October 4, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

22 Iraqis Killed, Hundreds Wounded in Anti-Government Protests - Alissa J. Rubin and Falih Hassan (New York Times)
    At least 22 Iraqis were killed and hundreds were wounded on Thursday in a third day of violent anti-government protests in Baghdad and a half dozen southern provinces.
    The protests are largely over corruption and unemployment.

Recent Convert to Islam Stabs 4 to Death at Paris Police Headquarters - Simon Carraud and Geert De Clercq (Reuters)
    An IT assistant at police headquarters in central Paris went on a knife rampage inside the building on Thursday, killing three police officers and an administrative worker before he was shot dead, French officials said.
    French broadcaster BFM TV said the attacker had converted to Islam 18 months ago.

Hamas Facing Growing Criticism in Gaza - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
    A picture making the rounds on social media shows the leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, with his six sons, standing healthy in tailored suits, and beneath it, a picture of Gaza youths who have had a leg amputated after rioting at the Gaza fence.
    Another example is a recording by a Gazan father whose son was wounded at the border confrontations.
    "I was told I needed to provide his medicine out of my own pocket. If he were the son of one of the Hamas higher-ups, the whole world would have given aid."
    "Where am I supposed to get money for medicine? They told my boy to get on the bus and protest, and then they threw him out to die."

Climate Change and Israel - Anshel Pfeffer (Ha'aretz)
    Asked about the intensified focus this year on climate change at the UN General Assembly, Israel's UN Ambassador Danny Danon answered:
    "It's important and we should be discussing it more, but from our perspective, the fact that Israel is not being discussed [at the UN] is an achievement."
    The world is no longer focused on Israel, and the Palestinian cause is no longer fashionable.
    Even at the UN, the plight of the Palestinians has been overshadowed by the future of the planet. Greta Thunberg is in. Ahed Tamimi is out.
    Desmond Tutu said this week that it was climate change, not Israel, which is "the apartheid of our times."

Guidelines for Israel's National Security Strategy - Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Gadi Eisenkot and Col. (res.) Gabi Siboni (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    Israeli military experts examine the current map of Israel's threats and propose principles to address them as the basis for a comprehensive national security strategy, emphasizing the importance of the "campaign between wars."
    Gadi Eisenkot, who served as IDF Chief of Staff from 2014 until 2019, is currently a military fellow at The Washington Institute.
    Gabi Siboni is a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies.

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European Court: Holocaust Denial Is Not a Human Right - Hugo Miller (Bloomberg)
    The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that denying the Holocaust ever happened isn't a form of freedom of expression protected under the European Human Rights Convention.
    The court ruled that Udo Pastoers, a German who suggested in a 2010 speech that the Holocaust never occurred, was fairly convicted under the country's laws against the intentional defamation of Jewish people, given that he "had intentionally stated untruths in order to defame the Jews."

The Men Making a Fortune from Syria's War - Chloe Cornish (Financial Times-UK)
    Syria's civil war has hollowed out Syrian society. "The middle class is gone. Only the rich and poor are left," said Nabih, a regime insider.
    In every war there are winners, and a handful of men now dominate Syria's devastated economy.
    These individuals have made fortunes picking clean the carcass of the country's economy - from melting down steel ripped from its shattered cities to brokering oil deals forbidden under international sanctions, to selling hotel rooms to aid workers.

Drones Now Dominate Israel Air Force Flight Operations - Arie Egozi (Breaking Defense)
    "Last year 78% of the IAF's operational flight hours were performed by drones. This year the number jumped and is 80%," said Lt.-Col. S., a squadron commander.

Cyprus Stocking Up on Israeli Drones (Ekathimerini-Greece)
    Cyprus' National Guard has received its first four unmanned Aerostar Tactical drones from Israeli company Aeronautics.
    The drones can be used to monitor Cyprus' maritime zone and patrol forest areas in the summer to detect fires, as well as assist in rescue missions.

Israel Mounts See-Through-Wall Radar on Robots - Daniel Wasserbly (Jane's International Defence Review-UK)
    Ilan Abramovich, senior vice-president of Israel's Camero, said the company's handheld sense-through-wall Xaver technology has wireless networking capability, enabling it to be operated from a 100-200 meter line-of-sight distance when placed on robotic or unmanned platforms for remote control.
    All Xaver radar systems can see through drywall, concrete, and various structures, though not solid metal.

