan and South Korea. No longer do anti-Israel sentiments in some of these countries, out of support for the Palestinian issue, remain an obstacle to promoting cooperation with Israel.
        Israel has emerged as one of Asia's preferred sources for defense items. The Asia-Pacific region has been the largest destination for Israel's defense exports for the last six years. Of Israel's total global arms exports in 2018 (worth $7.5 billion), 46% were purchased by Asia-Pacific countries. Vietnam was one of the three largest Israeli arms clients between 2014-2018, along with Azerbaijan and India. This growing defense trade helps Israel in funding its defense R&D programs.
        Beside aircraft and related systems upgrades, missile and anti-missile systems, border protection equipment, early-warning systems, intelligence equipment, and military aviation components are the most sought-after Israeli-made items. The writer served as Senior Research Associate at Vivekananda International Foundation, New Delhi, from 2014 to 2017. (The Diplomat-Japan)
  • Palestinians Are Leaving Gaza in Droves
    Yarub Ikhdeh and his friends had been waiting half their lives to get on a bus. The six young men had never left Gaza. "We're all recent graduates in business and IT, and we're all unemployed," he says. They would soon board a bus for Cairo, then a flight to Dubai. In 2018 there were 60,900 crossings into Egypt. There were another 33,000 crossings in the first half of 2019.
        Hamas does not release statistics on emigration, lest they highlight how bad life in Gaza has become during its rule. But those leaving seem to be mostly recent university graduates. A poll in December found that 48% of Gaza residents want to emigrate, compared with 22% in the West Bank. Egypt still caps the number of daily travelers at 300. A waiting list runs to more than 10,000 people. (Economist-UK)
  • Turkey and NATO - the End? - Zvi Mazel
    Turkish President Erdogan's determination to buy the Russian S-400 antimissile system in spite of American opposition and the subsequent suspension of Turkey's participation in the F-35 fighter plane program raises the question of Turkey's continued NATO membership.
        Turkey was admitted to NATO in 1952 at the height of the Cold War on the strength of its participation in the Korean War; it had been one of the first countries to answer the UN call and send troops to fight the invading north. Today, the Turkish army is the second largest in NATO after that of America. Its purpose then had been to secure the support of the West against Soviet territorial demands following WWII.
        For many years, Turkey was a faithful ally. The huge Incirlik Air Base was put at America's disposal and tactical nuclear weapons were stocked there. Nevertheless, seeds of discord appeared as early as 1974, when Turkey occupied northern Cyprus, home to a largely Turkish population, forcibly exiling 180,000 ethnic Greeks in a move condemned by the UN Security Council. Great Britain, which maintained military camps in the island, was prevented by the U.S. from launching an attack to dislodge the invaders.
        Erdogan's regime is openly pursuing an agenda based on the greatness of the Ottoman Empire and on the extremist creed of the Muslim Brotherhood. With the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Erdogan let thousands of Muslims transit his country to join the insurgency. He wanted to help ISIS defeat Bashar Assad's secular regime and establish an Islamic entity friendly to Turkey.
        As part of growing Turkish-Russian cooperation, the Turkstream natural gas pipeline from Russia to Turkey was completed last November. A nuclear power plant being built in Akkuyu under the auspices of Russia's Rosatom is expected to become operational in 2023. The writer, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is former ambassador of Israel to Romania, Egypt and Sweden. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Can Turkey Be Kicked Out of NATO? - Dr. Ali Demirdas
    There is no mechanism in NATO's constitution that would allow member states to show a "rogue member" the door. By staying in the alliance, Turkey is able to greatly influence NATO policies. Since all NATO decisions require consensus, Ankara could effectively block any decision that it deems against its interests. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel and Jordan Are Allies. But Jordan's Parliament Doesn't Act Like It - Dr. Edy Cohen
    Jordanian MP Tarek Khoury recently called on Jordanians to blow up pipelines that are supposed to bring natural gas to Jordan from Israel. In December 2014, most MPs voted on a draft resolution urging the government to cancel the deal.
        Despite 25 years of formal peace, many in Jordan regard Israel as an illicit enemy state. The government's public hostility toward Israel enables it to preserve its popularity while, behind the scenes, it maintains good relations with Israel. Thus, despite its fiery rhetoric, the Jordanian government behaves rationally. (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • The Arab-Israeli Conflict Is about the Existence of Israel - Tawfik Hamid
    In 1947, the UN Partition Plan gave the Arabs control over most of the Holy Land. The rejection of the plan by the Arab nations, and their declaration of war against Israel, was the first clear indication that the Arabs' desire was never to provide a state for the Palestinian people, but to erase Israel from the map.
        This destructive intent is memorialized in the Hamas Charter, which calls for the eradication of the State of Israel. This intent is also aligned with the Iranian leaders' continuous entreaties to destroy Israel. An evaluation of social media commentary in the Arab world demonstrates a genuine desire by many - if not most - to see the destruction of Israel and the killing not just of all Israeli Jews but of all Jews.
        Rejecting the State of Israel is related to the fact that it is a Jewish rather than a Muslim country. On several occasions I have asked Arab Muslims whether they would continue fighting Israel if its entire population converted to Islam. The answer is a unanimous "no." Then the problem has nothing to do with the land, as many claim, but with the Jewishness of the State of Israel.
        The only place I have found discrimination in Israel was by Muslims, at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, where non-Muslims are not permitted to enter (because non-Muslims are seen as unclean). By contrast, I - with my Muslim background - was freely allowed to visit the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem without any objection from the Israeli authorities. (Gatestone Institute)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • Record Number of Anti-Semitic Incidents in Britain in 2019
    A record number of anti-Semitic incidents - 892 - were recorded in the UK in the first half of 2019, a 10% increase on the 810 incidents for the same period in 2018, the Community Security Trust (CST) reported. Incidents included anti-Semitic graffiti left at the home of Holocaust survivors, "Gas the Jews" written on a footbridge in Liverpool, and 85 assaults, including punches, kicking or objects being thrown. Two-thirds of the incidents took place in Greater London and Greater Manchester.
        CST chief executive David Delew said: "The problem is spreading across the country and online, it reflects deepening divisions in our society, and it is causing increasing anxiety in the Jewish community."  (Scotsman-UK)

