November 1, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

U.S.: Iran Has Spent $16 Billion on Militias in Iraq and Syria (Reuters)
    Iran has spent $16 billion on its militias in Iraq and Syria, U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook told Al Arabiya TV on Thursday.

U.S. Withholding $105 Million in Security Aid for Lebanon - Patricia Zengerle (Reuters)
    The U.S. is withholding $105 million in security aid for Lebanon, two U.S. officials said on Thursday.
    Washington has repeatedly expressed concern over the growing role of Iran-backed Hizbullah in the Beirut government.

Love Thy Enemy? Israeli Hospitals Treat Patients from Gaza, Syria and Iraq (Sputnik-Russia)
    Despite having no diplomatic relations with Gaza, Syria and Iraq, Israeli hospitals treat patients from the Middle East.
    This year, the country received 80 children from Syria and Iraq.
    Between 2013 and 2018 Israel placed 4,000 Syrian refugees in Israeli hospitals.
    Israel also maintains ties with local professionals in the Middle East and Africa, training them and guiding them through complex cases.

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LA Times Misleads on Israel and International Law - Ricki Hollander and Tamar Sternthal (CAMERA)
    On Oct. 15, Tracy Wilkinson falsely declared in the Los Angeles Times that the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and American recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights all contravene international law.
    There is no international law that prohibits other countries' recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
    While there are controversial, politically-based UN resolutions, they constitute recommendations rather than accepted international law.
    Indeed, moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem is the implementation of longstanding U.S. policy, as stated in the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which was in force for over two decades before the move.

Amazon Launches Series on Hi-Tech, with Focus on Israel's Startup Nation - Nadine Wojakovski (Times of Israel)
    Over 50 cutting-edge Israeli tech companies are featured in the first season of a new series released on Amazon Prime Video on Oct. 18 called "TechTalk."
    The show's creator is co-founder of Tech Talk Media, Jonny Caplan, a British-born entrepreneur who moved from England to Israel in 2013.
    Tel Aviv has the highest concentration of startups per capita in the world.
    The showcased startups include EyeRon Systems, makers of toughened first response drones that fly indoors into burning buildings to give fire fighters earlier warnings.
    Intuition Robotics pioneers a small robot called ElliQ to provide companionship for the elderly. ElliQ provides someone to talk to and checks up on its "companion," suggesting exercise, games to play and even connects via Skype to family members.
    The first season includes flying cars, 3D holographic surgery, the Israeli robot soccer team, cannabis scanners, car hackings, augmented reality snowboarding, and mind-controlled gaming.
    See also Video: Tech Talk - Season One Trailer (YouTube)

Israeli Anti-Radiation Vest Headed for International Space Station - Simona Shemer (NoCamels)
    The AstroRad, an Israeli anti-radiation vest for outer space developed by the U.S.-Israeli startup StemRad, is set to be launched onto the International Space Station on Nov. 2.
    Three American astronauts will wear the suit during routine activities for varying periods of time and give feedback on ergonomics, range of motion, experience, and overall comfort.
    See also Video: This Israeli Vest Is Going into Space (YouTube)

Uzbekistan Signs Deal with Israeli Water-from-Air Firm (NoCamels)
    Israel-based water generator firm Watergen signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Uzbekistan on Tuesday to provide thousands of Gen-M atmospheric water generators. The Gen-M can make 800 liters of water per day.
    In recent years, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have built hydro-power dams at the headwaters of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers, undermining Uzbekistan's main sources of fresh water.

Israel's Elbit to Provide Swiss Army with Tactical Radios - Luke Tress (Times of Israel)
    Israeli defense electronics firm Elbit announced Tuesday it had been selected to provide the Swiss army with a radio communications system in a contract valued at $200-300 million.
    See also Israel's Elbit Wins $50 Million Portuguese Air Force Deal (Reuters)
    Israeli defense firm Elbit Systems said on Thursday it won a contract worth $50 million to supply the Portuguese Air Force with an electronics warfare system that includes radar, laser and missile warnings for its KC-390 multi-mission aircraft.

Israeli Appointed Vice President of International Astronautical Federation - Eytan Halon (Jerusalem Post)
    Dr. Deganit Paikowsky, an Israeli expert on international relations and space policy, has been appointed as one of 12 vice presidents of the Paris-based International Astronautical Federation (IAF).
    Paikowsky has served as the coordinator of several national committees for formulating Israel's national space policy and is today a visiting researcher at the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University.