Injured Birds Get Flying Lessons at Israeli Animal Hospital - Korin Elbaz Alush (Ynet News)
    The Israeli Wildlife Hospital, operated by the Nature and Parks Authority and the Ramat Gan Safari Park, is building a new enclosure that will become a flight school for injured birds before they return to the wild.
    The hospital has been operating for 14 years and treats 6,000 animals a year.
    Birds often have to go through complicated orthopedic surgeries that call for a long rehabilitation period. Many end up unable to fly.
    In order to be released back into the wild, these birds require a second rehabilitation period that focuses on re-learning how to fly and practicing it.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Sanctions Paralyze Imports via Iranian Ports
    More than 20 ships carrying one million tons of grain, soybeans and corn are stuck outside Iranian ports as U.S. sanctions create payment problems and hamper efforts to import vital commodities, sources directly involved in the trade said. Food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies are exempt from sanctions, but the U.S. measures have deterred several foreign banks from doing any Iranian business. The few remaining lenders still processing Iranian business face multiple hurdles to facilitate payments as financing channels freeze up.
        "What has changed is that now the number of banks, traders that are staying away from doing business with Iran is increasing," said a senior Iranian port official. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
  • U.S. Sanctions Squeezing Iran-Backed Hizbullah in Lebanon - Bassem Mroue
    The U.S. has intensified sanctions on Hizbullah and institutions linked to it to unprecedented levels. Walid Marrouch, an associate professor of economics at the Lebanese American University, says Lebanon's economy is 70% dollarized and since Lebanon is using this currency, Beirut has to abide by (U.S.) laws.
        U.S. Treasury Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing Marshall Billingslea visited Lebanon last week and announced that the U.S. was posting a $10 million reward for anyone who provides "valuable information on Hizbullah's finances." He said the main goal "was to deprive Hizbullah of all financial support, whether from Iran or through any other means." Billingslea said Iran used to send the group $700 million a year, adding that U.S. sanctions on Iran have "diminished considerably" the cash inflow. (AP)
  • U.S. Air Force Practices Moving Middle East Command Center Out of Range of Iran - Adam Taylor
    For 13 years, the U.S. has used a single building at al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar to command Air Force fighter jets, bombers, and drones in a region from northeast Africa through the Middle East to South Asia. On Saturday, as 300 planes were in the air over Syria, Afghanistan and the Gulf, they were being controlled by teams at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina - although al-Udeid took back control on Sunday after 24 hours. The aim now is to run the center remotely once a month.
        Iran lies only a couple hundred miles across the Persian Gulf from al-Udeid. Analysts say that if a conflict with Iran were to break out, it's likely that the combined air and space operations center at al-Udeid could be targeted and that there is little guarantee that it could be defended. The base's defense systems, which include Patriot batteries, are designed mostly to combat planes and ballistic missiles that come in from a high altitude, rather than low-flying cruise missiles and drones like those used in the attack on the Saudi oil facilities. (Washington Post)
        See also Will the Americans Quit Al-Udeid Airbase in Qatar? - Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
    The experimental transfer of the U.S. Air Force Combined Air and Space Operations Center from al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar to the U.S. amounts to a "dress rehearsal." The move suggests that Washington is preparing for the prospect of war and feels it is critical to fine-tune its air operations out of al-Udeid, which could be the first target in the event of conflict between the U.S. and Iran.
        While Iranian propaganda keeps claiming that Iran is capable of destroying U.S. power in the Gulf, the truth is just the opposite. Washington's hesitation reflects a political logic that finds it preferable to exercise economic pressure on the Iranian regime and force it to retreat, rather than wage a war. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Terrorists Charged with August Slaying of Israeli Student - Judah Ari Gross
    IDF prosecutors on Thursday indicted five Palestinian men for murdering Israeli student Dvir Sorek, 18, in August on behalf of Hamas. According to the indictment, on Aug. 8, Nasir and Qasseem al-Asafra were driving near Migdal Oz, south of Bethlehem, when they spotted Sorek walking alone. Nasir exited the vehicle and stabbed Sorek multiple times, and then the two men fled. Other members of the cell were Ahmad al-Asafra, Yusef Zahour and Mahmoud Atouna.
        "The accused formed the cell, which is part of the Hamas terror group, in order to carry out attacks against Israeli targets," the army said. Qasseem al-Asafra also carried out a stabbing attack in Beersheba in 2011 in which two Israelis were injured. The IDF has informed the families of four of the cell members that it plans to demolish their homes as a deterrent against future attacks. (Times of Israel)
