October 11, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Iranian Tanker Struck by Missiles near Saudi Arabia (AP-CNBC)
    Two missiles struck the Iranian oil tanker Sabity traveling through the Red Sea off the coast of Saudi Arabia on Friday, 60 miles (96 km.) from Jiddah, Iranian officials said.

German Synagogue Shooting Victims Identified - Tamar Lapin (New York Post)
    The two people murdered by the anti-Semitic gunman in Germany on Wednesday were identified Thursday.
    Jana Lange, 40, who devoted her time to concerts, was gunned down as she walked by the synagogue.
    Moments later, the killer shot dead Kevin S., 20, who was on his lunch break from a nearby construction site where he worked as a painter.
    German Federal Prosecutor Peter Frank said nine pounds of explosives were found in shooter Stephan Balliet's car, and he "wanted to enter the synagogue to kill many people."

Jewish Agency Aid Saved Jewish Lives in Halle, Germany (Jerusalem Post)
    The only thing that stopped the gunman from massacring those attending Yom Kippur prayers in Halle, Germany, was the synagogue's heavy door and security system, which had been recently upgraded with the assistance of the Jewish Agency Security Assistance Fund.
    For the last few years the Jewish Agency has been providing funds to communities across Europe to safeguard Jewish institutions from terror attacks.

Indonesian Security Minister Stabbed by ISIS Radical (CNA-Singapore)
    A man wielding a knife attacked Indonesia's chief security minister Wiranto on Thursday on the island of Java, injuring the minister and three others.
    Two suspects, a man and a woman, were arrested. They belong to the Islamic State-linked Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) terror network, said State Intelligence Agency chief Budi Gunawan.
    JAD is among dozens of radical groups that have pledged loyalty to the Islamic State in Indonesia.
    An eyewitness said, "A man...stabbed Wiranto. The woman also tried to stab him. He was arrested and the woman fought the police."
    Last year, JAD staged a wave of suicide bombings by families - including young children - at churches in Surabaya, killing a dozen congregants.
    In May, police said Wiranto and three other top officials were targeted in a failed assassination plot.

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Saudis Had No Intelligence on Iranian Oil Strikes - Arie Egozi (Breaking Defense)
    Saudi Arabia suffered "a total and embarrassing (intelligence) failure" in Iran's attack on Saudi oil facilities, Israeli intelligence sources say.
    "It seems that the Americans were also in the dark, which is very worrying."
    The experts noted that the Iranian attack was conducted 650 km. from its launch site, the targets were selected using very accurate intelligence, and the weapons "hit exactly where they should."
    The weapons included seven Qudas 1 cruise missiles powered by Iranian-built jet engines derived from a Czech engine.
    Also, the Iranians used eight drones that were developed in Iran based on technology acquired in other countries.

With Little to Show, Gazans Question Mass Border Protests - Faris Akram (AP)
    Ahmed Abu Artima was one of the founders of the "Great March of Return," the weekly protests along Gaza's frontier with Israel, but these days he mostly avoids the demonstrations. He is among a growing number of Gazans who believe the protests have lost their way.
    With little to show from 18 months of demonstrations beyond hundreds of people killed or wounded, many Gazans are beginning to question and even criticize the Hamas-led protests.
    On days before the Friday protests, vehicles with loudspeakers tour Gaza streets and mosques urging families to head to the fence. On Friday, buses pick up participants from across Gaza.

Security Takes Center Stage in Israeli Fintech Boom - Mehul Srivastava (Financial Times-UK)
    Hackers working for an Israeli company found their way into the secrets of a major European bank.
    They took screenshots of the bank's senior leadership, turned on the security staff's webcams, generated codes that made ATMs spew out cash, and eventually made a 50 million euro transfer that evaded the bank's internal security.
    Mission completed, CYE (which stands for Cyber-Eye) presented the results of the penetration test to the bank itself, demonstrating that there were security loopholes that needed to be closed.
    The penetration test led to a five-year contract for the cyber security company.

