August 14, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Studies Israeli Anti-Tunnel Technology - Arie Egozi (Breaking Defense)
    The U.S Army has recently launched an accelerated effort to train for subterranean combat.
    As a key part of that effort, the U.S military is studying Israeli technologies that have uncovered cross-border tunnels from Gaza and Lebanon.
    The highly classified Israeli system is based on groups of sensors that monitor the ground and provide warning in the event of a cavity discovery.
    In addition, IDF engineers have been equipped with a special conical penetrator, special drilling systems, systems that can be inserted into a tunnel to check it, a robotic system used to inject certain "emulsions" after the tunnel is detected and before it is destroyed, and another special "emulsion" used to quickly seal the tunnel's shaft.

Man Arrested after Posting "Hunting Guide" for Colorado Synagogues - Ryan Osborne (Channel 7-Denver)
    Wesley David Gilreath, 29, of Boulder, was ordered by a magistrate judge on Tuesday to be held in federal custody because of "convincing evidence" that he is a danger to the community.
    Investigators learned that Gilreath had posted "hunting guides" for synagogues, mosques, the Bureau of Land Management, Montana National Guard facilities and a refugee center.
    He had recently tried to buy a gun but his purchase was denied.

Two Lebanese Companies Accused of Smuggling Iranian Oil to Syria - Youssef Diab (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    TankerTrackers has accused two Lebanese companies of smuggling Iranian oil to the Syrian regime in violation of U.S. sanctions.
    The two tankers - Sandro and Jasmine - turned off their transponders when they reached the Syrian coast, as many Iranian vessels do to avoid detection.

Jordan Halts Film that Refers to Historical Jewish Presence (AP-New York Times)
    A fictional movie about an antiquities heist has stirred widespread outrage in Jordan.
    Based on a book of the same name, the movie, "Jaber," follows a Jordanian boy who uncovers a stone in Petra with a Hebrew inscription on it.
    The government demanded that the director halt filming.
    The concerns reflect the hostility Jordanians feel toward Israel despite the two countries' 1994 peace agreement.
    At the same time, an overwhelming majority of Israelis make no claim to Jordanian land and place high value on the peace accord.

Germans Flock to Israel Seeking Technology - Uri Berkovitz (Globes)
    "For me, Israel is Europe's Silicon Valley," says Kristina Sinemus, Minister of Digital Strategy and Development for the German state of Hessen, during a visit to Israel.
    More and more major companies are opening offices in Israel, as are German cities and states, which are striving to advance their commercial ties with Israel.
    Israel-Germany Chamber of Commerce and Industry general manager Grisha Alroi-Arloser says, "60% of DAX30 companies have branches in Israel looking for technologies." DAX30 is an index of the 30 leading companies listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN: ISIS Has Up to $300 Million in Cash Reserves to Sustain Operations - Edith M. Lederer
    The Islamic State has been left with as much as $300 million following the loss of its caliphate in Iraq and Syria, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a report released Monday. The report warns that the lull in attacks directed by ISIS "may be temporary."
        The report also highlights the continuing concerns posed by returning ISIS fighters and their families. It said between 24,000 and 30,000 foreign terrorist fighters who had joined the caliphate are alive.
        "The threats posed in the short-term by adult detainees and in the medium to long-term by minors who are often traumatized and may become increasingly radicalized have the potential to grow more serious, with consequences for social integration and the potential risk of violence, including possible terrorist attacks in the future." (AP)
  • California to "Substantially Redesign" Proposed Ethnic Studies Curriculum - Aaron Bandler
    The California State Board of Education (SBE) announced on Aug. 12 that the proposed anti-Israel Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) will be replaced with an entirely new draft. SBE leaders said, "The current draft model curriculum falls short and needs to be substantially redesigned." Myriad Jewish groups have criticized the draft for supporting the anti-Israel boycott movement and failing to mention anti-Semitism as an example of bigotry. Other ethnic groups have also called for the ESMC to be re-drafted, while 13,000 people signed a petition against the ESMC. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • UN Asks Palestinians to Explain Hate Speech, Anti-Semitism - Tovah Lazaroff
    The Palestinian Authority was called to task for hate speech and anti-Semitism in its official statements and in its textbooks during its first-ever review by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination held in Geneva on Tuesday. "Several NGO reports pointed out anti-Semitic and anti-Israel prejudice and incitement to hatred, especially in the [Palestinian] media and speeches of state officials. Can the state party [the PA] provide any explanation in this regard?" asked committee member Chinsung Chung of South Korea.
        Committee member Silva Albuquerque said, "Our convention obliges state parties to adopt immediate and effective measures, particularly in education, to combat racial discrimination and prejudice between different racial and ethnic groups." UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer noted that the Palestinians "wanted to sign treaties and now they are being held to account."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel to Build Defense Wall to Protect Road near Gaza - Anna Ahronheim
    Israel's Defense Ministry is planning to build a 6-meter-high defensive wall inside Israeli territory along a 9 km. stretch of road between the communities of Yad Mordechai and Sderot. The wall is meant to provide residents of nearby communities with additional protection from terrorist infiltration or anti-tank missile fire. Some 70,000 Israelis reside in over 50 communities in the border area. In May, over 700 rockets were fired by Palestinians toward Israel, killing five civilians. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • U.S.-Israel Missile Defense Cooperation Tightens - Jacob Nagel and Jonathan Schanzer
    Israel's new Arrow 3 interceptor, recently tested in Alaska, provides Israel with the ability to defend against long-range, advanced Iranian missiles like the Shahab 3, with interception deep in space. American and Israeli coordination on missile defense has been important for both sides.
        The U.S. Army recently signed an agreement to acquire two Iron Dome batteries for defense against short-range threats. David's Sling, jointly developed by Rafael and Raytheon for middle-range threats and against cruise missiles, may ultimately serve the needs of the U.S. and its allies in Poland, Japan, and South Korea, particularly if it is paired with the Patriot system.
        Lasers are likely to be an important part of the next frontier in missile defense. In recent years, the technology of solid state lasers has made strides. But even when it is ready for deployment, it won't be applicable for upper layers of defense. Lasers are expected to be particularly effective at short range as part of an existing system, like Iron Dome.
        Prof. Jacob Nagel, a former head of Israel's National Security Council and a former national security advisor, is a visiting fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Treasury Department, is senior vice president. (The Hill)
  • Will Palestinians in Gaza Revolt Against Hamas? - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The leaders of Hamas recently ordered their security forces to detain several Palestinian activists for allegedly planning another wave of protests similar to those that swept Gaza in March. Those demonstrations were organized to protest the longstanding economic crisis.
        Abu Safiyeh, of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in Gaza, wrote on Facebook: "Fifteen years ago, Hamas raised the slogan of 'Islam is the solution' - the solution to liberate all Palestine and not give up an inch; the solution to eliminate cronyism and corruption; the solution to bring economic and social security; the solution to a happy and enjoyable life....Now, there is rampant corruption. The corruption is in all institutions, including the judiciary and the police. Today, the corruption is organized and managed by Hamas."
        "There are no businessmen left: they have either been arrested for unpaid debts or have fled Gaza or are standing in line to receive relief aid. As for Hamas officials and their affiliates, they have become owners of real estate, agencies and companies."
        Unless Hamas' violent repression of its own people sparks some concern among the international community, the prospects of Palestinians revolting against their Hamas leaders are slim. But this would require a shift in perspective: from obsession with the faults of Israel - real or imagined - to an interest in the real and deadly world of Hamas. (Gatestone Institute)