  • U.S. Limits Its Participation at Palestinian Donor Parley - Tovah Lazaroff
    The U.S. limited its participation at the bi-annual meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for donor aid to the Palestinian Authority last week to "observers only," U.S. special envoy Jason Greenblatt told the Jerusalem Post. The committee has operated for the last 25 years and the U.S. was previously one of the largest donors.
        Greenblatt said, "It's time for people to recognize that the conventional approach has brought us no closer to a comprehensive peace agreement, and the trajectory of Palestinian lives continues downward. It's high time to demand more of the Palestinian leaders."
        The Israeli delegation to the meeting spoke with the committee about the harm that Palestinian rocket fire and incendiary devices launched from Gaza caused to civilian life in Israel. It also called on the international community to pressure Hamas to release the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war and two civilians still held captive in Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli UN Ambassador: We're Coordinating with Arab States on Iran - Herb Keinon
    Israel and Arab states with whom Jerusalem does not have diplomatic relations are working in concert at the UN, and elsewhere, against Iran, Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told the Jerusalem Post last week. Prior to the signing of the Iranian nuclear deal in 2015, the Arab countries were content to let Israel lead the public battle against the deal while they sat quietly in the background. Today, Danon said, the Arab countries are actively involved - along with Israel - in warning of the Iranian threat.
        For instance, Saudi Minister of Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan and UAE Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Otaiba participated in a United Against Nuclear Iran conference in New York last Wednesday, alongside Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer.
        Danon said that the recent attack on the Saudi oil facility has changed attitudes at the UN. "Because of the attack's influence on the price of oil, this is no longer just a local issue...but this is something that now influences world economies." The attack "made the Iranian threat much more real" as many Arab countries now realize that their own strategic sites can be targeted. "They are taking it much more seriously."
        Danon said the Palestinian issue took up much less time at the UN General Assembly this year. "President Trump did not mention it even once. Now everyone is busy with climate change and Iran - those were the main issues at the General Assembly."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • In Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Towers Above All - Con Coughlin
    A rare interview this week with Qassem Suleimani, the Iranian commander of the Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force, has provided a fascinating insight into who controls the levers of power in the Islamic Republic. The country's supreme leader, under Iran's unique concept of the Vilayat-e Faqih, derives his authority from Islam and therefore has authority over the country's democratically-elected bodies. While President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif like to give the impression that they are ultimately responsible for representing their government's interests, as Suleimani's interview makes clear, the reality is very different.
        Suleimani provides some fascinating detail about the role he and Ayatollah Khamenei played in Lebanon during the 2006 war between Hizbullah and Israel. Suleimani was physically present in Lebanon for most of the 34-day conflict, where he worked closely with Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hizbullah. At one point, Suleimani travelled back to Iran to meet with Khamenei to update him on how the conflict was progressing.
        These events show that ultimate power resides with the supreme leader and key allies in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps such as Suleimani. Therefore, it is clear that Washington and its European partners have been wasting their time trying to arrange a bilateral summit between President Trump and Rouhani. The writer is defense and foreign affairs editor of Britain's Telegraph. (The National-Abu Dhabi)
  • Meet the Palestinian Villagers Living Out the American Dream - Patty Nieberg and Yasmin Zaher
    The expensive homes scattered on slopes among olive trees in the West Bank village of Turmus Ayya are actually a window into the Palestinian diaspora. The majority of their dwellers are dual American-Palestinian nationals who live in the U.S. for most of the year and treat these houses as their summer home. According to the village's municipal office, there are 11,000 residents in total; 4,000 are permanent and 7,000 have homes abroad.
        The most obvious signs of wealth are the extravagant villas adorned with iron gates and lush gardens, a hallmark sight in Palestinian villages that often indicates someone local who made it big in the city or abroad. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Luxury Alongside Poverty in the Palestinian Authority (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The Arab World Can't Blame All of Its Problems on the West - Hussain Abdul-Hussain