Israeli Researchers Develop Universal Robotic Arm - Shoshanna Solomon (Times of Israel)
    Researchers at Ben-Gurion University have developed a robotic arm for use in manufacturing that is able to grasp items of various shapes, thus cutting costs and increasing versatility in production lines.
    Manufacturers often have to design robots with different arms for every task in order to hold parts of different shapes, which is costly and time consuming.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran's Leaders See Threats in Iraq and Lebanon Protests - Farnaz Fassihi
    Enormous antigovernment demonstrations in Lebanon and Iraq, some tinged with hostility and resentment toward Iran, have suddenly put Iran's interests at risk. If the protesters succeed in toppling their governments and weakening established political parties with deep ties to Iran, the Iranians stand to lose decades of financial, political and military investments. On Wednesday, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei inveighed against the protests - a signal of the danger he sees lurking in them. Officials and commentators in Iran have branded the uprisings as "sedition."
        Nader Hashemi, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver, said, "Khamenei, who has invested so much in the region both financially and in manpower, is not going to allow protesters to compromise Iran's regional dominance, no matter what it takes."  (New York Times)
  • U.S. Targets Iran Construction Sector with New Sanctions
    The U.S. on Thursday extended its sanctions on Iran by taking aim at its construction sector, which Washington linked to the country's Revolutionary Guards. The sanctions also target strategic materials being used in connection with Iran's nuclear, military, or ballistic missile programs. (AFP)
  • Turkey Wants Refugees to Move Back to Syria. It's a Tough Sell. - Carlotta Gall
    Turkish-backed troops are carving out a safe zone in northeastern Syria and opening the way for the Syrian refugees in Turkey to return home. But Syrian forces - deployed by the very government that had sent the refugees fleeing for safety in the first place - promptly moved back into the area, alarming many of the displaced people. "If the regime comes in, we will see a massive campaign of arrests," said Mustafa Hamida, a Syrian lawyer and rights activist who opposes the Assad government. With Assad's forces on the move, few refugees are likely to go back willingly. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Report: Netanyahu Told Cabinet Israel Would Have to Deal with Iran on Its Own
    "Iran's brazenness in the region is increasing and even getting stronger in light of the absence of a response," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told an IDF officers graduation ceremony Thursday.
        Israel's Channel 13 reported Thursday that several weeks ago, Netanyahu told cabinet members in a closed-door meeting that the U.S. would not act against Iran until its general elections in November 2020, at the earliest. In the interim, Israel would have to deal with Iran on its own. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel, U.S. to Push for UNRWA Oversight at UN - Tovah Lazaroff
    Israel and the U.S. are heading a diplomatic effort to increase oversight of UNRWA, the agency that services Palestinian refugees, when its mandate is renewed in December, according to Israel's Mission to the UN. "UNRWA is a burden on the international community," Israel's UN Ambassador Danny Danon told the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. "It utilizes the world's funds for disseminating lies and false narratives against the State of Israel and systematically ignores fulfilling the goal for which it was established. Until the UNRWA gates are permanently closed, we will work with all the tools at our disposal to increase oversight."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Conditioning Aid to Israel - Michael J. Koplow
    Conditioning security assistance to Israel as a way of influencing Israeli behavior has been raised by certain Democratic presidential candidates. If conditioning aid to Israel is intended as a way of punishing Israeli behavior, then it downgrades a vitally important defense and intelligence relationship for the purposes of making a values statement, and does it to an ally whose behavior has not approached anything like apartheid-era South Africa or Russia following its invasion and annexation of Crimea.
        If it is intended to alter Israeli behavior going forward, then it turns into a question whether it will accomplish its objective. The evidence suggests that it would create more problems than it solves. Anyone who has dealt with Israelis knows that threats tend to be met with greater determination to maintain the original course of action.
        As valuable and important as $3.8 billion in annual security assistance is to Israel, the country would be able to live without it. It is also worth noting that cancelling out all assistance to the Palestinians has not changed Palestinian behavior one iota, but has rather given them an easy rationale to take an even harder line.
