August 8, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Stabbed to Death in West Bank - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    Dvir Sorek, 19, was found dead with multiple stab wounds on Thursday near Migdal Oz in the West Bank where he studied in the hesder yeshiva army program.
    He had been on his way back to school from Jerusalem on Wednesday evening.
    The murder occurred not far from the scene of the 2014 Gush Etzion kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers.

Saudi Activist: "We All Wish to Visit Israel" (Middle East Monitor-UK)
    Saudi women's activist Souad Al-Shammari told Israeli TV on Monday: "Visiting Israel is the dream of most Saudis, as well as many of the residents of Gulf States and the Arabs."

Salesforce Buys Israeli Firm Clicksoftware for $1.35 Billion - Yasmin Yablonko (Globes)
    U.S. customer relationship management tech giant Salesforce announced Wednesday that it will acquire Israeli field service software company Clicksoftware for $1.35 billion.
    Clicksoftware has 200 employees in Israel and develops logistical management systems for customer service and technical support.

Israel Prison Service Officer Donates Liver Lobe to Jordanian Boy - Arye Green (Tazpit Press Service)
    Kalai Housam Tarif, an Israel Prison Service officer from Israel's Druze community, has donated half of his liver to an eight-year-old boy from Jordan.
    Tarif heard about the sick boy, Morsell Albelous, via social media.

Israel's Elbit Wins $80 Million Asian Tank Upgrade Deal - Yuval Azulai (Globes)
    Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems announced Wednesday that it has been awarded a contract worth $80 million to upgrade tanks and supply radio systems for an army in a Southeast Asian country.

Israeli Agricultural Innovation Welcomed in China - Owen Alterman (i24News)
    At the Israeli-Chinese Agricultural Technology Cooperation Park in Yangling in Shaanxi Province, the star attraction is a device from the Israeli company Mottech that uses automation to calibrate the filtering of water and channeling of fertilizer into the soil.
    Trade between the two countries, that established diplomatic relations only in 1992, grew to $14 billion in 2018.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Warns of Iranian Threats to Commercial Shipping, including GPS Interference - Ryan Browne and Barbara Starr
    The U.S. Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration has issued a new warning to commercial shipping about Iranian threats in the Strait of Hormuz and Persian Gulf, saying that some ships have reported GPS interference. Additionally, there have been reports of "unknown entities falsely claiming to be U.S. or coalition warships."
        A U.S. defense official said Iran has placed GPS jammers on Iran-controlled Abu Musa Island close to the entrance of the Strait of Hormuz in an attempt to disrupt civilian aircraft and ship navigation systems, hoping ships or planes will mistakenly wander into Iranian waters or airspace while their GPS systems were not functioning properly, giving Iranian forces a pretext to seize them. (CNN)
  • Russia and Iran to Hold Joint Naval Exercises in Gulf - Hannah Lucinda Smith and Catherine Philp
    Russia and Iran have pledged to hold joint naval war games around the Strait of Hormuz for the first time by the end of the year, even as Britain and the U.S. step up their military presence in Gulf waters with a new joint task force to protect commercial shipping.
        Brig.-Gen. Amir Hatami, the Iranian defense minister, said the exercise would be "another significant achievement of power and dignity for the Islamic Republic of Iran"; one that had been realized "despite the viciousness and conspiracies of the Great Satan America and its mercenaries." The war games will give Russia an opening to project its power in a new Middle Eastern arena. (The Times-UK)
  • U.S. and Turkey Agree to Cooperate in Northern Syria - Kareem Fahim
    A Turkish military offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters appeared to be averted as the U.S. and Turkey announced Wednesday that they had agreed to establish a "safe zone" in northern Syria. The U.S. had worked furiously in recent weeks to head off a Turkish offensive against a U.S.-backed force in Syria that had led the ground offensive against the Islamic State and which controls large swaths of territory along the Syrian-Turkish border.
        The U.S. and Turkey agreed to a "rapid implementation of initial measures to address Turkey's security concerns." A joint operations center in Turkey would "coordinate and manage the establishment of the safe zone together."  (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Democrats Reaffirm Support During Israel Visit - Amir Tibon
    41 Democratic members of Congress are visiting Israel this week including more than 30 new members elected in 2018. A Democratic staffer on the trip noted, "If you look at the people who joined this trip, you'll see many people from swing districts for whom it's important to be seen as pro-Israel....They don't want to be associated with the AOC [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] camp on this issue."
        Mark Mellman, a pollster and political consultant who this year helped launch Democratic Majority for Israel, said that "the overwhelming majority of Democrats support Israel, and that hasn't changed. A few people in the party do not, and they get 100 times more press coverage than the majority of the party, unfortunately."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Arson Balloon Attacks from Gaza Continue - Gadi Golan
    A fire that broke out on Wednesday in the Simhoni forest was caused by an arson balloon from Gaza, an arson investigator from the Ashkelon Fire and Rescue Service determined. (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • U.S. Defense Department: ISIS "Resurging" in Syria - Andrea Mitchell and Adiel Kaplan
    U.S.-backed forces in Iraq and Syria are struggling to contain the ISIS insurgency, according to a Pentagon report released Tuesday. Between April and June 2019, Islamic State "solidified its insurgent capabilities in Iraq and was resurging in Syria," the Department of Defense Inspector General Quarterly Report said. ISIS has up to 18,000 active fighters and has launched "targeted assassinations, ambushes, [and] suicide bombings" since April. (NBC News)
  • Washington Post Omits Context and Facts on "Occupation" - Sean Durns
    An Aug. 5, 2019, op-ed in the Washington Post entitled "Why are Democrats Afraid to Say Israel is Occupying the West Bank?" leaves out essential information. Criticizing the July 22 demolition of Palestinian buildings near Jerusalem, the writer omits that their construction began after 2014, even though a 2011 edict prohibits construction within such a short distance of the security barrier. The demolition of 12 buildings under construction - only some of which were occupied by a total of 15 people - only occurred after seven years of legal proceedings and a ruling by Israeli courts.
        Nor does the writer note that Palestinian leaders have been given numerous opportunities to end the "occupation" and they've declined to do so every single time, including in 2000, 2001 and 2008. (CAMERA)