    In August, a Palestinian woman, Israa Ghrayeb, 21, was beaten to death. Three of her male relatives have since been charged with her murder. Her apparent "crime" was to post a video of herself having dinner with her fiance and his sister. Self-appointed "social policing" is a characteristic of Muslim societies. Almost no Western country has vigilantes who take it upon themselves to dictate what is acceptable sexual behavior or what people should wear or drink, in the manner of some Arab and Muslim societies. The writer is Washington bureau chief of the Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai and a former visiting fellow at Chatham House in London. (Asia Times-Hong Kong)
  • Tradition of Violence Deeply Ingrained in Arab Society - Ali Adi
    Since 2000, 1,300 Arab Israelis have lost their lives as a result of crime and violence. Arab elected officials often blame Israel, but Arab society encourages violence within its ranks. Instead of law and order remaining in the hands of the central government, Arab society takes responsibility for seeing justice done away from the authorities and places it in the hands of families and communities, preferring to close matters within the clan or the village.
        If we want a solution to the violence, Arab society must allow police to enter towns and villages, and back them up fully. It cannot demand that the police come in and clear out illegal weapons while also attacking police, putting their safety at risk. (Israel Hayom)
        See also Local Cooperation Is Key to Ending Violence in Israeli Arab Sector - Shlomi Eldar
    13 Arab Israelis were murdered at the hands of Arab criminals in September, bringing the total this year to 56 men and 11 women. On the one hand, elected Arab officials have persistently conveyed to their people that the Israel Police is a hostile force that must be opposed.
        On the other hand, they are counting on the police force to wipe out the violence in their communities. Up until the first intifada in 1987, thousands of Arabs served in the Israel Police, mostly in Arab communities. Following the uprising, heavy pressure was brought to bear on these Arabs to resign, and most did.
        Brig.-Gen. (res.) Meir Elran of the Institute for National Security Studies told Al-Monitor, "The only way to eradicate the phenomenon of violence in Arab society is to create public commitment and mobilize the cooperation of residents, local government and the police."  (Al-Monitor)
  • Yossi Cohen: The Mossad Spy Chief Who Stole Iran's Secret Nuclear Archives - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    In March 2018, Mossad Director Yossi Cohen, 58, updated then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo on what the Mossad had found inside Iran's secret nuclear archives that it had stolen from the heart of Tehran in January 2018. Sources close to Cohen told the Jerusalem Post that the information the Mossad seized is "still being used right now" to glean high-quality and valuable intelligence. A map of nuclear sites captured in the operation has yet to be made public. These revelations "even go beyond Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's revelation of the Abadeh nuclear site" earlier this month. Cohen says Pompeo praised the Mossad for redefining "daring and boldness."
        Dozens of agents were involved in surveillance missions and the heist itself. Neutralizing any electronic surveillance that could expose them, they spent six hours and 29 minutes nabbing Iran's secret nuclear files, which were kept in 32 safes. They used special torches to slice into these safes. They loaded the vast files onto trucks and used Iranian smugglers to get across the border.
        Cohen's view is that relations with Sunni countries in the Gulf are "not as much about personal trust, but about overlapping national interests" - especially when it comes to Iran. For example, while Cohen would be against sharing sensitive Israeli technologies with the Saudis to combat the drone threat from Iran, he would seek to help states in the Gulf combat Iran together in other ways.
        Regarding the Palestinians, sources close to Cohen indicate that he does not believe anything will move on the peace process until PA President Mahmoud Abbas leaves office. (Jerusalem Post)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • UK University and College Union Omits Jews from List of Holocaust Victims - Daniel Sugarman
    Britain's University and College Union (UCU) has apologized after it left out Jews from a description of the different groups murdered in the Holocaust. A mailing in advance of Holocaust Memorial Day described how the Nazis had persecuted "trade unions, including social democrats and Communists," "Roma and Sinti people," "Black people," "disabled people," "freemasons," "gay and lesbian people," "Jehovah's witnesses," "asocials, which included beggars, alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes and pacifists," and "non-Jewish Poles and Slavic POWs." However, it made no mention of the systematic murder of six million Jews, the primary target of the Holocaust. (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
  • Argentina Sees Spike in Anti-Semitism - Ilanit Chernick
    There were 834 anti-Semitic incidents in Argentina in 2018, up from 404 in 2017, the Jewish community umbrella organization DAIA reported in Buenos Aires on Wednesday. (Jerusalem Post)