        Moreover, if withholding security assistance means less money for Iron Dome batteries, for instance, it makes larger numbers of Israeli civilian casualties a certainty when rockets are shot from Gaza, which in turn makes an Israeli ground invasion and exponentially higher Palestinian casualties just as certain. It will also incentivize riskier preemptive Israeli actions, not only against Palestinian terror groups but also against Iran, if Israel believes that its qualitative military edge has been eroded. The writer is Policy Director at the Israel Policy Forum in Washington. (Israel Policy Forum)
  • A Revolt Against Iran in Iraq and Lebanon - Jonathan Spyer
    The Middle East is currently witnessing the first examples of popular rebellion in countries dominated by Iran. In both Iraq and Lebanon, the demonstrators are being confronted with the fact of the domination of their country by an outside-imposed structure. In both situations, the protesters are faced with an unelected, armed, utterly ruthless political-military structure which is the final decider and wielder of power in the country. This structure is controlled from Iran via the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
        The Iranian system most resembles a colonial one, in which the ability of local populations to decide for themselves disappears and an Iran-controlled structure places itself in rule over them. This rule is then conducted in a manner intended to benefit Tehran, with indifference to the economic and other interests of the subject population. The writer is director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis. (Jerusalem Post)
  • America's Continuing Presence in the Middle East - Dennis Ross
    On the one hand, American hard power still exists in the Middle East today - as the raid to kill ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi shows. On the other hand, President Trump has made it clear he wants to withdraw from the region. He realizes the American people are weary from Middle East conflicts that appear endemic and have cost the U.S. so much blood and treasure.
        Even now, the U.S. military retains over 40,000 forces in the area. It has just added more than 2,000 forces in the Arabian Peninsula to enhance defense against ballistic missiles, drones and cruise missiles. For now, the U.S. posture is likely to be purely defensive, but its continuing presence does create a reality.
        Iran's increasing use of Shia militia proxies, and increasing challenges by publics fed up with terrible governance and widespread corruption, show that even if the Iranians have gained enormous leverage, even veto power, over the governments in Iraq and Lebanon, there may well be a backlash against the Iranians because of governance failures.
        Amb. Dennis Ross, a former special assistant to President Barack Obama, is the counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Al Arabiya)
  • The Arab Spring Will Arrive, Sooner or Later, for the Palestinians - Khaled Abu Toameh
    In the past few weeks, several journalists were arrested by PA and Hamas security forces. The latest crackdown is said to spring from the PA's and Hamas' fear that the current wave of anti-corruption protests sweeping Arab countries may spread to the West Bank and Gaza.
        Palestinian sources in Gaza said that a number of social media activists were also arrested for calling on Palestinians to take to the streets to protest against Hamas and its failure to improve the living conditions of its people. Earlier this week, Hamas security forces arrested Hamas security officer Hussein Qatoush after he posted a video on Facebook in which he complained that he does not have money to pay for transportation from his home to work. Hamas accused him of "leaking security details."
        Hani al-Masri, a prominent Palestinian political analyst, says, "It is certain that the Arab Spring will arrive, sooner or later, to Palestine.... With the exception of a few, the [Palestinian] elite is corrupt and incompetent - or both."
        Palestinian journalists who expose the villainy of Palestinian leaders are deemed criminals, complete with criminal consequences. Criticism is fine, of course - if it is directed at Israel. Otherwise, Palestinian journalists had best keep their criticism to themselves - lest the PA and Hamas decide to leave them in critical condition. (Gatestone Institute)
  • The Elimination of al-Baghdadi: A Limited Shockwave - Yoram Schweitzer
    ISIS continues to commit terrorist attacks and guerilla operations in Syria and Iraq on a weekly basis. A Pentagon report from July 2019 assesses that it has 14,000-18,000 combatants. Potential combat reinforcements may be added from among ISIS members held in detention and camps controlled by the Kurds in Syria. There have already been reports about hundreds of ISIS combatants escaping from detention.
        Moreover, ISIS partners throughout the world are continuing their terrorist activities under the symbolic umbrella of the Islamic State "camp." The continuing activities of these forces will continue to pose a regional and global threat. Thus, the elimination of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is far from heralding the downfall of ISIS.
        The writer heads the Program on Terrorism and Low-Intensity Conflict at INSS, following a distinguished career in the Israeli intelligence community. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • The Arab Middle East's Lost Decades - Maha Yahya