Anti-Semitism in Britain - Jack Shamash (Independent-UK)
    It is a fact that, as a small and vulnerable people, Jews have managed to create a Jewish homeland - which has stood firm despite the various attacks on it over the last 70 years. This is a source of tremendous pride.
    Within the Jewish community in Britain there remains an enormous sense of insecurity. There is a widespread belief that anti-Semitism lurks just below the surface.
    And in that context it is no surprise that many feel any attack on Israel may be linked to the idea that most people - in their hearts - harbor misgivings about the Jewish community in the UK.

Israeli Researchers Create Artificial Pancreas, May Eliminate Insulin Injections for Diabetic Patients - Yafit Ovadia (Israel Hayom)
    Israeli biotech startup Betalin Therapeutics has created an artificial pancreas to help monitor sugar levels and release insulin into the patient's bloodstream.
    Board member Prof. Sidney Altman, a Nobel laureate, said: "I have Type 2 diabetes and right now, I take two injections per day of insulin and this new product will eliminate that. [People] won't have to take injections anymore....I'll just have an implant and that will be good for several months."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Dozens Killed in Turkey's Offensive in Syria
    At least 11 civilians have died as Turkey presses on with its cross-border offensive on Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria. At least five people were reportedly killed in Kurdish shelling of Turkish border towns. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported at least 29 deaths among the Kurdish-led SDF and 17 from among pro-Turkish Syrian rebels, as more than 10 villages fell into Turkish hands.
        Some 64,000 people have already fled their homes, the International Rescue Committee said. The UK, France, Germany, Belgium and Poland called on Turkey to halt its military offensive. (BBC News)
  • Turkey's Erdogan Threatens EU with Wave of Refugees If It Doesn't Support Syria Offensive - David Gauthier-Villars
    Turkish President Erdogan threatened to allow waves of Syrian refugees to head for European shores if his country doesn't receive adequate support for its military offensive in Syria targeting U.S.-backed Kurdish forces. In a televised speech, the Turkish president said, "Hey EU, get your act together. If you try to describe our current operation as an occupation, our task will be simple. We will open the gates and send 3.6 million refugees your way."
        The offensive has drawn broad political and popular support in Turkey, but elicited near-unanimous condemnation outside the country - including from the U.S., the EU and China. A senior U.S. State Department official said the incursion was a mistake and "we will try our very best to get this thing stopped." Asked what actions by Turkey would cross a U.S. red line, the official named ethnic cleansing or "indiscriminate artillery, air and other fire directed at civilian populations."  (Wall Street Journal)
        See also below Observations - Gen. Amidror: U.S. Pullout in Syria Will Not Change Much for Israel - Raphael Ahren (Times of Israel)
  • Synagogue Attacker Hoped to Inspire Further Anti-Semitic Attacks, German Authorities Say - Luisa Beck and Rick Noack
    The assault on a synagogue in Halle, Germany, prompted questions about the safety of the Jewish community in the country. Authorities said the death toll would have been higher had the assailant's weapons and explosives not malfunctioned. Max Privorozki, chairman of the Jewish community in Halle, said German officials had rejected his requests for more police protection before the attack. German Public Prosecutor General Peter Frank said the attacker "wanted to imitate others, but he also wanted to instigate others to imitate him."
        Deborah Lipstadt, a prominent Holocaust historian, said that Holocaust education alone will not prevent attacks of the kind that occurred in Halle. Anti-Semitism is "so deeply in the weeds, in the roots of our society, that to think that educating about a horror will stop anti-Semitism is being fanciful."  (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu Condemns Turkish Invasion of Syrian Kurdistan, Offers Aid
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday: "Israel strongly condemns the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish areas in Syria and warns against the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey and its proxies. Israel is prepared to extend humanitarian assistance to the gallant Kurdish people."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Netanyahu Commemorates Yom Kippur War: "Israel Will Defend Itself, By Itself, Against Any Threat"
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday attended the state memorial ceremony for the fallen of the 1973 Yom Kippur War on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem. He said: "The current focus of aggression in the Middle East is the Iranian regime in Tehran. Iran is striving to tighten its grip in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and the Gaza Strip. It is relentlessly arming itself. It is equipping its proxies with dangerous weaponry. It is attacking freedom of navigation in international shipping lanes. It downed a large American UAV. It mounted a crude and unprecedented attack on Saudi oil fields."