Give Iran Sanctions Time to Work - Dr. Udi Levi (Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security)
  • The U.S. has made impressive progress in its sanctions campaign against Iran. While further oil and banking sanctions might lead to a rift between the U.S. and its global partners, a better approach would be to focus on closing sanction-bypassing channels (especially through Turkey and Qatar) and on further devaluating Iran's currency reserves. At the same time, the Iranian people should be shown a vision of the opportunities for prosperity if Tehran changes direction or the regime is replaced.
  • In the continued debate over the effectiveness of economic sanctions against Iran, the example is cited of North Korea, which had been a target of U.S. sanctions for 50 years and yet did not collapse. Why should Iran be expected to crumble under economic sanctions?
  • The answer is that Iranian society is different and far more susceptible to sanctions that North Korean society. Iran faces a growing gap between the public and the government/religious establishment, alongside growing secularization, modernization, and the adoption of Western lifestyles. These deep-rooted trends lead to waning public support for government institutions and revolutionary values. Economic sanctions against Iran exacerbate these internal tensions and increase the demand for change.
  • There have been changes in the international banking system since 9/11. Corporate fears of unprecedented collective and individual penalties and lawsuits filed by victims of terror have created a new situation, one in which the banks have become their own regulators - and have established restrictions in order to avoid confrontations with the U.S. regulatory or legal systems.
  • European efforts to provide Iran with an alternative trading channel to circumvent U.S. sanctions encountered formidable obstacles posed by the European and global banking system. The banks are much more concerned over a possible disconnect from the U.S. banking system and are not easily placated by European government guarantees. The EU is Iran's third largest trading partner, after the UAE and China, with $30 billion in trade in 2018. EU trading with the U.S. that year was $720 billion.
  • Dubai, which had served as the payment channel for all of Iran's transactions for many years, has ceased to be Iran's primary point for clearing trans-border payments.
  • The plunge from high expectations among the Iranian population after the 2015 nuclear agreement to unprecedented despair is the greatest threat to the regime. Since early 2018 the value of the Iranian rial declined by more than 75%. Unemployment is at 30%, mainly among young Iranians.
  • These factors are combining to create a critical mass of opposition to the government. The key question is when the process will ripen into a reaction in Iranian society, not only among the upper-middle class (who long have loathed the regime) but also the poverty-stricken neighborhoods of southern Tehran. The strong economic leverage now in place against Iran should be given time to ripen and bear fruit.

    The writer served for over 30 years in IDF intelligence, the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria, the National Security Council, and the Prime Minister's Office.

        See also Iran's Inflation Hits 40 Percent, Highest in 23 Years - Saeed Ghasseminejad
    The Islamic Republic may be able to delay economic collapse by tapping into its currency reserves, cutting infrastructure spending, and bypassing sanctions to the extent that it can. But as time passes, its diminishing currency reserves and lack of foreign and domestic investment will almost certainly sap employment numbers, weaken domestic supply lines, and inhibit the import of consumer and capital goods. This would put the regime in danger of financial collapse.
        Given Tehran's growing economic crisis, the administration should maximize its maximum pressure campaign and not be overly anxious for a deal. The writer is a senior Iran and financial economics advisor at FDD. (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)