    In a landmark 2002 report, the UN Development Program (UNDP) concluded that Arab countries lagged behind much of the world in development indicators such as political freedom, scientific progress, and the rights of women. In the protests of 2010-11, commonly known as the Arab Spring, in Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Tunisia, ordinary citizens took to the streets to challenge their authoritarian rulers and demand dignity, equality, and social justice. For a moment, it seemed as if change had finally arrived in the Middle East.
        Yet in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, development stalled. Authoritarian leaders in much of the region successfully clamped down on dissent and poured resources into suppressing their own people and undermining democratic transitions. Today, nearly ten years later, the situation in the Middle East looks even worse than it did before the Arab Spring. Economic growth is sluggish and unequal. Corruption remains rampant. Gender equality is more aspiration than reality.
        Yet something fundamental has changed. Now more than ever before, ordinary people across the Middle East remain willing to take to the streets to demand a better future, even in the face of repression. In 2018, there were protest movements in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Sudan, and Tunisia. Earlier this year, protesters in Algeria and Sudan forced their countries' leaders to step down. The Arab Spring may not have ushered in the immediate reforms that many had hoped for, but in the long run, it may have awakened the political energies of the Arab world and set in motion the long process of Arab revitalization. The writer is Director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. (Foreign Affairs)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • "Never Again" Is Here and Now - Dani Dayan
    It appears the irrational hatred for Jews, even in places where very few Jews live, is only growing. In the past six months, 12 Jews have been murdered on U.S. soil. Anti-Semitic attacks in New York have become commonplace.
        The State of Israel doesn't have the authority to take action in foreign countries. But that doesn't mean we don't have a responsibility. As the Jewish state, any anti-Semitic incident - even if it occurs thousands of miles from Israel's shores - is a local and domestic issue. At almost every synagogue in the U.S., an Israeli flag flies alongside the American flag.
        This is not Germany of the 1930s. We are far from that. But the difference is that now we are experienced. Our European brothers and sisters in the 1930s never imagined where the anti-Semitism would lead; today we know. The writer is Israel's Consul General in New York City. (Israel Hayom)
  • Report: Pro-Palestinian College Group Is "Main Driver of Jew-Hatred on Campus" - Talia Kaplan
    A report released Wednesday made the case that a pro-Palestinian student group, National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP), "is a main driver of Jew-hatred on campus," citing dozens of examples of anti-Semitism involving the group's members. The authors of the report say NSJP has promoted anti-Semitic rhetoric and has been associated with "violence and terror ideologically and politically." (Fox News)
        See also Report: The Threat to Academic Freedom from National Students for Justice in Palestine
    In his Foreword to the report on NSJP, Natan Sharansky, Chair of ISGAP, wrote: "When an organization denies Israel's right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state; when it demonizes Israel by comparing the Jewish state to Nazi Germany or South African apartheid; and when in making demands of Israel it applies double-standards that are not applied to any other country in the world, this organization is not seeking justice. Rather, it is promoting anti-Semitism, plain and simple."  (Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy-ISGAP)
  • An Israeli-Arab Psychologist Has Become Germany's Staunchest Islam Critic - Liza Rozovsky
    Israeli-born psychologist and author Ahmad Mansour, 43, one of Germany's most prominent critics of Islam, established MIND Prevention, the institute for democratization and prevention of extremism, in Berlin. Two of his books featured on Der Spiegel's best-seller list in recent years. Mansour, who left Israel 15 year ago, dedicates much of his time to fighting anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel among Muslims.
        Asked about anti-Semitism in Germany, Mansour said: "In the big cities, it is dangerous today to walk the streets with a kippah or Star of David. There is an Israeli restaurant in Berlin that is attacked weekly. Youths are attacked in schools because of their Judaism. I spoke with the principal of a Jewish high school in Berlin. He says people register their children there not necessarily because it's Jewish, but rather because their children suffer in public schools [from bullying, etc.]. There are [Jewish] families who are thinking of emigrating. There are people I work with, my friends, who talk about it daily. They're scared."  (Ha'aretz)