        "Iran threatens to wipe us off the map. It says explicitly: 'Israel will disappear.' It has tried to attack us repeatedly; therefore, we must stand ready to defend ourselves against danger....We will always remember and implement the basic rule that has guided us: Israel will defend itself, by itself, against any threat. The IDF is prepared to pre-empt any threat, defensively and offensively, with crushing strength, in weaponry and in spirit."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Israel to Reopen Economic Agreements with Palestinians - Danny Zaken
    As part of the move that recently enabled the transfer of tax receipts to the Palestinian Authority, Israel agreed to reopen the Protocol on Economic Relations, also known as the Paris Agreements, with the PA. The sides agreed to disagree on the issue of payments to terrorists, and Israel will continued to deduct NIS 40 million monthly, in accordance with the law it passed last year. According to a senior Palestinian source, there is already agreement on a number of important changes that will enable the PA to make progress towards economic independence.
        The Israeli defense establishment believes that the quiet in the West Bank is the outcome of a reasonable economic situation, and that a stable Palestinian economy is in Israel's interests. Nearly 200,000 Palestinians who work in Israel inject $3.5 billion into the Palestinian economy from the wages they earn. (Globes)
  • PA Rebuilds Home of Terrorist Family - Maurice Hirsch
    Making good on promises made by Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the PA has financed the rebuilding of the home of a terrorist who also has five terrorist brothers - all of whom murdered Jews. The mother of the terrorists - Um Nasser Abu Hmeid - is the focus of constant PA attention, simply because she is the mother of multiple murderers.
        The Palestinian news network Raya reported on Sep. 2: "The rebuilding of the four-story house [immediately after it was demolished in January] is being conducted with full vigor, and the construction of the first floor is already finished. It is being funded by the [PA] Presidential Office....Um Nasser...thanked President Abbas for his support for her family."
        Official PA radio said, "We are always proud of Um Nasser Abu Hmeid and her fighting children." The Nasser Abu Hmeid family is responsible for at least 10 murders. Since five members of the family are in prison serving life sentences and another was killed, the PA pays the family $10,800 a month. Over the years, the PA has paid the family over $1 million. (Palestinian Media Watch)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • What the U.S. Withdrawal from Syria Means for the Kurds - and for Israel - Yossi Alpher
    President Trump is consistent about keeping American forces out of conflicts in the Middle East. He wants U.S. troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan.
        The game of abandoning the Kurds has been going on for a long time. It started when the League of Nations awarded the Kurds their own state in the 1920 Treaty of Sevres. Nothing came of that noble gesture, not least due to persistent Kurdish disunity. The abandonment game had culminated in the refusal of all countries but Israel to support a September 2017 Iraqi Kurdish independence referendum which ended in a disastrous setback at the hands of Iraq's Arab government.
        For anyone who has entertained doubts about the need for a state for the Jewish people, the Kurds represent a tragic reminder. They are consistently being abandoned to an ugly fate because they don't have a country. The writer is a former Mossad official and former director of Tel Aviv University's Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies. (Forward)
  • Turkey's War on the Kurds: Quick Conquest or Quagmire? - Zvi Bar'el
    The Kurds may start a broad guerrilla campaign against the Turkish forces, one that will turn the Kurdish region into Turkey's Vietnam. This modus operandi is the specialty of the Kurdish forces, which are facing Turkey with no air support and limited armored strength. The Kurds may also try to move the fighting into Turkey.
        The quicker the Turkish military campaign reaches a decisive conclusion, the easier it will be for Turkey to evade growing international pressure. But the Kurds are in no hurry. A long war of attrition can enlist public opinion in Europe and the U.S., and can stoke protests in Turkey itself as the number of its soldiers killed increases. To avoid Turkish casualties in a ground war, Turkey has given the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army the mission of taking the territory.
        The Kurds in Syria can't depend on Kurdish solidarity from outside Syria to help them. There is a deep ideological rift between the Kurdish leadership in Iraq and the leadership of the Kurds in Syria. The Kurdish region in Iraq has strong economic and diplomatic ties with Turkey. At the beginning of the war against the Islamic State, the Kurdish leaders in Iraq offered to send forces to help the Kurds in Syria, but the latter refused out of fear that such forces would become a permanent garrison. (Ha'aretz)