  • Thousands of Arabs and Jews from Mandatory Palestine fought side by side in the British Army in World War II against the Nazis. Mustafa Abbasi, a professor of history at Tel-Hai Academic College, has personally interviewed or secured testimonies from dozens of Palestinians who served in the British army in World War II and fought alongside Jews, including Arabs from Jaffa, Jerusalem, Safed, Jenin, and Nablus. Tiberias alone supplied hundreds of Arab volunteers.
  • In all, some 12,000 Arabs from Mandatory Palestine volunteered for the British army during World War II, approximately half the number of Jewish volunteers who joined up. Approximately 300 died in battle and hundreds were captured. Relations between the Jewish and Arab volunteers were mostly good.
  • At the time, the Arab population in pre-state Israel was split between the Husseinis, under Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini - a Nazi partner - and the Nashashibi clan, who openly supported the British and usually maintained good ties with the Jewish population.
  • "About 60% [of the Arabs] supported the British and opposed the Husseinis. A large part was pro-Jew and pro-British and was even willing to compromise and accept the Partition Plan. In contrast to what we were erroneously taught in school, not all of them worshiped the Mufti Husseini," Abbasi says.
  • Although many volunteers were motivated by money, there were those who signed up because of ideology, because they opposed the Nazi ideal of a master race and believed in the British and their values. "When the Italians bombed Tel Aviv and Jaffa and Haifa, hundreds were killed, both Jews and Arabs," Abbasi notes.
  • Abbasi has discovered that several dozen Jews and Arabs fought together alongside British troops at the First Battle of El Alamein in Egypt in July 1942. Jews and Arabs fought together against the Nazis in Italy and Greece, and a few also took part in the Allied invasion at Normandy in 1944. In the Middle East Commando unit, 240 Jews and 120 Arabs served under British commanders.

    The writer, a veteran Israeli journalist, is a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.