  • Weekend Features

  • Israel's Arab Community Has Been Making Great Strides - Netta Ahituv
    In 2015, the Israeli cabinet approved a five-year Economic Development Plan for the Arab Sector with billions of shekels going to transportation, employment, housing, planning and day care. In the last decade, the number of Arabs working in high-tech has increased 18-fold, and one-quarter of them are women. By 2020, it is estimated that Arabs will make up 10% of the country's high-tech workforce. The proportion of Arab doctors in Israel has climbed from 10% in 2008 to 15% in 2018, and 21% of all male doctors are Arab, according to the Health Ministry. Educational institutions in Arab locales are receiving unprecedented levels of funding.
        The proportion of Arab civil servants rose from 5.7% in 2007 to 11.3% in 2017. 1/3 of all first-year students at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology this year are Arab. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Jerusalem Arabs Attending Hebrew U in Record Numbers - Nir Hasson
    Up to a decade ago there were no more than a few Arab Jerusalemites - in contrast to Israeli Arabs - who went to Hebrew University. Last year there were 586 Arab students from eastern Jerusalem. Many changes are bringing Jerusalem's Arab society closer to Israeli Jewish society. These include a rise in the demand for Israeli citizenship and in taking Israeli matriculation exams, as well as an increase in the number of Arabs who work in western Jerusalem.
        Traditionally, most Arab students in Jerusalem study in Palestinian and Arab universities. Fuad Abu Hamed, who was one of the first Jerusalem students at Hebrew University 10 years ago, now lectures in its school of business administration. He said, "Thousands of students who graduated from Palestinian universities are warning on Facebook not to make the mistake they made, saying they have no work."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Britain's German-Born Jewish "Secret Listeners" Helped Win World War II - Robert Philpot
    Historian Helen Fry describes in her new book, The Walls Have Ears: The Greatest Intelligence Operation of World War II, how captured Nazi generals were confined at Trent Park, a stately country house in north London that resembled a gentleman's club. But unbeknownst to, and unsuspected by, the Nazi military commanders, Trent Park was wired for sound. "The generals did not realize that everything that could be bugged was - from the light fittings to the fireplaces, plant pots...under floorboards of the bedrooms, and even the trees in the garden," Fry says. The house and its surrounding estate were nothing less than "a theatrical stage set."
        Unseen by the generals, an army of "secret listeners" - many of them Jewish refugees - eavesdropped on their conversations from a basement room. The conversations were transcribed, translated, and passed on to intelligence agencies and government departments. Fry's book draws on thousands of transcripts and reports in Britain's National Archives which were released in the late 1990s.
        The eavesdropping elicited a wealth of intelligence: on the Germans' battle plans, new technology being developed by the Nazis on U-boats and aircraft, and the progress of Hitler's secret weapons program that produced the V1 and V2 rockets. There were also graphic eyewitness accounts of the mass murder of Jews in the East - by the very men who had perpetrated them. "The unguarded conversations of the generals revealed to the intelligence services that Germany's military commanders not only knew about the war crimes committed, but some were complicit in it," writes Fry. (Times of Israel)

Former Israeli Chief Justice Meir Shamgar: The Right Man in the Right Place at the Right Time - Alan Baker (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Israel's former Chief Justice Meir Shamgar, who died on Oct. 18 at age 94, played a unique role in molding Israel's legal system as well as Israel's status in the administered areas. As the Military Advocate General in the 1960s, he designed and built the legal and the command structure that served as the basis for Israel's administration of the territories following the Six-Day War and up to the present.
  • Following the Six-Day War and Israel's attaining control of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, Shamgar was faced with a melange of unique legal and military realities, as well as an area steeped in historic Jewish heritage. Shamgar was well aware that this was not a simple classic situation of belligerent occupation of the land of a sovereign state.
  • Jordan was not considered as having sovereign rights over Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) following its unrecognized annexation of the area in 1950, and Egypt had never claimed sovereign rights over Gaza. Hence, such a special and irregular legal situation called for creative and original thinking in order to devise the appropriate legal framework and status of the territory.
  • On top of these circumstances lay the unique legal and historic background of the area in which claims of indigenous, historic, and legal rights of the Jewish people - as recognized in the 1917 Balfour Declaration and subsequently incorporated into instruments of international law - were at the foundation of the status of the land.
  • In a 1971 article dealing with the application of international law in the administered areas, Shamgar set out the reasoning for his determination that the territories are not simply "occupied territories" but better and more accurately defined as "administered areas." Based on Shamgar's legal construction, Israel distinguished between the unique status of the territory and Israel's humanitarian obligations vis-a-vis the local population emanating from the applicable international humanitarian norms.
  • At the behest of Shamgar, Israel provided the local population with full and unprecedented access to its Supreme Court, as a means of ensuring that the Israeli military and governmental authorities functioning in the territories duly observe the Fourth Geneva Convention's humanitarian provisions.

    Amb. Alan Baker, former legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians, as well as agreements and peace treaties with Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon.
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