  • A State that Threatens Jewish Genocide Isn't Normal - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Wiping Israel off the map has been a staple of Iranian political rhetoric for decades, with Gen. Hossein Salami, commander-in-chief of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, saying last month that Iran had "managed to obtain the capacity to destroy the imposter Zionist regime."
        Why are Iran's European trading partners unwilling to confront the fact that they are still seeking to cultivate good relations with an Iranian regime that embraces genocide of Jews as a legitimate policy goal? (JNS)
  • BDS Was Started by Western NGOs and European Governments, Not the Palestinians - Gerald Steinberg
    When Omar Barghouti was recently barred from entering the UK, many media reports referred to him as founder of the Israel boycott movement BDS. This is factually incorrect: he was added for marketing purposes four years after the BDS launch.
        In reality, the BDS movement was officially launched in 2001 at the NGO Forum of the anti-Semitic UN World Conference on the Elimination of Racism, held in Durban, South Africa. The instigators were a group of radical NGOs that demanded "the complete international isolation of Israel as an apartheid state." A few months later, the first boycotts began when Trotskyite cells in the British academic union manipulated votes to get support for boycotts of Israeli universities. In parallel, anti-Israel activists in the U.S. organized rallies outside board meetings to demand an end to Israeli sales by corporations like Caterpillar.
        As these activities increased, a movement ostensibly on behalf of the Palestinian cause led by Westerners became visibly and politically awkward. To give BDS a more authentic facade, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) was launched through a letter signed by a group of Palestinian intellectuals. In the years that followed, BDS activists sought to market their campaign as a response to the Palestinian boycott call, although this was false. BDS was and remains largely a Western anti-Semitic movement led by NGOs and financed by European governments.
        The writer is a professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and founder-president of NGO Monitor. (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
        See also The Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel Deception: Unmasked - Dan Diker and Adam Shay (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • UNRWA Must Evolve or Dissolve, Says Former Senior Agency Official - Ellie Rudee
    "Direct pressure" by donors is the most likely way to induce UNRWA, the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees, to change, former UNRWA general counsel James Lindsay told JNS last week. Lindsay said that only 10% of UNRWA's current budget goes to basic, immediate needs, while the rest goes to education and medical care, which he called "governmental responsibilities." "There is no reason why the United Nations should be providing that," he said.
        UNRWA's major structural problem, he said, is its unique definition of who qualifies as a refugee. Palestinians who have citizenship in their host countries, including 1.8 million Jordanian citizens, are still classified as refugees. "UNRWA persists in falsely identifying people who are citizens of states as 'refugees,' perpetuating a sense of helplessness, victimhood and revanchism," he said. Lindsay called on UNRWA donors to push for "rational changes" to the definition of a refugee, or push to dissolve the organization over the next five years. (JNS)
  • The U.S. Alliance with Israel Cannot Be Sacrificed to Ideological Purity - Seth Cropsey and Harry Halem
    Israel is a regional power that has existed for 70 years in a very dangerous neighborhood. If it cannot survive, it cannot sustain its founding principles, including democracy, toleration, and respect for minority rights. The greatest danger a nation can face is political delusion on the part of its elites. An unwillingness to face geopolitical realities jeopardizes a nation's interest and survival.
        Great powers like America can rely on their latent strength to mitigate misperception's consequences. For small states, however, politics is existential - political death is a persistent possibility. Small states survive by anticipating, rather than reacting to, international events. The Jewish State in particular feels the existential edge of political competition, having faced annihilation from its inception.
        America's partnership with Israel has improved U.S. defense technology and generated invaluable intelligence. American military assistance to Israel has given the U.S. exclusive access to Israeli military technology. Israel is a test-bed for frontline American military technology and tactics, particularly given similarities between the U.S. and Israeli air forces. Israel's Mossad intelligence agency has worked with the CIA since the early Cold War. Israel has been instrumental in slowing Iran's nuclear program.
        Seth Cropsey, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute, served as deputy undersecretary of the Navy. Harry Halem is a research assistant at Hudson Institute. (National Review)