  • Weekend Features

  • Israeli President Tells Papal Diplomat Israel Wants to Share Land with Palestinians - Greer Fay Cashman
    "We want to share the land and find a way to live together," Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told Vatican diplomat Cardinal Leonardo Sandi at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on Thursday. Sandi is in the region to mark the 800th anniversary of the Pilgrimage of Peace to the Middle East by St. Francis of Assisi and his dialogue with the Sultan of Egypt.
        Rivlin told Sandi the Jewish people had returned to the land after praying for two thousand years, and now have to convince their cousins and neighbors to share it for the mutual benefit of Israelis and Palestinians.
        Sandi noted that this was the 25th anniversary year of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Israel, and voiced appreciation to Israel for allowing Christians freedom of worship, adding that there are many countries today in which Christians do not have this freedom and are persecuted. (Jerusalem Post)
  • One of the Last Living Heroes of Israel's Fight for Independence - Deborah Fineblum
    At 99, Harold "Smoky" Simon is one of the heroes of Israel's War of Independence. He was Chief of Air Operations in the war after flying as a navigator-bombardier for the South African Air Force (SAAF) during World War II. In 1948, as newlyweds, Simon and his wife, Myra, who had been a meteorologist in the SAAF, joined a South African Zionist Federation group to volunteer to fight in Israel. "Fighting the Nazis gave us the skills and the experience we needed to fight for Israel," he says.
        "We had to muster all of our nerve to do the job against these powerful enemies. We were up against six Arab armies - the Egyptians were supplied by the Brits, the Syrians by the French, and we didn't have a single combat plane of our own." Israel had old German planes sold by the Czechs, smuggled in and reassembled.
        Simon reminds us of Arab League Secretary-General Abdul Rachman Azzam Pasha, who said on May 1, 1948: "If the Zionists dare to establish a state, the massacres we would unleash would dwarf anything which Genghis Khan and Hitler perpetrated." Simon continues, "These were difficult times. None of us knew how it would turn out. But as proud as I'd been to be one of millions fighting to defeat the Nazis, it was even more emotional when you are part of a small bunch fighting for your own people, your own country."
        "With all the odds against us then, there is far more than human effort behind that victory. Returning to our ancient land, we are living a miracle of biblical proportions here." In 1968, Simon was elected as chairman of World Machal, representing nearly 5,000 volunteers from 59 countries who fought in the War of Independence. He has served in that capacity for a half-century. (JNS)

  • European Union Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process Susanna Terstal, writing in the Jerusalem Post on Sep. 21, evidently believes that incessant repetition of the phrase "two-state solution" adds some element of legitimacy and feasibility to the idea. But the two-state solution has never been agreed-upon between Israel and the Palestinians, and does not figure in any of the agreements between them. It is nothing more than an expression of wishful thinking within the UN and the EU.
  • To the contrary, the Oslo Accords, to which the EU itself is a signatory, clearly leaves the issue of the permanent status of the territories to be decided in negotiations. Thus, whether the outcome will be one, two or three states, or a federation or confederation, remains on the negotiating table. By incessantly plying a two-state solution, the EU is in fact prejudging an agreed negotiating issue.
  • Suggestions by Israeli leaders to "apply sovereignty" led EU representatives to complain that unilateral modification of the Oslo Accords "undermines the entire agreement" and "dismantles Oslo." One wonders why the EU did not view the recent declarations by the Palestinian leadership canceling the territorial division between areas A, B and C in a similar light. Did this not undermine the accords?
  • The EU representative also expressed support for a "Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines." Yet the issue of borders is an agreed-upon permanent-status negotiating issue, and her presumption of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines clearly contradicts and prejudges both the Oslo Accords and UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967.
  • The EU cannot in good faith claim that it does not take sides in the conflict. The EU has not only taken sides, but clearly demonstrates a distinct political bias against Israel in virtually all its positions, policies, statements and dealings regarding the Israeli-Palestinian negotiation process.

    The writer, director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs and the International Law Program at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is former legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians.
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