  • Weekend Features

  • Video - American Liberal Jews: Strong Concern about Anti-Semitism, Strong Support of Israel but Less for under 60s - Dr. Irwin J. Mansdorf
    An ongoing research project on American Jewry focused this time on politically liberal Jews. Findings showed that this group is generally supportive of Israel, Zionism, the notion of Israel as a distinctly Jewish state, and the need for Israel as a safe refuge for Jews, although younger Jews show less support for these issues.
        Liberal Jews also consider the violence carried out by Palestinians as unacceptable. Anti-Semitism was the strongest social concern among liberal Jews, much greater than for general liberals. The writer is a clinical psychologist and a fellow at the Jerusalem Center. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Millions of Holocaust Records Available to All Online - Christopher Carbone
    Family history company Ancestry, in partnership with the Arolsen Archives' International Center on Nazi Persecution in Germany, announced Wednesday it has digitized millions of Holocaust records to make them searchable online at no cost for the first time.
        The collection includes passenger lists of displaced persons leaving Germany and other European countries from 1946 through 1971, which encompasses 1.7 million records and 300,000 images. In addition, it includes a registration of those living in Germany and German-occupied territories with non-German citizenship, people who were stateless and also German Jews, which encompasses 9.97 million records and 900,000 images.
        Howard Hochhauser, CEO at Ancestry, noted, "I was able to unlock a story about my own grandmother's experiences as a Holocaust survivor in Germany."  (Fox News)
  • England's Jewish Brigade Fought Nazis, Got Jews toward Israel - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    During World War II, a unit of 5,500 Jews from Mandatory Palestine known as the Jewish Brigade fought the Nazis as part of the British Army. The brigade saw action in Italy against the Germans; 83 men were killed during the war and 200 were wounded. Many of the IDF's first officers came from the brigade including two chiefs-of-staff.
        Jewish Brigade soldiers were often the first outsiders to meet Holocaust survivors liberated from concentration camps. The brigade helped 15,000-22,000 Jews reach Israel from displaced persons camps in Europe. (Jerusalem Post)

Israeli–Palestinian Conflict: When Concessions Are Impossible - IDF Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin (Valdai Discussion Club-Russia)
  • One of the issues of consistent consensus in Israel is that the government should not concede on issues of its citizens' security. Therefore, it was no surprise that Israel acted to demolish structures illegally built in proximity to the security barrier, which has saved hundreds of lives since its construction, to prevent terrorist groups from compromising its efficacy.
  • Although the Palestinian Authority maintains a somewhat hostile position toward Israel, it is able to cooperate more closely on issues of security with the "Zionist regime" than with its Palestinian brethren in Hamas. A decision by PA President Mahmoud Abbas to end security cooperation with Israel would reduce his own capability to deal with threats from his Hamas rivals at a time when his administration is wildly unpopular.
  • As for the prospects for the U.S. peace deal, the long-term factors impeding an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians include the political, geographical, and ideological divide among Palestinians, and the inability of the Arab Quartet (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt) to "deliver" the Palestinians.
  • As long as the West Bank and Gaza remain separate political entities under different leadership, any peace agreement would necessitate a prior Hamas-PA reconciliation agreement. There have been countless failed efforts over the last 12 years to broker such a deal.
  • While Israelis should root for the U.S.-led peace effort to succeed, a backup plan should include the following components: maintain security by rejecting any compromise of Israel's operational freedom to counter terrorism in the West Bank; promote capacity-building and economic development for Palestinians; and seek to revive bilateral negotiations with a credible Palestinian counterpart.

    The writer is executive director of Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).
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