  • Weekend Features

  • The IDF Military Intelligence Language School - Anna Ahronheim
    At the IDF Military Intelligence Language School, soldiers can become fluent in Arabic or Persian in less than two months. "We aren't here just to learn a language," said Maj. "V." "The language is a tool to get and understand the intelligence we collect." The school uses innovative approaches and learning environments that within weeks has soldiers understanding both the language and culture of their enemies. Students learn from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. every day.
        "Today there are more and more translation tools, so why would you need people to learn a language? Because...you still need people who don't only know the language" but who can read between the lines and give the precise intelligence the military needs. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Dwight Eisenhower, Holocaust Rescuer - Benjamin Runkle
    As commander-in-chief of the Allied Forces in Europe, Dwight D. Eisenhower was the primary driver behind the memorialization of the Holocaust; he ordered extraordinary measures to ensure the well-being of Jewish displaced persons during the occupation of Germany; and, following David Ben-Gurion's recommendation, he established a "temporary haven" in the American Zone of Occupation for persecuted Jews from Eastern and Central Europe - a policy that both the Soviets and the British strongly opposed.
        Growing up in Abilene, Kansas, Eisenhower had virtually no firsthand knowledge of Jews or Judaism. He once told Abba Eban that as a boy he did not think there were any Jews on earth, that they were "all in heaven as angels."
        On April 12, 1945, Eisenhower visited the recently liberated Ohrdruf-Nord concentration camp. In an effort to eliminate witnesses to their crimes, the SS guards had murdered 4,000 prisoners before fleeing. The surviving prisoners were emaciated skeletons, and bodies were piled everywhere. Eisenhower called the atrocities "beyond the American mind to comprehend," and ordered every American unit not on the frontlines to see Ohrdruf. The next day he visited Buchenwald. "I made the visit deliberately," he said, "in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to 'propaganda.'"  (Tablet)
  • Jewish Underground Brought Holocaust Survivors to Mandatory Palestine - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    Tzvi Netzer was the operational leader on the ground for the clandestine "Bricha" (Escape), the effort to bring 250,000 Jewish Holocaust survivors from Poland to Mandatory Palestine. His daughter, Miri Nahari, spoke with the Jerusalem Post.
        Born in Poland in 1920 as Tzvi Melnitzer, Netzer, a Zionist activist, fled Warsaw in 1939 to escape the Nazis. He reached Mandatory Palestine in 1943 and was sent to Poland in 1945 to bring the surviving Jews. He succeeded in cutting crucial deals with both Polish and Russian authorities. With his boss, Shaul Avigur, running the overall European operations from Paris, including purchasing and delivering supplies and equipment, Netzer began getting thousands of Jews out of Poland.
        The British were committed to holding Jews in displaced persons camps for extended periods and often to sending them back to their countries of origin, even if their home communities no longer existed. In one displaced persons camp holding 300 Jews, 30 Bricha activists infiltrated the camp at night by digging under the camp fence. In one evening, they moved the 300 Jews out of the camp.
        While the Romanians were stopping Jews, the Bulgarian authorities were cooperating, enabling the Bricha to smuggle 15,000 Jews from Romania to Bulgaria and then onto boats out of Europe in only two weeks. (Jerusalem Post)

  • In the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from northeast Syria, former Israeli national security adviser Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror believes not much will change, in practical terms, for Israel's security. "I don't think Israel needs to be worried," he said in an interview Thursday.
  • "There are regional groups like the Kurds that need the U.S. to protect them. Israel, when it was founded, made the decision that it shall never depend on anyone for its security."
  • This is not always easy to implement; it requires a universal draft and enormous financial resources, noted Amidror. On the other hand, it puts Israel in a different league than many European states, Saudi Arabia, and the Kurds, who all depend on America for their safety.
  • "We understand that the Middle East from now on will [have to manage] without influence, or with less influence, from the Americans." The U.S. will continue to exert economic pressure on Iran, he stressed.
  • "According to foreign reports, we struck in Syria more than 200 times. The U.S. didn't strike the Iranians even once. Therefore, it's on us, not on them. The job of fighting the Iranians and their influence was always done by us. Our ability to continue to do that will not be limited once the Americans are out."
  • "We dealt with the Iranian aggression until now without the Americans, when they still were in the Middle East. We were alone in this 'war between wars,' as we call it. The fact that they are pulling out does not mean any significant change. It's more about psychology."
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